Ecommerce Autoresponders: A Definitive List of Significant Benefits
If you’re like most small to medium sized ecommerce merchants, you could always use more staff. What if there was a full time secretary who you could delegate to send out emails in a predetermined sequence to provide information for prospective customers as well as follow-up missives to purchasers?
And what if this secretary would execute their duties on the dot, never miss an email, and cost you either a few dollars a month or maybe even nothing at all? If it seems impossible it’s actually quite possible, and your ecommerce business can access this critical suite of services through the application of autoresponders.
This automatic technology is available through an additional subscription through your email service provider or may already be incorporated in your existing package so that there’s no additional cost at all!
Autoresponders are pre-determined replies to a specific set of variables
Autoresponder emails differ considerably from your conventional periodical email newsletter in that they are an ongoing, transactional form of communication with your customers which is preset and specifically finite.
Your autoresponder campaign will consist of a series of template email missives which are set by you to be issued at a specific time and date and only according to particular set of variables.
You can thank a customer for purchasing your Neutrino-Graviton Wicket; suggest that your Tesla-Coil Charger can extend its standby time; or propose a special “buyer-only” offer for a Quantum-Entangled Door Stop (buy just one and keep all the doors in your house open).
A basic autoresponder campaign unfolds in three phases:
1. Immediate: Thank you for your interest/purchase
Display your appreciation for their involvement
Give a download link for a special motivation or incentive.
Reconfirm with the customer the unique value of your proposition.
Inform them as to how they can evaluate your product or service.
Provide a direct and specific channel where all their questions can be swiftly and authoritatively answered.
List all the different ways your ecommerce business may be generally contacted (Live Chat; Email; Response Form; Fax; Toll-Free Phone; Social Media, etc.)
2. First follow-up about 4 days later: The top five reasons to buy your Schrödinger Kitty Litter
Provide testimonials from your satisfied customers as to why they value your products and services.
Explain the mission of your business and the policies you have in place to ensure customer trust, confidence, and responsibility.
Link to sources of additional specifications, characteristics, and/or reviews of the item.
Directly ask for the sale while providing a simple, straightforward vector which leads the customer to checkout.
3. Follow-up #2 another 4 days later: A special offer only for first-time Flavored Quark purchasers
List the answers to common questions regarding objections to purchasing the item.
Link to a comprehensive FAQ which addresses all aspects of the item and your overall business.
Promote any package deals or special offers which you are extending to first-time buyers of the item.
Ask for the sale again, but this time provide an extra special incentive or motivation to proceed to checkout with all due haste.
The key considerations to any autoresponder campaign are:
Obtain permission: Anyone receiving your autoresponder emails must have previously given you their permission and must be provided with a clear and prominent link to immediately unsubscribe from any further missives.
Restrained frequency: Don’t barrage your customers with autoresponders until they feel like they are being harassed and stalked: In autoresponders less is more.
Focus on a single topic: Each autoresponder note should be specifically relevant to what that customer has expressed an interest in, otherwise it’s just noise.
Compose the copy professionally: Don’t let your IT nerd anywhere near the autoresponder text. Make sure that a professional writer with experience in crafting effective and conversational autoresponder copy is the only one who composes this critical text.
There is no limit to which aspects of your ecommerce operations you can apply autoresponders: New customers; social media followers; upgrades and ancillary offers to buyers; ticklers to previous customers who have become irresponsive; and more.
Autoresponders are better than a secretary: They never take days off; they’re always right on time; and they cost next to nothing!
Jaime Brugueras says:
Hal, very interesting post and with your permission I want to add a few more insights. You do mention the auto-responder emails coming from a set of variables, but in the examples you provide only two variables are used: product purchased and date of transaction; which are really useful and easy to understand.
Other variables may include: customer demographics, purchase frequency, number of purchases, total spend, and custom user events (signup, calls customer service, abandons shopping cart, etc.) Here are a few more ideas on when to trigger the auto-responder emails that I wrote about on my blog a few weeks ago:
- Reward customers after $x spent
- Email offer after 3 days of site visit
- Survey after x days of purchase
- Email to first time buyers
- Strong offers for best customers who are not so best anymore
As you mention, there are many possibilities and it depends on the type of retail to understand which works best. It is still the job of the marketer to write the professional copy, measure, and understand what works best when and for whom.