The Retail Email Marketing Capability Checklist

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We have been running email marketing programmes for retailers since 1999, so we know a thing or two about what is required to create an email marketing system optimised for retail. Often our retail customers don’t realise they need certain capabilities until they see them, and then begin to wonder how they ever lived without them. So here is a quick guide of what to look for in an email marketing platform for retailers.

Store Full Product & Purchase History

Traditionally retailers have used their ESP as a simple list management system, where every customer gets the same emails. However, in order to maximise the performance of your email campaigns, it is essential to capitalise on customer data that is beyond just their first name and email address.

In Maxemail you can store unlimited product and purchase history, in an open data format. This means having many additional tables of data relating to purchases and purchased items, and not just space for a few fields where you might be able to store the last purchase a customer made.

Segmentation Engine

If you have the richness of data against each customer then you need a segmentation tool capable of using it. This will provide you with the ability to create endless rules as you start to play with your data – so an important feature to look for is the ability to combine these segment rules on an email campaign to save time. Some systems allow you to create complex rules but you cannot combine them, meaning you have to create a new segment to cover everything you want rather than just ticking the 4 you need. If you are doing this for every email send it can be extremely time consuming.

Integrated Cart Recovery

Nearly all retailers will see Cart Recovery campaigns generate more revenue than any other email they send. While there are lots of plug-in providers that will send the email for you, this creates issues of control and managing unsubscribes, and prevents you from being able to effectively test the message to improve this further.

Campaign Automation

A well optimised retail email programme can generate up to 30% of all revenue from email through automated CRM driven campaigns such as welcome, recovery and re-activation programmes. These can be easily implemented, setting up your desired recurring emails to be sent to a calculated audience.

Product Personalisation Engine

For years email marketers would be banging on about dynamic content – but they usually meant having several variations of content based upon a preferred product category or the gender of the customer. This is great, but still does not necessarily go far enough. A clothing retailer that changes elements of an email based upon gender will get better results, but there are so many levels of taste beyond that which will determine whether the products are relevant to the customer.

This is where tools like Maxemail’s relational data capabilities come into their own. Based upon any data you hold against a customer they can automatically select the most appropriate products for each individual customer, and render these in the exact way you currently do in your email. And best of all, set it up once and it’s done, proving to be another effective time saver.

Discount Voucher Integration

The discount code is a really important tool for online retailers, especially when used to incentivise a select group of customers, such as those in a re-activation programme. Let’s say you want to offer a big discount to customers, but you don’t want that voucher to end up on voucher code sites that anyone can use. Instead, Maxemail is able to handle unique discount vouchers which have a one-time redemption which can be automatically integrated into any sends.

Advanced Reporting

Is all reporting the same in every ESP? No!
Yes it is true all ESP’s track the same things against an individual campaign, and that has been the case since the turn of the century. Where there is a difference is in the analytics engine across your email marketing overall. This might be the ability to drill down into segments of your database to see how they perform, the ability to tag campaigns so you can compare those of a similar nature (right down to the weather at the time of send!) or to isolate when list fatigue kicks in.

It is this richness of insight that drives decisions on future strategy, allowing you to identify under performing areas of your email marketing and arrive at strategies for this, which is much easier and effective than a global ‘Let’s improve all of our email marketing.’

Need more help in picking the right solution? Talk to one of our experts on 01327 811 884 or take a look at the most comprehensive email marketing extension for Magento. We will also be exhibiting at the Internet Retailing Expo next week at the NEC, Birmingham on stand C85 to talk all things email.

About James Lucas

Former Senior Marketing Executive at Emailcenter UK Ltd, a leading provider of email marketing software and solutions.