Big Data E-CommerceEmail Marketing Automation can help achieve higher user engagement and customer conversion with smart, relevant content that is delivered to your contacts in a timeframe suited to their lifestyles. It can generate big data that can help you understand your customer demographics, their needs, and their purchasing habits. Additionally, email marketing automation takes care of contacting customers for you; you simply lay out the guidelines.

Using data, big or small, can help you set up a personalized email marketing strategy that suits your business and connects with your customers. Just follow our guidelines and these 5 easy steps, and you will be on your way to marketing automation success!

Step 1: Plan Your Communications
When does it make sense to reach out to your customers? If they made a purchase, when is it appropriate to follow up? When will they need additional services or products? What other events would trigger a communication piece? A visit to a specific page, a lack of engagement, or once someone fills up a form? We have a post about this subject and have a spreadsheet you can download to plan your communications.

Step 2: Gather Customer Data
The information that can be gathered from website visits and email interaction can give you important information about your customers’ shopping habits. Determine what is relevant to your business, and your ability to harness big data can help you find ways to better serve each individual.

Step 3: Automate and Trigger Communications
Communications can be triggered or scheduled when a customer makes a purchase or engages a specified interaction on your website. This is the execution stage and you need a platform flexible enough to allow you to do what you need and powerful enough to deliver results.

Step 4: Track Results
You need to keep track of success metrics for your email marketing campaign. This data can show you how successful your campaign is and what areas have room for improvement. Big data is not simply about the amount of information you store or is available about your customers. It is also the information you need to optimize communications and improve every day. You should be able to see the overall response statistics, by campaign, and at the customer level.

Step 5: Optimization
You don’t need a Ph.D. in Statistics to view a few stats and understand which campaign is resulting in the behavior you expect and which are not. Use this data to fine-tune your automated marketing technique. Keep improving communications and adapting to customer needs to get the most out of your email marketing automation initiative.

customer segmentsOnline retailers are somewhat limited by online communications, but they have a massive advantage over physical retailers in that they can track customers. Many customer retention tools let you track customers starting with their first prospective visit. You can then start creating customer segments and watch how each interacts with you as they move up in the lifecycle ladder.

Looking at how your customers found you, their shopping history, and characteristics, you will start seeing that not every customer behaves the same. Each type of customer should be treated differently depending on when they’ve interacted with you and what they like. Once you have a few customer segments in place, start testing campaigns you send to each customer type. Attitudinal information is also very valuable. Even simply requesting information during a purchase or subscription, like “how did you find us?” or “how can we improve our services?” is an excellent strategy.

We recently published an article on titled “Put Your Marketing On A Diet…” which is a quick great read. It goes deep into 5 uses of online marketing metrics used to analyze customer behavior and use that information to inform decisions. It talks about using demographics to categorize customers. For example, you can see if a set of products is sold more in specific regions in proportion to other locations. It also explains the importance of creating a purchase intention metric and what factors to use when creating one.

Check out the article Put Your Marketing On A Diet and Produce More Sales With Site Statistics.

customer metricsThe numbers of marketing and customer metrics that are floating around seem to sometimes inundate the marketing professional. In fact with competition at its highest, each consulting company tends to create a new metric (that is sometimes marketed as a black box) to impress potential clients. While there may be a large number of metrics, here are the top 7 metrics that we feel any business should track if they are interested in ensuring a good sustainable client base.

1. Customer Lifetime Revenue
Customer lifetime revenue is the total amount of revenue that a customer is likely to get in for the company. This metric was discussed in detail on our previous post.

2. Average Purchase Amount
The average purchase amount is the revenue that the business gets per purchase order. It is the revenue that the business gains per sale or per order. Knowing the average purchase amount for customers can help you segment them and service them accordingly. It can also be coupled with the conversion rate so that a business can forecast at the expected revenue for the next 3. year.

3. Purchase Frequency
Purchase frequency can be defined as the number of times that a customer makes a purchase in a given period of time. This is a metric that can be calculated for a week, a month, 6 months or a year depending on the specific category that is being studied. When you find that purchase frequency for certain subset of customers is lower, depending on the category that they are buying, can lead to strategic marketing initiatives for upsell/cross-sell.

4. Recency
This term refers to the amount of time that has lapsed since the last purchase. While there is a lot of emphasis on frequency of purchase and the number of times that a customer comes back, recency is the one metric that can actually help retailers to a large extent. When tracked, recency can help create targeted communication that is more effective due to the timeliness of the communication. While there are other aspects such as the content of the communication, offers, discounts and more that also impact customer behavior, the timing of the communication is paramount. Tracking campaigns across various companies has shown that when the first email is sent seconds after the customer signs up for an account, it is likely to have the highest open, click through and conversion rate as well.

5. Retention Rate
The customer retention rate is a metric that indicates the proportion of customers that have stayed with you for a while. The retention rate can be calculated annually, monthly or weekly. The periodicity depends on the purchase cycle and the frequency at which the purchases are generally made.

It is known that acquiring new customers 5 times costlier than retaining existing ones. This means that maintaining a high retention rate can save the company precious dollars every year. Working on the retention rate also ensures that there are less disgruntled customers leaving your company. This means that you will have a lesser amount of bad word of mouth.

6. Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is a step ahead of customer satisfaction. When a customer is engaged, he or she becomes a marketing manager for your product. The factors that need to be considered while computing customer engagement include product involvement, frequency of interaction, extent of referrals, purchase behavior, virility of information shared. There is no standard model for calculating customer engagement and most companies develop their own based on the category in question.

This metric can be used to target specific groups of customers in order to increase their involvement with the company. It can also be used to measure the effectiveness of various campaigns that have been targeted at increasing retention and customer engagement. Web based strategies to increase customer engagement can be created to target individual customers.

7. Share of Wallet
Share of wallet can be defined as a metric that tells you the proportion of dollars that the customer is spending on your brand. The calculation can be done at various levels and you can define the share of wallet on the base of specific variants of a category, the entire category or even monthly expenditure if the category merits it. Calculating share of wallet is especially important for categories where the customer operates from a basket of preferences. The metric allows marketers to understand the average number of competitors that it is dealing with along with the overall position that the brand has.

There you have it, our set of the top 7 customer metrics that every online retailer should track. What other metrics do you consider important?

Jose and I have been separated since we got back from Dallas at the beginning of December. Today was our first day at our new office (which is in the same building as our old office). We were talking product road map, go-to-market strategy, and our current clients; you know typical stuff, until he made me aware of an amazing feature set in Mineful.

How can that happen? How can the CEO of a company not know that we have implemented a very important and beneficial feature? I’ll tell you how.

We are working with a mobile app that directly sells a service. To work with us, we’ve had to add a few things (mainly on the API) so that they could use Mineful. They have a customer retention problem, but also need better ways to push customers down the sales funnel and they want to be smart about it.

Lifecycle email marketing is the solution they picked and Mineful is making it happen. Lifecycle email marketing simply sends different emails depending on the state of the account (or the stage/relationship the customer has with your app/business). With Mineful, they also add an unparalleled level of analytics that online retailers are using today.

Why is this such a big deal?
Because what I’m about to unleash here has so many possibilities that I probably don’t know half of them. In general, like someone said to me on the phone today “you guys have a drip marketing thing going on with some analytics in the back end right?”. Sure, good description, but this “drip marketing thing” just got a new audience: app developers. So app developers, software companies, social sites, and gaming sites, I invite you to contact us and beta test this new technology. It is also big for us because we will be our own client and start to eat our own dog food, yummy!

Every company has different events of customer interaction. For a mobile app they could be: sign up, confirm email, test run the application, do more things in the app, purchase, purchase some more, provide feedback, etc. You have to treat customers differently depending on the stage that they’re at. For example, you could use this to:

  • - send them a welcome email after sign up
  • - tell them to share something after x number of pictures have been uploaded
  • - send a teaser after x days of inactivity
  • - send a stronger offer after 2x days of inactivity
  • - after a purchase, send a short survey
  • - reward customer after a certain number of purchases or total $ spent

The possibilities are endless.

Actually, this article written by Paul Stamatiou founder of Picplum explains it much better than I can. At Mineful we’ve also added a few more analytics to these rules like predictions of churn so you can take action before it is too late. We also help you A/B test the hell out of every email that is sent at every stage in the customer lifecycle.

What about online retailers?
This is very useful as well because you can send other events that can trigger messages. Now we use your shopping cart data which includes customer and purchase information. With this addition, you can add any other type of data and mix it up with the shopping cart. For example, certain number of logins without purchase, product review onsite, service issues by a customer with more than 20 purchases, and more.

The real lesson learned here is that when you surround yourself with smart people like Jose, amazing things like this happen. Oh and don’t make a video tutorial because it is going to be outdated very quickly.

sales-alertsTraditional market research has always helped in understanding customers in a manner that has allowed marketers to create specifically targeted initiatives. Typically, customer satisfaction, customer relationship management and customer engagement studies have allowed companies to understand the specific areas that need improvement and the ‘pain points’ of their customers while allowing for benchmarking against key competitors and industry standards.

While these studies are still relevant, they do not provide for immediate action that needs to be taken in the competitive scenario that we operate in. Customer retention and engagement requires far more than a monthly or a quarterly look at traditional market research customer satisfaction and loyalty trends.

With real time data available, online and via other devices, taking immediate action is not only possible but also extremely necessary. Critical data that is right in front of your eyes can be missed in large reports that just provide summarized and analyzed data. Consider the benefits of knowing if a car that has been bought recently has been taken to the service station for repairs. Customer management personnel can call the concerned owner to inquire about the issue and probably prevent a disgruntled customer. Special cases picked up from customer feedback surveys can help identify those customers that need special handling in order to retain.

It is impossible to sit through reports and try and find that the specific cases that need special attention to ensure customer retention. Automated alerts need to be created to be able to identify such occurrences in order to take preemptive or immediate action.

Sales Alerts
Sales alerts or sales sirens are a great new innovative option that marketers have today. This is an additional feature in some customer retention solutions that send automatic alerts to people based on programmed algorithms. Sales sirens are based on the outlier method used in the six sigma protocol for quality measurement. Typically, the modeling method and the counting method are used to estimate the probability of a faulty product in the manufacturing or production system. The same methodology can be used to identify different behavior patterns to alert sales force into immediate corrective action.

Key features and benefits of sales alerts
- Message alerts when data for a specific region, product, sku or brand increases or reduces by a specific percentage. This minimum percentage increase or decrease that is used to trigger off a sales siren is something that is set by the marketer based on past experience with sales trends. Information about such changes that imply unnatural or unprecedented behavior can alert sales people so that they can take action before it is too late.

- A dramatic change in a specific preferred customer purchasing extremely low levels of goods can help you save a client who may have been lost otherwise. Corrective action can be taken in case the lower order of goods is due to a bad experience or a grouse that the client has.

- Mass email campaigns are a thing of the past. Sales sirens can be used to segment customers into various categories like new buyers, frequent shoppers and customers with declining sales. Special alerts can also be created for groups that seem at a risk of dropping off.

- Sales alerts can also be set for predictive alerts. If a customer’s behavior starts looking like that of one that was lost, an alert is sent to prevent that customer to go down the path of attrition. Predictive analytics helps companies act before it is too late and prevent the worst from happening.

Regular updates for customers can also be set as sales alerts so that they work as reminders for the marketers. While some alerts may require a personal visit to a large customer, other data may just require a call to the client or a special email. Sudden and unexpected discounts, for example, extended towards a customer who is disgruntled about an issue may also help make her feel more favorable towards the company ensuring retention.

so longWith the explosion of the Internet, many marketers feel that reaching out to the customer is far easier than before and therefore spending dollars in trying to retain current customers is futile. However, data suggests that a customer who is unhappy is likely to talk about it to 8 to 16 people.

More than 90 percent of the people who are unhappy never go back and purchase anything from the company or brand they are unhappy with. The cost of attracting a new customer is 5 times more than that of retaining a current one. With the popularity of social networks, it is far easier to spread the word around about one mistake that a company does or one bad experience that a customer had. The network of an average customer is estimated to be about 250 people. While it is important that you do the math for your own company, a 5% increase in retention rates could up the profit by 25% to 100%.

When you lose a customer you:
- Lose an opportunity of genuine recommendation
- Attract negative word of mouth
- Increase your marketing costs
- Lose the lifetime revenue that you could have gained from this lost client and his referrals

Measuring Customer Engagement

measure customer engagementSince the concept of customer engagement came around at a time when social networking sites, blogs, microblogs and more were in full swing, most companies have inclined towards using these marketing tools to increase customer engagement. Given that increasing engagement is far easier with 2-way communication rather than with static messages delivered through print media or even electronic media, most of the measurement that has taken place for customer engagement takes activities of the customer on the Internet as the basis for calculation. However, it should be noted that there are other touch points that the customer has with the brand. These include store visits, money of truth product experience, call center experience, benefits of the product and more.

Some of the factors that need to be considered while calculating customer engagement include the following:
- Product involvement
- Frequency of purchase or interaction with service
- Online behavior
- Extent of referrals
- Level of feedback provided
- Virility of information shared

There is no standard way in which customer engagement is measured today. But this does not mean that companies are not measuring this parameter. In fact they are doing it more than ever and doing so in the context of their specific marketing strategy and industry needs. One of the best ways in which you can measure customer engagement is to marry survey data with regards to demographics and offline interactions and marry it with online behavior that can be captured via web analytics.

Some interesting insights can be gained by looking at customer engagement along with the breadth of customer interactions.


It is important to continue efforts among those who have high engagement and high breadth of product variant usage. Among those who exhibit high breadth of usage and are still not engaged, the company needs to understand the reasons why these customers are using them. Is it due to a hostage situation where competition is low or not adequate or is it that you are ignoring a specific profile of customers in terms of engagement? Typically those who are offline customers tend to fit into this box given that most of the activities directed towards engagement are online. For engaged customers who do not have a high breadth of usage, the company should try and understand their need and device a larger variety of products or services to meet their needs. Creating a variant may be far easier than creating engaged customers. And those customers who are not engaged nor have a high breadth of relationship with the company need to be reached out to via a larger number of touch points.

At one point in time product penetration and revenue were the basis of measuring business performance. While these metrics have not lost their meaning, companies are realizing that the one thing that they need to maximize is customer engagement. This is a parameter that goes beyond customer satisfaction and customer retention. While customer satisfaction is a relatively transient phenomenon that describes the overall experience with the product or service, customer retention goes one step further in its ability to get the customer back repeatedly. Customer engagement, however, takes it a step further to combine satisfaction, loyalty, touch points, and other metrics as we’ll see below to segment customers by their engagement.

Components of Customer Engagement
The correct assessment of a value of an engaged customer cannot be measured in terms of mere sales, repeat visits to a website or revenue generated. There are various aspects of customer engagement that need to be taken into consideration. The four components of customer engagement value (CEV) include customer lifetime value, customer referral value, customer influencer value and customer knowledge value.

  • Customer lifetime value – is the expected amount of revenue that the customer is likely to bring to the table directly.
  • Customer referral value is the level to which the engaged customer will be able to refer potential customer who convert.
  • Customer influencer value – relates to the level to which the customer can influence other peoples purchase decision, acquisition of new customers, share of wallet and more.
  • Customer knowledge value is the level to which the customer contributes to the company in terms of feedback and suggestions, something that can lead to better customer oriented strategies.

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