Al’s column: Turning browsers into buyers

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April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Lisbeth Calandrino

In this modern age of digital marketing, it’s critical retailers move beyond the traditional means of targeting consumers. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting dealers completely abandon tried-and-true methods of marketing to new and existing customers. Rather, they should seize all available opportunities—along with the host of online marketing tools available—to turn browsers into buyers.

According to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a provider of digital marketing automation and analytics software and services, 70% of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. MarketingSherpa, a firm specializing in tracking what works in all aspects of marketing, reported 61% of shoppers say they like to receive promotional emails weekly; meanwhile, 29% said they want to receive them more frequently.

If you are unsure how to employ online marketing tools in your business, the following are a few tips to get the ball rolling.

Develop a plan of attack. Most businesses only focus on their advertising efforts when they have something special to promote. However, an email marketing campaign should be about more than just promotions. It should give your customers useful information they can use throughout the year. It’s also a good idea to build email campaigns around holidays, special occasions and important events.

Know your customer. This might sound rudimentary, but do you really know “who’s who” in your database? Your customers may include property managers, builders, architects and homeowners. Should they all receive the same email message? Certainly not. According to the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report, companies using email list segmentation saw 39% higher open rates and 28% lower unsubscribe rates. Put another way, if you met 50 people at a networking group you wouldn’t say the same things to each person, would you?

Devise compelling subject lines. You don’t have to be a wordsmith to excel in this area; just think creatively. For instance, if you want your customer to know something, tell her what it is in the subject line and then give her the full story in the email body. Oftentimes the content has nothing to do with the subject line. A great subject line can spark interest, but if the content isn’t relevant, the customer will stop opening your emails.

All customers are not created equal. When you create your campaign, you need to segment your customers. The customer who has bought from you is different from the one who hasn’t yet made a purchase. Don’t treat them the same. Target each group and send them relevant messages.

Let’s say you meet 40 new people at a networking event and put them in with the rest of the people in your database. Since you don’t know these customers, you don’t want to treat them as if you do. Rather, know that this is a special group that you want to get to know so they will see your information as useful and want to keep hearing from you. Once you gain their trust and they recognize your brand, you can begin to send them offers.

The trick is not to get overwhelmed or overthink things. Think about emails, alerts and messages you receive from some of the places you shop, and try to emulate the ones that inspire you or compel you to act. And if you’re not comfortable in tackling this yourself, by all means assign someone on your staff—maybe a millennial? —who’s more familiar with the technology and various media.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at

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