Managing the email machine

manage the machine

We’re looking at ecommerce email technology in one of two ways.

1.) For the answers

2.) As the answer

The question being ‘how do we unlock profitable growth?

The marketing mechanism

Email marketing technology isn’t the answer. It’s merely the mechanism that allows you to deliver better email. To bring you closer to your customer and to automate the process at scale (to a degree).

We can’t, however, let the email machine lead the work. We manage the machine.

Email technology doesn’t suddenly magic up a better message to deliver. It doesn’t give you Ogilvy-esque copywriting skills. It may allow you to time that message better and to refine who you send that message to, but it won’t do your work, the critical work.

Know your role. Know the machine’s role

When you look at email marketing technology to unlock growth you’re asking too much from technology. The expectation that the modern ecommerce email template will deliver results. It won’t. It’s how you feed that technology that determines success. Generic, templated messages litter inboxes and mobile screens. In the world of Amazon Prime, attempts to win the business of a consumer goes far beyond the ‘quick delivery, great price’ messaging that you still see, so often, are greeted with a quick left swipe.

Still, with all the technology available to you, your job is to differentiate the message, then bring relevancy (audience segments) and context to the message. Bring creativity back to the table and reduce expectations on technology and position your technology where it belongs. As a mechanism. To do what you ask it to do.

And that takes planning. That takes strategy. That takes a greater understanding of your customer, their thoughts, their expectations and their immediate needs.

You think implementing a 3 vs 1 step cart recovery email will have any greater impact if the messaging you send is templated? The ‘last chance before everything you ever wanted sells out’ attempt at scarcity? That some how ‘more’ in the age of email, or facebook messenger, or sms, attempts to gain attention, through multiple attention-devices, will persuade people to act on your offering? I don’t think so.

The ministry of shiny new emailing machinery

I get as excited, as any other ecommerce email marketer, when I see a new piece of technology enabled in an ecommerce store. Technology providers are giving us some wonderful tools to work with. But through the democratisation of the ecommerce industry (i.e. access for all) these tools often face being tools that disrupt buying habits (that frustrate) rather than tools that help customers shop easier, quicker and with greater conviction. If they’re not implemented with consideration. “How will this help my subscriber to buy?”

But again, your job is to manage the email machine. To see email marketing technology as a device that makes it easier for folks to buy what you sell and to help them feel more confident once that purchase is made. That they’ve made the right choice.

Whether that be social proofing, to help people to feel more comfortable buying from your site. Or the re-assuring post-purchase email that thanks the customer and introduces them to the delivery process. The ‘what happens next’.

10x growth through email marketing?

Technology can’t just been seen as a route to ‘more’ emails. It’s not a growth plug-in that promises 10x growth in a few simple steps. Don’t fall for that marketing /sales tripe.

When you see a technology provider leveraging the growth of their clients as a sales tool I can assure you that a ton of work has gone in beforehand. To make that technology work. The strategy of sending BETTER emails.

Over to you

The point of my rambling is this. I’m seeing far too great an expectation on technology to do the job of ‘growth’. That job is down to you, the email marketer. Technology is simply a tool. Albeit a powerful tool in the right hands. However, it’s your brain where the real work is done. Learning how to adopt tools to create better, more personalised shopping experiences. For the primary benefit of those that matter most. Your visitors. Your customers. Your subscribers. Manage the email machine.

Written By:

Ian Rhodes


First employee of an ecommerce startup back in 1998. I've been using building and growing ecommerce brands ever since (including my own). Get weekly growth lessons from my own work delivered to your inbox below.

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