In competitive industries, where it’s a challenge to stand out, companies must provide a unique value to their customers. And, many of them have turned to relationship marketing in order to differentiate themselves from others and cultivate loyal customers. E-cards are easy additions to any personal customer retention program.
Many companies focus on generating new business and new customers, but it’s important to have an aspect of the marketing plan addressing current clients. This way you keep current clients as well as see repeat business from them. E-cards are a good way to show appreciation to them, to say “thanks” – just a nice, sincere touch point without the hard sell.
Between the rising costs of direct mail and interactive opportunities – sending electronic greetings (like e-cards) are an attractive alternative to paper cards. On average, the cost of an e-card campaign is less than printing and mailing a custom card. But, like any marketing message, e-card options vary from very simple to super complex.
So, let’s look at both types.
Types of e-cards
Cost: a few $100
This is a simple e-greeting around a major holiday like Christmas. Imagine an electronic version of a postcard – short, sweet and static (not animated). This is a good entry-level example of an e-card campaign – the message is brief, with simple imagery, and no direct call-to-action like clicking through to a landing page or opening up a video or Flash file. It’s just the flat outbound email message. If there are any click-through opportunities, they just direct you to the company’s homepage.
2.) Fancy Schmancy
Cost: a few $1,000
This is when your e-card campaign transforms into a customer retention program, where you tie the periodic e-card campaigns to not just holidays but contact-specific events like customer anniversaries or birthdays. You basically tie these customers or retention email campaigns into your CRM system so these messages become triggered emails sent out individually based on your contact’s customer anniversary or birthday. Then, you mix in different media with those communications. So, it’s not just a flat outbound email, but you may direct contacts to a landing page with interactive games, contests or sweepstakes. You could direct them to a video specifically filmed and produced for a particular holiday – sharing a holiday message with your customers.
Which route should you take for creating e-cards?
Route 1: Just do it yourself
With both types of e-cards, companies or businesses could certainly go the route of doing it on their own. There’s a lot of self-serve email marketing tools out there that would offer holiday e-card or e-greeting templates. Then the companies could just fill in their own personalized messages and send the e-cards out to customers. They don’t necessarily have to go the route of partnering/outsourcing.
Route 2: Outsource
In a more complex scenario, I would recommend the route of outsourcing because you’ll be creating a custom email and landing page. You also may face more data issues that tie back into your own customer database. So, it’s really helpful to have a partner that’s in the “know” and accustomed to working in those environments. When setting up triggered alerts for a customer retention program, they can ensure it’s done correctly.
E-card Do’s and Don’ts
- DO try to make e-card campaigns year-long programs. You build stronger relationships when it’s a continuous effort versus a one-time per year communication.
- DON’T turn an e-card into a sales message. We recommend reserving those “specials” and announcements for another time. E-cards are a personal touch point, designed to extend sincere wishes and foster goodwill.
Regardless of the type of e-card and route you choose to create it, remember: You should view an e-card as a part of your marketing plan – not a frivolous add-on to your marketing spend. And, when crafting the e-card message, just write the kind of email you would appreciate receiving. Then, you can’t go wrong!