Using email automation for ecommerce. It doesn’t matter which email service provider you look at, they all helpfully offer a definition of email automation. The odd thing is however, that it varies ever so slightly to ensure whatever they offer is included. Let us look at the biggest provider – Mailchimp:
“Email automation is a way to create emails that reach the right people with the right message at the right moment—without doing the work every time, sending automated messages leveraging a marketing automation tool. When you link your website analytics with your email marketing platform, you can target people based on behavior, preferences, and previous sales. Then you can personalise each customer’s experience and increase the relevance of your automated campaigns.”
The important element “without doing the work every time”. So fair to say “doing the work some of the time” – that bit isn’t automatic then. This distinction always is worthy of pointing out the obvious, that if it’s not automatic the first time, refreshing it perpetually isn’t automatic either. Darn that’s annoying! Not as automatic as you might’ve hoped.
Fair enough, but not actually automatic though. The OED definition is :
[uncountable] – the use of machines and computers to do work that was previously done by people.
In fairness Mailchimp doesn’t say “all the work” and therefore use of the word can be forgiven. However if you are new to ecommerce, perhaps having added it to a retail shop, looking for where all the pre-pandemic customer have gone, needing a slice of the action, you probably need greater clarity than this. Already encumbered with buying, and in-store displays, staff, stock-holding now with yet another new investment in time and money for everything that ecommerce brings. From website design, SEO through to omnichannel marketing, a huge additional burden, usually requiring upfront costs in anticipation of future sales. Campaign Monitor offer:
“Email automation is the ability to send time or action triggered emails to subscribers with relevant information. Automation is useful for a variety of marketing purposes. Whether it’s a triggered workflow that helps nurture new leads, birthday greetings that add a personal touch, or automated blog updates that take the legwork out of staying in touch with your audience — email automation makes email marketing more efficient, personalised, and relevant.”
Again not mentioned is the set-up required and perpetual up-dating to maintain relevance and freshness. Interestingly high on their agenda is their appropriateness of personalisation. Why you may ask? Because while email has enjoyed the luxury of highest returns as a go-to medium (one where you’re not waiting for the customer to find you – which usually is followed by the word eventually), personalisation is now the by-word for success in ecommerce.
Back in the 1990s, when CRM was in its infancy, it was appreciated by the likes of Experian, Forbes and Pearson that it was 6x less expensive to keep and existing consumer than get a new one. Roll that forward 20 years and finally the ecommerce world’s enlightenment, is the finally appreciation of just how powerful personalisation is in comparison to every other element in selling. To be careful here, personalisation is not adding someone’s name or birthday to something – as a few ESPs would have you believe, usually the ones that do no more than this. But it is rather the perceptiveness of retailers identifying products exclusive to the individual consumer to whom your message is going.
In the above graph is indicated that organisations – primarily based in the UK and Europe for this survey – now undertake some form of personalisation in their marketing activity. (Conversion Rate Optimisation Report) from Econsultancy and RedEye Optimisation. That 71% represents an uptick from 62% last year, and is the highest level reported by client-side respondents in at least 5 years.
The next stumbling block to using automation, preferred by ESPs is – segmentation. Now we ask a simple question here “if we put you in a box with a group of other people would you consider your treatment was a personal one or not?” Many ESPs (especially some of the biggest ones) would have you believe that something as trite as Male/Female would be sufficient to define you, and that this could reasonably be construed as personalisation. Some would extend this to include age, location, and those a little more professional would extend it to include previous purchase history, which is a lot better performance wise.
But personalisation is not segmentation, it is not carving up a database of customers by linear quotas to suit promotional or marketing parameters, and you will discover neither is the power of the yield that is delivered. More is explained in this article the power of email personalisation, a reservoir of knowledge from across the web, illustrating just how much more effective it is.
Coming back to our retailer, new to email marketing, wanting to choose the perfect programs to get off the mark, we have established that it must have personalisation high on the agenda, and ideally be automatic, so it needs as little time necessary as possible. Fully automatic eliminates nearly all comers, as they can’t do it.
Lets us look at one potential solution that does – SwiftERM, a Microsoft Partner company, offering a 100% automatic process – it needs no staff whatsoever, not even to set up and keeps itself fresh, as the automation is perpetual. (Consider the significance of that to bottom line GP. If an average employee’s income employed for email marketing is £30k pa plus costs, training, Tax & NI contributions, holidays pay, maternity leave, training, office overheads etc makes this £60k of net profit required just to break even. That’s a hefty amount of turnover required to just catch up).
What it does is take every individual’s buying history, and then perpetually adds their impression data (typically 100 on every visit the consumer makes to the website they shop at) and then ranks every SKU you have in order of that consumer’s most likely products to buy. It then takes the top ones, populates a stylesheet, and sends, via SendGrid – to avoid spam-filters, a couple of times a month. This makes every email sent, to each individual consumer, personal and perfectly appropriate, only for them.
It might not come as a surprise to know this process can deliver as much as 20x (twenty times) greater return than promotional and marketing emails, this is professional distinction of personalisation in email marketing.
Being 100% automatic negates the need for human involvement. Indeed, when people get their hands on something “just because they can”, it often has an adverse effect. If big-data says “do this for maximum return”, the last thing you need is an ego saying “no I don’t believe it, I want to do something else.” It takes the bigger person to appreciate, what they are actually doing is lowering the potential, with each interference.
SwiftERM’s big-data solution always remains pertinent and most appropriate to the consumer it addresses, which offers far more than just bigger basket sizes, but it also maximises their customer lifetime value. Almost as a side-effect, the number of products returned falls through the floor. Why? Simply because if it is choosing product which you already know they are most likely to for that individual to buy, it naturally follows these products haven’t been chosen on a whim, and are more likely to be kept.
SwiftERM offer a free trial to all ecommerce retailers for a month. You get to reap the reward from the trial even if you decide to leave. Published (with permission) are a variety of case-studies illustrating how powerful it is. The average ROI across all clients in 2021 was over 1500%. Further (and this is a rarity, usually for retailers with lower customers numbers or fewer SKUs) if it does not make 4x the potential monthly cost you are allowed to extend the trial until it does. Unlike many ESPs, you are not tied into a notice period, so, if for any reason you decide to leave then you can do so instantly with impunity – no early termination fee. Finally, the data remains yours and in your control at all times.
There is one final benefit, not available from any other solution in the world. SwiftERM is a Trustpilot partner, and have exclusive rights to include product rating referrals against any and all products chosen, which are included in each and every email by the algorithm. This inclusion is perpetually free to any and all of the 1m Trustpilot users, employing this service, worldwide. Any subscriber using TP is automatically accepted and no notification is required. This adds additional value to that subscription, delivering additional revenue, and supports all the reasons you decided to incorporate this software to your stack.