Email Marketing: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
The way marketers use emails to engage with their customers has changed a lot over the years while the basics surprisingly remained the same: email as a technique hasn’t developed much since 1990.
However, everything around this old rusty machine has grown and became more sophisticated and complex: advanced segmentation, integration of social media, heavily automated workflows and lead management help many companies to personalize their email marketing.
Today it is possible to create personalized EDM workflows that convert - even with a small budget. Is it complex? Hell yeah! Setting up such campaigns can be tricky and time consuming, especially when calculating their ROI. That said, Marketers aren’t working their lists enough!
Why not use the power of today’s technologies to additionally approach your (future) customers in an efficient yet personalized way? Simply combine your operational and strategic skills (understanding your customer base) with a systematic approach (drip campaigning) to receive the best outcome.
Leverage Your Email Marketing Campaigns
For B2C, marketers usually approach existing customers to tempt them to buy again or try out new products. These campaigns are based on the customer’s previous purchase behaviour. In some cases emails can also be used to retarget visitors who abandoned their cart before they checked out.
In other cases, however, you might want to segment your users even further, e.g. if you sell expensive products like electronics which require to nurture potential customers long before they actually buy. The sales funnel gets longer and complex.
This is what we are aiming here at with a behavioral drip campaign using MailChimp.
Why Using MailChimp For Email Marketing?
If you work for a small to mid-range company and / or you are new to email marketing, you either already use MailChimp or you likely have heard about it.
While there are certainly more sophisticated tools available on the market, MailChimp really did a great good job by simplifying the whole email marketing process.
In this article, I would like you to encourage to get your existing email campaigning to the next level. If you are new to MailChimp and curious, you still might want to read on to see what is possible.
What Is A Drip Campaign?
In a nutshell, drip campaigning means to create an automated set of emails (or responses, if we don’t restrict it to emails making it become even more powerful, see below) that are sent based on a visitor’s behaviour, e.g. when someone signs up for a newsletter or revisits your website.
You might have heard from a company of the same name, and this blog post here is using the generic method behind drip.com.
If you are not familiar with the concept yet, you might want to check out this well written introduction explaining drip campaigning in detail. In most cases, drip campaigns are used to onboard new customers, organize returns or provide educational content.
But there is more to it: Why not sending out emails to potential customers if their previous actions indicated they are really interested in the product but still need a push? To do so, you
- Need to integrate a lead quality indicator in your MailChimp setup
- Create an email campaign in MailChimp triggering if this lead quality indicator matches your campaign’s goals
Why would you do this? As outlined above, it is more efficient to not send the same email to all your prospects after they have taken the first step by submitting their email but rather diversify your emails based on the next steps these prospects take on their journey.
Set Up A Drip Campaign In MailChimp
Over the next few paragraphs, I am going to show you in detail how to properly set up a drip campaign in MailChimp.
Personalize Your MailChimp List
First you need to segment your MailChimp list by adding a hidden field indicating the lead quality.
While this is a strategy originating from B2B, it can be easily adapted for B2C helping you to improve your email campaigns outcome. You may also just use the lead qualification strategy alone without connecting a drip email campaign later.
A lead quality indicator helps you to understand where your visitor / lead / customer is at the moment, seen from your individual marketing perspective. You are ‘ranking’ all entries in your MailChimp list using statuses like ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and so on or rather descriptive ones like ‘Cold’, ‘Warm’ and ‘Customer’ helping your team members to understand your campaign setup.
Sounds familiar? Well, this is actually the same approach many CRM tools but also ecommerce platforms follow. The trick here is: We will change the lead quality of a visitor automatically and individually in MailChimp based on the visitor’s behaviour so it always matches the visitor’s current state. We then can take action whenever a visitor is ‘ready’ for a certain email.
Similar to CRM tools, in some cases you might also want to change the lead quality state manually, e.g. if a sales or customer support person believes a contact should not be approached. This can be done easily in MailChimp as well by manually adapting your list.
However, in this tutorial I am focussing on the automated part of it. Just keep in mind your setup might require some manual ongoing tweaks.
Your lead qualification can be based on anything you find meaningful for your business:
- Fixed properties: gender, age, origin, operating system
- Behavioural properties: registered, number of purchases, completed orders etc.
Here we are just focussing on email signup as this tutorial covers MailChimp only.
Open A Field Section In MailChimp
Okay, so let us get started. Assuming you have a contact list built and uploaded to MailChimp, we now can create an additional field for this list containing the lead quality indicator:
- Go to your MailChimp list
- Click on Settings
- List fields and |MERGE| tags
Create New Field In MailChimp
- Click on ‘Add A Field’
- Select field type ‘Text’
- Create a field label, e.g. ‘Lead Type’
- Make field invisible for the visitor
- Create a field tag, e.g. ‘LTYPE’
- Click on ‘Save Changes’
Define Your Behavioral Visitor Flow
Now you have created a hidden field indicating the lead quality or type, it is time to check your behavioral campaign workflow. A sample behavioral visitor flow for an ecommerce business selling expensive electronics could look like this:
(Lead Type: Cold)
Automated email after 1 week
Download Product Information
(Lead Type: Warm)
Automated email after 2 days
(Lead Type: Customer)
As you can see, the lead quality changes based on your visitor’s specific actions. You may of course also add even more rules and quality types to better segment and target your visitors.
You may ask: ‘Why should I not simply segment my visitors based on their behaviour and roll out a campaign?’ The reason is: By using lead quality indicators, you can address your visitors throughout campaigns and user flows. This helps you to really personalize your email strategy, because several campaigns and / or actions may change the lead quality of a visitor.
However, while this may improve your email campaigning, keep in mind you are still focussing on one isolated channel here rather than improving each customer’s journey (we will get to this a little later).
Attach An Individual Lead Type To Each Visitor
In order to address your visitors based on their behaviour, you need to attach an individual lead quality type to each contact.
`<input type=’hidden’ name=’LTYPE’ value=’Warm’>`
to submit this value and adapt the MailChimp list.
Create A Personalized Drip Campaign With MailChimp
After you adapted your email list, it is time to create your actual drip campaign. As mentioned before this setup is very flexible: Whenever a campaign or a visitor’s behaviour is changing the lead quality type of this visitor, you may roll out a campaign addressing to this specific visitor.
To do so, just follow these steps:
- Go into Campaign View
- And Click ‘Create Campaign’
- Click on ‘Email’
- Select ‘Automated’
- Click on ‘Custom’
- Click on ‘Edit’ in Campaign View, Trigger Section
- Click on ‘Change Trigger’
- Select ‘List management’
- Click on ‘Changed list field to value’
- Select the previously created list field ‘Lead Type’
- Select the lead type you want this to trigger on (.e.g. ‘Warm’)
- Click on ‘Update Trigger’
Now you need to set up the rest of your campaign by attaching an email template and activating the campaign.
Want to get more engagement? Simply personalize your email template further by subtly referring to the visitor’s behaviour that changed the lead type, e.g. if someone downloaded a product information, you may refer to this in your template.
Your Drip Email Campaigns Rock - All Good?
You use drip email campaigns to engage with your visitors, based on their behaviour. While this is definitely a good strategy, you are only optimizing your email channel instead of individual user flows.
What does that mean? Because multi-channel marketing is complex, many marketers focus on improving their existing channels and tend to forget about the big picture. They strengthen channels which prove to be successful, but: Is it really about the channels? Shouldn’t the individual user be the center of any marketing effort?
Optimize Your User Flows, Not Your Channels
Visitor/User personalization means to put marketing back on its feet. What matters most is giving the right response to a specific user at the right time. Not the tools you use should restrict this response, but rather where your user is at during the individual decision making process.
Let me explain this...
Where Are My Users?
The above question can be answered in a simple and a sophisticated way.
The usual perspective is to look at channels that drive (high quality) traffic, meaning: “Where are my users - so I can approach them?”
However, smart marketers think differently: “Where are my users - in their heads, in this moment?”
In many cases it is better to address your users on your website, right there when they are actually browsing and exploring your products. Why? Because your website usually is the spot where sales are closed while your several channels such as email, social, retargeting etc. lead to it.
Don’t get me wrong: To address users on your website you still need those channels for two reasons:
- Quantity: To drive traffic.
- Quality: To collect data from this traffic.
The central idea of a personalization system such as Intempt is to segment users based on data coming in from multiple sources like email, social or retargeting to then guide these users on your website like shop owners do when you are in a physical store.
Only market to the right users - at the right time. Sounds complicated? You can create behavioral campaigns very easy. Let me show you how...
Email Campaigning Combined With On-Site Behavioral Messaging: Farfetch.com (Use Case)
What is Farfetch.com?
Founded in 2008, Farfetch is an online luxury fashion retail platform that sells products from over 700 boutiques and brands from around the world. It already served more than one million customers and is valued one billion USD.
Products sold on Farfetch are often high priced and target fashion enthusiasts and fashionistas worldwide.
Increase Farfetch’s Revenue Via Email Marketing and On-Site Behavioral Messaging
To increase the revenue generated on Farfetch, the platform would first create an email marketing campaign sending out engaging different newsletters to three customer segments based on previous purchase behavior and resulting lifetime value:
- High end customer (spent > 5000 USD)
- Mid range customer (spent > 2000 USD & < 5000 USD)
- Low end customer (spent < 2000 USD)
Each segment will receive its own newsletter template containing suitable information for this group of subscribers.
Whenever a visitor (who browsed Farfetch via an email campaign link prior) returns to the site, this visitor would get to see a personalized engaging offer depending on the previous purchase behavior of this visitor.
How do we get there?
Email Campaign Setup
The three segments mentioned above are created by retrieving sales data from the shop system and storing the results in a email list field as shown in the tutorial above.
The email templates also include links to Farfetch with an unique ID attached (using a mail merge field). This ID is tracked by Intempt’s platform whenever a reader clicks on the link attached in the email, allowing a precise segmentation, attribution and data synchronization across platforms.
Create Behavioural Segments
To display personalized offers, Farfetch would create three segments in Intempt (mirroring the email campaign):
- An identified visitor (tracked via the ID attached to the email link
- Who is either labelled (via a Mailchimp list or CRM file import) as a
- High End customer
- Mid range customer
- Low end customer
- Visited Farfetch more than one time (is a returning visitor)
In order to identify visitors properly on the website that have been approached via email before, the email campaign list needs to be uploaded to Intempt using a CSV file.
Farfetch already added a grey bar to their website displaying offers and announcements (located at the top below the main menu).
Any visitor who does not fully meet the campaign requirements:
- Is part of a segment (high end, mid range, low end)
- Has clicked on a link encapsulated in the newsletter and browsed Farfetch
- Has later browsed Farfetch again
would get to see default product pages:
Instead, a high end visitor who clicked on an attached email link once and returned to Farfetch later would get to see this offer:
...whereas a mid range visitor doing the same steps would get to see this:
...and finally a low end visitor meeting all campaign conditions would see this:
Please note Intempt can dynamically override any existing page content. Except from the tracker installation no further IT involvement is required, which is why Farfetch would use the existing bar.
It is possible to adapt the segments within Intempt at any time because MailChimp and Intempt share the same database and use visitor specific IDs. As an example, you may in- or decrease the spend threshold of the three segments (“high end”, “mid range” and “low end”) simply by changing the segment criterias directly in Intempt.
You may also dynamically override the imported database based on each visitor’s action. If a visitor classified as “high end” does a “low end” purchase (e.g. < 2000 USD), then this visitor could be labelled as “low end” automatically by tracking the cart value at the checkout (using Intempt’s trackcharge feature).
If Farfetch’s email marketer then re-uploads this list from Intempt to MailChimp, the database will be up-to-date mapping the actual and individual visitor behaviour when creating the next email campaign.
Behavioral Messaging Helps You To Increase Engagement And Revenue
Stitching behavioral strategies together by combining channels such as email and on-site help you to target visitors based on their behaviour across channels while you still retain full control over your campaign.
If you are struggling with long customer journeys and fragmented visitor segments, this approach can be your swiss army knife to drive conversions.
Just be personal, in a smart way.