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Why Email Marketers Need to Think APIs, Not Big Data

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It’s not exactly news that data is important to email marketing. If you ever want to segment your email list, you need some kind of customer data to make it work.

However, the data that most email marketers are using today is static. You might be segmenting based on a customer’s zip code, but what if the customer moved? If you’re targeting based on a product purchase but the purchase happened a year ago, is that still accurate? Or relevant?

Despite the talk about big data being critical for business, big data isn’t what email marketers should be thinking about – they should be thinking about APIs.

Emails empowered by API integrations can create real-time emails and dynamic experiences in the inbox. Organizations already have a lot of data for marketers to use. It’s just a matter of locating it and then building it into an email.

Here’s how.

APIs and Automation

API integrations, in a nutshell, interact with your product’s data and functionality. This allows your data to be drawn from third-party sources and empower the email experience with them.

Here, eBay leveraged an API integration to send out a daily product email. All of the deals were automatically drawn from the product pages. As the content and data changed, so did the content in the emails. This way, the team could send the emails without actually changing the details:

eBay used API integrations to show daily deals.

API integrations can turn email from a static and predictable experience into something dynamic and new. If a recipient opened this email the day after the sale, they would see the sale for the day the email was opened, not sent.

These kinds of integrations can create an interactive experience, too:

– Airlines and ticketing venues can allow customers to select or upgrade seats from right within an email

– Restaurants can send special deals and allow guests to make reservations with two taps.

– Patients could make an appointment at the doctor’s office simply by clicking an available time

– Hotel guests could reserve a room directly from a loyalty email

The Elements of Responsive, in Real Time

The real power of API integrations is that the data being pulled through the API is already there. It’s just a matter of bringing those fields into your email campaign.

Usually, if you’re trying to leverage big data, this means navigating different systems and teams. Then, you have to roll out a data governance strategy and find a master data management platform that can connect all the dots.

API integrations allow marketers to be agile, working around those barriers by pulling in data from different systems without actually merging them. In this case, email becomes the central point of the customer experience.

This simplifies things for everyone – when an email is drawing from a reservation or inventory API, for example, you don’t have to keep track of how many orders or reservations have been made. When all the products are purchased or seats are filled, the option disappears from the email.

By using API integrations to offer the most up-to-date data possible, you can ensure the content is relevant and dynamic, adapting to a customer’s current context. API integrations also enable a one-click experience, making it easier for mobile users to open, engage, and convert.

So, before you dedicate weeks and weeks of planning and meeting to learning what big data can do for your email campaigns, you should try thinking API.

Real-time data is far more important – and relevant to customers – than the oft-used but little-used “big data.”

Email Mobile Device Conversion Research

With API integrations creating new kinds of responsive emails, it’s time to take a look at market trends and creating campaigns that work.

Download our complete study, Q1 2015 US Consumer Device Preferences, to learn how customers are using email today.


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