Gifting season is a few weeks away and many ecommerce merchants will have finalized and even started implementing their marketing strategies by now. In the mad rush to get everything done, it’s important to find ways of simplifying processes so you have time to focus on what’s really important. One simple, but effective marketing and business strategy is to automate your emails.
“We’re all just professional email senders!” a colleague said to me a few years ago. Ecommerce merchants can relate to this sentiment. The amount of work it takes to run a business is staggering. Merchants have to manage their website, stock, sales and staff; craft content and troubleshoot customer problems. This leaves little time to read and send masses of daily emails, especially for smaller or newer businesses with limited staff and resources.
Email has become an essential part of business communication. We rely on email for internal purposes, as well as business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) communication. The side-effect of this is large amounts of daily email traffic which is incredibly difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to manage manually.
Bryce Coltrin, marketing manager for US belt manufacturer Grip6, relates. “In today’s technology-centered world, consumers demand more personalized attention from the brands they interact with. They expect coupons in real time, questions to be answered within minutes, and reviews responded to personally in a timely fashion. For many small businesses, providing this meticulous attention to each and every customer can be overwhelming,” he says.
Automating emails helps manage communication between company and customer cost-effectively, with consistency and minimal delay. Using customer data, email automation programs can generate personalized messages in response to customer activity. This can include responding to purchases and queries, or marketing based on items customers have shown a preference for.
Coltrin says that automated emails “help to save time, money, and capture additional information for more detailed reporting. It boosts revenue in a more personalized and efficient way previously unavailable.
Customers have come to expect personalized service and they want to receive content relevant to them. Manually drafting email templates and adapting these to individual customer purchases, inquiries, or account sign-ups is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Email automation takes an incredible amount of legwork out of the equation.
“Automated emails take countless hours of monotonous work out of the hands of the business and allows you to send premade emails out based on actions of the consumer,” says Coltrin. When customers interact with a merchant’s web page by making a purchase, inquiry, or even simply creating an account, this triggers an email response. Setting up triggers that send out pre-written emails has a dual advantage: the customer receives a response to their action that is both immediate and personalized.
Many email automation platforms take this a step further and provide metrics. They analyze whether emails are being opened, and which emails those are. It can help merchants keep track of new subscriptions too, or of people unsubscribing from mailing lists. The combination of personalization and analysis allows users to target engagement more effectively.
“With automated emails, there are even options to fill certain information out, such as products, dollar amounts, and consumer names, based on attributes or actions of consumers,” says Coltrin. This allows an extra layer of personalization while still reaping the benefits of automation.”
Merchants can use insights provided by analytics to see which customers and prospects need re-engagement. Those people can be sent more enticing content.
Automated welcome and birthday emails, and emails that conduct surveys based on customer activity are a great way to personalize interaction and conduct market research. Abandoned carts can also be converted to purchased goods or services simply by automating an email reminding a prospective customer of the items they didn’t follow through on purchasing.
ShopCreatify’s Nina Wolf, herself a former merchant, emphasized the importance of setting up triggers and automated emails for the short-term, but with an eye on the future.
"Now more than ever, businesses are running around like mad, trying to get everything done, while losing opportunities. Your email list is growing, but how do you make best use of this long term? You automate. Make setting up triggered emails and flows a priority. It is the tactic that keeps on giving and you'll reap the benefits for years to come," she says.
It’s been a tough year for many merchants. The lockdowns and quarantines linked to the Covid-19 pandemic caused exponential growth in the ecommerce sector. While this was positive for online stores, the forced growth and increased demand also added a new layer of pressure to these businesses.
A report by the World Trade Organization noted a significant rise in online purchases of everyday items, household goods and food, as well as a general increase in online activity. Along with increased online shopping, ecommerce merchants will have experienced more signups to their mailing lists.
However, despite customers doing more of their shopping online, the amount they are able to spend is less. The world economy took a beating with the coronavirus crisis. The US department of commerce reports that the country’s GDP decreased by 31.7% in the second quarter. Despite efforts to bolster employment levels, the US still has 11 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. Consumers, naturally, are more discerning with their spending.
So, while bigger mailing lists certainly present great marketing opportunities as we approach gifting season, merchants will have to strategically target promotions to receptive audiences. Act early to set up and integrate online stores with email automation software products sooner rather than later to capitalize fully on these opportunities. Get ahead of the rush and use the time to get accustomed to the software, iron out any glitches and build momentum to maximize the advantages of email automation.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. The US bureau of labor statistics found that in August, the US economy added approximately 1.4 million jobs, with 1.7 million in July and 4.8 million in June. This recovery in jobs, and subsequently spending power, does present an opportunity for the upcoming gifting season. Merchants who use their mailing lists strategically stand to benefit from the return of so many to gainful employment.
The USA Today revealed that customers have been “comfort buying” for months, a trend that’s likely to increase over gifting season. Even though the economic contraction will result in more discerning buyers, the strain of the times and resulting retail therapy, and return of many to work, can lead to excellent returns over gifting season.
Unlocking these returns comes down to targeted marketing using the metrics provided by platforms like Klaviyo. Merchants will be able to use this information to attract customers by formulating general or specific promotions aimed at customers whose behavior shows that they seek certain products or services.
Gifting season not only presents the opportunity to generate impressive sales in the short term, but also an opportunity to establish retail relationships with customers that could have long-term benefits.
Image courtesy of Klaviyo
ShopCreatify recommends Klaviyo for merchants who want to incorporate email automation into their business. The platform empowers merchants to provide their customers with personalized experiences in their B2C communications.
A free version of its software for small and emerging users accommodates an email database of up to 250 customers and prospects. Klaviyo’s pricing structure allows merchants access to more advanced packages as they see increased growth from the product’s use. Klaviyo can be seamlessly integrated with Shopify and other ecommerce platforms. It comes with a guide to install the software from within Shopify itself, or through its own site, within minutes.
Once this is set up, it allows merchants to send emails in response to tailored triggers, which the program automatically adapts to customer information and activity. The platform also lets merchants divide their lists into strategic segments that can be used to send out targeted marketing, driving traffic to their sites and ultimately revenue to their store.
Merchants set the conditions for the segments into which they divide their customers. Customers are automatically included in or excluded from a given mailing list based on how they match up to behavioral conditions set by the merchant. These segments evolve all the time and will grow and shrink as customers change their behavior. While mailing lists are simply fixed lists that expand and contract based on consumers either opting in or out, segments offer a more advanced approach.
To help merchants use their segments more effectively, Klaviyo also provides an advanced, intuitive and user-friendly metrics dashboard. Based on this data, users can assess how well their email campaigns are performing and identify trends over hours, days, weeks, or even months. Merchants can then use this information to refine their marketing strategies and increase their return on investment (ROI).
Small Pet Select’s brand manager, Naamah Stockdale confirmed that email automation was a crucial part of their ecommerce operation. “Email automation is vital to nurturing our leads and turning them into loyal customers. It is a must-have for any ecommerce brand to educate their customer in order to make a purchasing decision,” she says.
Image courtesy of Klaviyo
Email automation adds value to ecommerce merchants on several levels. The time and resources saved is the most obvious benefit. Automatic customer emails will free up significant amounts of time for merchants to grow and improve their businesses.
Advanced email automation platforms like Klaviyo take it a step further and enable merchants to not only save time but to also provide round the clock, instant, personalized service. For merchants doing business internationally, this is especially valuable. Klaviyo’s analysis metrics also provide merchants with valuable insights to help them refine their marketing strategies, drive more traffic to their sites, and convert it into sales.
Gifting season presents the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the strategic benefits of email automation by targeting marketing and engagement to prospects with the best chance of success. The confinement of the last several months has certainly contributed significantly to the growth of many retailers’ mailings lists. Email automation is an excellent way of ensuring that this growth also converts into added revenue.
Klaviyo is a partner of ShopCreatify.Contact us if you need assistance getting the most out of your integration of Klaviyo with your Shopify store.
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