Using email for marketing purposes might sound old-fashioned at first. Isn’t that a thing of the past? Aren’t social media and guerilla marketing the future of email marketing?
Well, it depends on how you look at it. Nobody says that new methods such as influencers and holistic marketing strategies don’t work. But that doesn’t mean good old emails should be discarded. Email marketing still holds the No. 1 place as the most efficient digital marketing method ever. If you’re an online seller looking for powerful click-through rates, pairing email and SMS marketing for eCommerce is a marketing strategy for success.
Since it has a famously high ROI, email marketing is especially relevant for small businesses. It requires little or no investment, and it can yield potentially valuable results. Often, eCommerce businesses opt for automation tools that require only small investments. That’s what we are going to discuss today: automated emails and their benefits for your small business.
What is email marketing and why automate it?
Email marketing is a very cost-effective advertising method. In order to start an email campaign, all a marketing team needs to have is a list of potential customers’ email addresses.
There are several ways to get these addresses. Email is considered sensitive personal data, so you have to be careful how you get it and what you send out to people’s inboxes. This is to avoid breaching the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR privacy rules, on the one hand, and to build sustainable, long-term customer trust on the other.
Usually, you can ask for an email address in exchange for some value provided to the customer. This can be a free e-book, discount, or information, etc.
Email marketing is a powerful method that can significantly boost your
- lead generation
- brand awareness
- customer conversion
Keep in mind that successful email marketing is a learning process. It takes time to learn how to effectively direct your email marketing efforts to get the best results. You will have to gain insight into your target audience(s), their habits, needs, aspirations, and values. Then, you will have to figure out which type of content goes best with the segment you’re targeting. To make the most out of it, you will have to track your progress, customers’ feedback, and monitor the main KPIs.
Email marketing automatization
The greatest enemy of email marketing is the spam folder. And the strongest weapon against landing in the spam folder is good quality content.
The true art of email marketing is finding the right balance between using cold email templates and personalization. The content of emails should be personalized, tailored to appeal to those you are addressing. But of course, it is impossible to write and send every email separately, as that would take longer than a marketing manager’s lifetime. Therefore, some automation is necessary.
Actually, the software does a better job than humans in terms of sending large numbers of emails in seconds and collecting and analyzing data afterward. However, humans are indispensable for creating friendly, engaging, useful, and entertaining content. And creating content also means adapting templates so that they fit your needs in the best possible manner.
Depending on the scale of your eCommerce business, you can do things manually or use campaign management tools. The main advantage of doing it manually is the high level of genuine familiarity you can show your prospects. However, it will take a lot of time. The main advantage of automation is that it handles a lot of boring and repetitive jobs for you while providing you with significant data insights and only slightly sacrificing the originality of your content.
Now that we are clear on the basics, let’s check out several types of emails every business eventually needs. They are useful in specific situations, like when space for sparking interest opens, or a customer’s action calls for your attention. These typical situations require email templates you should always have in your archive, ready to roll.
For context, let us say that email automation can be used at all stages of the marketing funnel. For example:
- Links to general advice and information can be emailed to prospects as top-of-the-funnel content, triggered by requests for a download or clicking a button in a blog post.
- Gathering more customer detail to deepen the conversation after the customer has engaged with your brand is an email in middle-of-the funnel territory, such as account sign-ups or quizzes, where automation prompts customers to share more data.
- Showing a specific customer why your product or service is the best one for their particular needs is specialized bottom-of-the-funnel content designed to close sales. Here, automation draws from behavior such as tracked product views or abandoned carts to encourage purchases.
Most email automation focuses on the middle and bottom of the funnel, and we’ll be talking about some of those elements here.
Having a new subscriber is a big deal. That’s one more person trusting you enough to share their personal online address with you. The least they deserve is a thank you note!
As the welcome email is usually your first interaction with a customer, you want to make a great first impression. A welcome note typically provides information that increases the chance of further engagement in the future.
Saying thank you, however, can be done in many ways, so feel free to be creative. Another thing to remember here is that a welcome email should be sent immediately after the prospects sign-up. Unless you want to be on watch 24/7, waiting to welcome new subscribers promptly, you need an automation tool to do that instead.
Finally, don’t forget a well-written and effective call-to-action button. If an email doesn’t have a clear purpose, it won’t convert. And a CTA button is one of the strongest appeals you can make to solicit a response in emails.
Cart abandonment is one of the worst nightmares for every business. It tells us that the person was interested in the product, they were willing to pay for it, but something happened to prevent the purchase from happening.
Figuring out what prevented buying at the last moment is another issue. It could be a problem with the payment gateway, an inconvenient shopping cart, unclear instructions, or something else.
Whatever it is, you should design a reminder email that lets your customer know you are there if they need any help. Whether you decide to invest in a simple drag and drop email builder or opt for a more complex tool to achieve this, it’s important that you reach out by email in a timely way.
For example, your email automation tool can send a couple of emails after given periods of time (say, one, two, and three days).
However, it is as important to remind your potential customers about their purchases as it is not to be pushy. Sending a friendly reminder is ok, but being obnoxious isn’t. If after three subsequent emails, you still don’t get any response, then it is probably time to move on.
If a customer entrusted you with their email address, then let them be the first ones to know about your discounts. They like your product and trust your company, so make sure they don’t have to browse your website repeatedly. Although a business needs a website and as much traffic as possible, you can’t expect people to remember to go there to learn what’s new all by themselves.
That’s why email marketing is so important, regardless of how strong your eCommerce SEO is. An automated tool will learn about your customers’ online behavior, favorite products, and purchases, and suggest just the products and discounts to them, sending them to appropriate landing pages for details.
Order Confirmation and Shipping
Shipping is a big source of anxiety for both businesses and customers. It is stressful for businesses because they don’t control the process (carriers do) that significantly affects the user experience. On the other hand, customers are fearful of long waiting, unpredicted delays, damaged packages, and so on.
As an eCommerce business, you should understand this and do whatever is in your power to ensure that your customers feel like you are with them in this process.
Therefore, sending an email in which you confirm that the payment went well and inform the customer about shipping details is a standard practice. Not having this type of confirmation raises suspicions, as your customers don’t know what’s happening with their money and their delivery.
If you want to learn from the professionals, then set your software to send several automated confirmation emails with as many details as possible. The most reliable eCommerce businesses are those that first thank their prospects for the purchase. Then, in the following emails, they:
- send general shipment details
- inform the customer that the delivery is on the way
- ask for feedback
Birthday cards or gifts
Everybody likes attention. And this is especially true on big days, such as birthdays. Therefore, if you have your prospect’s date of birth on file, join them for the celebration and send an automated “Happy Birthday” email. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, send a gift or a discount code, too.
It is very hard not to react to this type of email. According to statistics, birthday greetings generate more than three times the income of any other type of email.
Wherever you look, automation is inevitable in marketing. It is of great help for creating leads, upselling, engagement, obtaining feedback, market segmentation, personalization, and much more than that. As a practical tool, it helps marketing at every step of the way.
Although it can’t ever replace humans in some domains, software provides valuable help for automating email communications from eCommerce businesses. And you can be sure that email automation will yield great results in no time, especially compared to time-consuming manual communications.
Author: Nina Petrov is a content marketing specialist, passionate about graphic design, content marketing, and the new generation of green and social businesses. She starts the day scrolling her digest on new digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. Her white little bunny tends to reply to your emails when she is on vacation.