If you're a digital marketer or an e-commerce store manager, you've likely heard of marketing automation. Hopefully, you're already leveraging a suite of marketing automation tools.
Even for us experts, it can be challenging to stay on top of all of the latest tips and tricks in marketing automation, drip campaigning, and remarketing.
(And if that last sentence read to you as gobbledygook biz speak, don't fret.)
The following is a breakdown of the most important concepts, trends, and tools that digital marketers should understand about marketing automation, particularly if they are driving traffic to a Shopify or Shopify Plus e-commerce store.
Marketing Automation 101
First, let's cover the fundamentals. "Marketing Automation" refers to tools and techniques that automate the most basic tasks of collecting customer data and communicating with store's online shoppers.
A simple example of marketing automation might be sending a "Welcome" email to a website visitor who has just signed up for your newsletter. A more complex example might involve targeting a Facebook ad at someone offering a special product code discount, based upon a support question that they asked on your website.
We often refer to these automated tasks as "Automation Workflows," or "Automated Customer Journeys." More and more, these customer journeys span across sales and marketing channels. As these channels become more deeply integrated, shoppers can be presented with more personalized, and therefore more valuable, product experiences, as they engage with your brand across social media, your website, messaging platforms, and so forth.
"Drip Campaigning" or **"Drip Marketing" **refers to sending customers one or more series of messages, generally via email, that help them develop a relationship with your brand. The content in these series can be planned out in advance and can build upon specific topics over time, as the customer continues to engage and learn about your brand.
Too often, online retailers simply present website visitors with email newsletter signup forms. Then, when a website visitor subscribes, they just receive new newsletter content. All previously generated content goes unused in communicating with these new subscribers.
With drip campaigns, content stays fresh and can be reused to keep your brand in the forefront of your customers' minds. In addition to helping convert interested shoppers into new customers, drip campaigns are critical to upselling existing customers. Particularly if you sell consumable products, such as food or body products, drip campaigns help keep your customers reordering your products over time.
Remarketing or Retargeting
The terms "Remarketing" and "Retargeting" are often used interchangeably. Tactically, they are a little different. "Remarketing" refers to presenting online ads to people who've interacted with your website, while "Retargeting" refers to sending emails to people who've visited your site. Ultimately, the goal for both strategies is the same: to keep your brand in the forefront of your customer's attention after they visit your website.
Why is remarketing/retargeting important? A 2017 study found that 92% of first-time visitors to e-commerce stores without any intention of making a purchase. They visit to compare your products with your competitors, to learn more about your brand, and so forth. Especially if you're paying for advertising traffic to attract these first-time visitors, it's critical that you have tools in place to target them with additional offers. Across the board, remarketing and retargeting ads are less expensive and more effective than the ads that attract first-time visitors.
Building Your Marketing Automation Toolkit
Here's the thing: There really isn't one tool that you can install to solve all your marketing automation, drip campaign, and remarketing/retargeting needs. There are literally hundreds of tools available, many of which provide overlapping features, and only some of which play nicely together.
Ultimately, the right suite of tools for your online business will come down your goals, your budget, and the core technology platform you're using for your e-commerce store (i.e., Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, etc.).
Step 1: It all starts with your "eCRM"
The first step in selecting marketing automation tools is to settle on an "eCRM" or "E-Commerce Customer Relationship Management" solution. Your eCRM is the central repository for all of your customers and leads. It is also the brain that analyzes and tags customers, putting them into various marketing automation workflows and customer journeys.
If your e-commerce store is built on Shopify, there's one clear winner in the eCRM space: Drip.com. It's integration with Shopify is near seamless. As its name suggests, it's feature set for managing drip email campaigns and email retargeting is outstanding. The only thing we don't love about Drip is that it doesn't support tight, two-way, integration with more traditional CRM platforms, like PipeDrive, but for e-commerce business, that's not a huge limitation.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Marketing Email Provider
Once you've selected your eCRM, the next step in building out your marketing automation toolkit is to select a marketing email provider for drip campaigns and broadcast emails (e.g., your email newsletter). If you've selected Drip.com, you're in luck: its marketing email tools are excellent.
Unfortunately, most eCRM platforms do try to lock you into the email marketing tools that they provide. Drip, AutoPilot, ActiveCampaign, and so forth, all tout their own email tools heavily and therefore make it difficult for you to use a third-party email service. So, if you're used to working with an email provider, such as MailChimp or Bronto, integrating that provider with your eCRM can be cumbersome.
Step 3: Adding "Lead Capture" and "Onsite Remarketing" Features
The third step in building out your marketing automation toolkit is to add one or more tools that allow you to capture new leads (i.e., email addresses of folks who aren't quite ready to buy) and to keep them from exiting your store. This latter strategy is called "Onsite Remarketing" and can be accomplished with a variety of techniques, including popup messages presented to website visitors as they are leaving your site.
There are a number of great tools for this, particularly in the Shopify space. Three of our favorite include WisePops, ConvertFlow, and Sumo. WisePops is probably the easiest to get started with, but it's integration options with eCRM tools like Drip are currently limited. ConvertFlow is the most sophisticated and arguably my personal favorite, but its integration with Shopify takes some effort. Sumo is our clear winner if you're using both Shopify and Drip.com, as it works seamlessly between the two.
Step 4: Don't Add Chat
I'm kind of making a joke in saying "Don't add chat." Chat widgets like Drift, Intercom, and LiveChat have their place in e-commerce. And "Conversational Commerce" is certainly a trend to watch. However, unless you have the time and monthly spend to integrate the chatbot features of one of these platforms, which can easily cost $500/month just to get started, I think that adding chat to your marketing automation efforts is something you can wait on. Instead, I'd dedicate that real estate on your website to lead capture and onsite remarketing features.
If you're not on the marketing automation train already, it's definitely time for you to consider these tools. Building out the right combination of tools and features requires forethought and planning. A shotgun approach can create some incompatibilities and, ultimately, can cost you time and money. On the flip side, with a strong plan for rolling out these features, you can tackle them incrementally.
If you would like some help in thinking through these issues, please feel free to give us a shout. We're happy to schedule a 30-minute call to help you stay on the right track.