Email marketing answers

Dave Chaffey, Consultant asked this on September 28, 2012

Why do so few companies use event-triggered/behavioural/remarketing email campaigns? loading

Research shows that behavioural email marketing is a powerful technique to automatically follow-up online customer actions to help increase conversion to sale at a low cost.

Automated, 'sense and respond campaigns' are a great way to send targeted messages in different situations to help boost response. These include:

  • Abandoned shopping basket/cart follow-up
  • Logged-in user browses/searches for a product, but doesnt buy
  • Birthday emails
  • Welcome email series

Despite this potential, the research also shows that the majority of businesses aren't using them! Why?!

I'm interested to know reasons what (or who) is stopping businesses using them? How can the case be made for investing in triggers? Or is that not the issue?

9 answers so far...

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  1. Tim Watson, Company Owner or Director said at 07:56 on September 28, 2012

    In the case of abandoned cart and browsed product re-targeting the main issue is technical integration. These triggers require integration of email solution, ecommerce platform and web analytics. There has been published sufficient evidence to show the high value of these triggers. The barrier is time/effort/IT priorities.

    Welcome and Birthday series don’t have high technical barriers. The main issue here is business case justification. There are few hard and fast published numbers that show the value.

    Birthday campaigns are mis-understood anyway. Since a Birthday campaign is only one email per year per customer its revenue contribution is small. The real value is in a reason to get customer to give the data for age information to use for targeting generally. In a study I made of retailers, out of those that collected date of Birth only 6% used it for a Birthday campaign.

    • Dave Chaffey, Consultant said at 08:29 on September 28, 2012

      Agree Tim, the revenue from event-based campaigns can be relatively small – as you say for Birthdays and event for abandoned shopping cart campaigns although there can be a big uplift in conversion for people who respond it’s a small difference overall.

      It still goes back to having an overall digital strategy or an email strategy i.e. the lack of it!

      • Tim Watson, Company Owner or Director said at 08:39 on September 28, 2012

        Not quite what I was trying to say. Even if a Birthday campaign gets +50% response on the average, there is only one Birthday per year. Whereas there are a ton of abandon carts each month, this makes abandon carts far more valuable. Not to mention that abandon cart is targeting someone close to conversion anyway. So abandon cart and Birthday are very different propositions. Birthday is about getting data and insight.

        • Dave Chaffey, Consultant said at 08:42 on September 28, 2012

          Can’t disagree with that Tim, but “Just sayin” that the value of abandoned cart can be / often is overstated too.

          But yes, compared to Birthday, ASCE as the Americans like to call them will generate more value.

          Thanks for your answers.

  2. Mark Brownlow, Company Owner or Director said at 08:06 on September 28, 2012

    Some may be unaware of the benefits, although these have been widely documented. But suspect most are limited by organisational constraints:

    1. Time and resources: many are hard-pressed to just get the weekly promotional email out.

    2. While some standard triggers are relatively simple to do (like a single, generic welcome message), others can require:
    a) extensive preparation developing trigger rules
    b) integration of disparate systems (e.g. web analytics and email marketing software)
    c) availability of data that isn’t there

    3. Often there is a need for buy-in or cooperation from other parts of the organisation for whom email marketing is neither a priority nor an interest

    The impression I’ve got from research and observation in general re. email marketing is not that email marketers don’t know what they should or could be doing better (which is what many commentators assume is the problem)…they simply don’t always have the time, resources and/or skill base to do it.

    I’ve seen it take almost a year just to change sign-up copy and the welcome series, because of issues with the approval process and necessary back-end changes.

    Best Answer
    • Dave Chaffey, Consultant said at 08:21 on September 28, 2012

      Thanks for your thoughts Mark!

      From speaking to many marketers on training courses about this, it seems they know the potential of triggers, but are REALLY frustrated by b) and c). These are long-term issues to fix and require as you say co-operation from 3. Buy in from others in the organisation and approval.

    • Pete Austin, Company Owner or Director said at 12:22 on September 28, 2012

      Exactly, Mark

      If you try and implement triggered messaging yourself, it can be a world of pain. We’re talking several person years of work and then permanent maintenance tasks because e.g. ESPs tend to tweak their transactional APIs without notice. *cough*Mandrill*cough*.

      One major issue is data volume – a typical shopping cart can log over a million events each day, 10x or 100x the number from a typical email campaign. This difference means you would probably need different technologies and skillsets.

      The best advice is to choose an outside specialist for your triggered messaging. Pick one that’s cloud based so that you don’t need to install/manage anything or risk it slowing your cart, simple enough that it can be running very quickly, supports your ESP so you don’t need two copies of your marketing assets, and cheap enough that the decision doesn’t scare senior management.

  3. Jordie van Rijn, Consultant said at 08:53 on September 28, 2012

    I’d like to split the question into two categories of companies:
    1. Companies that would benefit from behavioral email and aren’t doing it
    2. Companies that (at this time) would not benefit most from behavioral email
    I can’t stress enough that Priority is key. Do the easiest and most impactful things first, then look at the next best improvement, then the next.

    It takes some thought and you want to have an (email) marketing plan to be able to prioritize those actions. Otherwise the (seemingly) urgent always takes president over the important things to do. Behavioral emails are never urgent (because we have done alright without them).

    An email plan and periodical review allows you to free up the recourses, IT and get the management buy in. So that is the reason that companies that would benefit from behavioral email aren’t yet doing it.

    For marketers in the Trial phase of email marketing, they might want to work on getting the basics right before going into more sophisticated tactics. About a third of marketers are in the trial phase. While I suspect a large number of senders have a small base of email opt-ins and the number of emails sent with behavioral emails just doesn’t add up with the costs involved.
    That said, I think that we give the marketers too little credit.

    Research from econsultancy showed that 60% of email marketers send out some kind of triggered email, with the welcome email being the most popular with 31% of the marketers questioned doing a welcome email.

    So why aren’t email marketers using behavioral email? Because they don’t have an email marketing plan OR have one but don’t give priority to it.

  4. Annie Ivanova, Company Owner or Director said at 13:29 on October 19, 2012

    Dear all, I find this question to be of great interest, thank you for posing it. In my opinion it will much depend on the type of industry as always that you are working within. For example if you are selling sensitive or personal product items then behavioural campaigns may cause a concern for the private individual. Also I think that security is still a concern (perhaps a large study of the demographics most affected by privacy and security issues could be very useful here). I have been quite interested in looking at the difference between behavioural targeting and permission marketing. I have written a short post on this, any expert opinion would be so graciously received if you have the time, here is the link: Many thanks.

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