What is an Email Marketing API and How Does It Help Small Businesses?

Preparing emails one at a time and sending them out is time-consuming for a small business. To prepare an email for a customer, their details would have to be looked up and manually entered into the email during its preparation. It’s a slow, laborious process to be sure.

When using an email marketing API, it’s possible to shortcut and automate the process to reduce the time it takes to prepare either a single email or a series of them. This speeds up the process considerably for small businesses with fewer staff and less available hours to deal with marketing activities or administrative duties.

What Exactly is an Email Marketing API?

An API is an application programming interface. It’s a series of pre-programmed methods that can be accessed from another program or website. With regard to email, using an API is a standardised method of accessing email record information.

To give an example, a software program can be programmed to access a website using an API to extract information from its database. This is authorised by the website, which provides the security credentials to enable access to the information if the security-related information is correctly given.

Once access has been established, appropriate information can be retrieved to help send an email with the correct customer details. The customer’s name, email address and other pertinent information are retrieved using the email API and included in the email message. This stops the email looking spammy and clearly shows that the sender has access to the supplied information from the customer.

How Could a Small Business Use an Email API?

There are different ways to use the email API to help with marketing. Here are a couple of quick examples:

Order Processing

When a customer places an order, several tasks are completed in the background. This includes recording the order information in the customer database, adding the customer to the database, and subscribing the customer to a newsletter (if they gave permission).

Following successful receipt of the order and a payment, it’s expected that a follow-up email is sent to confirm the details of the order. To do this, information is retrieved using an email API. When creating the email, the customer’s name and email address are matched up with their order details and an email is sent.

The above action is completed by running through a series of programmed instructions that are completely automated. The sequence executes when the payment is completed without the need for manual intervention.

Special Offer Newsletter

A special offer newsletter might be created to send to previous buyers highlighting a new discount. This could be done by searching for previous buyers and collecting email information to prepare each newsletter. A newsletter software package or website that helps create attractive newsletters can hook into the email API to collect the necessary subscriber information to prepare the email.

While the third-party newsletter creation website won’t have database access to confirm which email subscribers were previous buyers, mailing lists can be segmented either through labelling customers or operating separate lists; one for buyers and one for subscribers only. With pre-segmentation, the third-party can prepare the newsletter from the buyer list only.

Abandoned Shopping Carts/Baskets

As many as 80% of shopping carts/baskets are abandoned by shoppers. Companies like to follow up with people who didn’t complete their purchase, sometimes offering a discount on the abandoned purchase to encourage completion of the order. To do this with people who previously supplied their email address either at an earlier stage of the cart checkout process or who are already an email subscriber means using the email API. This way the company has their information to email them back.

Even with a small percentage of abandoned carts getting their orders completed, the money gained is substantial for any small business. Even if only 20% of customers abandoned their orders originally, but the remaining 80% were contacted by email and one-quarter of those returned, the completed extra sales would double the order volume for the company. This is why using email and catching abandoned carts is so important.

For companies wanting to use all available customer records and past buying transactions to make customer contact in a useful way, email is extremely powerful. When receiving an email, the receiver quickly assesses whether they know the sender, what the purpose of their communication is, and whether it matters to them. Coming down on the right side of that decision-making process requires providing relevant information that confirms a prior relationship. For instance, when a small business doesn’t contact a subscriber often enough, they tend to forget that they ever subscribed and mark the email as spam. Therefore, providing relevant information is useful to re-confirm the basis of the relationship to provide relevance and avoid this fate.