Expert Interview Series: Part 11
From PPC advertising to SEO to social media marketing to network marketing, there are various channels to promote your ecommerce business. Email, however, outguns them all in terms of reach, personalization, and profitability.
But, many ecommerce merchants are yet to fully realize the potential of email as a sales-and-promotional tool for their online businesses. We struck up a conversation with Tink Taylor, the co-founder and president of Dotdigital, to lift the mist off the subject. Over to him!
How would you advise ecommerce merchants who treat email as a sales-only channel, having reserved customer engagement for social platforms?
Tink : I believe ecommerce merchants should not limit email to just a sales channel. Email provides a great opportunity to engage customers, share content, and foster relationships beyond sales.
In a report produced by Dotdigital on customer loyalty, we discovered that becoming a part of a loyalty program is one of the top three motivators for signing up for a brand newsletter. Merchants should always be thinking about the long-term relationship with customers. Even if you don’t have a loyalty program, you should be selling yourself as well as your products. Introduce yourself to new customers, highlight your USPs, and what makes you different from your competitors.
It’s by combining both email and social platforms that merchants can create a seamless cross-channel experience that strengthens brand loyalty and amplifies the overall impact.
Why do you think merchants invest heavily in acquisition efforts but under-invest in email as a means to deliver a valuable post-purchase experience? What do you think is the right approach?
Tink : I think merchants often prioritize acquisition due to the immediate effect on revenue generation and business growth targets. However, delivering an exceptional post-purchase experience through channels like email can nurture long-term customer relationships and boost customer lifetime value (CLV).
The right approach is to balance acquisition efforts with customer retention and engagement strategies. After all, the likelihood of selling to an existing customer sits between 60% and 70%, while the chance of selling to a new customer is significantly lower at 5-20%.
How does email accessibility infrastructure handle increased traffic and demand during peak times?
Tink : With the significant surge in inbound emails during peak times, email delivery may encounter delays as filtering and infrastructure processes struggle to keep up with the increased volume. Mailbox providers, such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo, tend to prioritize personal communications under such circumstances, ensuring that one-to-one emails land in your inbox before marketing emails. During peak seasons, it is vital merchants stay mindful of these potential delays and plan their campaigns accordingly to maximize inbox visibility and timely delivery.
At Dotdigital, we have an excellent team of deliverability experts who are always on hand to ensure our clients’ emails land in the inbox, especially throughout a peak season.
Could you recommend at least three best practices for triggering automated replenishment emails for consumable products in ecommerce?
Tink : My top three pieces of best practices advice for triggering automated replenishment emails include:
- Timing: Set up well-timed reminders based on a product’s average consumption period or an AI-powered predicted next purchase date.
- Personalization: Include personalized recommendations alongside the replenishment message for opportunities to cross-sell and upsell your catalog.
- Incentives: Offer exclusive deals, discounts, or free shipping to encourage repeat purchases. Even these can be personalized using the eRFM customer model to target your highest-value customers with the best offer.
Ecommerce stores usually promote old as well as new products in a single email, which may result in longer emails. How long is too long?
Tink : While there’s no strict rule for email length, focusing on key messages and prioritizing content based on relevance can help maintain engagement. I would advise testing different formats to identify the ideal length for your audience. Dotdigital’s campaign heatmaps can help you decide where to start. A well-structured, scannable design with clear CTAs can help even when an email is lengthy.
What’s more, Dotdigital’s WinstonAI™ tone, grammar, and spell check features empower merchants to deliver concise and engaging marketing messages every time. Delivering optimized email campaigns has never been so simple.
Could you tell our readers how marketers can tackle and leverage cart abandonments?
Tink : An effective cart abandonment program requires a clear plan. You need an integrated tech stack so your ecommerce platform syncs in real time with your marketing automation tools. This ensures you’re delivering timely, personalized reminders that nudge customers toward completing purchases.
To further leverage them during peak times, include FOMO-inducing elements like limited-time offers, exclusive deals, and real-time inventory updates. Including AI-powered product recommendations like ‘best next’ and ‘lookalike’ can further enhance campaign effectiveness, as well as increase average order value (AOV).
Speaking of peak times, inbox visibility becomes very crucial. How can ecommerce brands ensure maximum deliverability during this time?
Tink : Deliverability must be taken seriously. At Dotdigital, we don’t want to see our clients’ hard work going to waste. We have tons of helpful hints and tips to maximize deliverability during the peak season, but my personal tips for ecommerce brands are:
- Strategically plan volume increases based on consent and data
- Analyze past data to understand recipient behavior
- Stay updated on trends or changes since the last peak season
- Weigh risks and rewards when sending to inactive contacts
- Send less frequently to disengaged recipients for better inbox placement
- Determine the inactivity threshold that balances KPIs and risks; note that this will vary for each sender
Would you recommend marketers engage an entirely different aesthetic while designing occasion-specific emails?
Tink : While adopting a distinct aesthetic for occasion-specific emails can help them stand out, it’s essential to maintain brand consistency as well. Marketers should leverage festive themes and visuals that complement their brand’s identity to create a cohesive yet attention-grabbing design. There are many creative ideas out there, and many are a lighter lift than you’d expect.
How can ecommerce merchants use interactive elements such as GIFs, countdown timers, and gamification in emails?
Tink : Gamification and interactive elements are great additions to your marketing campaign as they really capture the audience’s attention. Ecommerce merchants can use interactive elements and gamification in emails by:
- Showcasing products through engaging GIFs or videos that highlight features. This works brilliantly in a gift guide or email that features multiple items in your catalog.
- Incorporating countdown timers to create urgency around time-sensitive offers or promotions. This is especially effective for sales-driven email marketing campaigns.
- Introducing gamified elements like quizzes, spin-the-wheel, or scratch-and-win to incentivize engagement.
Could you tell us how dynamic product recommendations can be consolidated into ecommerce email campaigns in order to stimulate sales?
Tink : Dynamic product recommendations can be consolidated into ecommerce email campaigns by leveraging customer data (e.g., browsing history, purchase history) and AI algorithms. By using this information, you can make hyper-relevant product suggestions to your customers, thereby increasing the chances of them converting.
They are particularly useful when added to abandoned cart programs to increase AOV and post-purchase emails to drive repeat purchases.
Let’s wrap it up with a rather holistic question. Shopping journeys are complex, thanks to multiple touchpoints in the consumer journey. What can ecommerce merchants do to enhance the accuracy of multi-touch attribution modeling in their email campaigns?
Tink : Enhancing the accuracy of multi-touch attribution modeling in email campaigns can be done by combining customer data from various touch points across your marketing tech stack, like ecommerce stores, CRM systems, and ad platforms. This helps create a holistic view of customer interactions with the brand and ensures that marketing efforts are appropriately credited for influence in the purchase journey.
For example, the Dotdigital CXDP. Our multi-touch revenue attribution model goes even further by taking into account all touchpoints in your customers’ journey and assigning credit to each. By assigning “assisted revenue” to each email or SMS campaign customers interact with before purchase, you get a holistic understanding of the marketing lifecycle, and you can demonstrate the full value of your efforts.