Integrating with your CMS: eMarketing

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Integrated solutions Building websites with our clients is normally just part of a broader digital strategy. Many companies will need to consider how the website integrates with their social media channels, and how it can support their marketing activities and customer engagement. With modern technology, the possibilities are almost endless - but there are some common threads. Most organisations capture information about their users. For some it can be as simple as a name and email address being added to a mailing list. Other organisations store more information about their users - perhaps their purchase history, geographic location, or preferences. Exposing that information to other channels and services is a key part of ensuring that digital interactions are strong and relevant.

Email marketing

One of the most popular integration points is email marketing - almost every business wants to keep their customers and prospects updated. We've worked with a number of digital marketing solutions over the years, including MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, dotMailer and Constant Contact.

Every platform has its own individual strengths - so understanding how a business is looking to engage with its customers is key to putting the right solution in place. Key considerations are:

  • volume of data / frequency of mailings (both normally impact on cost)
  • ease of use of the editorial tools
  • richness of user-data
  • flexibility when creating data segments
  • reporting requirements

What to integrate

Our clients often have a rich view of their customers, either directly in their website system, or integrated via an external CRM solution. This rich data holds tremendous value if it can be exposed in a way that is useful to a digital marketer.

It allows emails to customers to be personalised, and of higher relevance than a blanket email-everyone solution - leading to increased interest and conversion. Not only does personalisation prove to lift transaction rates and revenue, Experian claim that personalised promotional mailings had a 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates. Also, in a world where over 50% of emails are now opened on mobile devices, where audiences are often on the move and more easily distracted, it is even more important for marketers to consider context and relevancy when sending emails in order to increase engagement.

As some of our examples below show - what data exactly needs to be shared depends on the business, and their planned interactions.

For example we've recently worked with the Institute of Groundsmanship who have a strong physical presence - with branches around the country. For them location is a key segmentation criteria and ensuring that a customer's "local branch" information or region is available in their email marketing tool allows them to build focussed mailings around branch activity, or local events. This data is shared from Drupal toMailChimp using the contributed MailChimp module which allows you to automatically synchronise users onto a list of your choosing, and also to map Drupal fields to data fields in MailChimp - giving you the ability to build segments based on those fields.

Another of our clients, Oxford Business Group, have a highly complex user profile within Drupal - and map over 50 user profile fields over to their mailing list provider (dotMailer). This allows them to build segments based on which content users have access to, customers' self-selected areas of interests as well as physical location, and previous interactions such as how long since the user last logged into the site.

Choosing the information that you want to segment on can often drive not only the integration itself, but also other areas of the site such as user registration, or "profile-building" tools that encourage users to specify further profile information.

Beyond simple integrations

Drupal has modules for most mainstream digital marketing providers, so getting a simple implementation up and running can be fairly straightforward - however it's sometimes necessary to go beyond the basics. At this point it's important that your chosen provider has the ability to access functionality from software (typically referred to as an "API").

Another of our clients - Scottish Book Trust already had a MailChimp integration set up allowing their users to sign-up for emails when registering on their Drupal website. However, we've recently taken things a step further with the implementation of their BookBug birthdayemails - part of the Trust's work to encourage literacy in children. The requirment is to be able to send personalised emails to parents for the child's first 5 birthdays.

This isn't possible to achieve with MailChimp's standard tools - however their API allows you to access features such as static segments, campaign creation, and sending from code.

We've taken advantage of this to build the Trust's BookBug email platform on top of their existing integration with a small custom Drupal module. This identifies users that are due to receive emails, adds them to segments in MailChimp and creates the campaign to send to them on a daily basis. Scottish Book Trust can still manage the campaigns within MailChimp's user-friendly interface as well as access reporting on emails in the same way as they do with other campaign emails.

Considerations for eMarketing integration

When starting to integration an eMarketing solution into a website, or other systems you'll need to consider all of the following areas.

Where data comes from

Does all of your user information come from the website? If not - is information brought in from other systems around the business. If so - how is that data merged with the web data to create a single customer record?

Which data is synchronised

What information will be used to segment users, and how will it be stored within the marketing solution? Which user data fields will be used to personalise marketing collateral. Of the fields that are synchronised - are any of those exposed to the users to manage themselves using the marketing solution's tools. If so - how are updates integrated back into the source systems?

What are the other relevant touchpoints

There are normally many touchpoints that affect a user once digital marketing is integrated. You'll need to consider what controls you are offering to users to control their engagement, for example opting in during registration, managing their opt-in status via their account management, and ensuring that the opt-out process is consistent with your brand.

If you are storing rich profile information you'll want to ensure you've thought about how to capture that information. Capturing it at registration is the most straightforward, but adding more data-capture to your registration process can lower conversion, so you may want to keep that streamlined and introduce post-registration profile-building features later.

You'll probably also want to make sure that your site has relevant landing pages to support marketing campaigns. These may include personalisation, and tracking.

If you’d like to chat some more about eMarketing integration, or anything else to do with your site or related activities then why not drop us a line.