Email is alive and thriving.
Even though you have more ways of engaging with customers today than ever before, landing in their inbox remains one of the most effective. The key question: Whose inbox do you want to aim for?
Do you want to attract new customers? Of course. But the smart money says to reach out to your existing ones, rather than get complacent about those loyal followers.
Not only does neglecting current customers increase the risk of losing them, but perhaps even more importantly, it overlooks a critical truth of business: You stand to gain — and earn — more from your existing customers than you do from new ones.
Customers who have already bought from you are familiar (and presumably satisfied) with what you offer. In other words, they’re already fans.
The Money Doesn’t Lie
Heed the numbers: It’ll cost you five times as much to acquire a new customer as it will to retain an existing one. To use financial services as an example, research by Bain & Company found that increasing your customer retention rate by just 5% will yield more than a 25% boost in profits.
That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
This can happen for several reasons, but for starters: As customers continue to do business with you and develop more loyalty, they tend to buy more from you as time goes on. They’ll also refer friends and family — so part of the value in keeping current customers is the ability to gain new ones via word of mouth.
How much can email help? Research reveals that a brand gets back $42 for every dollar invested in email marketing — a sweet return, to say the least.
Engage With Your Fans
Those existing customers who subscribed to your email list have already conveyed one critically important fact: They want to hear from you. Or at the very least, they won’t mind hearing from you, especially if you make an enticing offer.
And you already know a thing or two about them. Exactly how much you know depends on what kinds of information you asked for on your subscription form. You might have a few basics like their name, company/industry, and gender. Maybe you went a bit further and asked for their birthday, hometown, shirt size — the possibilities go on and on.
Depending on what data you have stored, and the capabilities offered by your email platform, you can set some highly effective personalization tactics in motion that get more customers’ attention and inspire them in ways that generic, one-size-fits-all email campaigns won’t.
Put It to the Test
To take this concept out for a spin, consider splitting your email list into segments and conducting a few A/B tests, where different subscriber segments receive different versions of a mailing:
- Subject lines. Much has been written about testing different variations of subject lines, whether it be the length, the specific promotions (a discount vs. free shipping), or the use of personalization. Research on personalization shows that including the recipient’s first name in a subject line can bump up open rates by 26%.
- The content. Depending on your email platform, you may be able to tailor the body content to the audience in a specific subscriber segment. Highlight women’s clothing to your female audience, for example, or market cold-weather gear to your customers who live in the Northeast.
- Call to action. Compare the results from using generic call-to-action (CTA) text like “Submit” against your click-through rates for a CTA that’s more specific or personalized, like “Get Your Discount Coupon.” Research shows that personalized calls to action fare much better.
The More You Know...
Aided by customer relationship management (CRM) software, you can more fully capitalize on the concept of personalization. If you have insight into a customer’s personal shopping habits, you can target them with an offer that speaks directly to their interests and needs.
This takes the idea of “listening to your customers” to another level, because you can create a marketing strategy that’s based directly on their actual behavior. The more you understand why your customers are loyal, the better equipped you are to offer deals that will keep that loyalty strong.
Again, it comes back to personalization. A study by Harvard Business Review found that participants were more likely to buy a Groupon for a certain restaurant when they thought the ad was targeting them based on their browsing history — compared to an ad they thought was simply based on general demographic data.
Speak to them, and they just might listen.
But What About Social Media?
A common, but inaccurate perception is that social media is the most effective and lucrative avenue for reaching consumers, attracting leads, and converting. Those who are joined at the hip with Facebook and Instagram may tend to think email should be stashed away in a museum alongside so many dinosaur bones.
But the numbers don’t support this mindset. As a marketer who presumably wants to avoid dinosaur status yourself, you’d be wise to note the statistics that compare email marketing to social media:
- About 60% of consumers say they've made a purchase after getting a marketing message via email. Only 12.5% consider clicking a “buy” button on a social media site.
- Similarly, 58% of consumers check their email first thing in the morning — before visiting social media sites, search engines, or the news.
- Only 4% of users log in to Facebook to check for a promotional deal from a company they know. But email? A whopping 44% say they go this route.
This doesn’t mean you should ditch social media, obviously, but again, the statistics are plain to see: Approximately 306 billion emails are sent each day around the world — and signs don’t point to a slowdown. Projections suggest that number will shoot up to 361 billion by the end of 2024.
Customers are still checking their inboxes, so you’d be wise to keep sending. Just remember: The smart money is spent on those who have bought from you before. They are, after all, already paying attention.