Far from being a dying art, email is not only alive and well, it is a vital tool for retailers. For many people, both historically and, sadly still today, email marketing means spam. It’s also seen as the poor cousin of marketing channels.
However, the reality is that when executed properly email marketing outperforms all other marketing media. Often returning greater than ten times the initial investment.
What ‘actual’ email marketing is – and is not
Real, or actual email marketing is email marketing that is linked to your business objectives – creating ‘email with purpose’. Yes, it allows you to stay actively engaged with your customers, but it should always relate back to what the business as a whole is trying to achieve.
Email with purpose is a client engagement project, not an IT project. It’s about engaging with buyers and referrers, rather than just creating large databases of unqualified prospects. As we mentioned in our article back in the February issue, it’s not numbers for the sake of numbers that you want, but quality leads that are interested in your products or services.
It doesn’t matter so much what software system you use, so there’s no need to get caught up in the confusion over the latest marketing channel fad. What matters is that your emails look professional, build brand value and make the most of the opportunity to engage with customers and create value for your business.
As you can see, it’s not a function that should be relegated to a marketing junior or the IT department. Fully managed email marketing by experts in the space brings insight, purpose and results to both your marketing efforts and your business.
So, why email?
If you’re still not convinced and want to get beyond the theory, here are some examples of real-life retailers doing fabulous things with email.
The first is a clothing retailer that was looking to drive traffic in-store for a special 3 day clearance sale. An email was designed and built for three different offers within the sale, which achieved records sales over that period of time. The return on investment was more than 20x, ie: for every $500 this retailer spent on email marketing, they received over $10,000 in sales.
The second is a national coffee franchise who wanted to build a VIP database. They offered a cool prize, an Apple iPad, and asked people to sign up online. Because of the value of the prize, and the desire to build a list of substantiated buyers, consumers were asked for a lot more information in the sign up process than usual, for example: date of birth, mailing address and favourite store, the last of which allows the retailer to do future store-based marketing.
Once signed up, they were entered into the competition and sent a VIP card in the mail for use in their favourite store. The result, using the combination of SMS, email and direct mail led to a very personal and targeted marketing strategy. Growing the VIP database from 0 to 3,128 in only two months and illustrating again how email forms a vital part of a retailers overall strategy.
The third example is that of a luxury car dealership that wanted to gauge interest in a new model and encourage purchasing of the vehicle at a launch event. It’s not often the sort of item that people make an impulse buying decision about, so they knew some warm-up activity was needed.
An email was sent to the entire database and asked those who were interested to click a link. They then received a thank you email and follow up emails as more information and videos became available. In this way, the database was narrowed down to those who wanted to attend the launch night.
An invite was then sent by mail, with a reminder email the day before and another on the day, so they had exact numbers for catering and logistics. The outcome was six cars sold on the night and another three the following week, with a total value across the vehicles of approximately $1.4million. With the cost of the campaign sitting at $1,500, the total return was 900 times what they invested. Additionally, continued email marketing has meant consistent vehicle sales over many more years.
Email is powerful, especially for retailers – with the potential to provide huge returns. It’s plain to see ‘why email?’
Originally published in the April 2013 edition of New Zealand Retail Magazine