We wrote a recent article on PracticaleCommerce.com titled 4 Key Ecommerce Metrics that Determine Success. This article was inspired by a talk given by Carter Cast, ex-CEO of Walmart who titled his talk 12 fundamentals of e-commerce. It was a great learning experience for any retailer to focus on the fundamentals and branch out to other important aspects of retail. His talk had such a big focus on metrics, that I decided to write about it and focus on e-commerce metrics.

The first part focuses on what he calls the basic basic of retail, a triangle. Every retailer should focus at first on 3 things: sales, inventory, and customers. Once you understand how to sell to your customers, and have a profitable way to sell your products then you one can measure lifetime value and start learning about the sales funnel. I don’t want to give it all away. The article has been online for a few weeks and focuses on 4 metrics:

  • Customer lifetime value
  • Customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score
  • Sales funnel and conversion tracking
  • ROI based on variable costs and CLV

I invite you to read the piece comment and tell us about other metrics that were important to you as a starting retailer.

5 Uses of Data for Better Customer Engagement

Disengaged CustomerAutomated marketing is a powerful and profitable tool for businesses. Big and small corporations are using these advanced technological tools to better engage customers. But it is not easy to implement them well and it comes down to the strategic plan on communications between you and your customers. It’s about sketching out the path the conversation will take after every engagement. Customer data can be used to find the optimal times, frequencies, and content for each individual.

Here are 5 simple uses of data for better customer engagement and customer lifetime value.

1. Product Preferences – When one can identify relevant products offered at a time when the shopper is ready to buy, your marketing doubles its effectiveness. It’s an essential strategy to building longer, more profitable relationships.

2. Content Around Preferences – Knowing a person’s interests, one can identify the type of content a person would be interested in. A simple form on a website can serve as an initial filter to capture valuable information. This strategy is successful when the data captured can truly divide clients into meaningful interest buckets.

3. Timing Varies by Customer – Automation is a win-win conversation. Consumers are not inundated with repetitive emails, and businesses grow longer relationships with their customers. Data from online surveys, forms, sales calls, and visits can help you time your offerings better. Knowing how previous customers converted to various services will help you determine the optimal times to communicate with customers.

4. Follow Up! – Not all customers are, or will be, ever engaged. But there are others that simply have been forgotten or are a long way from a purchase. I’m a true believer that a must-have segmentation scheme is recency, and based on this number you can adjust your marketing strategy. This means that “lost” customers should be treated delicately since they are the most likely to never do business with you again.

5. Find Anomalies – Alerts are becoming mainstream. We get them on our phones, ovens, watches, etc. Businesses are increasingly using them in marketing. Whether a customer suddenly stops making purchases or starts spending more, there are specific occasions when a personal touch is needed. Find them and surface them to the right person in the organization.

Big Data for a Better Individual Experience

Which Commerce Metrics to Use and How to Gather Them
When it comes to building a company, your customers are your biggest asset and should be treated like so. A lot of data can be collected for businesses who want to better engage customers and increase profit. This information can teach businesses a lot about their customers and be used to better serve them. In this article, you’ll get ideas on ways you can collect this information and act on it for the better of the customers and the busiensses, building a win-win relationship.

Automated marketing is the principle of using customer information and behavior data to engage the customers with the best content at a time when they’re ready consume it. Many large corporations in retail, casinos, hotels, and other industries already employ some of this technology to entice us to consume more of their products and services. It’s also the reason why you will have a completely different experience compared to say, your grocery store or pharmacy down the street.

For online businesses, customer and behavior information is either readily available for use or with some simple steps one can start collecting such information. For businesses that can identify a customer logging in, one can track every interaction the customer have. Retailers, apps, banks, insurance are some industries that usually encourage customers to login into an online portal.

The information that can be collected includes: the last time someone logged in, what pages have been visited, and what actions have been taken (and which ones have not). For organizations with products, using recency, products and categories purchased, time to sale, and re-order frequency are a few commerce metrics worth using in your content strategy. This information can be crucial in determining the right messaging and timing to encourage customers to follow a sequence of steps ideal for the business.

For businesses without an online portal, there are other ways to collect crucial information. A simple way is to encourage customers and visitors to give more information about them once they hit a certain page or ask for specific content. Email of course is necessary to communicate, but the information one ask should not end there. To provide a better experience, businesses should ask for their preferences: products, information, frequency of emails, buying time frame and other relevant information. One can find 3rd party data integrators based on emails or based on shipping zip code. One must create an interactive balance to obtain information that can be used to better serve the customer.

VaporAlleyVaporAlley.com is a one stop shop for Personal Vaporizers, AKA Electronic Cigarettes.

Many folks are using these Vaporizers as an alternative to smoking. These devices do not have the tar, chemicals and carcinogens like real cigarettes, making them a “cleaner” alternative.

How are you using Mineful?

VaporAlley is using Mineful to retain customers with follow up communication when a sale has completed. These emails consists of 3 main emails such as thank you letters, a shopping experience survey, and a “we miss you” email if the customer has not returned for a certain time.

What results are you getting?
Although we do not study the results closely we can see a considerable increase in business due to Mineful. We get many positive responses from our automated emails, the most common one thanking us for reminding them about our web site. The charts show an average 2.5% conversion rate.

Why did you choose Mineful’s automated email marketing software?

Cost, a big reason. And a very easy and seamless integration with our eCommerce platform.

The results from Minefull are astonishing especially considering we are not taking full advantage of a very easy to use system. I can only imagine the results when we put more effort into this.

Infographic on Shopping Cart Abandonment

Here is a very interesting infographic provided by Fifth Gear on the reasons why people abandon a shopping cart, best practices to increase check out page conversion rates, and some industry stats. To me the most interesting stats were:

  • The top reason people abandon a cart is high shipping costs
  • Close second reason people abandon cart is that the person wasn’t ready to purchase
  • Average time between visit and final purchase is 3 hours and 34 minutes
  • Best tips to increase conversions checkout page:
  • Include progress display (end in sight)
  • Call out data errors clearly
  • Offer intelligent product suggestions

Here is the infographic, click to view original (larger size):
Infograhic on Shoppig Cart Abandonment

Welcome EmailFor online commerce, a welcome email series (after a subscription or purchase) is one of the most important email campaigns because it is when the conversation starts with your customer.

You can either disengage the consumer and lose the opportunity to communicate with them again or you can build loyalty, engagement, and hence revenue. In this post, we’ll give you a few tips on how to build an engaging email welcome series.

Educate First, Sell Later
Are you providing health tips to “promote” your health store? Or are you sending “weekly deals” after an initial purchase? For consumers whose inboxes are full of messages, an online retailer needs to be respectful of their customers’ time. A successful email welcome series creates anticipation, provides value, and promotes other ways to connect with the brand. The highest open rates I’ve seen for a welcome series have guides on how to use products, educates on brand-related topics, and gives just enough to entice to continue the conversation in social media channels. Give them reasons why they should subscribe to your YouTube channel or Facebook page. Simply sending coupons will not make you stand out from your competitors. Give more and you’ll receive more.

Set Expectations
In the very first email you send, tell the consumer when they signed up, what products they’ve purchased (if any), and what they should expect from your emails (it better be good!). The key is to let people know why they should look forward to your next email. A Mineful client selling beauty products does it best by telling them:

  • Frequency – how often they should expect to receive emails
  • Value first – gives them a beauty tip and tells them there’s more to come
  • Company Mission – Tells the consumer what they stand for and why they’re different
  • Joke – Creates casual communications by using non-formal vocabulary and a joke or two

Time It Correctly
There’s no magical formula for when should emails be sent and how often. Play around with the frequency, and review your metrics to help you determine the optimal timing. It depends on your overall email campaign strategy and the industry you serve. Some retailers use an email welcome series of one message every two weeks but others send 3 emails in the first month. Of course, you also want to test subject lines, content, and call to action.

For example, we had two identical “Welcome to Mineful” emails with the only difference being in the subject line. We had that running for about two months until we had enough open rate data to determine which subject line was significantly getting higher open rates (the difference was 20% points!).

Segment and Target
There are times when email messages can be the same to everyone. After someone’s first purchase for example, you can talk about your company, ways to connect, etc. and that could be the same to everyone. But at some point, you want to be relevant based on who’s receiving the message.

For example, the last thing you want to do is send a “tips to creating a beautiful bathroom” when a person purchased vitamins from you. When you set up your email welcome series, there’s a time when you should target based on who the person is and/or what they’ve purchase. This approach will enable you to generate content that resonates with the recipient and build more engagement.

Follow Basic Email Rules
It goes without saying that you are sending an email and there are basic rules you need to follow. First and foremost is to follow Can-Spam Act: unsubscribe options, business address, non-deceptive content, etc. After you follow the law, then you can concentrate on:

  • Use captivating imagery
  • Think throughly about subject lines and titles
  • Encourage re-distribution and add to address book/safe sender list
  • Increase interaction in social media
  • Remind when/why email was received and what to expect next

Follow these 5 tips to for a better automated email welcome series to increase customer engagement with relevant communications, at a time when they are most receptive to read and interact.

Jaime Brugueras is CEO of Mineful and you can follow him on Twitter (@brugueras) or LinkedIn.

Defense Nutrition
Defense Nutrition®’s mission is to help people defend themselves against industrial and natural substances known for causing weight gain, hormonal disorders and cancer. Defense Nutrition® products were created to provide effective nutritional support. Unlike many nutritional supplements on the market today, they are made with pesticide-free 100% natural ingredients aimed at nourishing, energizing, balancing and enhancing all metabolic systems for improved health and performance.

How are you using Mineful?
We are using Mineful to enhance our customer retention efforts and target our email marketing for effectively. We are using cross-promotion campaigns to help our customers maximize their results with products that are complementary to those they have purchased. We are also using Mineful to send purchase reminders for products that people have bought previously at a time when they are likely to run out and purchase more.

What results are you getting?
Our conversion rates are better than the results we achieve from our regular newsletter emails. On average, every month we get over 3% conversion rates on the cross-promotion and re-order emails. We are pleased with the email conversion rates we are seeing, and we continue to tweak our message to maximize our return.

Why did you choose Mineful?
At the beginning, we chose Mineful because of its seamless integration with our e-commerce platform, enabling us to improve our marketing segmentation and targeting. The Mineful team also helped us set up professional looking email templates and their expertise in email marketing was very useful in setting up the rules that trigger the automated emails.

email template

8 Tips to Create Mobile-Friendly Emails

Mobile Friendly EmailsWhen we work on new email templates for our clients, Mineful remembers the importance of making sure that emails work across devices. Are you checking your email on your phone or tablet? According to our stats, about 30% of users do and the number is growing fast.

Making mobile-friendly emails is no secret or rocket science. So if you’re working with a pre-made template or a graphic designer, make sure to follow these best practices for building email templates compatible across devices.

8 tips to creating mobile-friendly emails

  • Enlarge fonts – Use at least 16px for fonts.
  • Single Column Tables – Tables have been used to render correctly across email clients. Now it is more important to do this and additionally use a single column for a better mobile experience.
  • Big Call to Actions – Buttons should be at least 44px x 44px.
  • Use HTML – Don’t send single image emails
  • Short Subject Lines – 40-50 character long subject lines are best
  • Mobile-friendly Landing Pages – The experience after the click should also be optimized across devices
  • Responsive CSS – Advanced, but you can create CSS to render differently across devices
  • Follow Can-Spam – Follow Can-Spam act by having your business name, address, and unsubscribe links

If you have any questions on how to create mobile-friendly emails, don’t hesitate to contact us or download one of our mobile friendly emails.

There is a compelling piece published today at Practical eCommerce titled Using Sales Data to Automate Email Marketing. In it, we described a few key metrics to use when planning your automated email marketing campaigns. Customer value, recency, and frequency (RFM) metrics are the 3 broad categories we describe that are easy to use and implement in marketing automation for e-commerce.

We get into details and examples of the most successful types of automated email marketing campaigns. When you finished reading the article, you should have a few ideas you can take and use in your own business. The types of email marketing campaigns that use sales data we describe are: creating a welcome series (we’re going to deep dive on this one soon on this blog), Re-engagement (what to do with customers who have lapsed), Rewards (treating your best customers differently), and cross-sells (targeted and timely offers of other products that are relevant to the consumer).

Check it out, post a comment, tell us your opinion and what types of automated email marketing campaigns have worked best for you.

4 Tips to Increase Email Conversion Rates

Email marketing is not art and science like many claim, it’s math, art, and psychology. Creating and maintaining a successful email marketing campaign is more important today than ever before. In fact, 74% of online adults say email is their preferred method of commercial communication according to Digital Inbox. To increase email conversion rates one has to combine elements of:
Email Conversion

  • ART – creates the perfect design, pleasing to the eye and easy to convert
  • MATH – Measure results, A|B test, optimize
  • PSYCHOLOGY – Relevant content, educational, pleasing

Here are 4 Tips to Increase Email Conversion Rates that you can easily apply to your email marketing efforts:

1. Time it Correctly

Timing is one of the most important variables in email optimization, but one that is “frequently” forgotten. When should I send the email 2 or 5 days after sign up, 30 or 45 days after a purchase? How often should the emails be sent to each individual? The answers to these questions can only be answered with trial and error. Although there might be some benchmarks circulating around the Internet, I believe their specific to each business and customer.

It’s actually quite simple to test frequency and timing. As for when should the email arrive, the answer lies in the customer’s contact history. When did he opened the last email? How long did it take him to open the email after it was sent? By using this information, one can time better each campaign and improve email conversion rates.

2. A Clear Call to Action

What do you want your customers to do? All the templates we create have colorful buttons with shadows highlighting the place where we want people to click. This button should have a risk-free beneficial offer and a clear message of where the client will go if they click. Email optimization continues into what the landing page, but that’s a topic for another post. It is important that the call to action button is one of the first things the person sees and it is displayed in various locations across the email template.


Email conversion Email call to action


3. Be relevant, useful, and engaging

Customers are now more sensitive to the real estate they have in their inboxes. Too many offer emails or other emails that annoy people and soon your conversation ends. You’re unsubscribed and even worst, marked as spam. Now that you’ve sent the email at a time you believe the person is receptive to your message, you have to send them something they’ll consume and click. Base your conversation on product interests, typical cross-sell opportunities, contact history and you will deliver a message that fits the recipient.

It is good practice to separate the communication pieces into three: promotional, educational, and branded. Promotional are offers you send to consumers. The purpose of this piece is simply to convert the customer to purchase your widget. Once a customer has either expressed interest or bought a certain product, educational content helps educate the consumer about various things about the new widget they received. Finally, branded content are indirectly related to your organization: contests, useful links, social sharing, videos, etc.

4. Subject Lines, “Teasers”, and Headlines

It’s no surprise and everyone who has worked on email marketing campaigns knows that a slight change in the subject line can increase open rates significantly. Again, the only way to find out which one works best is to run experiments. You can even fine tune by running multivariate tests to determine the best subject lines for different segments. But improving open rates is not all about timing or subject lines, there’s the teaser. This is the content that is first read by email clients and it usually occupies part of the real estate in your inbox, see below.

email conversion teaser
Headlines are the first things a person will read when they open an email. Like every good writer, it is very important to persuade the person to read further, find more info, or buy. These headlines help the person browse through your message quicker to see if there is something of interest to the recipient. The design of the email templates should make these headlines stand out in order to make it easy to browse and get information.

We’ve laid out 4 simple tips to increase email conversion rates that are easy to apply for your email campaigns. Each of these tips is based on art to design templates, math to measure results, and psychology to determine content that’s engaging for each individual. Time your messages and control your frequency to deliver your email campaigns at a time when the recipient wants to ready your message. All your campaigns should have a goal: download whitepaper, buy products, watch video and the Call to Action button should be obvious and visible across your template. Engage the customers, talk to them like if you were talking with them on the phone, and send useful content based on their wants and needs. Finally, fine tune those subject lines, teasers, and headlines to improve email conversion rates.


About the Author
Jaime Brugueras
is a 10-year marketing analyst veteran and the co-founder of Mineful, a powerful marketing automation software where he collaborates on analytics and customer engagement with anyone interested. Reach Jaime via Twitter @brugueras or LinkedIn.

« Previous posts | Back to top