Engaging online customers requires more than quick thank you notes for buying or signing up for newsletters. To win over long term customers, email marketers should ask shoppers what they want and offer information that makes shopping easier and more rewarding, according to experts.
While acknowledging that electronic retailers are getting smarter and more effective in email marketing, Rachel Bergman, senior vice president of client services at CheetahMail, said. CheetahMail is a provider of email marketing technology and services. "The number of retailers we have seen using analytics data in email marketing shot up in the last quarter."
"One of the most common and effective ways of combining analytics and email marketing, is to email customers soon after they abandon a shopping cart with an offer to help complete a purchase through simple shopping advice or a promotional incentive." A surprising number of recipients of those emails are thankful for the follow up because they had either forgotten to return to a cart or thought they had actually finished the checkout process, Bergman pointed out.
Retailers are also using web analytics more to identify cross selling and upselling opportunities, she noted. "Retailers are figuring out basket analysis, which indicates what products are often purchased together. If they can determine if people who typically buy dresses also buy shoes, they can cross sell shoes with dresses in email marketing messages."
"It is also important to go beyond product promotions to engage the customer's interest in the retailer's brand and service," said Ben Ardito, group director of client services for Dialog, another email technology and services provider. As soon as shoppers make a purchase or take some other action, such as opting in to an email newsletter, retailers should immediately email a welcome note that explains the total value they offer customers, including such information as new features that make the retailer's site easy to shop.
"Immediacy is the key," Ardito said, adding that retailers shouldn't wait hours or days to send a welcoming message. It can also be effective to email customers personal tools that can aid in shopping.
Ardito pointed to examples, such as a beauty products retailer that recently emailed customers a skin care planner, which is a tool designed to keep them engaged over a long term. Netflix Inc., the online DVD rental company, is particularly good at sending helpful emails, according to Ardito.
"In addition to an order confirmation email, Netflix follows up with an email message that informs a customer the DVD order will soon arrive, even though in many cases the order has already arrived. That leaves the customer feeling good about the attention from Netflix and also good about getting the order early," he said.
Information in this article was excerpted and edited from a story on InternetRetailer.com.
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