Is email still the place for conversions?
Email marketing may not get as much buzz today as other forms of online marketing, but Cindy White, senior e-commerce marketing manager at Plow & Hearth, explained at the Internet Retailer Conference and Expo (IRCE) at McCormick Center in Chicago that it still has the highest ROI of any marketing channel.
In a conversation with RetailWire, Ms. White detailed an important distinction between the uses of social and email marketing.
“I think that the goal is different,” Ms. White told RetailWire. “I think email is still the place to go for immediate sales — the ROI is so incredibly good with email. Social I think kind of became a place where you had to pay to play a little bit, but that is where your engagement is going to be. If you can build that engagement I think the sales will eventually come; I think it takes a little bit longer to nurture that channel than it does to email.”
In her session, Ms. White detailed strategies to leverage email given what we know about the contemporary customer.
Regarding the types of marketing emails likely to see engagement, Ms. White noted that transactional emails, such as registration emails and shipping confirmations, are opened at a rate eight-times greater than any other type. She recommended taking advantage of the open rate to add appropriate product recommendations and even push repurchases. She pointed to welcome messages at the beginning of a customer relationship being important, given that those customers who read welcome messages read more than 40 percent of their emails from that sender in the next 180 days.
Ms. White also saw cart abandonment followup emails — smoothing over the reason for abandonment within an hour of the missed transaction — as a prime place to push conversions.
She also recommended automating the process of segmenting contacts by frequency of purchase and then using different messaging geared towards each segment.
As far as behaviors to avoid, she strongly warned against practices like purchasing email address lists in favor of collecting email addresses through various forms of on-site engagement.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should companies shift focus away from other more “buzzy” forms of online marketing like social and work on getting email marketing right? Is email marketing more effective for particular types of customers or brands?