Determining which technology pieces matter to your marketing team can be a daunting task. There are thousands of solutions on the market today. To rise above the noise, you want to make sure you have tools in place that help you successfully navigate omnichannel shopping behaviors, meet customers where they are and deliver a wonderful experience.

So let's get started. When building your e-commerce marketing stack, there are three essential tools you will need, as road-tested by some leading retail brands. (Note: The retailers mentioned in this article are customers of Bronto Software.)

1. Popups

Approximately five billion email accounts are in use today according to Radicati Group, which projects that number will grow to 5.59 billion by 2019. And those email accounts are a big opportunity for marketers. The median ROI for email is 122% higher than other marketing channels', according to eMarketer, so growing your list of email subscribers is critically important.

And one of the most effective tools for list growth is the popup.

Sure, we've heard the pushback about using popups: "They're annoying and obtrusive." That's true in some cases; but, when they're done right, popups can be a great extension of your brand and they allow you to make a tighter connection with your shoppers.

Take, for instance, ABC Carpet & Home's strategy: Its popup doesn't come up the instant a shopper lands on the site; and, when it does, it's small—measuring about two inches square on a laptop. The popup invitation is also super-polite ("be inspired, join our communication, receive 10% off your next purchase"). in just two years, ABC grew its email list from 22,000 to 100,000.

Benefits of a popup management tool:

  • Control over the look, feel, timing, and placement of popups
  • Works on mobile and desktop devices
  • Allows you to test popup versions to see which performs better (A/B-testing)
  • Integrates with coupon-management tools to display unique coupon codes

2. Coupon Management Tools

Coupons can significantly help encourage customers to sign up for your email list. But make sure you have a tool that automates and secures—because you don't want your coupon codes to end up on an aggregator's site. When that happens, consumers lose their incentive to subscribe to your emails.

Canadian retailer Silver Jeans has faced those challenges first-hand. The company sends coupons to customers in welcome and birthday emails, and it was finding them on sites like RetailMeNot, exposing the retailer to coupon reuse throughout the year.

Silver Jeans E-Commerce Manager Mike Girardin and his team, "sick and tired of the exclusive coupon codes ending up on coupon sites," decided to expand their marketing stack with a coupon management tool that reined in the abuse of coupon codes and automated promotions.

Benefits of a coupon management tool:

  • Generate unique coupon codes to minimize the risk of code sharing
  • Edit coupons visually, with support for text and barcodes
  • Render codes in real time, so you can make changes to the coupon after sending your message
  • Track and report valuable metrics, such as average redemption rate and time, discount per coupon, and revenue per coupon
  • Set expiration dates to create a sense of urgency
  • Include coupons in SMS/MMS messages

3. Cart-Recovery Tools

Your business loses revenue every time a shopper parks items in a cart and never returns. In fact, Forrester Research estimates, 87% of consumers abandon carts, resulting in $18 billion in lost revenue annually.

Further, a Bronto study of 1,000 shoppers found that 73% of online consumers use the shopping cart to store items to buy later. And 88% of millennials use carts as idea storage lockers: They may park an item in the cart to look at it from another device or while in the store.

With a solid cart recovery tool, you can return more than 50 times the investment.

At Vince Camuto, for instance, after adding a cart recovery tool to the team's technology stack, the company's cart-recovery emails drove 5% of email-generated revenue.

Benefits of a cart-recovery tool:

  • Fast, accurate data capture allows you to send messages in near real time.
  • Automation triggers the messages at the optimum time to encourage a return to the abandoned cart.
  • You can dynamically insert personalized content into email and SMS messages.
  • Analytics can track detailed cart activity, including abandonment rates, recovery percentages, and revenue recovered.

The Bottom Line

As you evaluate the seemingly never-ending list of solutions available to you today, here's a quick checklist of questions to keep in mind:

  • Can the vendor document ROI from named customers?
  • Are the solutions easy to deploy and use, or do they require particular IT expertise?
  • Is there a fee for customer support? Is support available 24/7?
  • Do you need IT's help to implement or change the solution?
  • Is it easy to use?

It's all about quality over quantity. Make sure you're choosing solutions that will give you the best integration, control, flexibility, and support.

As the field of e-commerce marketing automation solutions grows, it's important to vet your options carefully on the front end so you aren't managing problems on the back end.

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image of Nanette George

Nanette George is a senior product marketing manager for Bronto Software, provider of commerce marketing automation solutions. She has 20+ years' experience in strategic communications, technology marketing, and events.

LinkedIn: Nanette George

Twitter: @NanetteGeorge