Increase Sales & Lifetime Value by combining Marketing Automation & E-commerce
A core challenge of running an e-commerce business is finding new ways to provide value to your customers without cutting into your own margins. You want to give the customer the best possible experience and value but at the same time you’ve got to be profitable so you can go on to serve more customers!
Marketing Automation is an avenue you can explore to do precisely this! When utilised properly a Marketing Automation suite will allow you to deliver tailored messages to your customers when they are most receptive to them; offering them the right product or service, at the right time, at the right price. Using intelligently crafted campaigns one or two staff can nurture the volume of leads that previously you might have required 10 sales reps to manage.
What Exactly is Marketing Automation?
Marketing Automation is a collection of tools designed to automate a large portion of a business’s marketing. Highly versatile and customisable it’s useful for repetitive tasks and it’s far more than an email client! When implemented properly Marketing Automation helps to:
- Identify more leads
- Qualify those leads
- Nurture leads through the sales cycle
- Increase conversions
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Increase lifetime value of customers
Some of the tools you use to achieve these aims are:
- Visitor identification
- Dynamic forms
- End-to-end analytics
- Dynamic and automated email content
- Dynamic lists
- Lead scoring
Why Does It Work So Well With E-commerce?
You’re Always Learning
Building up a detailed picture of your customers can be a difficult process. It’s necessary to understand what they want and how to market to them. Marketing Automation allows you to continually learn about your customers in a variety of ways.
End-to-End Analytics allows you to see how your customers behave at every stage of their buyers journey. See what kind of content and language caused them to click-through from an email most often. Use ‘Time on Page’ data to help you understand what kind of content captures their interest and what types of content just get bounces. A/B testing different marketing collateral, segmentation techniques and web design gives you mountains of usable data. Use this to continually improve your campaigns and achieve higher conversion rates.
Form gates are simply when you require the lead to give you a little information before you let them access a certain piece of content. This can be as simple as asking for an email address, name and country of residence before allowing access to an eBook. As you nurture leads you can use these forms to ask for data you can’t capture another way, such as ‘How much would you normally spend on a gift?’
Building from all the data you are now gathering you can personalise your marketing efforts like never before. Automated segmenting means you can build specific workflows to send highly targeted messages.
These segments can be based on almost any lead attribute you can think of. If certain product categories are often bought from together or in quick succession then you might consider targeting based on this aspect of lead behaviour. If certain personas respond best to messages sent on the weekend then make sure you have a workflow centred around optimum sending times. You’re limited only by your imagination.
Adding Value For The Customer Without Decreasing Your Margin
This is the holy grail of e-commerce isn’t it? If you can somehow provide better value than your competitors whilst keeping your margins intact then you’re winning at e-commerce! Traditionally to provide greater value to the customer your margins have to take a hit because you’re offering discounts, free shipping or lower prices.
Providing your leads with information, products and offers exactly when they’re most receptive increases their effectiveness without having to increase their fiscal cost to you. Nurturing your leads with useful information and helpful advice build the trust in your brand which almost never hurts lead-value!
Reduce Cart Abandonment & Chase Abandoned Carts
Ideally by the time you’re encouraging your lead to make a purchase they should be so primed that abandoning their cart isn’t likely to happen. Better qualification and nurturing of leads will allow you to only prompt a purchase at the correct stage of the sales lifecycle.
When carts are abandoned you can have an automated, dynamic email that will remind the lead of the great products they have almost finished purchasing. Build offers or alternatives into these to recapture a percentage of those not quite converting.
What’s All This Worth To Me?
- (Number of leads in your email database) X (Average click-through rate on email) = Visits per message
- (Visits per message) X (Average conversion rate) = Converting Customers per message
- (Converting Customers per message) X (Average Conversion Value) = Conversion Value per message
Segmented email campaigns generally achieve 2-3X the click-through rate of unsegmented email campaigns. Let’s take a look at an example.
- (15,000) X (1.5%) = 225
- (225) X (5%) = 11
- (11) X (£15) = £165
If we do nothing but double the click-through rate the final figure becomes £337.50. Segmenting your marketing database and personalising your emails doesn’t only increase click-through rate, it increases conversion rates, conversion value and lifetime value. Doubling the click-through rate and doubling the conversion rate is at the low end of what would be expected after Marketing Automation implementation. The example is the cynics picture and it still looks pretty good!
How To Do Marketing Automation Well!
Nurture The Lead, Don’t Just Sell
Sending the right messages at the right time is a key component of Marketing Automation success. Just because a lead has viewed a product it doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. Just because a lead has bought from you before it doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy again.
Recognising where a lead is in their buyers journey and sending content targeted to that stage is far more effective than simply bombarding the lead with products related to the last thing they viewed.
Post-Sale Is As Important As Pre-Sale
After a lead has converted you shouldn’t let the relationship go stale. The lead is no longer at the ‘buying stage’ and your communication with them should reflect that. The nurturing process almost starts again in some ways.
Post-sale is the most important time for increasing lifetime value, neglect it at your peril.
Don’t Only Rely On Big Data
You know what dynamic emails are great for doing? Seeking feedback! Ask a lead that has recently converted what made them pick you, what they would like to see in future and if you can offer them any further information. Emphasise to the lead that by providing you this feedback they will be improving not only their future interactions with you but the customer experience as a whole.
Personalisation Can Go Everywhere!
Many people fall into the trap of only using personalised and dynamic content in emails. It’s the most obvious place for dynamic content and also often the easiest to include it. Dynamic content can be served in a variety of places, for instance it’s incredibly effective when used in conjunction with CTAs on websites.
Dynamic CTAs often achieve click-rates 300% higher than standard CTAs that display the same content for everyone.
Segregate, Measure, Score, Analyse, Learn, Action
That’s right, SMSALA! I tried to make this process fit into a funky acronym but I just couldn’t make it work!
- Segregate your database and send them targeted content
- Measure how leads respond to this content
- Score leads based on their behaviour and reactions to the content
- Analyse what your data shows
- Learn from what you’ve found and find insights that may improve performance
- Action those insights and being the whole process again!
Is Now The Right Time or Can I Wait A While?
There’s never been a better time to start implementing Marketing Automation. The competition and innovation means Marketing Automation suites like SharpSpring that are designed for SMEs are affordable for almost everyone.
So far the general uptake of Marketing Automation has been a little sluggish. This is due to a variety of factors but the biggest we’ve found is the perception that it will cost too much. 3 years ago that was true for many businesses, but in 2016 that perception is outdated.
At the moment if you begin to implement Marketing Automation you will be ahead of the curve. However in 2 years you might well be playing catch-up if you haven’t already started. Starting Marketing Automation before it is the norm brings the advantage of surprising your customers and learning by doing before perfection is expected by the customer. I’d compare Marketing Automation to having a Responsive Website.
In 2010 Responsive Web Design was funky and new but not practical for many. In 2013 business people began to realise that it was becoming a necessity but customers were still pleasantly surprised when a website was responsive. In 2016 if your website is not responsive customers click away in a flash, it hurts your business because responsive web design is the norm.
In 2016 Marketing Automation is where Responsive Web Design was in 2013. Don’t get left behind!