How word-of-mouth fuels e-mail campaigns

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Customer reviews and other forms of word of mouth make great fodder for e-mail campaigns. When measured against identical campaigns that don't include word of mouth, they generally drive higher click-through rates and sales. Two key benefits of e-mail and user-generated content include driving community participation and using trusted words of customers to market products.

E-mail encourages consumers to engage with your site – and your brand.

Online customers expect personalized emails about the status of an order; however, an e-mail two weeks after a purchase asking to review a purchase is, unfortunately, much less common. To work well, these post-purchase e-mails continue to convey the brand's personality, thank the customer for making a purchase, and make it easy for the recipient to quickly submit a review or share an experience. The best ones have links directly to the product to be reviewed and simple instructions for submitting the review.

International apparel brand Boden crafted a post-purchase e-mail that went to each customer upon placing an online order. The e-mail appeared to come directly from Johnnie Boden, and led off with, "Did you know that underneath my ginger head of hair lurks two unusually large ears, which are all the better for listening with?" With direct links to review submission forms, Boden customers quickly responded to review their Boden purchases, generating up to 1,000 reviews per day. Within just four months, 90% of Boden's products had been reviewed.

Urban Outfitters took customer reviews and personas one step further when it featured its top reviewers alongside their favorite products in a well-received e-mail campaign. The e-mail featured six of their Top Reviewers, classified as those who submit the most product reviews. Each reviewer is represented by a photo linking to their Reviewer Profile, and the e-mail also features a few of their customer favorites. The campaign received high response rates, resulting in more customers writing reviews and submitting their photos, in hopes of being featured in future campaigns.

Customer reviews enhance e-mail campaigns, driving increases in key performance indicators.

For retailers, e-mails that feature “top-rated products” or “customer favorites” and include actual customer ratings or review content snippets see much better result than those without this transparent content.

eSpares, the UK's largest appliance spare parts retailer, found that a link to customer reviews in e-mails outperformed all other links in its e-mail, including other text-based links and a “buy now” button. In addition, incremental traffic to the Web site from the “read reviews” link ended up generating additional revenue, 2.5 times that sold through the “buy now” button.

E-mail infused with authentic customer opinions adds a level of credibility and engagement that is seldom matched by other types of content.

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