Kevin Hillstrom wrote a post last year about email and acquisition versus retention.
With his catalog clients, Hillstrom uses the metric “percentage of demand sourced through email marketing.” It shows the percentage of demand which you can attribute to email at each stage in the customer lifecycle.
His sequence looks like this:
His sequence shows that email is not the best channel to acquire new customers. But it’s a channel that repeat customers welcome. These are the best customers. They rely on email to continue their relationship with the company.
Why might this be?
Early in their lifecycle, people don’t want email from a company they don’t trust (yet) and where they have no context for a relationship.
But once they have made a purchase, they possess both trust and context. And they are ready to hear from the company in the place where they will be sure to see the message, in their email Inbox.
How do they develop trust and context? I don’t know the answer to this question in the catalog business. But in markets where the buying cycle is long, you can also use email to build trust and to educate early in the customer lifecycle.
You can do this by using email to create value for the buyer. Use it to educate and to build trust.