Opt-in e-mail campaigns continue to be a cost-effective way to generate sales and traffic to your Web site. If you execute your own campaigns in-house, the cost practically is zero. Even if you use an outside e-mail marketing firm, the cost to send each e-mail is miniscule compared to the cost of a mailed, printed piece.
However, as consumers get more and more frustrated with inbox clutter and shady offers, it’s even more important that you ensure your offers are effective and provide value and/or interest to your customers or prospects. Otherwise, the cost to you may not be in simply executing the campaign, but in annoying — and even losing — customers.
No doubt you’ve read many tips on what to do and what not to do in opt-in e-mail campaigns. Rather than repeat those proven tactics, I’ll share with you some overall e-mail campaign concepts that have proven successful in generating strong traffic and order response for our catalog company. Many of these ideas are promotional in nature. But remember, if your marketing promotional costs are standard for a catalog company, they’ll be around 20 percent. So you can give away up to 20 percent on the sale and be equal to a mailed effort in contribution, since your promotional costs for the e-mail are almost nothing.
1. Sale. Still the most effective campaign out there in my experience is a sale of some kind. It could be a site-wide sale (e.g., 20 percent off anything), clearance or bargain bin sale, tent sale, private sale, sale on a certain range of products (e.g., a specific category, bestsellers), or a sale on a single item that’s broadly popular.
2. A shipping offer. Shipping and handling charges still are one of the largest reported barriers for people ordering from catalogs or online, so making an offer on shipping can drive response. But be creative with such offers. For example, half-off shipping or $1.99 shipping on any order may be just as profitable as free shipping. You won’t beat free on response, but the extra $2 to $5 an order might make a real difference on your profit and loss statement.