Email marketing automation is a customer retention tool for eCommerce businesses and it is one of the most powerful marketing tools. The upside to adopting email marketing is that it generates the highest ROI out of the most common digital channels- according to a 2021 study by Litmus.
Email is a high-leverage way to encourage repeat purchases, thus making your business depend less on acquiring new customers. And email marketing helps you build your brand and a loyal customer base who’ll spend more time and money with you.
The issue lies in companies not knowing which automated email campaigns are worth prioritizing and testing.
Therefore, email marketing automation can prove to be a useful tool, yielding positive results and boosting your sales.
Let us go through what is email marketing automation, its types, how to set up email workflows, and understand some email marketing automation campaigns that you can implement.
What is eCommerce Marketing Automation?
Email automation is a software technology that can automatically send emails from your email service provider (ESP) using specific behavioral triggers.
Within the eCommerce space, these behaviors are signing up for a newsletter, purchase rewards, post-purchase transactions, cart abandonment, etc.
Types of Marketing Automation Seen in eCommerce
There are several types of marketing automation for eCommerce. Some are simple workflows while others focus on analysis.
Here are the four most useful types of automation that are common in the eCommerce space:
1. Email marketing automation
Email marketing strategy has shifted from depending on coding and manual testing to depending on the software. This software can help you create, test, and monitor different email campaigns easily and effectively.
The preferred form of email marketing platforms is cloud-based like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor because they are intuitive and offer a wide range of tools to help analyze the status of your campaign.
To generate the highest ROI and to increase your average order value (AOV), we recommend setting these four types of automated email:
- Cross-sell and up-sell emails:
When customer purchase something from your store, follow up with emails promoting similar times.
- Abandoned cart recovery emails:
It happens often that customers leave your site without checking out the items in their cart. You can simply follow up with an email and remind them about the items sitting in their cart.
- Promotional emails:
To those registered users, you can send an email communicating any promotions, sales, or discounts you are currently running or plan to run. Or even update them on the new products you are launching.
- Customer loyalty emails:
Your customers and registered users can receive re-engagement emails, periodically, to keep them interested in your site.
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2. Automated workflows
Automated workflows will help you keep your customers satisfied and will also save you time.
Since they work autonomously, they can handle tasks all day (even when you are asleep).
Payment gateways will process credit cards (or other payment methods). Automated customer relations management will sync the customers with central databases to be used for email marketing.
You can also use workflow automation software for negative reviewers and respond to them, categorize your customers based on their purchase history, generate leads to boost conversions, manage inventory, print shipping labels, and even schedule your social media posts.
3. Customer analytics
Automation software can track data into a central directory, making the information easier to access.
Many available programs will also offer users analytics tools to help them gain consumer insights.
With such automatic analytics tools, you can monitor lead conversion rates, website hot spots, purchase histories, email engagement stats, ad impressions, etc.
You can also use them to track product performance, future sale items, cross-sell items, and potential product groups. Furthermore, you can monitor the results of sales and promotions too.
4. Creating and maintaining landing pages
When you’re stuck while designing a landing page, a landing page builder and its tools can help you create attractive and effective landing pages that will complement your sales funnel.
If you have different ongoing campaigns at the same time, you can use drag-and-drop editors to create custom landing pages for each one. Additionally, they include a high-converting page copy that you can use and customize for your product or service.
And after your launch, these tools can help you monitor the pages and make changes to increase your conversion rates as per your campaign requirements.
What are Email Sequences?
Now, let us look at email sequences or workflows.
An email sequence or workflow is a series of emails that are sent to your email subscribers. They are triggered when a certain action is performed by the subscriber.
The emails (usually 3-5) are sent at a specific frequency like daily, four days a per week, weekly, etc.
They are programmed to send the emails according to a condition- it could be as simple as signing up for your list to receiving a download link but not taking any actions after.
There are various benefits to implementing email workflows, like:
- Closing sales on automatic gives you momentum to work on more crucial tasks.
- According to this DMA study, email marketing provides the highest ROI among all email channels.
- It automatically segments your audience
- It encourages your audience to reply to your emails, and you can engage with them to get valuable data from the interaction.
- It keeps your audience warm even when you’re away.
Businesses are now leveraging email sequences as they’ve realized its benefits and how it helps them to grow.
And for you to also implement and reap the positive results, you will need to understand how to step up your email workflow to help you generate revenue from emails alone.
Setting up Your Email Workflows Step-by-Step
Creating an email workflow is a simple task- it is just a drag-and-drop process.
But it does get complicated when crafting the most effective sequences for your eCommerce business. And for this to be made easy, you need to follow a process:
Step 1. Choose The Right Email Software
If you’re already generating leads, your first step should be choosing an email marketing tool and sticking to it.
Since all of them are easy to use and work effectively, the trick to finding the right one for you is to look at your business needs and which ones fit according to those.
Some of the features you shouldn’t compromise on are:
- Audience segmentation.
- Great analytics tools
- Behavioral conditions.
- Usable templates
- Lead scoring.
- A/B testing.
- Compatibility with other tools you use.
- Decent pricing.
Some of the most popular options are SmartrMail, Omnisend, and Klaviyo.
Step 2. Select The Main Trigger
Once you have set up your email software, it is time to start creating the email workflow.
There might be some workflow templated offered by the software that you can use. Or you can just create a new one from scratch.
The first thing you should determine is the trigger for this email campaign- who are you trying to communicate with?
Ideally, your first sequence will be a welcome email that you send when a subscriber signs up.
The interface of your campaign creation will be mostly drag-and-drop. Therefore, you just need to find the triggering factor and determine the action your subscriber should perform to activate the sequence.
Thus, your workflow’s foundation will be the trigger.
Step 3. Write and Insert Your Emails
Once you have chosen your main trigger, you should insert your emails.
Simply drag and drop each email for your campaign and edit the content properly.
And from there you start selecting the number of emails that will be sent for this particular campaign.
When designing an email sequence, you should ask yourself these questions:
- What is the purpose of your email?
- What could’ve been on the minds of the prospects when they took the action to trigger your emails?
- What is the action you want them to take?
- What should they be feeling or thinking in order to take the next step?
These questions will help you put yourself in the shoes of your audience and understand the user experience. This will help you design your campaigns carefully and effectively.
Ensure to settle on a number of emails that are well-written, relevant, and necessary. After this, you need to set up your rules.
Step 4. Set the Rules
To implement a behavioral workflow, you need to set some rules.
What if you want a customer to review your product but they do not respond? How can you avoid sending the same email twice to the same person? What to do if you send your subscribers a downloadable resource for it to be ignored?
In these given situations, you should have personalized behavioral rules that will help you maximize the performance of your message.
In the interface of campaign creation, you need to include conditions as per your requirement, and given any situation, what are you going to send to yield a positive response?
Once this is done, you need to set up rules depending on the reactions to the emails.
Here, you can experience, and try different workflows and test emails to optimize the ROI for your email marketing.
Marketing Automation Campaigns Suited For Any eCommerce Store
As we mentioned, email marketing is a game changer. And the more emails you send, the more customers you will have coming to your site.
More customers visiting will translate into bigger profits and higher ROI for your marketing efforts.
These are the four effective campaigns that are used by eCommerce businesses:
1. Welcome potential customers
A good first impression is crucial for eCommerce businesses. Therefore, a well-crafted and drafted welcome email to introduce your brand is important.
You can send this and offer the first-time subscriber some kind of a discount or coupon to make that good first impression that will want them to do business with you.
We’d recommend looking into the “welcome series” email campaign set up by Skullcandy, where they engaged the subscribers over a few months by sending a proper amount of emails periodically.
2. Re-engage inactive customers
Try to re-engage with your inactive customers using eCommerce marketing automation.
You can take inspiration from Naturally Curly, where they use the software to send out automatic win-back emails at thirty-day intervals after the customer’s last purchase date.
These emails essentially state that you are still there and are looking forward to doing business with them again.
When done properly, re-engagement campaigns can increase the customer lifetime value.
3. Win back customers with abandoned cart emails
If you are not rectifying cart abandonment, it can negatively impact your eCommerce business. Like it can upset your inventory management, skew up stock levels and make your metrics go red.
Although you can never bring cart abandonment levels to a 0, you can reduce them by sending automatic abandoned cart emails to win back at least a percentage of the customers who’ve abandoned their carts.
Automated abandoned cart emails are common- big players like Amazon also send them to entice the customer into finishing the purchase process.
4. Offer personalized promotions
To send an offer to the customers personalized promotions, you need to first determine which products your customers buy most frequently and then you can create the offers based on that.
This Epsilon report states that 80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a business if they provide personalized experiences.
Such personalized and customized offers can also boost customer retention, positively impacting revenue.
7 Essential Email Flows for Your Ecommerce Store
The following are the 7 types of email workflows that are important for any eCommerce business:
1. Onboarding Emails
Onboarding campaigns provide you the opportunity to create a great first impression on your new email subscribers. This will encourage them to convert and learn how to the products your brand offers.
The best way to onboard new email subscribers is by sending them an engaging sequence from the first welcome email. You can capitalize on them as they usually get 4x more open rates than promotions, according to this study.
There are various ways of doing your onboarding sequence:
- For the new subscribers that aren’t customers yet, you can send a 7-days email course, recommending your products throughout the content.
- For new customers, you can educate them on how to use your products and what you can do with them.
- Send FAQs and offer your help.
Through your welcome email, you can let your audience know who you are as a brand, the value you can offer, and what they should be expecting from you.
In the end, you should be encouraging your audience to take the next step when they receive your onboarding email. Therefore, include proper call-to-actions, and make your content easy and interesting for consumers.
2. Upselling Sequences
Upselling is offering your customers an additional product that complements their previous purchases.
You can automatically get more sales by upselling your products to your customers after their purchase using email workflows.
Upselling campaigns include:
- Recommending products according to their buying history or browsing behavior.
- Curating personalized selections. Simply pick two or three products that complement their current cart and offer to add them.
- Creating content around your complementary products and how important they are.
- Sending reminders to re-buy consumable products to encourage recurrent purchases.
- Sending reminders to change their expirable products such as guitar strings, car tires, and batteries.
Here, the idea of upselling is to make it a habit to buy. And it is very different to get a customer who spends $10 on a product you sell than someone who spends hundreds monthly.
And with upselling campaigns, you can upgrade one-time customers into premium and loyal brand fans that will repeatedly purchase from you.
3. Nurture Campaigns
You can’t simply just send promotional emails to people all the time.
Here comes nurturing campaigns through which you can demonstrate that you are not here to just make money but actually provide them value.
Nurturing emails can be applied at every point of the buyer’s journey and they serve the purpose of keeping your audience engaged with your content like:
- Email courses
- Youtube Video
Essentially, you want to forge a relationship with your subscribers that is based on trust and not just monetary exchange.
You can also use these campaigns to prepare and excite your audience for the next promotion. So when it finally launches, it will come naturally to them to purchase the product.
4. Cart Abandonment Emails
As we mentioned earlier, cart abandonment can really hurt your business. Therefore you can send emails to those who’ve abandoned their carts and encourage them to complete the purchasing process.
You simply send a reminder, then follow that up with a more persuasive message and as a last resort, you can offer them a discount on the products in the cart.
Before that, you must understand why they’re not going through with the purchase process. There could be various reasons like not having the preferred payment option, the tax is too high, there is no free shipping, the returns policy doesn’t seem to work for them, the user interface of the process window is not user-friendly, etc. or it could be as simple as the customer forgetting about adding things to the cart and exiting to never visit.
So ask your customers for the reason for abandonment and then rectify it.
Depending on the situation, your emails will help you mitigate the problem and help you recover the customer whom you would’ve lost if you hadn’t followed up with a cart abandonment email- simply sending a reminder can do wonders.
5. Re-Engagement Campaign
As time passes, your email list will experience a decline in open rates and engagement. This could be because your leads changed their email address or simply decided that they’re no longer interested in what you’ve got to say.
What you can do here is send them a re-engagement email sequence that will convince the unengaged customer to try your product once more or simply just engage with your content.
You should do this because you have the chance to convert unengaged people into active customers.
When creating this campaign, you should go through your email list and target those who have not opened any communication in the last 3 to 6 months.
And you must ensure that the contents of the email are attention-grabbing and compelling. You can include a come-back discount, can highlight what is new in the store and what they’ve been missing out on, or simply send them a message communicating that you’re curating a list and they can stay on it by clicking on the link.
Naturally, the majority of them will keep ignoring your emails or simply unsubscribing from your list. This is good, you can remove the unqualified prospects from your list.
But this can have a positive impact and have people shop from you again- thus, the effort will pay off.
6. Feedback Requests
To know what your customers want, you need their feedback. Procuring reviews and feedback from customers is crucial for an eCommerce business.
When running an online business, it can be tough to get feedback because you do not see the people who buy your products.
Therefore the solution is to interact with them through social media, gathering user-generated content, and implementing customer reviews in your store.
Another way is to get feedback via email.
Just create an email workflow that focuses on getting feedback from your customers regarding their purchases. Or you can also set one up to get feedback on a newly launched product to drive more purchases by influencing people using the review (be transparent about it).
You can also include surveys in your feedback email or a rating system to not only help with the products but the operation of your eCommerce site.
7. Event Sequences
You can utilize special events like Instagram live, podcasts, webinars, and fairs to get more subscribers. And it also provides a great opportunity to leverage email automation.
Let’s say that you are hosting an interactive and informative Instagram live to cover healthy habits as a topic. You can create hype for this event by sending an email regarding the topics you are going to cover or even the success stories of people who have taken your advice.
All of this will get them excited to join your Live and people will attend.
You can also set up emails to be sent post the completion of your event.
- You can send the video clip to those people who didn’t attend the event or had to leave in the middle.
- Following the event, you can send nurturing emails that are relevant to the topic and even promote some products.
- You can encourage the attendees to ask questions and give you feedback.
- You can also run promotional offers that they can’t reject (only for the attendees).
Essentially, the possibilities here are endless.
5 Fundamental Tips for Email Automation
Here are 5 fundamental tips to help you avoid any mistakes with your workflow.
Tip #1. Segment Your Email List
Personalized experiences drive more engagement. Therefore, when trying to optimize your email marketing performance, you should segment your audience.
Experian states that personalized emails sell 6x more than non-personalized promotions and the way to accomplish this is through segmentation.
But the question is, how to do that?
Your email software will do it for you- it will segment your email list based on the behavior, tags, or any conditions.
You can also send a broadcast campaign with the purpose of segmenting your list. You can segment your audience beyond only demographics, like:
- Stages of the sales funnel and whether they are old or new subscribers.
- Purchase behavior.
- Sign-up source.
Segmenting is the way to personalize the experiences of your customer and provide them value.
Tip #2. Avoid Overlaps with Broadcast Emails
You will be sending many broadcast campaigns like general promotions, weekly newsletters, etc.
But what if your subscriber triggers a sequence when you are about to send the promotion? It may look like you are spamming them, thus, organizing is the key.
Simply look at your weekly schedule and set your days for specific requirements like Wednesdays are for newsletters and Fridays are for promotions.
When you have such a schedule, there will be lesser chances of overlapping which may compromise the campaign performance and spam the inbox of your customer.
Tip #3. Write Email Copy that Gets Results
An indispensable factor in email marketing that can make or break your efforts is the copy.
Your offer could be the best, your strategy might be perfect and your design can be the most enticing, but if the copy is boring, it won’t drive results.
If your email subject line doesn’t grab the attention of the people, they’ll not open your email and not learn about your offer
If your first paragraph isn’t compelling, your email will go straight to the bin. And if your emails are not persuasive enough, people will unsubscribe.
Therefore, your copy has to be persuasive and strategically written to grab the attention of the people. Here, the following will template wouldn’t be enough, you have to know your audience for the copy resonates with them.
When writing your copy, you should take into consideration the following things:
- Determine the purpose of your email.
- Include call-to-actions.
- Add social proof.
- Come up with a catchy subject line.
Tip #4. Draft Your Sales Funnel, and Combine Multiple Sequences
You know you can combine multiple email workflows for different situations.
Expert email marketers can understand the entirety of your eCommerce sales funnel and will have your campaigns merged in a manner to create one sophisticated workflow.
You can use this to convert new subscribers into loyal customers in a smooth manner. Therefore, if your new subscribers are reacting positively to your onboarding email, you can set up a nurturing sequence to follow that trigger.
And for this, you should divide your audience into:
- People who are new to your list (problem aware)
- People who engage with your content (solution aware)
- People who know your brand and the products you sell (product aware)
- Loyal customers who regularly buy your products (most aware)
Based on this, you need to understand what kind of emails you should be sending to which group of people.
Tip #5. Don’t Fall Asleep, Keep Improving
Just because your email workflow is automated, doesn’t mean that you should never monitor it.
You should be optimizing your emails, and new sequences, coming up with new ideas and replacing what does work for you. You have to change and modify in order to grow and yield results as your business grows.
Monitor your analytics and check your KPIs to understand what works and what does not.
You need to keep an eye on these aspects:
- Your open rates.
- Conversion rates.
- Bounce rates.
- Unsubscriber rates.
Conduct A/B tests to see what subject lines get more open rates, and research your audience to understand the problems they’re facing and what content they’re looking for.
Although one of the benefits of automating your email marketing is leveraging your time, effort, and work that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore it after you are done setting it up.
Best Ecommerce Marketing Automation Software
There are various marketing automation software and platforms available. Let us look at the best one and what they have to offer.
Campaigner is a tool that will help you with marketing across different channels, including advanced email marketing automation.
You can use this to create email workflows, nurture prospects, track conversions, and personalize every aspect of your emails.
It offers various templates for your email design and it also has an inbuilt image editing tool. These tools can help with the visual aspects of your email marketing.
It provides comprehensive reports regarding opening rates, click-through rates, geolocation reporting that can help you understand the effectiveness of your campaigns per location, etc.
Other key features include:
- Triggered campaigns
- A/B testing
- Sign-up forms
Pricing: It starts at $59 per month for up to 5,000 contacts.
A popular email marketing software platform that focuses on making email marketing simpler, intuitive, and more valuable, EmailOctopus offers templates you can customize and use in a drag-and-drop editor or design from scratch.
It also includes a landing page builder with everything you need to generate leads and grow your email list.
Most of your existing tools like Shopify, WordPress, and Gravity Forms will easily pair with EmailOctopus.
Other key features include:
- Leveraging email automation to deliver campaigns.
- Import existing subscribers and keep growing with customizable forms for your website, or create stunning landing pages to capture more subscribers.
- Start with a pre-designed template and customize it or build your own designs from scratch.
- Using insights and data to segment your subscribers into target audiences.
Pricing: EmailOctopus offers a free plan for up to 2,500 subscribers and 10,000 emails per month. Paid plans start at $8 per month.
Drip is one of the most advanced email marketing platforms available and it is the perfect option for an eCommerce business as it can integrate seamlessly with various eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, etc.
You can use your eCommerce CRM data and create personalized marketing, segmenting your email list based on clicks, email opens, purchase history, etc.
Other key features include:
- Ecommerce CRM lets you learn more about your customers so you can create targeted and personalized email marketing campaigns.
- SMS automation to drive engagement with buyers.
- Segmentation and reporting on email campaigns.
- Communicate with your customers no matter where they are, from email to SMS to social and beyond.
- Connect your eCommerce store to Drip to collect revenue-attribution data so you can make better marketing decisions.
Pricing: Drip offers a free trial. Pricing starts at $39/month.
Mailchimp is an established email marketing platform that is very popular. It is well-suited for beginners and startups.
It offers tools like data segmentation, templates, personalization, A/B testing, integration with CRMs, and lead capture forms.
It started as an email-focused solution, then later branched out to offer various tools like building a free website, buying a domain, creating paid ads and landing pages, publishing social media posts, etc.
Other key features include:
- Getting predictive insights about your contacts so you can personalize your marketing.
- Personalized individual content blocks within your emails with dynamic content.
- Designing personalized customer journeys using conditional logic and branching points.
- A/B testing to identify high-converting messages.
- Website and landing page builder.
Mailchimp offers a free plan for up to 2,000 contacts and one audience. Paid plans start at $11/month.
We hope that this guide has given your enough information about everything related to email marketing automation.
You can implement some of the best practices, use these strategies, and set up your workflow.
Make the most of your marketing automation platform- use the template, set up your schedules, conduct A/B testing and start your email marketing campaign in a positive way.
Although the setup will take time, once you do it, you can focus on other tasks without worrying about it. Do monitor it from time to time.
Remember, email marketing automation has various benefits and can yield great results (when done right). So start now and generate more sales effectively and effortlessly.