Email marketing is becoming increasingly automated. Recent acquisitions by ExactTarget, a leading email service provider, of iGoDigital and Pardot, for $21 million and $95 million respectively, illustrate this trend. iGoDigital is a platform that helps online retailers offer product recommendations based on a browser's behavior. Pardot specializes in business-to-business lead nurturing.
Silverpop, another email service provider, provides marketing automation tools as part of its platform.
So how can automated emails help ecommerce businesses? In this article, I'll discuss four types of automated emails that can save time, and increase revenue.
Website Behavior-based Triggers
Creating emails that respond to specific behaviors on your site is the most basic form of marketing automation. While these tools and the software to enable them have become more widespread, the application and strategy has still not been adopted by many larger ecommerce sites. Types of website behavior-based triggers include:
- Shopping cart abandonment emails;
- Browsed, but did not purchase reminders;
- Participated in online chat follow-up;
- Welcome emails after purchase or newsletter signup.
Automated, behavior-based emails help to establish trust and to facilitate the buying process. For more on implementing automated campaigns, see "The Power of Triggered Emails; 6 Examples," my previous article on that topic.
In addition, optimizing your autoresponders for future orders by including things like recommended products based on browser behavior, or a coupon or offer on a customer's next order, will help drive sales.
Auto Responders to Form Fills
Sending a message anytime a visitor fills out a form on your site accomplishes two important items. First, it verifies that the form was completed and received successfully. Second, it provides next steps and sets expectations for the visitor.
Social Media Integration
Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can drive qualified traffic to ecommerce sites. Strategies for automating the communications with visitors from those social media portals are becoming popular. However, consumers on social networks can frequently spot an automated message a mile away, and many don’t like them.
For example, sending an automated message anytime someone follows your company on Twitter draws mixed opinions. While it’s good to say thank you and encourage people to sign up for your newsletter or like you on Facebook, some people find the automated messages too impersonal. Test your automated messages for content, gage how they are received, and adjust as needed.
Another useful Twitter option is to automatically tweet older blog posts or articles. If you use content to drive traffic to your site, this can be set up relatively easily. Using a free social media management tool like HootSuite can automate messages across various platforms by scheduling tweets or posts, and automated messages.
Events and Webinars
For sites that use events or webinars as a lead generation tactics, integrating automated email messages into webinar or event notifications and attendance can be crucial. There is frequently a disconnect with certain webinar hosting software and the automated messages they send. Sometimes valuable tracking information — such as who opened or clicked the messages — is missing, which does not allow the marketer to fully analyze the effectiveness of the message. But Act-On, an email automation platform, now integrates with webinar providers, such as GoToWebinar. This allows for more complex automated messages to those who registered and did not attend, or to follow-up with those who did.
Email marketing is becoming more automated. Ecommerce sites that use email within marketing automation programs — instead of separate marketing silos — will increase the effectiveness of all marketing programs.