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In our last issue of MailChimp for Agencies, Fixtail co-founder Paul Jarvis emphasized the importance of empathy. When you can truly identify with a customer’s pain points, Jarvis suggested, you’ll be better able to suggest a solution that actually meets their needs.

Heral Patel, founder of digital agency AnnexCore, achieved that empathy the hard way.

“One of the reasons we started AnnexCore was because we got burned pretty badly on our last venture,” Patel says. “Before this, we were working on our own e-commerce site. It was the kind of project that comes with a big learning curve, and trying to find the right developers to work with was tough. The person we eventually hired overpromised and underdelivered, so we ended up spending a lot of money with little to show for it.”

Unfortunately, Patel’s story isn’t unique. For many businesses venturing into e-commerce, it can be hard to know whether the tools or vendors you’re spending money on will be a sound investment. AnnexCore began as a way to help mitigate some of that confusion.

“Our mission from the start was to be transparent and help clients have a good experience,” Patel says. “And that’s helped guide us as we’ve narrowed our focus to services like email marketing and web development.”

For Patel, making sure clients were happy started with defining his agency’s offerings and then selecting tools that would perform to his standards. “There are really 3 tools we love and have learned very, very well,” Patel says. “Those are WordPress, WooCommerce, and, of course, MailChimp.”

Less time, more sales

Although every AnnexCore client is different, Patel has seen some common threads emerge.

“For each new e-commerce site we work on, one of our first priorities is to learn as much as we can about the competition,” Patel says. “We want to know what the marketplace looks like and how our client can distinguish themselves. It’s also important to set expectations up front. If our clients understand what e-commerce can and can’t do, it’s a lot easier for them to set achievable goals.”

Clients looking to increase online sales also tend to be especially interested in learning how different platforms can work together toward a common goal.

“Usually when we see a client trying to tie WordPress and MailChimp together, what they’re really after is figuring out how to boost sales,” Patel says. “That’s when we start pointing them toward MailChimp’s eCommerce API, and now the new WooCommerce integration.”

These tools are powerful, Patel says, because they provide key data on customer behavior.

“With these features, a customer can make a purchase and that behavior is tracked and recorded, along with their order history,” Patel says. “If I have that information, I can use it to segment my list based on what they’ve purchased, how much they’ve spent, and what category they’ve purchased from. Down the road, as my lists are refined, I’m spending less time and getting better results.”

And thanks to MailChimp’s WooCommerce integration, AnnexCore can spend more time looking at analytics and planning automated campaigns.

“In the past, we were doing custom integrations to get WooCommerce to connect with MailChimp, but the release of the plugin has relieved that workload,” Patel says. “MailChimp has amped up the whole e-commerce side of things from when we first started. Which is great, because that frees up time and energy on our end to help our clients create templates and strategize automated campaigns.”

 

Driving email with sales

So why does AnnexCore focus its attention on just 3 tools? Patel’s answer is simple: It makes things easy.

“The decision to use MailChimp, WordPress, and WooCommerce came about pretty naturally,” Patel says. “That wasn’t necessarily our starting point, but as we worked with various platforms over the years, we came to the conclusion that these were the best. They’re very user-friendly, for one thing, and the support is great. Especially with MailChimp, which has always acted more like a partner than a vendor when it comes to problem-solving.”

One early feature that caught Patel’s eye was MailChimp’s automation tools.

“When MailChimp first rolled out automation tools, I was impressed—and they’ve come a very long way since then,” Patel says. “Those tools have evolved to keep pace with what clients need. For instance, with the WooCommerce integration, you now have a very simple-to-use tool that can send highly targeted emails to customers based on their buying habits. That opens up a lot of possibilities.”

Patel cites “restocking campaigns” as one such possibility.

“With the integration between WooCommerce and MailChimp, you can automatically set reminders for people when it’s time to restock a product,” Patel says. “So, say you’re a pet supply store, and you’ve got a segment of your list that purchases dog products. Within that list, you can target people who order pet food online, which is a product that has to be replenished on a fairly consistent timetable. The next time a customer orders kibble, you can create a campaign that will automatically remind them 30 days later that they need to restock.”

These kinds of campaigns aren’t just good for business—they’re also good customer service.

“Anticipating customer needs is one of the chief concerns of any business,” Patel says. “With the information collected by WooCommerce, you can use data to get very creative with automated campaigns in MailChimp built around the people who buy from you. It makes your life easier, and also keeps your customers happy.”

"Anticipating customer needs is one of the chief concerns of any business. With the information collected by WooCommerce, you can use data to get very creative with automated campaigns in MailChimp built around the people who buy from you."

 

3 ways to segment with WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a powerful e-commerce tool that puts a ton of customer data at your disposal. But once you’ve got it, what next? Here are 3 ideas for using your WooCommerce analytics to segment your MailChimp mailing list.

  1. Segment by spending. When you’re promoting a big-ticket item, it might be a waste of energy to send emails to the customers who only spend a few bucks a month. “With WooCommerce, you can tier out your mailing list by spending habits,” Patel says. “That allows you to target the customers who spend the most for higher dollar campaigns.”
  2. Segment by enticement. “Some customers are most likely to purchase when they’ve got a coupon in hand,” Patel says. With data from WooCommerce, you can segment your mailing list into customers who will buy your products no matter what—and those who might need a little extra encouragement in the form of special promotions and discounts.
  3. Segment by product line. “If you’re selling pet supplies, and you’ve got a customer who regularly buys dog food, you can make certain inferences about which product lines they’ll be interested in,” Patel says. As you gather data on your customers, certain patterns should start to emerge. Use these patterns to segment your list and show your customers new products that will likely benefit them.

Illustrations by Kitkat Pecson, a Filipino American illustrator and designer in New York City.