Use e-mail to improve customer retention by strategically creating personal communications tailored to customers’ specific needs.
By Tricia Robinson, VP of marketing and strategy at Premiere Global Services. Tricia can be reached at email@example.com.
Customer satisfaction is the driving factor in your retail retention efforts. With the National Retail Federation predicting slower spending throughout 2006, there is constant pressure to capture the business of consumers making purchases this year. On the other hand, don’t let an emphasis on increasing immediate revenue allow you to forget the fundamentals of building strong customer relationships.
E-mail is one of the best ways to retain customers and increase customer satisfaction because it establishes personal, useful, and timely communication. Retail marketers are realizing that when used correctly, e-mail can save time, money, and most importantly, customers.
Wave Goodbye To Generic Messages
To use e-mail to increase customer satisfaction, messages must be personal and targeted. It is true that customer satisfaction occurs when the customers feel like you understand and anticipate their needs. Therefore, e-mail recipients won’t feel special if you send them a generic message with content they have no interest in reading or products they’d have never considered buying. E-mail technology makes it easy to insert customized content and personalization elements that make messages relevant to customers’ needs and interests. Address your e-mails to recipients by using their first names, and track click-through rates to determine what products they are interested in. Use this information to target follow-up e-mail communications.
A big part of customer satisfaction is customer success. You may provide the greatest products in the world with the best service in the industry, but if they don’t work for customers, customers won’t be happy. Consider starting an e-mail newsletter to provide best practice and how-to advice to impart knowledge that will help customers accomplish their goals. If you sell specialty cookware, think about incorporating recipes into a newsletter that feature the products you are selling; or if you are a home improvement company, offer tips on how to best dress up a dull room with a splash of paint (all necessary tools for the project are, of course, found at your store). E-mail also makes it easy for recipients to forward your messages to friends. Satisfied customers will forward your messages, expanding your brand reach. This approach of selling through e-mail editorial content has proved tremendously successful for large retailers.
Are your customers requesting promotions and offers? When using e-mail to up-sell or cross-sell existing customers, mention products that fit with previous purchases or are a good fit with the interests expressed when customers subscribed to your e-mail. A greenhouse notices a customer has recently attended a class on annual flower gardens. Previous experience indicates an interest in flowers and do-it-yourself gardening, so a tactical cross-sell is attempted. In the next e-mail campaign, this recipient receives a 20%-off coupon for gardening tools. Use the information learned through customer relationships to see increased sales and click-throughs. Recipients appreciate the messages because they are relevant to their needs and interests.
Since retained customers spend more money per sale, buy more frequently, refer others, and cost less per sale, all evidence points toward the importance of keeping your customers happy. E-mail can facilitate this process by allowing you to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. If you have not already integrated e-mail into your customer satisfaction initiative, try it. Your efforts are sure to pay off with repeat purchases, word of mouth recommendations, and satisfied customers. Added up, these efforts will increase revenue now and in the future.