Marketing and Sales

eCommerce Marketing Automation: How to Woo Your Customers Without Lifting a Finger

Updated July 8, 2024 10 minutes

eCommerce Marketing Automation: How to Woo Your Customers Without Lifting a Finger

As an online business owner, what’s your biggest challenge? Is it product promotion? Perhaps, you’re struggling to create a strong customer retention strategy. Whatever it is, eCommerce marketing automation can help you with it.

What’s that, precisely? It’s the effective use of software and other powerful tools to build personalized promotional content, streamline your cross-selling or retargeting approach, and more.

This guide covers the “why,” “what,” and “how” of the concept. In short, we’ll discuss why you need marketing automation for eCommerce, what you need to consider before opting for such tools, and how you can build a powerful strategy to guarantee your business’s success.

Let’s dive into it.

Why do you need eCommerce marketing automation?

According to Ascend2, 59% of digital advertisers and business owners plan to increase their spending on marketing automation in 2024.

Why? Because it allows them to:

  • Guide the buyer’s journey. Automated marketing software operates through real-time triggers, including customer interaction with specific touchpoints, purchasing patterns, or cart abandonment. This lets you direct your audience towards desirable actions, like subscribing to a mailing list or buying a product.
  • Track sales and campaign performance. Marketing automation tools for eCommerce typically offer advanced reporting tools and analytics. Businesses can leverage those indicators to gain insight into customer activities. This, in turn, can help them capitalize on market opportunities, drive revenue projections, or monitor sales and campaign milestones.
  • Deliver personalized content. These eCommerce marketing automation solutions work with collated data, such as repeat purchases, page or email engagement rates, and browsing habits. You can use this information to present qualified leads with personalized content, their favorite products, related categories, etc.

By leveraging user data and preferences, eCommerce marketing automation tools will allow you to effortlessly tailor your campaigns to each customer or customer segment. This level of personalization can help you significantly boost customer engagement and satisfaction and ultimately drive higher conversion rates and revenue growth.

personalized content impact
Percentage of customers who buy, recommend, and repurchase products due to personalized content; source: McKinsey & Company

Beyond that, marketing automation for eCommerce lets businesses establish a consistent multichannel promotion strategy. Today, customers use multiple devices and apps for online shopping. And since these tools extend to all of those platforms, they can help build a seamless and cohesive advertising approach that results in improved ROI.

What should eCommerce brands consider before opting for marketing automation?

It’d be a mistake to view automated marketing as a catch-all solution to scale your eCommerce business. That’s not to say they aren’t effective. However, they work best when you pair them with three key principles.

Audience segmentation and behavioral tracking

Like any other business objective, it’s crucial to base your marketing automation for eCommerce on a solid foundation. And that begins with audience segmentation and behavioral tracking.

Let’s put this into perspective.

These tools use different types of triggers to launch automated campaigns. For instance, if a customer repeatedly abandons their cart, the software will recognize that behavior and select the most appropriate solution, for instance, an abandoned cart email or exit intent pop-up.

Now, whether these messages include a personalized coupon or a sale alert depends on the specific situation. What matters is that the program takes a specific action based on customers’ engagement patterns.

For that to happen every time, you must have accurate data to draw from. This would allow you to group buyers according to their:

  • purchasing history and habits;
  • access channels and devices;
  • cart content, such as frequently added or abandoned items;
  • website interactions, for instance, most browsed categories or product filters.

Here are the ways to approach customer segmentation in B2C eCommerce marketing:

eCommerce segmentation strategies
eCommerce segmentation strategies; source: Namogoo

Also, when you start categorizing your customers this way, you’ll be able to build collective profiles for them. Then, you can assign a set of actions that the platform executes each time it detects shoppers from a particular group.

Cross-channel optimization

Data suggests that mobile devices account for 66% of online shopping. So, when it comes to eCommerce marketing automation, you can’t limit yourself to email campaigns or subscription lists. You also have to factor in device usage and social media platforms.

But what exactly does that involve?

For one, you must direct equal attention to developing targeted SMS and push notifications. Send them to customers to alert them about upcoming sales and inventory updates.

You can also use your social media page to promote new product lines, recommend related categories, or push marketing content. This will only add to your online presence and help you nurture community engagement.

Still, both these objectives could require different tools to accomplish. For example, you may need to rely on a dedicated platform to build bulk SMS campaigns. Similarly, you might have to turn to social media management apps to automate online outreach efforts.

Content customization

Unlike traditional advertising, marketing automation tools for eCommerce allow you to deploy targeted and personalized promotional content to customers. However, this isn’t just about welcome emails or discount offers. It also involves, but is not limited to:

  • custom product packages and bundles;
  • tailored page recommendations for selective buyers;
  • touchpoint optimization that accounts for niche preferences and purchasing habits.

When you take this holistic approach to personalization, you’ll be able to identify previously overlooked lead sources or access channels. As an added benefit, customers will be more likely to stay loyal to your brand since it offers a distinct and positive experience.

customized promotional content
Benefits of customized promotional content according to marketers; source: Statista

There’s another reason why you should opt for tailored marketing content. Studies indicate that 43% of online shoppers are willing to share personal data if it helps them receive customized promotions and product recommendations.

This directly aids the effort you put into audience segmentation and behavioral tracking. In other words, you start with baseline personalization, collect buyer information, and use those insights to streamline your automation strategy further. Then, rinse and repeat.

5 tips for eCommerce marketing automation success

Below, we’ve listed five best practices for implementing marketing automation for eCommerce businesses. This includes tips for on-site customization, retargeting strategies, cross-selling, and more.

Prioritize on-site personalization

A parallel concept to content customization is the idea of on-site personalization. This primarily involves:

Now, the platform you’re on will determine how you build tailored product recommendations. To keep things simple, let’s use Shopify as an example.

Shopify lets you suggest products to customers with the Search & Discovery app. You have to pick a category and choose 10 complementary items. These are what shoppers frequently buy together. Let’s label this as Group 1. You can also select 10 related categories (Group 2) you’d like to push each time a customer comes across Group 1.

product recommendations
Option to create product recommendations with the Search & Discovery app; source: Shopify

As for integrating shoppable content, several social media sites, including TikTok and Instagram, let you sell products directly through the in-app store. You only have to connect your store page to your account.

When that’s done, you can funnel customers from one platform to another. For example, you can add a shoppable Instagram feed to Shopify to let users browse your catalog. When they do, they’ll come across the recommendations (Groups 1 & 2) you had set up earlier.

In short, you’re setting up a loop and presenting buyers with multiple options based on their purchasing intent. More importantly, you’re giving them different access points that don’t require constant supervision.

Set email triggers for global actions

Triggered email campaigns have been a part of marketing automation software for as long as anyone can remember. And this is mostly due to how versatile and context-accurate they can be. So, it helps if you take advantage of what they can offer.

To do this, you can use a bulk email service and designate predetermined templates for various customer actions. Some of these are as follows:

  • welcome emails for newsletter sign-ups, form completion, or club membership;
  • reminders and follow-ups, such as order confirmation, shipping details, or upselling messages;
  • contextual offers like birthday offers or membership anniversary vouchers;
  • lead nurturing through free resources, relevant promo content, or product recommendations.

The idea here is to have an email template for every occasion. Is this the fifth purchase by the same shopper in three months? Program your platform to send them an email with a “loyalty discount” coupon. You can do the same for SMS and push notifications.

automated emails
Cheat sheet to deploy automated emails; source: EngageBay

When you set up your system this way, you’re essentially putting your customer retention strategy on autopilot. That frees you up to focus on other critical areas, such as budget optimization or exploring new market opportunities.

Retarget with precision and creativity

If you want to build a successful eCommerce marketing automation strategy, you must have a dedicated plan to retarget inactive accounts or users.

For example, you can use consensually provided profile or account information to upload targeted lists on Facebook and build custom audiences. Instagram, Pinterest, and the Google Display Network have a similar process.

You can also fall back on emails. Simply request users to verify their account details or offer attractive incentives (heavily discounted offers) to reignite their interest.

That said, not many people talk about how you can plan and schedule social media posts to draw customer attention back to your brand. Here’s how this works:

  1. Create sale-oriented content around specific events, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  2. Research and incorporate popular tags that users will likely search for.
  3. Schedule the post for publishing as soon as the event begins.

If you think about it, it’s a pretty straightforward strategy. Social media users lean toward certain buzzwords to look for products during such events. When you include them in your post, you ensure that disengaged followers come across your content even if they don’t regularly keep up with your page.

Reports indicate that 84% of marketers believe online shoppers favor social media apps over third-party or brand sites. In other words, if you don’t leverage social media content in your retargeting strategy, you’re ignoring a sizable chunk of your customer base.

Streamline your cross-selling and upselling strategy

Many confuse cross-selling and upselling with on-site personalization. And it’s easy to see why.

On-site personalization does include promoting other product categories. However, it still largely revolves around improving the customer’s access to your offerings. It also involves aspects of content customization — tailored banners, page recommendations, etc.

Cross-selling and upselling are exclusively about increasing your average order value (AOV). The best part? There are marketing automation tools for eCommerce that can help with this.

Shopify’s app store hosts plenty of such options. For example, Bold is an AI-powered app that draws data from your inventory and product catalog to present shoppers with attractive deals. There’s also Cashier, a WooCommerce plugin that serves a similar function.

Whatever you decide on, it’s critical that you first establish a few product groups that customers are likely to buy. This can include:

  • most sold products;
  • new arrivals;
  • items frequently bought together;
  • premium or top-shelf variants.

You can also leverage user data and create offers based on a customer’s last viewed products, recurring purchases, or most browsed category.

Build a consistent feedback loop

You can adopt the best eCommerce marketing automation software in the world with all the bells and whistles. None of that will matter if you don’t account for customer feedback.

Fortunately, this isn’t overly complicated. It can be as simple as asking customers to:

  • rate a product after purchase;
  • leave a review on the checkout process;
  • share their experience with your brand/product on social media.

You can also turn to Net Promoter Score (NPS) emails. These messages measure customer satisfaction with your brand and product. They also deliver insight into how likely they are to recommend your offerings to others. However, if you do go down this route, ensure that:

  • you include less than 10 questions to improve completion rates;
  • incorporate the NPS survey directly into the email, with no redirects to external pages;
  • use a simple, clean layout to make it easy to navigate;
  • opt for a 0-10 rating scale for responses to collected measurable data.

It also helps to offer an incentive to participants. Vouchers, coupons, and limited-time discounts are all great options and will make respondents more likely to finish the survey.

How will you build your eCommerce marketing automation strategy?

We’ve discussed five tips for effectively implementing marketing automation for eCommerce businesses and explored a few tools to help you in this process.

Now, if your budget allows it, it’d be best to opt for a dedicated automation platform to centralize your efforts. The principles would remain the same — you’d still have to engage in on-site personalization, design email triggers, and so on.

The only difference is that you’d be able to consolidate your data on one channel. The result? A simpler and more streamlined promotional approach that eliminates potential marketing blindspots.

Date of publication:

June 18, 2024

Eduard Klein

Eduard Klein is an International Digital Growth Marketer, Blogger, and Online Business Coach with a global mindset....

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