Email: The foundation of engaged brand commerce
When it is done right, email is still one of the most effective forms of marketing that companies can use, so it can and should remain as one of your primary communication channels. However, marketers need to be aware of the other ways customers and potential customers interact with brands and integrate them into a cross-channel marketing strategy. Doing so will make it more likely that you'll keep subscribers engaged and, ultimately, buying.
Online marketing is moving toward an engaged model. Potential customers may sign up for an email subscription, become a fan on Facebook, and follow your brand on Twitter before they ever reach your e-commerce site. With all of these and more potential touchpoints, it becomes more important to have a coordinated cross-channel marketing strategy that will lead buyers down the path to conversion.
But don't push them too fast. The beauty of multiple touchpoints is that potential buyers have the ability to learn more about your brand and products. Invite them in, show them around, and let them look awhile. Offer useful information, be there for questions, and send an SMS message about a great sale you're having on items in which they have already shown interest.
Reward them with a freebie for becoming a Facebook fan. Periodically offer discounts to your followers through Twitter. Promote that shiny new quick response code on printed materials and at checkout so that after they have left the store, they can look up more products and special offers online or subscribe to your email list.
Set up an automated campaign of marketing activities that surround your commerce engine. Expand the concept of typical commerce engine-related emails from abandoned cart, browsing behavior and order/ship notification to include messages that are triggered based on actions taken on social networks and through SMS. The initial email may be the start of the walk down the aisle toward a conversion, but welcome messages, SMS, Twitter and Facebook posts can keep buyers engaged — and turn them into repeat buyers. Keep the conversation moving to the conversion.
In an effective cross-channel marketing strategy, email still plays the key role. Email can either be the foundation to encourage subscribers to connect through other touchpoints, or you can use other channels to encourage your customers to sign up for email. In either case, a cross-channel approach that integrates mobile and social with email enables buyers to interact with your brand in new ways, and on their terms. Just make sure the channels you use complement one other and don't compete for attention.