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Useful marketing automation tips for eCommerce websites

Useful marketing automation tips for eCommerce websites

Fun fact! 75 per cent of all businesses that use a marketing automation solution see a positive ROI within the first year. This is in addition to saving time by eliminating complex processes, and an ability to better retain customers who might otherwise jump ship.

Sounds pretty good, right? These are just a few of the reasons the marketing automation software sector is predicted to grow by a compound annual growth rate of just under 10 per cent between 2018 and 2026, and why roughly 70 per cent of organisations are already using the technology in one way or another.

Marketing automation for eCommerce

As you’d expect, numbers like these have made automation tools a hot topic in the world of content marketing, and their benefits to eCommerce websites in particular can be revolutionary. After all, if you sell a product or service through any sort of eCommerce platform, it’s vital for customers to feel as though they’re being spoken to in a personal way, rather than receiving the same cookie-cutter experience as thousands of others.

The challenge for an eCommerce business is how best to use marketing automation software to create dedicated campaigns and unique messages for customers, without compromising other areas of your overall content strategy. This can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and a knowledge of marketing automation best practice for eCommerce, it’s possible to see some truly incredible results.

To get you started, here are six marketing automation tips for eCommerce that can radically change the way customers interact with, and experience, your online store.

With an understanding of marketing automation best practice for eCommerce, it’s possible to see some truly incredible results.

1. Send welcome emails

Creating the right experience for your customers starts from the moment they arrive on your website and complete some sort of action. Regardless of whether that’s making an account, signing up for regular emails or putting an item in their shopping cart, it’s critical to start the relationship on the right foot with an effective welcome email.

This is your only chance to make a great first impression, and far too many eCommerce businesses fail to recognise the ability of a welcome email to engage a customer at the right time.

After all, setting up an automated email to arrive as soon as an action is completed means you’re reaching customers at a moment when they are highly engaged and interested in your business, The stats back this up, with a recent Experian study finding that welcome emails are opened roughly four times more than other promotional emails, with a click-through rate that’s almost five times better.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply send a welcome email to your customers. You’ll also need to make sure the content is relevant, provides value, and fits the overall tone of voice established by your brand’s website and on social media platforms. Automation can help here by tailoring the content to a particular type of customer – for example, suggesting similar products related to their actions on your site. If you really want to create a great first impression, it could also be a good idea to include some sort of reward for signing up, such as access to a special offer or discount code.

2. Use customer segments

One of the most powerful elements of marketing automation tools is the ability they provide to split up and target dedicated ‘segments’ of customers.

These segments are groups with broad similarities in how they behave on your website and, subsequently, what they’re looking for from your business. This information makes it possible to more effectively direct your marketing campaigns towards different types of customer and avoid the pitfalls of simply sending mass emails that aren’t relevant to huge swathes of your audience.

For example, customers that fulfil the conditions associated with a segment – for example, those close to conversion (perhaps defined by making repeat visits to certain product pages) can receive follow-up emails that suggest similar and related products, or even include a special offer to entice them to make a purchase.

This segmented approach to automation may lead to a slight dip in the volume of your leads, but will hugely increase the quality of those remaining, ultimately leading to more sales.

A great illustration of how this works in action comes from McAfee, which implemented a lead scoring system that made it possible for customers at different stages of the marketing funnel to receive automated emails at the right moments of their journey. The results speak for themselves, with a 35 per cent decrease in leads but a whopping 400 per cent increase in conversion.

3. Talk to outgoing and unengaged customers

While a lot of the focus on marketing automation as part of specific eCommerce software deals with guiding leads towards conversion, it’s just as important to consider how the technology can be used at the other end of the spectrum.

A customer abandoning their shopping cart or canceling an order is an opportunity for retargeting. For example, a follow-up email suggesting alternate products could be a great way to guide customers towards other options if what they were previously looking at wasn’t the right product for them. Alternatively, customers who no longer visit your eCommerce site can be enticed back and re-engaged via promotional offers and campaigns.

Again, segmentation is critical here, as it will allow you to precisely focus on certain types of customer, and offer them specially targeted content that appeals to their needs.

Customer segmentation allows you to precisely focus on certain types of customer and offer them specially targeted content.

4. Offer loyal customers special discounts

One of the most important benefits of using marketing automation software is that it becomes much easier to retain existing customers and create opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

eCommerce is intensely competitive, and small businesses in particular need to do everything they can to keep their customers from moving to another website for their next purchase. However, for many eCommerce businesses, the core marketing focus is on securing new customers, which can lead to existing consumers slowly slipping away.

Automation provides a simple, low-effort way to engage this valuable part of your audience, and reward them for their continued business with discounts or free gifts after a certain number of purchases or amount spent. Not only will these automated email campaigns keep existing customers happy, they also can improve sales by incentivising more purchases in order to receive a certain reward.

5. Customise your website for each customer

A lot of marketing campaigns that utilise automation software tend to focus on emails, and it’s easy to see why. Dedicated email campaigns are a great way to reach specific groups of customers and provide them with relevant information.

However, if your approach to marketing automation relies entirely on emails, you could be missing out on an incredibly powerful component of the technology. This is the ability to customise your website for individual visitors, whether through the display of products related to a customer’s browsing history or more in-depth content (such as blogs, whitepapers or case studies) that relate to a lead’s position within the sales funnel.

This automation could even be as simple as a small ‘products you’ve recently viewed’ bar, which helps to reinforce the relationship between a customer and your business and remind them of products they’re interested in. In some respects, this personalisation is a way for eCommerce sites to replicate the experience of shopping in a brick and mortar store. The results speak for themselves, with data from Invesp showing that over half of online shoppers are more likely to return to a site that recommends products over one that doesn’t.

6. Consider chatbots as additional marketing tools

If you really want to take website personalisation and customer experience to the next level, chatbots can also be a valuable automation tool.

Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Chatbots haven’t always had the best reputation, and for a long time they’ve been little more than an annoyance that can even have a negative impact on traffic and leads.

This is starting to change however, and better automation has led to improved chatbots that can play a role in nurturing leads. In fact, the definitive 2018 State of Chatbots Report compiled by Drift, SurveyMonkey Audience, Salesforce, and myclever found that the technology does have a few key areas where it provides value to customers.

These are the ability to receive an instant response at any time of the day or night, as well as providing answers to simple questions.

For eCommerce websites, this means that a chatbot can add value, as long as their limitations are kept in mind. As an example, it’s not yet realistic for a chatbot to guide a customer through a complex process such as making a complaint. However, a chatbot can be used to channel a customer towards the best place to speak to somebody directly, whether that’s via social media, a contact form, or even connection to a real person over the phone.

The bottom line

Ultimately, automation is one of the most valuable tools for businesses in the eCommerce sector that want to improve the quality of their leads and provide a better experience for customers.

The tips we’ve touched on in this article are all great ways to get the most out of automation. As always though, it’s important to keep in mind that the best results will come when these strategies are deployed a part of a comprehensive digital marketing plan that is tailored to your specific needs.

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Ben Lange
Ben Lange About the author

A Castleford veteran now based out of England, Ben writes across a broad variety of industries, including construction, education, recruitment, banking and film and music. He’s a regular contributor to the Castleford blog and writes for clients such as Hilti Australia, TRC Group and Beyond Bank.

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