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Harness The Power Of e-Marketing - Part 2

Furniture World Magazine


Shift To Modern Media The Power Of e-MARKETING - Part 2: Three critical tips to make email marketing work.

Operations by David McMahon

In the January/February 2009 issue of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine we looked at four techniques that are essential for the successful execution of an email marketing strategy. First, you must think of value when contacting your customers. Then, ask for your customers’ permission. Next, introduce new media partners to your marketing mix. Finally, start to reallocate your marketing budget to bring it into alignment with how today’s consumers want to be reached.

In the last two months over 12 trillion emails have been sent. About.com says that over 70% may be spam. The key is to differentiate yourself and target your customers wisely. Most businesses out there are using old media techniques on their customers. Guess what? That will not work. Old media techniques send the same message to every prospect. This produces smaller response rates than smart campaigns that use modern media techniques.

Modern techniques are targeted to a segmented and smaller portion of your database so the message is more relevant to your customers. These campaigns are proven to produce a much more significant customer reaction. In fact, The Direct Marketing Association reported that, in 2007, email marketing returned about $48 for every dollar invested, the highest of all the marketing channels out there! Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of email and strengthen the bond with your customers.

e-Marketing Tip #5 Go Beyond Email Blasts

There are three critical components with a smart e-Marketing system:

•Customer Relations Management
(CRM) software.

•Database segmentation software or tool.

•Online email publishing software.

When these components are implemented properly, in unison, they produce maximum results and build better customer relations.

Customer Relations Management (CRM) software can be used to run daily business operations and manage your follow up. Whether you are using a top industry specific system (some furniture specific software providers have ads in this issue of FURNITURE WORLD), or a general small business package like QuickBooks, you should enter all your customer information. That includes all contact data and sales and purchase history. A few of these packages can record customer opportunities for future sales and desired next purchase. Can you say, “goldmine”?

Now, one of the beauties of a computer is that it stores data in neatly organized tables in the background that you never see. Believe me, they exist. Well, it’s time to do something smart with that data and those tables. It’s time to “mine that gold”! You do this with a precision instrument, not dynamite. Dynamite is pulling all your customers out of your database and grouping them in one big bucket. This is called blasting your customers. Some in the industry refer to it as an e-blast where they email everyone the same thing without even considering their history. This method should only be used for an e-Newsletter that the customer signed up for or for general notifications that apply to all.

Precision marketing requires a precision instrument. This is what database segmentation software does. It enables you to easily pick out parts of your customer database so more relevant campaigns and messages can be sent. For example, if you know your customer likes a certain product line, such as Thomasville for example, why not access that data when Thomasville announces a new collection and email just those customers? Smart, eh? (Yes, I am Canadian.)

Finally, you import this data in the form of an Excel or .csv file to an online email publishing software such as our e-Marketing, Emma, or Constant Contact. Then you send a personalized campaign.

Know this: the key element is your precision database tool that segments your customers. It is the vital link in the chain between your CRM and your email publishing software. This sets the stage for all your success!

e-Marketing Tip #6 Targeted Campaigns
Joe Capillo wrote an article in the last issue of Furniture World and stated that “Be-backs are everything to our business”. This is what executing specific targeted campaigns do. They encourage Be-backs!

I mentioned one targeted email campaign idea, earlier as an example. The sky is the limit with this but here are my current three favorites:

1. Opportunity follow-up.

2. Quote follow-up.

3. Next purchase follow-up.

Opportunity Follow-up: Opportunity follow up is done after a customer comes into your store – whether they came to buy or just to look. Every day, or every couple of days, you can send one email to all those customers, thanking them for patronizing your store. You’ve started to build your relationships.

Quote Follow-up: Do you want to make more money with minimum effort? Simple – generate more quotes! People seldom buy on the first visit to a furniture store, but if they come back, there is a very good chance they will buy. Whatever their reason is for not buying now, say, “Great, I think you are right. I’ll take a few minutes to give you a quote to help you after you leave.” If their reason for not buying now is, “I need to measure” or “I need to talk to my spouse” or “I’m not sure about the color” or “I just don’t know, I can’t afford it, I want to shop around” or “it’s too expensive, I need to look at samples”, then this supportive statement works well!

You get their info. Now you can FOLLOW UP! Call them and send a very relevant email.

Next Purchase Follow-up: Retailers who do this say that this technique accounts for 5% of their sales.
As you are typing in the sale (or somewhere during the sales process) in front of the customer, casually say, “I bet this (insert current purchase here) will make your (insert current room here) wonderful. What is the next room that you will be working on? If they respond, just say,“Wonderful. I’d love to help you again. Any idea when you will be working on that?”

Bingo – enter the info in your CRM, extract with your database segmentation software, and send a timely, service oriented and targeted email campaign.

e-Marketing Tip #7 Track Results
One of the very cool things about email gold mining is that you can see the results of your efforts. Old guard media is tough to measure. It’s almost impossible to determine how many people looked at your message and what they liked.

e-Marketing is trackable. You can see the results within a couple of days of your launch. Here is my favorite metrics and what they mean:

• Open rate - the number of people who opened your campaign in a trackable way. Like all response numbers, open rates vary wildly based on the quality (and permission level) of the database, the nature of the content, and level of segmentation. Very generally speaking, good lists should expect open rates of at least 30%. Good segmented campaigns commonly get over 50%.

• Bounces - emails that were kicked back as undeliverable by the receiving server.

• Click through - the number of people who clicked at least one link in your campaign and what they clicked on. This shows what people are reading and what they liked about your email campaign.

• Opt out - the number of people who opted out of your email list. The lower, the better. Less than 1% is good. Over 3% could be an indication of poor content.

• Forward - the number of people who used your campaign's send-to-a-friend option to forward this campaign. This is how viral emails start.

Bonus e-Marketing Tip
Start NOW. Technology is about speed. Consumers expect contact that gives them relevant value, when they need it.
Most stores are either not doing it or are doing it ineffectively. NOW is the best time to get one up on your competition and distinguish yourself with your customers. In 5 years, those who started properly this year will see this as one of the biggest assets of their business and will have reaped the benefits of customer loyalty. Those who waited will have lost significant market share to the competition.

David McMahon is Director of e-Strategy and a business coach for PROFITconsulting. PROFITconsulting is a full service consultancy and marketing agency that specializes in retail furniture. FURNITURE WORLD readers can contact David to discuss this and other operations and marketing topics at david@furninfo.com.

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