Across Europe, marketers have successfully overcome their particular challenges in email marketing by understanding how people use digital communications and by looking at the extent to which the internet has been adopted.

In the UK, writes Antonio Ferrara, we can take valuable lessons from these approaches to develop strategies that can help us gain the trust and attention of audiences.

In countries where there is still much distrust for the internet, people are not as open to give their information online or use interactive tools. This is the case in southern Europe, where lower broadband penetration and limited localised content has resulted in the slower adoption of the internet.

Faced with this challenge, marketers in southern Europe have employed trust building tactics to make their email campaigns more successful.

Knowing that they need to be extremely sensitive about gathering information, they have resorted to using their offline presence and brand recognition to build their databases.

This is a slow process, but handling customers’ information with care is the key to earning and keeping their trust before moving on to more complex and sophisticated content and technologies.

This approach has been successful in bridging the gap between offline and online marketing and getting customers more comfortable with online transactions.

In the UK, we can take some of these lessons and give customers a more personal experience that begins with one-on-one contact. This is particularly relevant when it comes to targeting older populations who are nervous about giving their email addresses and credit card information online.

Any brand wanting to reach out to this group should be conscious of their apprehension and develop relationships with their customers by calling them and talking them through the process of purchasing online or offering one-on-one advice at their stores.

The bottom line is that marketers need to make the effort to get to know their customers, understand what they are interested in, and send them information of value with a personal touch.

Very different challenges face marketers in regions where the internet is a central part of daily life. In northern Europe for example, people are extremely comfortable with giving their email addresses and signing up for online promotions and newsletters.

However, this environment does not necessarily make it easier for marketers. If anything, it means that they have to compete more fiercely for the attention of customers in a saturated environment.

To stand out from the crowd, marketers are putting emphasis on creativity and content. They have developed interactive email marketing tools, such as surveys, and involved customers in the development of their campaigns.

The response rate for these online email surveys can reach an outstanding 20%, compared to a typical 1% response rate with paper surveys. They then use this information to create promotions that are tailored to the survey results and have a better chance of being read. 

The lessons from the North are also quite relevant in the UK, particularly in targeting younger audiences attracted by interactivity and mobile technologies. Marketers can employ advanced digital tools among this specific group. 

For example, they can use WAP-Push to bring rich content to mobile devices, embedding a WAP link into the SMS message  to increase the impact  and stimulate sales. 

They can now use the text to motivate people to click thru the WAP link, where a much fuller presentation of the offer can be communicated. Ultimately, involving young customers in the development of a campaign will engage them and ensure the delivery of information that is relevant and valuable.

Being able to extract the valuable lessons from what marketers have done across regions is key for those in the UK. This will provide the best strategy to face diverse challenges through a thoughtful combination of trust building tactics, as well as creative ideas to stand out from the crowds of marketing emails.

Antonio Ferrara is strategic services executive at

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