To My Kind Followers: Alas, it’s the final week of my internship here at Monetate for soon I must return to Wharton to complete the last year of my MBA. So please, sit back, relax and enjoy the final installment of “Lunches with Brett.”
As I was chowing down on my chicken salad sandwich, Brett and I were discussing how promotional email campaigns have the potential to be one of the most effective marketing tools. After all, some people on your email list are probably customers already and others have shown enough interest in you to hand over their email address. It reminds me of that line from Alec Baldwin’s character Blake, the real estate sales shark in the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross: “a guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy.”
According to Brett, a person on your email list could be considered a warm lead, the hard part is done. But I’d done some research in preparation for our lunch… and I’d read that the average email conversion rate for retail websites was under 3 percent. So I asked Brett: “If the hard part is done, why is the conversion rate for these warm email leads so low?” That’s when Brett hit me with the concept of “Email Continuity.”
Similar to last week’s Ad Echo blog, this best practice is rooted in the user experience principle of Bryan Eisenberg’s “maintaining the scent” concept (you did read last week’s post on scent, right?). When you send out an email containing a promotion, recipients who click through to your website should be able to see that promotion. If they do, they are more likely to convert than if they don’t. That’s not a hunch. That is something Brett has seen time and again when setting up campaigns like that, campaigns that were tested against a control group.
Now I know this idea of Email Continuity might sound pretty obvious to some of you, but I ask you: If it’s so obvious, why do so many companies still fail to do it? If more retailers employed Email Continuity it would surely boost that average conversion rate. Consider an example shared with me by Stephen Cobb, Monetate’s evangelist-at-large. Kodak sent out an email with a great offer on their Z915 camera. The call to action button says: SHOP NOW. Clicking that button takes you to a page that does not mention the Z915.
What can I say? Perhaps the logic here is that people who get this very specific email will come to the store, browse around, and end up buying something. Maybe this strategy has been tested and found to work, but somehow I doubt it. To me it looks like a missed opportunity to put Email Continuity into action. According to Brett:
“The impact of Email Continuity is high and the effort required should be low; it is a fundamental best practice nowadays. All e-retailers should be doing this.”
Of course, someone at a famous camera company might argue that the effort is not low, but Brett would say it’s hard to argue with the statement that it should be low. Whether you manage your email marketing campaigns internally or outsource them, here’s what Brett suggests:
“When requesting creatives for an email campaign have them also produce a banner, consistent with the messaging and design of the email campaign, then display that banner atop the landing page to which the email directs them.”
In other words, there’s no need to do a redesign of pages on the website to create the continuity, just slide the appropriate promotion banner onto the page based on the incoming link. And if you include the promotion banner on pages beyond the landing page, the messaging is further reinforced and the conversion rate goes even higher.
When I asked Brett to summarize the thinking behind this best practice he said,“Ultimately, all of this is rooted in fully realizing one-to-one personalization online. The look and feel of one’s email campaign should absolutely be in sync with the landing page—if not the user’s entire site experience.”
Then he handed me an article he had printed out prior to our meeting. The headline read, “52% of retailers say they plan to add customized content to boost site performance.” (Internet Retailer)
And that’s when it hit me: Across the various best practices that Brett has shared with me over the past few months, one-to-one personalization underpins it all. Ranging from landing page anchors and targeted messaging for specific customer segments to Ad Echo and Email Consistency, it is clear that one-to-one personalization is THE best practice. By leveraging the latest technology in site optimization, more and more empowered e-marketers are beginning to see for themselves how strongly this type of personalization drives user relevance and—ultimately—conversions.
So, that’s my big takeaway from a great summer interning at Monetate, and I thank you all again for taking the time to tune into my blog series. I hope you enjoyed reading these posts—and hopefully learning from them—as much as I enjoyed writing them.
But, the fun doesn’t end with my departure. I’ve had an inside look at the exciting new tips and tricks that Monetate has up its sleeve, including a great newsletter series starting soon and featuring site optimization guru Bryan Eisenberg. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it (use the handy subscribe box here).