March 05, 2009
If your marketing team is forced to do more with less, consider tweaking your email strategy and expanding it into other areas. Below we've outlined 7 strategies that come directly from MarketingSherpa's Case Studies and how-to articles. Includes research statistics and choice bits from Sherpa's Case Studies.
Seven Strategies to Heighten Email’s Efficiency
Strategy #1: Use best practices and basic tests
In short -- the basics work. Before expanding your emailing marketing to other areas, make sure that it is strong. Follow the industry’s best practices and test continually.
Applying the basics to an unrefined strategy can yield significant results. Erick Barney, VP Marketing, Motorcycle Superstore, related that sentiment after getting a reliable analytics system to measure and segment email.
Here are a few changes his team made:
o Scrubbing the list - removing names that bounced three consecutive emails increased deliverability by 30% after just five sends.
o Frequency - the team previously mailed once a month and tested more frequent sends, up to once a week. They eventually settled on a twice-a-month send, which boosted revenue over 100%.
o Day of week - the team found that the best days to send promotional emails were Mondays and Tuesdays to give them the most amount of time before hitting the Saturday brick wall.
o Subject lines - benefit-oriented subject lines worked best, and complimentary shipping outperformed the “lowest price guaranteed” phrasing.
o Segmenting the list - the team identified eight customer segments to whom they would send customized emails. Open rates doubled (38.6% from 18.5%), and clickthrough rates more than tripled (20.6% from 6.2%).
Strategy #2: Nurture leads
Consumers often research products online that they intend to buy offline, such as houses and cars. A strong email strategy to coax consumers into calling a sales rep or visiting a show room can work wonders for conversion rates.
Todd Smith, General Manager & Partner, D&C Chevrolet, a car dealer, used such a strategy. His team generated leads through paid search ads and a microsite designed to provide quick invoice pricing. They removed leads that originated outside the dealership’s state.
After entering their information at the microsite, consumers received:
- Immediately: A short confirmation email
- One hour later: An email with three price quotes
- Two days later: An email mentioning that a sales rep would be calling
- Within 24 hours: a call from a sales rep
Smith and his team didn’t give up on leads after a few days. Instead, over the next three months, they adhered to a set schedule to send the leads up to six additional email messages. With help from incentives offered in the show room, sales conversions increased by more than six times their previous levels.
Strategy #3: Resurrect dead leads
A simple text-only email can have a powerful impact on consumers, even when they’re considered “dead leads.”
Dr. Marvin Lagstein, Orthodontist and Author of ‘Brace Yourself for Success,’ and his marketing team found themselves with a list of dead leads in December 2007. The prospects had expressed interest in a special six-month treatment, but then never signed up for the program. These leads had already received Lagstein’s book, a promotional letter, a follow-up telephone call and emails about the treatment. Some had been receiving an email every two weeks for as long as 12 months.
Around the holidays, the team sent a text-only email intended to entice the patients to sign up within 20 days; if they did, they would receive a 28.5% discount on the costly procedure. The email’s content was quirky. Here’s a quote:
“I've decided the world needs a Jewish Santa Claus. So, I've personally dubbed myself Santa Claustein. And, as my first order of business for the Christmas season, I’m going to give you a very special gift!”
1.25% of the recipients called for more information, and of those, 26.7% became patients, lifting the number of Lagstein’s total treatment patients 36.3%.
Strategy #4: Boost user-generated content
Ratings and reviews are a proven way to get consumers to feel more comfortable online and to convert more often. A simple email can tempt them to contribute their opinion to a site.
In 2007, Michael Klazema, Director Web Marketing and CRM, DYMO, a manufacturer of label printers, started sending a simple email to customers who registered their label printer at DYMO’s website. Thirty days after registering, customers received an email asking, “Are you satisfied?”
Those who clicked “yes” were brought to a product review page. Those who clicked “no” were brought to a page with customer-service phone numbers and links to a product review page. Customer reviews shot up to over 10 times their daily level, Klazema says.
Strategy #5: Cut expenses, increase satisfaction, multiply sales
Besides providing a marketing opportunity, transaction emails, such as sale and shipping notices, are a great way to cut expenses and time for customer service. 91% of consumers either already use or would prefer to use email for shipping notices, according to MarketingSherpa’s 2008 Email Marketing Benchmark Guide. 77% use or would prefer to use email for receipts and transaction confirmations.
Also, 76% would use or would prefer receiving emailed answers to customer-service questions. 48% said they use or would prefer emails for more important information, such as monthly statements on utilities and mortgages.
If you are questioning whether or not your communication is being read, doubt no further – it is. In fact, 75% of consumers open and read service messages “frequently” or “very often/always.” That is more than the 45% who say they open and read other permission-based mailings that often.
These stats point to an advertising opportunity in transactional emails. And, according to our research, the ads do not need to be invasive. Over 90% of consumers we surveyed noticed a single line of text in a short text-based transactional email. The email contained:
- 2 thank-you sentences
- Shipping confirmation with order number
- Link to track shipment
- Customer care signature
- A closing promotional sentence
The last sentence: “Save big on [Brand X] favorites! Shop our Weekly Specials today." "Weekly Specials" is hyperlinked to a landing page.
Strategy #6: Sharpen autoresponding email strategy
Autoresponding emails can deliver much more than transactional information. They can reengage customers who’ve abandoned online shopping carts, and up-sell and next-sell purchases.
Stephanie Brocoum, VP Marketing, SmartBargains.com, and her team had been sending recent customers a 4-email sequence over 30 days for about two years. The program showed great results, and the team felt that it could deliver more value if they tweaked it a bit. They further customized the emails based on the following purchase factors:
o Product category: customers who buy a product of a certain category will see promotions for other products of that type. A handbag customer, for instance, will be offered more handbags.
The product category also helped determine the discount in the emails. The team found that customers who buy commodities, such as mattresses, are less likely to return and, therefore, are offered stronger discounts. Shoe and fashion shoppers, on the other hand, are more likely to return without an incentive, she says.
o Sales channel - customers arriving from sales channels that typically generate customers of a lower lifetime value were offered larger discounts than others.
o Price - big-ticket buyers were shown more high-end products because they had different motivations than frugal shoppers.
o Number of previous purchases - frequent SmartBargains.com shoppers were less likely to receive a strong discount since they were likely to return anyway.
Strategy #7: Organize and rally grassroots teams
Email is a vital tool for grassroots organizations. President Barak Obama’s now legendary late-night SMS announcement of his Vice Presidential running mate illustrated the power of text messages to get out a short, quick note. Email, however, is more effective for messages that require more content. Email is a low-cost method of spreading your organization’s statements and rallying the team.
Tony Motola, Campaign Manager, Phil Gordon for Mayor of Phoenix 2007, leveraged email to help his candidate get 76% of the vote in his September 2007 re-election race. How important was email to the campaign?
“Before we had an office, our campaign, for the first 90 days, had a virtual campaign headquarters. So everything was worked through the website and through email,” Motola says.
Types of content in the emails:
- Campaign updates
- Positive press and campaign messages
- Responses to attacks
- Voting information and reminders
- Events and rally information
- Donation requests
- Opinion polling
- Links to other channels (e.g., campaign website, social network profiles)
Want more email strategies?
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Useful links related to this article:
MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit ‘09
Motorcycle Superstore: Segmentation, Strategy, Tests Increase ROI 377%
D&C Chevrolet: 6 Steps to Triple Leads
Dr. Marvin Lagstein: Text-Only Email Generated 36% More Customers
DYMO: Simple Email Increased Customer Reviews 1000%
Smartbargains.com: Autoresponders Retain Customers, Boost Revenue
Mayor of Phoenix Campaign: Grassroots Campaigning with Web 2.0, Email & Mobile