Have you got the right data to take your ecommerce to the next level?

Posted by: Stafford Sumner

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in 15 years of helping businesses generate more sales it’s that change is, and always will be, constant.

And what I see time and again is the most successful businesses are those who embrace change and use it to give them an edge on their competition. In 2001, very few people were using email marketing to generate sales. Initially I just used it as a tool, as part of a process to replace cold calling for lead generation.

I’d write relevant copy for each sector and sales person, and then send to the target list. When someone clicked on a link to visit the website, I’d then get the relevant sales person to pick up the phone and give them a call.

Cold calling was outdated back then, with a lead rate of 1-2 per 100 calls made each day. Most would ‘be out’ or not interested. With the email method we found that instead of making 100 calls per day, these highly paid sales execs (£100k OTE) were making 10 calls per day, having five conversations and booking two meetings. A huge increase in anyone’s books.

At the time, this was largely down to it being a new approach and people being curious as to how, less than five minutes after they clicked on a link, the sender was calling them. They took the calls! In six months we generated approximately £1.6m worth of sales from this method.

The success was phenomenal and the lesson is one that has stayed with me ever since: use technology to stay ahead of the competition and make sure you have the right data to work with.

When it comes to ecommerce, the growth of sales has been exponential for the past decade yet still only accounts for 7% of all retail sales (Shopify), which means there are plenty of opportunities to grow fast, grow big and secure significant market share.

But to do so you’ll need to make sure you have the best systems in place to generate new business, make it easy for customers to buy and ensure your customers come back for repeat purchases.

Before we delve into specifics, the first step to doing this well is to understand your customers, their preferences and their behaviours. Put simply; what do your customers want and how can you give it to them?

If you’re serious about growing your ecommerce sales you need to create advanced customer segments within your marketing database to ensure you serve up the right content to the right people at the right time. This has to be your starting point and then the fun can start.

Once you have good, useable data you can begin communicating with your customers in a smarter and more effective way. Here’s how…


Marketing automation and email automation aren’t drastically new, they’ve been around for a while now but the success of automation is all down to how well it’s executed. Automated customer journey emails should include post purchase, pre / post delivery, and feedback and reviews. They are an increasingly popular way to encourage upsell of additional products and repeat business.

For example, an automated email with the call to action of ‘Review your purchase and get 10% off your next order’ will give you valuable feedback and is a value-add for your customer. The impact of reviews should never be underestimated. After running an email-based review promotion on 90,000 products, Argos found products with reviews had a 10% higher conversion rate than those without.

Stock-up & refill emails

Certain products will only last a customer for a set period of time. Food supplements, beauty products, and even commodities like wine are all great examples of this. If this is relevant to your business you should be sending emails to customers who have bought a consumable product at a set amount of days after purchase to encourage them to re-stock.

Dynamic email campaigns

Dynamic email campaigns are one of the most effective ways of serving up products to your customers related to their interest and previous purchases. A study by Experian found adding in personalised cross-sell and upsell recommendations increased transaction rates by 20%.


This means your data needs to be integrated across all your marketing channels, especially email, search and social. By doing this you can show relevant ads as part of a remarketing campaign that relates to recent browsing and behaviour. According to a study from Salesforce, which focussed on a leading US retailer with a database of 925,000 subscribers, 22% of people were more likely to purchase if they received an email and saw a Facebook ad compared to those who only received the email.

The quality and success of your marketing is intrinsically linked the the quality of your primary data. Practically, there’s very few limits on what can be achieved when it comes to segmenting your database. That’s why the first step in making sure your ecommerce store is ready for 2017 is to make sure your data is ready.

From here, you can move on to the type of data-driven marketing campaigns that’ll turn your data into sales.

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About the author

Stafford Sumner

An expert in developing businesses through data-driven marketing, Stafford founded Jarrang in 2003. “I’ve worked with many organisations, helping them grow while enabling them to fundamentally shift the way they operate their sales and marketing processes for the better.”