What Should I Try Next: Commerce Marketers Share Best Practices
Do I create a welcome series? Further segment my email sends? Plan loyalty campaigns?
Commerce marketers have lots of options to try and generate more revenue. Sometimes, the hardest part is choosing which strategies to go after. In our recent benchmark report, “We Asked, They Answered: Top Commerce Marketing Tactics Shared,” 300 of our customers across the globe revealed the tactics they currently use, those they plan to use in the future and what they’ve found to be the most effective.
The survey confirms what we’ve thought all along (segmentation, welcome series and re-mailing are tried and true) and reinforces the effectiveness of newer techniques (cart recovery wins high praise). It also gave us insight into what commerce marketers want to use next. That list includes VIP/loyalty programs, dynamic content and post-purchase series.
Here are a few important takeaways:
Marketers Tag a Mix of Old and New as Highly Effective
When we asked what our customers consider to be most effective, six tactics were clear winners and two very different tools were particular standouts. Exclusive email-only offers, a traditional marketing tactic, were cited by 99 percent of marketers as "very effective" or "somewhat effective." A newer tactic, cart recovery, came in second with 98 percent. And more than 90 percent of marketers consider offers in transactional emails and birthday/reminder emails to be "very effective" or "somewhat effective."
One tactic that received mixed reviews is the process of collecting customer information at registration. Thirty percent of those surveyed consider it "effective," 57 percent consider it "somewhat effective" and 13 percent ranked it as "ineffective." To me, you’ll be most effective with this strategy if you can collect the information without frustrating the customer. You might explore collecting information in increments and testing to find the optimal placement and timing of a pop-up sign-up, and consider waiting until the latter stages of a welcome series to gather more in-depth information.
Big Retailers Employ the Fewest Email Tactics
Customers with more than $100 million in sales report using the fewest programs (6.7 on average). Mid-size companies ($10 million to $100 million) use an average of 8.1 programs, and the smallest companies (under $10 million in annual sales) use 7.2 programs on average. It’s possible large companies draw more from their brand awareness or have the budgets to invest heavily in the types of programs not covered by the survey, such as traditional offline marketing strategies, online advertising and contests. Large companies might also lack the agility to quickly adopt and execute on newer email programs.
Email Volumes Will Increase in 2016
Every year, there are speculative discussions about what will replace email. It’s social one year, SMS the next. However, email continues to be a low-cost revenue engine, and that's evident in the survey results. Sixty-four percent of respondents plan to increase email volume, and only 4 percent say they plan to reduce email volume. The 32 percent who say there will be no change are likely making the gradual transition away from an aggressive batch-and-blast email program toward more personalized and segmented messages. Commerce marketers making this transition will sometimes plateau in terms of send volume, while they watch their average order value per email rates soar.
The Future Looks Very Personalized
Five tactics were most often cited in future plans: VIP/loyalty campaigns (59 percent), dynamic content (58 percent), personalized post-purchase messaging (52 percent), win-back/lapsed or never purchased series (49 percent), and transactional messages with promotional content. What do these tactics have in common? They rely on automation to trigger the emails.
These tactics are also dependent on a close connection between the email platform and the e-commerce platform. Data needs to flow easily between the two to create these automated campaigns. Personalized post-purchase messaging, for instance, requires that purchase information be matched to the email holder’s account.
Ultimately, when measuring the success of your marketing programs, the most valuable benchmarks are your own trends over time. No one gets your business like you do. Understanding where the opportunities lie, and what other commerce marketers think of them, can provide the impetus to adopt some of those tactics into your organization.
Susan Wall is the vice president of marketing at Bronto Software, a cloud-based marketing automation software provider.
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