In the perfect world, online retailers would prefer not to pay the hefty acquisition costs charged by online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon*. If only they could drive more sales from their own sites, they would be able to earn a larger slice of profit from each sale. Or at least that’s the theory.
Not Easy, Not Cheap
As anyone who has tried to drive own site sales, without the benefit of well-known brand behind them, will tell you – it’s not easy. And it’s definitely not cheap.
The cost of acquisition simply moves from marketplace fees over to equally expensive paid search and SEO costs. Make no mistake; there is no cheap way of winning new customers.
However, once you win those new customers, there is a way you can turn the advantage in your direction. What’s more, there are no step learning curves or cutting edge technologies to get to grips with. In fact, the technology you need to drive continued growth and increased profits via your own website is as old as the Internet itself (in fact, it’s older).
Email Marketing Works
Email marketing has been around for a very long time. It pre-dates all other online marketing technologies and even the Internet itself. Despite its age, email marketing remains the most cost effective and profitable marketing solution available today for driving repeat business via your website. What’s more, it’s almost certainly been enhanced by more “sexy” marketing platforms like social media and mobile – which co-exist rather nicely with email.
Consider This: More than 65 percent of emails are now opened on a mobile device. People now carry their email inboxes with them everywhere and constantly engage with their emails constantly.
Now Consider This: While social media is a great environment to engage customers in conversation, it’s not a great platform to sell on. This is because, as the name suggests, social media is a social environment. Nobody likes being sold to in a social environment. Email on the other hand is very much a place of work. In the perfect world, you’ll have the same people following you on social media as you have subscribed to your email list.
Acquisition vs Retention Marketing
Due to high costs of acquiring customers via paid search networks, social media and other acquisition channels, if you are not investing in email marketing, you may never see a profit from expensively won customers. Many successful online retailers are very much of the opinion that email marketing is the profitable component of more expensive acquisition channels like paid search.
Note: Understanding how much it costs to acquire a customer and their true Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – which is driven via email marketing – is the first step you need to make to build and grow a profitable business. Ignore this and your business is on shaky ground.
Successful email marketing campaigns are built on the principals of permission, relevance, timing and engagement. Send the right email to the right person at the right time ad your chances of success are significantly improved.
As an online retailer, you gain permission to email your customers with relevant offers via their original purchase. You already know what your customers like – so you just need to get the offer and timing right to succeed.
Important: Email marketing is very much a retention marketing channel. You should not use email marketing to send campaigns to anyone who has not given you permission to contact them. Do not buy lists or send campaigns to email addresses collected from sales generated from online marketplaces where you do not own the relationship.
Forget Newsletters, Get Strategic
Remember, a monthly email marketing newsletter sent to your entire list is not a relevant, timely and engaging strategy and as such, will not deliver significant results. Instead you should focus on delivering campaigns based on what your customers like to buy (based on their previous purchases) and you won’t go too far wrong.
It’s also worth remembering that the average age of an email address is only 18 months. People change service providers, people change jobs and sadly nobody lives forever. Don’t wait for your email list to reach critical mass before starting to send. The time to start email marketing is the moment someone gives you their email address.
John W. Hayes is the author of A Crash Course in Email Marketing for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (Available on Flubit.com – https://www.flubit.com/shop/p/a-crash-course-in-email-marketing-for-small-and-medium-sized-businesses/FL240L17).
*If marketplace fees get you down, you really should take a look at Flubit.com and the wider SKU Cloud eCommerce ecosystem. With no listing or final value fees, we help retailers retain margins and achieve profitability.