Own an ecommerce website? Do you have a mailing list?
If not, you’re potentially leaving a lot of money on the counter.
Keeping in touch with your past customers and visitors, is one of the easiest and cost effective methods of increasing your website sales. You simply must have a mechanism to collect the email addresses of both buyers and browsers alike.
Collecting buyers email addresses is a “no brainer" – after all you need to send them confirmation details, receipts etc. Just make sure you ask their permission to keep them up to date on future special offers.
Collecting visitor details is a bit trickier, and you must offer some kind of incentive in return for them handing over their valuable email address. Here are several ways:
The amount you are prepared to offer will depend on the profit margin in your business, and the drawback is you may only get the email addresses of people who were going to purchase anyway.
Do make sure you are honest and pick a winner – put past winner details on your site to emphasise this
If you offer technical products that can be tricky to understand – such as electronics, audio-visual etc, then write a short guide
If you sell golf equipment, search for articles on golf tips online, obtain the authors permission and compile them into a PDF report.
Managing your list
Depending on what ecommerce system your website is based on, you may already have the ability to manage email lists. If not, use a list management service such as Aweber (www.aweber.com), which allows you to set up autoresponder sequences, multiple lists and send HTML emails.
Which brings me nicely to the next *must* . . . send HTML emails!
HTML emails are the ones full of images and graphics, rather like webpages as opposed to plain text emails.
Why? They are far more eyecatching, which is essential given the increasing amounts of email we get every day. You stand a better chance if you include images of your products – after all a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
(the only exception to this is people selling non tangible products or services - for example, information products usually work better in text emails. )
What should you communicate in your emails?
Any products that you have put on special offer, sale items, end of line stock etc. Adding a message of limited availability or ends by a certain date will help increase response.
Garden furniture and barbecues in Spring, for example.
Before the recent FIFA World Cup, I was inundated with special offers on all kinds of TV’s for watching it on. If you can tie your products to a popular event in some way, so much the better.
Reviews of the latest product offerings to hit your marketplace, will interest your customers.
If you sell any kind of technical product, your customers will appreciate the occasional how to guide. How to get the best out of your equipment, top tips, etc.
Frequency of emails
I wouldn’t advise emailing your customers any more than once a week, and leave it more than a month between communications and they are likely to be forgetting about you.
There we have it. Loads of ideas on how to keep in touch with your customers, and make sure you stay at the forefront of their minds. The cost is virtually zero, and the potential returns are massive.
What’s the cost if you don’t? Well, undoubtedly one of your competitors will make the effort – and end up seducing your customers away from you . . possibly for good.
Robin Porter is CEO of Arpey Internet : Uk Ecommerce website designers (http://www.arpey.co.uk/ecommerce-web-site-design.html ) and advises ecommerce store owners on marketing at http://www.e-businessdoctor.co.uk