Because Swell has always been a loyalty platform for e-commerce businesses, the ability to send program-related emails has always been a core part of our service. Email is an extremely powerful component of any rewards program, referral program, or email capture tool. Not only do our merchants use Swell to send "transactional" emails (e.g. "here's your coupon code", "thanks for referring somebody to our program", etc.), but they can also use options such as the "Redemption Reminder" email to increase program engagement and repeat purchases as well.
Today, however, we're excited to announce a fresh take on a critical component of our service: while we'll likely always continue to send emails through Swell, our merchants will now have the ability to send loyalty program-related emails directly from their Email Service Provider (ESP) of choice as well.
To make this happen, we've built (or are going to build) integrations with ESPs, which allows Swell to send data directly into your ESP of choice. Broadly speaking, the data that we'll send falls into two categories:
- Properties - This is any pertinent data that Swell keeps about the customer directly (e.g. point balance, unique referral link, etc.).
- Events - These are one-time occurrences which you can use to trigger specific program-related emails. For example, rather than sending the Redemption Reminder email directly to a customer to encourage them to redeem their points, we'll send a Redemption Reminder "event" to your ESP. In your ESP, you can then create your own Redemption Reminder email if you so choose.
A New Perspective on Communicating with Your Customers
As you've likely guessed, our new integrations reflect a strong conviction we've developed when it comes to future program-related communications: merchants should be able to send emails directly through their ESP of choice, and not through a separate system.
The post that follows contains three powerful reasons as to why we've invested the time to allow our merchants to send program-related emails outside of our system!
#1: Richer, More Personalized Segmentation
One of the most important emerging trends in the e-commerce space today is what digital marketers call "personalization". In a late 2015 Inc. article which highlighted personalization as one of the 3 most important trends in e-commerce, the author noted that "73 percent of consumers prefer to do business with brands that personalize their shopping experiences and 86 percent say personalization plays a role in their buying decisions."
Email marketing is one of the most important ways that companies of all sizes create more personalized experiences for their valued customers, as most ESPs today allow for powerful segmentation based on purchase history and other available data.
Now that your Swell program data will be available directly in your email marketing program though, your ability to effectively segment your customers and in turn personalize your emails just went through the roof!
Here's an example (which we encourage you to try!): let's say that you're looking to identify your most engaged customers so that you can target them for a special "VIP" offer which gives them a discount code and asks them to refer their friends.
Normally, you might use information such as number of purchases, date of most recent purchase, and total amount spent to identify these VIPs. Now though, you can further refine your segments based on data such as "total reward points earned", "date of most recent point redemption", and more!
In other words, with the right data in the right location, you're maximizing the chances that your emails will resonate with recipients.
[bctt tweet="Adding rewards data means maximizing the chances that your emails will resonate with recipients." username="swellrewards"]
Moreover, in the example above, Swell's integration with your ESP means that it's easier than ever to send each customer their unique referral link. Rather than worrying about downloading your customer list and uploading it to your email marketing tool, each customer's "profile" will now contain their unique referral link. All you have to do is add it in when composing your emails!
#2: Respect Unsubscribe Lists Effortlessly
Not only do our email marketing integrations present significant opportunities for marketers and store owners -- they also solve some serious inherent challenges presented by sending emails through multiple systems.
One of the biggest problems with sending emails from your loyalty platform and your ESP is that they don't talk to each other, which presents issues when it comes to managing unsubscribes.
For example, let's say that a customer receives a holiday email that you've decided to set up in your ESP. Not wanting to receive similar emails in the future, the customer elects to unsubscribe, and receives a confirmation that they'll no longer receive future emails from you.
A few weeks later, that same customer might qualify to receive the Points Reminder email from your Swell account. Because our system has no way of knowing that a customer unsubscribed from your ESP, Swell would go ahead and send the email to your customer anyways.
By sending program-related emails directly from your ESP of choice going forward (as opposed to your loyalty platform), you'll be able to avoid potentially upsetting customers who no longer wish to receive emails from your business.
#3: More Easily Manage Your "Brand Identity"
As your business grows, brand identity - the set of associations that customers make in their minds when they see your logo, visit your website, or interact with your company in another way - has an increasingly critical impact as to how you're viewed by both current and potential customers.
Furthermore, merely having a well-defined brand is not enough; it's extremely important to ensure that your "brand assets" (fonts, colors, images, etc.) are also consistent across all marketing channels as well. When it comes to emails, you don't want your customers seeing various templates depending on whether those emails come from Swell or your ESP!
To date, we've always solved this conundrum by allowing you to upload your own HTML template to Swell. In other words, you can export the code which dictates how each email is formatted, and then upload that code to Swell. We realize, however, that not only is exporting and uploading complicated, but it's also easy to forget to do routinely!
As a result, we suspect that many of our merchants may be compromising their brand identity a bit by sending emails through our system. The good news though is that by sending loyalty program emails via your ESP instead of Swell, you'll have one less place to worry about managing your email templates going forward!
With all of the excitement over our new integrations, it's also important to note that this definitely does not mean that we're going to stop sending emails through our system. If you'd prefer to hold off on sending your program data to your ESP, then you're more than welcome to continue sending emails through Swell -- that feature certainly isn't going anywhere.
In many respects, allowing our merchants to incorporate loyalty platform data into their email marketing system is just the "tip of the iceberg"; going forward, we're continuing to explore even more ways to leverage your data to benefit your business.
As we release even more integrations with various email marketing providers, we'll continue to update the Integrations section of our Help documentation. And if you have any questions when it comes to setting up your integration, please don't hesitate to reach out to our team!