September 18, 2008, 12:00 AM

E-mail offers multiple ongoing customer interactions, expert says

Personalization and “opt-down” choice are two keys to e-mail marketing success, Proclivity Systems CEO tells

The right e-mail tactics can play a big role in boosting online sales and conversions while at the same time reducing customer turnover, Sheldon Gilbert, chief executive officer of online marketing firm Proclivity Systems, told attendees in a session at this week’s annual Summit.

Even simple-to-execute efforts to personalize e-mail that go beyond simply a general promotion of products can make a difference, according to Gilbert. For example, Gilbert advises e-retailer clients to send customers a monthly e-mail that rounds up products they have considered at a site but left in the shopping cart. Gilbert noted that customers tend to use the shopping cart as a default wish list and said that by using this information, retailers can create highly successful targeted e-mail campaigns.

When customers have shared a marketing e-mail they’re received by forwarding it to a friend, that presents an opportunity for the retailer to approach the customer with a thank-you e-mail, according to Gilbert. Not only does this communication strengthen the relationship with the customer, but it’s also a chance to introduce a new offer to the customer, he said.

Gilbert also noted that retailers can keep more customers on their house list if they allow them to “opt down” rather than leaving them only with the option of completely opting out. By allowing customers to limit the frequency of e-mails they receive from the retailer, the retailer will retain reliable customers while reducing the number of total opt-outs, thus preserving list size and saving the expense of re-acquiring lost customers, or acquiring new ones, he said.

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