How to Use Email/SMS Automation to Boost Ecommerce Sales
In challenging times, pivoting your business is the norm. If you’re already set up as an ecommerce company, consider yourself lucky – by having an ecommerce store, you’re already halfway towards mitigating the effects of the downturn.
For traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, attempting to attract shoppers during a post-lockdown environment is nothing less than a struggle. To stay afloat, many are being forced to find whatever alternatives they can to ride the wave. Often, that means using SMS and email automation to boost ecommerce sales. Here’s what you need to know.
In a recent survey conducted by Software Advice, as many as 50 out of 200 retailers had set up an ecommerce site following the COVID19 outbreak.
And why wouldn’t they? With total US consumer spending on ecommerce rising to more than $600 Billion in 2019, getting your store online and using SMS and Email automation to boost ecommerce sales is the right thing to do.
With so much competition entering the market, if you’re an ecommerce business you need to be pivoting too. And, as a first step, carrying out an audit of your marketing channels is a must. If it’s not at least multi-channel, you’ll need to come up with a good reason why. To ensure optimal levels of customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty, any successful ecommerce business should be offering seamless, omnichannel experiences.
When Zak Normandin, CEO and Founder of Iris Nova, launched his Direct-to-Consumer soft-drinks company Dirty Lemon in 2015, using a text-message-to-order model, he started himself off on the best footing to sail through a coronavirus pandemic. Or, at the very least, get through it better than most.
With an increase in sales of 22% in April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, much of this growth is down to Dirty Lemon’s multi-channel experience, including the text-to-order model set up from the start. Of course, further challenges exist for Zak during the pandemic but these have only increased his awareness of the need to pivot further:
“This virus has shown how fast business can change in the course of a week. It shows that you need to be reactive to the market, rather than let the market control you.” – Zak Normandin, CEO and Founder – Iris Nova
Pre-empting such a situation as a global pandemic is, of course, near to impossible. But it’s far easier to be agile as a business when you’re running a multi-channel marketing strategy. And, where customers are spending more time on a variety of platforms, broadening your buying channels as far as possible will not only reduce the risk to your business but will also boost ecommerce sales.
Where more than 50% of ecommerce traffic comes from mobile consumers, engaging consumers via their smartphones is a good place to start. And, where polls suggest almost 70% of consumers want businesses to communicate with them via text message, it could prove a smart move.
And, despite the demand, SMS is reported as underutilized by most businesses, leaving ecommerce traders too far behind where consumers already are.
Benefits of SMS & Email Automation
There are numerous benefits to adding SMS and email automation to your online store. To help better illustrate them, here are some immediate rewards you stand to reap.
An Audience Ready to Engage
As a marketer, you’ll already have an in-depth knowledge of the buying habits of millennials. Pivoting your business to boost ecommerce sales means attracting the next wave of consumers.
Defined as those born in the mid-1990s to 2010, Gen Z is spending even more time on their phones. 75% of survey responders rated their phone as the number one device of choice.
Build a Personal Connection
Automated SMS and Email marketing will help you build an immediate, personal connection to consumers. But this can flounder if it isn’t planned well. You could also risk the opposite happening – your customers feeling alienated.
With only 22% of consumers feeling happy with the level of personalization they receive, it’s important to get the balance right. Especially when research by Twilio shows 94% of customers feel annoyed by the way they’re marketed to. Remember, your customers want to receive attention and feel special, not hounded.
That’s why conversational commerce is also a growing trend, where customers are seeking quick answers to product queries. Using a combination of SMS, chatbot, and messaging apps, automation can boost ecommerce sales by resolving queries faster.
Increase Customer Aquisition & Retention
Finding new customers is exciting. But—for the simple fact that selling to existing customers is cheaper and easier than finding new ones—we need to spend more time nurturing those who already buy from us.
When statistics show that a 5% improvement in customer retention increases revenue to somewhere between 25% and 95%, it’s important that we do so.
Using a text messaging solution for ecommerce along with email marketing software can take the weight off this side of relationship management, giving you more time to focus on acquiring the shiny new ones.
Owner of Bohemian Guitars, Shaun Lee, switched his customer acquisition strategy to texting when he recognized most of his sales were happening via mobile. Attributing it to being better able to personalize messages, Lee saw a 98% increase in sales in less than 6 months.
Save Time & Money
The key benefit of automating your marketing workflow is that it does all the repetitive, time-consuming work so that you don’t have to.
Do you need to boost ecommerce sales with more customers? Or increase the lifetime value of current customers? In reality, you’ll want to run an ongoing series of marketing campaigns that do both and save you huge amounts of time. You can do this by scheduling bespoke messaging.
SMS also enables you to set up automatic replies. This saves you the time and resources that could be better spent planning and scheduling your next campaign.
Email marketing also has exceptional ROI’s and is capable of bringing back $43 for every 1 dollar invested. This makes it a time and cost-saving no-brainer.
6 Ways to Use SMS/Email Marketing to Boost Sales
- CONDUCT SURVEYS
With an average open rate of 98%, SMS is a powerful tool to gain feedback through customer satisfaction or insights surveys. If you’re using SMS, keep things brief – you’ll only get 160 characters per text.
You could also consider running a series of texts with a call-to-action for each. Remember, people are busy and juggling many demands, so you may not get a response straight away.
- WELCOME THEM
How you make customers feel means everything to a successful business. And there’s truth in the adage “first impressions count.” To boost ecommerce sales, make sure you’re on the front-foot when welcoming your customers. Make them feel valued.
When as many as 75% of customers are expecting a welcome email, you’ll want to compose the perfect, personalized opening message that harnesses their enthusiasm. Starting things off with a strong onboarding process can lead to greater lifetime value.
- SEND OFFERS
Once you’ve got that new customer on board, keep them loyal to your brand by sending exclusive discounts or real-time promotions. These could be offers on your product range, holiday discounts for birthdays or Mother’s Day, or competition giveaways.
American Eagle Outfitters ran a two-week competition for customers to win a large cash prize, with giveaways and discounts offered every day. This was an effective way to boost ecommerce sales, reaching more than 8 million subscribers via email and SMS. The key to its success? A 60% click-through rate on SMS.
- PROVIDE UPDATES
SMS and Email are the perfect platforms to keep your customers updated on their orders.
Also, consider SMS and Email for automated updates on the status of reservations, or if there are any potential problems with payments.
For it to work, it is critical that you get the timing right. Research conducted by MailChimp discovered the optimal time to send, for the best email open rates, is 10 am. For SMS, this can range depending on your industry. Whatever you do, don’t send anything out after 8 pm or before 6 am.
- ASK THEM
Sending out a call-to-action using SMS and Email automation can be a very powerful way to gain customer loyalty.
After they’ve received their goods, ask your customers to leave you some feedback. Was the product delivered on time? Was it packaged well? Did it meet their expectations?
Did you know that 92% of customers are reading reviews on Trustpilot. So, prompting your customers for a product review will help increase your online presence and, in the end, gain more customers.
- SEND REMINDERS
It’s a fact of life that, at some point, we’ll forget an important date.
Whether it’s for a birthday, an appointment, or to make a payment, we need technology to help us remember.
A strong ecommerce omnichannel experience should include SMS and Email marketing notifications, integrated into a CRM. Use this integration to optimal effect; for example, sending an SMS reminder to ask customers if they’ve read your email can increase email open rates by 20-30%.
What about those items that weren’t followed up on by customers at the time? Ecommerce firms should be using abandoned cart reminders to gain an increase of up to 5% in sales.
Tips for Getting Started
- Gain consent: Before engaging in any SMS or Email marketing campaign, you must gain consent from the customer. They will need to ‘opt-in’ to receive marketing from each channel. For every message that comes after, you’ll also need to include an option to ‘opt-out’, which makes it even more important to ensure a high-quality experience.
- Use simple, short messages: No-one has time to read through swathes of information to get to the details. For SMS, you only have a limited number of characters, so always keep it brief.
- Customize the journey: As far as possible, map out your marketing touchpoints. You’ll want to send bulk messages at the right time, but you’ll also want to segment the data to customize the experience.
- Be strategic: Timing your automation for optimal click-through and open rates is imperative. You’ll also want to think about the day you send those promotions, for example, timing them after a payday.
- Protect yourself: Boosting ecommerce sales means handling huge amounts of data, from customer’s details to payment data and social media accounts. Make sure both you and your customer’s payments are protected against fraud, theft, or any other potential liabilities.
Updating Your Marketing Gameplan
The use of mobile phones is at an all-time high. By prioritizing email and SMS automation in your marketing strategy, you can target these customers and boost ecommerce sales. In times like these, it’s wise to be ready for what’s coming.
In time, you’ll want to offer an omnichannel experience. This means engagement on social and Google too. Starting with automated and strategic SMS and Email communications means you can build a solid strategic foundation and attract happy customers. So, make sure you do it well.