Email Marketing Part II: Automation & Data Analysis

In the first part of our email-marketing discussion we outlined how to create personalized and interactive emails to engage consumers. But how do you achieve personalized subject headings for each reader or send emails in response to an individual consumer’s behavior? You need tech that automates these functions and gathers and analyzes data on customer demographics and behavior.

Let’s continue our email-marketing conversation by outlining the data-gathering and other technological features available to get your email read rates high.

Email-Marketing Software: Automation & Data-Tracking Features

⋅  Connect email to data about the customer’s journey — Gather a wide range of data, including your customer’s geographic location and time zone, browsing and search behavior, purchase history, and even the local weather. Using automation, integrate this data to determine when and what email offers should be sent.

⋅  Drip-email campaigns. Using a drip campaign, a company sends emails at various stages of a customer’s interaction with a product. They may offer additional education about the product, entice by highlighting certain features, act as reminders or make special offers. Each email responds to the last action the customer took, such as reading or failing to read a prior campaign email.

⋅  Triggered emails.  Set rules for follow-up emails to specific actions: e.g., automated reminder emails about items left in a shopping cart, or marketing emails about new products similar to past purchases.

⋅  Integrated CRM — Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can integrate with various email-marketing platforms, allowing you to incorporate prior interactions when determining the content of targeted emails. Differentiate your potential clients from long-term customers and make emails responsive to individualized pricing and contracts.

⋅  Omni-channel integration — Tie email automation to multiple sources of customer behavior, including social media engagement and customer service chat history, for a more targeted follow-up to these interactions.

⋅  Segment email lists — Using demographic and customer behavior information, your complete email list can be divided into smaller groups for more targeted, individual-feeling email campaigns.

⋅  Email building — Email marketing software can make it easier to create email templates, optimize emails for mobile view, and even A/B test designs or messages.

⋅  Monitor campaigns — Collect data on interactions with your emails, including click-throughs rates and eventual purchasing or abandonment. Use this data to not only assess any campaign’s ROI, but to also assess the best tag lines, button sizes, interactive features and messages.

What features do you need? What will be most cost effective for your company? Get in touch, and Thanx Media can help you chose and implement the right email-marketing platform.

Elements of E-Commerce | Email Marketing: Personalization


Welcome to Thanx Media’s “Elements of E-Commerce” blog series. Follow along as we wade through the nuts and bolts of e-commerce technologies that you need to know.


Today we’re diving into modern email marketing. Emails are some of the strongest marketing tools available—email is 40 times as effective at engaging customers compared to social media. But we all know about cluttered inboxes, so do we really think anyone is opening all those email blasts? As it turns out, personalized emails are pretty effective. But customers need them to be engaging, focused and relevant to keep them from a quick trash click.

In this post, we’ll go through some of the best practices for successful email marketing using personalization. Join us in our follow-up post, Email Marketing with Automation & Data Analysis, which will walk you through automation solutions that keep your email marketing up to date and your customer base growing.

Email Marketing Best Practices to Personalize & Engage

⋅  Grow your email lists from signups — Don’t bother buying mailing lists; there is way too much email, and consumers do not have the time or patience to open email from sites they don’t recognize.

⋅  Catch attention with your headers, especially by personalizing — Subject-lines and preview lines are your chance to grab attention. Personalizing the subject line to include your reader’s name or a demonstrated interest make it more likely (26% more likely) they will care enough to read further.

⋅  Don’t end personalization at the subject line. With automation, you can keep personalizing from subject line through text and any footers.

⋅  Keep your emails short and write good copy — Readers’ attention span is best kept by 50-125 words that are well written, and entertaining or interesting (not just attention-grabbing).

⋅  Make content interactive — Asking your reader to engage with your message is the best way to help the message sink in and capitalizes on the attention already given to the email. Try some of these:

º  In-email buttons that navigate your reader to complete a call-to-action (CTA)

º  In-email navigation, with hamburger menus or search

⋅  Use animation and video — Make sure your reader can see your message easily, even if they don’t fully read your content; animations, like thoughtful and relevant GIFs, and short videos are easy to consume and easy to remember. These also help emails feel interactive.

⋅  Tie your emails to the customer journey — Make emails personalized by responding to the customer’s behavior, e.g. reminding customers of items in their carts. Automation offers the ability to respond to many different behaviors with targeted email; we will look at these more closely in the second part of our email-marketing discussion, so check back!

⋅  Use the captured attention of transactional emails — Emails such as order confirmations and receipts are viewed 4-8 times more often than other marketing emails. Why waste this time with your customer? Include more information that will entice the customer back.

⋅  Send live social media feeds via email — Expand the reach of a Twitter or Facebook feed by sending updates via email. Don’t send every update and do make sure this type of email is targeted to the reader’s interests.

Check back for our continued discussion: learn how to implement these email-marketing goals.

How Personalization & Automation Boost Conversions

We know that relevancy is a key conversion factor—the more closely a product matches the consumer’s intent, the greater the chances of capturing a sale. According to a study by Magnetic (formerly MyBuys) and the E-Tailing Group, 39% of respondents stated that they buy more from retailers that personalize web recommendations.

But it would take an army of merchandisers to manually execute a 1:1 personalization strategy, right? Actually, that’s why we use technology. Thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to be Amazon to automate a personalized product recommendation strategy to supercharge your online sales.

The right product recommendation engine is an e-commerce merchandiser’s best friend. It takes the guesswork out of your e-merchandising personalization strategy by enabling your business to use historical and real-time shopper behavior. Use that data to personalize and engage your customers with some of these strategies:

Automated Personalization Strategies that Increase Conversions

  • Dynamic Landing Pages — Customize landing pages and personalize them based on geographic location, brand preference, and other demographic information.
  • Behavioral Emails — Include targeted product recommendations based on website activity and order history in your email strategy.
  • 1:1 Personalization — Machine-learning technology tracks an individual’s actions and behaviors in real-time and suggests highly relevant complementary products.
  • Intelligent Search — Search that “learns” and refines product listings to increase relevancy as your visitors shop.
  • Dynamic Navigation — Intelligent facet sorting based on category and shopper behavior.

Personalizing the entire shopping experience is possible, and is a must marketing strategy that translates directly to higher conversion rates.

Part 2 | Overcoming B2B E-Commerce Channel Conflict

Welcome to Part II of our four-part series on Optimizing the B2B Experience to Meet B2C Expectations. In this series we are looking closely at three key issues identified in the Forrester report “B2B E-commerce: A Trillion Dollars For the Taking”. Today we’ll talk about the potential for conflict between direct sales and e-commerce for B2B organizations.

The Perceived Conflict

If your company has experienced success through a traditional “feet on the street” approach for B2B sales, it’s no surprise that you may view the heart of your operations as your sales team—not an online selling platform. The question is: should a company really be one or the other? Will investing resources in developing an e-commerce presence really undermine the work of your sales team?

The answer is No. But transitioning into the world of B2B e-commerce does mean a changing role for your sales force. Many B2B transactions are complex and require in-person client education, even when online sales are available. Direct sales combined with e-commerce gives your company the ability to maximize revenues by deploying your sales team when in-person help really adds value, but allowing customers to easily complete straightforward and repeat purchasing tasks.

How Technology Can Bridge the Gap Between Channels

  • Let your sales force focus on new business and complex sales— Using an e-commerce platform with online customer service tools make it easier for sales people to focus on finding new business, growing existing accounts and handling complex sales instead of being tied up with routine customer requests.
    • Move routine tasks online by implementing self-service models – Offer your customers online self-service tools such as placing repeat orders, immediate access to sales history and account activity, bill payment, order tracking and other customer service related tasks. 
    • Expand your customer service capabilities to expand into new markets – Self-service tools can also make it affordable for B2B organizations to address the needs of small-scale customers, which can allow your company to cover more markets.
  • Arm reps with mobile-assist technologies to increase efficiency — Outfitting your sales force with mobile assist technologies such as tablets and smart phones makes it easier for them to access relevant sales collateral on the fly as well as increasing their efficiency and ability to service a large book of business.

Part 1 | Optimizing the B2B Experience to Meet B2C Expectations

In the Forrester report “B2B E-commerce: A Trillion Dollars For the Taking,” Andy Hoar does a great job of outlining the current challenges faced by B2B e-commerce organizations. Largely driven by the growing influence of the millennial generation, the Forrester report outlines three key issues facing B2B organizations:

  1. B2B buyers are growing increasingly impatient with suppliers that don’t provide a B2C-like online experience
  2. The channel conflict between direct sales and e-commerce operations is growing
  3. There is a rising demand for scarce B2B e-commerce talent

In this 4-part series, we’ll discuss the key takeaways and recommendations from the report, starting with optimizing the B2B experience to meet B2C expectations.

Series Part I: Creating a B2C-like Online Experience for B2B

The lines between B2C and B2B e-commerce are blurring; B2B consumer desire to conduct business online with a sophisticated level of functionality continues to increase. The importance of e-commerce as a sales channel means that B2B organizations cannot continue to limp along on outdated platforms.

Amazon sets the standard for consumer expectations, noted many of the B2B executives interviewed by Forrester. According to the report, this means there is an increased pressure on B2B e-commerce sites to offer the following:

  • Personalization — B2B companies have a big advantage when personalizing. Since most B2B e-commerce transactions require an account and login credentials in order to place an order, it’s relatively straightforward to use information about a customer’s company, industry, and transaction history to personalize product recommendations, pricing, and promotions.
  • A long-tail selection that attracts attention — Amazon is the go-to “search engine” for product research and they’ve proven that a long-tail strategy can be profitable. This strategy takes advantage of infinite virtual shelf space and the ability to easily update online inventory. It’s especially effective using a marketplace model where third-party sellers fill out selection.
  • B2C-like pricing that appeals to deal-seekers —Let’s face it: consumers love a deal that includes great product pricing and free shipping. One executive told Forrester, “B2C shipping wars have reset the expectation of B2B purchasers in terms of shipping cost and service.”

Many of the best practices for B2C e-commerce carry over to the B2B world; yet, B2B sellers need to understand the unique considerations of a business buyer that are not relevant in the B2C experience. Join us for Part II of our 4-part series for more insight on B2B buyer needs.

“In the Moment” Personalization: What Mobile Shoppers Want

It’s time to move a step beyond personalized promotional emails. Targeting and location-based personalization on mobile phones is now possible, and this technology gives retailers a new ability to be present for a customer’s “in the moment” need or want.

The Personalization Features Your Customers Want

In-Store

Accenture research finds that 60% of shoppers want to receive real-time promotions when they’re inside a store. Among the most popular:

  • 82% enjoy automatic discounts at checkout for loyalty points or coupons
  • 57% like real-time promotions
  • 54% like complementary item suggestions

On-the-go

The desire for a personalized experience isn’t limited to in-store. For more general personalized mobile promotions, the most popular features include:

  • 64% want website optimization by device
  • 59% want promotional offers for the specific item the customer has been looking at, and want personalized navigation that makes it easier to find items relevant to their browsing history

With 59% of shoppers comparing prices before buying an item, personalized promotions may be the best way to pull a customer’s attention back to your product.

Know Your Customers: The Best Features for Each Demographic Are Different

There are some generational differences when it comes to which consumers are willing to share information with retailers.

  • Millennials are most willing to share information and are most receptive to product advice and recommendations.
  • Baby Boomers are more demanding and have higher expectations for rewards in exchange for their data.
  • According to the study, 74% of Baby Boomers expect to get automatic crediting for coupons and loyalty points and 70% expect special offers, compared to 58% and 61% of Millennials, respectively.

“Leading retailers understand that every shopper is different and look for insight in terms of what works best across product and service lines or with high-value customers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director for Retail, Accenture Strategy. “It is critical to test how customers might respond to a particular personalization strategy. Data-driven testing should include the behavior of individual customers, demographic indicators and factors relating to the item itself. For instance, while some people may want to be told they are out of milk, they may not feel the same way about personal care products.”

The Right Way to Personalize: Tell a Story

  • Tell the Right Story — Catching customer attention means creating a story that focuses on your brand and product to connect with your customer. Use “in the moment” personalization to build on the desires that bring a customer to your brand in the first place. A story is more than discounting; personalized discounts only appeal to a smaller subset of discount shoppers.
  • The Right Way — Shoppers are sharing their experiences with social media and other user-generated content, including product reviews. They are getting increasingly blind to paid media and referrals. Make it easy for your shoppers to share your story and then, get out of the way.
  • At the Right Time — Understand where the shopper is in the shopping journey and target messaging to make the most of the micro-moments. Learn more about how to find and win the micro-moments here.