Earn an A+ with Back-to-School Email Marketing

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In 2017, as of early August, the average family had completed only 45% of its back-to-school shopping, and 23% of families had not started at all. Retailers, have you optimized your email marketing for back-to-school shopping? If not, it’s not too late—there’s still a huge opportunity to capture your share of this year’s lucrative season, with sales predicted to reach nearly $83 billion. The most popular and in-demand products for back-to-school shoppers are clothing, electronics, shoes, and school supplies (like stationery, backpacks, lunchboxes)—in that order. 

Optimize your scheduled email

One of the easiest ways to maximize sales is through email. Be sure to update your stock images to reflect popular back-to-school merchandise. Also, ask your service provider about including dynamic personalized recommendations derived from items each shopper recently browsed or purchased. When done right, these recommendations will optimize sales using algorithms that suggest products based on what similar shoppers browsed and purchased.

It’s no surprise that with school items quickly adding up, many shoppers are on the lookout for deals. Discounts for email subscribers can optimize both sales and revenue when you use the right data-based decision-making processes. Ask your service provider about dynamic decisioning that lets you offer incentives on an individual basis instead of giving away revenue with a generic percentage-based discount. This way, each offer can be personalized based on a customer’s history to determine what’s most compelling to that customer, such as offering a high-end electronics buyer free shipping while offering a percentage off to the bargain hunter.

Triggered email is essential

Abandoned-cart emails are the most basic and easiest to implement. When a shopper puts something in the cart and leaves without purchasing—which happens about 76% of the time on retail websites—getting the shopper to complete the sale often doesn’t take much. We have found that abandoned cart reminders sent over the next few hours typically result in 10-25% of abandoners making a purchase (with free shipping or dollars off moving you toward the higher end). And since shoppers on most websites don’t typically log in, keep in mind that your service provider should be identifying at least 60% of cart abandoners—if not, it’s time to consider your options for strengthening this identification rate before the next busy shopping season.

Beyond abandoned cart, triggered email offers a spectrum of opportunities to re-engage customers on the path to purchase. Abandoned browse and abandoned search offer additional great opportunities to strengthen sales. Also, email triggered by updates to your merchandise integrated with a customer’s browse and purchase history also bring a high rate of return, including now-on-sale, new arrivals, inventory low and back in stock.  

Transactional emails offer hidden opportunities

Transactional emails—such as receipts, purchase confirmations, back orders, order confirmations, shipping confirmations, returns and refunds—have the highest open rates among retail email.  Meanwhile, open rates are often bemoaned as this golden opportunity to reach customers with personalized marketing is overlooked. During the back-to-school season, smart use of transactional emails can appreciably increase sales and keep customers from looking elsewhere to make their next purchase. Opportunities include up-selling and cross-selling with dynamic product recommendations and offers, as well as including triggered email content such as items left in the cart or merchandise updates.

Make the grade

As back-to-school season hits its peak, be sure you’re putting your best foot forward with an A+ email strategy by incorporating these helpful tips. And don’t let your brain go on vacation and forget what you learn from improved back-to-school strategies. Make sure you apply everything you learn to your holiday email programs. That’s right—the holidays are just around the corner.

Bob Gaito is CEO of Albany, New York-based 4Cite, the first and only full-service People-Based Identification and Insights provider with a proprietary Data Network that maximizes the identification of previously unidentifiable customers, enabling retailers to more effectively acquire, retain and reactivate customers to influence purchasing decisions, drive brand loyalty and increase revenues. For more information, visit www.4cite.com.