Everything you need to know about marketing automation

There are a lot of terms that get thrown around when talking about eCommerce, and many of them sound more important than they are, but that’s not the case with marketing automation.

We’ve had a lot of customers asking us exactly what marketing automation is and whether or not it’s something they should consider, so we thought we’d create this overall guide to one of our industries’ biggest buzz words.

So, what the heck is marketing automation?

Almost every business in the world has some kind of marketing strategy, and if they don’t then they really should.

However it’s become very common for online retailers to rely heavily on email marketing to convert sales.

Email is low cost and generally higher in conversions (depending on the quality of your email database) but that doesn’t mean you should put all your eggs in that basket.

Marketing automation takes the simple email blast to the next level. It’s the process of guiding your customers through the buying process; from the very beginning when they are just browsing, to well after the point of purchase.

To define it more clearly, marketing automation encompasses every form of marketing you typically use to reach existing and potential customers (such as email, social, digital and offline) and automates them based on where they are in the buying cycle.

Furthermore, marketing automation assesses customer needs on a personal level; analysing their online behaviour, classifying interactions and generally painting a clearer picture of what they expect from you.

For example, instead of just sending an email to your marketing database, marketing automation may include these various stages:

  1. You send an email to only customers who purchased a specific product, telling them of a similar item that has just been released;
  2. Of those customers who opened the email but did not purchase, you could send them a link to your social media pages, which includes a video of how the item works;
  3. Finally, once you can see the customers who were engaged by both the email and the social media link, offer them a discount to get the sale over the line.

For marketing automation to be truly effective, it’s important you use as many channels as you can and collect as much data as possible.

The more data you have about what does and doesn’t work, the better you can fine-tune the experience for future campaigns.

Types of marketing automation

Marketing automation can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different businesses, so in order to get the best results you really need to ensure you’re using it correctly.

We decided to break down the objectives of marketing automation to give you a clearer understanding.

Personalise the experience

Customer experience can mean the difference between success and failure for online businesses.

It’s important you make each and every interaction with your customers a positive one, and the best way to do this is to make their experience as personal as possible.

There are many ways you can personalise your marketing material, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Create a personalised greeting for customers who sign up to your newsletter or create an account;
  • Follow up initial calls and online enquiries with a personal email from people within your business – this can be an automated process but try to ensure the language sounds natural and directed to that person in particular;
  • Insert the customer’s name on all outgoing communication
  • Don’t send the same message to all customers on your mailing list, try to break them down into segments and tailor the message to suit;
  • Continually monitor social media and respond quickly to customer comments and enquiries – again, be sure to include their names and personalise the message so that your responses sound genuine and helpful.

Engage and reward customers

Another way you can improve your marketing through automation is to focus on communications that are engaging and rewarding for your customers.

Try not to get in the habit of just sending the same product emails with sale items, offer them something more that isn’t obviously trying to convert sales.

Examples of this may include:

  • Offer customers something that isn’t products and pricing. Customers will appreciate information they find interesting or helpful, such as instructional guides, in-depth product reviews and market news;
  • If you are sending out product-specific emails, try to target the customer’s interests and needs. For example, if they have bought specific items in the past, try sending “Recommended For You” emails or product comparisons;
  • Additionally, the communication shouldn’t stop after they’ve made the purchase. You might be able to offer the customer case studies or product guides that help them get the most use out of their purchase. You might also be able to suggest upgrading or replacing the item once it reaches its expected life.

Most importantly, to create engaging content it’s important to maintain a friendly and helpful tone throughout.

Always be sincere, use their names where possible, don’t rely solely on automated responses, add photos and names of who is talking, and always follow up on feedback.

Repeat the message

Another way to automate your marketing is to ensure the same themes of content are going out through all channels.

What you are sending in an email should be echoed across your social media posts, and again on your website through banners and news articles. The best way to get a message out is to really drive it home.

One of the best ways to ensure a consistent message through all your channels is to create a strategy.

Dedicate some time to build a back-log of content and schedule it for release at the same time, so that all channels are updated together.

There are many social media automation tools available (like Hootsuite or Buffer) to help you achieve this.

Does marketing automation actually work?

There are so many eCommerce businesses out there, and it’s hard to deny the correlation between marketing automation and success.

Companies that have started investing in marketing automation have shown increased revenue and higher conversion rates as a result.

Whether or not it will work for you depend on how much time and money you’re willing to invest in it.

Marketing automation is not something you can just set up and leave to do its thing; it requires on-going planning, creation and review to ensure the best possible experience for your customers.

For more information about marketing automation, speak to the friendly team at Digital Thing. We will take the time to assess your existing online assets to help you boost traffic and increase conversions.

 

About the Author -

With a successful career in web development and digital marketing under his belt, Chris has been a driving force behind major projects for brands including Telstra, Heart Foundation, Laurastar and Noodle Box, Melbourne Mint and more.