Staying in contact with your growing audience via your ecommerce store can be stressful — but it needn’t be. Email automation is a simple and effective way to grow leads and improve customer relationships without having to spend a fortune or exhaust your resources. When we’re busy trying to make our ecommerce site run smoothly and become profitable, areas like customer engagement and marketing can take a backseat. With automated email marketing your audience is always riding shotgun. So how does it work and what outcomes can be achieved?
How does email automation work?
Customer communication can always be improved but if you’re overloaded with contacts and you’re not making the most of them, you need to consider email automation. There are many solutions available but your choice of which to integrate really comes back to what your need and what is going to meet your customer’s needs and your business goals.
Email automation streamlines your clients communications and can come in the form of a full blown CRM solution or a more simplified email specific campaign builder. When it comes to ecommerce sites, email automation is often a no-brainer. Using newsletter sign up templates and gathering data about your customers interest will help you target them at the right time.
Email automation can be utilized to:
- Circumvent cart abandonment by sending reminders to customers who have had products in a cart for 12 or 24 hours
- Upsell by triggering emails about related products or to alter customers when products they have previously looked at are going on sale
- Engage first time visitors and encourage them back to your site
- Build brand awareness and customer loyalty
- Build personal relationships
- Reinforce messaging across your site and social media channels
- Re-engage inactive subscribers
- Increase click through rates
- Improve revenue from returning customers
There are some great resources to help you understand how to make the most of email automation.
Build a strong brand personality
Email is the most personal means of digitally reaching your customer but of course you can’t write personally to each and every individual. Using automation to target groups is the next best thing because by tracking customer activity through your site and offering different sign up options dependent on the content they want, you can narrow their buying personas down to specific segments.
Sending emails to segmented groups means you can target specific messages, promotions and relevant content to the right people. You might also wish to send varied formats of email depending preferences determined by the user. Some visitors prefer to receive basic HTML emails whilst others prefer a rich tapestry of photos, video, interactive surveys, colors and text. Once you identify individual or group preferences, you can start customising your messages and your invitation to join the buying journey is more likely to be accepted.
Show them the way
Email automation works best with targeted list of audiences you’ve built – people you know are interested in your brand. A great way of easily building these lists is by using your ecommerce site to ask people to sign up to your newsletter, to find out more, to subscribe for special offers.
Investing in beautiful emails that drive people to your site is fantastic, but this also means investing in the right kind of site that supports the software, enables enhanced calls to action and has an optimized shopping cart to fulfill the goals you’ve outlined in your automation marketing.
Thankfully, most modern CMSs support email software integration, giving merchants the freedom to integrate their chosen platform through the use of API and contact sharing software. Instead of relying on the free, basic email systems that come with your ecommerce CMS, consider whether investing in a tool like Mailigen could help you maximize lead ROI. Mailigen integrates with Magento, which is great for big ecommerce players, but it’s also a solution that works with Shopify sellers. Great email marketing is an ecommerce basic: don’t leave investing in email too late.
One mistake many ecommerce business owners make is to invest in all the snazzy gear, but they haven’t considered how the user navigates through their site. Thinking about what your customers consider valuable and relevant and why they might return and building your site template around those key elements will only help strengthen further communication. There’s no point having automated marketing if you customer can’t find a signup form or if there’s no added value from the list they subscribe to — which brings us to content…
Targeted emails can be sent prior to holidays, sales, birthdays, product launches and you should have some consistently monthly emails that subscribers will expect in their inbox.
The frequency won’t bother your customers if your content is relevant and adds value. As soon as you start sending out generic, uninteresting content, you’ve lost your audience.
Here’s some examples of quality email content delivered via automated lists:
- Birchbox is great at email automation and is always up-selling and trying to get customers to refer. Their Christmas box offered a gift voucher to give to someone at Christmas and their email campaign reminded customer to use it. This Mother’s Day email upsells by offering a limited edition Mothers Day box and gives the option to purchase more expensive full sized products from previous boxes.
- JetBlue re-engage customers who haven’t visited in a while by sending a let’s not break up, let’s stay together style email. Simple yet effective. Re-engagement email campaigns are a great way to get back in front of potential customers who either signed up to your mailing list but haven’t’ been clicking, or who visited your site once or twice but haven’t been back. Take notice of your own inbox and see which brands you follow are doing this, and how well.
- Ann Taylor – you’ll have seen this email before from many brands. Welcoming you to the family and offering you a discount or free shipping on your first order. These emails are a great way of driving leads and conversions. 25% off is quite a saving and gives enough of a reason for customers to click through and convert to a sale.
- 53 – This is a great example of how automated email can be used to counter cart abandonment. It’s really simple and useful for the customer. It makes it really easy to return to their cart should they wish to, and doesn’t cause offense should they have simply changed their mind.
In 2015 Business Insider reported $4 trillion would be lost due to abandoned shopping carts but that 63% of that is recoverable by enticing customers back:
‘Retailers can reduce the rate of abandonment and increase conversions by streamlining the checkout process and also by retargeting shoppers with emails after they’ve left a website. Initial emails, sent three hours after a consumer abandons a cart, average a 40% open rate and a 20% click-through rate, according to Listrak.’
Is it worth the money for my small business?
As with any business decision that requires implementation you must weigh up if the cost is worth it. We know email automation makes communications easier and saves times time but what about the ROI? Ecommerce business owners want to see the results of their marketing investment and with automated email, it’s easy to track what works and what doesn’t. When you consider the statistics on shopping cart abandonment and on brand uplift and click through rates from automated email — there’s little doubt a well executed email marketing automation process will be worth its weight in gold.
Automated marketing processes make sense for ecommerce businesses. They make customer engagement more manageable, make efficient use of resources and perhaps the most convincing argument? They help you generate more leads and show tangible sales conversions. Invest in creating great content and quirky branded customer engagement emails. Try email automation and you’ll soon find you have more time to focus on other areas of your business – like increasing stock to meet demand. Best of luck.
Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur & coach. I geek out over all things ecommerce and am passionate about helping entrepreneurs make the very best of their digital business opportunities. I coach small startups and write across a variety of entrepreneurial websites.