Make past-purchase data part of your 2013 email strategy

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Joe Colopy
Joe Colopy

Profile data and subscriber preferences can provide insight into a shopper's intentions. The shopper may tell you she wants to receive your weekly newsletter and that she is interested in apparel and accessories. That information can help shape email communications while the subscriber is merely shopping. But the doors to data burst open once that shopper makes a purchase.

Retailers will tell you nothing is a better indicator of likely future purchases than what a buyer has already bought—and transaction data is more accessible than ever before. Understanding the value of this data, and how to leverage it, will help retailers drive repeat purchases and long-term engagement.

First impressions determine ongoing engagement. Many purchasers on your site are buying from you for the first time. Expand beyond the standard order confirmation and shipping notification to send communications that speak to what was just purchased.

Customer needs will differ based on factors such as a product's price-point or category. For example, large-appliance buyers will have different needs compared to small accessory purchasers. Ask your customers the questions they are asking themselves after they receive their purchase: Does it fit? Do you need help assembling or using your purchase? Do you need additional customer support? Not only will this help make the purchase more enjoyable, the high-quality service will be remembered when the customer is ready to buy again.

Don't chase the SKU. Segmenting on the SKU level is a goal for many marketers. Even when the capability exists, the time and effort involved to build SKU-dependent campaigns often overshadows the results. Associating the product category of purchased items with the customer record will create segmentation and dynamic content opportunities that will allow you to be more relevant to your subscribers with much less data to sift through.

Automation is your new easy chair. Work less and drive more sales—an amazing yet realistic concept. Automating email programs based on order data just makes sense. Order date is a key piece of easily accessible data associated with every order. This date can launch reorder reminders for products that have a limited lifespan or can reenergize lapsed purchasers back into the buying mood.

For example, Bronto customer Shar Music sends automated reorder reminders for replacement strings for musical instruments and is seeing a 21% conversion rate—much higher than standard promotional email rates. These types of programs will provide a positive customer experience, generate sales, and give you more time to focus on other innovative ideas.

In 2012, marketers were overloaded with ways to combat “data overload.” Focusing on past purchase data in 2013 will enable you to market in a way that will create loyal, repeat customers. This will simplify the deluge and give you new ways to drive revenue.

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