How to Optimize Different Types of Email, Part 1: Retention Email

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Email Marketing

email-marketing-retentionEditor’s Note: Look for this series each Wednesday beginning today and continuing for the next two weeks.

I am often asked about the different types of email and how they affect deliverability, reputation, and ultimately ROI.

Email by now has become one of the few killer apps on the Internet. We depend on it more than we imagine, and when you send a message, you have that predetermined expectation that it will arrive.

With all this dependency on the channel I thought it appropriate to examine the differences in some of the mail streams, specifically Retention, Acquisition and Transactional emails. If you’re using email marketing, you need to tailor your strategies to meet the needs of each.

In this, the first of three parts, I’m going to examine Retention email – the (relatively) easy one – and discuss the different challenges associated with permission, relevance engagement, frequency and reputation.

Retention email

Retention email’s primary focus is to obtain, nurture and retain a customer relationship once you have established the initial permission to make contact.

For example, let’s say that Mary buys something from MyStore, and provides her email address and permission to contact her after her initial transaction. At this point Mary is 100% opted in to your program – this is good. What you do next will establish your ability to communicate with Mary and ultimately drive ROI with strategies and offers based on her preferences and expectations.

To begin with: Now that you have her attention, it’s imperative that you get her engaged with your program almost immediately to ensure continuity.

Begin the on-boarding experience

  • Send a welcome message: thank her for signing up etc.
  • Set expectations on frequency and content that she will receive
  • Provide instructions on how to add your “From” address to her safe sender list
  • Explain the message outreach. “This is message 1 of 5”, for example. Explain what’s coming in future communications.
  • Allow her to reset her preferences at any time, put her in control of her experience
  • Personalize your messages; remember, Mary probably doesn’t want to receive emails with information that’s not important to her

The more you know about your clients, the more you can tailor programs and marketing efforts that fit their needs. As your customer become more engaged, this in turn will provide better deliverability, reputation and ROI.

As our inboxes become cluttered with a lot of electronic communications, you have to ensure that you deploy the best measures available to give you the edge when it comes to fighting for that important real estate in the inbox.

Best practices for Retention email

  • Deploy a great onboarding program make it engaging
  • Keep gathering data on your customers; don’t take their preferences for granted. Things change!
  • Send thank-you’s for purchases and touch base periodically; check in with your clients
  • Send invitations and reminders of events based on past behavior or purchase history
  • Send announcements of new products, promotions or services based on past purchases
  • Encourage social sharing for your brand – this helps build client loyalty
  • Segmentation works; one size, message, data point or product definitely does not fit all
  • Be consistent in your relationships with your clients

Remember as we head into the holiday season, that we often imagine we can send more email to take advantage of increased spending. We’re ready for greater ROI. But – more email does not automatically mean better conversion. Overdone, or done badly, it can mean more complaints, which translates ultimately into deliverability issues.

Retention email is your path to ROI. Don’t abuse your house files. Delicately manage your data and you will see the benefits of proactive management. Remember this: It’s hard to obtain a client… but it’s really easy for them to leave. It only takes one click.

Next week I’ll be discussing Acquisition email and the associated issues that come with this channel, which are decidedly different.

Thanks for reading; please let me know your thoughts.


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