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The Importance of Transactional Emails for Small Business

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Willie Pena – Enjoy!

transactional emailsThe open rate for transactional emails far exceeds that of any other type of email, whether it is newsletters or bulk marketing mail. Once just a sparse, utilitarian messaging that conveyed the bare bones details of a business transaction, transactional emails are now multi-purpose missiles that impact a company’s reputation, revenue, research and audience retention. They do this without being intrusive or unwanted.

The most effective and profitable transactional emails include shipping confirmations, order confirmations and approvals for return of merchandise (or exchange). Mastering the art of the transactional email is possible, if small business professionals follow the tips below from Easy SMTP.

Best Practices When Sending Transactional Emails

While the aim is to use the transactional email to gain customer trust and additional patronage, that mission cannot be too overt or aggressive.

  • Cite the transaction in the subject line of the email. Provide the necessary facts about the transaction in the body of the email in the most prominent and thorough way possible, using text, images and links.
  • Create a professional look by using the company name in the sender field and including a header with the official company logo and colors.
  • Use HTML instead of plain text to create a more exciting and engaging email.
  • Include colorful promotional content beneath the pertinent transactional data or in a sidebar. This can include purchase suggestions, a list of products related to what has been purchased already, coupons, a widget of popular products or sales ads.
  • Provide links to company services, especially support and account services, in additional to product links.
  • Limit marketing to 25 percent of the email.
  • Express appreciation or gratitude for the customer.
  • Customize the email and the promotions, showing awareness of the customer’s buying and browsing patterns.
  • Use software to track the effectiveness of transactional emails and experiment with design and content if emails are not inciting clicks or additional customer action.

What to Avoid When Preparing Transactional Emails

Transactional emails can easily become spam if any of the following are included.

  • Exaggerations about products, services or price cuts in order to gain a sale or prospect.
  • Having generic promotional content that offers one customer the same sales and product recommendation as every other customer.
  • Insufficient transactional data, such as missing prices, lack of product description, no shipping estimate or a missing toll-free number so that customers can ask questions about their transaction.
  • A convoluted layout that is confusing, overwhelming and aesthetically repulsive.
  • Using half the email for marketing.
  • Putting a sales reference like “30 percent off” in the subject line of the email.

Benefits of Using Transactional Emails

  • Builds Customer Trust – Customers feel safe with a company that provides useful information at every step of a business transaction. Transactional emails empower the customer and alleviate questions and concerns. This, in turns, fosters respect, confidence and trust for a company.
  • Increases Customer Engagement – The customized one-on-one approach of transactional emails makes a customer feel special and invites interaction. This interaction might lead to higher survey participation or social media engagement.
  • Additional Sales – When customers see photos and descriptions of their recent purchase alongside ads for similar products or related products that can incite a desire to purchase more goods or remind them of something they meant to buy but didn’t. Customers might also elect to browse the company website again, creating mental wish lists for future purchases.
  • Brand Recognition – For new customers, seeing brand elements when they complete one transaction may not cause them to remember the company in the future. However, when an order confirmation arrives with a signature brand logo, and then a shipping notice arrives later with the same logo, and a warranty message arrives, presenting the logo an additional time, suddenly the customer is very conscious of the brand and likely to think of the company when shopping later or when talking to a friend about the purchase.

Willie PenaWillie Pena enjoys writing about email marketing, transitional emails and marketing advice for small business owners for Easy SMTP. Connect with him on Google+ andLinkedIn.

How to Leverage Mobile Technology to Gain Insights Into Your Marketplace

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Willie Pena – Enjoy!

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photo credit: blakespot

In the next few years, marketing will be almost totally mobile. Mobile gadgets offer a bevy of versatile tools and methods for collecting data from consumers on the go — and almost everyone is on the go but ever-connected to people and businesses through gadgets like iPads, smartphones, Kindles, tablets and other devices.  These devices present unprecedented opportunities for a company to learn about its target audience and customize its business and promotions to respond to consumer needs.

Mobile Apps are the Future of Marketing Research

There are many benefits that make mobile marketing research more attractive than traditional forms of research: mobile research is faster, less costly, way more interactive and attracts far more respondents than print and phone surveys. Since mobile devices typically come with an array of apps, it is through apps that many businesses will funnel their future marketing efforts.  By using apps, companies can take advantage of touch screens, swipes and other responsive mobile technology features while asking customers questions in polls, games and other interactive platforms.

Because mobile technology, such as the innovative iPad, encourages users to express themselves beyond words, businesses can create apps and digital surveys that allow users to draw, record audio feedback, record video reviews or share images of themselves and their friends or family using products. The traditional survey model will shift as businesses design app-based questionnaires that take advantage of the inventiveness and options available on mobile devices.

Geolocation Will Give More Insight Into Customer Habits

With most mobile devices coming equipped with GPS technology, companies can use tracking software to verify  survey respondents’ locations with more detail. In cases where companies interact with consumers during shopping, such as through promotional text messages or popular QR codes that shoppers can scan and read on their smartphones, businesses can study in-store activity, consumers’ traveling habits, where customers go before and after a visit to a company and what leisure places might to be patronized by consumers.  Often, consumers will even volunteer this information by posting places visited on social media.  All this data is useful as it can show if buyers visit competitors, what neighborhoods or locales have people who are more likely to embrace a particular brand and in what contexts consumers might likely use a product. Geolocation can help create a more in-depth profile of people within a target or niche audience.

Routers will Help Gauge Customer Behavior

GPS isn’t the only way marketing groups can probe audience behavior. People using mobile devices while running errands and shopping often are at the mercy of hotspot routers to maintain Internet access. These routers will be increasingly used by market researchers to study and track consumer behavior; some frameworks may allow researchers to identity and study impulse purchases. At the very least, marketers can analyze consumers’ searches for related products, product features and service descriptions  —  possibly while a customers is on the verge of entering a business to complete a transaction.

Invitations to Take Surveys will Get a Lot More Lively

Businesses can take advantage of several inventive ways to ask mobile device users to take surveys, whether its through mobile ads/banners, video feeds, BlueTooth messaging, rich media animation, apps, search page listings, newly popular automated voice services or even sponsor messages built into mobile devices upon purchase.  Some companies, particularly those in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry are creating special mobile sites that allow shoppers to click a photo or link to immediately contact a special call center; these call centers can be used for spontaneous surveys to gather details on shopper needs, preferences and concerns. By using mobile technology to expand how to solicit consumer feedback, businesses will be able to better understand brand engagement. While some people might ignore a traditional mailed survey or emailed link to a survey, consumer might find these dynamic mobile invitations too fun to pass up.

Sophisticated Mobile Advertising Analytics Provide Insight

Advanced software is becoming increasingly available to study the mobile advertising impact. Marketing researchers have often relied on analytics applications designed for traditional websites and for people who use personal computers. Such software does not provide reliable mobile data; however, special new mobile research tools can provide accurate and reliable information on click-through-rates for mobile campaigns, general mobile traffic and customer details.

Willie PenaWillie Pena is a freelance writer, video producer, visual artist, and music producer. He prefers the Oxford comma. Catch his rare blog posts on williepena.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn.