In the first article in this series (Data connection for email marketing: why is it necessary?), I explained why you should make a data connection between your email marketing system and your other data sources.
Simply put; because it will let you get the most out of your email marketing. After all, for optimal results from email marketing, you ultimately need to conduct automatic and relevant one-to-one dialogue with every customer.
Every data source you use has its own strengths. That’s why you can link your data in various ways, depending on your particular wishes and situation. For this you can use tools like Zapier or APIs such as REST and SOAP. In this article, we will take a closer look at the various tools.
What is your basic system for data?
Later on in this article, I will provide you with an overview with questions that will help you to think about data further. But in principle, it is always sensible to ask yourself what your basic system for data is. Is it your email marketing system or your CRM? As linking often involves the interplay of “what do the various data stand for” and “what do you aim to achieve”, this is your starting point for the best route/link. We often link Webpower to the systems listed below. Perhaps you recognise your system:
CRM: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho,
CMS: WordPress, Blueconic, Typo 3
E-commerce platforms: Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce
Socials: Facebook Lead Ads, LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, Instagram Lead Ads
Zapier and other tools for connections
Below, I will describe the tools for data connections and give an example of the implementation in practice. Soon, you will also be able to find a download here, containing a useful overview showing various tools with their possibilities and limitations. This will allow you to accurately assess what’s important for you.
SFTP is a standard (customised) technology and basic connection that can be set up from Webpower quickly and uniquely per customer. With SFTP it is an advantage if you don’t rely on real-time data transfer. This gives you the freedom to determine what data you want to transfer once or twice a day, for example. The disadvantage of SFTP is that it is more difficult to maintain when making changes in the systems. It is therefore more time-consuming and expensive.
SFTP connection in practice: an example
A Webpower customer uses a loyalty system: the more you purchase, the higher your loyalty/reward level. Thanks to the SFTP connection between their database and loyalty system, the customer is always shown their current loyalty level, which could have increased or decreased.
In this situation, the choice for an SFTP connection was made because the source program (the loyalty system) can easily generate a data dump, but doesn’t have its own API connection. In this case, the loyalty levels are recalculated every night and then passed on to the Webpower platform.
Zapier: an accessible ‘road network’
Zapier is the most accessible data tool, which makes it possible to transfer data from point A to B in real time. It is a tool that already has an integration with many other systems. At the start the costs are relatively low, even free sometimes.
You can compare it with a road network. The link between Webpower and Zapier already exists. Via Zapier you can connect Webpower to another system through a few simple clicks. One thing worth noting is that the options are more limited here and you will need to have an account.
Zapier link in practice: an example
A customer wants to respond adequately and in real time to a request for trial packages. Instead of exporting and importing data manually from system A to B, Zapier has started making this an automatic process. The CRM system, Microsoft Dynamics, has been synchronised with Webpower through Zapier. Now, after the request for a trial package, Webpower directly sends a confirmation email. This is followed by an automatic email flow to convert the trial package request to a paid transaction. It was decided to use Zapier because it was able to be implemented quickly and the effects of the connection were visible soon after, all with limited financial means and without the need for programmers.
APIs: SOAP and REST
In addition to Zapier, APIs are also a well-known linking method. API stands for Application Programming Interface. It ensures that communication takes place between various systems and that information can be shared. You can look at it as two applications that talk to each other, whereby one gives instructions and the other responds. You can choose from SOAP (often a little quicker) or REST (somewhat more flexible/updated technology). Both APIs work according to standard technologies (but with a different code) and cost the same. However, REST is a bit more flexible, because all tasks have been set up seperate from one another and you can easily combine them.
API link in practice: an example
A Webpower customer, a large international chain of hotels, wishes to communicate with customers under the umbrella of the brand. However, the chain also wants the individual hotels to be able to communicate with guests separately. If you register for the emails from a particular hotel, you are also asked whether you want to receive special offers from the umbrella organisation.
Through Webpower’s standard function, newsletter subscribers are automatically synchronised through the Webpower licence with the umbrella organisation as well as the separate hotels’ websites. This way, subscribers end up in either one of the two campaigns, or in both.
Note: the hotel chain has 1 licence, but thanks to Webpower’s handy roles and rights module, the separate hotels can only see their own environment.
Custom data connections: total freedom in converting data
The advantage of a custom connection is that you can deviate from a fixed data transfer pattern. Outside standard scenarios, you can determine which data you want to link and how in detail. If you need real-time data, you can opt for a custom connection via an API. Another custom connection, which I described earlier, is SFTP.
Custom data connection in practice: an example
A Webpower customer has to deal with various registrations in their email database, for events, newsletters, etc. They had specific wishes regarding intensifying their automation, such as immediately sending confirmations, synchronising registrations and de-registrations and dealing with bounces. All with the goal of saving time through automation in mind. For the data synchronisation, a custom data connection between Salesforce and Webpower was set up via API.
Connecting data and building a new flow: the right questions
Irrespective of your starting situation, there are a number of matters you will have think about if you want to integrate your email marketing data or, for example, build a new email marketing (automation) flow.
Below, I have listed some questions that I usually ask our customers:
- What do you want to achieve by integrating your data?
- What data do you need – and from where – in order to achieve your objectives?
- Where is the data now? What is your primary system?
- How often do you have to update your data? (for example in real time, at night or weekly)
- How often do you want to modify your data?
- What do you want to do with the data in Webpower/your system?
- Does any data need to go back into your system, and which system?
- Can you copy the data, or do you need to make changes?
- What is your starting situation?
Your organisation’s starting situation
The solution that best suits your organisation is ultimately a technical one and is difficult to write down for every specific situation. There are generally three possible scenarios that we consider when starting on your data issue:
- You already know what you want and how to realise that in a simple manner
- The possibilities for the next level of marketing automation interest you and you want to be inspired
- You unknowingly encounter a new data issue
The third situation often arises if you want to move quickly into email marketing. Organisations that want to grow also unknowingly encounter new data issues. For example, read the case of Mijndomein. They realised an impressive 700% growth by using the Flow Builder, but not before some interesting data questions were answered.
Data connections: what is the best solution for my organisation?
I have given you an idea of the various possibilities of using tools for data connections. In the download, which you will soon find here, you will get a handy overview of possibilities and various factors that you can weigh up against one another, such as costs, maintenance, technology and linking speed. In this way, I hope to help you on your way to solving your data puzzle. If you have any questions, just send me a message.