Have you ever had a friend rave about a great online sale that you were not aware of despite your frequent visits to the sponsoring company’s Web site? Ever wonder how you friend new about the sale while you paid 20 percent more for the same product? Your friend may have opted-in while you were left out.
Numerous big companies like J. Crew and even smaller, specialty ones like Sierra South, a mountain- and paddle-sport online store, have begun to employ opt-in e-mail lists at their Web sites. All retailers want to reach consumers that have expressed an interest in their products. Who better then visitors to their Web sites?
Many e-commerce sites have shied away from opt-in e-mail for fear of being mistaken for spammers and many online shoppers have been reluctant to unnecessarily divulge personal information for fear that it will result in a deluge of spam in their e-mailboxes. However, opt-in e-mail lists enable both retailers and consumers to benefit. Retailers get more repeat business and consumers get savings.
Opt-in e-mail is also simple for the retailer to set-up and the consumer to opt-in. When consumers visit sites like J. Crew and Sierra South, they can register their name and e-mail address with the store. The store then sends them announcements about sales, promotions and so forth. Some e-stores may ask for personal information so they can gear the ads specifically to your likes and dislikes.
Are there any drawbacks? Sure, but use a little common sense and you should be fine. Make sure any e-commerce site that asks for your e-mail or other personal information ensures you that the information will not be sold or used for any purpose other than sending you special promotions from their Web sites. If any store hedges on giving you this assurance, then rethink whether you want to opt-in with them.
What is the benefit for consumers? Many sites do not publicize or post certain promotional offers on their Web sites. Instead they only alert those people who have opt-in. In addition, some opt-in e- mails provide direct links to Web pages that are otherwise inaccessible. If you don’t receive the e-mail you can’t get to the savings.
Sometimes companies set up special Web pages to reward loyal customers. Salami.com, an online Italian specialty food store, wanted to celebrate its successful fourth year online by rewarding customers who have continually supported the company. The Friday following Thanksgiving of last year, Salami.com e-mailed a letter to its customers thanking them for supporting Salami.com and offering a link to a page listing specials on Salami.com’s gift baskets.
The gift basket page was a duplicate of Salami.com’s existing gift basket page, except that the items were discounted 12 to 15 percent. This special page could only be accessed via the link provided in the e-mail.
So, if you continually ignore Web sites that offer an opt-in newsletter or e-mail, you may be turning your back to savings and promotions that are not available otherwise.