How to Get Started with eCommerce Email Marketing Automation

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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Email marketing automation for eCommerce is a critical tool for generating online sales.

The fact of the matter is that, on average, email marketing generates a whopping $38 per $1 invested, or a 3,800 percent ROI. Because of results like this, many marketers consider email to be one of the most lucrative marketing channels that a brand can leverage.

Moreover, as revealed by a VentureBeat Insight study, “84 percent of marketers believe email is important or critically important for customer loyalty.” This stat is critical given that, for most businesses, the majority of their revenue comes from repeat customers. Meanwhile, earning new customers is exponentially more expensive than retaining current clientele.

Therefore, email marketing automation for eCommerce is a vital tool in generating repeat purchases and keeping customers engaged with a brand in the long-term.

Put plainly, when it comes to increasing eCommerce revenue, email automation is possibly the single most effective tool available to online retailers.

As a means to help merchants get started with email marketing automation for eCommerce, today, we will be covering the basics of email marketing, platform selection, campaigns to run and other valuable insights.

To kick things off, let’s start with the basest question:

What Is Email Marketing Automation for eCommerce?

Just as the name implies, email marketing automation for eCommerce is the process of automatically sending out eCommerce-related messages to a brand’s subscribers through the use of schedules or triggers.

While this practice sounds relatively simple, there is a deceptive amount of depth and nuance to this discipline, as we will see.

However, at this point, it is essential to note that automated email marketing is not the message that customers receive after placing an order. While there are commonalities between this type of email and the broader idea of email marketing automation for eCommerce, the former is merely considered a transactional email that provides shoppers with important order details.

The goal with the previously mentioned transactional email is to inform. The goal with automated eCommerce email marketing efforts is to engage.

However, as with any marketing endeavor, selecting the right tools is a prerequisite to success. Without the necessary equipment, a proper foundation cannot be laid.

Therefore, retailers will begin their automated email marketing journey with selecting the right platform.

Selecting the Right Platform

Much of the success of email marketing automation for eCommerce businesses is dependent on the capabilities of the chosen platform. Therefore, deciding on the best email marketing platform for a brand is of the utmost importance.

The fact is that there is a panoply of email marketing platforms from which retailers can choose. While there are the ever-popular choices like MailChimp and Constant Contact, there are much more comprehensive and robust email marketing services available to retailers.

One of the most noteworthy of the bunch is Omnisend. With Omnisend, sellers gain access to a wealth of personalization tools, audience segmentation features, gamification elements, interactive signup forms, landing page builders and tons of other powerful tools for earning eCommerce conversions.

Multiple platforms

Some of the other email marketing services that are worth mentioning include:

  • GetResponse
  • AWeber
  • ActiveCampaign

With that in mind, not all email platforms will be perfectly suited to a seller’s needs. Therefore, some things that merchants should consider when selecting an email marketing platform include:

  • Cost: This can include monthly fees, setup fees and the like.
  • Capabilities: A platform should be able to meet a seller’s needs completely, as well as provide room to grow as the company expands its efforts.
  • Integration options: The tool should be able to easily integrate with the seller’s existing eCommerce platform, CRM and other marketing tools.
  • Support: The email marketing software selected should provide excellent customer support through various options such as telephone, email, live chat and the like.

After selecting the ideal platform for email marketing automation for eCommerce engagement, retailers can begin building campaigns designed to increase sales.

Types of Automated eCommerce Email Campaigns

There is a slew of email marketing campaigns that retailers can leverage to engage customers and generate conversions. Some of the most prosperous of the bunch include:

The Welcome Series

When sellers earn a new subscriber, they should aim to strike while the iron is hot and engage these folks immediately.

The best way to do this is with the “Welcome” email series.

Hello Fresh Welcome Email

This email marketing campaign consists of at least three emails in which the retailer aims to acquaint new customers with the company, its tone, the merchandise sold by the store and other aspects that could serve to excite shoppers and establish brand loyalty.

When it comes to email marketing automation for eCommerce, this campaign type is extremely effective in encouraging purchases as data from Respondr shows “86 percent more clicks than regular promotional messages. They also get 336 percent more transactions and earn 320 percent more revenue per email than other email messages.”

Therefore, this email campaign is an essential one for retailers to automate as engaging new customers early on can help to increase customer lifetime value in the long run.

Acknowledgment of VIPs

Most sellers are likely familiar with the 80-20 rule, otherwise known as the Pareto Principle. This principle essentially states that 80 percent of outcomes are the result of 20 percent of all actions.

As far as eCommerce retailers are concerned, this means that 80 percent of their revenue is likely derived from 20 percent of their customers. While the figures might not match up exactly, the principle still holds true.

The customers who spend the most with a company are that brand’s VIPs. These folks buy more frequently than the average customer, and they tend to make larger orders than the typical shopper.

Pottery Barn VIP email

These folks are worth calling out by name and building a particular automated email campaign just for them. These shoppers should be recognized and rewarded for their loyalty.

Therefore, once an individual meets a seller’s predefined criteria for what constitutes a VIP customer, they should be entered into a two- to three-email campaign in which retailers aim to:

  • Provide shoppers with a special gift or reward to which others do not have access
  • Ensure that they understand that the award truly is exclusive

A couple of ideas that sellers might want to utilize include:

  • The VIP Discount: With this email, retailers can send out a one-time use coupon that is of significantly higher value than other customers would ever receive. For instance, if a merchant would only ever make available 10 percent off coupons, VIPs should receive a 20 percent off coupon. Not only will this make customers feel special, but it will also encourage another purchase.
  • A Free Gift: Since sellers already know that VIPs love the store’s products, offering these high-value customers a free gift with their next purchase is an excellent option. Framed correctly, the VIP gift incentive can be a cost-friendly way to make a brand’s most important customers feel recognized and appreciated. This dynamic dramatically increases the chance of turning a customer into a brand advocate.

Email marketing automation for eCommerce campaigns such as this should be sent out the day after an individual becomes a VIP member, according to the merchant’s criteria.

Afterward, retailers should follow up with one or two reminders of the offer after 24-48 hours if the customer has not yet claimed their reward.

The Abandoned Cart Series

This is possibly the most profitable email marketing campaign for many eCommerce companies, given that roughly 70 percent of shopping carts get abandoned.

While this figure is undoubtedly disconcerting, it also provides merchants with a tremendous opportunity for growth. That is if they can recapture some of these sales.

Spanx Abandoned Cart

Some of the most commonly cited reasons for cart abandonment include:

  • Extra costs (shipping, tax, fees) too high
  • Forced account creation
  • Delivery was too slow
  • Security concerns

Therefore, when utilizing this kind of email marketing automation for eCommerce, the key to success lies in addressing as many of the potential customer concerns as possible.

When creating an abandoned cart sequence, it is wise to generate three to four emails to deliver over the course of the following two to three after the abandonment occurs.

For instance, sellers might send the first email 30 minutes after the transaction was abandoned. From there, retailers can send a follow-up email 12-24 hours later, assuming the shopper has not returned. Twenty-four hours after the second email was delivered, merchants can follow up again. Finally, 24-48 hours after the third email lands, store owners can reach out again if a conversion has still not occurred.

When it comes to reducing cart abandonment rates, the final email is the merchant’s last shot at recapturing the sale. Therefore, it is wise to include an incentive in the final email in the series, such as a discount, free shipping or similar offer.

The Re-engagement Email Series

The fact of the matter is that not all customers are going to become VIPs. In reality, many will stop engaging with a site altogether.

When this happens, retailers can aim to win these shoppers back with a re-engagement email campaign. This is one of the areas where email marketing automation for eCommerce really shines, as tracking dormant customers manually could prove to be a logistical nightmare.

However, through an automated email platform, this process becomes straightforward and highly lucrative. As revealed by a Return Path study, half of users who receive re-engagement emails open it and continue to engage with subsequent messages.

Hello Fresh Re-engagement Email

Moreover, in an interview with Campaign monitor, Sri Somanchi of Gmail’s Anti-Spam Team stated that in order for a retailer’s emails to reach a customer’s inbox, “the Gmail Anti-Spam team want[s] to see evidence that your recipients love or, at the very least, want your messages.”

Therefore, if sellers have a slew of inactive subscribers, their emails are likely ending up in the promotions or spam folder, thereby making it even harder to re-engage these folks.

When it comes to utilizing email marketing automation for eCommerce re-engagement, there are some fundamentals to keep in mind.

Firstly, start with a reminder email, letting customers know about items left in the wish list or products they have viewed in the past. If this fails to bring them back, follow up with an incentive such as a coupon.

If neither of these efforts works, let consumers know that they will be unsubscribed from the mailing list soon. If the shopper remains inactive after this email series, go ahead and unsubscribe them.

Email Marketing Automation Next Steps

While understanding the types of campaigns sellers can send is all well and good, it is necessary also to discuss practical strategies for enhancing the performance of the campaigns mentioned above.

That said, retailers can get started with email marketing automation for eCommerce by:

Segmenting Subscribers

Segmenting Subscribers

One surefire way to produce mediocre email marketing results is to blast out a single message to all subscribers. To optimize a campaign for the best results, retailers should take the time to segment their email audience based on various characteristics and behaviors. Doing this makes folks far more likely to find the email relevant and engage with the CTA.

Some of the ways that sellers can segment subscribers include:

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job function
  • Past purchases
  • Buying frequency
  • Purchase interests
  • Content interests
  • Stages in the sales funnel
  • Cart abandonment

By segmenting audiences based on actions and other identifying elements, retailers are leveraging a highly effective email marketing strategy for driving engagement and sales.

Personalizing Messages

The reason why email segmentation is a powerful tactic is that it customizes email campaigns to suit the customer’s interests. In addition to adequately segmenting audiences, retailers should take the time to personalize email messages as much as possible.

Personalizing emails with the user’s name or product interests, past purchases and the like can go a long way toward building a rapport with consumers and transforming them into loyal customers.

Connecting to Custom Landing Pages

While crafting the perfect email is a worthwhile endeavor, creating landing pages that increase conversion rates is another critical task for email marketing automation for eCommerce success.

If merchants send out fantastic emails that link to general or utterly lackluster landing pages, sales figures will also be ho-hum.

Therefore, retailers must tailor their landing pages to present a seamless transition from the email to the store. This means that landing pages should feature the products shown in the email and even match the outgoing message in design, content and calls-to-action.

Split Testing Emails

Just like with adverts and landing pages, emails should be split tested to establish which images, messaging, headlines, CTAs and the like are more effective at generating clicks and conversions.

Since this is such an essential task, the email platform that retailers select must feature the ability to A/B test campaigns.

Analyzing the Results

Analyzing the Results

When split testing emails, retailers will want to objectively observe the outcomes by analyzing specific KPIs that let them know if the campaign is succeeding or not.

Some of the most important KPIs to monitor and measure include:

  • Email delivery rate: This is the percentage of messages that actually arrived in a user’s inbox, as opposed to another folder like spam.
  • Open rate: This metric measures the number of email recipients who opened the email. This is one of the most critical KPIs as it helps to inform merchants about the effectiveness of the email’s headline.
  • Click-through rate: Of those who opened the email, how many of them clicked the call-to-action? This is the metric that reveals that info and tells sellers how enticing their email was to shoppers.
  • Conversion rate: This is the biggie. This data point indicates how many of those who received, opened and clicked through on the email took the desired action. While this will most likely be a sale for merchants, it can also be signing up for something, downloading a thing or any other measurable action.

Final Thoughts

Email marketing automation for eCommerce provides brands with incredible opportunities for engagement, sales and business growth. Thanks to the power of email marketing, retailers can effectively connect with consumers in a personalized manner that builds loyalty and revenue.

However, there is a lot to master with this modality. Instead of struggling through the growing pains of trial and error and hoping to see prosperous results someday down the road, reach out to Visiture’s eCommerce email marketing specialists.

Our team has the skills, knowledge and proven strategy to turn your company’s email marketing efforts into an automated revenue machine.

Join 150+ Leading eCommerce Brands

And see how Visiture can grow your revenue online through award-winning transactional focused marketing services.

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