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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog on how the new Microsoft WSRD data was impacting email marketing. For webmail accounts managed by Microsoft, WSRD data is increasing effecting whether your email goes to junk, or into the inbox.
These accounts relate to quite a high percentage of some retailers' email lists (50%+) so how Microsoft treats your mail can have a large impact on the revenue you make from email.
In order to ensure your emails stay in the inbox, this post takes you through developing the customer relationship and increasing user engagement through producing a welcome/nursery programme.
Making a good first impression
This is where it starts. Your carefully designed (and expensive) acquisition programme has achieved some first time buyers, some attempted purchasers and some registrations.
If you have an email address and the permission to market to these users (important) this is the place that email can really make a difference. Just throwing the new recipient into your tactical campaigns can affect how they view your emails in the future and you could miss out on a potential quick win conversion opportunity to boot!
It is important to personalise any introductory programme as much as possible, not only their name, but also their relationship with you as a prospect or customer. A returning customer will have a different relationship with you than a new customer or prospect, so the messages would be different.
It’s important to distinguish between programmes sent to new registrants (not purchased) and new customers (purchased when registering) by separating them as welcome (new registrants) and nursery (new customers).
In the most sophisticated of programmes the two will intertwine, with new users moving into the nursery programme as they make a purchase. The more relevant you can make your emails to the user’s customer status, the greater the recipient engagement and the greater the chance of hitting the inbox.
Deploying this type of programme reduces the chance of falling foul of the WSRD quality score for Windows and other major ISP reputation measures.
Fig. 1 is an example of how a three triggered welcome programme and a three triggered nursery programme can work together.
The ultimate aim is to get new registrants to make a first purchase (become a customer); and make new customers purchase again (become a repeat customer). Once this has been achieved your customer is ready to move into a programme of tactical emails.
So how can these types of programmes be deployed?
Gala Coral implemented a highly sophisticated programme to improve engagement with new registrants and new customers. Users were automatically segmented by whether they had opened an online account (registered) or deposited money into their online account (become a customer).
Those that had deposited money were segmented again by the amount of money they had deposited.
All users were sent an initial welcome email, to introduce the brand and thank the user for joining the site. Following this users were then sent a series of emails relevant to their specific segment.
Depending on how users reacted to the emails they were sent, they would move between segments, ensuring they always received the most relevant information to their last interaction with the brand.
From January to May 2012, the average open rate for the initial email exceeded 40% on several occasions, with click rates for these campaigns reaching over 30%.
The remaining programmes achieved an average open rate over 17% and average click through rate over 16%. Through the email campaign hundreds of thousands of new users are now depositing money into their online accounts and proceeding to make use of the games available through the Gala Coral Group.
Some emails have resulted in over 90% of recipients who have already deposited money, becoming active online users.
These results demonstrate strong engagement metrics. When you are getting responses like this, Inbox placement is inevitable (with 100% inbox placement across all the major global ISP’s). Of course, strong response rates and inbox placement help deliver the true value in this programme, increasing active online users.
The programme implemented by Gala Coral was extremely complex, but even much simpler programmes can be effective.
Another recent program for an online retailer achieved open rates of nearly 50% from implementing a nursery programme to build rapport with new users, who had already made an online purchase.
The programme that included simple personalisation and a discount for customers to use on their next purchase, converted over 40% of customers clicking on the email. In just a few months it has successfully converted hundreds on first time customers into repeat buyers.
Making a good first impression with your email programme is the best way to improve its future performance.
It’s surprising how often the focus is on reactivation of long dead email addresses, rather than the more immediate and valuable fresh email sign up. Developing a planned approach to your contact strategy should start at the beginning, leading to faster customer activation, increased engagement and a greater chance of the first and subsequent sales.
As you may have noticed, this was a follow up blog dealing with reducing spam complaints and increasing inbox placement, but response and revenue has featured strongly in the results and the copy. There is a very good reason for this; the same strategies and tactics that improve engagement and inbox placement also deliver increased response and ROI. It’s a win – win!
I will be covering the other elements of getting into the inbox in future posts.