In a ‘Survival of the Fittest’ Daily-Deal Market, Smart Email Strategies are Essential
The forecast has been a bit cloudy lately for the daily-deal industry. According to an Experian Hitwise report in August, traffic was down for some of the big players. Groupon’s much anticipated I.P.O. has been a bust and Facebook ended its daily-deal effort just four short months after launch.
Yet, Experian Hitwise also reported that visits to group-buying sites were up 163 percent this August over last August and visits to flash-sale sites were up 109 percent in July compared with the same month in 2010. What’s going on? Well, when 685-plus entrants jump on the bandwagon, some shakeout is bound to happen. The survivors will be those that excel at targeting the right offer to the right person at the right time. That’s where a smart email marketing strategy comes in.
When email marketing firm StrongMail conducted a recent study on the daily-deals business, it learned a lot about what’s working for successful industry front-runners like zulily, LivingSocial and others, what’s not working and how deal providers can do better. Here are some tips for standing out in the inbox and closing the deal:
Keep it real relevant. A 95 percent discount on carpet cleaning is meaningless to a person who has hardwood floors. Never forget that relevance rules. The deal ventures that don’t have a complaining subscriber base are those with highly sophisticated targeting that puts every source of available data to work.
Don’t be afraid to ask your subscribers. What they like, that is. Behavioral analytics are great, but they only get you so far. Nobody wants to be stalked with relentless offers for baby gear after a one-time purchase for a friend’s shower. The real gems are the details that consumers self-report, like the fact that they're designer shoe addicts or that they eat out twice a week. Make it easy for them by providing multiple opportunities and incentives to share.
Have good timing. Flash-sale provider HauteLook uses burst email delivery to ensure that every message to its millions of subscribers arrives within the same 10-minute window every day. This enables the retailer to emulate the experience of an offline sample sale, where women line up at the crack of dawn to get the best merchandise. Consistent timing can create a sense of expectation and urgency that dramatically increases open rates, clicks and ultimately revenue.
Don’t blow it at the subject line. One flash-sale company StrongMail looked at was using the subject line of its offers to list every brand name included in the offer. When you have mere seconds to capture consumers’ attention, clarity is essential. Compose subject lines as if you're writing for a billboard on a freeway. If you don't, the only click your email will get is the one that drags it to the trash.
Consider how spacing, bullets and headlines draw attention to the most compelling aspects of your offer. Prominent display of the price and discount percentage brings the value of the deal front and center. Large chunks of copy can also lose your subscriber, so keep it short and snappy.
The days of the deal are far from over, but in an increasingly crowded market deal providers will need to evolve to stand out from the pack. This means staying on top of the best and brightest email marketing strategies.
Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail, a provider of interactive marketing solutions for email marketing and social media. Kara can be reached at email@example.com.