Email Marketing For E-commerce? Here’s How To Integrate And Automate
Email Marketing is an indispensable tool for any online business; in this article, we will see which are the best solutions for e-commerce in terms of business scalability and process automation.
Table of Contents
Why Use Dedicated Software
You already know that you cannot use your mail account to send mass mail and must manage and profile your contact database.
These (Web Based) Mail Marketing software guarantee the sending of emails to the various receiving servers (overcoming the anti-spam filters being accredited “forwarders”).
They also offer complete reporting of all campaigns, email layout templates, A/B testing, and other functions such as surveys or sms/fax sending.
If you have a start-up Ecommerce, you can also start with free (limited) solutions such as Mail Chimp, but with a view to the scalability of your online business, you will soon need to automate the sending of newsletters as much as possible (concept, preparation, db alignment) to be able to maximize the time of those who have to prepare, monitor and optimize them to increase conversions.
If you are used to sending newsletters manually, you know how long it takes to create one each time. Whether you are a person within your staff managing to automate the processes, you will recover time to dedicate to something else.
The Most Used Software
Here is a list of the most used software for DEM:
- Mail Up
- Mail Chimp
- GetResponse / Aweber
All these platforms offer basic services (sending Mail, contact management, layout creation, reporting), and some, such as Mail Chimp, for example, are free (up to a certain number of messages and contacts).
However, for e-commerce, advanced integrations (and not simple plugins) may be necessary for specific activities to be carried out; therefore, it is good to inquire before choosing which platform can offer these services.
This blog talks a lot about automation, as it’s scalability and automated processes give the value of e-commerce.
If you invoice 10 million with 4 people, it is one thing; if you are 8 it is another.
The Needs Of An Ecommerce:
In detail, here is what your eCommerce will need (immediately or over time):
- Platform scalability
- Advanced integration with CMS (not only regarding cart and customer information but also with products)
- Advanced integration with ERP management software (SAP, Microsoft Nav, Oracle, ad hoc company management software, etc.)
- Recovery of Abandoned Carts
- Simultaneous delivery of communications for each contact
- Integrated and advanced surveys
- Dedicated Developers and Project Manager.
Let us now analyze the individual points in detail:
Advanced Integration With CMS
Integrating and Aligning Contacts
Let’s take an example if I use a DEM (Direct Email Marketing) sending platform without integration with the CMS.
Every time users register on my eCommerce (both purchase and newsletter subscription), I will have to export customer data from the CMS and import them into the DEM software.
Thanks to the connectors, it is possible to integrate most of the software with your CMS.
In this way, you will always have contacts aligned (in real-time) both on the e-commerce and on the platform.
This type of basic integration is available on almost all Dem software and for most CMS.
Check if yours is one of them because I want you to save time importing contacts as much as a plugin can do for you.
You will have a useful resource for greater database profiling by importing orders from your CMS.
Suppose a customer has bought you a smartphone, for example. In that case, I can profile him in the list with the Newsletter of accessories for that model (because he is probably more interested in those than in another smartphone).
Emails must be well-targeted.
Before sending an email a day, create well-profiled lists and send different newsletters dedicated to your contacts’ various groups and preferences.
Integrate the Product catalog.
Usually, several layouts are used for different types of communication (offers, latest news, seasonal offers such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.).
Whatever your layout. A job is usually done “by hand” is identifying the products, inserting photos, descriptions, prices, etc.
Imagine that you are in this situation (the platform in the photo is Magnews by Diennea, which I use in a B2B):
Without integration, you should fill in the various fields for each product for each of the four sections in the newsletter layout.
You know I want to save you time.
Advanced integration is the one relating to the catalog that I had created on the Magnews platform (it is also feasible on Contactlab and others, but it depends on the CMS, so check carefully if it is feasible or not and up to what level).
In practice, from the Magnews platform, I can directly select the products to be included in the Newsletter (by automatically filling in all the fields such as price, availability, description, photos, technical details, etc.) and selecting them from “Bestsellers, Most Clicked, Most Viewed, etc.):
This way, the Ecommerce Manager can easily delegate the newsletter creation process.
Both creation and sending are reduced to a few minutes.
This type of implementation has a cost and can be tailor-made.
Check with your platform if it is possible to achieve it, and if it is not part of your investments from the beginning, plan it because you will need it.
Advanced Integration With ERP or CRM
If you become a large company or you will be an e-commerce Manager in one of these companies, you will have to deal with these integrations.
For this type of integration, platforms need plugins and developers who can follow the implementations and tailor-made development according to the technology and e-commerce needs.
Well-organized e-commerce always has two connected systems, ERP and CMS, which communicate with each other (for inventory alignment, customer master data, orders, products, etc.), and often for external platforms, integrating them is necessary for both.
In addition to ERPs, there may be a need to integrate them with CRMs such as Salesforces (leader for those with distribution networks) or Highrise or Dynamics CRM, etc.
It is obvious that to carry out this type of implementation, careful brainstorming and briefing must be shared with the DEM platform account.
Currently, for this type of integration, I am only using platforms that make available accounts or project managers who follow the project sartorially.
It is therefore important, first of all, to find a platform that can follow you in the development (with Mail Chimp, for example, you cannot have this service as they do not have dedicated project managers in Italy who come to your company to listen to your problems).
If a growing company does not automate internally and IT flows, it will soon be overwhelmed by operational work. The Mail Marketing activity is just one of these; keep following me on the blog because I will talk about all the processes.
Recovery Of Abandoned Trolley
I will write a dedicated article about the importance of this activity and the numbers it generates. For now, include this implementation in your To Do List.
What is it, and how to do it? You already know, so I’ll say it briefly:
Thanks to the Recovery Mail, you can send a reminder to all registered users who have left the site without concluding the purchase but having products added to their cart.
This type of user has already carried out important activities on your site by adding a product to the cart and has almost reached the end of the purchase. Create convincing cart recovery emails, play on the urgency of the purchase, the product’s low availability, and the offer’s expiry.
You can also send multiple emails, one immediately upon leaving the site, another after 24 hours, etc. (schedule a predefined timing for sending emails).
It is automation to be set up once, create a recovery email funnel, and optimize it over time.
Convert the sale.
Simultaneous Delivery Of Communication
Some platforms offer “bandwidth” mailings (such as Mail Up) and not via unique IPs.
In practice, they queue the emails being sent, i.e., if you send 1000 emails, they will be sent one after the other, and you will have customers who will receive the communication before others.
This may mean that the first users who receive it will go to the site and purchase the product if it may happen that the others who receive it after a certain amount of time (delivery times depend on the type of contract you sign) when they receive the email it is now too late.
For eCommerce, the entire destination database must receive the emails simultaneously.
If you receive a newsletter, click and land on the site, and no longer find product availability, it is certainly not a good service.
The larger your database, the more relevant this issue can be.
If your database is large, ask if your platform guarantees this service.
Integrated And Customized Survey
Your e-commerce must be built around your users.
To improve and increase conversions, it is necessary to listen to customers, and one of the best means is to do it by sending surveys.
You can also use services external to your Newsletter platform to send surveys (such as Google Docs or SurveyMonkey), but if you use your DEM platform, you can import the data received from the replies directly into your customers’ profiles in the database.
For example, if you ask: ” Which brand do you prefer ” and your customer replies, for example, ” Apple,” you will find the item Apple in the “Preferred Brand” column in their file in the DB.
These replies will create further profiles that you can exploit for commercial reasons (in the specific example, you can only target Apple emails), and you will find them already available on your platform instead of having to import them from external services such as Google Docs or others.
In addition, you will have the convenience of being able to manage them from a single platform, and you can then align the same data with CMS, ERP, or CRM.
Developers And Dedication Account
There are also other, even more, advanced automation, which I talk about in detail in the E-commerce Management course, but in general, already for these mentioned so far, there is a need to think about them and often implement them jointly with the platform developers themselves.
Platforms such as Mail Chimp or Mail Up offer a series of integrations. Still, at an advanced level of automation, there are significant limits, such for example for integrations with company ERPs (SAP, Navision, Oracle, etc.)
The integrations available at the moment are offered through Plugins and connectors, which usually concern basic and non-“tailored” integrations.
It can still be a good solution if you are a start-up, but it is still preferable to insert an integrated and vertical platform already in the budget that will allow you to increase sales over time.
Mail Chimp is improving a lot from an automation point of view and has an excellent interface.
To follow because it has low costs compared to other platforms, and for small business, it can be indicated.
Autoresponders like Get Response and Aweber were created for Direct Marketing and not for e-commerce; they are not very customizable and do not offer dedicated developers in the language or the possibility of being followed by an account in your automation project.
All specific Mail Marketing activities for eCommerce are investments and not costs.
Implementing abandoned carts, for example, if well studied, will allow you to recover the investment quickly and bring it into profit.
In the same way, the time that any automation can save those in charge of following the DEM will free it up to do something else.
In general, fix a list of automation for the DEM that you want to implement in your e-commerce.
Check if your service offers you the possibility (concrete and not in words) to integrate and align all your management and web systems (CMS, CRM, ERP).
You and your staff need time.
Automations are used to speed up manual operations, reduce errors and increase sales.
If you are an e-commerce Manager and you need to get a budget approved for these activities, leverage this.
If you are an entrepreneur, invest in Email Marketing because it is one of the most effective tools you can use to increase your conversions.
Until next time!