Many businesses (including B2C and B2B ecommerce retailers) are considering, or have already, made the leap from a basic email marketing platform to one of the top 5 Marketing Automation Platforms. In reality, these companies aren’t just moving away from a basic email platform when they make this decision, they’re also consolidating several other aspects of their marketing technology stack such as: landing pages, forms, surveys, list management, and CRM integration.

However, consolidation is not the main driver here since a Marketing Automation Platform will likely cost more than these individual tools combined. So what is the main driver? The ability to amplify your marketing efforts in ways that are not possible using several tools. Many businesses are making the move because it allows them to leverage data and insights about their customers to activate all stages of their sales and marketing funnel. More specifically, I’m referring to lead generation, pipeline marketing, and customer marketing.

Ecommerce websites are an excellent candidate for Marketing Automation, as such its no surprise that many of the Top 500 retailers have already made the investment. Here are some of the top Marketing Automation Use Cases for ecommerce businesses. Feel free to use this as a template or framework for your B2C or B2B ecommerce Marketing Automation project.

Newsletter Opt-In Drip

Many ecommerce businesses aggressively promote signing up for their newsletter. Sometimes this is done with a simple opt-in box on the website, or within a pop-up, in addition to offering an opt-in as part of the checkout process. You should test which locations work best for your website, and quickly remove the ones that are not performing as they could be detracting from site conversions.

This example applies for the simple “email address” opt-in box:

  • Email 1: Thank you: Include information on what types of emails you send with a call to action to update their preferences in the Subscription Centre.
  • Wait 3 Days: Send a reminder to non-openers thanking them and making them aware they can select the types of emails they want to receive.
  • Email 2: Invite customers to receive a $25 off coupon (or whatever works for your business) to provide more information about themselves.
  • Upon Click, take your customer to a progressive profiling form  to fill out their name, address, and interests. Then email the promo code to those who complete this step.

Request a Catalogue Drip

For those catalogue retailers with ecommerce websites, you can build your contact database by offering catalogue requests right on the website. If you’re low on inventory of printed catalogues, you can provide the customer with a digital catalogue. These are fairly warm leads for customer service or sales to follow-up and help through their purchase.

  • Email 1: Thank you: Include information on the catalogue, informing them that customer service will process your request shortly. Include links to the digital catalogue.
  • Wait 3-5 Days.
  • Email 2: Using a similar creative layout (so they know its related to their catalog request) give them information about key products or services. Make links to the digital catalogue visible.
  • Wait 3-5 Days: Using a similar creative layout (so they know its related to their catalog request) include a promo code for purchase on the website (use a code that is unique to this process for reporting and tracking purposes).

Abandoned Cart Drip

Ever since Amazon first introduced the Abandoned Cart Email, most ecommerce merchants have followed-suit. However, creating an effective Abandoned Cart Strategy for your business will likely be very different, and should be aligned with what your customers need. At the very least, you should test creating an automated program that makes it easy for shoppers to view the contents of their cart and return conveniently back to your website. A good place to start is with customers (versus prospects) so that you can personalize the email.

  • Wait 1-4 Days (test the delay by measuring opens and clicks).
  • Email 1: A nicely branded email (that reminds customers of the website) with a shopping cart layout that includes the products the customer had in their cart and a link to click through to the shopping cart to purchase.
  • The email should include links to the My Account section of their website and be very personalized (first name, last name, customer number for example).
  • It is important to test different messaging and information to see how each impacts click throughs and conversion rates such as: pricing in the email, stock levels, shipping and returns information, etc.
  • It is also important to test different subject lines such as “Did you forget something?”, “Product Name is Waiting For You”, and “Did you want to keep shopping for Product Name?”

Recommendations Drip

Creating an effective, automated recommendations drip can be very difficult since you are relying on the user’s website behaviour in many cases. We have all been a victim to a recommendations email that is pushing products or services that seemingly make no sense to us. Testing and watching your results closely is very important in this case. Here is a simple recommendations drip based on the last product the user looked at before they left the site. Again, a good place to start is with existing customers (versus prospects) so that you can personalize the email.

  • Wait 3-5 Days (from recent site activity).
  • Do not enter into drip if the customer hasn’t opened or clicked these emails in last 15 days.
  • Email 1: A nicely branded email (that reminds them of the website) with the product that they last looked at as the main focus. Include links to any content you have that helps customers buy that product (for example videos, blogs, comparisons, etc.).
  • Directly below that product, create a grid of recommended products for review by the Customer such as: Related Items, Customers Also Bought, or Higher/Lower Quality Items.
  • The email should include links to the My Account section of the website and be very personalized (first name, last name, customer number for example).
  • It is also important to test different subject lines such as “Can we help you with Product Name?”, “Michael, this will help you with Product Name”, and “Here are some ideas based on Product Name”.
  • I would include a ‘Recommendations Opt-Out Link” that will allow the user to opt-out of just your recommendations drip. This should be monitored closely to determine if the recommendations drip is working.

First Time Customer Drip

One thing that I find ecommerce businesses don’t do enough is inform the customers about the benefits of being a customer. Many marketers jump immediately to ‘selling the next thing’ and rarely send any customer service related emails. Apple does a good job at this. After buying a product from them, you will receive 1 or 2 emails about things that can help you with your original product purchase. By focusing on your first time customers, there is an opportunity to ensure all customers have everything they need to be successful (or happy) as a customer.

  • Email 1: Thank you for your purchase. Recognizing they’re a new customer and you appreciate their business. Include information about what they purchased and key customer service details for reference.
  • Wait 3-5 Days.
  • Email 2: Using your product. Provide an email that talks about how the customer can best use their new product (even before it arrives). This can include information right in the email, with links to videos, blogs or other useful content.
  • Wait 5 Days.
  • Email 3: Are you happy with your product? Product an email that thanks them again for the original purchase, inviting them to rate and review the product. It can also offer a list of accessories or complementary products. This email can also offer assistance for any common customer service issues (i.e. a FAQ in the email) and visible contact information to the customer service team.
  • At any point you can offer a promo code for a future purchase, or key information about your company that would be helpful for your Customer to know.
  • Again the point of this drip is not to sell your customer on their next purchase but to ensure they have everything they need to be successful with your product. The goal here is to cement the customer’s relationship so they will refer your business and hopefully buy from you again.
  • Early exit criteria: none.

Note: early exit criteria for any of these drip concepts (except the First Time Customer Drop) should be anyone who completes another transaction.

The nice thing about having a Marketing Automation Platform is that you can do things that would otherwise be very difficult , time consuming or impossible with basic marketing tools. Even though this seems like a bit of work, you should not shy away from investing in these types of communication drips. Not only do the industry statistics prove these tactics work, the maintenance overhead is much lower than the ongoing benefit.

And that’s where we can help. If you need an expert team to help you deploy, manage, or revise your Marketing Automation Platform, contact our sales team and we’ll be happy to help.