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Square Starts To Find Its Footing With Email Marketing Tool

After cycling through a number of products as a mobile payments platform for offline retailers, the company’s marketing data offering may be the one that sticks.

Square Register
Square Register, the company’s most familiar product, plugs right into a retailer’s smartphone.

Square Marketing, the latest offering by Square, looks to give brick-and-mortar businesses the perks typically enjoyed by ecommerce companies. And after experimenting with mobile wallet and pre-ordering services, Square’s use of email marketing to track in-store marketing campaigns is the tool the San Francisco company believes will come to define it.

The program enables retailers to match email opens to in-store payments and coupon redemptions. A spokesperson for Square says that the inspiration behind Square Marketing came from its clients’ desire to know more than just whether their emails were viewed, but whether they actually prompted in-store activity.

“Businesses want to know how many in-store sales the email drove, and how much money customers spent,” the Square rep says. “In the past, this has been available to online merchants and now we’re excited to bring this sophistication to local brick and mortar merchants. Because we are a [Point-of-Service] system and a marketing tool in one, Square is in a unique position to tie email marketing campaigns back to real world sales data. That’s the unique power of what Square can do for brick and mortar businesses —measure how many tangible in-store sales resulted from marketing emails.”

Square Stand turns an iPad and into a POS system.
Square Stand turns an iPad and into a POS system.

A Natural Progression

Much like MailChimp or Constant Contact, Square Marketing features email templates, a dashboard, and also lets marketers sort users into respective categories.

“From day one, we offer pre-populated lists of customers that businesses already have a relationship with; organized lists — whether loyal, casual, or lapsed — so businesses can target the right audience with the right message from day one,” says Square’s rep. “We’re adding context to a typically anonymous channel. With contextual marketing, you might invite loyal customers to a ‘Friends and Family’ event or maybe re-engage lapsed customers with a special deal.”

Square Marketing’s most striking aspect is its “in-store edge.” As the rep tells it, Square is “closing the loop for brick and mortar businesses by showing campaign ROI and tying email marketing campaigns back to real world sales data.”

All in all, this seems like a natural move for Square. It’s merely merging two of its consumer data sets — email addresses and payments.

“[Square Marketing] makes sense for [Square] as their next product/value proposition,” says Jerry Jao, CEO of retention marketing company Retention Science. “Since they already have the payment platform collecting information, enabling businesses to use that data to market to customers helps greatly.”

The Square Register in action.
The Square Register in action.

Square Finds Its Way

Leslie Hand, VP for IDC Retail Insights echoes Jao’s viewpoint. “Email marketing is a great product extension for Square, and that is good news for them,” Hand says. “[Retailers] need to understand who their potential customers are, and focus on adding more value to those relationships. This is a good step in that direction.”

A step in the right direction was in order for Square.

At this time last year, things weren’t looking too good for the San Francisco-based startup. In May 2014, it killed off its Wallet App — a product that the company was betting on to propel it ahead of established payments and other emerging players.

Since then, Square has added to its suite of offerings, but struggled to find its competitive place in the presence of mobile payment giants like PayPal, ApplePay, and Google Wallet. Bringing email marketing to the brick-and-mortar table, in such a way that it can actually work as an attribution system, is not only standout, it’s potentially a desirable asset for marketers in their adoption of omnichannel strategies, since, as Hand points out, “email marketing is one of many ways to engage the consumer for omnichannel retailers.”

Square has homed in on the local business space as an area where growth is apparent. The company has already launched payment and POS systems through Square Register, the rep points out, as well as financial services through Square Capital.

While Jao asserts that “local businesses are one of the toughest categories to break into from product adoption perspectives,” it would seem that Square Marketing is already winning clients over.

“During our pilot, sellers who sent out promotions saw open and redemption rates at 2x the industry average,” the Square rep says. “Those numbers translate into real dollars: Square sellers generated nearly $1,000,000 in sales tied directly to promotion redemption.”