E-mail, Social Media and Text Message Campaigns
As we approach year end and people are working on their holiday shopping lists, there is no time to lose for you and all e-commerce businesses to review strategy and fine-tune your whole range of marketing tools.
The goal being to attract shoppers both within and without your usual target audience to also reach those buying for others and shoppers open to trying something new.
Competition being fierce, your assault must be based on a specific battle plan—aka marketing strategy—to determine when and how to better reach and convert shoppers.
This may include emails and text messages for shoppers and customers who have shared their contact information, as well as social media where content can be linked to one’s product such as workout tips if one sells fitness clothes, or home decor suggestions if
PLANNING YOUR ATTACK
A. Start with what you know:
1. What made you develop the product you are now selling at your site? What was the need you intended to address?
2. Since then, what have you learned:
➜ What characteristics of your product are the ones usually turning shoppers into buyers?
➜ What seems to matter the most for shoppers when they look at your product: design, components, short or long-term use, the statement it makes, price, or other characteristics?
Whether or not you are clear about this, contacting a few of your customers for their input will help you confirm what to highlight in your writing. Call them and ask their opinion on your product, and what prompted them to purchase it. People are usually happy to respond if they feel their opinion will be appreciated, and there is no better marketing data than information gathered directly from a shopper or customer. Your product’s features that are proving its selling points are the ones you will want to highlight in your campaign’s written material as well as your website copy.
B. What makes your e-commerce and product special, setting it apart from your competitors?
“Every organization has its own unique position within its market,” said Brandon Andersen, chief strategist for Ceralytics. “What is the ‘soul’ of your company that stands out in each piece of content? What’s your company’s true reason for existing?
“Create an editorial mission statement….this identifies who you are as a company, your audience, how you are reaching your audience, and the desired outcome you have for your audience when you reach them,” he said. (1) Stating this will help you clearly phrase and communicate your message to potential buyers.
C. Who are your buyers?
At times, the buyers a product line end up attracting may come as a surprise. For instance, when Jeffrey Escandell launched his line of men’s socks at Modern Motif Sock Co. at https://modernmotifsocks.com/, he soon realized that a large number of his buyers were actually women. “Almost 50 percent of sales are women…buying gifts for men.
“So we have this sock business…trying to sell men socks. And now we’re actually evolving a whole side of the business as a men’s gifting company,” he said. This has meant developing sock gift boxes for various occasions ranging from father’s day to school graduation, and offering complementary items such as cufflinks, golf gifts and pocket tools. “It’s funny how your audience dictates the path that you take as a business owner,” Mr. Escandell said. Your buyers’ profiles will determine the tone and content of the written material and communication for your product line.
D. How often should you put new content in e-mail, on social media, or at your site?
Apart from the obvious fact that producing content takes time and energy if it is to be effective, when and how often one should put new material will depend on your targeted buyers, the product and whether it is used year round or is mainly seasonal. But no matter what, you will want to maintain a constant and periodically refreshed presence on and off your e-commerce site so that your line can appear whenever a shopper searches for information connected to your products.
TO KEEP IN MIND
Even though the goal with one’s copy at e-commerce and social media sites, and in email and text-message campaigns is to convert shoppers into buyers, one should not fiddle with the truth, said Jonathan Crossfield, a journalist and chief content officer at the Content Marketing Institute. “Sure, getting a fact wrong or misinterpreting a stat isn’t necessarily the same as telling a bald-faced lie,” he said. “But neither is it trivial when our content is supposedly intended to create the impression of authority and expertise. In short, fact-checking matters just as much in a 280-character tweet as it does in a 10-page white paper.” (2)
E-commerce owners aim to give their businesses a distinctive identity—that is, to brand them, said Gerry McGovern, CEO of Customer Carewords. “Branding can…be a way to summarize what you are, what you stand for,” he said. “However, branding is too often used to make gullible people believe anything. Much branding is a form of psychological trickery, emotional manipulation, magic.”
But nowadays, shoppers are learning to look beyond this, Mr. McGovern said. “Online, millions are manipulated, but millions more go online because they are developing immunity to branding. They’re on their own journey, questioning more, comparing more, reviewing more, sharing more. Old branding controls the journey. New branding supports the journey.” (3)
It’s now up to e-commerce people to provide those discerning shoppers with the facts and data they seek to turn their browsing into buyers’ journey.
On mobile/cell phones require that the text be short and to the point in order to immediately capture the reader’s attention.
As a marketing tool for e-commerce, it is believed extremely effective since people tend to open virtually all their messages and this, within minutes of receiving them.
Ideal for presale or new-product notices complete with special coupons, the tone of the messages must be personal since this is where their strength lies, said digital marketing specialist Daniel Schwindt.
“Now, a quick word of caution,” he said. Even though people have shared their phone numbers with an e-commerce, Mr. Schwindt said, “all subscribers must give their expressed consent before you can start sending messages…or you could face very real legal trouble.”
* https://www.cmswire.com/customer-experience/branding-manipulation/utm_source=cmswire.com&utm_medium= email&
An Old Classic that Remains a Powerful Marketing Tool
Nearly five decades ago—close to 48 years to be exact—American computer engineer Ray Tomlinson came up with the @ sign to indicate an email destination, setting up the standard for person-to-person email still used today. Since then, email has become such a commonplace way of communicating that, according to the research firm Radicati Group’s report “Email Market, 2018-2022” released in June this year, the worldwide number of emails to businesses and individuals is expected to exceed 281 billion per day by the end of the year, reaching 333 billion per day by the end of 2022. (1)
As to their effectiveness in business, the report estimates that the email market will generate $33.1 billion in revenues by the end of this year and $64.3 billion by 2022. And so, yes: No matter how old fashion it may be, emailing works for business. The 224 marketing influencers interviewed last August by the marketing-research team of Ascend2 said that email is by far the most effective channel to transmit marketing content to prospective customers. They ranked email’s effectiveness at 82 percent compared to 54 percent for social media and 51 percent for a company’s website and blogs. (2)Of course, getting shoppers’ email addresses will always be a challenge for e-commerce.
However, there now are tools such as pop-ups and chatbots/live chats to invite them to share their email addresses so they can be informed of future sales and special offers.
WRITING EMAIL MESSAGES
→Sender: If possible, the sender should not be listed as no-reply@.
Whenever possible, put in a sender’s address, even one as general as customerservice@, through which people can communicate if they wish to do so.
→Subject line:It must be made clear from the very first word that this email is worth opening. Mention succinctly the unique offer extended to them: pre-sale specials perhaps including promo codes; product previews; flash sales; early-bird sale notifications; new line previews with discounts or gift packages including a bonus item.
The most effective ways to send content to potential customers per marketing influencers (2)
The text should be straightforward and clearly outline the offer made. “Keep it as short as possible and put all the key info up front,” said Rob Asghar, presidential communication director at Northwestern University in United States. “Never put a request or invitation at the end of a note. No one reads the last line of your email,” he said in a Forbes magazine article. (3)
The text should be broken into paragraphs, attachments actually attached and, if one sends illustrations or photos, they should not be overly large not to tax people’s inboxes,Mr. Asghar added.
The message should reflect the spirit of the brand both in the text and visual elements—illustrations and/or photos—you may decide to include. The vocabulary and tone, whether casual or more formal, you decide to adopt will be dictated by the customers your brand means to attract.
Again, putting the name of a person or even “Customer Service” will make the message more personal. A phone number and email address should be listed as well as the e-commerce’s website, if not physical, address. A visual element or button on which to click may be included. However, some security advisers are now recommending that people not click on buttons in email messages for fear of a security breach.
→Length and layout:
Keeping in mind that a great many people will read their emails on their mobile/cell phones, the email’s whole message should feature the essential—basic details on the products and specials offered plus some visual elements—in a layout easy to view on screens of all sizes.
→When to launch one’s email campaign:
With the holiday-shopping season approaching, shoppers will be looking for special offers. And according to the email-marketing agency Whereoware, an e-commerce can run the same email marketing campaign as many as three times during the coming months.
“Check your list twice and resend your Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials to non-responders and non-openers,” the Whereoware staff writes. “Don’t be hesitant of opt-outs and unsubscribers when sending a friendly follow-up. Trust us, they’re expecting holiday
“Email resends ensure your email stays at the top of inboxes and top of mind – especially for those last-minute shoppers. Feature countdowns, early deals, and surprise extended discounts to draw attention and engage customers,” the Whereoware staff writes. (4)
2 https://ascend2.com/research/ See “Email-Driven Content Marketing, Survey Summary report.”
The Art of Social Media Communication
Whether one’s customers are from Generation Z or 50 something, having a presence on social networks is no longer debatable for an e-commerce.
People do use social media on an ever-expanding scale. According to the company Statista, which provides market and consumer data, the number of social-network users will reach 2.6 billion worldwide this year and 3.02 billion by 2021. (1) And as of last July, Facebook was dominating the market with 2.2 billion users.
So regardless of the social network shoppers prefer, e-commerce must be ready to welcome them, adapting to the various networks’ requirements such as writing comments within the 280-character limit on Twitter or focusing on photos and visual elements on Instagram.
THE TEXT: STYLE AND CONTENT
Content must be planned keeping in mind that many people visit social media on mobile/cell phones during breaks from their busy lives.
Which is why the text for any social media should be written in a straightforward style and to the point, social media experts point out, with the first sentences telling shoppers just enough to get their attention, if not capture their imagination.
As digital-marketing blogger Ben Donkor writes, “Tell your readers or viewers what to expect right from the title. You don’t need to give all the details away to do so. For instance,football writers will only hint at what the article is about in the title but they won’t give away all the details. (2)
As for the text, one should not forget the word “social” in social media. “Blasting promo link after promo link is a far cry from an effective social strategy anymore,” said professional writer and content critic Brent Barnhart. “This rings true for pretty much any social platform, especially if you’re looking to score more followers.
“In short, people are sick of spam and impersonal brands alike. This is why storytelling content is all-the-rage right now. Oftentimes lacking any sort of concrete CTA [call to action] or accompanying link, story-based posts are meant to drive discussion rather than clicks,” he said. (3)
Social Media Users
For instance, the e-commerce Mashup Tea on Twitter (4)—a company whose statement reads “create a ‘thriving tea industry that is socially just and environmentally sustainable’,”—is turning into a forum for people to exchange thoughts on the philosophy of life and commitment to one’s community, as well as tea. Whether or not a social media offers limited room for text, shoppers expect businesses to mention their business philosophy and/or support for policies or social causes.
As the social-media solution company Sprout Social found out while conducting research on social media in United States, “People actually want brands to engage in these conversations and communicate their values. What’s more, they want brands to do it on social media.” (5)
The text could include a link to the company’s profile and its business and social commitments at its e-commerce site.
MAINTAINING ONE’S BRAND IMAGE
Especially if one opts to appear on several social media platforms, an e-commerce will want to maintain the visual identity of its brand as set at its website. Here are a few suggestions that professional marketer Amanda Sparks makes in a blog at Post Planner—a social media engagement firm—both to better link all one’s sites for search engines on the web and to strengthen one’s visual identity:
→Use the same profile picture in all of your social media accounts.
→Link to your website as well as other social media pages.
→Insert relevant keywords in your bio and other information that potential customers would search for when researching your company.” (6)
MAINTAINING AND UPDATING ONE’S IMAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
As important as having a presence on social media can be, it can also turn into a burden since once in place, it must be maintained and refreshed.
“The biggest challenge is simple: It costs money and time to do social media right, but you won’t be able to measure the return of your investment there and it may not bring additional business,” said Emeric Ernoult, CEO of the social-media management firm Agorapulse.
“But it was the same challenge a century ago with having a phone number and hiring people to answer the phone, or two decades ago with having a website and an email address and investing in resources to handle that….In a decade, it will just be another channel you can’t measure but you have to invest in,” he said. (7)
5 The report “Championing Change in the Age of Social Media” at https://sproutsocial.com/insights/data/championing-change-in-the-age-of-social-media/