Emitations.com is like many other online retailers. It has come up with a niche product (in this case, high-fashion designer-inspired jewelry), defined its customer base (women in their 20s and 30s), and experimented with the best ways to market its products.
Banner ads, keywords, and an online newsletter were some of the early marketing tactics that founder and CEO Au-Co Mai first attempted. And she found that she wasn’t seeing great results when it came to revenue.
“If I don’t see the revenue,” Mai says, “why spend the money?”
But recently she has seen the revenue. In the past five months or so, the site has experienced a 10-15 percent growth rate per month in hits. Mai has more than doubled the number of hits since she started. And while she did not want to release sales figures, she notes that correlated with the increasing number of hits is a growth in sales.
Mai attributes most of the growth to the change in her email newsletter. When she launched the newsletter in the late winter/early spring, it was a text-heavy, low-graphic, template-obvious (in my view, at least) offering. The newest iteration is clean, colorful, and attractive.
So let’s take a look at what has changed. I’ll walk through some of Mai’s observations and mine.
What immediately caught my attention is the change in design. Emitations.com uses a product from Roving Software called Constant Contact, which provides simple but customizable templates. When Mai first started the newsletter, she stayed with the basic template. But then she hired a designer who took advantage of the customizable features. Buttons were added, and graphics were moved around. The new look, with its up-front images, seems to appeal more to the target market (of which I am a member, by the way).
Mai says that she also experimented with the length of the newsletter and the amount of text. She found that less text was needed and that the modifications made the newsletter appear “more professional.”
“It’s more aesthetically balanced,” she adds. “The focus is on the products.”
Another change in the newsletter revolves around its content. Each week, Mai prominently features new items, noting that in her business she needs to advertise new products for sale or customers won’t keep coming back. So she features six items in each newsletter, and they’re one of the first things a subscriber sees. Plus, Mai offers a special deal solely for her newsletter subscribers.
For example, one newsletter contained the following info:
This week’s unadvertised 48 hour special promotion code entitles you to a 10% discount off of your entire order. Code: MOTIVATE. This code expires on Friday, August 3rd. Availability will be confirmed after the order is placed.
Several ClickZ readers have written to ask me when the best time is for sending out a newsletter. It all depends on your business, I respond. It’s like any media plan — you want to catch consumers when they’re in the right frame of mind for buying what you have to offer. That’s why we see automobile ads just before the weekend and pizza ads during football games.
Mai has learned that the best time for her to send out her newsletter is on Wednesday night. Why Wednesday? Because her customers tend to make the most purchases on Thursday. Why Thursday? Because it’s payday.
Mai has also learned some other important things through trial and error. She has learned to subscribe to as many of her competitors’ newsletters as possible so that she can see how and what they’re doing. She has learned to pay close attention to the reports Constant Contact generates. (It shows how many newsletters are opened, when links are clicked on, and other important data.) And she has learned that word of mouth is key in promoting her site, so her newsletters encourage subscribers to forward them along to friends and family.
So, whether you’re selling “jewelry therapy” or some other product or service, be sure to take a moment to evaluate your newsletter and see what you can improve. And if you don’t offer an online newsletter, now might be a good time to evaluate that decision, too.
Here’s a follow-up note to my recent article on Australian subsidiary Datawatch’s efforts to generate interest in its new suite of software tools. The company used Cuban cigars to sell software. I received the following email about that article:
Hello, To initiate any campaign in this day and age with a cigar (Cuban or not) which would exclude 80% or more of the population is not only wasteful but connotes all kinds of negativity about the company in question.
Interesting take. I respectfully disagree with the writer, but I’m checking with Datawatch to see if there was any backlash. I’ll keep you posted.
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