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.

Influencer Marketing Part II: Influencer Marketing Technology

In Part I of our Influencer Marketing discussion, we outlined how to connect to your consumers through their existing relationships on social media or blogs. Harnessing the natural-feel of social media chatter is effective once you’ve found the right influencers connected to the right audience. In this Part II of our Influencer Marketing discussion, we’re going to look at how technology helps your find those best-fitting influencers.

How does E-Commerce Technology Support Influencer Marketing Campaigns?

There are a lot of options for technology that facilitates influencer marketing, and the right software will depend on your company’s needs. These are the keys that most of us will look for:

1.  Find influencers – Are you looking for a broad reach or a niche audience? How do you find out who is connected to your key demographic? The right software will sort through potential influencers and allow you to search for the person who is best situated to spread your message.

2.  Connect with potential partners – Once you’ve identified those people who can spread your message the way you want, use influencer marketing software to reach out. Keep your discussions organized for easier future tracking by using a single platform to identify and connect with influencers.

3.  Engage and manage influencers – Influencer marketing software can keep your ongoing use of influencers organized. It can track which influencers have been engaged and when, and even allow you to pay influencers through the platform.

4.  Track your progress and success – Use your software to measure the success of your campaigns. Keep track of likes and engagements, clicks and sales. Compare campaigns to decide what works best and what didn’t work at all.

Picking the Right Software

Since the needs of each company will vary, your business should identify your goals and then find the functionality that matches. Here are some considerations:

⋅  How large is the pool of influencers connected to the platform and how often are new influencers introduced into the pool?

⋅  Are influencers from a wide range of social media and blogs included so that you can run omni-channel campaigns?

⋅  How well can you sort through the influencer pool to find the right audience? Does the software keep track of the demographics you are most interested in?

⋅  What measures are most important for tracking the success of a campaign? Does the software gather the data you need?

Helping you find the best platform is part of what we do here at Thanx Media. We hope these posts have given you an idea of what you need. For more help finding and implementing the right software, get in touch.

Elements of E-Commerce | Influencer Marketing

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.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing uses individuals to spread the word about a company’s products and services. Influencers are people who are already connected to your audience. Maybe they have 1 million Instagram followers; maybe they write a blog that’s trusted by your core buyers. Basically, they are people who other people are listening to.

An influencer marketing campaign will use influencers to create relationships with potential buyers. This might be a tweet about how an influencer uses a product that promotes the product’s visibility. It might be a conversational social media post that creates online chatter about the company. An influencer doesn’t have to advocate for your product; the key is connecting an audience to your company.

Why use Influencer Marketing?

⋅  Buyers respond when they are connected via other consumers. According to this HubSpot infographic, 75% of consumers don’t trust banner ads, but 70% do trust consumer reviews. And here’s an important stat: online shoppers are 71% more likely to complete a purchase when they have been referred by social media.

⋅  Ads are blocked and ignored. 83% of online browsers indicate that they would like to block mobile ads. With desktop and mobile ad blocking software growing, using traditional advertising is less likely to reach your audience.

Example Campaigns

Influencer marketing success is pretty clear, in both B2C and B2B worlds. These two campaigns showed solid returns, and might offer some inspiration for how you can use influencers:

⋅  Kickster and DJ Khaled – This Forbes post gives us the backstory on how Kickster (a sneaker sales app) used influencer marketing to get 10 million views on its app in 24 hours. Kickster created a Snapchat filter for a DJ Khaled concert series. They were able to grab Khaled’s attention so much that Kickster’s filter was used more than the official event filter—giving Kickster visibility without the use of inauthentic endorsements or the high price tag of paying for celebrity advocacy.

⋅  Phillip’s increased brand awareness – Traackr, an e-commerce tool for managing influencer campaigns, outlined Phillip’s push to use influencer marketing to gain visibility in the healthcare and lighting industries. With influencers participating in social media conversations, Phillips was able to create online chatter about the company and improve brand awareness.

Check back for Part II of our discussion, where we will outline what e-commerce technology can do to support your influencer marketing campaigns.

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.