E-mail is a wonderful way to reach out to customers and prospects and engage them. But e-mail becomes an even more powerful tool when you find ways to integrate it with all your marketing efforts.
The customer is king, and she holds the keys to the kingdom—the power to do business with you, or not. She will communicate with you and order from you through her channel of choice, which may change from moment to moment. She also expects a seamless experience. That means the look and feel of your e-mails, your Web site, your direct mail and your print ads should have some commonality. While you must capitalize on the strengths of each channel, an integrated approach needs to be the strategic underpinning of your marketing plan.
Integrated marketing isn’t easy, but here are some ideas and examples to stimulate your thinking.
n E-mail your house list to reinforce a direct mail campaign. If part of your mailing is to your housefile, it’s a perfect opportunity for a one-two marketing punch. Send an e-mail timed to reach recipients either right before or after an anticipated delivery. Include an image of your mailing piece in the e-mail. We all suffer from e-mail clutter—but there’s also mailbox and desktop inbox clutter. If you provide a visual cue, you increase the odds that your mailing will be eagerly sought out.
You also can increase your effectiveness if there’s something special for e-mail recipients. This can be as simple as a “sneak preview” so recipients feel like they have the inside track.
Does this work? KnowledgeBase’s measurement guru Arthur Middleton Hughes published a case study in which he established test cells for a major mailer. One group received only direct mail. The second group received direct mail plus e-mail. He reported substantial increases in sales, orders and order size for those who received both direct mail and e-mail.
n Include your toll-free number. Your toll-free number (if you have one) should be prominently featured in every e-mail. I just completed a not-so-scientific survey of my favorite direct marketers’ e-mails in my inbox. Many don’t include their phone number; some do, but it’s in small type buried at the bottom of the e-mail; and only a few have it front and center. One great example is The Wine Enthusiast. Its toll-free number is featured in the upper right hand corner of every
Why is this important? I’ve seen results from studies in which marketers created a separate toll-free number to track e-mail orders, and up to 20 percent of revenues were generated via the phone. That’s a hefty percentage. Some of your customers and prospects still prefer that personal touch, particularly if they have a question about your product or service.
An additional point for those of you who may have a toll-free number that doesn’t begin with 800: Not everyone realizes that other phone exchanges are toll-free. In these cases, it’s a good idea to point out that there is no charge to call.
n Support direct mail on the Web and with e-mail. For example, Brooks Brothers has a great strategy in place to support direct mail. If its catalog is slated to arrive on a Monday, its Wednesday e-mail features the catalog cover—and its Web site homepage also features the catalog.
To extend the shelf life of its catalog, the following week’s e-mail might feature an image from the back cover of the catalog followed by an image from one of its spreads.
n Use e-mail to promote retail locations. The simplest way to do this is to include a store locator feature in e-mails that link to the Web site for information, maps and in-store events.
Marketers with a limited retail presence also can effectively use e-mail to promote a specific location with details about in-store events and special offers. For instance, Design Within Reach has a store near me, and I receive solo e-mail communications about events, sales and activities for that particular store. This really has a one-to-one personal feel.
n Connect your e-mail and print advertising. If you have an active print advertising program, reference the design and messaging of that initiative in your e-mails. J.C. Penney, for one, spends significant advertising dollars on Sunday newspaper supplements. To extend the mileage of its investment, it often includes in its e-mails a “This week’s store ad” link. When the recipient clicks on the link, he is brought to a reproduction of the offer promoted in the newspaper inserts.
n Offer multichannel redemption. Allow customers to redeem coupons via the channel of their choosing. Years ago I enrolled in Staples’ “Business Rewards” program. Periodically, I would receive an e-mail from Staples that included a coupon for significant savings on any purchase over a certain dollar amount. It clearly explained how I could redeem the coupon online, contact the call center with my coupon code, or print the e-mail out and bring it into a retail location near me. In
my opinion, Staples was the first company that did multichannel marketing really well.
n Design e-mail to complement your Web site. After all, your e-mail and Web site have the closest tie-in. Recipients interact with e-mails and link directly to your site. One way to extend this value is to incorporate your site’s major navigation features, including a “search” function, into the design of your e-mail or newsletter.
n Integrate your Web and e-mail strategies. Use sophisticated tracking and database information to tailor and trigger highly relevant messages. For instance, smart marketers like SportsSection.com send automated
e-mails to customers who have had items in their shopping cart for more than 24 hours. It uses a subtle approach, and reminds recipients they can easily continue their checkout process. The company recoups up to 25 percent of sales. You also can offer a special discount on items you know the individual is interested in or include a picture of the items in the abandoned cart, and resell the benefits of those products.
Another example of how you can tie your e-mail content to your Web site: Drugstore.com periodically sends me an e-mail that includes all the items I’ve recently purchased online. It makes it easy for me to begin my re-order process directly from the e-mail.
Remember, it’s not just e-mail or direct mail or your Web site. It’s all about how you can create and leverage the synergies between marketing channels. We’ve covered just a few examples here, but I hope it’s stimulated your thinking. yy
Regina Brady is president of Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions, a direct and e-mail marketing consultancy. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.