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How to Raise the Bar on Your eCommerce Email Marketing Strategy

By Matthew Limeri

5 ways to supercharge your ESP

How different is email marketing today compared to 20 years ago? Not as much as you’d expect.

Since the late 1990s, how often you check your email, where you check it, how many emails you get and the look of those emails have certainly changed. But the marketing strategy behind retail emails? It hasn’t changed nearly as drastically.

Today, many eCommerce marketing teams still rely heavily on batch and blast emails. Sure, most have gotten a bit smarter by segmenting lists here and there and adding a few triggers into the mix, but that basic segmentation and trigger strategy doesn’t deliver on the high level of personalization that modern shoppers demand.

A Refresh for Your Email Marketing Strategy

To be successful in the current retail climate, you need an eCommerce marketing strategy that delivers value to customers based on their individual needs. And given that 68% of consumers prefer to engage with brands over email, how you approach email marketing should be a big part of your overall eCommerce strategy.

For most eCommerce teams, what’s possible from an email marketing standpoint solely depends on what your email service provider (ESP) can do. I have worked both for and with several ESPs in the past and know firsthand how ESPs power some of the largest and most sophisticated email marketing programs in the world. That said, I also see several opportunities to supercharge that power.

For example, you can supercharge the capabilities of your ESP by integrating new technology that allows for more personalization, faster workflows and easier decisions based on growing amounts of data. With that in mind, here are five new capabilities you can introduce to put some additional power behind your ESP:

1) Tie Together Email Behavior and Site Activity

You know how individual customers interact with your emails and you know how individual customers interact with your site, but can you tie the two together?

For example, can you easily keep a pulse on what Shopper A receives via email and what she does on your site in order to send more relevant emails and even personalize the onsite experience to match?

By tying together data in this way, you can paint a more complete picture of customer activities so that you can create a more consistent, personalized experience and better understand your customers as a whole.

2) Expand the Types of Emails You Send

We all love a good triggered email, and the amount of triggered emails that marketers send will only continue to increase in the years ahead. But are you doing enough?

Most retailers today have at least some basic customer behavior triggers like abandoned cart, but those emails only scratch the surface when it comes to triggered email capabilities. One of the best ways to expand on your triggered email program is to introduce merchandising emails that are based on data from your product catalog. With a solution that ties together product catalog data along with customer data and onsite behaviors, you can send extremely targeted merchandising triggers like price drop, new arrival, low inventory and back in stock alerts.

These merchandising triggers help truly grease the wheels of the eCommerce shopping experience by providing more value for customers. For example, shoppers may very well know that they abandoned their cart, but they have no way of knowing when the price drops for items they were looking at or when that out of stock item they wanted is suddenly available again. As a result, alerting them to catalog changes like that can prove a huge value-add.

3) Improve Your Existing Batch Campaigns

In addition to expanding on your email program, you can also improve on what you’re already doing. For instance, consider the possibilities to upgrade your existing batch campaigns by making them more personal. To be clear, personalization is about more than just adding in your customer’s name (or any other static information they’ve shared with you for that matter). It’s about creating a unique experience for customers based on how they’ve engaged with your website, your emails and beyond.

Batch campaigns and personalization might seem at odds, but they don’t have to be. With the right tools in place, you can easily identify who you should target for different batch campaigns and what products you should show them. This effort helps make every email you send relevant and gets you closer to that holy grail of “rights” — getting the right message to the right person at the right time.

When personalizing batch campaigns, there are several approaches you can take. For instance, you can dynamically populate content in emails based on what products individual shoppers have previously viewed or have an affinity toward. You can also create targeted audience segments to which you send batch emails.

4) Simplify Your Workflows to Speed Up Your Response Times

Next, it’s time to put control back into your marketing team’s hands so that they can handle new capabilities like delivering product-based personalization and introducing recommendation strategies on their own. Given the speed at which today’s market moves, you need to empower non-technical resources with tools to build beautiful and effective emails quickly and easily.

If your team is waiting on different departments to pull lists, design emails, etc., then that delays how long it takes for new campaigns to get out the door. But today’s market requires your team to react to customer behaviors in real-time, and that means marketers need the power of easy-to-use tools for all of these capabilities at their fingertips.

5) Get a Deeper Understanding of Your Data

Finally, you can empower your team to dig deep into your performance data and better understand your customers by finding new cohorts to analyze. If you’re like most email marketers, once you send an email, you slice and dice the data to see how it performed with different cohorts. But how do you decide which cohorts to evaluate and how do you determine which customers fall into those cohorts?

What you need is a solution that makes it easy to build targeted audiences based on factors like predicted customer lifetime value so that you can easily determine who falls into certain groups and then get a deeper understanding of how those valuable cohorts are interacting with your marketing emails.

For example, consider narrowing in on the performance of a cohort with a high predicted lifetime value, those who are at-risk or those with a high affinity toward certain product categories.

It’s Time to Raise the Bar on Your Email Marketing Strategy

Despite the fact that email continues to be the top channel for customer engagement, many eCommerce email marketing strategies leave a lot to be desired — for both customers (in terms of personalization) and marketers (in terms of ease of bringing new campaigns to market and understanding the data behind it all). But that doesn’t have to be the case.

In fact, by integrating a solution that allows for deeper personalization, faster response times and a better understanding of customer data, your eCommerce marketing team can very easily supercharge what you’re already doing with your ESP. It’s just a matter of knowing where to start.

See how you can make it in happen in our step-by-step playbook for email marketers.

Matthew Limeri

Matthew Limeri

Matt is a technology consultant with over ten years of experience in MarTech and AdTech across several Technical/Implementation and Account Management roles.