“Giving Your Email Program a Multichannel Boost,” was the title of the keynote presentation at the Direct Marketing Association’s Retail Marketing 2010 Conference in Orlando, Fla., on May 26. Chad White, research director at Smith-Harmon, a Responsys company, discussed seven email strategies multichannel retailers should be aware of. They include the following:
1. Email and stores. Seventy-seven percent of marketers say driving offline sales is a “very important” or “somewhat important” goal for their email programs, according to MarketingSherpa, White said. What’s more, 82 percent say driving online sales is an important goal. Retailers use email to drive in-store traffic in a variety of ways, including the following:
- Bar codes in emails. OfficeMax, White explained, includes bar codes in its emails to make in-store redemption easier.
- Store news. Walgreens highlighted that its stores would be open on Thanksgiving in a Nov. 24 email last year.
- In-store events. REI and Sears are just two of the many retailers that sent emails to promote in-store events last year.
- Store services. Lane Bryant and Barnes & Noble have used emails to promote in-store services such as bra fittings and in-store Wi-Fi, respectively.
2. Email and social. Today, more than 40 percent of major online retailers run “join our community” efforts in their email campaigns, White said. In addition, he said, “share with your network (SWYN) is the new forward to a friend (FTAF).”
Seven percent of U.S. online adults, for example, already share emails with friends via social sharing tools, according to the North American Technographics Omnibus Online Survey, Q1 2010, White said. In addition, White cited data from Silverpop indicating that SWYN links see an average clickthrough rate of 0.5 percent, compared to FTAF’s 0.01 percent to 0.1 percent
3. Email and mobile. While the integration of email and mobile will continue to grow, White said, there will be some changes on the horizon. First of all, “because of the expansion of the smartphone market, in the next 18 months we expect the use of ‘view on mobile links’ on emails to decline.” In addition, he expects to see more retailers creating Android apps in the future. “Despite the fact that Android-powered phones are now outselling iPhones,” he said, “retailers haven’t shown any interest in creating Android apps, which I really don’t understand.”
4. Email and direct mail/catalogs. Email usage to promote catalogs is a popular trend right now, according to White, and used in the following ways:
- Alerting subscribers that a catalog has shipped or offering a sneak peak at an upcoming catalog. White pointed to Urban Outfitters, which promoted the impending arrival of its holiday catalog in a Nov. 13 email.
- Catalog sign-up in the administrative links section of emails. Orvis, White explained, gave its subscribers the chance to opt-in to receive catalogs in an email campaign launched last spring.
- Interactive/audience participation. Chadwick’s, L.L.Bean and Norm Thompson have all asked subscribers to help choose one or more catalog covers in emails.
5. Email and the web. Email and the web are becoming even more integrated, said White, and he offered the following examples:
- Product reviews. Retailers are finding that using product reviews in their emails can be very powerful. the e-tailing group, White said, found that customer reviews had a strong influence on the purchases of 71 percent of respondents to a recent survey — while only 25 percent said the same about Facebook fan pages.
- Blogs. More than 15 percent of major online retailers link to their blogs in emails at least occasionally, using them as landing pages for articles and contests.
- Website relaunches. Retailers often use emails to promote their websites’ new looks and functionalities, or offer incentives to try their new sites.
- Polls. Polls in emails can help retailers do progressive profiling, market research and measure engagement.
6. Email and TV/online video. Emails can be integrated with TV/online video campaigns in several ways, according to White. Emails, for example, can contain “As seen on TV” commercials to support email messaging. Or, they can include directors’ cuts of commercials, or commercials that are too risque for television. They can also promote televised events sponsored by retailers, such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and 4th of July fireworks, or appearances a retailer may have on The Today Show or Oprah, etc.