Comment: E-mail tricks for clicks to bricks
This trend is in line with the findings of a report from Forrester Research earlier this year, showing that an estimated 53% of total retail sales in the US are online and “web influenced”. Multichannel retailers and the trade press have been recognising and debating the importance of online marketing on offline sales for some time but, the key question for any marketer is: what exactly does “web influenced” mean? Luke Griffiths, VP Professional Services, e-Dialog offers advice.
This is a conversation I find myself having constantly with our clients at e-Dialog. We all know that web marketing can have a positive impact on offline sales – that’s just common sense – but, from the e-mail marketer’s perspective, that intuitive knowledge isn’t enough on which to base a strategic plan.
What we need to understand, of course, is how a brand can influence its customers online – what specific e-mail tactics can be employed to effectively increase footfall and offline purchases. More than that though, crucially, we also need to know how to measure e-mail’s effectiveness as a driver for these offline activities. One of e-mail’s advantages as a marketing medium is that it is highly measurable as a source of online purchases—value and ROI can be clearly demonstrated to senior management—but it’s a slightly different proposition when it comes to attributing its success across different sales channels. As with all these things, of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for all retailers and sectors, but I can share some approaches which we’ve found to be highly successful for our clients.
In store events/services
There are so many different in-store events and services that can be communicated and highlighted by e-mail – you just have to look at them through the eyes of an e-mail marketer and consider which event or service your different e-mail audiences will appreciate. Exclusive after-hours-sales and promotions, e-mail subscriber only rewards, such as a session with a personal shopping assistant, tastings, product demonstrations and celebrity launches – all of these can be promoted and tracked through targeted mailings. Just remember that not all are going to be of interest to your entire database, targeting the right promotion to the right customer is crucial.
Retailers spend enormous amounts of money on real estate and marketing for their bricks and mortar stores – it’s vital that they take every possible opportunity to engage with their customers in these environments.
The simplest tactic – the truth is that everyone loves a deal. If you reward your customers for coming to your stores, they will come. Make sure that you include in-store only coupons in your e-mails, incorporating ‘offer valid’ parameters to drive footfall on specific dates or occasions which you can cater and resource for.
Remember that your e-mail subscribers have chosen to connect with you – don’t forget to reward them for their loyalty and show them the benefits of being on your database. Why not announce exclusive products to your subscribers, giving them first access when they redeem a certificate in-store? Alternatively, offer discounts on products that are exclusive to your subscribers only.
Ship to store promotions
This is great way of targeting predominantly online shoppers and encouraging footfall. Offer free shipping to a nearby store where they can collect their product. If they accept the offer, further incentivise them to purchase once they’re there with in-store only coupons. Particularly in the run-up to the peak season, make sure you use the e-mail channel to promote last minute buy-online/pick-up in-store options. It’s amazing, no matter how well promoted it is on your website, just how many shoppers aren’t aware that they can use this option before they reach the checkout stage. Make sure they know you offer it and where they can find you!
Thanks for coming!
Tracking the conversion impact of your e-mail communications is an essential part of any programme but when looking to assess its impact on your channels; obviously, you cannot just take the same approach as you would do with online transactions. Here are just a few means of gathering this data:
o Unique promotion codes or coupons: Tracking offline sales using unique codes or coupons can be highly effective. Depending on the other criteria, you can track more than just sales. You can target specific store locations, particular products, repeat customers and specific peak footfall times
o Exit interview or surveys: A very effective way to get instant feedback on a customer’s entire journey from e-mail to bricks and mortar store. Make sure that the survey is simple and specific. Surveys do take time, make sure you’re getting what you want from them
o In-store testing: If your event is occurring in multiple locations, this is an excellent opportunity to test a new initiative such as a new Point Of Purchase materials or in-store layout. Establish a control, test locations and monitor how your customers respond
o Primary marketing research: Ask customers if they would mind participating in an onsite focus group or interview. External market research companies are expensive; make sure that, while your customer is in your store, you take the opportunity to ask some questions
o Loyalty cards: These are a great way to track customer behaviour. Customers get rewarded and all of the data captured through a loyalty scheme, which can tell you what product was purchased, the time and the means of purchase, where, when and how products were purchased
While many e-mail marketers still attempt to confine the e-mail subscriber to online purchasing options, the most successful provide them with multiple choices to transact with them. However, unless these options are highlighted in e-mail communications it’s all too easy for customers to remain blissfully unaware until they chance upon them on your website. To differentiate your service from your competitors, it’s vital that you reach out to your customers directly and tell them what makes you different. The bottom line is that the typical consumer doesn’t view your brand as separate online and offline – your e-mail communications should reflect that view.
Luke Griffiths, VP Professional Services, e-Dialog International
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