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How behavioural email marketing can improve customer loyalty

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 15 Mar, 2013
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What Email Marketers need to learn from Retailers

How email marketers can use behavioural email to increase customer loyalty and drive more purchases

I believe email marketers have major lessons to learn from how the world’s leading offline retailers market to customers before, during and after their purchases.  These companies serve as great examples of why email marketers need to go beyond the basic newsletter.

One of the best ways to frame email marketing is to focus on one key event; the purchase and then break it into three phases:

3 Phases of behavioural email marketing related to purchase

  • 1. Before: The customer isn’t necessarily ready to make the purchase, but your goal is to stay top of mind and nurture the relationship until they are.
  • 2. During: The customer is in the process of making a purchase, and your goal is to ensure they have a great experience but also that the customer is fully aware of what you offer.
  • 3. After: The customer has purchased, and your goal is to turn that into a repeated event and build a true relationship with them. Growing this loyalty can have an incredible impact on profitability.

1. Pre-Purchase: Building Awareness and Desire

Before customers make a purchase, marketers usually focus on email newsletters to build awareness and desire in potential customers to get them in the store or on the site to purchase.  That said, looking at some of the more creative efforts of retailers in the past shed light on how to think outside the box and standout.

  • Get local: One classic retail technique is to leverage local events (sponsoring sports clubs, announcing new stores openings in local newspapers, etc) to build a local following.  While ecommerce stores don’t have a local presence, they should similarly think about using local allegiances and events to tailor their messaging.
  • Take advantage of Press: When the BBC reported that Boots No. 7 was the only product that actually had proven anti-ageing effects, Boots sold an entire year’s supply within two weeks.  When similar events happen for your store, you have a unique opportunity to use email to reach out to exactly those customers who might be interested.

2. During Purchase: Expanding customer relationships

While customers are in the store and making a purchase, offline retailers are masters of highlighting additional products that customers might want.

  • Seize Opportunity:Think about the queues in a typical retail store; they’re lined with small products that you can easily add to your basket.

Email marketers don’t have queues, but they do have extra space in the emails they’re already sending. Don’t hesitate to put ads for your own products in emails that are serving other purposes (order confirmations, shipping notifications, etc).

  • Highlight related products:There’s an old story that retailers used to put nappies next to beer because male customers buying nappies before a weekend could be driven to buy beer as well if it was close.

    The lesson for email marketers? If you know your customer well, you can use abandoned cart, order confirmation or other emails sent within a day or two of purchase to focus on products you know those customers might want.

 3. Post-Purchase: Bringing the customer back

Probably the area of greatest opportunity for online marketers to learn from offline retailers is in how to build loyal and lifelong customer relationships.

Because of the often substantial costs of acquiring a customer the first-time, a customer who purchase a second, third and fourth time is often way more than 4 times as profitable as a customer who purchases once.

  • Loyalty Programmes: Many offline retailers have created loyalty programmes that literally reward customers for every purchase they make.  To use this same idea, email marketers should craft campaigns around customer milestones, for example: thanking first time purchasers, recognising customers who make 5 purchases, etc.
  • Follow-up with customers you haven’t seen recently: Many of us have had the experience of frequenting a shop and having the store owner ask about us when we haven’t been in recently.

    Email marketers have a unique opportunity to send personal emails to customers who haven’t purchased recently to check-in, give them special offers, etc.

    Email marketers have the unique ability to reach the right customers at the right time with the perfect message but they still need to do the legwork to figure out what to send.

    Offline retailers have built deep and strong customer relationships with their marketing and online marketers have a great opportunity to emulate their success and improve on it!.

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By Expert commentator

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