Marketing Automation for E-Commerce

By Michael Macdonald | Automation

Nov 18
Selling online and creating a great customer journey with automated, personalised follow ups for higher customer lifetime value

This is the second instalment in the ‘Marketing Automation For... ‘ series.

What is Marketing Automation?

The first blog in this series outlines some of the things that Marketing Automation can improve in your business. 

Marketing is no longer just glitter, it’s everything you do to get and keep a customer. 

As businesses, we all use marketing to get our company in front of the right people to buy our product or service. If you get it right, that will be at the right time, with the right message on the right channel. 

You can’t be everywhere at once, in person, for every single lead that could possibly want your product. Hence the need to automate some of the customer journey using Marketing Automation. 

If you are not using marketing automation it may still be a mystery. Maybe you’ve rumbled along nicely without it, or it may bring up the idea of relentlessly hitting your list with sales emails. 

If you have an E-Commerce presence, marketing automation is an absolutely vital part of your toolkit to reach the people that are either ready to buy your product, or that need a little more information to be able to come to the decision to buy your awesome thing. 

When used in conjunction with either a built-in shopping cart (eg: Keap or Infusionsoft) or your existing E-Commerce platform, you can create marketing campaigns that encourage engagement and react to real time customer behaviour to drive sales. You can react to those sales with targeted and personalised follow up that keeps your customers happy, engaged and interested. 

Am I E-Commerce?

Can people buy your stuff online? Then absolutely yes!

Even if you only sell your lowest price product online, and that leads to other products and services that your customers need to speak to you to buy. 

E-Commerce has given consumers all the power in buying and that means that you as a business need to stand out, be heard, be trustworthy and be useful. Everywhere that your potential customers may be, and everywhere your competitors are. 

We all need to be making the most of every tool that is practically available, affordable and appropriate in a responsible manner to attract, engage, sell and wow our customers. Some of our biggest successes have come through working with E-Commerce businesses, that were missing a vital part in their customer journey that we identified, and set up using marketing automation. 

13 Benefits of using Marketing Automation for E-Commerce businesses

  1. Increases your customer lifetime value (CLV), through customer retention, upsells, cross-sells, and customer advocacy. (As well as a customer referral programme)

  2. Forces you to think about the customer journey that your audience go through, and gives you the ability to report on each stage of the journey

  3. Reduces constant need for new customer acquisition

  4. Increases the average order value

  5. Increases the frequency of orders

  6. Reduces the time taken to turn from lead to customer (conversion)

  7. Drives traffic back to your website for those all important rankings

  8. Makes use of content across multiple channels

  9. Improves customer loyalty

  10. Allows you to reach more people with your messaging

  11. Nurtures your leads to build trust and engagement

  12. Allows you to see which of your audience are most likely to buy

  13. Gives you/ your team the chance to stop repetitive tasks and focus on their most important tasks

  14. Segments your audience and provides more relevant, timely and targeted messaging

  15. Tracks your leads and customers’ behaviour to see what they are interested in, or when they have visited your product or pricing page

It’s easy to explain some of the things that can make your life easier through automation, but there are some things that simply cannot be done manually, or at least cannot be done at scale. For example - Imagine you want to send out an email to 300 people whose email addresses you have, telling them that you have some great new products. 

Using your normal email platform, like Outlook, or Gmail, that would take some time, you’d have to either send them one by one, or put a whole lot of emails in the address bar, separated by a comma, and then hit send. 

Then, you just wait for the sales to roll in. 

Actually, the first thing that would happen is that you’d get a bunch of ‘out of office’ replies, a couple of bounce notifications, and possibly someone replying saying ‘How did you get my email?’

You would have no idea how many people opened or clicked on anything in your email. Let alone which product they clicked on, (unless you had set up a load of UTM parameters, and were tracking visits to the website), hopefully some sales, but no real visibility on what happened when you pressed send. 

Using only the simplest of marketing automation platforms, you could have:

  1. Previously set up lists of people so that they only received the products that you knew they would be interested in

  2. Sent the email at the time of day when they were most likely to open it

  3. Recorded who had clicked on any of the links within your email, and which link they clicked (showing you what they’re most interested in)

  4. Segmented those people into lists for further marketing, either by email, sms, facebook, other advertising platforms, or even a sales call

  5. Used two different subject lines for the email to see which one got the most people to open it

  6. Used two different types of email - visual or text to see which one performs better

  7. Had a follow up go out to anyone that clicked on a product or sales page, but didn’t buy

  8. Had a one page report of how many people unsubscribed from your list, or whose emails are now invalid, or have been rejected

  9. Had a follow up email go out one or two days later to those that either didn’t click, or didn’t open the first email

  10. Set all of this up to happen automatically when someone reaches a certain stage in their customer journey.

Quite a different approach to the first example; something that really shouldn’t take long to set up but can have a massive impact on your business from the day you press ‘Publish’.

(Pressing ‘Publish’ on your first marketing automation campaign is a totally awesome, and pulse-quickening moment, and we still get a little rush when we do it for the first time for a new customer)

At this point - How’s about grabbing a notepad, and jotting down what your last marketing or sales effort was, how it went, and if any of the above could have been used to make it more successful! 

If you need a cup of tea in hand, go for it, we’re very strong advocates of a tea break to let ideas percolate.

If you’re already automating, great! Thanks for being part of the automation nation, I hope it’s bringing you great things!

Examples of Marketing Automation in Action for E-Commerce

So the benefits of using automation in your business are becoming clear, what does that look like in the real world?

What actual campaigns, or automation pieces can you create and implement in your business to get all those benefits listed above?

We have included some of the best all-rounders that are working in funnels for our customers right now, on automation:

  1. The upsell

This is an ever popular item in the funnel model. It rightfully has its place within a company that has an obvious ascension in products from a lower price to a higher price, all the way to your top, gold, platinum, elite or diamond package…

For example, you may be selling a book. You have your advert out on your platform of choice, it’s doing well, and sales are coming in!

Awesome, so what’s your next move? There is plenty of research to show that when people have just bought something, there is a good chance they will buy something else. They feel good, and if you have the next logical thing available to buy with ease, and even more tasty, with a discount, put it in front of them on the Thank You Page of your product. 

They just bought your book - Offer them your online course for a One-Time discount that will expire within 15 minutes. This should be used with thought toward your customer though, not just what you want to sell them - What would be great for them? What would help them further in their mission toward ultimate happiness and satisfaction?

If they don’t take you up on the offer straight away, make sure you have tagged/segmented them as having bought your book, and then when you’re sure they are enjoying it (you can follow up the purchase with a survey) then you can make the offer to buy the course using your lovely marketing automation. 

However, your original one time offer should be exactly that - One time - Don’t offer the same product for the same price as on the Thank You Page, that would make the offer on the Thank You Page a big old lie, and we want to get away from the idea that all marketers are liars…

Your follow up offer should be still discounted from the full price, but not as good as the offer you made as soon as they bought. You are proving that you have integrity here!

  1. The cross-sell

Like the upsell, this is the opportunity to follow up on the original purchase. Not necessarily in a higher value or higher priced product, but something that complements what they have just bought. Amazon does this spectacularly well, with it’s ‘You may be interested in’ section when ordering. 

Giving your customers that option to add something highly relevant to the item they are purchasing is a great way of giving them convenience, more great stuff and a bonus to your monthly reporting. 

It doesn’t need to be pushy, and shouldn’t feel like you’re trying to take advantage, but if I’ve just added golf shoes to my shopping cart, it’s fair to assume that I may need golf gloves too at some point. If your shopping cart does not have the function of adding similar or suggested items, then email follow up is your best friend here. 

Segmented lists of people that have just bought shoes, but have not bought gloves are prime candidates for your follow up email series on how the right gloves can improve your swing, and overall happiness and completeness on the green. Show them a review, or even better, a video testimonial of someone very happy and successful in their golfing endeavour because they are gloved with your brand.

Good marketing automation does not just get the sale, it builds trust, speaks to the benefits of using your company for their favourite products, and makes your products the obvious choice, even if your prospects didn’t know they needed your awesome thing. 

  1. The welcome series

This one is just good old fashioned value driven content. When someone buys from you for the first time, it’s an opportunity to bring them closer to you. Make them feel welcome, and let them know that you are trustworthy, with great testimonials, valuable content regarding the products you sell, the benefits of owning the thing that they have bought, or how to get the best out of the thing that they have bought. 

Deliver and wow - An essential part of the customer journey that most businesses forget about - Could you give purchasers a discount code straight away for just buying their first item? What else could you give them that would go above and beyond an email that says thanks? A free PDF? A short video course? Free delivery?

This is your chance to introduce your team, your inspirations, your goals and company ethics, and also to give them links to other parts of your business, like your Facebook group, or community, or your blog. 

Whilst you are providing all this great content - measure what they are clicking on, and use this to segment your list. An email within this series with a few video links showing people using different products, or testimonials for each of your services is a way of surveying your people for their interests without asking them to fill in a survey. It’s the beginning of progressive profiling, and helps you create a journey for each customer and for each product. 

The upsell and the cross-sell are two ways of increasing the monetary value of the sale, and the frequency of sale. The next suggestion is a way of rescuing the sale from the clutches of doom. 

  1. The cart abandonment series

Potentially the biggest tool in the box. This is Thor’s hammer right here. 

When you have people clicking on your emails, and visiting your product pages, you know they are super interested. Your email series has worked, it has segmented them to the point where they are officially hot leads, and they are so close to buying your product… but their phone rings, or their phone pushes a notification heralding a surprise ‘Like’ from someone famous, and they are temporarily distracted. Boom, they forget to finish the purchase. 

Ordinarily, this is where you would lose the sale, and you’d never know that you have lost it. However, if your shopping cart has a ‘Cart abandon’ feature, it can automatically send out emails or SMS messages after a determined time to remind them that they nearly bought the best thing ever, and they still could! 

Even if your shopping cart doesn’t have this function, you can achieve a similar goal with your connected marketing automation system

A simple example using Infusionsoft, would be a potential customer opening one of your sales emails, then clicking on the link in the email, going to the product page, but not completing the purchase. Infusionsoft can record the click, and wait for the purchase tag. If that purchase tag is not applied within one hour, emails are sent out that really tap into the benefits of buying the product or service that you are selling. 

Alternatively, they may not have read the email, but may have seen the Facebook advert that you have running to a segment of your email list. If that list is in Infusionsoft, or a similar platform that allows this, you can react when someone visits your product page or order form, and send the email series as a result. 

In fact, it doesn’t even need to be an email. Some clients go straight to the sales call. If it is a really high ticket item, and you have a sales team, this is where you can reach out with ‘Hey - Do you have any questions that I can answer on this product? How can I help you decide if it’s right for you?

There are many models out there for the cart abandon sequence, and naturally we have our own secret sauce for this. 

It is bringing in a large chunk of lost sales for most of our customers. If you don’t have this in place, talk to us about getting this in your pipeline this week. The sooner the better, this could be boosting your sales in the background from day one. 

The combination of E-Commerce and Marketing Automation is what is giving online stores across the world their competitive advantage. They are crafting a customer journey around giving the customer all the information they need, and matching the perfect customer with their products and services. 

We hope you’ve come away with some ideas that you can implement right away in your business, that will help you develop your ideal customer journey and ultimately boost your sales. 

Marketing Automation Domination

The suggestions we’ve given you here are some of the most popular units in our ‘Marketing Automation Domination’ Package. Developed over 6 years as a result of working with hundreds of businesses on their own journeys with Marketing Automation. 

Our customers are achieving:

  1. Higher sales

  2. Higher engagement

  3. Less unsubscribes

  4. Higher average order value

  5. Bigger customer lifetime value 

  6. An awesome customer journey, delivering value at every stage.

Hit the button below to book in a free ‘Marketing Therapy Session’ and see what you could be doing to achieve these goals.

Give us 20 to 30 minutes of your time to ask you what is working, and not working within your business. We then take it to the team, come up with ideas, and give you a free plan to go away with and implement. 

If we think we can help, we’ll suggest it, but if not, the plan is still yours for free. 

About the Author