This week we bring you the second in a two-part interview I conducted with Marty McGuire, direct marketing manager of IKEA US, and Ann Hopps Morgan, partner and vice president of strategic marketing services for 89 Degrees, a Burlington, Mass.-based integrated marketing agency. They discuss several campaigns they’ve worked on together and offer best practices around using email to promote local events.
(If you missed last week’s first installment of this Q&A, click here.)
eM+C: Aside from the award-winning campaign for your Charlotte, N.C., store opening that you discussed last week, can you tell us about other email campaigns IKEA is using to promote a store opening?
Marty McGuire: IKEA has two additional store openings planned, one in Somerville, Mass., the other in Denver. While grand opening dates and launch marketing plans have not been finalized, email’s past success suggests that it will continue to be a key channel.
eM+C: Will you be doing any social or mobile marketing in these campaigns?
MM: We’ve used social networking in the past — notably our Canton, Mich., grand opening incorporated a successful user-generated content component. Knowing when and where to use social networking comes down to knowing your audience. Our customers love to talk about new IKEA stores — in the real world and in the virtual world — so we definitely want to be part of those public conversations.
Ann Hopps Morgan: The question of ROI for social marketing is fueling lots of debate in the marketing blogosphere. For now, think of ROI as “Risk of Ignoring.” That said, the customer lifetime value implications of deepening brand engagement — via social networking — are huge.
MM: With regard to mobile, we’ve just launched the IKEA Mobile program, which includes SMS messaging and a mobile website, m.IKEA.us. Each IKEA store will have its own page and content, just like our main website. So the expectation is that, yes, mobile will play an even bigger role in future grand openings as demand for mobile-optimized content continues to grow.
eM+C: Please offer any best practices around using email to promote a local event, such as a store opening.
AHM: Here are three:
1. Put customers first. If you have existing subscribers in the area, start with them. Not only do they deserve to be “the first to know,” but also they can help carry the word to other consumers. Charlotte grand opening emails, for instance, had an exceptionally high email refer-a-friend rate.
2. Harness other channels. Assuming building your database is one of your objectives, incorporate a drive-to-web message in as many other marketing channels as possible, and put registration front and center on your grand opening website. Include a strong value proposition and an added incentive for signing up and visiting the new store, such as a coupon, sweepstakes and others.
3. Pay off the promise. Inevitably, when you use a promotion to incent email registration, there’s risk of postprogram opt-out. To keep “opt-in remorse” to a minimum, start demonstrating email’s value right away. Welcome emails are likely to have the highest open rate of any email you’ll ever send. So don’t settle for transactional boilerplate — leverage the registration form to capture profile data, and use it to personalize your welcome message based on key levers like demographics, life stage, product interests and so forth.
Once the welcome is out the door, quickly mainstream new opt-ins into ongoing email communications — e-newsletters, promotion announcements, alerts, etc. — and monitor opens and clickthroughs ongoing to maximize engagement and identify any deadwood that may ultimately need to be scrubbed.