- Category: March - April 2010
Looking for a marketing edge to pull you ahead of your competition? Well, if you’re planning on the same old, lame and cold email campaign, forget it.With the growth of email marketing flooding inboxes, the pressure has never been greater to deliver highly compelling and creative communications programs. With more companies sending out more emails, you’ve got to do more to position your program above the competitive fray.Here are seven email marketing tactics that will help you better engage customers and drive revenue in 2010.
1. Customer Reviews
Consumers today are placing increased value on user-generated content, often trusting their peers’ opinions over advertising when making purchase decisions.
- For email marketers, this provides a golden opportunity to increase engagement by including customer product reviews, making your messaging both relevant and persuasive. A Forrester report showed that email marketers who segment using product review content and Web behavior are four to six times more effective than blasters.
- To build up your database of user-generated reviews, set up an automated trigger that sends a message requesting a product review one or two weeks after a purchase. You can then populate personalized emails with these reviews according to each recipient’s interests or purchase history, resulting in messages that are more targeted and engaging to recipients.
Courting customers to offer reviews can also help increase brand loyalty. Consider rewarding top contributors by giving them “superstar reviewer” status or delivering sneak peeks at new products. Not only will you encour¬age these customers to generate even more content, you’ll also be creating an army of brand advocates to help spread your message far and wide.
2. Social Sharing
Social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have changed the way people interact with friends. They’ve also shifted the relation¬ship between companies and their customers. With four out of 10 social network participants using these sites to gather product information and recommendations3 savvy engagement marketers use this new medium to connect more strongly with customers.
Much like successful email marketing requires more effort than blasting away at your customer list, getting your recipients to share your emails on social sites requires more effort than just dropping icons into your message template. For starters, you’ll need to educate your readers about how and why they should share your content. Feature your social-sharing option in your welcome messages. Devote prime space in your regular mailings to highlight the location and use of your sharing icons or links.
As with other aspects of email marketing, testing is key. That’s because while some of the best practices of email marketing still work when encour¬aging recipients to post messages on social sites, there are differences and nuances in what generates the highest results. Since the social medium is still so new, the various best practices are still emerging and have yet to be agreed upon. So experiment with the placement of social network links in your messages (top, middle or bottom), what social networks you link to and how many social network links you include in your messages.
If you want your content to go viral, you’ll have to make sharing worth the effort. Give customers a good reason to share your promotional emails with their friends. Turn them into a powerful extension of your acquisition and awareness efforts, helping you to reach highly qualified prospective customers who share the same interests as your brand’s most engaged email recipients. Done correctly, social sharing is well worth the effort— Silverpop research estimates that a posted email message has an average increase in reach of 24.3 percent.
3. Web Analytics
In a crowded marketplace increasingly demanding relevance, optimizing integration between your messaging and Web analytics platforms is vital to communicating with customers, improving loyalty, accelerating the conver¬sion process and driving measurable increases in marketing ROI. In short, this integration enables a two-way, action-oriented flow of information that allows you to more efficiently target and trigger campaigns based on Web-site clickstream data—i.e., the details of how visitors interact with a Web site.
Using Web analytics data enables you to better understand your cus¬tomers’ needs, improving your ability to effectively target and engage them.
One particularly effective way of combining Web analytics and email is to run a shopping cart abandonment campaign. Let’s say a customer visiting your Web site begins the process of making a purchase, but fails to complete the transaction. Marketers that implement triggered email campaigns to send a reminder message encouraging customers to return and complete the process have experienced tremendous results.
To increase the urgency of the call to action, inform your customer that the shopping cart will expire or that items are not guaranteed to be available for extended periods of time. Some companies even include an incentive to finalize purchase of the abandoned items. You can also introduce two or three other high-margin, related products that the recipient may find interesting to further increase message relevance and drive revenue.
4. Send When the Recipient Is “In”
What’s the best time to send customers email? For years marketers have agonized over this question. Different preferences among users compli¬cated the situation.
Now, a new technology called Send Time Optimization can analyze recipi¬ent behavior on a rolling basis to predict the ideal email delivery time for each address on your mailing list. The system then individually delivers messages to recipients at the precise day and time they’re most likely to be in their inboxes. By decreasing the chance that an email gets buried in the inbox, open, click-through and conversion rates increase.
Scheduling delivery at the optimized time also solves international mailing challenges. With a single send, messages are delivered at the optimal time, worldwide, eliminating the need to schedule multiple sends across time zones.
5. SMS and Email
In today’s media-saturated universe, you have to reach customers every which way you can. With more than 3.1 billion people using cell phones globally and 40 percent of major brands using text messaging campaigns to engage customers, now is the perfect time to work SMS into your multichannel marketing mix.
Despite the upside, some marketers are hesitant to invest in mobile marketing, either because they don’t know where to begin or they don’t want the hassle of coordinating setup across multiple aggregators or application. However, a select group of marketing technology providers can do the work for you, enabling the delivery of content to mobile operators around the world.
SMS is an excellent channel to communicate special offer alerts, payment reminders, event notifications, exclusive invitations and other timely infor¬mation customers won’t want to miss.
And with new marketing technology solutions, it’s quick and easy to create personalized, engaging messages that are delivered instantly—or triggered for sends at a future date. As with email campaigns, savvy marketers can use deliverability trend metrics to evaluate SMS campaign results and adjust future initiatives accordingly.
6. Lifecycle Marketing
Unsophisticated email campaigns treat all people the same, regardless of their interest level and lifecycle stage. But to strongly engage customers and gener¬ate improved return on investment, you need personalized messaging that targets specific segments within your customer base, thereby communicating with them more effectively than just blasting everyone with the same message.
Despite the advantages of lifecycle marketing, many marketers are con¬fused about where to begin and are concerned about the additional work required to implement a one-to-one strategy. If you’re not sure how to get started, try splitting your list into three simple groups, each with unique goals that align with the customers’ mindsets for each lifecycle stage.
New Customers - email recipients who have expressed some desire for communication
- Unique goals: moving them to opt in to receive regular messages from you, visit your Web site, make an online purchase or visit a retail location
- Ideal messaging for achieving these goals: educational campaigns, welcome messages, promotions for first purchase
Engaged Customers - consumers who are actively involved with the brand and expect to receive communications and, potentially, promotions from you
- Unique goals: maintaining or increasing purchase levels, strength¬ening loyalty, encouraging recommendations to friends, and the delivery of efficient customer service
- Ideal messaging for achieving these goals: renewal notices, trans¬actional emails with upsell or cross-sell offers, special promotions for top customers
Lapsed Customers - people who have stopped opening and click¬ing your emails or who no longer make purchases
- Unique goals: gaining an understanding of their concerns, attempt¬ing to re-engage them with the brand, and preventing them from switching allegiance to another company
- Ideal messaging for achieving these goals: surveys that identify reason for lack of engagement, incentives to revisit the Web site, promotions to encourage purchases
As with many elements of sophisticated email marketing programs, the key to lifecycle marketing is getting started. The more you deliver relevant, tar¬geted messages to prospects and customers, the better your results will be.
7. Metrics That Measure Engagement
Monitoring more sophisticated metrics helps you quantify the performance of your marketing initiatives. Armed with this data, you can act on your insights and make adjustments to your strategy as needed. Yet 59 percent of email marketers only use basic metrics such as opens and click-through rates,7 failing to properly measure engagement and missing an opportunity to improve their understanding of customers and prospects, tighten the efficiency of their marketing programs and be better able to defend their budgets and emails’ worth.
To avoid drowning in a statistical deluge, don’t try to evaluate every possible data point. Select a measurement you believe would have an impact on your program and focus on that. But don’t make your focus too narrow, relying on the measurement equivalent of a snapshot. Instead, develop a more holistic view of results, observing how metrics trend over time, the implications of anomalies and outliers, and what changes can be made to improve results and increase satisfaction and ROI.
Rather than focusing solely on open and click rates, monitor an email’s effective rate—the percentage of people who click after opening—to gain a better measure of your message’s relevance. This is a powerful metric for gauging the success of retention and loyalty-based campaigns. High effective rates indicate that your message content was relevant to those who open the message. Conversely, low effective rates mean your content isn’t sufficiently targeted to recipients willing to take the time to glance through your messages.
Conversion rate is obviously an important metric. If you find your conversion rates are lagging, make the call to action clearer and more prominent; design attractive, focused landing pages that match your brand and email campaign; and make the process easy by prepopulating forms with the person’s informa¬tion when possible.
Savvy marketers realize that you can only achieve solid improvements on campaign elements that you actually take the time to measure. If you’re not mea¬suring campaign performance, you’re missing out on key insights that can create happier customers, improve results and prove your marketing team’s value.
Before the dawn of the Internet and Web 2.0, a marketer needed only capture an audience’s attention with an appealing ad to be successful. But today we live in a world that demands much more of marketers. People are exposed to around 5,000 ads a day. When connecting with customers using any of these seven email tactics, you’ll want to make sure to coordinate messaging across multiple channels, conveying a consistent and personalized experience. By using a mar¬keting solution that’s integrated with other channels such as email, landing pages and social media, it’s easy to spread your message wide, but keep it focused.
By employing the seven email marketing techniques outlined here, you’ll engage customers in a way that sets you apart from the “noise” that’s currently overwhelming consumers, increasing brand loyalty and profits in the process.
Condensed from a whitepaper by Silverpop - http://www.silverpop.com