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Point of Sale Email – accuracy, deliverability and success

Data and views from the Consumer Insights & Targeting team at Experian Marketing Services

Retailers today collect email at every point of interaction – whether it’s at the call centre, through Website opt-ins and through mobile, social and in-store contact.

Of all of these touch points, collecting customer information in store at the point of sale (POS) typically offers the greatest potential to build a retailer’s email list quickly and to drive timely offers and communications that increase customer loyalty and retention.

While POS collection has become a go-to industry tool due to its potential for exponential list growth, the practice carries its share of deliverability risks due to incorrect collection and use of email data that retailers need to be aware of.

Data quality

One of the most crucial issues for retail marketers collecting POS email data is the quality of captured data. Typos and mistakes at the counter are frequent and can negatively impact deliverability. The benchmark “bounce” or undeliverable rate for welcome emails collected at POS is 11 percent, compared with the 2 percent overall bounce or undeliverable rate across all emails sent by Experian CheetahMail in 2012. To rectify this, email addresses should be validated at POS to prevent fraudulent users or bad data, such as domain misspellings and other common typos, from entering the customer database.

Best practices for in-store email collection and verification include:

  • Assistants should spell back the submitted email address to the customer and possibly re-enter it for further verification
  • The assistant should ask customers to verify the email address submitted on a kiosk, a terminal or tablet computer
  • Retailers should consider using mobile-friendly Quick Response (QR) codes to capture email addresses, as the technology is an easy way to capture customer data accurately
  • Marketers should engage third-party email management tools and services to validate customer data, increasing data accuracy and reducing bounce rates

The ideal solution would enable retail marketers to proactively manage data quality at the point of email acquisition. Retailers should look for tools that catch and correct syntax errors, confirm email domains are active and verify whether mailboxes exist. For best results, retailers should look for a partner that can also flag or suppress known complainers and spam traps.

Many retailers prefer to leverage this functionality during data capture - email addresses are validated immediately as the sales assistant submits the information, providing an opportunity to resolve any issues. Other retailers prefer to run daily or weekly list audits. Automated list cleansing is easily implemented and requires minimal technical resources. This way, retailers who wish to avoid workflow disruption still are able to ensure that new subscriber data is reviewed before a welcome mailing deploys.

In addition to real-time validation, retailers also should perform periodic list cleanses. This helps to mitigate risk associated with inactive or nonresponsive subscribers and enables recovery of some inaccurate entries. By analysing this subscriber segment, retail marketers keep their mailing lists fresh, remove outdated information and even correct a portion of that inactive list.

Combined, these strategies lead to higher deliverability; stronger reputation amongst ISPs; improved open and click-through rates; and ultimately, a greater ROI for senders.

Deliverability

In a typical e-receipt scenario, data quality can be improved by sending a welcome email, a confirmation or a series of engagement emails. A real-time welcome email is always recommended to reinforce subscriber opt-in recognition. Welcome content may include a retail incentive fulfilment component, further increasing a subscriber’s affinity to your brand and the likelihood of future engagement.

In addition, deliverability best practices recommend the following:

  • If the customer consents to the in-store e-receipt and opts into your marketing messages at the till, send a welcome email shortly after the e-receipt to confirm the customer’s subscription status and to outline the benefits of your commercial email program
  • Be sure to include a clear and easy unsubscribe or preference management mechanism as well as a prominent link to your privacy policy
  • Consider offering subscribers the option to manage frequency, types of content, or mobile versus rich HTML versions
  • If the customer only consents to the in-store e-receipt, or if you’re not sure whether they opted in to commercial emails (or if they are on a suppression list), it’s a best practice to include an opt-in link, a button or a banner toward the bottom of the e-receipt creative along with a link to your privacy policy
  • Make sure all welcome emails are bounce-removed immediately

Engagement optimisation

The majority of new subscribers will open or click a client’s email within the first 30 days or within approximately four to six campaigns. Once the addresses are captured and validated, POS subscribers who open or click should be included with all regular promotional marketing streams.

However, if a POS subscriber has not opened or clicked within the first 30 days, or as long as within a 90-day period, the email address can be considered suspect.

Accuracy drives conversion

POS email is becoming more and more important to retailers, and the festive sales rush in December and January is often a good time to collect large numbers of customer email addresses. By employing the above techniques, marketers can ensure that they are getting the most value from the willingness of customers to share information at the cash till, boosting both brand loyalty and conversion.

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