Effective E-Marketing Strategies: YOU Be the Judge

Are you ready for a pop quiz?

If not, don’t worry. You won’t be graded at the end of this one. (Even we don’t have the answers yet.) This week, you’re going to experience a different type of case study, one in which you get to play along and predict how it will turn out.

Reflect.com is an interactive “boutique” where women customize their own beauty products hair, skin and cosmetic items based on their lifestyle, tastes, needs and other factors. Women create in-depth profiles, and these attributes, of which there are more than 100, are used to create customized products. Then, the company uses the attribute information to determine which consumers would find the information in the emails valuable.

To those at Reflect.com, it seemed obvious that one-to-one email marketing campaigns would dovetail nicely with the one-to-one product goals of the site. So Reflect.com, which began within Procter & Gamble but was spun off and launched late last year, has teamed up with Digital Impact, an e-marketing company that specializes in personalized email marketing.

For instance, Reflect.com and Digital Impact are working on a campaign geared toward women who spend too much time in the sun. It is nothing more than informational; the email messages will simply let women know what they can do to help prevent sun damage, and the messages will not contain a product offer.

This is just one of the campaigns that Reflect.com is in the midst of. Hannelore Schmidt, the director of marketing at Reflect.com, and her department staff have been asking themselves a number of questions about what will make for successful email marketing campaigns, and, in so doing, they are designing a number of tests.

Oftentimes, companies treat email marketing tests as the home computer user treats backing up data yeah, we know we should do it, but lethargy, resources you name it gets in the way. But Reflect.com is near the top when it comes to using tests to determine just what factors can make or break email marketing campaigns. It is selecting a small segment of its members, about a thousand or so for each test, and will look at click-through rates to see what works and what doesn’t.

And that’s where you, the ClickZ reader, come in. Here we’ll detail some of the tests that Reflect.com and Digital Impact are running, while showing you some of the questions that successful marketers must ask themselves. And, in a few weeks, we’ll check back in with Reflect.com to report on the results.

  1. What style of copywriting works best for our company?
    Of course, each web site will have its own take on this question, but Reflect.com is letting its customers provide the answers. The beauty site is considering a variety of copywriters and styles, and it is sending out six different messages. For instance, one leads with “It’s no secret that prolonged sun exposure is nothing but bad news for your skin”; another starts off with “Did you know that UV damage to your skin can happen after just 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure?”; and a third begins with “A word to the wise… Everyone loves the sun but the sun doesn’t love you.” I know what my personal favorite is, and it will be interesting to see if others respond the way I did.

  2. What happens when you put product prices into an email message?
    This is a tricky one. On the one hand, detailed information about a product may encourage customers to click through to the site, but, on the other hand, the lack of a price may encourage those who might otherwise be turned off by a price they perceive as too high or too low to click through out of curiosity. Reflect.com is testing messages revolving around its clarifying shampoo, and some include the product price, some contain an offer, and others include a postscript reminding consumers that shipping is free.

  3. Are Internet consumers last-minute shoppers, and, if so, should a message’s subject line appeal to that aspect of their personality?
    For Mother’s Day, Reflect.com tested out two subject lines for the same content. Guess which one is more effective? A) Still in time for Mother’s Day or B) Something unique for your Mom.

  4. How much information is too much information when sending personalized emails to customers?
    Almost all e-commerce sites experience “abandoned shopping cart” syndrome, and Reflect.com is no exception. Consider for a moment a customer who has abandoned a personalized shade of lipstick. Reflect.com obviously wants to check in with that consumer and find out why, but should it send an email referring just to the abandoned cart? The lipstick? The particular shade of lipstick? There’s a fine line between a company looking out for someone and a company spying on someone.

Those are just a few of the tests Reflect.com is working on. So grab your pen, write down your predictions, and check back with us in a few weeks to see how well you did!

Calling All Marketers: Do you have an email marketing case study that might be featured on ClickZ? If so, please contact me at anderson@rmi.net.

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