5 Customer-Centric Email Automations You Can Trigger With Your E-Commerce Data

It’s undeniable. There’s a shift happening in the market right now, and your customers are to blame.

Today’s consumers are channel-agnostic. They don’t think in terms of Facebook, Snapchat, email, website, etc. Rather, they think holistically about your brand and its products, and it’s time you start returning the favor.

The way business has been done in a channel-centric era can be summed up in three questions:

  1. How do we market to our consumers?
  2. What do we market?
  3. Who do we market to?

Many marketers wouldn’t even bat an eye at this strategy. The channel-centric strategy puts the channel first, content second, and customer third.

The only problem? It’s backwards.

As we talk about in our post on segmentation vs personalization, the traditional method is failing marketers because they have to create multiple email variations for their different audience segments, which is causing severe problems with scalability, relevancy, and customer experience. Choosing what you market before who you market to completely ignores the needs, interests, and behavior of your customers.

The channel-centric strategy causes major disconnects in data, digital experiences, and integrated campaigns.

A customer-centric strategy for email marketing reverses the questions of the channel-centric strategy:

  1. Who do we market to?
  2. What do we market?
  3. How do we market to our customers?

By focusing on who you market to before what you market, you put your customers in the center of your decision-making process. This gives you much more flexibility for the data you collect, what products you market, and orchestrating how you reach them.

Here’s five customer-centric and automated emails you can implement for your e-commerce or retail brand:

1. Browse Abandonment

 

Browse abandonment emails are one of the most effective, yet easy to get wrong, emails to send out to your customers. The basis of a browse abandonment is that a subscriber has visited a product page for a specified amount of time on your website and not taken action on it. While it seems highly scientific, it’s actually more of an art.

Think of browse abandonment emails as a coincidentally relevant and timely email rather than a creepy conversion tactic to capitalize on website activity.

Let me explain.

Blatantly revealing that you’re “watching” your customers’ every move and using that data to send them emails is downright creepy. Subject lines or email copy that include the specific product names are a surefire way to kill your subscriber’s motivation to any action on the email. So it’s not just about the science of incorporating browse data, product names, and advanced triggering logic. It’s about the art of knowing what to send, and when to send it.

Avoid:

  • Sending right away
  • Using product names or categories
  • Using symbols like $ or %
  • Using language like “We noticed…” or “Like what you saw?”

Do:

  • Wait at least several hours after they’ve ended their session on your website
  • Nonchalantly incorporate a discount in the body of an email
  • Use plain english and casual language
  • Use images of the browsed products

By waiting several hours after they’ve ended their session on your website before triggering the browse abandonment email, you avoid the risk of sending them email while they’re still shopping on your website or looking like you’ve been stalking their website activity. Casually incorporating a discount to seem like a coincidence is a much safer alternative to outrightly offering a discount on products you know they’ve viewed.

Think of browse abandonment emails as a coincidentally relevant and timely email rather than a creepy conversion tactic to capitalize on website activity.

2. Product Recommendations

Product recommendations is a feature that uses e-commerce data to programmatically serve relevant products in the body of an email. When using product recommendations in your email campaigns, it’s important to remember that the purpose of product recommendations is to engage with shoppers in a personalized way, NOT just to fill up space and hope something sticks.

The great thing about product recommendations is that they can be integrated into many different kinds of emails, such as browse abandonment emails, cart abandonment emails, transactional emails, welcome emails, and more.

Avoid:

  • Using broad user segments
  • Rigging the algorithm to focus on products you want to sell
  • Looking creepy or being too specific about what products you’re recommending

Do:

  • Identify specific segments
  • Use algorithms that make sense for your customers
  • Update your recommendations in real-time based on ongong data
  • Create a frictionless experience for customers to easily make a purchase
  • Make sure product recommendations are responsive, mobile-friendly and optimized for on all devices.
  • Use large, high quality images for each product to entice shoppers to view more.

Product recommendations are an excellent way to personalize each email experience for every individual shopper on your site. They’re also a great way to make email content relevant, enticing, and clickable. Personalized product recommendations to the right shoppers can be a transformative experience for your customers.

Here are some examples of how you can use product recommendations in your emails:

  • Display a mix of site-wide best sellers and recent top sellers to shoppers that browse your homepage but never make it any further into your site.
  • Display product recommendations (including best sellers) from the category the shopper was browsing to shoppers that click on and view a specific category, brand, or department but never actually view specific, individual products.
  • Display the exact product that the shopper viewed and then insert a mix of product-related best sellers and category-related best sellers as an upsell/downsell tactic to shoppers who have viewed specific, individual products on your site but did not actually add any of those products to their carts.
  • Display recommendations of top sellers within the category related to the search performed by the shopper to shoppers who have typed in a search term in your site search navigation yet did not go on to view any categories, products, or add anything to their carts.
  • Display the actual cart that the shopper left behind, fully populated with the products he added to his cart plus insert product and category-related best sellers as an upsell/downsell tactic to shoppers who have gone so far as to actually add a product or products to their carts.

Product recommendations can get fun (and tricky) when choosing where to display them in the email as well. Depending on the type and style of email, you could display one row with product-related recommendations, a row with category-related recommendations, or a row with general site-wide top sellers, or a combination of any of these three.

3. Welcome Series

A welcome email is an automated message sent to new subscribers or customers to welcome them and provide any interesting content or necessary information to set them up for success. It’s well-known that welcome emails are one of the most highly-opened emails.

Use the opportunity to immerse your subscribers into your world by making it easy to follow social accounts, familiarize themselves with the website and products, and provide an easy way back to the website.

Customers expect them. They open with them. And they engage with them.

Which makes them a great opportunity to exercise some customer centricity and show them that you care about them.

Avoid:

  • Making it about you
  • Being general
  • Being bland
  • Trying to push products right away

Do:

  • Make it about them.
  • Make an exclusive offer
  • Show personality
  • Show some useful tips and tricks for navigating the website
  • Use images or gifs

Use the opportunity to immerse your subscribers into your world by making it easy to follow social accounts, familiarize themselves with the website and products, and provide an easy way back to the website. It’s also the perfect opportunity to set expectations. The underlying reason why many people unsubscribe is not because they hate your brand now, didn’t like the emails, or even that they got too many emails — sometimes it’s simply mismatched expectations.

As a marketer, it’s easy to forget that subscribers may not know what they’re getting themselves into. You can see the automation and know how many emails they’re about to receive, but they have no idea.

Taking the time and transparency to tell subscribers what they can look forward to, expect to see in their inbox, and what to know is crucial. A healthy, engaged list is vastly better than a large, unengaged list.

4. Abandon Cart

Abandoned cart emails are sent to customers who have added products to their cart but failed to check out.

The Baymard Institute, an e-commerce usability think tank, has aggregated cart abandonment data from various industry sources over the last decade. However, despite major advancements in technology and e-commerce user experience design, the average cart abandonment rate has remained constant.

So instead of trying to eliminate the problem, see it as an opportunity to further engage with your customers. Sometimes, it’s not a problem with your website, product, or checkout, it’s just a matter of consumer behavior.

Taking a customer centric perspective, abandoned carts are a great opportunity to utilize customer behavior and data to create a fantastic experience and push them to complete checkout.

Avoid:

  • Waiting too long to send
  • Using pushy or passive-aggressive language

Do:

  • Have a customer service mindset
  • Design responsively, especially for mobile
  • Trigger in real time
  • Wisely use discounts

Abandoned cart emails are not a set-it-and-forget-it type of email. While it is automated, and you don’t have to fiddle with it, it’s best to think of it as a constant work in progress. Not testing or experimenting with your emails is leaving money on the table. Consistent testing can string together many small wins and a big increase in revenue generated. Test content types, subject lines, CTAs, layout, and images.

5. Back In Stock

Products inevitably go out of stock. Displaying low inventory to create urgency or selling limited-time products will always go out of stock. But you don’t have to turn away visitors who missed out, thanks to back in stock email alerts.

Instead of a visitor landing on a product page, reading that it’s out of stock, and then leaving the page, you now have an opportunity to fill that demand. Conversely, when someone lands on a product page and sees that it’s out of stock, a popup or embedded form on the page can capture their email, send them an email when it’s back in stock, and convert the visitor into a paying customer.

Avoid:

  • Hiding the back in stock alert CTA in an obscure location on the page
  • Offering a discount for their email
  • Falsely displaying an item as out of stock
  • Sending promotional emails to users who only opted in to the back in stock alert

Do:

  • Use targeting to display a popup at the right time
  • Place an embedded form in an easy-to-see location on the page
  • Protect against spammy emails

Do you make your customers wait until they get to the checkout to break the bad news? Eliminate the chance for a bad experience with your brand and use back in stock alerts to put the customer first.

Implementing a full customer-centric marketing strategy for a channel-agnostic customer doesn’t happen overnight. It requires organizational changes, new processes, other tools and platforms.

In Summary

When moving towards an integrated customer perspective in marketing, and email marketing specifically, it quickly becomes obvious that this also impacts the way brands organize their internal processes too. Email marketers, content marketers, web analytics experts, CRM practitioners, social media marketers, etc., all have to collaborate in order to achieve a single view and customer-centric approach.

Implementing a full customer-centric marketing strategy for a channel-agnostic customer doesn’t happen overnight. It requires organizational changes, new processes, other tools and platforms. But you can start with these 5 automated emails to amp up your customer centric email program.

If you want to learn more about how to do more with less, use all your data, and do customer centric email marketing, visit us at Cordial.com or read more content like this on the Cordial blog.

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