Keeping customers to ensure a high return on investment
Any article on how to enjoy success with email marketing could start with the statement that the most important aspect is targeting. Out of all subjects, customer retention is the one where this is most appropriate.
The first essential of any email marketing campaign is to retain your customers. This is the overriding essential. There is ample research to show that a minor increase in retention rate will increase profitability out of all proportion. Whilst it is generally true that you should treat statistics with caution, this is one which you can depend on completely.
For high return on investment, concentrate on keeping your customers.
What we need to know is not so much what makes people tick the unsubscribe box but what makes them return to ordering time and again. If you ask yourself why you return to your favourite shops, online or local, you will probably come up with a number of different motivators depending on what you are buying. Any list, therefore, has got to be very general initially.
You might therefore expect the results of research into what keeps customers returning to buy online to be a bit vague, that the bullet points would encompass a rather wide spectrum. And you would be right. However, they bear pointing out if only to provide pointers.
The motivators can be classified under five primes:
- Customer support
- Obviously, the importance of each criterion will vary depending on your product or service and the expectations of customers will vary as well. However, that doesn’t stop an overview of each prime being useful.
This will vary according to product, customer, presentation and comparative price amongst other subjects.
Let us take as a simple example someone buying a laptop. It is an unfortunate fact of remote purchasing that customers will not be stunned to discover some damage to an item on delivery. The speed with which this is replaced and the convenience of the method of complaint can be a significant factor in customer satisfaction. You have to accept that any obstructions placed in the way of a genuine complainant will be an irritant.
Further, there is an expectation that an item will work straight from the box and failure to do so, however justifiable, can cause massive irritation. This can be mitigated to a great extent by a one call per fix policy.
Whilst everyone wants their product the moment the ordering procedure is over, an honest and precise date and time of delivery has to be accepted. Many of you will know the frustration that failure to deliver on time can cause even when there is a genuine reason such as an occurrence outside the control of the delivery company.
And it is not only the delivery of the product. If a servicing call is necessary, this too must be on time.
What your email campaign promised must be what they get. It is no use depending on that get out ‘picture for illustrative purposes only,’ (what else is a picture of a product for? ‘actual product may vary’. You must fulfil the expectations that your email advertising generated. The days of imaginative product descriptions has gone. It must, as one promises, do exactly what it says on the tin.
But there’s more to online advertising than just descriptions. Customers demand high quality graphics. You do not want them deciding solely on price.
This has a bit of a hangover with the previous heading: Advertising. If you say that an item costs £x then that is what the customer will expect to pay. If it states that it costs £x plus postage and packing, then the customer will expect to pay a reasonable, to them, charge for P&P and one which was clear from early on in the ordering procedure. It goes further though.
If you are selling on value and overall costs then a premium rate phone line for contact generated by your failures will generate email unsubscribes. The extra income such lines generate has to be balanced against the cost of customer loss.
The customer is trusting you with their email address. They do not so much expect you to take care of it as demand that you do. They require reassurance as to how seriously you take your responsibilities.
Another way of generating that little spark of doubt is to demonstrate a failure in your internal procedures. A repeat customer is that which you should cherish. This is, after all, the target. But if they are suddenly sent two identical emails in your next campaign they might feel undervalued and they might also consider that you have not taken sufficient care.
This is, quite obviously, merely a brief overview of the primes. What each includes will vary depending on a significant number of factors, the most important probably being your product and the customer.
As we delve deeper into the specifics of each prime the one thing that will be apparent is that you must consider not so much what is reasonable in the circumstance but what the customer expects. If you feel you can’t supply it then you must ask yourself if the reason their expectation is so high is that your competitors are performing at that level.