The Power of Automated Email Marketing in Retail

The folks over at Brightpearl explain why automated email marketing is a lifeline for online businesses – and  how you should be leveraging this golden nugget of conversions from the beginning to end of the customer journey.

Despite many other mediums being portrayed as more effective or exciting ways to market your products, email marketing remains one of the most low-cost and effective platforms out there.

Customers are used to engaging with your brand in this way, so email should remain as a backbone to your marketing strategies.

But times have changed since the introduction of email marketing…

Consumers now expect all forms of marketing you use to be tailored and personalized to them. Without the right data or programs behind you though, this can be a struggle.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which automated email marketing can help – from segmentation right through to transactional and post-sale emails.


Retail Segmentation

Typically, a business will segment based on where a contact is within their lifecycle.

There have been numerous studies showing the effectiveness of targeted marketing over the blanket approach. It’s said that personalized emails improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

Quite literally, it pays to put the effort into personalization.

Beyond lifecycle stages, most retail businesses will also find it worthwhile to further segment by product interest, allowing you to send relevant content and offers based on purchase history to bring customers back to your store and buying more.

It’s also common within omnichannel retail businesses to segment by sales channel. Each channel comes with its own set of costs and fees, and thus, it could be a good idea for you to direct your customers from one channel to another – perhaps through a discount code or unique offer – in order to reduce costs.

One word of caution though: Don’t do this at the expense of a seamless shopping experience. The offer or discount really does need to be worth the time and inconvenience of a customer buying from a different channel.


Automating Your Segmentation

There are powerful automation tools out there that allow you to automatically group your customers into segments using a set of rules and conditions to trigger specific actions.
These conditions could be based on anything from products ordered, to delivery address and other customer demographics.

An effective marketer might create a few rules that have conditions like ‘Contains product from category X’ to capture contacts that have bought a specific product category. This could then be used to place the contact into a nurture stream that upsells accessories or services related to their purchase history.
Basing segmentation on products purchased can also be a good way to cut contacts out of mailing lists.

If a customer has bought a washing machine from you, it’s unlikely that they’ll need to buy another one anytime soon. They may however require fabric softener or other laundry accessories, which is the perfect opportunity for you to upsell relevant products.

That’s smart email marketing!


Automating Transactional Emails

Instant access to internet and smartphones means that people can receive emails and app notifications at any time, wherever they are. This has led to customers expecting real time updates as their orders progress through your systems.

Before you can automate transactional emails, you need to see what each of your channels are capable of, and whether you want to rely on those systems, or put a larger cross-channel system in place. Most transactional emails have much higher open rates than others as customers want to be able to track their orders all the way to their door. So this points to the carrier integration being a good place to send the email from.

That’s the quickest and easiest way to automate, but there can be downsides.
For starters, you can’t track read rates and click rates. You can’t really personalize content. The templating systems in these platforms aren’t very advanced and inconsistency between your sales channels becomes very apparent…

But that’s okay – this is not what these systems are designed for.

Instead, you should consider implementing an effective retail management system that can send shipment notifications itself. This is often the best solution, since it contains all orders from all channels, full customer history, and is updated in real time as consignments are packed and shipped.

Furthermore, retail management platforms will be accustomed to dealing with multiple channels, so you’ll be able to set up different rules for your ecommerce stores, marketplaces, and even in-store sales which are to be shipped to a customer later.


Post-Sale Emails

The first thing that jumps to most people’s minds when thinking about post-sale emails is the ‘Thank you’ email, sent a few days after an order has been shipped.
In this email, you can check that the customer is happy with what they’ve received, and invite them to leave feedback, post a tweet or share their experience on Facebook.

That’s just a simple example.

We’ve already discussed the benefits of segmenting your data by purchase history and using automation tools to help you do that, so make the most of this post-sale opportunity!

And if you’re asking for reviews, then of course all that can be automated too. Tools like TrustPilot and Yotpo offer great ways to capture user-generated content you can later use in your email marketing.

It’s also possible to set up abandoned cart emails. By using a program like Nosto connected with your ecommerce website, you can easily establish which of your site visitors have bailed before buying and remind them of what they’ve left behind. Sometimes all it takes is a craftily worded email – with a personalized offer or discount – to swoon them back into your website and towards the checkout page.


A Final Note on Email Automation

Remember that everything you automate needs to be channel-aware. It is extremely important to have visibility into what you are sending your customers (and from which platform) to avoid sending duplicate information or emailing to the point of spamming.

When using retail management software, it’s easy to track all of this as emails are automatically logged in customer timelines within the CRM part of your system. So not only is it worth investing in personalization, but also a robust back office software to seamlessly support your automated email marketing efforts.

Further Reading:

Brightpearl Guide: Automating Customer Service for Retailers

About the Author

Justine Cross is the Content Marketing Executive for Brightpearl – the #1 retail management system for omnichannel retailers and wholesalers. Brightpearl allows you to provide a truly omnichannel experience for your customers, whilst unifying all of your sales channels, inventory, accounting, CRM, suppliers, fulfilment, reporting and POS in one single system.

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