Convention wisdom says that email marketers should not bombard recipients with messages - rather, they should be contacted after a plan has been developed with specific reasons or offers in mind. For the most part that is true - nothing irritates consumers more than a blizzard of email marketing messages that are poorly tailored to boot.
There are exceptions to breaking ranks though - that is, times when an email should be sent outside of the normal monthly or biweekly routine.
When the Customer is Leaving
For instance, according to the E-Tail Group, more merchants are relying on email to save the sale when shoppers abandon carts where they have placed merchandise before completing the purchase [pdf].
Statistics from a recent survey suggests the tactic works: it found that 20% of merchants queried sent abandonment emails during the survey’s tracking period in Q4, a 6% increase over the same period last year. That suggests it is an effective tactic to capture sales that might otherwise be lost, E-Tail said.
The trick to making this work is not to appear overly intrusive.
E-Tail noted that only 40% of the emails received had personalized salutations, down 17% from last year - perhaps in response to privacy or not wanting to appear too familiar.
Also, the emails should be sent at a timely interval after abandonment to avoid appearing intrusive. Like last year, the average number of days from when the goods were left in a cart until an email was received was 6.15, according to the survey.
Visual appeal is also an important factor and accordingly HTML formatting was favored by 95%, up from 86% last year. This enabled 40% of these merchants to include an image of the abandoned product reminding shoppers of their selection - almost double in 2008. E-Tail said.
When You’ve Landed the Customer
Another good time to send an unexpected email is when you’ve landed a new customer, writes Search Engine Land. "You shouldn’t just consider email marketing as a once/month push (or once/week etc) - you should consider setting up an auto-schedule of emails for new sign-ups to your site.
"As soon as a new user enters onto your email list they should enter a cycle of emails which get sent out - above and beyond the initial email."
These would be helpful emails to help users convert or get up to speed on a new service, Search Engine Land explains. "Pingdom does this very well - I signed up for a free trial of their tool and after a week or so I received an email asking if I was ok with everything on the service, asking if I had any questions etc. This kind of thing will help turn those passive users into active users and hopefully customers."