Worry not, online retailers, for you are in a unique position to choose.
Ecommerce thrives on PPC, Facebook ads, Instagram Stories, and even SMS, but no technique is more powerful than email marketing. Do it right, and you can boost your ROI for up to 122%. This is over four times higher than other marketing formats, including social media, direct mail, and paid search.
Here’s everything you need in an email marketing tool, plus where to find it.
What to Look for in an Email Marketing Platform for Ecommerce?Unless you’re satisfied with a handful of regulars, you’ll need an email marketing platform to help you stay in touch with your entire customer pool. Such platforms allow you to build campaigns for different touchpoints in the customer journey, simultaneously generating, nurturing, and converting leads into paying customers. Also serving to retain them, email provides a reliable all-in-one marketing solution.
Simply put, email can be used for many different marketing purposes.
Which is why it requires an automation tool that makes all this possible.
If you’re interested in boosting your ecommerce sales with email, then you better make the most of it. Pay close attention, since the effectiveness of this technique depends on the tool used for building, executing, and tracking email campaigns.
The following list includes only essential features, so don’t settle for anything less. Here’s what an average email marketing platform must bring to the table:
Deep SegmentationFor a whopping 89% of marketers, email is the primary channel for lead generation. Bear in mind that you can’t send emails to addresses that are not already on your list, which means that lead gen in email marketing relies not on actual customer acquisition, but on super-segmentation and nurturing.
A reliable email marketing platform must, therefore, enable you to define and target your contacts with great precision. It must tell you exactly who they are, what they are interested in, and how many touch points they’ve made with your site in the past. Segmented emails can increase revenue for up to 760%.
Triggered EmailsIn the context of ecommerce marketing, this technique shows the best results with welcome emails and cart-abandonment emails. Both types fall under the category of triggered emails, which are sent away automatically after a contact makes some sort of action – like subscribing or abandoning a cart.
Triggered emails can be used for everything from lead generation (welcome emails) and nurturing (email newsletters) to retargeting (cart abandonment emails) and customer retention (discount emails). It’s a simple feature that yields amazing results, so make sure it’s in your email marketing toolkit.
High PersonalizationAlong with email segmentation, personalized emails were the most effective email marketing strategy in 2017. It’s because custom-tailored solutions are a staple of the modern-day economy, which relies not on products themselves, but on highly engaging customer experiences. It’s the key to success in retail.
To enable personalization, an email marketing platform must have two things. First, it must come with tools that allow you to customize templates. Second – and we’ve already talked about this one – it must equip you with customer data that tells you what each of them likes, needs, and wants.
Seamless IntegrationEmail may be your go-to marketing solution, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t be using other channels like social media and SMS. If you want to engage customers on multiple platforms, you need to take an omni-channel approach. This requires an all-inclusive marketing automation platform.
In other words, your email marketing tool must be able to integrate and exchange data with other stand-alone solutions. This primarily applies to your contact list, but it’s also important for building omni-channel campaigns that include social ads, follow-up SMS text messages, and push notifications.
Real-Time AnalyticsYou’ll want to analyze the performance of your email marketing campaign too, to see what’s working and what needs to be improved. This is made possible with robust analytical features that measure various kinds of KPIs, the most important of which are conversion rate and click-through rate.
Another feature that every email marketing tool must have is real-time data collection and analysis, not in relation to the campaign effectiveness, but vis-à-vis the customers themselves. It’s what provides an in-depth view of the customer, allowing you to segment contacts and personalize email messages.
Are these five features enough for unlocking email’s full potential?
If your subject lines and email copies are irresistible enough, and if you stick to an emailing schedule that engages your readers instead of spamming them, then yes, these five features are just enough for executing a killer email marketing campaign. Needless to say, anything more and you’ll go the extra mile.
What’s the Best Email Marketing Platform for Online Retailers?Now that you have a checklist of features to help you browse for reliable email marketing solutions, finding the perfect one for your ecommerce needs won’t be such a problem. The choices, however, are vast and often confusing. To narrow them down for you, we’ve compiled yet another list. This time, we’ll talk about specific platforms that have been described as leaders in their marketing niche.
MailChimpMailChimp is considered the most recognizable name of email marketing automation, yet it comes with somewhat confusing pricing plans. If you want to use it for free, you won’t be able to unlock many of its best features, most notably custom branding, pro support, send time optimization, and advanced segmentation. For email analysis, this free plan includes only basic reports and A/B testing.
Also, you can only add 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month.
A little surprising is the lack of omni-channel features, as MailChimp fails to provide options for sending SMS text messages and push notifications. Integration with third-party systems is available, though it only syncs email addresses, which automatically restricts targeting.
As for segmentation, it works exclusively for customers who’ve made a purchase in the last 90 days. So, no segmented retargeting.
With such strict limitations, MailChimp is best for small businesses that are just starting to test email marketing waters. However, PCMag calculates that SMBs would need to invest a minimum of $30 every month for anything more than 2,000 subscribers, which doesn’t really compare well with other providers.
Apart from that, MailChimp’s paid plans come with a solid number of powerful email tools.
GetResponseYou can try GetResponse for free, but you’ll need to pay for it if it grows on you. With no free plan included in the offer, and custom consulting and webinars being available in both max and enterprise plans, this platform apparently shoots for larger corporations with sizable email marketing needs.
It’s laudable then that it comes with robust tracking features, third-party integrations, and expert support.
Along with basic email marketing features, GetResponse provides matching omni-channel automation and CRM solutions, both of which can be seamlessly integrated with their email platform. Helpful resources are also included in the suite, in the form of whitepapers, infographics, and email marketing courses. All this makes GetResponse a comprehensive toolbox for building omni-channel campaigns.
FlashyappBetter than MailChimp and less daunting than GetResponse, Flashyapp is a relatively new email marketing platform that threatens to trump its contenders with a rich feature list, easy-to-use automation, and affordable pricing (based on the number of subscribers, so that you can only pay for what you use).
The things that set Flashyapp apart are its excellent visualizations and deep segmentation with a variety of filters that none of the other platforms on the list offer.
The platform allows you to see a customer from basically every angle, and segment them not only using their individual purchase histories – you can also do it based on the products they viewed and when they’ve browsed your site and made their last purchase. Contact lists even include birthdays and anniversaries, brilliant for customer retention.
Flashyapp takes things a step further with pop ups, as well as SMS and push notifications on phones, and by allowing a high degree of automation. It’s the only option on the list that offers deep ecommerce integrations and custom campaigns with a multichannel approach. It taps into Facebook Custom Audiences too, thus allowing you to integrate with Facebook Lead Ads and grow your subscription list.
The app’s real-time analytics really take the cake when it comes to functionality and ease of use though. It automatically tracks a large amount of data on each contact and offers daily reports in the form of an easy-to-follow chart. In between welcome emails and cart abandonment emails, Flashyapp feeds you with all the necessary analytics in relation to the customer’s email and website activity.
It’s an obvious choice for businesses that rely on email to spearhead their campaigns.
ActiveCampaignThe first thing you notice when you start using ActiveCampaign is that this email marketing tool looks dashing. The interface seems simple to use, and the platform promises integration with over 150 different tools for omni-channeling and analysis.
But, then you realize that their CRM requires you to scroll down to a tiny window to see lead info, and that integrations require a paid Zapier subscription.
All in all, ActiveCampaign is a convenient email marketing platform with some great capabilities for personalization and data-based targeting. It comes with both professionally designed templates and a drag-and-drop customization tool (also available in Flashyapp). To make emails look gorgeous, the suite offers split testing that allows you to pick the winner yourself or have the system pick it for you.
DripDrip is a self-proclaimed “Lightweight Marketing Automation that Doesn’t Suck”, which pretty much says it all. The description is true in at least one instance, as Drip definitely doesn’t suck, but it isn’t necessarily a lightweight solution. The platform gets huge points for its visual workflow feature, goals tracking, and reports, though it loses a couple of them for being overly complex and surprisingly costly.
As for its tagline – “See your customers in full color” – Drip certainly delivers on its promise. It plays with colorful tags and custom fields to segment and categorize subscribers, allowing you to track activity in neatly designed timelines.
It’s good for omni-channeling too, as it integrates with Facebook ads and allows you to send SMS text messages. All in all, Drip is a nice pick for a lot of money.
How can you be sure that your choice is the right one for your needs?Well, that depends on what your needs are.
Also, it depends on how much money you’ve got for satisfying them.
When we’ve compared what each of these five marketing platforms can provide against how much they cost, Flashyapp emerged as the most efficient solution. With MailChimp lacking some must-have features, GetResponse being a bit elitist, ActiveCampaign having no native third-party integrations, and Drip being overall too expensive, Flashyapp remained the only platform to check off all our boxes. Your checklist might be a bit different from ours, of course.
But, if you are looking for an email marketing solution that’s powerful, convenient, and cost-effective enough to make a difference in your revenue, then this is it. Whatever platform you choose in the end, don’t forget to ask about segmentation, triggered emails, personalization, integrations, and analytics. Anything less is pointless, while anything more might actually slow your campaigns down.
Happy emailing, everyone.