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Archive for March, 2010

So many companies spend a huge amount of time researching the best ways to communicate with their customer, without actually asking the customer themselves! Are you guilty of this too? Email provides you with the ideal opportunity to communicate with your customer and to garner feedback from them about your company’s products, services and essentially the email programme itself. According to Google, more than 167 million surveys were conducted in 2007 and this volume is set to increase over 2010.

It’s really important to think about clever and interesting ways to incorporate the use of a survey within your communications, as old traditional models with long lists of questions simply won’t work. People are too busy nowadays, so it is important to keep your questions clear, concise and to the point. Rather than running one survey with a multitude of questions, why not think about running a series of shorter surveys over a period of a few months? Not only will this make it more attractive for the customer to complete, but it will also make it easier for your marketing teams when analysing the responses. A survey can be embedded within an email, or can be reached via a simple link within the email that will take the customer to a landing page.  The option that you choose to use will be influenced by the amount of questions you wish to ask, as well as the responsiveness of your current database.

When designing a survey, it’s crucial to determine the end objective of the survey – is it product based; are you using it to find out what customers think of the products you have to offer? Or is it service based; do you want to find out how the customer views your offering in general, both online and offline? Alternatively you could be using the survey for competitor analysis; ask the customer which products they purchase from you, but at the same time list other products that you have to offer and find out if they are buying these from your competitors. Finally it could be centered around spending habits and frequencies; ask the customer what their average spend online is and depending on what you are promoting (apparel, homewares, electronics, cosmetics..) find out how often the customer makes these purchases and are they making them online. As previously mentioned, rather than include all the various scenarios in one email, think of them as being part of one campaign, but with the questions changing on a bi-monthly basis, where you are effectively promoting a series of different data capture pages to gain more of an insight into your customer base. This information can then be used to enhance your targeting and segmentation programs, as well as supporting the customer lifecycle model.

Finally, it is important to think about where you position the survey and what you can do to maximise the responses. Incorporating a survey as part of your transactional messaging is a really effective way to further engage an already engaged customer. Open rates are consistently high for transactional messages, as the customer has just been through the purchase cycle and will open the confirmation/dispatch emails following their purchase: see graph below for details.

Simply asking for feedback within the ‘thank you for placing your order’ message goes towards optimising the interaction with the customer. Alternatively you can consider effective incentivised models that can be used within the regular newsletter program. Allocate a content block within your creative with a clear call to action such as ‘we want to know more about you’ and incentivise this with vouchers, a competition, or free gift and you will see a significant volume of customers responding to this type of communication.

In summary, if you are not already using feedback surveys add them to your plans for 2010. Decide what the objective of the survey is, keep the questions and the length of them clear and concise and ensure you are providing the best experience possible to your customer, as this will improve the response rate and increase the likelihood of your customer wanting to take part in future surveys.

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When to email? The million dollar questionThere are a lot of ‘groundhog day’ questions within the email world, none more so than “when’s best to send an email?” – day and time. There are of course a number of opinions and suggestions, mainly depending on whether your audience is B2B or B2C.  For example, for a B2B audience, apparently Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the prime emailing days, based on the fact that people are recovering from the weekends on Mondays, winding down on Fridays and clearly out of the office on Saturdays and Sundays.  Then you should obviously avoid sending on bank holidays, school holidays, Easter, over Christmas and New Year, and so on.  For B2C email marketing, the advice is very different, as people tend to be checking personal emails in the evenings, on weekends or during their lunch breaks and of course over seasonal holidays if the offers are relevant.  It really is a bit of a lottery and totally depends on the nature of your business.

Some of the answers I’ve heard have clearly been with said prospect in mind, yet there’s a new and more recent response that, whilst it sounds brilliant in theory, I’m not so sure. Apparently, you should send an email based on when somebody last opened or clicked within an email. Sounds great, but has anyone ever really sat at their computer waiting for an email because that’s when they last interacted with that specific brand ….”oh dear, it’s late, not having that, delete!”

I would suggest a far better approach is to work based on the logic of what  your business does and, without question, implementing a clear testing process (which should be ongoing, results will change).  Have a read of Mark Brownlow’s blog here

By definition, a blog is a web site that allows users to reflect and share opinion. The above is obviously my opinion and I’d be happy to hear others. Any thoughts or insight others care to share? Has anyone tested sending based on recipient interaction with any success?

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On Thursday 15th April eCircle will be hosting its Email Marketing Connect2010 Conference at the luxurious venue The Soho Hotel. This great value full-day event is a great opportunity to hear speakers from top UK brands such as Argos and the BBC as well as network with fellow marketers!

Since 2005 over 800 top online marketing executives have attended 8 eCircle Email Marketing Conferences to hear speakers from some of the UK’s leading brands share their knowledge and experience, making eCircle’s Connect Conference the only place to be for email and online marketing professionals.

As a special thank you to our loyal blog readers we are currently offering a special 25% off ticket prices for the first 10 people that book using the discount code: ‘ecircleblog’ (normal ticket price just £250 inc VAT), so get in quick and sign up now to take advantage of this fantastic offer!

 View the full agenda and book your place here

Once registered you will be added to the list and if successful our marketing team will be in touch to confirm your place personally.  Please note this event isn’t currently open to agencies.

FREE email critique: During Connect2010 we will be running an interactive email critique session where our panel of experts and audience members will discuss what’s hot about email campaigns and what’s not! To have your email critiqued for FREE please forward your emails to l.hudson@ecircle.com.

And last but not least if you’re an avid ‘tweeter’ we have set-up the following hashtag on Twitter: #ecconnect2010 to allow you to tweet about Connect2010.

We really hope you can join us at this fantastic event and look forward to welcoming you on April 15th.

For latest event updates and offers check back to our blog and make sure you’re signed up to the following:

View the full agenda and book your place here remembering to quote the special offer code of ‘ecircleblog’

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DMA Email Marketing CouncilWe’re delighted to report that after a year working as a co-opted member of the DMA Email Marketing Council on the Best Practice, Data and Legal Hub, eCircle’s Managing Director Simon Bowker was elected yesterday as a full member of the council, joining friends and colleages in the industry to work together on helping the channel achieve its full potential.  The Email Marketing Council plays an essential role in championing email as a vital part of the marketing mix and produces best practice guidelines, research studies, data-driven reports and organising digital events for DMA members.

Other council members include:

  • Chair – Chris Combemale (The Email Academy)
  • Vice Chair – Skip Fidura (Dot Agency Ltd)
  • Simone Barratt (eDialog)
  • James Bunting (Communicator Corp)
  • Denise Cox (Newsweaver)
  • Guy Hanson (Database Group)
  • Kath Pay (Ezemail UK Ltd)
  • Matt Simons (Acxiom Ltd)
  • Sara Watts (Data Media & Research)
  • Jonathan Burston (CACI Ltd)
  • Richard Gibson (Return Path)
  • Rupert Harrison (News International Ltd)
  • Dela Quist (Alchemy Worx Ltd)
  • Tink Taylor (dotMailer)

Many thanks to those of you who voted for Simon and we’re looking forward to help promote email marketing best practice.

For more information on the council and its work, visit the DMA Website or subscribe to the DMA Email Marketing Council Blog.

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Etailer of the YearWe always keep up to date with the latest news from the ecommerce and online marketing field so were thrilled when we received the news that the Oracle World Retail Awards had announced their shortlist and that four of the six retailers were from the UK. And we were even more chuffed that two of the four UK front-runners, Argos and eSpares are eCircle clients.  The other shortlisted companies include Marks and Spencers and Ocado from the UK and Walmart and HSN.com from the USA.

Apparently this year’s awards have attracted a record number of entries from the biggest ever range of countries, reinforcing the level of creativity and innovation across retailers large and small across the globe.  How fantastic that UK etailers are really leading the way!

Last year’s winner was Zappos.com from a shortlist which included mydeco.com, Topman, New Look, Tesco and Italy’s Yoox.com (source: Internet Retailing)

We’re keeping everything crossed for Argos and eSpares and are sending all our good wishes for them for when the results are revealed at the World Retail Congress in Berlin on April 22nd.

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