Even the most casual online shopper gets at least one or two email messages per day from an online retailer. Whether the recipient opens that email or not depends on a complex set of factors that remains an enigma to most marketing professionals. But one thing is for certain: Giving up on targeting and simply blasting your entire audience is a sure way to sour customer relations.
Fortunately, more consumer data is being collected than ever before and this "Big Data" can help make sure you never have to do a blind email blast again.
Tap into the well
Cheap computing power and storage has led to a flood of useful customer data. From who’s buying what to who’s simply browsing to who’s having last minute buyer’s remorse and abandoning their cart, data has the potential to provide ecommerce enterprises with invaluable ways to segment and target customers.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that most businesses don’t have the technology in place to capture this freely available market information. Instead of letting this priceless data vanish into the ether, retailers need to install the infrastructure to capture this gold mine of information.
Use your data to segment your customer base
Then, instead of stocking statistics and customer analytics in obscure folders buried deep in their servers, etailers should be using them to create audience-specific email messages. Tailoring to the individual buyer will translate into more clickthroughs and, in many cases, more sales.
Audience segmentation is an intelligent strategy for harvesting intelligence that can give your business a competitive edge. On a broad level, it allows etailers to identify patterns in user behavior and activity. From here, you can create hyper-specific subgroups by combining a number of factors, from age and gender to time of purchase or the items they bought. Once you solidify these new customer populations, you have the ability to position certain products or services towards the exact consumers that would be inclined to use them.
4 core types of segmentation
E-commerce segmentation fluctuates across different industries and retailers, but there are a few key varieties any business can build from.
Self-selected: If your site gives visitors the option to sign up for an enewsletter or basic account, any question included in the registration form can be transformed into segmentation data. Whether it’s birthdays or the product/service category the user is interested in, this is valuable information customers are voluntarily providing.
Geographic: While brick-and-mortar stores may be limited to a set customer base from the nearest town or metropolitan area, an ecommerce enterprise based in Seattle could have customers in Paris. Geographic segmentation comes with its own set of options, whether you choose to target by city, state, region or country. This way, you can ensure you’re not promoting snow boots to shoppers in Miami.
Email behavior: Here is another opportunity for leveraging your e-newsletter or digital catalog. By noting which items or vendors are getting the most clicks (and who’s doing the clicking), you can distribute follow-up messages focusing exclusively on whatever browsers found intriguing.
Prior buyer: Humans tend to be fairly predictable—which is a plus for email marketing. Triggered emails based on previous buying behavior have resulted in up to 201% higher opens. Customers that bought sneakers or tennis racquets on your site are probably going to come back for sneakers and racquets, so send those people tailored messages featuring the categories they’re familiar with.
5 triggered email campaigns you need in your arsenal
With Big Data at your fingertips, there is no excuse not to get creative with your email marketing. Triggered campaigns are not one-size-fits-all; make it a point to test out a few formats before finding the one that complements your business goals and audiences best. Here are five campaign examples that have successfully evaded the spam folder.
1. Browsed but didn’t buy: Even with ecommerce on a perpetual upswing, plenty of shoppers still browse online as a precursor to buying in-store. Convert more of the “just looking” crowd to e-buyers by being proactive. Make it a point to send custom emails to site visitors that have browsed a certain amount of products without buying; even consider including a special offer or coupon for added incentive.
2. Birthday messages: This campaign has survived through the rise and fall of direct mail for a reason — it works. Triggered birthday emails have yielded 360% higher revenues per message than the average sale. Acknowledging a customer’s birthday with a quick message, a freebie or “25% off of your next purchase” is a quick way to add a personal touch to marketing and customer service.
3. Order confirmation cross-selling: Even if your ecommerce business isn’t engaging in triggered marketing yet, you’re probably been sending out order confirmation emails. Give your confirmation messages a dual purpose by including a “You May Also Like…” section featuring similar or complementary products to the one purchased. Not only could it lead to another sale, but it lets you promote items that the customer had never considered before.
4. Order review request: Communication between you and the customer doesn’t have to end with the order confirmation email. Two to three weeks after a purchase was made, consider sending a follow-up email asking the buyer to review the product—meaning fresh content for your website and an SEO boost, not to mention more custom data. If the item was bought as a gift, ask that the request be forwarded onto the recipient.
5. Abandoned Cart: The choice campaign of ecommerce businesses, abandoned cart emails can salvage up to 15% of lost sales. Just a simple reminder about the purchases that could’ve been (without offering a discount or other incentive) is enough of a push to bring back buyers. Including images of the products they abandoned, or a shining review from a previous customer, can boost conversions even more.
Diane Buzzeo is the founder and CEO of Ability Commerce.