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Email marketing – part 1 by David Mackley

David Mackley brings you part one of a two-part series about email marketing

Email marketing can be an under utilised tool by retailers. We work with hundreds of retailers and I only see a small percentage that really put it to good use. Those that do reap the rewards see longer-term customer engagement as well as a direct impact on visitors and sales. So what are the different types of email campaign, how often should you run them and how do you do it well? This mini series of articles looks to answer these common questions.

Types of email marketing
There are different types of email marketing, and having an understanding of each can help you plan your campaigns.

Promotional emails
An email promotion or campaign tends to communicate one single topic or idea, such as your current sale or a new product.

The key to increasing your success with promotional email campaigns is to segment the customer base. In an ideal world, customers would see an email personally tailored to them. Amazon goes some way to doing this with recommendations for you.

For most independent retailers, and in fact most businesses, this is too hard to achieve. If an email is more relevant to the customer, there's a greater chance of getting engagement. The tricky part is how to segment. A survey of the email marketing industry found that 73 per cent of companies are only doing very basic segmentation.

The problem is there are so many ways to segment customers; it's hard to know where to start. For example, products purchased, age of child, number of children, customer location, length of time since last purchase, sales channels used, e.g. shop or web. The question a lot of retailers ask is how far do you go with segmentation? With limited time to do any marketing, at least a global email is better than nothing, unless it risks alienating your customers and reducing the likelihood of them opening further emails from you.

Newsletter emails
Newsletter emails often have multiple topics and tend to educate (vs. sell) and build rapport with your readers. Your newsletter should always offer readers valuable information. You can include information like:
News: Press releases, news about gift ideas, blog articles or other publications that will help your readers. It's a good idea to summarise longer articles in a few short sentences and create a call to action button for the reader to view the entire article on your website or blog.
Upcoming events: These may be events you're hosting or participating in.
Important announcements: Include improvements to your products or services, new people in the team or new brands you're bringing on board.
Images: Keep your newsletter interesting with images relating to your content.
Calls to action: Tell your readers what you want them to do with clear calls to action such as read more, learn more and register now. You can easily create call to action buttons for your website or emails and newsletters here.

Why/when send newsletter emails?
Remind people about you. Build trust and engage customers by providing useful information. Announce new exciting ranges and give them a reason to revisit.
Newsletter can be sent out monthly.

Transactional emails
These are emails that are triggered by a customer action. For example, an email to all those people who signed up to your loyalty scheme this month, welcoming them and highlighting some member benefits. What about an email to all customers who shopped in store or online in the last few weeks? Maybe thank them for their custom.

Zappos, a leading online retailer in the US, sends a nice welcome email to new customers saying: Let the good times begin now you are part of the Zappos family, you can keep up with the latest brands and styles. Enjoy these perks too: Fast free shipping, free easy returns etc. Then they have a call to action which links back to the website.

Why send transactional emails?
Transactional emails are less likely to be considered as spam as they form a part of a process undertaken by your customer.
As such they have nearly 50 per cent higher open rates than promotional emails. They also have significantly higher click through rates.
These emails also promote repeat custom.

Other types of transactional emails include reminders about orders customers have placed. If a customer purchased a certain type of product, whether it's a brand or a general item like a buggy, why not send a transactional email to every customer in the last few months offering a cross-sell product special offer?

Next article:
Email marketing part two: Looks at how to write emails to increase customer engagement and how to test for success.

Contact
David Mackley MBA BSc is Managing Director of Intelligent Retail -www.intelligentretail.co.uk - providers of multichannel EPoS and eCommerce websites for independent retailers. If you have any questions you can contact David on T: +44 (0)845 680 0126 or E: dmackley@intelligentretail.co.uk