Email spam can be the bane of online shopping. Little wonder so many of us have clogged up inboxes from various sites we haven’t got round to unsubscribing from. Yet done properly, email marketing can be one of the most effective way of selling to customers.

Sportsware brand Café du Cycliste noticed the difference when it refined its electronic customer communications a year ago, using marketing automation company Ometria’s platform. The business makes its own high-end clothes and is based in France. It has a couple of flagship stores, but primarily has an international customer base with 80% of sales coming from online. 

Matthieu Oliver, website and data analyst at the company, says email sales from March-November 2017 have risen 220%, compared with the same period the previous year. The firm regularly sends out around 30,000 emails across its 11,000-strong customer base. 

"Email revenue accounted for 27% of total revenue from March to November this year compared to 13% over the same time period last year. So that’s roughly a 100% increase since we started with Ometria.” He declined to say how much that translates to in an overall revenue figure, but says the company has seen a return in investment on the product.

It remains the firm's most effective marketing channel, he says. "I believe this is pretty standard for most retailers. It’s true that other channels such as social media are becoming more important, but email is still the biggest revenue generator. Ultimately the people who receive the emails have explicitly subscribed to them, so they’re engaged contacts, and we typically achieve open rates of around 35% for our newsletters.”

Segmented offering

Before using the platform, the company sent all its emails out in a blanket format. Now it can automatically tailor them to customer interests based on their purchase history – sending out suggestions to complement what they’ve already bought. 

For example, previously it used tools like MailChimp, which was useful but limited in what it could do. “It couldn’t segment what customers bought and wasn’t able to make a connection with on-site behaviour and what they purchased.” Now it can send not only abandoned basked emails, but abandoned browser ones, too. 

The system automatically plugs into its backend eCommerce platform Magento, which also provides a useful analytics overview. “On each customer you know what size they are, what clothes they buy." During its sale season, the business can send targeted emails with information on items that are discounted in specific sizes.

He says it also provides a clearer view of the demographic and geographic buying habits.  

The business is four years old, with the UK entity is registered under Alcantara & Ritz, which has been running for four months. So in many ways it is still a start-up.  But Oliver says it is in a good position for expansion, with a new website in the pipeline as well as dedicated sites in other language. 

"Having all the data in one place makes it so much easier.”