Operational E-Mail: Discover True One-to-One Communication

With the sophistication of Web 2.0 generation e-commerce systems, I’m seeing more and more creative uses of e-mail. I’m thinking about individual, tailored e-mails generated by your e-commerce or order-management system rather than the bulk e-mails sent out as part of marketing campaigns. They’re sometimes called “operational e-mails.”

You never have a better time to cement your relationship with a customer, and generate an additional sale, than when you have a relevant e-mail (or phone call) that results from a customer action. Here are some examples … and some ideas.

* Order confirmation e-mails. Recognize first-time buyers and returning customers, and try a “15-minute sale,” where they can add a promoted item to their orders within the next 15 minutes.

* Ship confirmation e-mails. Provide links to track packages, merchandise your free or discounted shipping offer, reinforce your total satisfaction guarantee, and give them an incentive to come back and order again.

* Back-order notification. If customers are shopping on your site and come across a back-ordered item, give them the option of an e-mail notification when the item comes in stock. Of course, they can always buy the back-ordered item, too.

* Special offer for a friend. Allow customers to e-mail a friend with a special offer on your site — maybe the same items they’re buying. Send them an e-mail when their friend buys or responds.

* Wish list and private sale e-mails. If your site maintains a “wish list” defined by individual customers, use those lists to create private sales — using those wanted items — through e-mail.

* Sale notification. Track the items customers want or search for, and use those items for special promotions to those customers. Allow them to request notification when those items go on sale.

* Customer comment. Make it easy for customers to e-mail you comments or reviews of services or items, among other messages. Provide the opportunity to post such comments in an open forum.

Of course, always follow appropriate e-mail privacy rules when you do any of the above. But the point is, use the data you have to create timely, relevant, personal, targeted e-mail communications. Your customers will notice the difference vs. the bulk e-mails we’re all now bombarded with.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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