With online shopping quickly becoming the new norm and ecommerce competition getting fiercer by the day, the need for efficient and highly-targeted marketing has never been more urgent.
Customers now demand an immersive, personalised experience with only the most relevant messaging being delivered at exactly the right times across multiple channels. To make this happen, it’s time to ditch the manual work for repetitive marketing functions.
Investing in a top-quality marketing automation platform is now an absolute must if you want to survive in a competitive market — especially with 75% of marketers using marketing automation for their business.
In this article, we’ll take a broad look at marketing automation, exploring what it is, what it does, and what benefits it can bring to your business.
What is ecommerce marketing automation?
Put simply, marketing automation is software that automates and analyses marketing functions and workflows. By allowing this software to take care of tasks like sending emails and SMS, segmenting your audience based on behaviour, and creating customer lists, you and your marketing team can become far more efficient while you tend to more creative and strategic aspects of your business.
How does marketing automation benefit ecommerce businesses?
Ecommerce businesses of all sizes can benefit from the kind of software and platforms available today, which are made precisely with the needs of ecommerce businesses in mind. Here are some of the top benefits of marketing automation for ecommerce.
1. Saves your team time
Say ‘goodbye’ to time-consuming, repetitive tasks, and ‘hello’ to automated workflows that can save you time in the long run. 43% of marketers implement marketing automation strategies with the primary goal to optimise productivity.
By automating certain marketing tasks, there is much less manual work needed to reach segmented audiences at exactly the right times across channels. Not only that, but marketing automation software will collect and analyse all your data too, providing reports that allow you to pinpoint areas to focus on and refine your strategy accordingly.
2. Eliminates human error
Another benefit is reducing the risk of human error. Manual work can be tedious, which means more mistakes can happen. Even the most dedicated and diligent marketer can sometimes make costly mistakes (e.g., sending an email to the wrong list of customers). With automated tools correctly configured, you can put ongoing email sends on autopilot and have them sent at the right time without the extra labour.
3. Boosts customer engagement
Marketing automation tools help to improve customer engagement by sending the right message at the right time based on customer behaviour.
For instance, with email automation tools like Omnisend, you can create personalised messages to your customers in the time you would reply to just one customer. This is done with clever audience segmentation, organising your customers into various categories, and targeting them with tailored messaging.
With this kind of campaign segmentation shown to increase your conversion rates by more than 60%, the use of personalisation in ecommerce messaging has shown to be highly-targeted marketing strategy.
In fact, over 80%of consumers believe that personalisation makes them more likely to make a purchase from a brand’s website, with 48% spending more money on businesses that offer a personalised experience. These are some serious numbers!
4. Marketing automation gives you time to optimise
With the time saved from using marketing automation, you have more time to focus on ongoing and future campaigns. What does this mean? Well, with your everyday tasks taken care of and running on autopilot, you can afford to take a ‘big picture’ view and concentrate on your overall strategy, rather than getting bogged down in the details.
You can also take advantage of the advanced testing tools that marketing automation platforms offer. These tools allow you to test variations in real-time, such as email subject lines, imagery, preview text, and more, and optimise your campaigns by choosing only the best-performing variations.
What ecommerce marketing automation can do
Now that you know the benefits of ecommerce marketing automation, let’s take a closer look at what it can do for your business. The following are just a few of the many functions and uses of marketing automation in ecommerce.
1. Attract new customers
You can use your first campaign to attract new leads to your brand by delighting potential customers and encouraging them to engage further. Attractive, relevant, and engaging content is the key at this stage – whether it’s via social media, a lead magnet such as a free ebook, or a contest for new subscribers.
Marketing automation platforms provide a range of ecommerce-specific templates and drag-and-drop editors to make content creation a breeze. Take advantage of this to provide irresistible content to your audience, and bring them even closer by providing an easy sign-up option (through pop-ups, for example) for email and SMS campaigns.
2. Win back lost customers
The average cart abandonment rate is around 70%. With a rate that high, chances are you have experienced cart abandonment issues. Marketing automation allows you to set up an abandoned cart email campaign to remind customers of what they wanted to purchase in the first place, giving you a chance to recapture a potentially lost sale.
3. Engage existing customers
With an increase of 5% in customer retentionimproving revenues by 25-95%, repeat customers are key to business growth. They’ve already shown their willingness to purchase your product, and you have successfully gained their trust and confidence.
Marketing automation can help improve brand loyalty by making it easy to send engaging content automatically. Setting up a post-purchase email campaign for customers who have already made a purchase will not only increase customer lifetime value (LTV)and your bottom line, but it will help to build a community around your brand and encourage buyers to see you as a ‘lifestyle choice’ rather than a simple transaction.
4. Get customer feedback
Social proof is an absolute must for ecommerce businesses. By setting up an automated email/SMS asking customers to leave a review, you can build social proof with little effort. The best timing and creative approach to this workflow will help you collect new customer reviews, which will also help new buyers feel confident about purchasing from your brand.
The 5 best automated ecommerce messages to send
So which automated messages are the most effective? Let’s look at some of the best and most popular workflows for ecommerce businesses, and how you can use them to save time and increase revenue.
1. Welcome series
A captivatingwelcome series is your best opportunity to turn a visitor’s passing interest into an engaged and loyal customer. For these types of emails, which are automatically delivered to new visitors at predetermined times, you should aim to provide all the information and inspiration they might need to make a purchase. This is a good chance to introduce your competitive differentiators and add a little value with a small incentive, such as free shipping.
A personalised and engaging welcome series has been proven to be one of the most engaging email marketing strategies and is a must-have for every ecommerce brand. Below is an example of online apparel brand Black Halo’s welcome email. In the email, they showcase their shipping and return policy, a small incentive, and how to get in touch with customer service.
2. Browse/product abandonment
Browse and product abandonmentautomated workflows give you another chance to engage with the 90% of visitors that browse and leave before placing an item in their carts.
These messages rely on you having visitors who are subscribed to your email list and are triggered when one of these visitors lands on specific pages on your site. Marketing automation software allows you to gain valuable insights about what people are interested in in order to send highly-relevant and personalised messages to potential customers.
Both browse and product automations work as friendly reminders to shoppers, giving that extra nudge needed to turn window-shopping into purchases. These reminders are ranked as the best-performing of all lifecycle automated messages (product abandonment has by far the highest open rates, scoring an impressive 51%), giving further proof that sending relevant messages to the right person, at exactly the right time, gets results. Below is an example from ASOS.com.
3. Cart abandonment
Based on the data mentioned earlier, it’s clear that winning back a lost sale due to cart abandonment is one of the most effective ways to boost revenue. Cart abandonment campaigns present the abandoned items in front of the shopper again at a pre-determined time and encourages them to complete their order.
Cart abandonment emails are not new, but most marketers send a single, non-customised message to try and win the sale back. With today’s personalisation options, however, there are many creative tactics you can employ, such as trying different incentives, splitting offers by abandoned cart size, and sending multiple messages across channels.
Communication with your customers shouldn’t end with a ‘thank-you for purchasing’ message. Returning customers generate the vast majority of your sales. That’s why it’s important to keep them engaged even after the first, second, and third purchase.
A thoughtful post-purchase email series can help lure customers back to your store and shop with you again. These messages should nurture, engage, and provide your customers with a better purchase experience.
There are several ways to engage your customers in a post-purchase campaign. Here are a few ideas:
- Send a “thank you” message along with an incentive to shop again
- Ask for a review
- Introduce your loyalty program
- Send user-generated content and encourage them to do the same
- Send helpful tips: How to care for your products, ways to use the product, etc.
Lapsed purchasers are customers that have drifted away from your brand over time – it’s only natural for people to lose a interest over time. This doesn’t mean they’re lost forever, but you won’t win these lapsed customers back by bombarding them with thoughtless and unsolicited emails.
The key lies in always offering value like special offers and discounts. Most lapsed-purchase campaigns are a series of 2-4 messages, which are sent at carefully timed intervals. These messages can highlight new products, offer special one-time discounts, showcase user-generated content, and re-introduce your brand story — whatever might influence a past customer to return.
How to get started with ecommerce marketing automation
By now you should be pretty well acquainted with the benefits and uses of ecommerce marketing automation. But before you get started with marketing automation, here are a few things to consider first.
1.List your needs
Every brand has a unique set of needs, so looking for the ideal marketing automation software based on the problems you’re looking to solve will help you make the right investment.
When sourcing the right marketing automation tool, you’ll want to ensure that it integrates well with your ecommerce platform, be it Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or Magento. These platforms come with their own set of features, so think carefully about which specialized features are best suited to your marketing workflow needs.
2. Assess your tech stack
If you’re using software that already works well for your ecommerce supply chain, it’s important that you choose an ecommerce marketing automation tool that complements this. For example, your order fulfilment technology tool should also integrate seamlessly with your automation software with a quick, hassle-free setup.
The same goes for your other tools and plugins. Do your research about integrations and take advantage of a free trial, if offered, to test how everything works together.
3. Actionable reporting
Choose a marketing automation tool that gives a clear and concise analysis of your performance, strengths, and weaknesses. Omnisends’ spot-on sales tracking combined with comprehensive campaigns and automation performance reports helps marketers track exactly how they’re doing and allows them to make data-based decisions on how to improve. Because you can’t improve what you don’t measure!
Getting started with ecommerce marketing automation might seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and resources, it will help simplify your marketing strategy and support execution. Not only does it make your business more efficient, effective, and profitable, but the kind of targeted, personalised messaging it provides is now a customer expectation in a competitive market.