3 Tactics for Email: Promote, Personalize and Be Relevant
Multichannel marketers have an ideal way to boost sales, but not all of them use it. The method: sending emails to announce the arrival of a catalog. In a famous case study a few years ago, gifts and gadgets marketer Miles Kimball performed the optimal test. The company had 40,000 email addresses from customers who had purchased online and opted in to email communication.
Miles Kimball divided these customers into two equal groups. The first group received the company's spring catalog, along with an email timed to arrive in conjunction with the catalog. The email said, “Look in your mailbox for our new catalog,” along with some highlights of what the customer would find inside. The other 20,000 customers simply got the same catalog with no accompanying email. The result: Adding the email increased sales by 18 percent per household. Subsequent experience proved the value of this technique.
Today, many multichannel marketers use email to boost catalog sales. Consider that by 2007, 82 percent of 434 catalog/multichannel companies surveyed by the Direct Marketing Association were using email promotions. More than 44 percent of all print catalog sales now occur on the web, as opposed to phone or mail.
These results are reported in a recently published book that I wrote with Arthur Sweetser, chief marketing officer of the email marketing firm e-Dialog, titled “Successful E-Mail Marketing Strategies: From Hunting to Farming,” (RACOM, 2009). Here's just a sampling of some of the pointers from the book:
1. Make sure your email is relevant to those who receive it. Too many marketers blast identical copy to all their email subscribers. Catalog/multichannel marketers don't have to do this. Most of their email subscribers are customers, so they know what they bought and what they clicked on from their websites. Create categories of product interest for each subscriber, and feature these products in your email rather than pushing the “product of the month.”
In 2006, JupiterResearch reported that the average untargeted email campaign had an open rate of about 20 percent, a clickthrough rate of about 9.5 percent and a conversion rate of only about 1 percent. Conversely, the average targeted email campaign had a 33 percent open rate, 14 percent clickthrough rate and 3.9 percent conversion rate.
2. Personalize your emails. You know the subscriber’s name; simply use it in the text of your emails. Williams-Sonoma tested personalized images and saw conversions increase 50 percent. Golfsmith saw revenue jump 167 percent when it used personalization.
3. Use promotions in your transactional emails. The problem with most commercial email is that about 80 percent of it doesn't get opened. That’s not the case with transactional emails (e.g., “Your product was shipped today”), however, which are opened and read at about double the rate of promotional emails. While customers are reading about the transaction, HTML can promote a related product below the fold.
Arthur Middleton Hughes is co-author of “Successful E-Mail Marketing Strategies: From Hunting to Farming,” (RACOM, 2009). He's also senior strategist at e-Dialog. He can be reached at Ahughes@e-dialog.com.