Live from NEMOA: Engage Customers In E-mail Marketing

Boston—E-mail marketing continues to provide the highest ROI of all marketing channels. But marketers could probably be doing a better job leveraging the medium.

In his March 10 NEMOA session, “E-mail Marketing: Three Must Dos to Successfully Engage Your Customer, Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations for Silverpop, discussed leveraging your data, engaging with customers, and automating and optimizing.

“It’s all about the data,” McDonald e said. Any item of data—gender, age, marital status—is a huge plus for e-mail marketers. Armed with relevant information, marketers need to send relevant e-mails.

It sounds simple, but isn’t always executed properly. McDonald offered up several tips to help e-mail marketers:

  1. Segment by purchasing habits.
  2. Test “Happy Birthday” offers, which show a 52% open rate and 10% higher conversion rate.
  3. Engage with customers—use a welcome message and test a two- or three-part welcome message. Be sure to create your best e-mail right out of the gate.
  4. Manage subscriber expectations. Within two months of opt-in, open rates typically fall 20% to 25%.
  5. Surprise and delight your customers. Exceed their expectations.
  6. Leverage user-generated content, such as customer reviews and comments.
  7. Be human—and original. McDonald offered an example of an e-mail from Urban Outfitters, which said: “This sale is AWESOMER!”
  8. Use cart abandonment e-mails.

McDonald said anywhere from 25% to as high as 80% of a company’s e-mail list is inactive. He suggested connecting early and often, starting with a standard re-engagement e-mail such as: “Let’s talk about you for a change.”

The frequency conundrum, McDonald admitted, is probably the most puzzling aspect of e-mail marketing. “You can pound, pound, pound away [at your e-mail file], but at some point, something has to give.” For optimum frequency, a marketer must pay close attention to customer behavior.

Providing a choice of e-mail messages is another good approach, with value-added streams, follow-ups, and reminders. Brand your e-mails for cadence, because timing is everything, McDonald said.

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