Even if you aren’t an expert, chances are, you implicitly grasp how great automation might be for your ecommerce marketing efforts. However, if you’re like most people who are unfamiliar with the particulars of automation, hearing this word — and thinking about how daunting it must be to set up — might be enough to scare you off.
Fret not. Marketing automation is all about making your business run smoother by working smarter, not harder. This article will clue you in on everything you need to know about what ecommerce marketing automation entails, how it can help your business become more effective, and what you need to do to start using it to your advantage.
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What is Ecommerce automation?
Marketing, particularly for ecommerce businesses, involves a great number of daily, repetitive tasks that are vital to success. These include activities like lead management, email nurturing, social media posting, and so on. While they are all pivotal to fulfilling your overarching marketing goals, they are also quite time-consuming.
Ecommerce marketing automation uses software to take control of those repetitive tasks by automating necessary, yet time-consuming functions to streamline operations and maximize efficiency. The immediate result of putting these responsibilities on autopilot frees up your time to concentrate on higher-order problems. Additionally, marketing automation can provide a host of secondary benefits.
Benefits of Ecommerce marketing automation
In a sense, the primary advantage you’ll gain from marketing automation is increased control. You’ll find that automation can bring about a wide range of improvements to your marketing efforts, which include the following:
You’ll save time (and boost creativity)
One of the most obvious benefits of marketing automation is the fact that it will save you time. With computer tools taking care of tedious work like filling in information, creating reports, and crafting your workflows, you’ll be able to cut the time it takes to build and launch your campaigns.
This will do more than free up time for your staff, as you’ll also be making them happier by reducing “busywork.” A happier marketing team is a more productive marketing team — one that can focus more energy on being creative. The end result is that regardless of the size of your team, automation will inevitably make them more effective and allow them to get more out of every hour they put on the clock.
You’ll reduce costs
With software bearing the brunt of your tedious workload, you’ll be able to do more with fewer staff members on hand. Carefully configured lead nurturing and trigger-based marketing pushes can transform the power of one marketer into dozens, significantly reducing the amount you have to spend to attract new business.
You’ll make fewer mistakes
Those tedious marketing tasks also have a reputation for forcing human error, precisely because they are so repetitive. Software experiences neither fatigue nor boredom, so mistakes born of these human factors will be a non-issue once you implement some automation into your ecommerce marketing routines.
You’ll boost customer experience (CX) and engagement
A worthwhile marketing automation solution can serve as a means to enhance the personalization of your messaging on a wide scale. As a result of this increased personalization, the customer experience you’ll deliver to prospective clients will be enhanced across multiple stages of their buyer’s journey, increasing potential conversions.
At the same time, you’ll see your lead nurturing and engagement strategies flourish. Automation will enable you to better identify the effective email and social media content that drives your customers and gain a better overview of the buyer’s journey that will allow you to identify potential hurdles. You’ll enjoy a smoother customer pipeline, born of ample nurturing and engagement optimization.
You’ll be able to improve more easily
Automation provides a twofold advantage when it comes to refining your processes. First, you gain a better top-down view of many of your marketing operations. This makes it easier to see how one element might affect another, and how to implement A/B testing that will help you clue in on what methods are resonating most with your customers.
Additionally, automation increases the speed at which you can make such adjustments. Unfettered by shackles of continuous manual input, you can create, then test, your campaigns with greater frequency. Increased frequency, in turn, provides more opportunities to refine your marketing strategies.
Examples of Ecommerce automation
It’ll be easier for you to understand the potential of automation by seeing how other pros use it. The following are some real-world applications of how ecommerce automation might fit into your current routine, along with examples of these principles in action.
Email Ecommerce automation
Did you know today, decades after its inception, that email is still one of the most effective forms of marketing? It’s a speedy and ubiquitous way to reach out to current and prospective clients no matter where they are. Furthermore, it provides one of the best return of investments (ROIs) of any marketing channel you’ll find; plus, automation can make it that much more potent.
Email automation allows you to execute amazing campaigns, even when you don’t have the time to send emails to each and every customer manually. It also allows you to craft unique messages — for the right audiences, at the right times — maximizing personalization and improving engagement. Here are a few ways in which that can work:
Automated welcome series
First impressions matter — especially in marketing. They’re a key component in creating a positive connection between your brand, your customer, and your products. You can achieve this with a technique known as an email welcome series, which hits new contacts with a combination of messages that introduce your brand while slowly increasing engagement.
Automation is almost a necessity when it comes to your welcome series, as it allows you to time each message with precision at the moments when they are most valuable and convenient to your new contacts. This increases the potential open rate of your welcome email, and increases the likelihood they’ll pay heed to future emails.
Beyond that, an automated welcome series helps you maintain consistency and keep the CX solid no matter how many new contacts you get. In addition to fully utilizing the power of automation, some best practices to keep in mind when you’re setting up your welcome series include:
- Prioritizing what you want to convey to new contacts before setting a definite number of emails
- Separating the initial welcome from any invitation to connect
- Using your welcome series to obtain more information about contacts so that you may improve personalization efforts in the future
Lead nurturing and new client emails
As something of a companion to your welcome series emails, you’ll also want to consider how you’ll send critical follow-up content to your contacts in the form of lead nurturing emails.
Lead nurturing campaigns are great because they allow you to continuously engage leads who aren’t ready to pull that proverbial trigger right away. All the while, you’re earning their trust, leading them through the buyer’s journey, and getting them closer to making a purchase.
Once again, automation can help you spread this content out and time it perfectly to guide those prospects down your funnel while you’re concentrating on other tasks. With automated lead nurturing email campaigns, you should consider the following:
- Use HTML-based emails sparingly in favor of text-based emails
- Prioritize valuable written content over flashy design
- Maintain consistency so that you don’t lose relevance in the customer’s mind
- Distinguish your brand whenever possible
- Personalize emails as much as you can (this is something your automation software can assist with)
Abandoned cart emails
This one is a major component of Shopify automation features and one that you definitely should not overlook. About 88.05 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned as of March 2020, according to data from Statista. That means those orders were never converted to purchase, and those businesses lost out on sales.
The reasons that customers bail on the sale might vary (forgetfulness absolutely plays a factor), but the way you can recover some of those deserters is largely singular: judicious use of abandoned cart emails. These messages have an open rate of nearly 50 percent and more than 10 percent of those who receive such an email return to make their purchase.
This represents an ample opportunity to boost your bottom line, and automation fits in perfectly with their use. It’s likely that you’ve already got the cart abandoner’s email address since they provided it when preparing their purchase. Plus, they’re already interested in buying since they went through the trouble of placing items in their cart.
Automation makes the process low hassle and high return, and might even net you a repeat customer. Just remember that subject lines can make or break your abandoned cart emails. You should approach your messages with the following in mind:
- Use a clear and direct tone
- Be informative without being pushy
- A little discount might sweeten the pot
- A/B testing subject lines will help you find the best performers
There are various emails you might need to send to a customer in the course of the purchase process and beyond such as order confirmations, shipping updates, password resets, legal notices, security alerts, etc.
This sort of information is of great value to the customer, and automating these communications reduces your workload while improving the efficiency and user engagement rate of a critical customer function.
Cross-selling and product recommendations
Cross-selling refers to boosting sale revenues by recommending additional or complementary products to committed customers. You might already be familiar with this practice in physical retail settings, but it’s also effective in email form if you’re able to weave automation into the process. Automated emails allow you to reach out to customers near instantaneously with potential opportunities, which will be more successful if you:
- Show customers the value
- Reward customers for their loyalty
- Keep your offers honest
- Present cross-sell opportunities in a simple manner
When it comes to simple-but-effective marketing practices, segmentation nears the top of the list. In a nutshell, it’s the process of dividing your customer base into more manageable groups based on shared characteristics. Click segmentation is a derivative of this process, wherein you provide links to your contacts that allow them to self-segment into those groups.
When you combine this practice with automated emails, you can insert links, buttons, and clickable images into your messages, then have your contacts automatically sorted into appropriate lists based upon what kind of links they click. This can help you send them better-targeted emails in the future and hopefully turn more sales. This strategy is more efficient when you remember to:
- Think about the “why” behind every link
- Carefully incorporate your business offerings
- Use automation to streamline the follow-up process
Automated ecommerce reviews
Online reviews are a huge deal in the world of ecommerce. According to a report from Concordia University, an estimated 73 percent of customers factor reviews into their purchasing decisions, and 92 percent of customers start to hesitate on the idea of a purchase if no review is available. This means reviews can affect your bottom line, but you can ensure you have plenty by asking your customers politely.
Setting up automated emails to solicit reviews after key customer action allows you to reach out for far more reviews than you’d be able to solicit manually. It will also help you optimize the response rate for such requests. Keep in mind these tips for maximum success:
- A straightforward, courteous message will yield the best results
- Express your thanks and link customers directly to the review page
- Don’t let the possibility of negative reviews prevent you from asking
Social media marketing automation for Ecommerce
Marketing automation includes more than email strategies. Automation also comes in handy for certain social media activities.
Social media is a great place to market when you have products to sell. In addition to creating awareness about your brand, marketing on social media allows you to interact with prospects in a place where they spend a lot of time. It will also help you enhance engagement among customers while building trust for your brand.
Social retail automation can help you squeeze more out of your campaigns — managing them with ease and saving time in the process. Social media scheduling tools, for instance, give you the power to arrange for posts to go live at the time of your choosing. This allows you to better maintain the type of regularity that will boost your social presence and bring in more customers.
Beyond that, the right automation platform may also include tools for managing your accounts, responding to messages, collecting metrics, and streamlining other aspects of your social media marketing efforts so you can achieve greater results with less effort.
How to get started with Ecommerce marketing automation
The first step in getting started with ecommerce marketing automation is choosing a software platform that’s easy to master and fits your needs. Options like Constant Contact make for a strong choice, not only because of their straightforward layout and simple drag-and-drop creation capabilities but also because of their long list of built-in ecommerce integrations.
The ability to merge additional functionalities from Shopify, Woocommerce, BigCommerce, Etsy, eBay, and more, allow you to create an integrated and highly-capable system that precisely matches your ecommerce needs.
Linking with Shopify, for instance, opens up the option to import your contacts, merge coupons and discounts into your communications, sync new contacts, and generate follow-up with those important welcome emails. You’ll gain similar functionality with Constant Contact’s additional integrations. They’re numerous enough to cover just about any ecommerce platform you prefer.
Once you’ve got your platform picked out, you’ll need to decide what elements of your marketing program you want to tackle via automation and learn how to implement these features via the software. But, now that you know a good chunk of what ecommerce marketing automation tools can do for you, you already have half of the equation worked out.
Ecommerce marketing automation holds the key to numerous benefits. While it might seem daunting at first, the main aim of this technology is to make running your business easier by taking control of smaller, repetitive tasks (like emailing contacts) and freeing you up to stay creative and lead your marketing team.
Remember, to maximize your benefit from marketing automation, you’ll need to pick the right software. From there, it’s just a matter of setting your goals, learning how to implement your newfound tools, and watching your performance to see how you can improve in the future.