When you need to change your email marketing

Email marketing is lauded as the most cost-effective online marketing channel but I’ve spent the last year working with an e-commerce site which has struggled to make email campaigns work. While PPC and natural search are delivering fantastic results (in the past 4 months the average cost per sale has halved), email marketing hasn’t been exploited properly.

The main problem is that the product area I’ve been working with (home learning courses) isn’t one which lends itself to being an impulse buy, and previous websites I’ve worked with such as AttractionTix have a variety of products at different price levels – all of which lend themselves easily to generate exciting and emotive email marketing. Product-oriented and special offer e-flyers weren’t working for us, so this week we’ve been able to try something new and have achieved some good results by selling our first add-on product – a low cost service which we thought would do very well with our existing customer base.

I set up a series of emails which were sent to different segments of our email list and the statistics have proved encouraging. 75% of the sales generated by the emails sent out this week were from existing customers, with the remaining 25% from users who had contacted the site but hadn’t bought anything.

Now the obvious answer would seem to be that ‘of course existing customers will convert better!’ – and yes assuming you have satisfied your customer, it should be fairly straightforward to maintain a good relationship with the customer. But one of the things it could suggest is that the type of language used in the email for a non-customer may need to be different compared to an existing customer. Does it need to re-enforce the USP’s of the site? Does it need to work a little bit harder to establish that trust with a non-customer? I’m not entirely sure what that difference may be but it’s certainly one I look forward to experimenting with by running some split tests on the non-customer segment using Lyris EmailList.

I’m currently planning out a comprehensive triggered-based email strategy that will take time to plan, write and a fair bit of programming to set up, but once established it should be both highly targeted and geared towards some of the ‘persuasion architecture’ ideas mentioned in Call-To-Action by Bryan Eisenberg.

Speaking of which, I am beginning to feel like my spare room has been invaded by Bryan Eisenberg, having added several of his books (including the excellent ‘Persuasive Online Copy’ which I had to track down on ebay – why is this out of print?), I’ve also picked up a book recommended by Lyris on Email Marketing with an Eisenberg-penned foreword, he must be a busy chap.

I’ll follow this blog post up at a later date and hopefully I should have some interesting statistics to share.

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