Nov/4/2015 Юлия Тёмкина 11 minutes to read

Autoportal.com (India): email marketing automation for a portal with 6.5 million visits per month.

Our Ukrainian compatriots launched Autoportal.com in India. This is a big project with 6,550,000 visits per month.

When they faced the task of setting up automated email distribution, they turned to us. The project was not easy, only from the side of the agency, it took 92 net work hours. Keep reading to learn how to set up email marketing for projects of such size.

About Autoportal.com

Web portal for motorists, catalog of new and used cars
  • Founding year2006
  • Niche Marketplace
  • Geography India

Team

Olga Rybalchenko, internet-marketer at Roman.ua
Andrei Semeniuk, Chief Business Development Officer in Creative Media (autoportal.com | bikeportal.in | technoportal.ua | autoportal.ua)
Vikas Trivedi, AVP Marketing at Creative Webmedia Pvt.Ltd.

Tasks

1. The company earns by generating applications for test drives, issuing loans, organizing new and used car purchases. Task No. 1 was to increase the number of completed goals on the site (target filling out forms, sending loan applications, valuation of cars, etc.)

2. Developing and implementing trigger emails for key actions on the site.

3. Returning and involving users repeatedly to the site, redirecting users to other portal products.

Context

A special focus on mobile users. According to Liveinternet 35% of visits to Indian sites come from mobile phones and tablets. Therefore, it was necessary to develop adaptive templates for mobile phones with different screen extensions (32% of devices are Android, which are devices with a wide range of screen resolutions).

In view of the large size of the database and the dynamics of its replenishment with new subscribers, it was necessary to develop the most automated mailing system possible.

Solution

Together with the Client, we identified 3 main types of forms on the site. We selected audience segments associated with them: those who fill out the form:

  • for a new car valuation.
  • to be notified when the car is available for sale.
  • to buy a used car.

For each segment, a funnel of 4 emails was written:

  1. A welcome email with blocks — basic information, blocks with alternatives, with similar cars.
  2. Offers with alternative cars.
  3. Offers with an accompanying product (insurance, loan calculation).
  4. An offer with an information product on the website (test drive, video, review, etc.).

For each case, the funnel had its own characteristics. For example: the degree the lead is “warmed up”: from people who are interested in auto news to Clients who are choosing insurance or a loan for a specific car.

There is also a different time range from filling out the form to the event that the person subscribes to.

For example, it can take several weeks or months from signing up for a car to appear on the market until it is actually released. At this time, you shouldn’t miss the lead, drawing their attention to other products of the site.

To implement the task and build the funnel, the site’s recommendation algorithms were used. For each email, we thought out the substitution mechanism to draw elements from the database by features: subscriber’s city, car type, similar or alternative car, combinations of car body “city-brand-type”.

Using algorithms, we provided subscribers with the most relevant offers.

Choosing a mailing platform

We used a combination of Mailchimp.com (for initial template creation) and Mandrill.com to send triggered emails. We chose this bundle of tools for several reasons:

  • Mailchimp and Mandrill are tried and tested, and reliable mailing systems. They have more than 4 million customers worldwide, and their templates are initially tailored for mobile phones.
  • For Clients who use 2 services (by linking them), Mandrill is a profitable system. Mandrill provides double the volume of free emails sent from the base in Mailchimp. For example, if you have a database of 100,000 users, in Mandrill you will receive a bonus of 200,000 emails per month.
    For large clients, it is beneficial.

We compared Mandrill+Mailchimp and Sendgrid. For databases of up to 50,000, Sendgrid seems to be cheaper but takes more time. Sendgrid becomes significantly more expensive as the base grows. Also, Sengrid does not have a templating engine that would immediately generate mobile templates. This requires layout designers to be involved, which increases the cost of the project.

There are 2 options to integrate with Mandrill:

  • Using Mandrill as an SMTP server. In this case, all email content is generated on the site side. Mandrill is used as a gateway. For large volumes, the sending speed is reduced due to SMTP channel restrictions.
  • Mandrill integration via API.

We chose the integration method via the API, because it allows you to configure the triggers more flexibly, test and replace individual blocks. This is critical to A/B testing. Also, this method simplifies access to templates and their blocks. In this case, you do not need to involve programmers to edit texts in templates. This makes the system more flexible.

Another important advantage of integrating via API is that you do not need to program unsubscribing from the mailing list on your side.

How is integration via Mandrill performed?

Simplifying, here is what we do:

  • we create a letter template in Mailchimp (layout, mobile version, design).
  • the template is transferred to Mandrill (automatically).
  • we determine which blocks in the letter will be static, which will be variables.
  • using a special markup language, we highlight the variables in the email.
  • for each template, we start a directory of variables in the site database.
  • we set up the transfer of content into variables on the site side.

For each email, we wrote variables — blocks and values, their layout, and the transfer method. On average, about 15 variables are used for 1 email: blocks, texts, variables for links. Thus, each email is a “constructor set” of text and variable blocks that can be modified and tested. You can:

  • swap blocks.
  • replace one block to another one (for example, to test which works better — offering alternatives or similar options).
  • remove irrelevant blocks by simply removing the variable.

For the triggers to be fully functional, we have set up:

  • rules for tracking through Google Analytics. Visit data is automatically collected through GA, and you can track how each email impacts the achievement of goals on the site. In addition to the standard utm_source and utm_medium, we set up the transfer of the car brand through utm_term, which allows you to track top brands and their impact on target indicators.
  • cron on the side of the site for the frequency of sending emails. Each funnel has its own time range.

A sample email

We developed 10 trigger templates. You can see one example below.

Desktop email:

image02
image01
 

All selected areas are dynamically generated for a specific user request. This is possible thanks to binding the site database and variables in the email template in Mandrill.com. 

Mobile version of the same email:

image06
image03

This email is completely mobile responsive. It is 90% based on the existing functionality of Mailchimp.
Partially, the layout was lightened (extra styles were removed), as the Client was afraid that it would be difficult for mobile readers.

Results

How to build a trigger mailing system with Mandrill

As a result of launching a trigger system, the of generating repeat traffic to the site was completed, and the traffic keeps growing:

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We compared email newsletter traffic over the period of 3 months before the introduction of systemic email marketing and after: the traffic increased 6.5 times, the share of email in the main target action on the site increased from 0% to 2.6%.

The Client’s testimonial

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«I would like to thank Olga for the work done on building an e-mail marketing system for our Indian project autoportal.com.
What I particularly liked was the attitude towards completing tasks, and the willingness to dig deeper in any issue in order to build an optimal chain of emails with the best templates.
At the end of the integration, Olga gave us a two-hour lecture in English on how to use the tool and the logic behind the process.

I recommend Olga as a mailing specialist with a good command of English»

Andrei Semeniuk,
Chief Business Development Officer in Creative Media
https://ua.linkedin.com/pub/andrii-semeniuk/53/684/120/en

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