How to Increase Engagement for Email Marketing Campaigns
With online retail sales being predicted to grow by 16% over 2009's figures, an effective email marketing strategy that drives consumer engagement and revenue has become essential, according to ExactTarget, which offers five tips for a more effective seasonal email marketing strategy.
Among the ideas shortlisted as making the biggest impact on the effectiveness of seasonal email campaigns - strictly for opted-in marketing email subscribers, of course - are design changes, clearer calls to action, making it easier to share marketing messages with friends, using 'welcome' emails to help create initial engagement, and providing personalised web site 'landing pages' based on what you already know about the customer.
Make simple design changes to increase conversion: Christmas seems to come earlier each year, and the real challenge is standing out from the crowd. By optimising your emails, Christmas shopping will seem more relevant to your subscribers, resulting in increased engagement and revenue. Consider some of these ideas:
a) Engaging subject lines: The subject line is often the only opportunity you have to influence a subscriber before they decide to open or delete your email. Create interesting subject lines, and give readers a brief summary of what's inside, to optimise click through rates, engagement and (ultimately) profitability. Try an engaging, enticing subject line like 'Name, we Left a Gift in Your Stocking'. Personalisation makes subscribers feel that they have a better connection to the company, and the edgier copy will leave them curious.
b) A Christmas motif: Help your subscribers get into the Christmas shopping spirit by creating winter and Christmas graphics and headers, or enhance your colour scheme by adding festive colours or your own brand colours in a seasonal light.
c) Christmas email countdown: Excite your subscribers, and remind them that their time to shop is running out. It doesn't have to refer to the 'days until Christmas', it could track the days until your free shipping offer runs out, or until they can order items to ensure delivery before the big day. Either way, countdowns create a sense of urgency, and help you to capture revenue sooner.
Include clear calls-to-action: Now you've got their interest, maximise subscriber engagement with a clear call to action. What is it that you want readers to do? Visit your website? Check out today's deals? Subscribers won't do what you want unless it's clear what the objective of the message is. Messages in the upper left quadrant of the email are seen first and, therefore, perform well. Attention-grabbing colours and graphics, and relevant copy will enhance an email by drawing the reader's eye to a particular spot you want them to see. Try to encourage buyers to 'shop now' rather than 'buy now' - but remember simply changing copy without reason won't produce results for your campaigns.
Help subscribers share your emails with friends: Research shows that consumers are more inclined to open an email from a friend than from a company. For example, ExactTarget's Social Forward feature allows subscribers to easily pass a message along to their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and more than 20 other social sites. Give your customers control and extend the reach of your marketing messages, drive deeper engagement with customers and their online communities, and build your subscriber list.
Implement a 'Welcome' email strategy: As new shoppers come across your web site, they may be interested in signing up for your email club. But how will you engage them and ensure that they won't opt out later? Implementing a welcome email strategy makes customers feel appreciated and personally connected to the brand, while still encouraging them to continue shopping on the site.
Use welcome emails as an opportunity to provide product recommendations, friends and family discounts, and additional coupons, all driving traffic back to your web site. Also consider capturing user preferences with your welcome emails to help build a database of subscriber information to keep them engaged all year round.
Extend personalisation from email to landing page: Rather than leaving subscribers to delete your email or act on their own, provide a personalised path to a web-based 'landing page' where you can keep them engaged, re-highlight your call to action, and ultimately gain a greater conversion rate.
"Cutting through the clutter and boosting customer engagement over the festive period is a tough task for marketers, especially when so many brands are still adopting the 'volume approach' to email marketing," concluded Nigel Arthur, UK managing director for ExactTarget. "The best way to drive success with email is to offer unique and relevant content. Taking the time to make your emails stand out is a best practice not only for Christmas but for the whole year."