25 May 2024, 18:04
By David Schulhof Apr 30, 2014

Time to refine your email marketing?

Email marketing has come a long way since the ‘shout as loud as you can to everyone and anyone’ marketing tactics of old. In this article, David Schulhof explains how a business can employ new techniques to re-target their customers and better engage them …

Sophisticated email management tools, driven by big data, have created the opportunity to implement a new phase of email marketing that can intelligently target customers with offers and content specific to their situation – be that a previous order they placed, a certain store location they had items delivered to, or a discount offer they had participated in.

With the continual battle for market share and customer loyalty it has become more important than ever to re-engage with customers, and email marketing provides the perfect platform for this task. If you aren’t quite sold on the benefits of email marketing, then let me remind you that 91% of consumers check their email accounts on a daily basis, and 74% openly prefer to receive brand communications via their inbox than any other marketing medium. That is a huge percentage of the market that can be reached and potentially converted if you have the right strategy in place.

For furniture retailers, email can open up additional opportunities to entice previous customers back into your store, or to encourage them to return to your ecommerce site. Due to the nature of furniture orders, most companies will already be in the ideal position to carry out a widespread email campaign, as an email address is usually required whenever an item order is placed in store or online.

The new legalities around the use of email marketing do require recipients to have actively opted-in to receive marketing messages by email, but this consent can be asked for at the same time as an email address if given during the order process, so you can capture new customer details and constantly renew your database.

Customer loyalty is increasingly hard to secure, with value for money often taking precedent over service or quality, but with email re-targeting offers you can keep previous customers engaged, interested, and most importantly, highly susceptible to your marketing messages. The key is to be precise. Personalisation is important, so long as this is set up correctly – no ‘Dear Mr [first name here]’ nonsense – but this can also feed into the types of messages and offers you choose to re-target customers with.

For example, whereas previously you may have sent out a blanket offer to everyone on your customer list to advertise 10% off beds, you can now afford to be more accurate with your messaging, if your system allows for it. Rather than sending this message to everyone, you may want to filter out anyone who has purchased a bed from you in the past 36 months, as it is unlikely they would be interested in a new one this soon after their initial purchase. This subgroup can then receive a secondary offer at a later date that is more tailored to their purchase history.

In this way you can provide highly targeted and valuable sales messages to customers who have actively shown an interest in your brand – by purchasing from you previously – and will have a much higher chance of converting them in the future.

Even if your current email system doesn’t offer this advanced functionality to re-target by product group, email should still be a key part of your marketing strategy. It is, if nothing else, a fantastic way to generate repeat exposure to your brand and maintain brand awareness within your customer base. Even if a customer doesn’t open your email, they will still have to glance at the subject line and send name to decide whether or not to delete it, and this will keep your brand name at the top of their mind when it comes to furniture.

If you are noticing a high rate of checkout abandonments on your site, you can also use re-targeting to try to rectify the situation. Several brands have now achieved success after trialling basket abandonment emails, which allow you to re-engage with a customer who has previously added items to their basket but failed to check out, and can be relatively easy to implement.

The call to action associated with this re-engagement tactic varies depending on the industry and brand – some brands include a discount code that can be applied if the customer returns to finish their order, whilst others position the re-engagement email as a helpful reminder that there are items still left in their basket, and that these will be kept for the next X amount of days.

Here are five tips for re-targeting success:

1. Maintain regular correspondence via email. The optimum frequency of email communication will vary for each company, but ideally you should be sending an email out no less than once a month at the bare minimum.

2. To ensure your emails reach a customer’s inbox, avoid using words and phrases like ‘free’ ‘buy now’ and ‘buy direct’ – these can all trigger a spam filter which will pull your marketing message straight into the recipient’s junk folder.

3. Ensure your brand name is present somewhere in the email subject line or as the sender name. This will make sure that it is easily recognisable and will boost brand awareness.

4. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If sales messages aren’t having the impact you want, try re-engagement with content-based emails instead. These could be suggesting useful help videos on how to lay certain flooring, through to interior design tips to re-create a certain style of decor.

5. Optimise your emails for mobile! Around 50% of all emails sent are now opened on a mobile device, so it is vital that your email template is set up to accommodate mobile and tablet users. Many customers will simply delete an email if it doesn’t display properly, and you want to give yours the best chance of success.

Email marketing can yield astonishing results when carried out properly. It still remains the most successful form of digital marketing due to the vast amount of email users, and re-targeting messages should play a key part in any email marketing strategy.

David Schulhof is the head of digital marketing at Metakinetic, an award-winning full-service ecommerce agency. Its team of 20 specialists provides ecommerce solutions, creative design, digital marketing and email management to a wide range of online retailers.

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