In a recent Internet Retailing webinar, Bronto manager of marketing research Jim Davidson argued that post-purchase email marketing can be used to encourage long-term customer loyalty and repeat purchasing – and came up with some practical examples of how to achieve that.
Thanks to the fast development of technology, retailers can expect to achieve more with their email marketing – the trick now is to make sure they are getting the most they can from their efforts, suggested Jim Davidson, manager of marketing research at Bronto in a recent superhero-themed Internet Retailing webinar, Bam! Ka-Pow! Power-packing your post-purchase programs. In Batman terms, he suggested, technology has evolved from the primitive Batcave by way of the “awkward Michael Keaton Batman phase” to offer the sleek consolidated, easy-to-use tools of today. During the course of the hour-long webinar Davidson went on to explain how email marketers can use those tools most effectively.
Today those tools enable marketers to target their customers more effectively in a world that puts the customer at the centre of retail operations. Customers use services in different ways, moving from the full-service of bygone days to self-service in areas from the petrol pump to the grocery store. That’s removed the conversations that retailers and others used to have with customers, suggests Davidson. But today, those conversations are happening in different places, he suggests. “We are pushing out messages in so many different ways to so many different devices,” he said, from mobile phones to social networks. “It can really start to become an overwhelming experience for your customer.”
So how are customers shopping – and what are they doing before they buy? Davidson cited Google research carried out ahead of last Christmas found that 80% of consumers were using multiple devices while shopping, with more than half of consumers using smartphones together with their laptop when shopping, while the tablet was also emerging.
And while 85% are shopping on one device and finishing on another, many are using relatively low-tech ways of moving between the two: some 45% save bookmarks or put items in their shopping cart to act as a reminder, while the same percentage send themselves emails or a link as a reminder. “As a marketer there are a lot of tools that you can use to help your customers transfer this information between devices that’s really going to help push them towards the sale,” said Davidson.
Improving the customer experience
Making it as easy as possible for shoppers to buy is also important. Bronto carried out its own audit of shopping websites and found that on average there were 5.6 pages from the cart to conversion, and at most there were nine pages. But when it asked marketers how many pages they had, the perception was lower, with 39% believing they had three pages. When shoppers have lost their password, they have on average seven steps to get back in. Waiting for reminder emails to arrive can be time-consuming – but making sure the steps to recover an account are as swift as possible can speed the process.
Davidson went on to explain how retailers could collect and use purchase-related data to improve the experience. In a study, Harnessing the Power: how retailers collect and use purchase-related data, Bronto asked retailers if they collected product-level site browsing data that could be associated to a specific subscriber. While 53% said they did and 29% said they could not, 12% said they didn’t because it would not increase sales, and 6% said they didn’t because it would be too complex. “This is the data that’s going to empower you to send those abandoned basket emails,” said Davidson, who said the perception that retailers could not collect data was misplaced. “For those who thought this would not increase sales, I’d recommend you do some testing because this can be a huge revenue driver for you.”
But how can retailers most effectively remind browsers about their abandoned baskets? Davidson showed a number of examples, suggesting that retailers show the abandoned product and other images and information such as related products, the top sellers in the category, customer reviews and customer service information.
When it comes to post-purchase emails, Davidson said that ‘must-have’ information included name, payment information, shipping and billing addresses. Beyond that, eliciting explicit email opt-ins, newsletter options, birthday information or finding out what category the shoppers is interested in could also add power to future messages. Avoid taking information that repeats already-known data, or takes shoppers off the path towards buying. “Don’t complicate what is a simple process,” he said. “This is where customers can become overwhelmed.”
In addition, he noted, customers may be frequent buyers, even if they don’t often open emails – by using information from frequent-purchasers as well as tracking email buyers, retailers can reap dividends.
After the purchase customers may become nervous and anxious while they wait for their order to arrive – emails can help to prevent ‘buyer remorse’ argued Davidson. He went on to analyse how one order confirmation from eBags added to his customer experience, from the information and photographs it used to the reassurance messages contained, the order tracking information, and the way it cross-sold other items. Even including information on how to cancel an order can be beneficial, he said, because that can mean money saved on returns.
Using purchase-related data in email programmes can add to the power of the email through personalisation. “This is a way for you to make your customers even happier and increase sales,” said Davidson.
Using data for the long-term
Davidson then turned to the question of how often emails should be sent, analysing the optimum points to send transactional, customer service and promotional emails and suggesting a post-purchase email series that stretched from confirming the order on day one to next purchase coupons on day 32 and an opportunity to share thoughts on day 90. He flagged up the use of product demos, videos, and discount coupons in follow-up emails, before moving on to compare and contrast two recommendation emails, one more and one less successful in following up on the sale.
Reorder reminders and reminders to lapsed customers also have their place in the long-term scheme and Davidson finished by running through some ways to use and optimise these approaches.
To hear the webinar for yourself, to view the accompanying slides and hear the question and answer session, visit the Bronto webinar page.
For details of our other webinars, visit our webinars page