January 31, 2013, 11:52 AM

Drawing on shoppers’ past purchases boosts e-mail returns for an online bookseller

Bronto’s new tool imports customer history data from e-commerce platforms.

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Shambhala Publications, which publishes and sells online books on Eastern philosophy and religion, increased its average e-mail open rates from 8% to 30% and click-through rates from 30% to 40% after it began targeting customers using a new tool from e-mail marketing provider Bronto Software in September, says chief operating officer Leonard Jacobs.

The tool imports information about the recency, frequency and order value of past purchases from Shambhala’s e-commerce platform, which is provided by eBay Inc.’s Magento.

That data enable Shambhala to target shoppers with specialized offers. For example, the retailer can send customers who have bought $100 worth of yoga books on the site in the last year an announcement that a popular yogi is soon to release a new book, Jacobs says.

The Bronto order-import functionality rolled out first this fall for customers using Magento, Bronto says. Through the end of 2012, it added integrations for e-commerce software from Demandware Inc. and Oracle Inc.’s ATG Web Commerce. Now the module is available to customers using any type of e-commerce software as a free extension, Bronto says. Retailers can also set up the tool to import data from other systems, such as an in-store point-of-sale network, using software from Bronto.

“We never thought about it as a cost, it was going to make us money,” Jacobs says. Since starting to use the imported order data to improve the roughly two e-mail campaigns Shambhala sends per week, sales have increased significantly, he says, though he declines to share how much.

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