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Email Ecommerce and the Future

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Hear from Dave Novick (VP of Marketing) to discuss the recent announcement by Google that is making email dynamically updated. Email hasn’t changed much in 20 years and the recent Amp for Email news will change that. Ecwid is the first e-commerce platform to offer merchants this new capability.

  • Interactive Abandoned Cart
  • Order Status
  • One Click Email Verification

We discuss where this new technology could go in the future.

Transcript

Jesse: Richie, happy Friday.

Richard: It’s that day again.

Jesse: Yeah, love it, get to do another podcast here. Ecwid has been in the news recently. It’s exciting. We got a lot of coverage by TechCrunch and VentureBeat, Mashable, all the big. It’s kind of fun. We’re going to try to ride that wave little bit longer.

Richard: Yeah, changes happening. I mean speaking of, you guys have changed office too, right.

Jesse: Yeah, moved an office, lots of stuff going on here.

Richard: We’re not going to get to do the happy hour this afternoon.

Jesse: No, probably not. All right, now got to get back to work here. And because of all this news, we brought in the big gun, here. We brought in the VP of marketing David Novick. David, how’s it going?

David: Hey, everybody. Nice to be here today on a Friday.

Jesse: Yeah, absolutely. Maybe it’s happier when we get back to the office. I don’t know.

David: Actually, we’ll be talking about that later offline, but I’m thinking four o’clock might be pretty good today.

Jesse: I think that’s the way to go. I gotta celebrate the news.

David: That’s wins. There’s no doubt about it.

Jesse: Yeah, it’s awesome. So yeah, we definitely had some wins here. Dave, the initiative we’re going to talk about in the win we had as we worked really tightly with Google on the AMP for email initiative. So we brought you too in here. You’ve been working closely with this as has a bunch of people at Ecwid. Maybe you can fill in our audience on some more details on this.

David: Yeah. Absolutely. Definitely, the hot topic right now is dynamic emails. And for email, it’s a big deal. It’s a little hard to understand so we’ll break it down a little bit for people today. First, let’s talk about what the impact of this is. When you think about Facebook and Instagram and all of these great social platforms and all of the great tools out there, there’s nothing bigger than email. There are currently approximately 4 billion Global email users. So the scale of what happens in email is just fantastic. You know, it’s a funny thing. The scope of email, how many people use this workhorse that it’s been over the years. Anyway, let’s break into AMP a little bit. For those of you that are not familiar, AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, and it’s basically an open source project that has been led to try to accelerate the adoption of mobile usage and accelerate content to get mobile working better. And as an offshoot of that with Google leading the charge right now, this email e-commerce piece has just launched. It’s a Gmail product. It’s through Google Apps, more coming soon and it’s just a really exciting development.

Jesse: Yeah, and so diving a little bit deeper on it. The AMP for email is really… Google’s leading the charge, but obviously, a lot of people use Gmail and Google apps. So that’s a big percentage of the emails out there. But other people are going to be applying this well as well, but I think the interesting part you touched on it is like email hasn’t changed in 15 or 20 years. Like Facebook has like become a thing since we started first receiving emails and what I mean by emails haven’t changed, you get an email from a company or from your mom and when that email gets sent, it’s sent in, that’s it. You can’t change, you can edit, sometimes you want to pull back some of those emails you may be sent late at night, but in general, an email is sent, it goes out and it’s done. So dynamic emails basically make that email more of a living thing, more like a web page if you will, so AMP Google’s pushing, this basically makes it dynamic, I think in a nutshell.

David: Yeah, absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head. If you think about it, as a digital marketer and e-commerce market for a number of years, most of the people in the industry rely very heavily on email. You hit the nail on the head with it being a static piece, you send it, nothing changes. You can’t take it back. Every email marketing person I know is super nervous when they go to hit that send button because that’s it. It’s out there and it is out there.

Jesse: Yeah, for users of MailChimp, there’s a little graphic of this monkey sweating when it’s about ready to push the button and that’s what all email marketers go through. You’re like, man, I checked everything twice and I hope I didn’t spill anything wrong. And you crush your fingers when you push “send”. Dynamic emails are going to do a couple of things. There’s a lot of changes coming in the future, but I think it’s best if we walk through an example or two on the podcast here, so people can understand exactly we’re talking about. Pinterest was part of this beta group as well. So when you get an email from Pinterest, it’s basically a bunch of pictures on the email, all the pins that Pinterest thinks you’ll be interested in because they want to keep the engagement. They want people to pin, right? It’s Pinterest. What this means is that Pinterest in an AMP for email world is you can hover over the image and you can click on it and you can immediately pin into your own pinboards. Before AMP mail, you might look at this email I said, okay, that’s pretty cool, I’m going to click in. And you’re basically going to Pinterest, now you’re off of email and you’re going into Pinterest and hopefully, you’re logged in correctly and all that. So with Pinterest for instance, it’s reducing the amount of clicks there. It makes it so you can be interactive inside of your email. And for all the techy people out there that might be kind of like an iframe. Yeah, sort of, it’s not really an iframe. Sort of that idea, if that helps people understand what we’re talking about. I think there’s another example and actually, this isn’t even really part of the beta but just for people that get to grasp what we’re talking about. We all get all sorts of emails but let’s say you get an email from an airline, right? So you can airline, I use Delta. I fly back to Minnesota and it says, hey, Jessie, $99 special flight to Minneapolis, buy now, whatever. I look at my email like three days later and I already know like okay, that’s just some sort of teaser rate. It’s obviously not there, but what if I could inside that email click on it, change the destination? Playing around with the dates and times and stuff in that, and the price dynamically changes. It’s not just a teaser rate. So that’s sort of an idea of what dynamic email could be. Another quick example, and by the way you can go take a look at Mashable, and TechCrunch, and VentureBeat for all this stuff. You can take a look at our blog for this. So,OYO is kind of like a TripAdvisor, you can see about destinations and they have ratings inside of their email. So with a dynamic email, you can start clicking on the ratings and rankings and see them inside your email. In general, you’re basically saving a click, you’re making email more of a central part of your day, which obviously Google is probably interested in that, they have their reasons as well. (laughing) But I think it opens up all sorts of opportunities in the future where emails definitely going to be changing and it will not be the same in 20 years. And so we’re on the forefront of this, it’s a pretty cool time.

David: Yeah. Absolutely. What’s interesting is if you think about we’re talking earlier about static emails and how they really can’t change, this is the great piece. We all know business is fast change, the one thing that you can count on in business is change, and so your emails should as well. And that’s really the premise behind this whole thing. So with the AMP project allowing for dynamic emails, what you’re really going to see is richer content, interactive content and when you have richer content, that is also interactive. You’re going to see a higher engagement level with the end users. When you send emails, when we send emails, they’re just going to be a lot more engaging and that engagement is going to play into higher conversion rates. So as central as email is to most e-commerce platforms right now, I think with the upgrade from static to dynamic we’re going to see this play an even more central role to driving revenue and engagement and loyalty with our brand, it is a very exciting time.

Richard: Yeah, I was just going to kind of reiterate a couple of things you guys said. What really is going on here is it’s about easing the friction. There’s a change that’s always happening and you’re going to have a customer that you started an experience with someone at one particular way. Say to your point of the Delta Airlines or something and they know what you want to do, but the flight status is changed or they sold out or whatever. And a customer could easily be frustrated if they click to go to the other website, they got taken out of their email, the other things going on and you added friction to their life as opposed to ease the friction in their life. And you think of the change in general whether it’s Uber, Lyft and all these things it’s trying to take friction out of our life.

Jesse: I mean that’s like Silicon Valley in a nutshell, right? Like they’re trying to reduce friction in every way they can. Saving a click is like champagne flutes are clinking.

Richard: Exactly, and let’s be honest everyone wants you to stay on their platform. If you can stay inside of Google email there, and they want you to because all of these platforms whether it’s Google, or Facebook, or anything, they’re all a driven. In some way shape or form, they just want you to stay in their ecosystem. So they would rather if you typed in Padres game in the middle of a Padres game. They don’t want to take you to the Padres website. They will show you the actual score of the game. Right? Easing friction, getting people the answers they want what they’re actually looking for right then and keeping that dynamic and changing. I mean, it’s exactly what you guys are talking about.

Jesse: Yeah, and the people listening to the podcast, you’re probably thinking like, okay, that’s great, but what about me, I’m in e-commerce. How does this affect me? So, Dave how we’ve been playing with Google here in this particular initiative?

David: Yeah, I think that it’s good to pull it back home with that. We’re really excited. I mean we are the first e-commerce platform to offer dynamic emails and that’s a big win for us. We’ve worked very closely with Google to develop the offerings that are live right now. And what we’ve done is we’ve made three or four different emails right now that are currently available to all Ecwid users to take advantage of this dynamic email content. What we are seeing from that is we’re seeing a lift in engagement on these emails. And essentially it is a merchant success move on our part. We’re doing this to give our merchants a leg up over any of the competition in any e-commerce platform because we have the best tools available for them to convert people and get their products out there. So we’re really excited.

Jesse: Yeah, this has been fun. When Google launched this, a couple of days ago, I think. So when Google launched this we’ve been working with them for quite some time. Our customers were ready to rock on the day that it launched. I’ll give people a little bit of a rundown of what we currently have and please go read about it on the blog, it’s Ecwid.com/blog — let me get this URL correct — ecwid.com/blog/e-commerce-email, so you can check out the examples in person. But one of the first things we launched was an interactive abandoned cart. We already have built-in abandoned cart recovery emails inside of Ecwid. They used to be static. Hey, Mr. or Mrs. Customer. Here’s the product you had in your cart, you want to buy, great. But for example, a lot of products might have multiple images, so you can scan through the carousel of the images. You can zoom in, you can play around with the different options inside of that email. It does make it, basically gives you a higher conversion rate which leads to higher sales. That is one of the first things on the box there and please read more on the blog and see some details on that. But by the way, it’s actually active on your account. So if you’re using abandoned carts, that’s active. The order status, this one I think is interesting because when you buy something from a store, generally you get an email. “Thank you for your order.” It’s kind of it’s basically called an invoice email. It has the details, your address, things like that. It’s kind of boring. But you know, okay, great, it went through and then maybe a couple of days later you get another email that says, hey, your order has shipped, or maybe when the tracking number comes out. When you make a purchase, usually there are at least three or four different emails from a merchant to a consumer. So making this order status interactive means that first initial invoice email with the order status changed. It goes from “Yes, we have your order” to “processed” or to “shipped”, now that’s on that same email. I think that’s a really good use case of interactive email where this all lives in that same email and it just makes life easier.

David: Yeah, what I really like about that is there is email fatigue, right? And we all kind of scan through an email and say make a decision as to what is important or not. And I find a lot of times that shipping confirmations, order confirmations, those types of emails are making people less engaged with the brand. To add more value to a single email we want to make sure we’re doing that at all times. It’s really about that end-user experience as Rich mentioned reducing the friction. And I do like this because of that order status component, it should be nice. You got one single place where you can go to get an update on your order. We’re not really spamming you with too many emails.

Jesse: Yep, and I think it might seem a little weird at first. The first year when this happens people are going to be you like well, where’s my next email? How come they didn’t send the “Congratulations, you received your order”, right? But it’s all going to happen at email and I think in two or three years this is going to be standard. You’re going to get one email from a merchant. And right now we have that out of the box. It’ll take a little bit of time for everybody to catch up on this but very excited about that one. One of the other things that they have active is the one-click e-mail verification. When you sign up for Ecwid, you get an email that says verify your email. We don’t get into spam trap troubles and things like that. Now, this really isn’t that big but when you click on that, you don’t need to then go back to your site and login if you’re on another computer and things like that, it just automatically clicks and that information gets sent back to us. I think you’re going to see a lot of other people use similar types of technology. I mean that’s not even just an email, not even just in e-commerce, and you see that across the board people are going to use this one-click verification method. So pretty cool to be on the front edge there and this is what just launched in the past week or so. I’m probably more excited about where this is going to head because this is the leading edge, but if everybody sits back and thinks about all the emails you send and for email e-commerce, what are the options? Dave, what are you thinking about what’s going to come?

David: Yeah, it is a pretty exciting time. We haven’t seen a lot of changes in email over the years and this is definitely the biggest shake-up. And you’re right, we are just at the beginning now. I love the initial offerings. I think we’re going to really do our merchants a good service by having the best emails out there, but think about the future. I’m hearing rumblings about other potential announcements coming from Microsoft, Yahoo, Mail.ru, nothing confirmed, but I’m hearing about that. And so right now we’re sitting with Gmail who’s a fantastic provider. But if this thing expands then we can expect that this will take hold in the industry and all of these cutting edge things that we’re doing now will become the norm.

Jesse: If you get all those platforms, you’re probably talking like 75% of all emails and then all the people that don’t have it are going to have to implement this as well.

David: We’re gonna cross that chasm essentially. Yep, but think about this a little bit more. Right now the applications are a little bit limited but imagine that you make even richer and more interactive components in the email. Why not put a 360-degree rotation spinner to show off like a really cool apparel product or whatever it is. The thing is I think of email and I always have as really a mini version of your own website or final shopping destination. Your website sits where it is and it waits for people and email if it’s a mini version of your website, you’re allowed to bring your website to other people and show it off. And so that’s the exciting piece. So more rich content in there, more interactive content will help. I know there are… we didn’t talk about the drill-down capabilities, but those are there, choose your sizes.

Jesse: Yeah, I think that’s to get people thinking about where emails coming, where it’s headed. I think in the very near future we’re going to see… Let’s use a t-shirt example because everybody could understand a t-shirt where if you send a promo to your customers, like hey guys, we have a new design, check it out. And then they want to choose different colors. That picture of that image in an e-mail should change that color. And and that’s going to be capable. We’re like, okay now, yeah, you should have a picture of the blue one, but I want a red one. And going even further besides just showing up pretty pictures, like maybe a t-shirt for extra-large is an extra $2. That will dynamically change inside of the email. Or you want to check your shipping. You enter your ZIP code into the email and then that shipping price will update automatically. Then of course because we’re e-commerce here really what we want to have working in the near future is that buy button so that will come when…

David: That is what we’re expecting.

Jesse: Don’t quote me on that. Yeah, I think Dave is saying but yeah. When that happens basically email e-commerce is a complete full channel where you can do everything inside of an email that you could do on a website.

David: Right. Well, interesting point and those of you that are familiar with Ecwid you have an understanding of what we do. Basically, we allow smaller merchants to sell across the internet and around the world with a single dashboard system that facilitates selling on. You can create your own online store. You can add products to an existing website. You can sell on Instagram. You can sell on Facebook, Amazon, eBay, etc. And now email, to some degree email at this point. It’s definitely getting there. Yeah, but over time it should be expected that this will develop into a full sales channel in itself. You wouldn’t need to leave the email itself. You can actually do the transaction within it. And that’s really one of the benefits of Ecwid as we bring these great opportunities to smaller merchants and allow them to have all of these great sales capabilities from one single dashboard. So it is really exciting times.

Jesse: Totally agree. Yeah, very exciting. That’s always been our mission is to help small business people, small business merchants. Because Ecwid has this architecture where it can be placed on many sites, we’ve already had people have Facebook stores, the Instagram shoppable posts, like all these different things and now bring an email into it. Taking it to another step forward. I think that’s awesome. It’s good times.

Richard: Yeah, good stuff. I mean to Dave’s Point earlier, it’s been static for so long and then you’ll hear people talking about how email open rates are diving but no one’s going to get rid of their email, right? It’s nice to just pump some new life into it. See what’s coming in the future, see what other channels too. This is going to give life to email again, right? It’s just interesting. I love being able to let people know on the podcast and new things that are out there, new things that are coming, ways they’re going to be implemented in their business. Obviously, specifically, Ecwid users, what you’re doing to try to help them sell more and build their business. So it’s always fun.

Jesse: Yeah, totally agree. I mean, I think it’s always fun to be on the front edge. We beat several of our competitors on this one. A little pat on the back for all of us here. But yeah, we’re just excited to keep bringing new developments in technology to our customers. For people that are listening, if you do want to find out more about this, I’ll give you the blog title one more time. It’s ecwid.com/blog/e-commerce-email. So you can read all about it there. If you already have a store, this is already active. Test this out, you’re going to see it in Gmail’s, Google apps are coming and then several other email providers are coming right down behind them. Pretty good stuff. Rich, Dave, any last thoughts here?

Richard: No, I just want people to get started go to the blog post check it out. There’s a lot of interesting information and examples that we didn’t cover. But you guys need to get back speaking of change and change locations. Get back to your new office, get dialed in and get back to work.

Jesse: Yeah, man, it does not sound like fire. (laughing) But yeah, we gotta get back to work.

Dave: Come on, every day is fun. This is the best. I enjoy every day.

Jesse: Awesome.

Dave: Anyway, thanks for the opportunity guys. It’s fun to speak about the stuff.

Richard: Thanks for coming in.

Jesse: Thanks, Dave, we appreciate it.

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Jesse is the Marketing Manager at Ecwid and has been in e-commerce and internet marketing since 2006. He has experience with PPC, SEO, conversion optimization and loves to work with entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.

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