Some marketers have the wrong idea about e-mail. They know it’s cheap, but they fail to realize just how much it can do for them. E-mail is quick (responses taking more than 24 hours are below the industry standard). It’s intimate (you can lock in customers with personalized welcome messages and one-click interactions). And it delivers the best ROI of any channel (no small thing in a faltering economy). The result? E-mail can help you build customer loyalty. We cover these disciplines-and more-in this issue of Information Intelligence from Opinion Research Corporation.
“Creating exceptional customer experiences through email is one way to build customer loyalty,” says Tanya Hyde, vice president of professional services for Yesmail, an infoUSA company. She points out that relevant email communication can build trust with the customer, establish greater brand awareness, set expectations and continue to engage the customer with a personalized call to action.
The foundation of a customer centric email program is developing relevant communication based on how a customer is acquired and targeting future communication based on where they are in the lifecycle process, Hyde says. For example, consumers are generally most responsive at the beginning of the lifecycle when a company has just made contact via email. That’s why welcome and on-boarding campaigns, which build trust and set expectations, are so important.
For example, a magazine publisher might acquire new email subscribers by offering an incentive to take advantage of a free trial. Then a multi-message email conversion series could be used to convert that free trial acceptance to a paid subscriber.
Once a customer has subscribed to the magazine, the publisher should send out regular e-mail communications to keep the subscriber active and engaged in the email program, to maintain brand awareness, and to create a loyal magazine reader. Ongoing communication could include additional information about the publication, tips & tricks, surveys, and notifications about recurring promotions and special offers.
As a customer progresses through the lifecycle they may become non-responsive.A number of email campaigns can be employed to influence customer behavior including activation campaigns and lapsed customer campaigns, Hyde says.
“If someone has purchased a product or service from you in the past; you should be using that knowledge to personalize communication, convert repeat purchasers and maintain engagement,” Hyde explains. Additionally, it’s critically important that companies take the time to thank their customers “Don’t under estimate the power of saying thank you to your existing customers. Instead of only trying to convert new customers, make sure that you also acknowledge your existing customers,” Hyde says. Discounts and incentives are powerful conversion tools, but you don’t always need to offer promotions to maintain loyalty. You can create a feeling of exclusivity by acknowledging valued loyal customer status, giving early preview of sales or sharing product updates and news.
And businesses shouldn’t forget about customer rewards programs. “Some of our most successful email marketers are finding one of the best ways to stay engaged with customers on a regular basis is a rewards program with updates sent often via email,” says Hyde. People that sign up for rewards programs actually appreciate the summaries and may even be anxious to see how close they’re getting to their redemption goals. It’s also a useful way to gather information on exactly what products and themes your customers are responding to.
“In a downturn economy, targeted, personalized email can be a very big part of keeping customers active and engaged and building loyalty,” Hyde concludes.