Over the years of running email programmes for retailers it has become apparent that many of them do not realise that they need certain capabilities until they have seen them in action, and as soon as they have used them they cannot believe that they managed without them. With this in mind, here is a guide for retailers to use when looking for an email marketing platform.
Record full product and purchase history
Who hasn’t used their email service provider (ESP) as a simple list management tool, sending the same message to every single one of their customers? I have to confess that in the
past I also did this. However, in order to get the most from your campaigns, you need to start utilising the data that is readily available to you, I’m talking about your customer data.
When a customer makes their first purchase from you they provide a lot of usable data, which will not only be a benefit to you but also themselves as it will enable you to send more personal, relevant emails to them.
To achieve this, look for an ESP with the capabilities to ensure unlimited product and purchase history in an open data format. This allows you to have numerous tables containing data that relates to purchases and purchase history, not just a few fields
that just hold the most recent purchase.
When you have rich data against each of your customers you need a way of being able to target specific sections of your database, be that by gender, location or previous purchase type. To achieve this you will need to discuss your ESP’s segmentation tools.
A segmentation tool will provide you with the ability to create an endless number of rules that can be combined on an email campaign, saving a significant amount of time. Watch out when looking at different segmentation tools, as some ESPs allow you to create complex rules but do not allow you to combine them. This means that you would have to create a complex rule for each of your campaigns, instead of simply combining three or four that you created for previous campaigns.
Integrated cart recovery
Most retailers that implement a cart recovery campaign will find that it generates considerably higher revenue in comparison to other emails. So this is an important area to speak to your
Depending on your commerce software, you might be limited to particular ESPs that service these platforms. It is worth directly speaking with the ESP to find out how they would implement this programme for you. There are a lot of plug-in providers that will send emails for you, but this will create issues around controlling and managing subscriber data, and will prevent you from being able to effectively test messages to improve your return.
By successfully optimising your retail email programmes you can generate up to 30% of all revenue delivered by email through automated campaigns driven by customer relationship management, such as welcome, recovery and re-activation programmes. Implementing these programmes is easy for most ESPs and can be achieved by setting up your desired recurring emails to be sent to your calculated audience.
Product personalisation engine
Email marketers have been talking about dynamic content for years. However, this usually meant that they had a few variations of content based on a favourite product category or simply just the gender of the customer. Whilst this is a great start, dynamic content does not end there.
Clothing retailers will see a better result if their dynamic content is based upon gender, but there are so many more areas that can make the email relevant to the customer. For example, by looking at the types of previously purchased products you can select complementary products to include in their email.
When considering an ESP check its data capabilities, making sure that it can automatically select the most relevant products based on the data you already hold. ESPs that can hold a limited number of products might not suit your business, so make sure this question is asked before you sign any contracts.
Discount voucher integration
Online retailers have a very powerful tool at their disposal, namely discount vouchers. These can be used in a number of ways to win back customers through re-activation programmes, reward loyalty and to incentivise prospects.
The difficulty of voucher codes is that there is always a danger of them ending up on voucher code websites, meaning that it removes the original use of the code. Check that your ESP can handle unique codes, giving you a one-time-use-only code for your selected customers.
Not all ESPs’ reporting is the same, honestly it isn’t. They might all check the same individual categories such as opens and clicks, but there is more to reporting than only these two elements.
The ability to drill down into specific segments is an amazing tool that not all ESPs provide. Overall you might have an open rate of 30%, but when you drill down into your segments, for example gender, it shows that 56% of women are opening the email compared to 19% of men. This tells you far more than the standard overall view. Another method is to tag your emails before you send them, giving you the option to compare a campaign to another one of a similar nature.
By having access to more advanced insight reports you will be able to see when list fatigue is setting in and it will aid you in future strategic decisions.