We all know that shopping online has become almost as common as shopping out in the real world, but there is research suggesting that consumers do not have the same faith in e-tailers as they do traditional retailers. According to the Christmas 2011 Retail Experience Study, a research initiative conducted by European software maker Eptica, 46% of 1,000 consumers in the UK plan to do their holiday shopping at the last minute, even though more than half do not believe online retailers will deliver their items in a timely fashion. The same study showed that only 33% anticipate that their holiday orders will arrive on time. 40% said while they do not believe online companies will deliver on time, they were still willing to take the gamble. While it is interesting to see that some UK consumers will shop online no matter when their items arrive, there is other research that bears some potentially disturbing news for e-tailers. According to a study conducted by Econsultancy and UK research firm Toluna, 28% of consumers said they would not shop with an online retailer again if their items did not arrive on time. Many of the respondents surveyed in these studies clearly lost faith in e-tailers, and past experiences appear to be the factor that drove them to their conclusions. Aside from highlighting the importance of prompt delivery, the numbers also stress the importance of trust in the relationship between the marketer and consumer. Fortunately, getting the consumer to trust you is fairly easy when you know what steps to take. Be Honest and Ethical There are several things an e-tailer can do to cause customers to lose faith in their business. A classic example would be trying to mislead or flat out deceive them. You don’t want either of these words associated with your brand, so you obviously want to remain honest and ethical in your approach. This can be done through actions such as permission-based email marketing, and making sure business practices in general are fair to the consumer. On the issue of holiday delivery, if you cannot get items to your customers in time, be honest and let them know instead of getting their hopes up for the sake of a quick sale. It may mean the difference between a single sale now and multiple sales in the coming year. Keep Your Message Crystal Clear When it comes to gaining the trust of your audience, a little transparency can go a long way. In simple terms, you want to ensure that your message is clear and straightforward. Don’t hide behind corporate policies. Whether it is terms and conditions, rebates or product warranties, the information you provide should not only be easy to find, but easy for the consumer to digest. If your message lacks clarity, it could be your credibility that looks questionable in the eyes of your audience members. Control Their Expectations When it comes down to it, getting the consumer to trust you is all about being able to mold and manage their expectations. It sounds tricky, but it’s really as simple as meeting commitments and living up to your word. And since there may be no pleasing everyone all the time, be honest with yourself by only making the commitments you can really keep. The last thing you want to do is start ruining that trust by failing to live up to expectations. Once you do, regaining it can be a long, grueling road. Building trust is not only crucial for capitalizing on holiday shopping opportunities, but for enjoying long-term success as a business. E-tailers haven’t made it easy by providing less than stellar customer service, so you may have your work cut out for you. The good thing is that you can get there over time by having a plan, and sticking to it. While you’re putting together your ad campaigns for this holiday season, download Benchmark Email’s free Online Marketing Manual for the Holidays. It’s full of great tips and includes a section on the wide variety of cultural and religious celebrations during this time of year.
The other day I received a question from a client that stumped me. She asked, “What is the difference between a poll and a survey?” On the surface they didn’t seem all that different to me but I couldn’t really say that to the client. That answer would have prompted her to ask why we offered both if they achieved the same results. I knew there had to be a reason why we offer both and so I made it my mission to figure it out. After some careful research, which was really just typing in questions like “What is the purpose of a poll?” into Google, I have it all figured out. Well, maybe not all...but I at least have a decent answer now in case I am asked that question again. I thought I would share this information with you because I am in a giving mood today. Both polls and surveys are helpful tools to obtain information from people who come across your business. Each one may be utilized to gauge opinions and receive feedback. Satisfied customers typically become loyal customers. They come back for additional products/services, recommend you to friends and put you above the competition. Finding out what it is that satisfies your customers can help your business succeed. But how do you decide which one to use and when? And what exactly are those differences I hinted at above? One of the main differences between our polls and surveys is the anonymity that a poll offers. Those who decide to take part in your poll are not required to provide their email address at the end. They simply fill in the answers to your question(s) without having to identify who they are. I decided to test out the poll in regards to my blogs so that I can show you how the results will look. Based on those nine responses, I can tell that 77% do take the time to read my blogs. That is some good news. I am very curious though as to who responded with “Michelle who?” But because the polls do not provide an option to identify yourself, I will never know. If I had decided to use the survey instead of the poll, I would have the email address of the respondent. I could then contact them with a personalized message introducing myself, explaining my blogs to them and hopefully developing a great “writer/reader” relationship. This same situation could be applied to you and your business. Surveys allow you to collect data from both potential and current subscribers that will help you build and maintain positive “business/customer” relationships. Of course, I couldn’t resist testing out the survey as well since my curiosity was piqued. Here is an example of the type of report you may see after launching a survey: Much of this is similar to the poll in the sense that you can see which percent responded in which way. However, since the survey does require that the respondent input his or her email address, you are given the option of seeing both overall results as well as individual results. Take a look at the way info is provided for one particular respondent: Knowing how this one particular person answered every question is helpful because it will allow you to become even more familiar with your subscribers to get as close as possible to their individual needs and wants when it comes to your business. You can even provide an open answer format for some of your questions, giving your subscribers the freedom to input whatever they want as a response. As pointed out above with the red arrow, this particular user was able to give their opinion on my next blog topic. This eliminates the guessing game for me when it comes to blog topics. The surveys and polls can be placed on your website or you can send them out in an email blast. I decided to place mine on my Facebook page, which is a great way of using social media sites in connection with your Benchmark Email account. Whether you choose to utilize the poll, the survey or mix and match the two, the benefits offered will help improve your relationship with your subscribers and your business.
Writing the weekly wrap, I was reminded that I still need to buy my dad a Father’s Day gift (I was also reminded when I wrote the blog about Father’s Day). This is officially my reminder to you all that Father’s Day is coming up. However, if you need to do some procrastinating before buying your gift, peruse the best of the Benchmark Email blog from this week. Twitter Gets Their Customers Back with a Special Kind of Email Good thing Paul doesn’t have my job. I would have some explaining to do if I was receiving emails from Twitter about a dormant account. At least we can thank Paul’s lax Twitterings for unearthing a great example of a company using email to win back subscribers. Sometimes it’s easier than finding new ones. See how Twitter Gets Their Customers Back with a Special Kind of Email. Support Update: What Is the Difference between Polls and Surveys? Perhaps not so many Benchmark Email employees should admit that they don’t know the difference, but you can count me as one of them. Thanks, Michelle, for clearing it up. Find out, What Is the Difference between Polls and Surveys? 6 Tips to Avoid Phishing (and Other Spam) Scams My dad (more on him later) is constantly assuming he’s going to get scammed on the internet. I’d send this post to him, if I thought he would ever read a blog...or know what a blog is. Everyone else can learn the 6 Tips to Avoid Phishing (and Other Spam) Scams. How to Craft a Great Online Survey Now that you know the difference between a survey and a poll it seems to be as good of a time as any to learn how to make a great one. Convenient, right? Discover How to Craft a Great Online Survey. 6 Ways to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing Not sure why, but lists of 6 seem to be the theme this week. I only need one reason to tell you why you should read 6 Ways to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing, though. Because I said so! Email Marketing Services for Your School or PTA In my day, we had to walk to school barefoot...uphill both ways! No not really, but it was long enough ago that email most certainly wasn’t used by the PTA. Don’t sound as crotchety as me. Stay current with Email Marketing Services for Your School or PTA. The Quirks of Japan’s Opt-In Email Marketing Legislation Hal is continuing in his efforts to help you with your international email marketing efforts. Domo arigato, Hal! Discover The Quirks of Japan’s Opt-In Email Marketing Legislation. Father’s Day Email Templates In this post, I reminisced about the good ol’ days of giving your parents finger paintings as gifts. That got me thinking. Why couldn’t I give my dad a finger painting for Father’s Day? Because when your 26-year-old son sends you a finger painting for Father’s Day, you might assume he’s on drugs. That’s why. Whether or not you’ve decided on a Father’s Day gift for the dads in your life, it is time to think about your Father’s Day email campaigns. Check out the Father’s Day Email Templates from Benchmark Email. Is Your Email Marketing Segmentation Bringing in the Goods? That’s what it’s all about right? The goods? Yeah. That or the Hokey Pokey. You don’t have to turn yourself around to do segmentation, but there is work that needs to be put in (just not your right foot). Ask yourself, Is Your Email Marketing Segmentation Bringing in the Goods? Best Note Taking Software: Evernote vs. SOHO Notes For someone that is as scatterbrained (re: ADD) as I am, note taking is imperative. If I don’t write down an idea when I think of it, it will most likely be gone forever. Deciphering what I write down is a whole different story. I’ve been using Evernote for a while now. The compatibility from computer to my iPhone is great. You can decide for yourself. Discover the Best Note Taking Software: Evernote vs. SOHO Notes.