(Note: This is the first of a series of occasional blog posts to alert members to key trends and opportunities presented by the Member Services Committee volunteer members.)
We are knee deep in the holiday season, so no need to remind everyone why email is the coolest and sexiest channel in the ecommerce marketing toolkit: Revenue. Email drives the most revenue at the lowest cost. Period.
And you just don’t get any sexier than that in business.
Despite predictions that social networks will kill the email channel, the opposite has happened. Socially connected subscribers from moms to business buyers to gadget freaks all start in the inbox, using email reminders and alerts to prompt them toward social activities. Certainly email powers the social networks – it’s the biggest traffic driver. But more importantly for retailers, integrating social and email is a great idea, and a big opportunity. Consider these ideas for your program.
- Cross Promote by Adding Value. Include a link to share with my network when soliciting product reviews or asking post purchase surveys. Give customers lots of options for promoting your brand(s).
- Turn Promotions into Conversations. The inbox clutter is overwhelming this time of year. Zig while others zag by mixing up your send times and focus on keeping subject lines very clear and concise. If you do send frequently, use subject lines and your merchandise strategy to tell a story. Think of five days as five opportunities to engage on a theme. For example, “Monday: Shop for Her.” “Tuesday: Shop for Him.”
- Match the content to the medium. Email is great for lifecycle marketing, promotional broadcasts and content newsletters. Facebook fan pages are great for surveys or building loyal fan bases. Twitter may be great for customer service as well as broadcast. Don’t just repost your blog everywhere – send content that is relevant to the channel so that you appeal to customers who consume information in different ways.
- Make it easy to share. Add “SWYN” or Share with Your Network links, but do so prominently and integrate them into the content. SWYN links in the footer will not drive significant sharing, just like a buried Forward to a Friend link will get little use. Note that “Join us on Facebook” is different than “Share this product on Facebook.” Do both where it builds real value and engagement.
- Promote your own social community. Invite conversation among Facebook fans (e.g.: What do you think of this new product line?), and use that content as well as product reviews as content in your email newsletters. Let your customers’ voices do the selling for you.
- Celebrate your listening skills. If you are responding to customer and prospect input, be sure to communicate back your responses and any changes you are making. This also makes for excellent email newsletter content.
- Participate. The key to social and email marketing is authenticity. Do more than listen, participate.
As with everything in email and social media, it’s all about the subscriber experiences you create via your content strategy. All the viral mechanics and technology in the world will not make your brand compelling or engaging.