When it comes to customer acquisition, you might be surprised to learn that email is one of the strongest performing channels available.
Yes that’s right. Email. You might spend your days in meetings discussing radical new techniques to gain social network kudos – apps, content, personality and more – but good old email is a channel that delivers results.
Email is critical for customer acquisition. 6.84% of customers were acquired by email in 2013 according to a study of 72 million shoppers on 86 different retail Web sites in 14 different industries by Custora. Email was the third most important source after organic search (15.81%) and CPC advertising (9.82%), and it far outperformed Facebook (0.17%), banner ads (0.46%) and affiliate marketing (0.96%). And over the last 4 years the importance of email as a customer acquisition channel has increased nearly eightfold.
Email has massive market penetration. Everyone has an email address. Everyone. And most organisations – from the Federal Government to the local hairdresser – use email as a primary communication tool. In the US, 61.2% of the 2013 Chief Marketer Prospecting Survey respondents generated new customer leads via email and, of the remaining, 18% more plan to start.
Email is a leading social channel. No, we’re not having you on here. Influencers the world over use emails to share information. And, of course, it’s bi-directional communication: it’s one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. And while your audience may have casual acquaintances on Facebook and LinkedIn, their email address book includes their most trusted colleagues and friends. And email certainly helped Obama during the last US Presidential election!
Email is mobile. We all know the world has gone mobile. It’s not a secret. But what’s the number one app any mobile device has. Yep, the email client. Email doesn’t tie us to the computer any more. It hasn’t for years. And the open rate on mobile for emails at 44% is almost double the open rate on webmail clients.
Email customers are valuable. According to the Custora study, the lifetime value of a customer acquired through email was 11% more than one acquired via Facebook or banner advertising, and 4% more valuable than a customer acquired through affiliate marketing.
Another study by SocialTwist found that among consumers who referred products or services to friends, the majority (55.4%) used email, nearly 14% more than Facebook (41.8%).
MIME-ing for gold: ten conversion tips
Of course, you still need to get your campaigns right. The right offer, copy, and creative, as well as targeting the right audience, will have a massive impact on the effectiveness of your campaign.
Here are ten tips on increasing conversion for your campaign:
- Design and build your emails to optimise conversion. Look to modern slick design, action oriented copy, adding images of people where relevant, clear value propositions and make calls to action strong through design including button size and colour. And don’t miss the basics like subject line and quality copy.
- Make it work on mobile. Determine your strategy for mobile support such as responsive, fluid, scalable or mobile-aware. And remember, mobile is not just Android, iPhone and iPad. It’s Windows Mobile, Blackberry and mail apps that run on the Android and IOS operating systems. Consider different screen sizes and touch support too. 4 to 5.5 inch screens are common on smartphones. Tablet screens are also no longer defined by iPad dimensions: they commonly range from 7 to 13 inch, with screen size being pushed up by the increasing availability of convertible notebook/tablet/touchscreen devices like Microsoft’s Surface and Ultrabooks.
- Make sure your email marketing is cross-client compatible. Different email clients render emails differently: optimise to maximise reach, impact and response.
- Use text for key messages and links because email clients – mobile and computer-based alike – may have image blocking on.
- Target special features in popular email clients – like Google Quick Actions – to improve the audience experience and increase conversion.
- Track your audiences email client use. It’s important to know what are the popular email clients in the community, and it’s just as important to know what email clients your lists are using.
- Don’t let your email get caught in the spam trap! Spam test to make sure your email will get through to recipients.
- Support your email message with good landing pages. When your audience clicks on your call to action, help them through to conversion with landing pages that are on message.
- Use audience targeting, but remember that email is often shared (forwarded). Sometimes a broader distribution will increase your email reach when recipients forward it to friends or colleagues they know are interested in your offer.
- Test your emails and measure campaign performance. Before you click send, test your emails across multiple email clients including mobile clients. Include tracking code in your email to get campaign performance information like opens, reads, device usage and more.
Whole of business email
Sending out regular offers via 3rd party email is important, but it’s only one facet of using email to gain, keep, incentivise and convert customers.
Email must be used in ongoing communication, to individuals and audience segments. Here are some ideas how email can and should be used:
- Send regular personalised emails: welcome for new customers, offers, new releases, news and even birthday wishes (free offer with a birthday buy?)
- Close the loop by asking customers to review your products and service after purchase
- Inform customers if new accessories have been released for a product they have bought
- Send a shopping cart prompt if a customer has added products to their cart but not completed the transaction.
- Reactivate an inactive customer with a discount coupon
- Reward customers for the first purchase via email with an offer
- Provide care and maintenance information by email after a purchase. You could even send manuals by email so the customer has them in their inbox, as well as in the box!
- Send a cross-sell promotion
- Carry out regular customer surveys
- Build community by using email to connect your users to forums, social channels and more.
Email marketing is science, not guesswork. It’s targeted. And it’s mobile. The technology and techniques are mature, the results are measurable, and it’s cost effective.
The right offer and creative, delivered to an appropriate audience, will get results. So don’t just sit there, send