Dear Email Diva,
One challenge that I face is how to treat the amount of click-throughs and the click-through experience for a non-ecommerce campaign. The strategy for a non-ecommerce campaign is to use email to drive consumers to the physical store as opposed to driving them to a site, but I feel the success of email also relies on the level of customer interaction with your brand, i.e., the email and site.
If there isn't really any rich content on the non-ecommerce site to draw consumers, too, should we try to create splash landing pages to have a click-through experience? Should we always drive them to the "fluff" copy and images that change maybe once a month? Do you just include a "store locator" and leave it at that? What about the value of driving them to the weekly ad online? And also what about creating splash pages for special promotions?
You are absolutely right that "the success of email relies on... customer interaction with your brand." Bear in mind, however, that the email and site are only vehicles to create the brand experience, and click-throughs just one way to measure it. If you try to force a "click-through experience" to "fluff copy and images" or non-essential splash pages, you subordinate the customer's needs to those of the marketing department.
Start and end with one overarching goal: to satisfy the customer. And what are customers thinking when they open the email? Class? That's right: WIIFM. What's in it for me?
Typically, your customers want four things: education, information, entertainment, and a good deal. Since I don't know what type of stores your clients have, I'll illustrate with the example of a sporting goods store.
Education - which lures work for which fish, how to maintain your gear, how to start a campfire.
Information - new products, local events, links to outdoor advocacy sites, where to get a license, state travel & tourism sites, weather-related closings.
Entertainment - a cartoon or joke (get permission!)
A good deal - specials, promotions, coupons, discounts, gift with purchase, freebies, digital goodies.
Now back to the needs of the marketing department. You want to show that you are driving traffic to stores and delivering a positive brand experience to customers. One way is to have a redeemable offer, such as a coupon or mention (mention the August email or say "Monkey Pajamas" and get X). Set up your POS system to measure redemption, or fulfill redemption through a central source.
As I discussed in a previous article, however, redemptions don't tell the full story. The customer may not have had a need for the promoted item but still have a positive experience with the store. Anecdotal feedback, imprecise though it may be, is significant. Ask store managers and employees whether customers mention the newsletter.
Open rates, while flawed, are consistently flawed, so are still a measure of reader interest. Experiment with subject lines and content to see which is most tempting to your audience.
To get click-throughs, you need to have a useful continuation of the email experience on the site. Articles can begin in the email and finish on the site. (Add each email "issue" to the site to refresh content and optimize search.) Coupons can be downloaded from the site. And don't forget lagniappe -- that little something extra to reward customers for subscribing to your email. For our sporting goods store example, it could be a wallpaper with a sunset nature scene. Another download; another click. Even link clicks to other sites show that your email has provided content of value to the customer, hence a positive brand experience.
Finally, if you develop this great email program with customer needs as your top priority, you will get more subscribers (provided you optimize your opt-in process. Show how the email list is growing each month, and you should have a happy client as well as satisfied subscribers.
The Email Diva
Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.