EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 386 - January 17, 2016 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 6

Data-Crunching Bots Provide Marketing Insights for Small Merchants

By Greg Holden

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"Big Data." Data Analytics. "Data-driven actionable insights." Have I put you to sleep yet?

Well, wake up! There's something exciting happening in the word of data analysis and marketing, and it's here just in time for the post-holiday doldrums, just when you need to perk up sales the most. And it's right out of Star Wars.

It's robotics. No, I'm not talking about C3PO or Droids. These are marketing robots. They hope to take over ecommerce like a galaxy of storm troopers. But they don't have legs or arms or human-like voices. They're "bots" that roam the empires of data that populate your Instagram page, your Facebook presence, your mailing lists, and every place you connect socially with your customers.

What's that you say? You already know your customers. You like them on Facebook. You exchange comments with them. You talk to them in your email newsletter. When they complain, you make adjustments. You drop the price of this project, you tweak your shopping cart so one less click separates you from a completed purchase.

Springbot, a marketing platform that wants to be Jeeves to your salesman Wooster, says it can suggest such decisions automatically by crunching all of your customer data at once. It will analyze every action, reaction, and interaction you have with your community on social media and tell you how to increase sales based on those interactions.

Here's an example: Country Club Prep, an online haven for preppy fashion, saw a 52 percent increase in revenue for Cyber Monday 2015 compared with 2014 thanks to three key marketing actions done with Springbot's help:

  • Correctly identifying and promoting their most desirable products due to Springbot traffic and conversion analytics;

  • Email marketing that uses "rich lifestyle photography";

  • Integrating and activating the store's social media community to "convert casual users into customers."

"We rely on a robust system of automated, triggered emails to engage interested customers on a day to day basis," commented Country Club Prep's co-founder Matt Watson, referring to Springbot's abandoned cart emails, post-purchase emails, and the like.

This kind of analysis and adjustment is common among large organizations that have marketing teams working on how to increase revenue by making the right types of outreach to potential customers.

Springbot specifically wants to bring this approach to merchants with small budgets.

The company says its customers see an average 23 percent increase in monthly revenue and a 15 percent increase in monthly order volume. And many of those are small businesses, says CMO Erika Jolly Brookes.

"There are more than 500,000 small and medium ecommerce stores in the U.S. and even more around the world," says Brookes. "Our passion is helping them compete against the big guys. We (the springbots) spend late nights and early mornings making advanced marketing technologies that are typically only available to large enterprises - making them simple and affordable or everyone with focus on the SMB space."

The company was founded by Brooks Robinson, Joe Reger, and Allen Nance. Today, Atlanta-based Springbot has grown to 55 employees. Springbot is available as an add-on app for merchants who have set up shop with storefront providers such as Shopify, Magento Commerce, and Zoey Commerce.

Springbot gathers those contacts from a wide variety of apps with which it is integrated. These include the obvious email communications tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp, and social apps like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. But it also gathers data from Amazon, Google Analytics, Adroll, the email intelligence program TowerData, and Fliptop, which displays Twitter and Facebook profiles for your contacts.

You get a lot of data from such sources. But how do you make sense of it in one place? Which marketing venues produce clicks and purchases? That's what Springbot is supposed to tell small business owners.

"We call it the democratization of data and technology," says Brookes.

This sort of democratization does have a price tag, however. Ecommerce sellers who are pinching every penny might think before plunking down the money to use Springbot. Monthly costs start at $199 per month and can go up to $799 depending on the number of contacts you have in your store and newsletter. This is in addition to the monthly cost for your shopping cart/ecommerce website package. Should you really pay an additional $199 to $799 per month for "bots"?

"The fact that small and medium-sized businesses are on a limited budget is exactly why Sringbot is a good investment," says Brookes. "Without Springbot, online businesses are funneling money into channels where they only have a surface level of analytics. Add Springbot into the mix, and they're able to be more efficient and cost-effective by understanding revenue attribution by marketing channel."

Some of those channels are nontraditional. Springbot added integration with Instagram earlier this year. If Reddit or Instagram bring you revenue, the program will show that clearly. Looking to the future, Springbot plans "advancements in social capabilities including Instagram, and making email more of a powerhouse," she adds.

Ecommerce happens 24/7, and accordingly, bots don't work 9 to 5 or take coffee breaks. Any time of the day or night, they'll crunch your store data and present you with recommendations in the morning to sweeten your morning coffee.

You can find more information on the Springbot website.

About the author:

Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.

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