By Anne Holland, President
I'm dancing around with a crazy grin on my face because last week was the first burst of decent sunny weather we've had in New England all year. It's *finally* warming up for spring, and the relief is profound.
Which, as it turns out, is a very good thing because, otherwise, I would be horribly depressed. You see, I went up an entire dress size while coping with six months of gray unrelenting winter. So, now, I'm having to replace nearly every painfully tight item in my spring and summer wardrobe -- from linen trousers to swimsuits. Which is why my personal email in-box is now overflowing with online receipts and shipping notices.
One thing is *missing* from most of them. No promotions.
Very few online retailers, aside from travel sites, bother to put house ads on shipping and sales receipts. Instead, there seems to be a church and state divide between transactional and promotional emails.
Plus, looking at most, you would never even guess they came from the same company.
Most transactional are text only and sound like they were written by a robotic computer. They read like banking statements. Meanwhile, most promotions are HTML with big pictures and exclamation-ridden copy!
Why should you care? Check out this chart from MarketingSherpa's new Ecommerce Marketing Study (plus, see below for a free chapter download hotlink):Chart: Consumer Readership of Transactional vs Promotional EmailsSource: MarketingSherpa, StrongMail and Survey Sampling International, Transactional Email and Marketing Study, January 2007
Methodology: A survey of 1,323 consumers was fielded on Jan. 19 and closed on Jan. 25. The respondents were members of Survey Sampling Internationalís online consumer panel and are representative of the US online population over age 18.
As dry and text-blah-y as transactional emails are, consumers are far, far more likely to open and review them than they are to look at your promotions. I can't explain this. But I can recommend that you react to it.
For those of you who might be scared about adding house ads in transactional emails, MarketingSherpa's research team has good news. We have been surveying consumers for four years now asking them how they feel about promos included in transactionals. At first, opinions were sharply divided. Some consumers loved the idea -- why not get a special offer from a trusted merchant you just bought from? Some consumers hated the idea: just say no to more commercials!
However, our latest surveys show that the strong emotions of past surveys have subsided. Now, consumers have received enough promotions that they don't really seem to care one way or another. As long as their transactional message contains the facts they expect it to, it's no skin off their noses if you toss in a promo offer, too.
Some retailers have reacted to this news in a pussy-footing manner, by adding house ads, but putting them at the very bottom of the page. So, ads are there, but no one will ever see or object to them. I think given today's climate you can test moving your ads a bit higher up now.
How? Why not copy Sprint Nextel's transactional messaging tests? They redesigned their transactionals into a two-column format. The wider, left column had the basic transactional facts. The thinner promotional column had special offers for additional items related to whatever their customer had just bought.
Results? Sales from these offers embedded into transactional messages did better than many of the companies 100% promotional broadcasts to the same list. Which, given the chart above, along with the rest of our Ecommerce 2007 data is to be expected.
For a free sample chapter PDF of MarketingSherpa's new Ecommerce Study, go to: