Email marketing allows simple and cheap response to specified events which can have the benefit of helping to retain customers and increase sales. There is as much potential in small businesses as larger ones for the majority to be fully automated. Every bit of automation saves time and money.
The first decision is what events should trigger a response. For the purposes of customer retention the ideal would be those stages in the lifecycle of a customer which provide the best return on investment. What these are will depend on many variables, such as the product, but for most, the first purchase is an obvious start.
Whether an order is from a first-time customer or not your normal response, that of an automated order confirmation, including a brief thank-you for their custom, should be generated. This reassures them that their order has been received and is being dealt with.
If the customer’s name is not already on your list then this should trigger another response, the form it takes depending to an extent on your product. But consider:
A week after they receive the item or service you could send them an email asking them if they are satisfied with their purchase and the service they received. Your customer is reassured of their importance. A link to an online survey would appear to be the favourite format.
Be aware that it will require some form of servicing. If they tick a box suggesting dissatisfaction with an aspect of the procedure it must be followed up in some way. The customer will expect a response and an automated ‘Thank you for your communication, it is important to us’ that seems, to the customer, to end the process might cause more problems than it solves.
A free text box can be extremely useful for market research but, as your response cannot be automated, it could take considerable resourcing. You need to weigh the benefits your questionnaire will provide before including the facility.
If a response shows some degree of dissatisfaction the precise form of their complaint might well specify your response. If, for instance, there was no scart lead included with the product, and its absence was clearly indicated in the advert, then you could, for a first time customer, respond by offering a free lead with them paying the postage and handling charge. Or, perhaps, include it initially and make a feature of it.
A failure of your carrier to hit the delivery window could generate an offer of free ‘next day’ delivery for their next purchase, not to mention a query to your carrier. A returned form that has nothing but the ‘completely satisfied’ boxes ticked should be serviced in a similar way as those which are critical. The same offer would be a nice ‘thank-you’ for their time in completing the form, especially if they have the potential to be a valuable customer.
It is a two-pronged approach: building the relationship and encouraging sales.