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IRX 2014 PREVIEW Skip Fidura of dotMailer on the do’s and don’ts of email marketing

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Skip Fidura, ecommerce manager, dotMailer will be one of the keynote speakers at IRX 2014. We caught up with him ahead of his presentation for a sneak preview.

Internet Retailing: You’re going to be unveiling research findings at IRX 2014. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found out?

Skip Fidura, ecommerce manager, dotMailer: We looked at the customer journey for a number of US and UK top brands when buying online and the most surprising thing is that some of the things we would have expected everyone to be nailing, they aren’t. We actually were a little worried going into the research that we’d have nothing to say, other than everybody’s doing a good job. But we found just the opposite.

The number of brands who aren’t doing simple things like abandon shopping cart/basket, not doing a really good job of the post-purchase follow-up email is surprising. If someone has gone and bought online, it’s a very cold, technical bland experience. If your checkout process doesn’t look like Amazon, people won’t buy from you. That means there’s no differentiator between your brand and every other brand in the space.

The way you can differentiate is through communications before and after the sale. If your order confirmation isn’t branded, is in plain text and isn’t attractive, what does that say about your brand? In some cases you get a delivery email from the courier company but you didn’t know who they were, so a simple introduction would be good. If you were doing it face-to-face you naturally would do these things. There’s an opportunity here for brands to add humanity back into the process by email.

IR: You’re also going to be sharing insights into what retailers’ email campaigns do well – and badly. Can you give us an example of one method we should be emulating – and one to avoid?

SF: Where a retailer can see the biggest lift is if they just start with an abandoned shopping cart programme. That’s what they should be doing. Customers want to buy. There’s lots of reasons why they don’t. As marketers we create a lot of reasons in our mind why people don’t buy. Some of those are real but some are very cynical. We might think people are always out for the cheapest deal. Or they’re not buying because they’ve put something in the basket and now they’re going to price shop. But if they were just price shopping there are lots of ways to do that without ever coming to your website. Why put something in the basket if they’re going to price shop? I think it’s more likely that something else has happened. They got up to get their wallet and got distracted and suddenly it’s two hours later and that moment has gone. Sending an abandoned cart email two days later is probably not very useful, but sending it an hour later really is.

On what they shouldn’t be doing, it’s not that they’re doing anything particularly wrong. They should start acting like real human beings. Treat your customers the way you want to be treated. Everybody likes to hear a thank you: thank you for buying, for registering. It’s such a simple thing to do. It’s just polite, just good manners, and too many brands forget that.

IR: Beyond your presentation, what else are you looking forward to at IRX 2014?

SF: I’ve just started looking at some of the content and speakers – it’s going to be brilliant. I will be looking to find out what’s the emerging technology we can implement going forward. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

Skip Fidura will give the sponsor keynote presentation in the Digital Sales and Marketing conference at IRX 2014. His session, The best and worst of email for ecommerce; how do your campaigns measure up?, will be at 1.05pm on Thursday March 27.

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