effective ways to use marketing automation

5 Effective Ways to Use Marketing Automation with E-Commerce Websites

Marketing automation is a combination of software and tactics that gives companies the ability to nurture leads with personalized, meaningful content. This helps convert leads to customers and turn existing customers into brand loyalists. Well-executed marketing automation strategies commonly generate significant new revenue for companies and provide a high return on investment. In this post, I will discuss five ways that marketing automation can be used effectively to increase sales on e-commerce websites.

#1 – Take Advantage of Abandoned Shopping Carts

When a customer or potential customer adds a product to their shopping cart, they are proving they have at least above average intent to purchase. The majority of those that do not complete the purchase process before leaving the site typically just need a little more nurturing to convince them of their need or want of your product.

In a stand-alone e-commerce system, it can be very difficult to identify these kinds of leads. Moreover, it can either be impossible or require a significant amount of manual effort including a cost greater than the net of the sale.

How To Do It:

You can configure customized e-mail messages to entice customers to come back and complete the purchase of items left in their cart. These messages can be set up to populate automatically with the items the customer was planning to buy. You can also determine other options for your e-mail such as sending it after X amount of time has passed since the customer abandoned the cart.

You might even want to offer a discount code for 10% off or free shipping on their next order. You might even get subtle and highlight others reasons the customer should complete their purchase – this just depends on the products you sell. The options are almost endless! (Remember, it is always up to you to determine the best message for your target customer. This is where your marketing strategy comes into play.)

#2 - Promote Related Brand Items

Another effective use of marketing automation is to promote related items to customers after they make a purchase.


How To Do It:

Say a customer purchases a digital camera from your website. This is great, you have already converted the lead into a customer, but why stop there? You can use their sale information to automatically market accessories such as tripods, SD cards, carrying cases and more.

In addition to promoting accessories to purchased items, you could also choose to market additional products from the same brand. For instance, if someone buys a pair of Nike shoes from your site, it would be beneficial to market other Nike products to them as well such as athletic clothing. Many customers will have loyalty to the brands of the products that they purchase, and this type of marketing automation allows you to associate your store as a trusted supplier of the brands they love.

You can execute this kind of marketing automation through both automatic email marketing as well as content personalization while they are on the site. Content personalization is the tactic of displaying tailored content to your customers any time they visit your website. Anyone who has ever shopped at Amazon is familiar with this concept. Amazon does a magical job of personalizing your Amazon home screen with products related to your past purchases and browsing history.

#3 - Targeted Marketing Based on Interests

Marketing related products based on past purchases is an excellent marketing automation strategy; it does require you to convert the customer before you can take advantage of it. Another tactic is to use the customers search and browsing history while they are on your site to market to them based on their interests. Many customers will spend a great deal of time browsing your site and researching your product offerings before they decide to buy something, and you can use this information to ensure you close the deal every time.

In the previous tactic, we talked about marketing based on brand loyalty after the sale. Targeting based on interests is something we can do before the sale as well.

How To Do It:

You can determine a lot about a customer’s interests by tracking their search data and browsing activity while they on your site. You can find out which brands they like, what type of products they are interested and much more. By simply cutting out the noise of items they are clearly not interested in and putting the ones they might purchase right in their line of sight you will be marketing more effectively to your target customers. This will give them the feeling that you know just what they are looking to purchase.

Automated email marketing or content personalization can also aid in this tracking tactic. Content personalization is the most frequently used as it does not require you capture the lead’s email address ahead of time. However, email marketing is very powerful. You can improve your conversion rate immensely if you can capture the email addresses of your leads without waiting for them to make a purchase. A common and effective way to gather a customer’s email before a purchase is to ask them to sign up for your email newsletter to receive promotions.

#4 - Asking for Reviews

You may not see the value in asking for reviews after a user purchases a product, but it can be highly beneficial to your brand. Most consumers spend a ton of time researching products and stores before making purchases. The type of content that has the greatest influence on consumer purchases is another customer’s reviews. Sharing third-party, unbiased opinions from other consumers,  helps you gain trust from new potential customers. Therefore, the more reviews you have on your products and your store, the more confidence you will instill in your customer-base. In turn, the more confident your customer is, the more likely they are to purchase from you.

How To Do It:

A good way to solicit these reviews is to send an email sometime shortly after they place an order. You do not want to send it immediately because the customer will not have had enough time to receive the item and use it enough to warrant a valid review. However, you do not want to wait too long either as once the item becomes commonplace in their lives, they are less likely to be excited about giving feedback on it.

In addition to product reviews, you should also solicit reviews about your store. Even if you do not make the reviews public for some reason, the information you will get from customers will help you understand what you are doing well and what you need to improve on going forward. 

#5 - Price Drops and Promotions

Every e-commerce store should be managing an email newsletter that includes promotions, and they should be sending these on a regular interval. However, most stores are sending the same email to their entire customer base and therefore not achieving their full potential.

Earlier we covered using purchase history and browsing history to market items that are in line with customer interests. That type of marketing is most effective in short windows of time from the moment the customer takes action on your website. However, it should not be your last attempt to connect and drive a sale if those initial efforts do not drive the conversion.

How To Do It:

Let’s go back to the customer that purchased the digital camera. Let’s say after that purchase, you used marketing automation to send an email to them containing info on tripods, SD cards, and other camera accessories. However, unfortunately, the customer did not come back to purchase any of those items. Now, it is three months later, and you just happen to be running a sale on tripods. This is the perfect time to reach out to the customer. At this point as far as you know, they still have not purchased a tripod for their new camera and this sale could be just what is needed to entice them to do so.

In addition to doing this for promotions, you can also do it for price drops. Let’s say you have a customer who has looked at the same pair of Nike shoes multiple times, but has not purchased them despite your use of content personalization. You obviously know the customer is interested, but maybe the price is holding them up. Now let’s say you decide to drop the price on these shoes. You can then automatically send an email to this customer about the price drop thus increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

You Can’t Afford These Marketing Automation Features, Or Can You?

These are just a few of the most common and effective tactics for using marketing automation on e-commerce sites today. Anyone who has ever bought an item from Amazon has either consciously or unconsciously had these tactics used on them. How did they work for you?

Do you think Amazon has an army of employees constantly watching your each and every move in order to do this type of marketing? Or do you think that because they are Amazon they probably spent a billion dollars on the technology? The answer to both is no. This technology is available to anyone and does not require you to break the bank to benefit from it. 
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Michael T. Whalen, Director of Solution Delivery
Michael T. Whalen

Director of Solution Delivery

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