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Why do you need to focus so much on customer behavior data when you plan your email marketing campaigns?

And why do you need to personalize emails when you promote your digital storefront? How will automation help you personalize better and smarter—and more creatively?

No doubt, those questions—or a few like them—have crossed your mind when you sit down to strategize and plan your email marketing campaigns.

But maybe the most important question you’ve asked is why does an ecommerce business with a staff of 10 people or fewer need to worry about this now?

To find out why customer data matters, we talk with CM Group’s own Chief Customer Officer, Cassie Young.

Young has spent most of her career in marketing focused on customers, figuring out what works and doesn’t based on customer behavior and data.

We asked Young a few questions to gain a better perspective on the value of targeted email marketing and why it’s a must in order to bring in new customers and then keep them engaged with your ecommerce business.

Why must startups and small businesses in nearly every vertical focus on personalized approaches to ecommerce marketing today?

Cassie Young: The world of email marketing has evolved from a campaign-centric to a customer-centric approach, which means segmentation alone is no longer enough to create effective emails. Think about two 40-year-old women living in Manhattan: one may be a trendy artist and the other may be a conservative attorney; their messaging should not look the same. 

Marketers have a responsibility to track what each individual customer is doing and more importantly, to take action on that data in a 1:1 capacity, whether that’s through new customer welcome messaging, abandonment emails, or timely re-engagement emails.

Email marketing is such a critical element for targeting, converting, and keeping customers in a business’s ecosystem.

But how can marketers use customer behavior data and email automation to help them tailor what they do—even in smaller business settings?

Cassie Young: Email marketing is table stakes to any digital business, but many businesses are stuck in an era of “batch and blast” messaging, or perhaps segmentation if they are slightly more sophisticated. Truly relevant marketing needs to transcend classical segmentation and treat each customer as a true individual. 

That said, achieving a personalized approach is barely feasible, let alone scalable, without automation, which is where the supporting tech comes in.

There are now a number of tools in the market that make it easier for even the smallest businesses to run digitally savvy strategies.

When it comes to the deployment of email personalization, ease of use is just one reason why I love our recipe functionality, which provides blueprints for automation.

Email personalization messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. – Aberdeen

Campaign Monitor supports customers in some of the most dynamic ecommerce businesses in the world. Can you share why they use customer behavior research to guide their email and ecommerce marketing strategies?

Cassie Young: Ecommerce businesses of all shapes and sizes must leverage customer behavior to compete and, ultimately, to survive. The battle for consumer attention is a very intense one. Consumers are inundated by marketing messages all day, every day. 

Moreover, there’s the further threat brought on by the dominance of Amazon, which has captured 50% of all ecommerce trade. Relevancy is absolutely critical—relevancy in terms of both content as well as timing.

Only 39% of online retailers send personalized product recommendations via email. – Certona

Can you share an example of automation based on customer behavior data that really resonates with you? Something surprising you now find yourself repeating to other customers.

Cassie Young: I’ve been receiving the tried-and-true “you left these items in your cart” abandonment emails for years. And, there’s no doubt about it, they work! But recently, there has also been a steady increase in the number of browse abandonment emails. 

Essentially, if you view a product for a certain period of time or on so many instances, that behavior will trigger a message prompting you to purchase, regardless of whether or not the item is in the shopping cart.

I worried that the use of both cart and browse abandonment emails could be overkill and lead to brand fatigue with customers.

But, in actuality, thoughtful coordination of these two strategies works incredibly well for boosting conversion and repeat purchase rates. (Just don’t send these emails an hour apart!)

Segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue. – DMA

This might sound tricky or complex to the uninitiated, but it really isn’t, right? Why is automation relatively easy even for someone new to ecommerce marketing?

Cassie Young: The so-called API economy has really greased the wheels for data portability between various platforms.

While the term API itself—application programming interface—may be daunting to nontechnical marketers, software companies like ourselves have been committed to building easy-to-use, drag-and-drop application layers on top of APIs so that marketers don’t have to worry about the technical coding nuances.

In the case of CM Commerce, triggering emails based on specific individual behaviors requires no coding at all.

We’ve built seamless integrations into ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce, and have built a drag-and-drop trigger messaging platform on top of that technical configuration.

We’ve even gone so far as to set up ready-to-go blueprints for our customers to use for common trigger strategies like cart abandonment.

Are there particular verticals where your experience shows email automation and personalization deliver the most return on investment? And if so, why?

Cassie Young: Personalization in email can be particularly powerful for apparel businesses, which are often plagued with a one-and-done problem: Customers purchase from them once, but then disappear into a sea of other online shopping options. 

Marketing automation lets apparel brands keep repeat purchases top of mind with their customers, namely via tactics such as post-purchase trigger emails, abandonment emails, and re-engagement emails that drive customers back to your site before it’s too late to win them back.

In general, triggered emails—messages that are sent in a reaction to a behavioral data point—yield significantly higher revenue per send and ROI than one-off emails sent to a wide audience.

77% of ROI comes from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns. – DMA 

Why is CM Commerce really a “Goldilocks” tool for small to mid-sized businesses that want to automate and personalize ecommerce campaigns?

Cassie Young: To ensure that personalization is as accessible as possible to marketers, robust ecommerce platform integrations remain at the core of the CM Commerce solution. 

Interestingly, when we work with larger ecommerce businesses, we find that their needs are often too custom and nuanced to be a fit for a plug-and-play integration with these platforms.

To add insult to injury, marketing teams at those same organizations often have limited technical resources, making it even more difficult for them to deploy personalization programs.

Even though small businesses and startups have leaner teams, we believe they are in a better position to deploy personalized email programs because they are willing to rely on these platform integrations.

Maintaining the depth of these integrations and continuing to build powerful drag-and-drop interfaces on top of the data those integrations generate is paramount to CM Commerce and will be a continued focus for us and for our customers.

Need help with your email and personalization? Get our guide: The New Rules of Email Marketing and read our blog post 70 Email Marketing Stats Every Marketer Should Know.

Wrap up

Today’s small businesses and ecommerce companies can’t afford to miss the opportunities of email marketing.

The right platform allows you to easily create the types of automation strategies that will deliver major results for your business without needing a ton of technical experience.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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