E-commerce Link: Spruce It Up
Direct marketers are incrementalists. We know what works, and we test our controls against various creative and offer permutations to improve results and come up with a winning formula. This disciplined approach has served us well.
However, unless you find that breakthrough creative or offer, you may be stuck making incremental changes to your marketing program. In addition, your communications and testing may be based on controls established years ago.
It's time to think big and outside the box—at least with your e-mail program. Of course, e-mail makes it easy to test, so you still can be an incrementalist if you wish to apply rigid testing procedures. Alternatively, you can make some wholesale changes to the way you communicate.
Here are some ideas to think about to revitalize your e-mail program.
Challenge the Clutter: Create an E-newsletter
Too many marketers have decided that the only way to motivate customers is through sales, discounts and gift offers. You will not stand out in a crowded inbox with your free shipping offer or 15 percent off offer. Instead, your recipients are likely to view your e-mail campaign as one of the many e-mails offering the same thing.
Think about supplementing your regular promotional e-mails with a monthly e-mail newsletter. This varies your cadence and provides the opportunity to offer value-added content that resonates with your audience; tips and hints that focus on your best-selling products; and even the opportunity for recipients to share their thoughts, photos and more.
Make It a Two-
E-mail marketing is push marketing, and your calls to action are designed to bring interested recipients to your Web site. But, to make the most of Internet marketing, you must be cognizant that this is a "two-way street."
If you have customer reviews on your Web site, use triggered messaging to encourage purchasers to rate and review products. Numerous research studies have shown that reviews are a major incentive in the buying process. A recent study by Opinion Research Corp. found that 84 percent of Americans are influenced by online customer reviews.
Create promotions that involve your customers and allow them to have some fun on your site. Develop ways for recipients to share their thoughts through simple, one-question polls in your e-mails, surveys and fun quizzes. You make recipients feel special when you ask for their feedback.
Vary the View
Your e-mail communications need to have a consistent look and feel. But that does not mean you are locked in to one format. Your designers should develop your basic template along with variations such as a postcard, two-column designs with the smaller column on both the right and left, and a longer form design. For example, a discount or sale template, a product template (for both one product and multiple products), a newsletter with a table of contents, and more.
Pull the Trigger
You also should plan for at least three new triggered messages. The beauty of triggered messages is they are relevant to recipients and drive response. The best triggers are based on things you know about them or actions they recently took.
The first place to start is an abandoned shopping cart series. This gives you the ability to capture 5 percent to 15 percent of sales that are otherwise lost. Then, review your order confirmation e-mails to be sure that you include a cross-sell opportunity. According to Jupiter Research's October 2008 study, The Transactional Messaging Imperative: Capitalizing on the Marketing Opportunity of Transactional E-mail, 40 percent of marketers who employ this technique see 5 percent response.
Consider specialized triggers such as a birthday message. Many e-commerce sites ask for birth date during the registration process and then provide a discount in the e-mail. It is virtually guaranteed that someone who receives a birthday e-mail from you will open and read the message. In addition, it will make her feel closer to your brand.
Other ideas for triggered messaging include: behavioral e-mails for those who clicked and browsed but did not buy, upsells based on purchase activity, back-in-stock notices for those who registered on the site for these alerts, sales reactivation efforts for those who have purchased in the past but not recently, and rate and review e-mails.
Exploit Social Media
Facebook, Twitter and other social sites are great ways to involve and engage your customers. There are many ways marketers can take advantage of this new phenomenon.
- Incorporate social networking logos in either the header or footer of your e-mail template. Marketers can be simplistic and only link to Facebook and Twitter, or they can be quite complex and encourage sharing to Digg, Delicious, YouTube and other sites. If you aggressively embrace multiple social media sites, you might want to use a simple "share" icon.
- Send solo e-mails promoting your presence on social media sites. Many e-mail marketers send special e-mails to all recipients encouraging them to partake in their social communities. As an inducement, some offer coupons for those who become fans or create unique promotions.
- Capture data. If you require registration, ask for e-mail addresses.
Be sure to complete your profile. On Facebook, complete the "Info" tab, and include a link to your site and perhaps a link to your e-mail sign-up page. Also consider an "Offers" tab. On Twitter, use keywords in your description so others can see and follow you.
Here's wishing you success with a revitalized e-mail program as we head toward the new year.
Regina Brady is president of Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions, a direct and e-mail marketing consultancy. She can be reached at (203) 838-8138 or firstname.lastname@example.org.