As your eCommerce business grows, so do your marketing needs. Marketing automation tools are supposed to help you prioritize and handle the many different pieces of your online campaigns. eCommerce companies are growing in number at an astonishing rate, and separating yourself from your competitors requires a well-planned out strategy.
Attracting new users and converting them into paying customers is a top priority for every eCommerce business. But once you’ve given them your product, how can you make sure they come back?
You’ll need to analyze your website’s metrics, keep track of visitors, communicate with potential customers, and the list goes on.
This article will cover the principles of eCommerce marketing automation and how it can make your life easier while your business grows to new levels.
What is eCommerce marketing automation?
Ecommerce marketing automation refers to software built to automate repetitive marketing tasks. This includes following up with leads, sending e-mails, and collecting information.
Automating your eCommerce marketing can help you free up time by creating and launching campaigns. The days when you had to hire people for mundane tasks are long gone. Developers and companies have created software that will remove the blood, sweat, and tears from repetitive tasks so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
What does eCommerce marketing automation include?
Automation takes care of marketing and sales engagement while driving measurable results. It allows you to easily design, execute, and automate your campaigns or tasks across multiple departments. You can simultaneously scale up your marketing efforts while achieving a consistent customer experience.
Automation software comes in many different forms. Some simplify workflows, while others tackle analysis. Let’s take a closer look at four of the most valuable types of automation software.
Marketing Automation Software
Marketing automation software is all about simplifying and streamlining your marketing processes. For example, you can use it to automate repetitive tasks like email campaigns. Marketing automation tools also help track and analyze marketing and sales data to easily get a big picture view of all your marketing endeavors.
High-volume retailers often use workflow automation tools to ensure their orders are processed efficiently. Workflow automation software can automatically update systems when orders are shipped or returned, track inventory, and make sure customers are billed correctly. Some workflow automation tools can also make recommendations based on past performance and projected demand.
Yates Jarvis, the founder of 2 Visions, a marketing consultancy for e-commerce growth, advises: “Getting started with workflow automation can be dizzying. I recommend you start one of two ways: 1) You could start by identifying key processes that you immediately know you could automate and just go automate those. This is a need-based approach. Or 2) You could start by using a process charting application such as Vizio and map out a process from beginning to end. This is a process-based approach.”
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM software deals with customer interactions on an individual level. This is where you’ll find information about customers’ details, contact information, and order histories. It also allows you to send personalized emails, messages, and promotions to specific customers based on their actions or data. Because of this, CRM helps improve customer relations significantly by assisting companies in sending the right message to the right person at the right time.
Web Analytics Software
Web Analytics is where you find data about how visitors interact with your website or online store. Tracking metrics like bounce rate, page views per visit, and time on site are essential for understanding which pages are working best and which ones need improvement. With data from web analytics software, you can calculate how well your campaigns are performing and how good your website’s UI/UX is.
Best eCommerce Automation Tools
Now that you know the main categories of eCommerce marketing automation its time to have a closer look at some of the best tools out there.
Email Marketing Automation Tools
To recap, email marketing automation is a way to deliver emails to customers based on their behaviors. You can also segment users based on demographics, such as age, location, or behavior.
Some examples of email marketing automation include:
Abandoned Cart Emails
Many users tend to add a product to their carts and never really finish the checkout process. They might want to save their cart for later, but they simply forget about it in most cases.
Instead of losing these customers, you can set up an abandoned cart email campaign that will automatically send out a message reminding users about the products they never really purchased. This can help you increase sales for an extremely low cost, and it’s all automatic.
Cross-sell and Upsell Emails
After users purchase a product from your store, they will most likely receive a confirmation email. This is usually autogenerated by the eCommerce platform you are using. But after they get this initial email, most people never hear back from the store they just purchased from.
A cross-sell or upsell email campaign automatically sends out a message to your previous customers so they can come back and buy again. When you set up such a campaign, you want to make sure that you also include an incentive (like a discount coupon) so people will be more likely to reorder from your store.
Remember, previous customers are more likely to purchase from you than new users. This happens because they already trust your business and know that there is nothing to worry about.
Customer Engagement Emails
If your store allows users to create an account, you should have a bunch of useful information about them. Customer engagement emails are a great way to strengthen the relationship between your business and users by sending them a “Happy Birthday” message with a special discount.
Building this relationship will turn customers into brand advocates who will recommend your store to their friends and family.
Say you have ordered a large quantity of a specific product because your supplier had a great offer. You now decide to run a campaign and apply a discount to that particular product or category.
The best and cheapest way to boost your sales is to set up a promotional email campaign and let everyone on your list know about your offer.
On the other hand, if your stock runs low on a product and you want to get rid of it to buy its new variant, you can send out a message to your list letting them know about it.
Klaviyo – most accessible email marketing automation tool
Klaviyo helps e‑commerce businesses collect, analyze and use customer data to optimize marketing strategies and maximize revenue. The platform allows companies to send personalized email marketing campaigns to customers.
The best thing about Klaviyo is that it comes with predefined automation templates that work out of the box. Let’s have a look at how you can set up your first Welcome Series flow.
Once you sign in to Klaviyo, you will see the following screen:
Next, you’ll have to click on the Flows menu item on the left side of the page. Flows are automation that will do the heavy lifting of email marketing for you.
Klaviyo lets you create separate Lists based on multiple criteria.
For example, you can create a list of:
- People that have ordered a specific product;
- New users that have signed up to your newsletter;
- Existing customers that have purchased from you more than two times.
The possibilities are endless here, but for this example, I am going to consider you simply having the default “New Subscribers” list.
You will have to click on the “Get Started” button right below the “Welcome Email” card on the Flows screen.
Once you do that, you’ll see this screen:
Go ahead and select your list, then click on continue.
The Flow editor will open up, and it looks like this:
By default, Klaviyo has already added three steps to this Flow:
- When a new email gets added to your database, it will instantly receive a Welcome Message.
- After three days from the previous email, that address will receive an additional message.
- After four days from the previous email, that address will receive the last message in this sequence.
Now you want to write and design these emails. You’ll have to click on the first email box, then click edit on the panel on the left.
Now you’ll see a screen that allows you to edit the sender’s name and email address, subject line, and preview text. Once you complete these fields, you can click on the “Edit Content” button to take you to the email content editor page.
After creating the first email, you can click on the “Save Content” button. This will take you back to the previous page and save all your progress.
Click “Done” in the top right corner, and you’ll be taken back to the initial Flow page.
The last step you have to take is to set your first email as “Live.” To do so, click on the “Draft” text on the bottom left of the email card and select “Live.”
Congratulations! You just configured your first email that will be sent automatically by Klaviyo when a new email address gets added to your list.
Now you have to follow the same steps to finish the other two emails. Once you are done, you can click on the “Save & Exit” button in the top right corner:
To make sure your Flow works, look for a small green dot besides its name in the Flows screen:
Now that you have your first Flow, it’s time to configure more! After all, you want to automate every aspect of your email marketing efforts completely.
Click on the blue “Create Flow” button in the top right corner of the screen.
As I previously mentioned, Klaviyo provides a vast template library you can pick Flows from.
Klaviyo is a truly comprehensive email marketing tool that can even automate SMS campaigns. Because it has so many features, you might feel lost at first, but with time and a few tutorials, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Another email marketing tool you can use is Mailchimp. The great thing about it is that it also acts like a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform.
Mailchimp – an all in one sales automation tool
Mailchimp is an easy-to-use marketing automation platform for SMBs. You can create and send email newsletters, manage your subscriber lists, and track campaign performance.
With Mailchimp, you can automate tasks like welcoming new subscribers, re-engaging inactive customers, and following up with people after they buy something. The platform makes it easy to connect with your audience across various channels—email, web, mobile, and more—so you can market smarter and grow faster.
MailChimp has many tools to help your business grow, so you can stay organized, reach customers wherever they are, sell more stuff, and boost your bottom line.
Create Signup Forms
Get new subscribers from anywhere on the web, with forms that match the look and feel of your brand.
Analyze Your Audience Segments
See which groups of subscribers are opening and clicking on emails, so you can figure out who to send more stuff to.
Send the Right Messages to the Right People
Quickly target segments like first-time buyers or people who abandoned their carts to make sure you’re constantly sending relevant messages.
Compared to Klaviyo, Mailchimp might feel a bit more complicated for first-time users.
Now that you know how to automate your email campaigns is time to look at how you can integrate this part of your marketing strategy with your store’s inventory. This will not only help your cash flow, but it will open up new possibilities you haven’t even thought of.
Workflow automation software is designed to streamline manual processes. For example, your inventory management system needs to interact with both systems if you sell products through your eCommerce website and your brick-and-mortar store.
Workflow automation software can ensure that inventory quantities in both systems are always correct by performing updates in real-time.
Automate.io – Connect your cloud apps
Aautomate.io helps you connect cloud apps so you can run a series of actions automatically in response to an event.
For example, whenever you receive an email in Gmail, you can automatically create a new task in Asana or Trello with automate.io. Or, when a customer completes a payment in Stripe, you can send them a text message using Twilio.
You can trigger automated workflows based on events (“trigger app”) that happen across different apps (“connected apps”). Automate.io also lets you perform actions (“actions app”) across other connected apps.
It’s called automation because the process happens “automatically” without manual intervention after the initial configuration is done.
Zapier – Free all in one automation tool
Zapier is an online automation tool that connects your favorite apps, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Mailchimp, Klaviyo, etc. You can connect two or more apps to automate repetitive tasks without coding or relying on developers.
There are millions of ways you can use Zapier. For example, maybe you want every new customer in Shopify to be automatically added as a subscriber in MailChimp. You’d create a Zap—or an automated workflow—that watches for new customers in Shopify and adds those people to your MailChimp list. Whenever someone places an order in your Shopify store from then on, Zapier will add them to your MailChimp list automatically.
Zapier works by watching for triggers in the app where your data starts (for example, a new sale in Shopify), then it automatically performs actions in the app where you want to use that data (like adding the sale as a new row in Excel).
If you don’t use Shopify, you have nothing to worry about. Zapier works with most of the biggest eCommerce platforms: WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Wix, and even eBay or Amazon.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Customer support and satisfaction automation refers to software that helps you automatically handle customer support issues or customer satisfaction matters.
Some tools can help you organize customer data so that when a customer needs help or has a complaint, the service team can quickly locate their information within your database.
Other types of software provide automated responses to customers’ questions or complaints and can even take on the job of your whole live chat department (these are called Chatbots).
Hubspot – The all in one CRM
HubSpot is the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Over 8,000 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpot’s software, services, and support to transform how they attract, engage, and delight customers.
A powerful, easy-to-use marketing automation platform that helps small and medium companies get more traffic and leads.
HubSpot Sales includes tools and templates for email outreach and follow-up, meeting scheduling, lead intelligence, and more.
HubSpot Service Hub is a customer service software that helps you deliver a delightful experience at every turn – from your website to your help desk.
This massive platform has a steep learning curve, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you are just starting. However, the sky is the limit once your systems are in place.
Chatfuel – Easiest way to create a chatbot
Chatfuel helps business owners and marketers build Facebook Messenger chatbots without coding. The Chatfuel platform makes it easy for anyone to engage their customers and grow their brand from small businesses to large enterprises.
You can use a chatbot to instantly engage with your website visitors and boost your conversion rate. It doesn’t matter if you have a dedicated live chat team. With the help of a bot, you can reduce the response time to a few seconds and convert more visitors into customers.
Say you run Facebook ads and get a ton of questions regarding your products. You have to spend quite some time answering all of them, plus most people ask you the same thing repeatedly.
With the help of a bot, you can instantly answer all questions.
Ecommerce businesses have access to more data than ever before. Still, they don’t always have the resources or knowledge to turn that data into actionable insights—this is why a web analytics tool is a vital asset for your eCommerce marketing automation stack.
Google Analytics is a free tool designed to help you analyze your marketing data. It collects information about your eCommerce site’s visitors and compiles reports about the number of visitors, their behaviors, and the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
You can use these reports to evaluate your content and make informed decisions on how to improve your marketing strategies.
Heap – An eCommerce centric analytics platform
Heap is a customer analytics platform that automatically captures every user action on your website and lets you measure it all.
Heap’s customer analytics platform tracks every touch, click, tap, swipe, and transaction across your website. Just install Heap once and get instant access to all the data from all of your users on an ongoing basis.
Target the right customers with intuitive visual filters and robust cohort analysis. Segment users based on their behavior and export these segments to other tools like email marketing platforms or ad networks.
The previous eCommerce marketing automation tools are platform-agnostic, meaning it doesn’t matter what type of website you have as you can easily integrate all of them.
If you run your business with the help of Shopify or Woocommerce, read on to discover the best apps and plugins you can install today to make your life easier.
Marketing automation apps for Shopify stores
Shopify lets you get an online store up and running in no time, but it lacks certain features. To get the most out of your store, you need to install apps.
Here are 3 of the best marketing automation apps available right now.
When a product is out of stock, Simple Shop Automation automatically hides the product from your online store and sends you an email with the details of the product, so you can plan to restock.
On the other hand, the app can also check all products every day – if some are restocked, publish them on your online store and send an email to your customers to let them know about it.
Fraudblock helps you keep your business safe from fraudulent customers. Simply install the app and set up your fraud score threshold.
When you get a new order, FraudBlock checks the order against their database of fraudulent behavior using machine learning algorithms. If the order score is over your threshold, the app will cancel the order for you – instantly.
Flow is a free app developed by Shopify. Unfortunately, this app only works with Shopify Plus stores, but it might make sense to upgrade just to get access to Flow (as the app is free).
There are hundreds of possible marketing automations you can set up using Flow:
- Add a gift to orders over $100;
- Text a discount code after a 2nd order;
- Mail handwritten note after a 3rd order;
- Kick-off nurture campaigns for preorder purchases;
- Create a support ticket when you receive a negative review and many more;
Flow is a free app, so all you have to do is install it and start configuring your marketing automations in no time.
Since WooCommerce is still the biggest eCommerce CMS out there, it’s only natural that I cover the best marketing automation plugins you can install right now from the WordPress plugin repository.
Marketing automation apps for Woocommerce
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that allows you to sell anything beautifully. Built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, it’s the world’s favorite eCommerce solution that gives store owners and developers complete control.
With endless flexibility and access to hundreds of free and premium WordPress extensions, WooCommerce now powers 30% of all online stores — more than any other platform.
Even though WooCommerce comes with all sorts of marketing automations, you can always enhance its functionality with 3rd party plugins. Here’s a list of 3 of the most popular solutions store owners use to automate their marketing efforts.
This plugin uses artificial intelligence to recommend users hyper-targeted products they are most likely to buy.
Recommendation Engine features three different modules:
- Related Products By View – Each time someone views a product, it is recorded in the recommendation engine database, which updates the widget on your store.
- Related Products by Purchase History – This shows products often purchased by the same user.
- Products Purchased Together – This shows products frequently purchased at the same time and on the same order.
Think of this plugin as having the same functionality that Amazon has. It’s smart enough to know what users are most likely to purchase and show them that product.
AutomatorWP makes it easy to create WordPress automation. It comes with a visual drag-n-drop builder and an intuitive user interface that you can use to connect any WordPress activity.
Not only will you be able to connect plugins, but you can also configure it to send your WooCommerce clients to an email marketing automation tool (like Klaviyo or Mailchimp).
As with all other plugins in this list, the possibilities are limitless. If you have a developer, you can even use this plugin to send Webhooks to 3rd party solutions.
PushEngage is a web push notification service provider, helping you reach out to your audience on desktop and mobile. With PushEngage, you can send unlimited notifications for free for your first 2000 subscribers.
Push notifications are a great way to reengage your customers and automate your marketing efforts. With this plugin, you can send push notifications directly from your WooCommerce store.
Push Engage seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce and lets you send automation notifications like order confirmations, abandoned cart reminders, shipping updates, back-in-stock alerts, price drop updates, and more!
How effective is eCommerce marketing automation?
If you want to keep customers returning to your eCommerce business, it all comes down to delivery, selection, and price. If a customer is happy with the product or service they get, chances are they’ll continue to come back for more.
But if you really want your eCommerce business to grow, you need to focus on improving your marketing, whether that’s through social media marketing, email newsletters, or some other type of direct communication.
The marketing automation tools I presented can help you prioritize and handle the many different pieces of your online campaigns.
Because eCommerce companies are growing in number at an astonishing rate, separating yourself from your competitors requires a well-planned strategy and a lot of hard work.
You can make your life way easier by automating most of your marketing efforts which can literally put client acquisition and retention on autopilot.