Email Marketing Automation

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What is email marketing automation, and does it actual work?

If you take the time to put together a detailed digital strategy, with specific goals and a clear-cut execution plan – then that’s where you can use automation to your advantage.  

Whether it’s an eCommerce strategy for customer retention or a B2B customer acquisition strategy, outlining your plan in a workflow document can help you understand what can be automated.

Retail/eCommerce Example

Let’s dive into a couple of strategies for the retail sector first.

In this example we’re going to look at a retail store that sells a range of kids shoes. Our business has a bricks-and-mortar store and also an online eCommerce store.

At the point-of-sale in our store we are collection the following; email address, date of birth, gender, products purchased and products of interest.

Strategy #1: Customer Retention

Our aim is to retain a customer that has recently purchased from us. We can set up a lot of automation to help us do this, such as:

  • Birthday Email – We already have our customer’s DOB, gender and products of interest. We can use this information to send an email a few days before their birthday offering a product that will appeal to them.
  • School Shoes/Footy Shoes – There are some shoes, like school shoes and footy boots that are seasonal. If we are collecting the above data, we can trigger an automated email to remind parents to buy shoes from us around the time they’ll need them. You could go one step further and offer a discount for being such a loyal customer.
  • Product Replacement/Maintenance – If you have a product that has an expiry date (such as kids shoes) then you could trigger an email to send just before they’re expected to need replacement. Similarly for products that need regular maintenance.

Strategy #2: Customer Acquisition

This will be an eCommerce-focused strategy, where our customer has come to the site for the first time, found the product they want and have given us their email address but haven’t purchased.

With this strategy we will use the cart abandonment email automation tactic.  Most good eCommerce platforms will have a plugin/app that will enable this feature.

The objective here is that we know the email address of someone that has checked out, they just haven’t made a purchase. There could be many reasons, but one reason might be the hesitation about the price.  

In order to get them back to the cart we can send them an email to remind them their product is still waiting to be purchased, with a simple call to action (such as “Complete the Order”) which will simply take the user back to the cart with the products still waiting in their cart.

You could send them this email as soon as a few hours after they left your website.

If they still haven’t purchased 12 hours later you could send them another reminder email, but this time with an incentive, such as free shipping or a discount.

Strategy #3: B2B Example

The example of B2B can be a little more challenging, however, not impossible.

This strategy will require a killer content strategy, plus some clever email automation. For this example let’s say we’re an accounting firm.

We are targeting small businesses, and we know the biggest challenge with small business is cash flow.

You’ll need to put out some really good content around cash flow, and even give away some of your IP, which could be in the form of an eBook or a cash flow report template.  

The aim here is to set up a form on your website to collect an email address and/or phone number, in exchange for your free giveaway. We could set up the following email sequence:

  • “Thank You” Email: Just to thank them and let them know how to get the best use of the material.
  • “Did you know…” Email: For example, “Did you know that businesses that get cash flow right have a five-times better chance of surviving their first ten years in business…” to demonstrate your knowledge and experience.
  • Personlised Email: Such as, “Hi Chris, it’s been five days since you’ve downloaded our eBook. Is there anything we can help you with?”

At this point, the customer might come back to you with a whole bunch of questions and at that point you might say, “Thanks for your questions, let’s setup a meeting”.

This type of strategy will need refining, depending on your industry, customer type and products/services.

In summary, marketing automation is not something you can set up and leave to do it’s own thing.

It needs a killer strategy, great execution plan, and constantly needs to be reviewed, reported and improved.

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