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Email Marketing and Analytics for Ecommerce Websites

Published by Charles Brodeur

Email marketing has evolved dramatically over the past five years. Sophisticated marketing & analytics tools that were only available to enterprise clients are now available to SMBs. Ecommerce marketers now have the ability to send emails based on customer segments, transaction history, group memberships, and online behavior. However, it is a process of evolution to build your email marketing into a fully functioning Marketing Automation system.

The four stages of email marketing are:

Stage 1: Spray & Pray Campaigns:

Most companies begin with the spray and pray approach. Spray and pray includes taking everybody in your database putting them into a target list and sending them an email message.

Example: A client launches a new ecommerce site and sends a message to everyone in their database.

Stage 2: Batch & Blast Campaigns:

Batch and blast email marketing is when we take a database of contacts and batch them into customer segments. This stage is getting a little bit more sophisticated than the spray and pray and allows the marketer to build a campaign that is a bit more relevant to the target segments.

The concept behind batching a database into segmented lists is to be able to communicate to clients about a relevant topic. The hope here is to increase the target client’s engagement with the email and ultimately increase the conversion rate to the desired outcome.

Example: A database is segmented into Geo, Gender, and age categories for product feature newsletters.

Stage 3: Transactional Campaigns:

Transactional emails are campaigns that are based on an event such as a transaction or a joint mailing list a purchase a interaction on the website with a web form email campaigns that are transactional include welcome emails thank you for your purchase emails and such these type of campaigns are more sophisticated than the batch and blast and prove to have a higher success rate in converting and engaging with the customer.

Example: A three part email series is triggered when a client purchases a product.

Stage 4: Behavioural Based Campaigns:

Behavior based email campaigns are emails that are sent out based on the behavior of a client online. Campaigns can be triggered by a client viewing a specific page, not visiting a page, or not visiting your website over a period of time.

Example: Trigger is set to send an email if a client abandons a shopping cart.

Email Marketing Strategy

Before we run off and start sending email messages to everyone on our list we need to have a strategy, and analytics framework, and a plan to test, implement, and analyze.

Email marketing can get very complicated very quickly with all the different rules triggering email campaigns to clients and before you know it the whole strategy gets out of hand and you don’t know what is being sent to whom when.

To start we detail the target market segments that map to our marketing strategy and analytics dashboard.

Next we detail our customer’s purchase journey and the sales stages or our clients;

Now we can build a matrix of the different customer segments mapped to the different sales stage.

Sample Marketing Automation Customer Segment Matrix

From this matrix we plan our list strategy. This is a very important stage in the evolution of marketing automation and is often overlooked at the beginning of an email marketing strategy. Depending on your ESP (Email Service Provider) we can build marketing lists 1x manually, dynamically, or as needed using rules. I will assume that you are using a Marketing Automation software with dynamic rules to build lists.

We create a list for every segment and every appropriate product sales stage This may seem like a lot of lists and it is. But we need this in order to have the tools to target the appropriate user at the appropriate time with the appropriate email message.

Please note that a typical customer will be a member of many lists as we build our customer intelligence as our clients join and leave the different lists.

Marketing Automation Email Messages

This is the part of the Email Marketing strategy that most companies jumps to first when they start email marketing automation. This is the “creative” part of the marketing strategy that most companies are familiar with. The strategy here is to detail the type of message/series and then detail the workflows to trigger the messages.

Here’s the matrix for building out the Email Messages:

Please note that the above list of email messages is a sample for reference only. The exact list of email marketing messages and the dynamic content to be included in the emails / series is to be determined by the marketing strategy, brand architecture (tone of voice) and implementation plan.

Marketing Automation Analytics

Email marketing reporting has changed a lot over the past 5 years. Before it was all about open rate and CTR. Now we look at conversion rates, and Return on Investment. We can connect the dots from the email send through to the ecommerce transaction and all the assisted conversions in between. Here’s the simple setup for tracking email message effectiveness and how to test email messages against each other.

We use a spreadsheet like this to determine what our average KPIs are and the total ROI for each message, test, series, and as a whole for the entire Email Marketing Automation strategy.

CAN-SPAM & CASL Regulations

There are serious consequences to running a poorly managed email marketing strategy. Make sure to read and understand the rules behind sending out email marketing to your database in the specific jurisdiction.

Charles Brodeur
eCommerce Consultant
BigTurns Professional Services Ltd 
Vancouver, BC V6E 4R1

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