5 Automated Email Marketing Messages All Ecommerce Businesses Should Use

Email marketing automation can save you time and increase revenues. Here are five messages you can set up and start using now.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you own an ecommerce business and sell products or services through an online storefront, then you should be using email marketing to acquire leads, convert them to sales, and turn them into repeat customers who drive word-of-mouth marketing for your brand.

In my book, Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business, I explain how automated email marketing works. One benefit: Many tools make it easy for you to create messages that send automatically when contacts on your list meet a pre-defined condition. Another perk? Automated email marketing can save you a lot of time because you set it up once and it runs until you stop it.

The goal is to leverage active behaviors and related emotions at specific times in the marketing funnel and consumer buying cycle to improve your business’s relationship with recipients, increase revenue or push consumers further through the marketing funnel. If you email relevant information to consumers at the right time, it stands to reason they’ll be more likely to notice that information and act upon it.

If you’re looking to get started with automated email marketing, here are five essential messages that every ecommerce business should consider using.

1. Welcome Message

Your welcome message is sent immediately after someone joins your email list. This is the first contact between your brand and new subscribers, so ensure the message is consistent with your brand promise and sets accurate expectations. It’s a good idea to explain how often consumers will receive messages from you, what kind of content you’ll include, any special benefits they receive as subscribers and how to contact you if they have questions.

In addition, you can include links to your company website and social media accounts. You could also include a special discount as a thank-you for subscribing with a link to your online store. Just be careful not to make the message entirely self-promotional, or you might annoy your new subscribers.

2. Abandoned Cart Message

Re-marketing can be very effective in pushing people at the bottom of the marketing funnel to make a purchase decision and buy. If someone visits your online store, puts items into their shopping cart and then leaves your site before completing their purchase, you want to encourage them to follow through on a purchase decision. You can do this by setting up an automated email message to encourage them to complete the purchase.

For example, your message could include a special offer such as free shipping or a discount on their entire purchase. The key is to understand that people who abandon their shopping cart almost completed a purchase. Do your research and try to figure out when people abandon their carts. The problem could be with your checkout process, your shipping fees or something else entirely. Until you can address the problem, you can try to recapture people who abandon their carts with automated email marketing messages.

3. Cross-Sell Message

When a customer purchases something from your online store, which of your related products or services might naturally complement their purchase? Identify those groups and pairings, then set up accompanying automated email marketing messages that go out when a customer purchases a product.

For example, if a customer buys puppy food from your online pet store, it may make sense to send an automated message offering puppy treats, toys or carpet cleaner. You can include a discount with these items if you want to try to increase conversions, but it’s always a good idea to test cross-sell messages with and without discounts to see if discounts actually convert more successfully. (There’s no reason to lose money on discounts if you don’t have to.) 

4. Anniversary and/or Birthday Message

If customers have provided you with their birthdays, you can set up an automated message to wish them well every year by way of a special discount or offer. You can do the same thing on the anniversary of their first purchase with you or, if they haven’t made a purchase, the day they subscribed to your mailing list. 

These types of automated messages can help deepen your brand’s relationship with customers. Acknowledging birthdays or thanking people for being a customer or subscriber every year can lead to increased loyalty, additional sales and brand advocacy. 

5. Re-Engagement Message

If subscribers on your email marketing list aren’t opening your messages, then you likely don’t them on your list. Why? Unengaged subscribers can hurt the deliverability of all of your email marketing campaigns, meaning your future messages will make it to fewer inboxes overall. You need to try to re-engage your subscribers or remove them from your list to increase deliverability.

How often you send a re-engagement message depends on how often you send messages to your subscribers in general. If you only send one message per month, then setting up a re-engagement message to go to any subscribers who have not opened a message from you in six or 12 months is reasonable. If you send messages weekly or more often, then you could shorten that timespan to three months. The goal is to remove people from your list who aren’t interested in your content or offers because their lack of engagement could be keeping your messages from getting into the inboxes of people who are interested and will buy. 

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The 3 Costliest Mistakes I’ve Made Launching A New Website (So Far)

Even good ideas need proper execution.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Last month my company launched an entirely new website. Hooray! Well, not so fast…

The site — please excuse my self-promotion — is called Marks Group Live. It’s targeted at users of Zoho, one of the business applications my company sells. It’s a new type of offering, which is part of the problem.

Mostly small companies buy Zoho. The only ways for them to get help is support from Zoho, watch free videos on YouTube or hire partners like me ar rather high hourly fees. My site is aimed at financially conscious users. Sounds good, right?

Well, it’s been a slog. Growth has been slower than I expected. I realize now that users need more time to understand this relatively new way of getting services for a business application. I’ve made other mistakes. Stupid mistakes. Here are my biggest (so far).

Mistake 1: I went for quantity over quality with Google AdWords.

Think about it — if you need help, service, consulting or training with a business application you’re probably going to Google it, right? So I jumped into AdWords, and wound up throwing a bunch of money right down the toilet.

Why? Because I didn’t understand a basic concept about Google AdWords: for B2B marketing it’s all about quality over quantity. Sure, Entrepreneur.com get millions of visitors every day on their site — it’s how they sell ads. But for a company selling to other businesses there are leads and then there are leads. Using generic and popular keywords meant I was paying for tons of visitors on my sight who weren’t the right kind of leads for me. They immediately left — my bounce rate was 95 percent. Because of this stupid mistake I squandered my monthly ad budget in a couple of days.

How I fixed this: I realized that getting 100 good visitors to my site is more financially effective than getting 1,000 bad leads, so I changed to more specific and less generically popular AdWords. I chose quality over quantity. My bounce rate is going down and people are spending more time on my site. Fingers crossed.

Related: 7 Common Mistakes Companies Make With Google AdWords

Mistake 2:  I underestimated how curious people are on the internet.

The internet is a funny place. Billions of people are surfing at any given moment and let’s face it: most didn’t go to Harvard. Because my AdWords were initially so general (see above) I got people blindly clicking on them. I got questions about real estate in New Jersey and whether I knew any good tax accountants in Florida. I found that many people will click on anything they see — mistakenly or intentionally — and then not only take up my time but my advertising budget. Even if a decent prospect landed on my site I also found that they asked a lot of questions about a lot of obvious things that I thought were plain and simple on my site. Apparently, they weren’t.

How I fixed this: As mentioned above, I used better, more specific keywords. I also placed ads a little further down the page to (hopefully) avoid people who click on the first thing they see. More importantly, I went to work making my site easier to understand.  I added sections for “frequently asked questions,” “about us,” and more expansive descriptions as well as videos and better explanations of our services. It’s helpful, but hasn’t fully solved the problem. That’s because I was making Mistake 3.

Related: Use This Google AdWords Hack to Lower Costs and Increase Leads

Mistake 3: I ignored humans.

When I launched the site I had this vision that small business owners who needed help with Zoho would visit, read, click and sign up. Boom! No muss, no fuss. Everything would be simple. It would be like buying a book on Amazon or a ceramic mug on Etsy. Money would rain down on me from the heavens while I sipped cocktails in the Caribbean. This, as you’ve likely gathered, has not been the case.

A few of our subscribers did this but most have needed more. I have realized that the big companies like Salesforce, Microsoft and Intuit that offer B2B applications have actual sales staffs — and for good reason. My offerings start at $65 a month. When people — particularly people who own small businesses — have questions when they are asked to spend hundreds of dollars. Because they are business owners (like me) they will be skeptical. They want some assurances. They want to know who they are doing business with. Humans matter.

How I fixed this: I added a dedicated phone line and chat feature to call. I offered a free whitepaper for visitors to download so that I could capture their email. Then I followed up with emails so that I could answer questions and gently push the benefits of our services. I emailed our existing client base and have been answering many questions. I’ve been nurturing, developing, cajoling, explaining and educating people.

I didn’t think I would have to do all of this, but it’s working. Signups have increased since I provided a way to connect with more humans. That’s the good news. The downside is that this takes more resources and more money, which means less profits than I expected. Forget the Caribbean. Looks like the Jersey Shore for me.

So those are just the three stupidest mistakes I’ve made with my new website…so far. I’ve made others, and I’m sure there are more to come. Avoid doing what I did and save yourself some time and money.

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