It’s no secret that email marketing packs a powerful punch for e-commerce marketers. However, anyone who’s ever worked in marketing knows that you have a lot to do, and very little time to do it all in.
Enter stage left, email marketing automation.
Email marketing automation is a game changer for those who are looking to harness that sweet ROI power of this channel but need it to be automated to free up time.
Because let’s face facts, if you had to send a birthday email to each and every one of your customers, it would be exhausting. Customers would fall through the cracks.
But unlike humans, machines don’t make mistakes. And by using automated email campaigns, you can earn a lot more revenue pretty much on autopilot.
And I’ve got 7 strategies to try out today:
Great email marketing doesn’t start when you create your first campaign.
No, young padawan. It starts much earlier.
When you’re creating a strategy for email marketing automation, it all starts when, where, and how you initially capture that email.
Using the targeted sign up forms is useful for a few different reasons:
* You can make sure they don’t show up to those who have already signed up
* You can target specific customers with specific relevant offers
* You can get different kinds of information from your customers with different forms
Showing a sign-up form or popup to someone who has already given you their email address or expressly opted out is irritating. While unavoidable if a customer clears their cookies or browses in private mode, it should not be happening otherwise. There’s nothing more annoying than a site that’s going to show you a popup no matter what. If a customer has opted out, you can set up your popup to show after a certain amount of time has passed.
Also, targeting specific customers with specific offers is a great way to get more information on exactly what interests your customers. For example, if you have a popup that’s set to appear on a certain category, you can use this email capture to pre-segment your customers based on their interest in that category.
Whether you’re building your list from scratch or you’ve got a beautifully curated list of subscribers, it’s time to segment them.
Your customers are far from exactly the same- and they won’t respond the same way to every message you send. So you’ll need to separate them into smaller groups to create messages that are truly relevant to them.
There are a few different ways to segment:
* Profile data: demographics, interests, etc
* Campaign activity: frequency of engagement, last engagement, inactive, etc.
* Shopping behavior: last purchase, purchase frequency, purchase amount, cart abandonment, browse abandonment etc
With these basic segment categories, you can go even further and target your messages even more precisely by layering segments on top of each other.
For example, maybe I want to target a male customer between 45-65, who purchased a scarf in the last 30 days. I can send that customer an email offering a pair of gloves to go with that same recent purchase as a cross-selling technique.
By segmenting this way, you can create messages that are personalized and relevant to your customer, no matter who they might be.
Of course, you’ll never know what messages work best for which segments until you do a bit of testing.
Hypothesize, implement, test, analyze, rinse, repeat.
Marketing is a lot like being a scientist. You have to analyze the data you have, try things out and analyze your results.
Luckily, this is pretty easy to do with email marketing automation. Implementing A/B testing is when you make two versions of the same email campaign and send version A to half of your subscribers and version B to the other half.
While that sounds easy enough- you need to think like a scientist: it’s important to have control. If you test too many things at once, you won’t know which variable really influenced your customer.
So to go further, if you are testing your subject line, keep the copy and visuals the same. If you’re testing visuals, keep your copy and subject lines the same.
There are a few different things you can test just to measure open rate:
* Change your promotions from % to physical dollar amounts
* Try adding emojis (or taking them away)
* Test subject lines using your customer’s first name (and then without)
* Try longer and shorter subject lines
* Change the sender so it shows your first name or “Whitney from Omnisend” for example
Testing different things like this will help you figure out exactly what kinds of messages work for which customers.
You know what will help you segment and target your customers even better? More data.
For instance, it’s pretty standard to ask for a customer’s email. A bold marketer will then ask for their first name.
Go further. Ask for a birthday too.
You don’t need to ask for every little thing at sign up, but asking for a birthday helps you do a few things, like setting up amazing birthday automation workflows to offer your customer a sweet discount for their birthday.
But knowing a customer’s birthday helps you demographically infer things about them too.
For example, a 45-year-old is not going to have the same spending power and message as a 21-year-old. So your segmentation will work better by age if you have significant age differences between customers.
Sign up isn’t the only place you can gather critical data on your customers. If you have live web tracking available for your site, you can see which of your known customers are browsing which items for browse abandonment campaigns.
If you see that one item is particularly popular with a lot of your customers, it might be worth it to send a dedicated campaign around this product (and products that would compliment it perfectly).
Ah, you thought this was going to just be about email marketing automation.
The fact is that for the consumer of today, email just isn’t enough.
Luckily, there are ways to add other channels into your marketing automation workflows. For example, say you use the same segment we talked about before: a 45-65-year-old male who purchased a scarf in the last 30 days.
Let’s say your email campaigns to upsell those gloves have fallen on deaf ears, so to speak. So you add in an SMS campaign to pack an extra punch. Then you send this same segment to your Facebook and Google Retargeting Ads.
Not only do you have a great email series going out, but for customers that have opted in for SMS campaigns, you have a message that’s seen almost immediately. From there, every time they’re on Facebook or Google, they’re seeing that same pair of gloves.
This is how you create an omnichannel experience for your customers. No matter where they see and interact with your brand, the message will be the same, and it will be relevant.
Say your customers are finally seduced by those amazing gloves, and they purchase from you. Using automation, they would then exit that segment and enter into a completely new one without you having to lift a finger.
This makes your email marketing automation workflows that much more powerful. Instead of relying on just one channel to make your point, you can pull from several channels to get your message to your customer.
Much like incorporating new channels into your marketing automation workflows, it’s important to create workflows that respond to typical stages of your customers’ journey.
In your automation workflows, you should have each of these staple workflows:
* A welcome automation series: to introduce your customer to your brand, give them their sign up incentive (if you had one) and show them what to do next
* A birthday series: to give your customer a little something special on their birthday
* An abandoned cart series: to bring your customer back to complete their sale
* Order and shipping confirmation emails: to keep your customer up to date and foster trust with your brand
* Follow up and feedback emails: to get feedback on recent purchases and propose a cross-selling product or two
* Reactivation emails: to bring inactive customers back into the fold
These automation workflows are adapted for each potential stage of the customer journey. It would be smart to make a different version of each depending on your different segments so that they’ll feel as personalized as possible.
Most importantly, when focusing on creating your automation workflows, if you’re leaving out post-sale automation, you’re leaving money on the table.
The customer journey shouldn’t be thought of as a destination- it’s about the journey itself. And unlike a destination (or purchase), you want a relationship with that customer by having them purchase, yes, but then purchase again and again and again.
The point is, the customer journey isn’t a line, it’s a loop. When a customer finishes their sale, it’s time to put effort into reconverting them by pulling them back in over and over again.
In your automation workflows, you can do this with your shipping and order confirmation. This builds trust with your customers as they feel better when you keep them updated on their orders. With feedback emails, whether they respond or not, you’re telling them that their opinion matters to you.
When you send products they might be interested in that go with what they’ve purchased, you’re showing your customer that you’re paying attention to what they like.
It costs so much more to acquire a new customer than it does to re-convert an existing one. Focusing on post-sale automation can help bring your customer back into the pre-sale stage of their customer journey.
Email marketing automation comes with a lot of moving parts, but as soon as you nail down the right strategy, you can pretty much set it and forget it. It’ll need a few tweaks here and there as you go, and as mentioned, you should always be testing, but ultimately you’ll be earning extra revenue on autopilot.
What’s more, these kinds of automation workflows help ensure that each of your customers is getting the right message at the right time. This improves the relationship you have with your customer, boosting customer trust and loyalty.
For more information on how to set up an email marketing automation workflow, check out this video:
What could you achieve with email marketing automation? What are your favorite workflows?