When used to its best potential, email marketing can do wonders for businesses looking to increase customer retention. While email itself has been around since 1971, email marketing has only been around since… well actually, it was only 7 years later.
A man by the name of Gary Thuerk gets credit for the first email marketing blast in 1978, and the email (which promoted Digital Equipment Corp computers) was sent to just 400 recipients. And yet, it eventually yielded $13 million in profits.
While that kind of ROI might be a tad ambitious for email marketers by today’s standards, there is still much to be said for the power of a good email loyalty marketing campaign.
With nearly four billion email users sending 293.6 billion emails in 2019 alone, it’s no great surprise that email continues to be such a valuable asset to any business’s loyalty marketing campaign. In fact, the return on investment for email marketing is currently $40 for every $1 spent, which is perhaps why 87% of marketers use email to distribute their content.
But how do you use email marketing to retain more customers and boost brand loyalty? Here are some tips, tricks and best practices for getting the most out of your email loyalty marketing campaigns:
1. Offer your subscribers quality content – not just promotional content
This tip is the first one on the list for a reason… it’s by far the most important. While the motive behind your email marketing might be to increase revenue, no consumer wants an endless stream of promotional content.
The best way to maintain a presence in your existing customers’ email inboxes is to send content that benefits them – and I’m not talking about a “special offer” or an “exclusive deal”.
If your business sells home décor and house furniture, send your subscribers some useful blogs around how to keep your living room warm and cosy through the winter months, or how to create a productive workspace in your bedroom.
It goes without saying that you use this content to segue into your own promotional material and call-to-actions, but the blog is the “main event” of the email; rather than the promotion.
It’s also worth noting that quality content doesn’t necessarily mean blogs and other written information. By including video content in your emails, you can boost click rates by up to 300%.
The idea is to consistently give customers something for free, on a regular basis. “Here are some tips”. “Check out X.” “Enhance your experience with Y.” These little gifts to the customer build trust over time, and brand trust leads to customer loyalty.
2. Give your email subscribers control over the amount of marketing they receive
If you are experiencing a sudden drop-off in email subscribers, there is a good chance that it’s because you are sending them too much junk. However, you would be surprised at how many of these subscribers you can retain, simply by addressing the issue and asking them “how much is too much?”.
When a subscriber clicks “unsubscribe”, redirect them to a page that says something along the lines of: Hi there, Mr. Smith – we hate to see you go! Would you rather we email you less often?
By letting the subscriber choose how often they receive email communications from your brand, they are much more likely to stick around. Here is a good example of how US clothing retailer Old Navy uses email marketing to increase customer retention:
While this technique won’t work every time, it might help you hold onto a portion of subscribers who would have otherwise opted out completely, at which point they are lost forever.
3. Re-engage lapsed customers with enticing offers
A big part of loyalty marketing is reacquiring the attention of lapsed customers who might once have been loyal, but who no longer engage your brand. Don’t take it personally – it happens. But by activating this strategy, you just might bring them back to the table!
You might have a very long list of email subscribers, but this won’t do you much good if they are all lapsed customers who haven’t shopped with you for months or even years.
This is known as an “abandoned cart email”, and recent studies suggest that sending three abandoned cart emails results in 69% more orders being completed than what a single email achieves.
To be clear, this isn’t encouragement to start inundating lapsed customers with thinly veiled “finish your order” communications. Not only will they see right through this, but it’s a sure-fire way to rapidly shrink your list of email subscribers.
Instead, I would refer you back to my first tip – consistently offer quality content! Consumers know advertorials and sponsored content when they see it, so make sure the content you are giving them is reliable and engaging.
This theme also ties in with my next point.
4. Personalize the subscribers’ experience
Email or no email, personalization has grown to become an essential component of digital marketing. It starts with something as simple as including the customer’s name in your emails. It may not sound like much, but emails with personalized subject lines generate a 50% higher open rate.
However, if you are serious about personalization, you will send your customers unique emails with recommended products based on their previous purchases, informative blogs based on their preferences, and follow up with them to see how they are enjoying the products they have purchased from you in the past.
Friendly reminders about upcoming events and/or products can also help to establish a personalized brand-customer relationship; especially if they only receive reminders about things they are likely to be interested in. This is where data comes in.
Personalization acts as a sort of snowball effect, where the more you tailor a customer’s experience based on their existing data, the more data they give you, which can then be used to further personalize their experience, and so on.
Many businesses use a digital rewards platform to store customer data, and segment customers into various categories to allow for more targeted communications. This increases engagement, and makes the customer feel more important.
Loyalty technology also allows you to send Birthday Club rewards and other Surprise & Delight mechanisms, like spontaneous gamified offers that keep your business front-of-mind.
Gamification is another rapidly expanding trend in digital marketing, and one which is certainly not going to disappear any time soon. If you can manage to incorporate some gamified functions into your email marketing, you are well on your way to providing readers with an engaging thread of quality email content.
Given the importance of personalization in marketing these days, businesses can’t afford not to embrace the power of personalization in their email loyalty marketing campaigns. Which brings me to my next point…
5. Use your email marketing as a means for two-way communication
Email marketing does not have to be a one-way street… in fact, it most definitely should not be! Another highly effective way to demonstrate how much your business values and appreciates its customers, is to ask for their feedback.
Customers love to feel like they’ve been heard, and if you give them a voice, many of your existing customers will immediately feel a stronger emotional connection to your brand – this is a crucial component of nurturing loyalty.
Of course, it also helps you determine what areas of the business are performing well, and which areas need improvement. By making changes to your business based on customer feedback, you can strengthen the community around your brand and increase customer retention.
Send customers an email after each transaction, thanking them for their purchase and asking how they found the shopping experience. You can also send incremental “how are we doing?”-style emails every few months or so, and offer discounts or other rewards in exchange for honest feedback.
You will quickly notice how attaining this information from your customers can assist with streamlining your business in a variety of ways.
Want to increase customer retention? Take the time to formulate a clear email marketing strategy
The takeaway is that, by engaging your customers with email marketing in just the right way, you can retain more customers with very little effort required.
Sit down and develop a clear and concise plan for your email marketing – this should involve things like:
- Drawing up an e-newsletter calendar that coincides with your content calendar (blogs, videos, press releases etc.)
- Creating a framework for re-engaging lapsed customers and following up with incomplete orders
- Developing a strategy for personalization (a digital loyalty program provider can help with this)
While a good email marketing campaign takes time to implement, there are things you can do right now.
For example, while the average email open rate is only 21%, welcome emails generate an 82% open rat. If your business isn’t sending subscribers an automated welcome email, learn how to create a fantastic welcome email and drip campaign that you can launch today.
My final tip for creating an effective email loyalty marketing campaign is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes throughout the entire process, and consider what kind of email marketing they would like to receive from your business.
By keeping your customers’ needs front-of-mind throughout the process, you should not have any issues with establishing a remarkable email loyalty marketing campaign that keeps audiences engaged and increase customer retention.
Photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash