Tags Posts tagged with "Email Message"

Email Message

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Editor’s Note: Meet Pamela Hazelton at Ignite 2015, our conference on Sept. 16 and 17 in Dallas, where she’ll co-present two sessions: “Proven Strategies to Convert Shoppers on Mobile Platforms” and “How to Choose Profitable Inventory in an Amazon.com World.”

Many major brands successfully market gender-specific products. Most of these items rely on trigger words and colors to make them stand out. For example, BIC produced its popular pens in pastel colors and used the words “for Her” on the packaging.

Same pen, different colors. (Source: Amazon)

While manufacturers can be successful producing items in different colors and sizes for men and women, unisex items — especially clothing and housewares — can be mistaken as gender-specific products solely because of presentation.

When trying to reach the masses, focus on images, descriptions, and features that remove all doubt. In other words, send the message that these particular products are suitable for both genders.

Images Send the Most Powerful Message

By incorporating a variety of images, both male and female shoppers can be targeted at the same time.

Lowe’s uses images to make the message clear: both men and women can operate riding lawn mowers.

Showing both genders modeling unisex clothing helps increase conversions across men and women. Source: Artfire.com.

Another way to market to both men and women is to present the same item as two different products. This is ideal for stores that feature separate male and female categories.

Replicating products to target both men and women removes all questions. Source: Van Halen Store.

While models help sell various product lines, there are times when you’ll want to simply show the product itself. In the example below, showing only the shirt works in lieu of displaying photos of a girl and a boy.

Van Halen Store sells a unisex shirt initially marketed for girls.

Choosing the Right Primary and Thumbnail Images

When cross-categorizing unisex items, especially clothing, consider which image types best sell to both genders.

For products available in different colors, choose neutral ones for main images. Black, chrome, and white are the best choices for household items.

Use the most popular, neutral colors for main images and thumbnails. Source: Target.com.

If displaying a unisex item as a single product, use a naked photo (sans model) for the main image, and male and female models as secondary.

Using a naked image as the primary photo, and gender-specific ones as alternatives, makes the message clear: anyone can wear these glasses. <em>Source: Lenskart.com.</em>

Choosing the Right Words

For unisex items, avoid using words that are too feminine or masculine. Instead, use a mixture of words that work for both genders.

Overstock.com uses a bullet point to describe a unisex wedding ring as “for both men and women”. Note the usage of “sophisticated” and “handsome” in the same sentence.

This unisex t-shirt at Amazon avoids any description that screams masculine or feminine.

For more generalized products, explain features in different ways. A woman may want a powerful blender, but she may not know how the horsepower translates to how well the unit crushes ice or chops vegetables. She’s typically more concerned than men about how to clean the appliance and wants to know if it’s easy to maintain.

This description for the Vitamix blender focuses on power and acceleration. It does little to explain ease of use and cleaning and versatility — features important to most women. <em>Source: Amazon.</em>

Don’t forget to include the word unisex in the title, description, and search terms. This will help those searching only for unisex items to be presented all applicable results. You’ll also want to configure the store’s search function to use an AND operator, and display AND before OR. For example, at American Eagle Outfitters, a search for “unisex shirt” returned 765 items — the bulk of which use male models in thumbnails, followed by several women-only products. A search for just “unisex” returned only two items.

A search running the OR operator only returns too many products that are not unisex.

The same 2-word search at Overstock.com returned 50 products, all shirts labeled as “unisex.”

Using the AND operator on search makes it easy for those searching for unisex items to see only what is applicable. Source: Overstock.com.

Finding the Way They Think

Men and women think differently. Many decisions to not buy an item are subconscious, which means customers may not be able to tell you exactly why. It’s important to research and analyze which terms work best for each type of product. A good start is an older, yet still accurate, post from The Houston Chronicle about marketing to men versus women.

To analyze how well products do with men versus women, use demographic reporting in Google Analytics. This will also let you see results based on age groups, which can help you further determine the best word choices.

Want to know the best ways to write product descriptions so they cater to both sexes? Pick a few products and have both a man and woman tell you what they know about them — and also ask questions to each. Use the information to integrate bullet points that better explain products for everyone.

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At a time when social media seems to be the only thing people talk about, email is still an effective ecommerce marketing tool. But merchants will have to alter how they use it if they wish to keep up with changes in how people access email messages.

Are People Still Reading Email?

The research is positive. Several brands reported an increase of five percent in open, click, and conversion rates from 2011 to 2013. The Direct Marketing Association’s 2012 Email Tracking Study reported consumers are still signing up to receive marketing related emails.

According to the DMA, consumer approval of the content of marketing emails has increased, with 25 percent saying that they find more than half of the emails they receive relevant and of interest to them. Data from email marketing provider Informz shows an increase in the click-through rate from 19.5 percent to 21.1 percent from 2011 to 2012. Informz also found that the more links an email message contains, the higher the click-thru rate. However, emails should only have one call to action regardless of the number of links. Informz also found that messages with shorter subject lines had higher open rates, with subject lines with less than 10 characters having the best open rates.

Email continues to have an excellent return on investment and is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing. Email marketing and sales campaigns are easy to measure via open, click-through and conversion rates. Direct mail has a better response rate than email — 25 percent vs. 23 percent — but direct mail costs about 100 times as much according to the Harvard Business Review.

With automation tools merchants can reduce the amount of time spent on generating messages once the program is up and running.

What Do Customers Want in an Email Message?

People will read email messages if they think the vendor is paying attention to what they are interested in purchasing. Generic sales emails will likely not gain the notice of readers. Personalized, relevant content is essential. So behavioral targeting should become a part of every ecommerce vendor’s arsenal. Merchants should communicate with customers based on how they responded to previous emails, their website browsing patterns, and their purchase history.

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This Ultra Beauty email example tells the recipient they are missed.

This Ultra Beauty email example tells the recipient they are missed.

Mobile Changes the Game

Perhaps the biggest change in email is the increasing reliance on smartphones for reading email correspondence. Results of the Pew Internet and American Life Project from November 2012 showed that that 53 percent of mobile phone owners have smartphones and 56 percent of all U.S. mobile phone owners access the Internet on their mobile device. More than 50 percent of mobile users read email on their phones. Of these individuals, 88 percent check email on their phones every day.

Email testing tool provider Litmus reported in March 2013 that 43 percent of all emails were opened on a mobile device. Litmus also reports that the Apple iPhone is the most used mobile email client, followed by Outlook. Email research provider Return Path reports that Apple devices comprise 85 percent of all mobile emails opened — 59 percent on the iPhone and 26 percent on the iPad. Mobile open rates grew 300 percent between October 2010 and October 2012. Return Path’s research also shows that emails have twice as many conversions as search and social media, and the average order value of ecommerce purchases are higher for tablets and smartphones than for desktop purchases.

Layout is critical for mobile email. Merchants need to make it easy for users to open a message on their devices and take action within seconds. Using responsive design can help render emails differently for different devices and platforms. Layout should be one column, vertical, and contain large action buttons.

Provide larger font sizes and expand white space around hyperlinks to increase click-through rates, which are still lower on mobile devices than desktops and laptops. The content should be direct and concise because mobile users are multi-tasking and may be engaged only superficially. Deliver a sense of urgency in the message. Calls to action should be located within the first three lines of text.

Be sure to make it easy to unsubscribe. That way, you can concentrate on people who are interested in your messages and comply with industry standards.

Email and Social Media

Email is a much more targeted tool than social media which works best as a brand engagement method, not a marketing tool. While social media may be great for P&G, Nike, Starbucks, and other large companies, it may not be the best tool for a small company. Ideally, email and social media should be complementary. Customers should be able to share email content via social media networks and join an email-marketing list via social media. To reach beyond a customer list, consider including buttons to Like, Tweet or Pin new products and special offers.


Because of its relative low cost and high return on investment, email will co-exist with social media marketing for the foreseeable future.


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