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5 Takeaways from E-Commerce’s Biggest Conference…

Last week, a group of MailChimp folks headed to Chicago for the Internet Retail Conference + Exposition, one of e-commerce’s biggest trade shows and learning opportunities.

Educational sessions covered everything from customer experience to social commerce, and our research team took it all in. But we couldn’t just keep that knowledge to ourselves! Below, we take a look at some of our favorite lessons for e-commerce businesses:

It’s OK to start small with personalization—just start

Personalization, aside from being a bit of a buzzword at the moment, can be a pretty intimidating concept. The options for sending great, relevant content really are endless, but that shouldn’t keep you from taking the first step, our experts say.  

“Don’t let the fact that you could do a ton of personalization make you not do it at all.” says Chelsea Fletcher, Research Lead at MailChimp. There are lots of ways to integrate it into your digital marketing, and many of them are within the reach of anyone who’s already doing email marketing.

“Start with the things you’re already doing—like sending email—and explore how you can optimize those tasks,” adds Lizzy Rolando, Research Lead at MailChimp.

You could customize your welcome automation series by geographic location, or send a special discount to customers who have spent a certain amount. If someone’s subscribed to your newsletter, but never purchased anything from you, maybe a promo code is all the push they need. (In MailChimp, you can send to those segments in a single click with pre-built segmentation, which Chelsea calls “low-hanging fruit.”)

You can even customize your transactional emails if you’ve got an e-commerce store that’s integrated to your MailChimp account. Throw in a product recommendation block with your receipts to suggest a related purchase your customer might love.

Abandoned cart automations = industry standard

There’s a lot of good reasons we love to talk about abandoned cart automations. They’re easy to set up, and on average they’re our most profitable. According to the MailChimp research team, our average user earns enough from them to pay for their account. So much to love, right?

But we’re not the only ones crowing about this automation. Abandoned cart came up in a lot of IRCE sessions. So another important reason your e-commerce store should be sending abandoned cart automations: your competitors likely are.

It’s cheaper to keep than acquire

Don’t give up on customers who haven’t purchased anything from you in a while. Re-engaging them (perhaps with an automation workflow 😎) is a better long-term strategy than scrambling to attract new buyers.

A couple popular stats illustrate why: increasing customer retention by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%, and 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.

Email’s a uniquely effective way to encourage a lapsed customer back into the fold. “With other marketing channels, like paid search, you don’t know much about who saw the ad,” says Lizzy. “But you can nurture people on your email list.”

Optimize, optimize, optimize for mobile

Consumers are spending more time than ever on mobile devices, so if your digital marketing doesn’t look good on a small screen, it’s time to level up.

Sending email? Make sure they’re responsive. (All of MailChimp’s templates are responsive already. 😎😎) Social media ads are another mobile space where your brand can shine. Facebook and Instagram are 2 of the top 10 most popular mobile apps in the U.S.

Mobile purchases are up, but that’s not the only reason to consider optimizing there—Over 80% of store shoppers use mobile before or during a shopping trip, so the benefits can present themselves in unattributable ways. A Harvard Business Review study from earlier this year confirmed that the more channels a customer uses, the more valuable they are.

Speakers at IRCE reported similar findings: Omnichannel shoppers spend more, both per-order and over the course of their lifetime, and they’re also more loyal.

Your email list is valuable for social media

You’ve spent a lot of energy building your email list, and with lookalike audiences, you can use that effort to find new customers like your current ones. Mike Mothner, founder and CEO of Wpromote, talked to eMarketer about the ROI from using a customer list to create a lookalike audience for Facebook ads:  

“We can throw spears vs. nets and find ideal customers that are not yet in-market.”

Our own data backs this up: Customers that create a Facebook ad using a MailChimp email list have a 50% better ROI than those who use interest targeting alone.


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