Customer Engagement _ The Heart Of eCommerce Retention Strategy

In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Cory Snyder from Maropost on the following topcs:

  1. How Maropost differentiates from other marketing automation platforms?
  2. What is Maropost’s secret mantra to engage customers?
  3. How can Maropost be used to nurture customers?
  4. How to capitalize on email marketing automation without spamming?
  5. Why should brands use Maropost?
  6. Why must eCommerce brands have a multi-channel/omnichannel approach to marketing?
  7. Why is eCommerce customer retention gaining traction?
  8. Acquisition of Neto: The big picture
  9. eCommerce trends to look out for in 2021

Revathi Karthik: Hey guys, we have today with us Cory Snyder, VP of channel sales at Maropost. Maropost is a cloud-based marketing automation platform that helps B2C companies acquire, engage, and convert prospects across multiple channels. Hey Cory, welcome to eCommerce 360.

Cory: Thanks for having me.

Revathi: So Cory, let’s begin by telling us a bit about yourself.

Cory: Yeah, happy to, so I spent the last 13, 14 years in MarTech SaaS, most specifically with SMB from Infusionsoft now known as Keap to ActiveCampaign, working in mostly partnerships. At Maropost, I now own all revenue channels, so that’s from the ecommerce side of the house that we have now, as we made that acquisition launch last week announcement, and then from the marketing automation piece of the pie, the omnichannel marketing, Maropost marketing product. So those are the kind of the little bit of background with what I’ve been doing for the last 14 years mostly, again, in partnerships, and building partner programs and connecting the dots for our partners from building their tech stacks, from leveraging marketing ecommerce to services and so on and so forth.

Revathi: So you are a bit of SaaS veteran, going through your profile, we just realized that. So let’s start talking about Maropost.

What is the one factor that differentiates Maropost, say, from Salesforce to ActiveCampaign, everybody is supposed to be doing marketing automation. So how is Maropost different?

Cory: Yeah, good question. I would say the biggest thing, well, first and foremost, ActiveCampaign and Salesforce are massively different, so that’s quite a pretty wide range. But from an ActiveCampaign standpoint, ActiveCampaign has built their products specifically for SMB customers. I mean if anything’s different there, then that would be the differences. We are not for SMB, we are for midmarket to lower enterprise customers. So as far as that’s the difference, there’s that, and where does that differentiate? That’s mostly from the sends, most of the ActiveCampaign customers are not sending millions of emails a month.

Our customers are sending millions of emails a month. We have one that’s sending over a billion emails a month. So we have a lot of emails that are going out and we’re built for that purpose. We are built for getting inbox placemen. We are built for marketing automation. A lot of our customers are in the eCommerce space, as well as travel and tourism and publishing like New York Post and New York Times, as a couple of examples. 

But that’s going to be your biggest difference, between even at Salesforce, Salesforce is a CRM and they’ve done a great job at really owning that market from I would less say marketing automation standpoint and more from the CRM piece of the pie. We’re not a CRM.

We do integrate with Salesforce because we have customers that are on a larger scale that work between the two platforms. But there are your biggest differences, with Salesforce, we’re not a CRM, with ActiveCampaign or even Infusionsoft, they’re a little bit further down the market in helping the SMBs kind of grow and establish their list and establish their direction and growth. And once they get to a point where they’ve hit about a million emails a month, those when those products start struggling a bit more as far as inbox placement, as far as getting the emails out. And at that point in time, we’re seeing customers graduate up to us as one of them in market solutions.

Revathi: So when you talk about marketing automation, right, personalization is the buzzword right now.

So at Maropost, what do you do to make it more personalized, engage the customers or your customers customize in a better way?

Cory: Yeah, good question. I mean, marketing automations come a long way. It went from just personalizing the email by throwing the first name in there and being like, “Wow, that’s incredible” to now you’re personalizing based on what they looked at on the website. You’re personalizing based on what they purchase what products, and so on and so forth. And that’s where that personalization, I think, is transitioned and transformed is initially it started with the marketing automation, which was personalization, trying to create that personal connection with them, making them think that it was not automated. That was step one. 

Now, step two is we’ve been in that world and so now what are some other ways that we can make it seem that it’s a little bit more personalized? So from a customer engagement standpoint, that’s where it comes into wowing your customer. But step one was getting your customer, now you’re into wowing and expanding revenue. And I think that’s been a massive focus over the last couple of years has been specifically how do I actually — I spend this much money to get this customer. I need to keep this customer, but more importantly, how do I expand this revenue with this customer? 

I think what Maropost is doing is one is we’re looking for the proper tech stack for our customers, what our customers need from an integration with ShippingChimp to an integration with Salesforce or whatever it may be, we are making sure that we are finding those right integrations and partnering with them and figuring out how do we create the content and the information that our partners need to be able to give their customers what they need.

And that’s been the biggest thing from a customer engagement standpoint, or really from the marketing automation standpoint is when our partners come to us and say we have a potential customer, we now have more than just the solution, we now become a part of the party, if you will, as far as an entire tech stack. And I think that’s the biggest difference. There’s a lot of companies out there working to be the all-in-one, and they’re struggling in that market for the sake that they’re not getting the best in the breed. They’re trying to, in my opinion, they’re probably trying to do too much. 

But that would be what I would say is the transformation is Maropost is not — it’s an all-in-one. I mean, it’s a omnichannel marketing automation platform, right? So from SMS to email, all that good stuff. But more importantly, it’s all that data that we’re collecting and we’re pulling in from our integration partners that allow us to then get a little bit more personalized, a little bit direction, a little bit more directional.

Revathi: That’s very clever, right? So you integrate with the best so that you get, you know, it’s like one source for all the data for your customers. That’s very clever. So from an eCommerce business standpoint, what does the customer engagement flow look like?

If I’m an eCommerce business owner if I want to start using Maropost, what are the different customer engagement tools or tactics that I can use while using Maropost?

Cory: Yeah, so for the most part, when our eCommerce customers are coming to us, they’re looking for a marketing tool. So they’re still using whatever they may be using from Neto or the company we just recently acquired, they’re either using them or Shopify or something and that solutions marketing is just not working for them. And in addition to that, they’re selling a ton of products. 

We just had a customer come from — that actually we integrated with Infusionsoft and they actually just came over from Infusionsoft. They’re continuing to use their eCommerce, but they’re using us for the sends. And so those types of things that we’re starting to see more and more from a customer engagement standpoint is they’re using the solution for the eCommerce sites working really well, but there’s that one element that’s not working as well that they would like to obviously — it comes to a point where it’s a loss in revenue and so they transition over to us, where we’re strictly focused on that marketing piece for now, as we obviously add our eCommerce solution in some other areas.

But that’s going to be your biggest difference is that customers don’t have to leave their eCommerce piece. They’re just adding us on. So Shopify has its e-commerce automated, sort of, most have integrations with other solutions as well but that’s where we’re seeing it from an eCommerce standpoint, from an engagement or customer standpoint, is when they come over, they’re already using the platform, so it’s a matter of just integrating us. Now we’re building out the flows, some of them have an idea of what the flows look like so we’re building it out with them.

But for the most part, it’s connecting them also to our other partners, our agency partners, that can do some thought leadership with them to say, “Well, have you thought about this? Have you thought about marketing this way to your customers? What about this and this and this?” And so it’s, again, this kind of like this full circle is giving our customers and our partners exactly what they need by building all of these additional relationships and partnerships.

Revathi: So when you talk about email marketing automations, the one thing that pops into your mind is spamming, irritating your end customers or ambushing them with emails. So how do you really get to that?

How do you make sure that it does not go overboard as far as marketing automation is concerned or as far as eCommerce emailing their customers are concerned?

Cory: Yeah, I mean, that was a tough one, right? Because in reality, the answer depends on the engagement. I’ve seen some really cool methods where the customer would send an email saying, “Hey, how often are you liking my emails, and how often do you want to see emails? More, less, and then not at.” And that allows that customer to control that in which most don’t give that control up, but from this this scenario and because we are in the world of marketing automation, it’s totally possible.

And so they gave that control to the customer or the prospect even. And what that did is that just changed their engagement rate, it changed their open rates and a bunch of other things. Most marketers will hate this, it’s my favorite feature on the iPhone, is you can hit edit in your email solution and you can literally just take your finger and scroll all the way down to all of the messages and delete them all at once, 60 messages deleted.

The benefit for me is that I can just delete all these emails, the downfall is that it’s not standing out. And so how are they standing out? And that’s partially due to the tracking who’s opening and opening when and then making sure you’re sending emails when the customers’ normally opening. So there’s a lot of these things that are coming out that are allowing us to be a little bit more specific or time-based if you will, which allow us to then send in an email based on the time that they’re more likely to open it. 

Well, that’s going to get you in front of them, that’s going to have your chances of better opens. But again, if you’re just not being very specific with your emails, whether it’s in the — specifically in the content, initially your customers and your prospects are going to open up your emails, you hope. But then you lose interest, and the reason why you’re losing interest is because it more than likely isn’t specific to what they’re interested in. And so it’s an age old, I would say it’s probably not an age old because marketing automation’s only been around for how many years?  But it’s very much a how do you put content or again, collecting that data.

By us collecting that data from our integration partners, and all of this data through our API does segmentation and moves people from lists, and that allows us to — even if we’re sending millions of emails a month, it allows us to at least put them in the specific list that is based on what they clicked on, what they looked at on the website, or whatever it may be. But leveraging all of those tools, all of those features, put you in a position where you can still send a ton of emails and not feel like spam, because it is like “Oh, I did look at that on the website” or “that is a product I purchased” or something along those lines. And that’s what we’ve seen to be successful from our customers specifically some of our supplement customers that do supplements in eCommerce online is they’re being very, one, specific and then, two, they’re showcasing “Hey, customers that bought this also bought this,” and it’s just that different positioning if you will.

Revathi: Great, so context, relevancy, as well as timing, along with Maropost data set, I think that’s the key to personalizing the customer email for ecommerce, so that’s great. So I’m just going to take a slight detour here and then question you about your sales pitch. So what is that sales pitch that you have for Maropost?

How do you sell Maropost to any eCommerce business, and how receptive are they to actually taking on this tool? 

Revathi: Yeah, I’m probably not the best one to give a sales pitch given I don’t get on the phone to sell. I’ll give it a shot but ultimately, where Maropost separates themselves from the competition, specifically midmarket is really isn’t anybody focused solely on the midmarket space in eCommerce, right? You have the Klaviyo of the world, but they run the spectrum more specifically for the SMB, but they’ve kind of run all the way up to enterprise. We are solely focused on that market. We are solely focused on the eCommerce market. So that’s kind of the benefit is our focus is there. Our product team is focused on that. 

Is it in a marketing automation platform? Isn’t it omnichannel platform? Yes. Does it do SMS and email and social? Yes, of course, there’s a lot of tools that do that. Again, where we separate ourselves is we are built for speed, we are built for email sends, we have a full team that is based on deliverability to make sure we can keep it clean and get the right inbox placement for our customers. We have a full team of success coaches that help the customer along the way. We have 30 plus agency partners standing and ready to help. We have over 100 integrations that are currently active or more that are currently being built out. And it is owned by the — not only that is the company is owned by the people. We don’t have any influences outside of the company from borrowed money or anything like that kind of pulling the strings and kind of making decisions, we get to make the decisions. So we leverage, we also put out our product roadmap to our customers every single month so they know what’s coming, what’s missing, so on and so forth. 

And so that’s kind of the power I think is you have a little bit more relationship with the people on the platform. Not to mention, there’s nobody really doing it or going to do it the way that we’re going to do it in the minimarket space. And so we are the next solution to kind of graduate to from your SMB products. And that’s your biggest thing is that relationship would be, for me, number one. But two, we are evolving and we are building, we have a massive development and engineering team. Giving an example, we have one sales guy out of four — on just Maropost marketing side, one sales guy out of over 90 people, most of those other people are literally in engineering and development. And the reason why it’s because we need to create an amazing tool for our midmarket customers, because they’re sending millions of emails a month. And so how are they doing that? Well, we’re making sure that we get them, keep them clean, get really good inbox placement as best we can. 

So for me, that would be the standout if I was to give a sales pitch to somebody is like, come build a relationship with us. We have the tool, that’s a given. But more importantly, what’s after the tool, the tool does what it does – marketing automation, all that good stuff. Come build a relationship with us and we’ll put in some time and effort to help you become successful.

Revathi: That’s a wonderful pitch.

Cory: Oh, it sounds a little cheesy but.

Revathi: So also, we were going over a few stats and I noticed that 60% of ecommerce marketers especially still rely on a single channel. So I think predominantly that will be email, right?

Why do you think marketers should diversify their channels from a single channel to a multichannel? Why should they diversify and how does Maropost help them diversify those channels or mix them up? Not just diversify, maybe mix it up.

Cory: Yeah, over the last couple of years, people have been saying email is dead, email is not dead, email is dead, it’s been going this back and forth which is really just a marketing play more than likely. But the reason why omnichannel is so important is there are so many different ways that customers engage and we know that now, right? Back then it mostly emails because SMS marketing really wasn’t a thing but now SMS marketing is the thing. The average, I don’t remember the stat but it was five-plus hours the average American spends time on their cell phone or on social platforms. So why would you not try to present and get in front of that opportunity when it’s there?

But it all also comes down to where your customer base is residing. But from an eCommerce standpoint, they’re on Instagram, and they’re on Facebook, and they’re on Twitter, and they’re on those different platforms, not to mention they’re on their phones. So for me personally, I’ve never bought anything from an SMS. So if somebody was sending me a text message about these things, I’m not — I mean, I bought tons of stuff from Amazon and Amazon sends me text messages, and I don’t even buy it from the text message. And so you have to understand the customer and that’s why omnichannel is so important is there’s a lot of people I’ve talked to that have bought from text messages. There’s a lot of people that I’ve talked to that have bought from Instagram messages. I’ve never bought anything from Instagram so I don’t know. 

And so for me, that’s just not the way I transact. So understanding the way that your customers transact and being able to have that information and seeing that is going to be super important, because at that point in time, you can almost start creating a profile potentially of “this individual, they spend this much time on their phone, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.” So that’s going to be, in my opinion, the biggest piece from a omnichannel, the reason why you want to is you want the best chances to get in front of your potential customers, your prospects, and omnichannel gives you that ability.

But unless you, again, come up with a strategy and you’re watching the data and you’re understanding what’s working, what’s not working, then it’s just literally blind sending. And so that would be the biggest thing, you just make sure that when you are doing those things, one, you’re getting them to opt-in.

But two, what’s your strategy? What are your intentions? I’ve seen customers find great success from getting a customer to purchase and then doing their upsell strategy on social and SMS. So leveraging email to get the customer, leveraging the website to get the customer and your marketing, your social, let’s say, to get the customer, and then SMS to actually get them to buy more. I’ve seen that to be really successful, but that would be my two cents on omnichannel, yeah.

Revathi: That’s great, so driving repeat purchases through other channels while driving the primary customer acquisition through a single channel. That’s interesting. So I think based on that, right, so is ecommerce borrowing the customer retention strategies and customer engagement from SaaS?

You have been in SaaS for many, many years, do you think it’s now the eCommerce turn to actually borrow all these metrics or strategies from SaaS? And if so, how are they borrowing it? How are they going about it?

Cory: Yeah, it’s a good question, because I think there’s two fronts to that. One is for wowing your customer standpoint, so your product has to work, that what you get out of it has to work, so that’s one thing. But when you think of ecommerce doing retention, my initial response is there’s no way, right. But there is one way that I’ve seen to be very successful.

One way reviews, I send the customer for feedback, understanding that feedback, understanding improvements and areas of improvement. And there are tons of review software and solutions out there. That’s one way you can control that a little bit. There is obviously CSAT and a bunch of other metrics, customer health score, a bunch of other metrics that you can do, but that’s not really on the eCommerce side of the house. Those numbers and things, if that’s what you mean by taking the metrics, then eCommerce company should absolutely be tracking their customer health score if they have it, if they don’t, obviously, there’s a way to dive into that. What’s customer engagement look like? How happy are their customers? All of those sorts of things, they should be doing anyway. 

But from furthering that, from an expansion play, that’s where those reviews come into play. I buy everything on reviews, everything. I used to be a person that would just be like, “I need it now. I don’t care. I’d pay an extra $100, $200 for it.” But now I can wait three days, or if you’re on Amazon Prime, one to two days, and you get to read the reviews. So I buy everything on reviews. I’ll stand in the store. I’ll look the item up on my phone and see what the reviews are.

So to me, that’s one element that people are missing out on is they’re not leveraging reviews to not only get the customers, but to help them keep customers because through that feedback loop, whether it’s through that feedback loop of getting the rights and the wrongs, or the good, the bad, the ugly, they’re not able to make what they need to do from a moving standpoint to keep the customers. But yes, everybody should be using those SaaS metrics, because those are metrics that are keeping customers to percentages, and keeping them on.

And that’s the reason why we do the integrations also is with integrations, it makes customers super sticky because it gives them a tech stack. But anyway, that would be my two cents on is like number one way to help on your retention or even a revenue strategy that people are not using a ton right now, in my opinion, are reviews. 

Revathi: Okay, that’s a great strategy. So talking about integrations and partnerships, right, so you have been massively integrating with a lot of partners as Maropost, the recent acquisition of Neto, what does it signify for Maropost?

And what is your partnership’s larger growth strategy as far as Maropost is concerned?

Cory: Yeah, so I started with Maropost about four or five months ago in October of last year, and we did not have a partner program, everything was kind of floating and from a relationship standpoint. And so they brought me in to establish that partnership program and launch it. And we did, we launched three different programs, trusted advisor, agencies, and integration, what we’re calling app partners. And the reason for that is we don’t do any services.

On the Maropost marketing site, we don’t do any services. So our eCommerce customers and really any of our customers that need those additional services, we need to be able to find somebody that knows how to use Maropost that we can kind of connect them with. So that’s one benefit.

Integrations, we’ve built out a bunch of our own integrations from shopping carts to CRMs to all kinds of other platforms. When we opened up the actual partnership for integrations, we had 30 requests within 30 days of people wanting to integrate with us, that’s one. And then two, we probably had another 15 that reached out to me that said, “Hey, Cory, I’m already integrated,” and we didn’t know about them. And so what it allowed us to do by formalizing that partnership was gain more integrations that our partners need, that’s where you all came from. And then the second one was we found out integrations we didn’t even know about, which was awesome. And so that would be, let’s see here, that would probably be my biggest thing from a growth standpoint or growth strategy is we just wanted to put something out there, that’s step one. 

From there, now I’m running the numbers of the last 90 to 120 days and now I get the opportunity to kind of see what’s working, what’s not working. A lot of — I talked to a lot of partner people. One of the biggest issues that they have is they launch a program thinking like, “I got it.” I launched our program thinking, “Let’s just throw something out there, see who comes in, see what sticks, build materials around those partners, support those partners.” And then at that point in time, now I have a profile of who is successful and who is not, and why? Is it because of me and the materials I’ve provided? Is it just the tools, so on and so forth? But then what that allows me to do now is expansion. 

So for us, we realize that with our agency partners, they’re, one, not going to bring in a ton of customers, but they’re going to help us keep a ton of revenue. But from a trusted adviser affiliate standpoint, they’re really good partners in the midmarket space that fit perfectly. In the SMB space, agencies are number one. In the midmarket space, recognizing that our integration partners and trusted advisors are going to generate more new revenue, and our agency is going to keep the revenue. And so that’s now shifted my growth strategy over the last 120 days because now I have data to say, “Oh, that’s interesting.” 

And so that’s where the growth strategy comes from is we’re going to continue to pump resources into partners, it is our growth strategy for Maropost marketing 100%. It’s our growth strategy for our eCommerce solution 100%. And as we continue to merge those two companies into one, we’ll see some of those strategies cross and we’ll start to see not only the integration happen between us and Neto, Mariposa eCommerce, but you’re going to start seeing more and more materials, more sales materials for our partners. We already provide a sales deck, we already provide a pricing sheet, we already provide demo videos, all kinds of stuff all ready. But the growth strategy has always for me been the same – relationship. 

When people ask me, “Hey, Cory, what do you do for a living?” I’m in the business of relationships. I help form them and I help generate money between the two. I mean in all simplicity, that’s what I do. So for me, tapping into my network, helping people become successful, generate revenue with Maropost helps us. If I can help them find revenue, they can help us keep revenue. If I have to add $10 million this year, the fastest way to do that is not by losing $2 million. And I use our partners and help our partners bring that revenue in but also help us keep the revenue. So if that answers your question in a long-drawn-out way.

Revathi: Absolutely, absolutely. That’s a very clever plan, I think. So let’s wrap it up. So if you were to single out an important trend in eCommerce that marketers must look out for, it could be emailed, it could be omnichannel, anything, what would that be and

What should they leverage in 2021 to differentiate themselves from other brands?

Cory: That’s a tough one, because there’s so many. There’s from international expansion, you look at our ecommerce solution, they’re mostly in Australia and we’re moving into the US and in Europe. So there’s the international expansion piece is super exciting. Obviously, omnichannel is evolving from a personalization standpoint. If you look at marketing automation on where it started and where it is today, that’s only going to shift with omnichannel as well. So I would say even though it’s probably the easy answer, omnichannel is going to be your number one thing to look at from a marketing and customer retention standpoint, and really just understanding what your customers are doing. 

I think that’s another big thing that a lot of eCommerce customers are missing is they’re not looking at what their customers are doing. They’re just sending their emails or they’re thinking, “I’m going to throw up a Shopify website with my products, and then I’ll drive Facebook advertising to it, and then people will just buy.” I’ve done that, and it didn’t work. And so that would be my biggest thing is, one, understanding who your customer is, all the way down to the age. All of that good stuff will help you kind of have a better understanding of where omnichannel fits into your equation. Some of your customers, if they’re on the younger scale, they may actually — you may shift your recipe to be more SMS and more social than email. And then maybe the ones right in the middle of the ages, then you do 50-50. And then the ones in the later, you do more email.

It’s all about understanding your customer, and I think that’s one thing that you look at our conversation from customer engagement and all the customer conversations we’ve been having about, that’s number one – understanding your customers. When I run a partner program, I start with the customer every single time. 

So that would be — I would say omnichannel is number one, because it is going to evolve similar to a lot faster pace but similar to what marketing automation did, in my opinion, and it’s going to impact the ecommerce customers greatly, because the ability to deliver really fast specific messaging is going to be super important, especially as the world shifts and we’re going more work from home, we’re going more on these video conferences, calls and these podcasts, the world is evolving and shifting, and just omnichannel is going to help you do that.

Revathi: That’s wonderful. I think omnichannel and knowing your customers. So we leave our audience with those thoughts. Thank you so much, Cory, for taking the time to help us understand and navigate the ecommerce void. Thank you so much.

Cory: Thank you for having me. It was awesome.

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