March 5, 2014 Leave a Comment
Reaching out with relevant, timely emails can help merchants forge stronger connections with shoppers
We’ve all read the statistics about how email marketing remains one of the most effective and reliable tools for merchants to reach their customers. The Direct Marketing Association, for one, claims that email marketing campaigns have a return on investment of 4,300 percent.
If your ROI doesn’t quite seem to hitting such stratospheric figures, it could be because you’re one of many merchants with a few gaps their email marketing efforts.
Recent data from Exact Target reveals that many merchants still aren’t using some of the most effective email tactics out there.
Of the five email tactics rated most effective by merchants who’ve implemented them, two — loyalty and welcome messages – are in wide usage, with 65 percent and 71 percent respectively.
But the other three showed far lower usage. Just 51 percent used browse retargeting, 38 percent used birthday emails, and a mere 35 percent followed up on abandoned carts with emails. Yet more than 40% of merchants who do use those tactics report that they produce “excellent” results.
Those are huge missed opportunities. When it comes to abandoned carts alone, for example, industry researcher Forrester reports that a whopping 88% of U.S. consumers have abandoned a purchase for one reason or another, so reaching them with effective enticements to return to the site and complete purchases is crucial.
It’s right to be cautious about inundating customers’ inboxes with generic email blasts. But emails that are relevant and timely can not only grab customers’ attention, but earn their appreciation as well. New data from digital marketing firm Listrak shows just how much shoppers value emails tailored to their shopping preferences:
- 84 percent of online shoppers report it helpful if products in emails are based on their shopping habits or preferences, with 69 percent willing to share personal information with retailers to receive more relevant emails.
- 90 percent of shoppers who sign up for promotional emails want to be alerted when products they frequently buy go on sale, and 72 percent are willing to receive more emails that make shopping easier, such as weekly sales, top sellers and new products.
- 77 percent of shoppers who signed up for promotional emails said they are more likely to purchase items online or in store if emails feature products based on their shopping habits and preferences.
Figures like these should give merchants confidence that their customers will welcome additional emails from them under the right circumstances. Here’s how to implement the top three underused tactics for maximum effectiveness:
Abandoned shopping carts present one of the best opportunities for merchants to reach out to their customers by email.
Getting the emails in the first place requires some delicacy. Forcing customers to create an account in order to check out is a major cause of cart abandonment. Instead, encourage them to sign up for email updates early on, and then use behavioral tracking technology to flag you if they’ve ditched their cart. Or consider collecting email address at the beginning of the checkout process, with a clear message that it will be used to contact them about their order.
However you obtain the email address, once the cart is abandoned, be ready to act fast. Send a cart reminder within the first 24 hours, and then follow up.
Vail, Colo.-based luxury ski and apparel retailer Gorsuch reaches out quickly to would-be customers, giving them a second look at what they left behind as well as some other attractive options to lure them back.
One thing this high-end retailer doesn’t do is follow-up with a discount. As reasonable as discounting at this juncture might seem, it can backfire by “training” customers to abandon their carts expecting you’ll sweeten the deal.
Instead, offer to help them. Ask how you can help them complete their order. Offer on-line chat, a customer service number or other products they might find attractive.
Email follow-ups don’t have to be limited to items that made it into customers’ carts. Everything they’ve viewed while on your site is data that can help you lure them back.
Of the merchants surveyed by Exact Target, 42 percent report of those using browse retargeting emails report “excellent” results. And yet 49 percent of online merchants say have no plans to utilize the tool.
Email subscribers who visit the site and don’t act can be lured back with alerts when items they viewed go on sale, or by showcasing similar products at different price points – giving them a number of alternatives to consider. It’s an opportunity to increase brand awareness and remind shoppers of items they viewed before just as they might be having trouble finding them elsewhere.
Jewelry retailer Helzberg flags recently-viewed items on sale in this personalized email, along with best sellers and new items.
Everyone loves birthday presents. So why not offer your customers one? Most likely it’s because you don’t know when their birthdays are or haven’t figured out the right way to ask them.
In an age of heightened concern about the privacy of personal data on the Internet, asking shoppers for that information without the proper context can be off-putting.
The key is to give context for the request so that shoppers know they’ll receive a benefit for sharing their personal information. Look at how Old Navy asked the question. It’s on the second page of the email signup process, after subscribers have already supplied their email address. It’s optional. And its “Happy Birthday to You” graphic and offer of “a gift” on your special day make it hard to pass up.