Eleven Automated Email You need to be using now
So you’ve got your eCommerce store up and running, you’re making sales, things are looking good. But you’re not content to just let your business sit, no matter how profitable it is. You are always looking for ways to take your business to the next level.
If that first paragraph speaks to you (and I’m sure that it does), then you need not look any further than automated event based email triggers as the very thing you need to push your business forward!
What is an email trigger?
Simply put an email trigger is an action, event, or behavior related to or done by your customer (for example making a purchase) that your email service can track in order to automatically send a relevant email to a customer when the event is “triggered.”
You can use this marketing automation strategy to boost sales and customer loyalty, for retention, and more!
Sounds pretty cool no?
In this post we are going to take a look at 11 email triggers that you should try out in your eCommerce store today!
How Do I Set Up an Automated Email Trigger?Before we get into specific email triggers that you can use, let’s take a quick look at the steps you should take in order to set up a triggered email. Things are going to get a little complicated here.
First of all there are two types of events – events that are recorded in your system like purchases and newsletter signups, and events that take place on your site only, like cart abandonment. The first type of event is simple to track, and any email service provider should be able to track them for you.
In terms of the second type of event, there are a few different ways to track them – you can utilize a plugin from your eCommerce provider’s app store, you can use a plugin for your email provider itself (like the Triggered Messaging plugin for MailChimp), or you can use an email provider that tracks live events (like Intercom.Io, Customer.Io, and others).
Finally, there are a two main types of automated message – messages that send immediately after a specific event, and messages that send after a given period of time after a specific event. Once you have your events defined it is simple to set the timing of the email from your email service provider.
For a more in-depth explanation on setting up triggered emails, check out this article.
Ok, now that that is out of the way, let’s get involved in the good stuff – actual emails that you’ll be able to be sending that will help you grow your business!
1) Give Your Customers a Warm Welcome
I think it’s safe to say that just about every business out there should have a welcome email.
When was the last time you entered an eCommerce site, of any kind, that didn’t have the option to login, create an account, or sign up for email deals? I checked three totally different eCommerce sites and all of them had a sign in option.
So, now that it’s clear that you should have a welcome email, what should you put into your welcome email?
Let’s think about this logically together – someone new just signed up, that means that they are interested and that they might not have too much info about your company yet.
Therefore your welcome email is the perfect place to try to get your new signups to head back to your store and shop, and to also give them a bit of info about your business – how to use your products, details of your rewards program, or even your company’s story.
By giving more information in the email you will make your new signup feel more comfortable with your business.
This is the email I got from Best Buy after signing up on their website:
This email should be sent immediately after the registration.
2) Set up an Automated Shopping Cart Abandonment Email
Shopping cart abandonment is a HUGE problem for eCommerce owners (I don’t need to tell you that though, right?), so why not set up a system for trying to get those potential customers back to your site!
In order to create a good cart abandonment email, you first have to think about why carts are abandoned in the first place.
Price (including comparison shopping)TrustNot 100% sold on the productTime (sometimes people just don’t have time to make a purchase and forget)Given that these are the main reasons for cart abandonment, you should try to address these concerns in the text of your email. You can do this in a few ways:
Price: Offer a discount, price matching with competitors, or cheaper alternative productsTrust: Make sure the email has a good design, use your logo prominently, use social proof by showing reviews, ratings, or even your social follower count if it is highUndecided: Show the product that was abandoned in the cart, but also show alternative products with a line like, “Similar Products,” or “Customers also liked”Time: Just reminding people about their almost purchase should be enough hereAfter setting up an account at Best Buy, I abandoned my cart to see what would happen, and I got this:
This email should be sent anywhere between a half hour and a week after the cart was abandoned.
3) Send Purchase Confirmations in Style
After completing a purchase customers absolutely expect to receive some sort of confirmation, but your confirmation email doesn’t have to be boring, nor does it have to be devoid of any potential for growing your business.
Think about it, someone who just bought something from your store is definitely your best potential lead for the future, because you know that this person might buy from you again.
You can try to nurture this lead into becoming a repeat customer by:
Adding personality into your confirmation email. Don’t just send an invoice, show your company culture and create a bond with your customer in the email.
Include educational information in the email that will help your customer get the most out of their purchase. For example, if you’re a clothing store, add in fashion tips, if you sell computers, add in some computer care tips. You get the point.
Add related products as a cross-sell. You should present this as a way of improving your customer’s current purchase. For example, if they bought a camera you might want to include options for camera cases, lenses, and straps. (Check out this post for more on Cross-Selling).
I’ll let you in on a little secret, I love reading. So when I downloaded the Kindle App on my phone I got this confirmation email from Amazon:
This email should be sent immediately after the purchase.
4) Alleviate Stress with “Product Shipped” Emails
If you really want to make your customers happy you should consider sending more than just your order confirmation email to customers who make a purchase.
Let’s put our thinking hats back on, what is the thing that people worry about most once they have made a purchase from an online store?
The shipping! They worry about when it will be shipped, when it will arrive, how far away it is.
Based on that info a really great triggered email to send to your customers is a “product shipped” email!
For example, take a look at this email from Ali Express:
This email should be sent when the order is shipped.
5) Show off Your Customer Service Skills with a “Product Delivered” Email
Ok, thinking caps back on (bet you didn’t realize you’d be thinking so much in this post), what is the next thing that people worry about when they receive their purchase?
If it is everything they thought it would be! Does it fit right? Is it the color they expected? Is it broken?
Sending an email to your customers upon the delivery of their purchase is a perfect opportunity to show off your outstanding customer service.
Ask your customers if they are satisfied with their purchase, and provide a customer support number or email address for them to contact if there is a problemProvide information for replacing or fixing broken productsAsk them about their satisfaction with the purchasing processThis email should be sent when the product is delivered to the customer.
6) Utilize the Remarketing (Nudging) Email
With the event tracking technology that we discussed above you can actually get really smart with your email marketing triggers. Not only can you send emails to people who put a product in their cart and didn’t purchase it, but you can actually send emails to people who have just visited a product page!
Let me paint a picture for you – I am interested in buying a Chromecast on Amazon, so what do I do? I go onto Amazon, and look at the Chromecast page. I’m still not sure I want to buy it yet though, so I don’t put it into my cart.
The next day I want a bit more info so I go back to the same product page. All in all, I return to the product page 3, 4, or even 5 times.
I sound like a hot lead, no? I mean, I am clearly interested, I just need that little nudge to push me over the top. Well Amazon certainly thought so, which is why they sent me the following email:
This is remarketing at its finest – if a potential customer of yours visits a product page a few times, then it’s time to send an email with related products, more information, or even the option to speak with a customer service rep (if you sell a product that might be complicated).
Create this trigger by defining the visit of a page as an event (you might need to install a tracking code, but your service provider will explain how to do that), and then create a segment that receives an email after visiting the page X number of times.
7) Reengage Your Customers with a “Product Review” Email
Looking for a great way to get your current customers to go back onto your website? You should try out the product review email!
The idea behind this email is simple – a customer purchases something from your store, they receive it, and then a few days later they receive an email encouraging them to review their new purchase on your site.
This is good for you on two levels:
First of all, it gets your customer to come back to your website meaning there is a higher chance that they will make another purchase from you.
Second, because social proof is very important for eCommerce, gaining more reviews on your products can do nothing but help your sales.
You can even incentivize the review by offering a coupon in exchange for a review.
To continue the story from above, in the end I actually did buy the Chromecast from Amazon (actually my wife bought it). A few days after it was delivered, she received the following email:
This email should be sent between one and two weeks after the purchase.
8) Get your Inactive Customers to be Active Again
How many customers do you think you’ve had that bought from you only once or twice, but didn’t become returning customers? Or what about your loyal customers that haven’t made a purchase in a while?
These are people that have the potential to make another purchase from you, so you should put some time into contacting them!
Do this by sending your inactive customers a nudging email. You can say something like “We’ve missed you, check out our new collection!” You can also offer a coupon if you want.
Another thing you could do is to send them offers that are relevant to their previous purchases rather than more general ones that directs them to all of your products.
After not having shopped at Loft for a while, my wife got this awesome reengagement email from them:
To create an inactive email set up an email segment of people who have not made a purchase from you over the course of an extended period of time (something like 4 to 6 months is good). This email will then automatically send to all of your inactive customers!
9) Boost Loyalty With Your Active Customers
Don’t forget about your best customers! Every store has its core group of returning customers, and you should do everything in your power to keep these customers happy and loyal.
In order to do that you should create a VIP list of your best customers and send them relevant offers, coupons, info, and other special promos and sneak peeks.
Here’s a cool example from Aerosoles:
You can create an event that will define anyone who has made more than X purchases during X period of time as a VIP customer. After defining the segment you can set an email to send to people in this category.
10) Email to People Who Clicked Through Your Previous Emails
One of the most useful pieces of data you can collect about your users is what they click on in your emails.
For example, let’s say you sell home goods, and you send a weekly promotional email featuring one or two products per week. If you send an email that features your tablecloths one week and I don’t click on it, then the next week you send an email about your mini-fridges and I do click on it, then you know that I am interested in your mini-fridges.
That’s some powerful information right there! So set up an email to automatically send related offers to people who click through on your emails.
Your email service provider should track click throughs and enable you to create a segment based on this.
11) Use Special Events to Your Advantage
Any additional data that you have about your customers can, and should be used to your advantage!
For example, if you require your customers to include a birthday when signing up on your website, then you should send a special birthday email to your customers. Wish them a happy birthday and give them a “birthday present.”
Even if you don’t keep track of your customer’s birthdays you do know when they signed up on your site, so why not create an “anniversary” email that you send each year on the day that your customers registered. This is another fun thing that you could do to try to get your customers back on your site, and buying more.
Create this trigger by setting an email to be sent 1 year after sign up, or if the date is the birthday of the customer.
Get Trigger Happy With Your Emails!
Website Performance: How Does Yours Rate?
Website performance is often confused with how a website looks. Although user experience and responsive design are important the key objective of a website is overlooked. Not too long ago, developing websites and making them ‘live’ on the world wide web was a capability that was available only to web programmers. Today, with the phenomenal Content Management Systems, (joomla, drupla) and more specifically the ‘programming-challenged’ CMS (gotta love WordPress) availability, many business professionals mistake the ease of making a website live, with it’s effectiveness.
So what exactly is required to ensure optimal website performance:
1) A Plan:
All the technology and software in the world won’t replace a good, innovative and hard working ‘plan’. A website is the first impression of any business so it must resonate with the intended target audience. It also must have a clear set objectives and strategies. The definition of success for any website can only be determined if there is a measuring point. What does the website need to do? What is its core function and what are the delivery expectations in terms of sales leads, traffic numbers and contact point? Once these questions have been answered website performance can be more easily assessed.
2) Content Strategy and Structure:
What does the website have to do? Does it have to inform? Showcase the business as an expert? Be a go-to for actual sales? Is there going to be an online store? Does the site need to generate leads? Most websites have a combination of many of the list just mentioned. Providing users with good, easy to read content in a structured and user friendly environment are key elements for optimizing your website performance.
3) Connection Points:
It’s important for any website to have more than one point of connection. Weaving connection points throughout the site to prompt viewers to take action and connect is critical – especially if generating leads is key for the website’s performance. Connection points need to be closely integrated to content strategy and structure. Consider providing a forum where viewers can download white papers, eBooks or register for a webinar.
4) Be Responsive:
Responsive design is easier to achieve now. CMS platforms have coded their web themes to provide optimized adaptation to many devices. That’s high-tech responsiveness. But web performance means that it’s not only necessary for sites to be responsive on mobile and perform visually on any device, it’s also important to be responsive to queries from viewers who are potential clients.
5) Search Engine Optimization(SEO):
The importance of analyzing and developing a keyword strategy can’t be stated enough. Website performance is dependent on a critical and well laid out SEO strategy. No site in today’s world wide web would be complete or be able to compete without it.
Getting a website up, live and looking good without taking into consideration the core components that optimize a website’s performance doesn’t make business sense. Are there any other considerations that should be included to this list? Please share them here.
5 Best Free Stock Image Sites
You know what they say: “a picture is worth a thousand words”. And thanks to social media and time poor consumers, now more than ever is this true. But as a small business owner, searching for and buying the perfect image to use on social media and your website is not only time consuming but can be expensive. Check out our top picks for FREE stock image sites and libraries.
Flickr is the largest online photo management and sharing application in the world. Not only is the site expertly designed, it’s a brilliant resource for free images. Used by millions, including some of the world’s best photographers, you are bound to find an image that fits the bill.
Not all photographers on Flickr allow their photos to be used commercially so check the image rights before downloading.
Morguefile contains photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative projects by visitors to the site. Morguefile do ask you credit the photographer where possible.
The user-friendly search tool bar makes finding any image you need a breeze!
StockPhotos.io is a high quality, high-resolution public domain and Creative Commons licenced free stock photos sharing community. Currently they have around 27,000 images on file – so plenty to choose from.
All photos displayed on the site have permission to use commercially as long as you give proper credits to the authors. Please visit their FAQ page about image acceptance criteria and more.
RGB Stock offers a huge number of high quality free stock photos and free graphics for illustrations, wallpapers and backgrounds, all of which are free for personal and commercial use.
Image library Openphoto began back in 1998 so it now has one of the most extensive collections of stock photos.
The simple layout makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, with categories organised in neat thumbnails as well as a keyword search facility.
For a basic looking site, it sure packs a punch. We love FreeImages for its simplicity. Browse the site for an image you like and download it. If you use it in a design of any kind then you need to source the image, check the full terms for details.
The site is supported through advertising on each page (which they keep to a minimum). We also love that most of the 6,000 images on file were taken either exclusively for the site or were sourced from contributing photographers and illustrators.
Bonus: Free Digital Photos
This site offers you free pics on small sizes to be used just mentioning the source.
The Rise of SMART Marketing
SMART marketing goals are a must! So, why aren’t you setting SMART goals? Marketingprofs did some research on this and found that only 35% of B2B marketers have written SMART marketing content goals. They also found that marketers with written SMART goals are eight times more likely (60% vs. 7%) to rate themselves as being effective marketers vs. those who have no strategy, written or otherwise.
What Are SMART Marketing GOALS?
In 1981, management scholar George T. Doran wrote a paper in Management Review called, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.” He introduced the S.M.A.R.T. objective-setting method using an acronym to help managers set goals. Over time, Mr. Doran’s methodology has grown into the methodology we use today with our clients.
Goals are are essential to your business’ success. To be effective though, your goals need to be realistic. That’s why we advocate setting SMART goals. Here’s what I mean when I say you need to set a SMART marketing goal:
Specific — Do set real numbers with real deadlines. Don’t say, “I want more visitors.”
Measurable — Do make sure you can track your goal. Don’t hide behind buzzwords like “brand engagement” or “social engagement.”
Attainable — Do work toward a goal that is challenging but possible. Don’t try to take over the world in one night.
Realistic — Do be honest with yourself, because you know what you and your team are capable of. Don’t forget any hurdles you may have to overcome.
Time-bound — Do give yourself a deadline. Don’t keep pushing toward a goal you might hit “someday.”
First, download your free marketing goal-setting template (created by our friends at HubSpot) here; then learn how to use it effectively by following along in this post.
Set Specific Goals
Consider setting revenue goals as well as brand-specific goals. These types of goals tell your team how they should prioritize their efforts. These goals must be specific as they set the tone for your marketing for the entire year. A revenue goal can be something like sell 10% more widgets. And a brand related goal might be something like become the thought leader in the retirement planning industry. This may be harder to measure, but certainly worth tracking.
Maybe you want to set social media marketing goals. You could increase Facebook comments and shares by 10% and use a tool like HubSpot or Hootsuite to track this goal. Maybe your goal is to increase Facebook likes by 5%, or increase post reach by 5%.
Every business wants to increase website traffic. Be sure to set specific goals for this. And, remember, your social media marketing efforts can help with this while those efforts are helping you:
- Demonstrate thought leadership within your industry
- Provide customers with a place to go for customer service issues to be handled
- Perform competitive research
- Turn current customers into brand advocates
Maybe you want to focus on that last bullet-point. Instead of focusing on business development, you may want to focus your social media efforts on moving those happy customers who have been “Wowed” by your product or service and your customer service into brand ambassadors and referral sources.
Don’t Set a Goal You Can’t Measure
Think about revenue generated, number of products sold or number of new clients you obtain from your marketing efforts. If your goals are not measurable, how will you determine success or your return on investment (ROI)?
Your Goals Must Be Attainable
Image: stockimages http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
Don’t set a SMART goal that isn’t attainable. This doesn’t do you any good at all. Remember, your business’ growth is a journey, not a destination. And, it doesn’t happen overnight. When you are developing your SMART marketing goals don’t ignore history. If your historic Twitter Follower growth is 5% annually, don’ set a SMART goal to increase Twitter Followers by 10% every quarter.
Attainable goals can motivate the team responsible for achieving those goals. Unattainable goals are bad for morale. Attainable goals also help when setting budgets for the coming quarter or year. Many people find that setting the goals is easy. Determining whether you can attain the goal may be a challenge. Keep in mind, you don’t want to set goals you can’t attain. But, you also don’t want to set goals that are too easily attained. You might find this task to be a little more time-consuming than your thought.
Set Realistic Goals
There is a difference between attainable SMART goals and realistic goals. You may have the momentum to bring in a significant number of new clients, but you may not have the staff in place to provide the highest level of service possible. So, set realistic SMART goals that take into consideration historical averages so they are realistic.
I think setting realistic goals provides you with an opportunity to engage with your team. Get some input from your team as to whether they think a goal is realistic. Remember, it is the team that will be implementing the plan and carrying out the tasks required to meet the SMART goal.
Timing Is Everything
Your SMART Marketing Plan has a beginning and an ending date. It may begin next quarter and end when your fiscal year ends. Or, you may set annual goals. To allow you to do the proper tracking involved in a successful marketing campaign you must set the timeframe. This allows you to analyze the results of your efforts on a regular basis and then tweak the plan if necessary to meet your goals.
Read that last sentence again. I’m not a fan of changing your goals mid-stream. I am a fan of analyzing the data and being flexible enough to change the tactics you are using to meet the goal. Remember, it is also very important to effectively communicate your marketing effort’s results. Evaluating, analyzing and then effectively presenting the information and data you’ve collected is vital.
When you set a SMART goal, think about how much time it will take to achieve that goal and how much time you have to commit to achieving the goal. It’s okay to fill your marketing plan with both short-term and long-term goals. Just know what you’re doing when you do it. You might also want to schedule a few of those short-term goals for the beginning of the plan so you get some early “Wins” that motivate and energize your team going forward.
Be sure to recognize the fact that there are always potential obstacles that get in the way of achieving the SMART marketing goals we set. Think about those as you are developing the plan. No one like these types of surprises. Preparing for the hurdles now is going to make it easier to achieve success.
Be Prepared to Do It All Over Again
Using this SMART goal framework will result in your team being more focused. Measuring your progress will make your team more effective. Setting the time in which a goal is to be attained will make your team more efficient. So, when the plan is completed, don’t just throw it away and start from scratch. Use the template you downloaded to set another goal and then another goal.
SMART goal setting is an ever-changing process. There will be tactics that need to be refined. New challenges will pop up throughout the year. You may get half way through a plan and find you need to set some additional SMART goals. Keeping the lines of communication with your team open is critical. This way you set up the team and the company for success.
Final thought from the person who always insists on keeping the “Fun Meter” on 10. Set aside a small budget and appoint a few members of your team to plan some sort of celebration each time you reach one of your goals. Don’t wait until the end of the year or the end of the entire plan. Celebrate each success as it happens and validate the plan itself as well as the efforts of your team.
5 Different Ways Businesses Are Using Big Data
Big data is where it’s at. At least, that’s what we’ve been told. So it should come as no surprise that businesses are busy imagining ways they can take advantage of big data analytics to grow their companies. Many of these uses are fairly well documented, like improving marketing efforts, or gaining a better understanding of their customers, or even figuring out better ways to detect and prevent fraud. The most common big data use cases have become an important part of industries the world over, but big data can be used for much more than that. In fact, many companies out there have come up with creative and unusual uses for big data analytics, showing just how versatile and helpful big data can be.
1. Parking Lot Analytics
Every business is trying to gauge how well they are doing, and big data is an important part of that. Perhaps some study the data that comes from their websites, or others look at how effective their marketing campaigns are. But can businesses measure their success by studying their parking lots? One startup is doing that very thing. Using satellite imagery and machine learning techniques, Orbital Insight is working with dozens of retail chains to analyze parking lots. From this data, the startup says it can assess the performance of each company without needing further information. Their algorithm uses deep learning to delve into the numbers and find unique insights.
2. Dating Driven By Data
Big data is changing the way people date. Many dating websites, like eHarmony, use the data they compile on their users to come up with better matches, increasing the odds they’ll find someone they’re compatible with. With open source tools like Hadoop, dating sites can gain detailed data on users through answers to personal questions as well as through behaviors and actions taken on the site. As dating sites collect more data on their customers, they’ll be able to more accurately predict who matches well with whom.
3. Data at the Australian Open
Many sports have adopted big data to get a better understanding of their respective games, but big data is also being used in a business sense in the sports world. The Australian Open relies heavily on big data during the tournament in response to the demands of tennis fans around the world. With big data, they can optimize tournament schedules and analyze information like social media conversations and player popularity. From there, the data is used to predict viewing demands on the tournament’s website, helping organizers determine how much computing power they need at any given time.
4. Dynamic Ticket Pricing
The NFL is also using big data analytics to boost their business. While it might seem like the NFL doesn’t need help in this regard, they still want to use big data to increase ticket sales. The goal is to institute variable ticket pricing, which has already been implemented by some teams. Using big data, NFL teams can determine the level of demand for specific games based on factors like where it falls in the season, who the opponent is, and how well the home team is playing. If it’s determined demand is high, ticket prices will go up. If demand is predicted to be low, prices will go down, hopefully increasing sales. With dynamic ticket pricing, fans wouldn’t have to pay high prices for games that are in low demand, creating more interest in the product, especially if a team is struggling.
5. Ski Resorts and Big Data
Many ski resorts are truly embracing the possibilities of big data. This is done through basic ideas, like saving rental information, but it can also be used to prevent ticket fraud, which can take out a good chunk of revenue. Most impressively is how big data is used to increase customer engagement through the use of gamification. With Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems, resorts can actually track skiers, compiling stats like number of runs made, number of feet skied, and how often they get to the slopes. This data can be accessed on a resort’s website where skiers can compete with their friends, earning better rankings and rewards which encourage them to spend more time on the slopes.
These cases show that with a bit of creative thinking, big data can help businesses in more ways than one. As companies become more familiar working with big data, it’s easy to see how unique and innovative solutions will likely become the norm. As unusual as some of these uses may be, they may represent only the beginning of many unique ventures in the future.