Email Marketing and eCommerce Web Sites

From 1992 to 2007, eCommerce has transformed from a $35.3 billion per year industry to nearly a $200 billion per year industry according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than a 500 percent increase total and an average of a 33 percent increase each year!

Email marketing ties in well with eCommerce, and is a popular online marketing channel used to drive sales. However, eCommerce companies need to be aware that gaining and retaining a loyal customer base is a key component to the bottom line, and if you’re customers aren’t happy, expect to see that bottom line plummet.

Here is my experience with one eCommerce company and their email marketing campaign. I was less than pleased with the over-all experience, and will share the pros and cons as they relate to both email marketing best practices and overall customer experience.

The Good

  • This company did well in quickly shipping the item I purchased. I had the package in my hands in about two days.
  • They were also helpful in recommending what size I should choose, the item of clothing fit just right.

Email Marketing: Room for Improvement

  • A promotional email was sent to me for 20% off but never stated when the promotion expired. Tip: Always present the user with all offer details – from promo code to expiration date to any hidden terms.
  • I received an error when I went to make my purchase saying the code was invalid. I had to contact the company in order for them to temporarily reactivate the code. Tip: Make sure that Marketing is communicating with Operations. Most customers don’t have the patience to pick up the phone. Online chat is an optional tool to handle these types of requests, but make sure they are trained appropriately.

Web site Usability: Room for Improvement

  • Product information was incomplete on the site. They did not have photos showing the complete product I wanted to order. I had to contact them and ask them to add an additional picture to the website. Tip: Always ensure you have photos of every item you are selling on your website. Consumers don’t have the luxury of tangibility online so providing as much information about the product is imperative. Angles shots, videos, and customer reviews are all optimal content assets when selling a product online.
  • Part of the fun of ordering online is the anticipation of the package being delivered. Tip: Tie your email marketing in with shipping/operations to create a lifecycle campaign that keeps the customer excited to receive their shipment and notifies them of tracking and delivery.
  • Further disappointment came when my package arrived and I discovered I was sent the wrong piece of clothing. I sent it back to the company and received the correct order less than one week later. Tip: Always double-check that you are sending the specific product that the customer ordered. Include easy instructions on how to return the item. Tip: Don’t overlook the details of providing a simple thank you on receipts and shipping invoices. A coupon for their next purchase is also a great way to encourage repeat visits.

While I do love what I ordered, my over-all experience with the eCommerce site left me less-than impressed and I will not be making purchases from them in the future. I hope this first-hand customer experience has given useful insight to new eCommerce businesses looking to engage in email marketing and provide users with a great customer experience. Paying attention to all the details and making sure all departments are working together will ensure you a loyal customer base and an increase in your bottom line.

One Comment

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