The Importance of Email Marketing
I'm Jeremy Vale, the Email Marketing Manager here at Logical Position. We're going to talk about the importance of email marketing. Times are a little crazy right now with COVID-19, so we'll tie some of that in as well. Let's take a look at buying habits for a second.
The world has definitely changed a good bit, and buying habits have changed right along with everything else that's going on. I want to focus a bit on that and what we've seen in the email marketing world.
Buying habits are changing
Retail sales dropped just 8.7% in March, but on the flip side, e-commerce consumer sales are up just over 52%, which is tremendous. That's a timeline focused around January 1st to March 1st and March 15th to April 20th. There are huge changes between these periods. Right now is an excellent time. Whether you are an e-commerce business or a service-based business, buying habits are changing, and we're seeing spending skyrocket.
Buying habits have shifted online
This is from an email service provider’s poll of all of their customers in their database, including the clients that they work with, the individual websites, and online sales. You can see a trend up at the beginning of March , but really hitting very strong at the beginning of April. Those buying habits are definitely tied directly to COVID-19.
What is the New Essential?
There's a term that I like called the New Essential. The idea behind the New Essential is that as our lives and day-to-day habits have changed, we're seeing buying habits change right along with it. This idea of the New Essential is someone who works from home, who doesn’t go out unless it's absolutely necessary. We're seeing purchase habits change along with that idea. It's not just for things that we need, but it's now things that we want to help us cope and deal with the situation that we're in. Think about the hierarchy of COVID-19. Food and water are essentials without question. There was a huge focus on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. People lost their minds, cleared out all stores. They got a good three-year supply of toilet paper, then realized that they've got to be productive and work from home.
We saw a shift go into Zoom, office supplies, actually making offices at home usable and workable. Then, when they figure that out, the thought is, “Okay, now I've got to survive while I'm here.” Exercise and skin care increase. “I still just want to maintain some normalcy here,” I think when purchasing toys, games, and creativity. Toys, games and creativity are where the New Essential really focuses and lands.
What is included in the New Essential?
- Apparel & accessories -- activewear
- Hardware & home improvement
- Health & beauty
- Housewares, home furnishings, & garden
- Office supplies
- Sporting goods
- Toys & hobbies
Here's a couple of the different pieces that build the New Essential. It's not everything but a lot of this is that toys, games and creativity. Keep me entertained. Keep my kids entertained while I'm stuck at home, while I'm in the yard trying to figure out how to survive my children being stuck in a confined place.
There are also other things like hardware, home improvement. I've seen many service-based industries get a tremendous amount of business, and they've had to change how they do business. We'll talk about how to communicate that well, but across the board, buying habits have shifted in a huge way. A lot of it is focused around e-commerce. It's not just the things that we need to survive, but it's also the things that we want or will make us more comfortable or allow us to survive our new environment in a different way.
Engage new customers
Email is an amazing way to engage with people, as well as the time that people now spend online. They are searching for things that maybe they haven't searched for in the past. They spend extra time shopping online, whether it be because they can't go to the stores that they used to, or they're nervous to go outside. Maybe never really wanted to engage online because it just wasn't their preference but now they're being forced to jump into that arena.
What popups can do for you
One of the biggest things with email marketing is that you have the opportunity to engage new customers and solidify a relationship right off the bat. We're going to talk about pop-ups, and how they are an effective way to capture someone's email address when they're coming to you. With all the online activity that's happening, there are people who may be landing on your site, who would not have found you before, whether it's through an ad or social or organic search. When somebody comes to your site, you want to engage them. If you can collect their email address, it allows you to continue marketing to them going forward, which is a huge opportunity from your perspective. Now you have their ear to keep up communication and continue to engage with them. You certainly do not need to offer a discount.I will say that we typically do a nice, quiet fly out from the side pop-up.
A big pop up in the middle of your screen can actually hurt and impact your SEO. Google wants to see a pop-up that's no more than 15% of the screen.
We don't want to cover content. We don't want to get in the way of someone looking at what your page has to offer and what your website is doing. It slides out from the side. In the basic sense just focus on new customers. Customers you don't know yet. We want to capture that email. Keep it simple, capture the basics. There is opportunity for you to really go beyond.
If we can gather some information from a customer, and they're willing to click two radio buttons, which is pretty simple, it allows us to target them with our marketing going forward. If we know what a customer's looking for or interested in, we can do a much better job sending them communications they will want to see and engage with. If you overcomplicate it, you will drive customers away.
This is that first touchpoint, but it is a good opportunity when done well, to say, “Let me gather information about this customer, so I can ensure that I'm sending emails to them that they're interested in and want to see.”
If you're offering a discount, that's okay. A lot of people expect a discount, but focus on the idea of joining the club, joining the family, and being in the know. It's got to match your brand.
Collect emails on the footer from a pop-up or even on the checkout page, a lot of platforms right now do a good job with embedding those pieces. Building email collection in as native functionality is smart. However, a lot of folks don't do anything with them. That's a huge mistake, because if someone's willing to share that email address with you, engage with them immediately.
That pop-up isn't just a pop-up just to get an email and then do nothing with it.
Send new subscribers a Welcome Series
The first thing that I'd like to focus on is a Welcome Series. A Welcome Series should hit immediately after someone shares their email.
Best practice here is a two-part authentication. Two-part authentication means you put your email in, so you'll receive an email from us that lays out privacy guidelines and how we're going to respect your information, but also causes you to then take an additional step to declare interest. This is going to make sure that we're keeping bots out. We don't want web crawlers putting fake email addresses into our pop-up form or the footer on our site. We only want valuable traffic.
With that in mind, once an email is collected, let's reach out to that customer immediately with an automated email. We call it the Welcome Series: three or four emails all happening within a week-long timeline.
- Can you connect with that customer?
- Can you endear them to your brand?
Tell the story about who we are, what we're all about, how we started the business, or how we're unique in the market. Why we're the right option to work with, in service or e-commerce.
Be personal. This doesn't have to be templated. This doesn't have to be purely information. Let people see who you are. If they connect with you and your brand, they're much more willing to convert and purchase something or use your service because there's a connection there. It's going to go a really long way.
When to (and when not to) push social
If you are active on social, it's great. Someone's learning about you, they're just checking you out. They shared their email address. What are you doing if you're active on social? What do you do there that sets you apart? Let people see it. Now, if you're not active on social, don't try to draw people to your Facebook or Instagram page because that's not going to be valuable.
I like to make sure we share the full breadth of what we offer for e-commerce sites. Someone finds you because they're looking for a specific product, but that may not be the only thing you do. Make sure you're taking this opportunity to tell somebody the full range of what you offer. That way you're not pigeonholed in their mind to say this brand or this company is only my solution for this one thing. They should know everything you guys are doing, so you have the opportunity to engage with them in each of your categories.
Don't let it wait. Don't build up an email list that's three thousand long before sending a welcome email. No one will know what it’s from or why it’s happening. They will be confused as to what the communication is.
Take advantage of it right away. There should be a welcome email tied to a pop-up, footer, or even the email sign up on a checkout page sent immediately once the information is shared.
Segment your content
Segmenting your contacts is a huge opportunity. Segmenting is the term we use in the email world, but what we're doing is grouping our customers based on information. Typically, your major platforms like Shopify, WordPress, BigCommerce, Magento, gather a ton of information.
There's two major types of data we work with:
- Descriptive: gender, age, geography
- Behavioral: actions, purchase history, engagement -- outperforms campaigns built on descriptive data
Descriptive is gender age, geography, pieces like that. If you have a local, brick and mortar business, when you're having an event, which probably isn't happening right now, geography is going to be important. Behavior is the action someone takes onsite or with the emails you're sending. Behavioral data is more effective in targeting your customer base.
When you're trying to target emails, if you can look at who has purchased from a category before, that gives you a lot of firepower to make sure you're effective. Segmentation should also focus around the engagement with emails.
If a customer isn't opening your emails, clicking your emails, or going to your site, there's a good chance they're not interested anymore. That's okay. Within email marketing, it's much better to drop a contact than to keep someone on for four years and have them never open one of your emails. That email may not be active anymore, and that customer certainly hasn't shown anything to say that they're still interested. We want to make sure that we're using segmentation to manage our email lists as well as ensure that we're targeting and engaging the right group with the information that they actually want to see.
Engage all customers
Engage all of your customers. For new customers, use the pop-up welcome series, but make sure you are engaging all of your customers. One of the easiest ways to do that is automation.
Use your newsletter or a product promotion, it’s very valuable. This should you do consistently. Typically, not every day. Even once a month if it's consistent is going to bring tremendous value. Automated emails, otherwise known as drip campaigns, they're going to trigger based on action that a customer takes onsite.
Typically, this is follow-up that you can't do manually. You can't reach out to every abandoned cart customer (someone who starts to check out, but doesn't complete it), or everybody who purchased two years ago and we haven’t heard from since. Automation is an effective tool to re engage customers and keep customers engaged, because it’s going to trigger based on the things that they're doing or not doing on your site.
Using automation to follow up
Types of follow up:
- Browse abandonment
- Cart abandonment
- New customer thank you
- Upsell and cross sell
- Win back
Above are some basic examples of automation. We're not going to dig into each, but I will walk through a couple, and we'll look at what they might look like and the purpose.
Browse abandonment is a follow-up to customers. You have their email address, they come onsite to view products. This typically is going to happen after you send out a manual email, like a newsletter or a product promotion style email. You send that email with the goal of engaging customers. We expect that they're going to open that email, click on it, and come to your site. Maybe they check out a product. They're just looking at it, then they leave. What this browse abandonment email does is it follows up to ask what they’re waiting for.
That terminology has to be specific to your business. This whole email is a call to action. Say, “You were looking at this product and then you left us. So here you go, it's right here. You can see it.”
What we also want to do with the browse abandonment is show other options. Maybe they haven't committed themselves to the porcelain pool tile in this example. We want to offer similar options, because they could also just be shopping around.
Maybe they're just shopping around, checking prices, and checking patterns. By the time they get to the seventh website in Google, it's important that we come back to mind. This email does a great job of doing that to say, “Hey, don't forget us. Come on back.”
I like to add verbiage that says, “If you need a hand making a decision, we'd love to support you in that. Give us a call.” There's different ways that you can do it, but the browse abandonment is an effective way to engage customers when they've shown some interest.
The abandoned cart is very similar only, the client has taken action. They've started a checkout but haven't finished it yet. Don't set this at a five-minute timing after someone starts at checkout but hasn't completed it. Give it some time. Maybe about four hours, because they got distracted, something pulled them away. Maybe they thought, wait, was that other site offering this at a lower cost? Maybe they left to go shop again. We want to follow up and make sure that we capture this sale, but we have to do it right.
“We've saved these great items that you've added to your cart. They're ready to buy. Click here in the text, click on the title, click on return to cart.” Again, use a big call to action. The goal here is to drive them back to their cart, to complete their purchase. The browse abandonment and the abandoned cart should be part of the foundational automations in place, because they are going to bring conversions back to someone who started a process they didn't finish.
Upsell and cross sell
I've got two examples from one company. The first one is upsell. Someone who purchases a rug, but doesn't purchase a rug pad needs a rug pad, right?
“Get the most out of your rug.” That's the tagline. You'll notice in the images up here that the goal of a main image lin an email is to communicate everything you need to in its simplest form as quickly as possible, because you can't guarantee that someone's going to read the text of your email. They might just scan for two seconds, and you want to make sure they got the message. “Get the most out of your rug.” Who doesn't want to do that? I just purchased a rug. I definitely want to get the most out of it. The goal of this first one here is, “Come on back and purchase one of these rug pads. It can be felt. It can be a luxury. It doesn't matter, but you're going to enjoy your product better if you purchase one of these rug pads.”
That's a good example of an upsell. A cross sell is the option on the right. This customer expanded their product offering. They were focused specifically on rugs, but now they're also offering different pieces like home accents.
Again, there's that main message. Then we're bringing options to show what kind of things we're offering. We can target these emails based on what someone has or hasn't done. In this kind of automation, we want to target someone who has purchased a rug, but has never purchased from our home accents category.
You can always backflow these when you build them. Going forward, it'll follow up with a first time purchaser who buys a rug but doesn't buy anything from home accents. These cross sell emails are a great way to really lift the customer lifetime value and bring in repeat business. One of the goals of email is thinking about continuing to engage customers in a way that brings conversions back.
The next example is a winback. I'm sticking with boutique rugs, as they're big on discounts. This discount is set to send after 75 days. Timing is going to be specific to your business and what you do. For this, if we haven't seen you in 75 days, we just want you to know we miss you. We noticed it's been a while. Come on back. We're going to try to draw you back in with a discount code. Let you know we're doing new things, we've got new products, and we'd love to see you again.
Oftentimes a customer works with you, buying something on your website.
Winbacks are also important for service-based industries. We waterproofed your basement back in the spring, and now it might be time for us to come back and check out that you're winterized or whatever it might be.
A winback opportunity like this can really help to reengage a customer. You don't have to offer a discount. Maybe it's a different message entirely. Maybe it's, “Hey, we've got some great new items that we'd like you to come check out, and we can put those in here to try to entice them to come take a look.” The opportunity here is working to keep somebody engaged as our customer so that they don't disappear and we never hear from them again.
Communicate your current state
Right now is a really unique time. The world is different, and it's important to communicate your current state to your customers:
- Are you still in business?
- Are you still open?
It's easy for people to assume that everyone shut down and no one's in business. If you're still in business and can fulfill orders, let your customers know. Send communication out to let people know we're still meeting their needs. Say, “Come onto our site, and we'll show you what we can do.”
Have you changed your process at all? Is there anything unique about what you're doing now to meet the needs of the time that will tell customers that you care for them and also for your employees?
People want to know that the businesses that they work with are made up of real people who have hearts and aren't just about making money. Communicating that can be very effective to engage your customer base and instill brand loyalty that goes a long way. The example on the left is a mechanic. They're offering a 10% discount on all repairs through April 30th, but healthcare and essential workers get a 15% off discount. What you can't see in the email is that they also put in place a pickup and drop off delivery service for your car.
This is where geography comes into play. If you're within seven miles of their shop, they'll bring a loaner car to your house, leave it there, take your car, fix it, bring it back and take the loaner car back. Just being creative with how to meet needs in this different time goes a really long way. That's a really creative solution to a problem that we're all facing.
How is someone going to know that they’re going above and beyond unless we tell them? We communicate that through email.
The example email on the right is about safety for the employees of the business as well as the end consumer, detailing the changes that they’re making in their warehouse and facility to keep their own folks safe, as well as how they’re handling the product and wrapping everything right so that they’re keeping you safe. Letting someone know you've made changes to meet the needs of the time is very important.
Connect your product to your customer's needs: don’t just sell something, solve something
Connecting the dots is huge. Customers shouldn't have to figure it out on their own. Make sure that you’re very clearly telling them. What problem or need that you or your product solves and does your customer know it? Is it clear to them? Make sure to lay it out clearly. Make it an easy decision for a customer to say yes to you.
We have a couple of examples here. First is the Mother's Day sale. This Mother's Day sale was absolutely going to happen, but we can tie it in and say, we know you may not be able to go out and shop for your mom the way you typically do, but we're here to meet your need and going to give you a discount to help. This is connecting those dots, tying those pieces together. We saw great results on this one.
Connect with your customers
This is on a personal level. Email marketing doesn't have to just say, “Here's what I do or sell so give me money.” Connecting with your customers with good content is super valuable. Provide them something outside of sales. Engage a customer with where they are and the situation they're facing right now in a way that brings value. This example is a virtual tour of 20 amazing places you can visit without leaving home. People engaged with this because it's a distraction. It's not necessary information. It's not even that valuable, but people engaged because they're willing to take a five-minute break from the situation they're in. They can't go visit any places right now, but that's really pretty. Bring value. Here's an infographic on how to wash your hands properly. This one is actual, helpful information. It's coming from a site that sells medical equipment. The content makes total sense. Keep yourself safe, keep others safe. Certainly bringing value. It ties into who they are and their products. You can get creative to find those pieces that are going to engage your customer. Whether it's really necessary information or just fun, keep them engaged so that they're looking forward to the next email from you.
1. Do you have a recommended email automation software?
We partner with Klaviyo. Tell them I sent you. I vetted a bunch of different email service providers. I landed with Klaviyo for a number of reasons.
2. Home users versus business users, do you recommend creating separate Welcome Series for each?
Absolutely, if you have that data and you are targeted to the business to business and retail side, and when you work with both if you can separate those out. The big challenge is most likely having that data upfront. It might be an option in that Welcome Series to give them the chance to select which one they are and have a follow-up that engages specific pieces.
3. How would you best target prospects or inactive clients either to re-engage them to return or engage them to take a second look now as things may have changed for them?
I would look at the timing piece. It's going to be different by business. What is the time for your business that someone is unengaged? They're not looking at our emails. They haven't been active on site. Stop sending them regular newsletters or product promotion emails like the monthly emails, because you don't want to send emails to someone who does not want to get. Give it a break.
I would follow up with what we call either that winback or even a sunset email to say, hey, are you still interested here? Maybe we try the winback and say, “Come on back, take another look.: If they ignore that, then we send a very different email that says, “Hey, we think you may not be interested anymore. And there's a lot of reasons that you should be, but if you're not, click here to unsubscribe.” To have somebody self identify and leave your list is better than just hanging out and never opening your emails.
4. How important is an email follow-up requesting feedback such as asking a customer how the service has been done? What's your stance on surveys?
It's really valuable. Typically, it's focused more on reviews. Surveys and reviews are kind of the same thing, but one brings value to the business in a public way. One brings data that is very valuable for how you do business. You can get information on what you should or need to change. I wrap it up into both to say, “Hey, thanks so much for your purchase. We'd love to see if you enjoyed our service. Please leave us a review here. We'd love to hear your feedback. If there was any difficulty or anything didn't meet expectations, give us a call.”
5. For subscription-based businesses do you think it's best practice to send emails, asking X members to renew? If so, do you recommend providing a discount?
I always work with my customers to say that discounting and a discount strategy is a business decision. If you want to engage it, then I'll work with you to figure out the details. On the subscription piece, absolutely. If someone signs up for, let's say a three month whatever, I think it's valuable to give them a heads up. To say that this great service or product is running out in a month. You can renew now, or we'll get you later. Then another follow-up.
You don't want to harass them. You can't send it every day, but another email to say, “We really hope you've enjoyed us, and we'd love to keep you as part of the family. Do so here. If you're not planning on doing it, feel free if you want to give us a call.”
Digital Marketing Boot Camp | Logical Position:
- Session 1: Adapt Paid Social Strategy During COVID-19 | Emma Huschka
- Session 2: Integrating CallRail with Google Ads: The Do's & Don'ts | Josh White
- Session 3: Optimizing Call Tracking | Tim Benson
- Session 4: Conversion Rate Optimization: Website Audit | Jon MacDonald
- Session 5: Importance of Email Marketing | Jeremy Vale
- Session 6: How To Grow In A Down Economy | Ryan Garrow