Embracing Marketing Automation in the World of Amazon

By Susan DeMatei

Amazon has changed the way we look at eCommerce. They arguably pioneered consumer ratings, suggested products, retargeting ads, and many of the online marketing tools we now take for granted.   All of these can be bucketed under the category of marketing automation. While that sounds scary, it really boils down to “getting the right message to the right person at the right time” because it removes some of the guesswork and human error out of our marketing communications.  Marketing automation is the hot trend of the business market. According to a December 2018 study by VentureBeat – 75% of companies are more likely to be purchasers of marketing automation software over this year.

What is Marketing Automation?

  1. Technology: It is software that is licensed, subscribed, or purchased.
  2. Marketing: Its main focus should be marketing, versus sales. Sales is responsible for bringing in leads and closing the sale, and marketing is responsible for keeping and reselling to loyal customers. In order to program marketing automation, you must know something about your customer so you must have encountered them before.
  3. Multichannel: Your marketing effort should ideally be across 2 or more delivery vehicles such as email, social media ads, SMS message, or a pop-up on your website. Marketing automation should involve one or more tactics working together to move a customer along the desired customer journey.
  4. Automated: As the name implies, it is meant to automate repetitive tasks with the benefit of efficiency, speed, and decrease of human error.
  5. Requires Input: Finally, since it is automatic and can’t think for itself, it can only take and act upon the data you supply it. This is a true garbage in/garbage out scenario.

Marketing automation can be used effectively to meet several objectives; the most common being the goal to move a customer along the path from that new sign up to a first-time customer, the first-time customer to a repeat customer, the repeat customers to a club member, and a club member to an evangelists. In their survey “Optimizing Marketing Automation” in June 2018, Ascend2 notes that 53% of customers surveyed say this type of customer experience mapping is the most effective tactic used to optimize marketing automation. Second was personalized or dynamic content at 51%. This is the use of Marketing Automation to deliver “dynamic” content, which is based on the user’s purchases (or other criteria), versus “static” content that is the same offer for everybody. 40% of the companies in this survey said prospect re-engagement was the most effective use for marketing automation. While above I said these types of automated communications are not typically helpful for the initial sale, if you have a lead source but you strike out on the initial touch point, it is helpful for customer re-engagement.

In a different study about the pitfalls of automating marketing by ACT-ON and Gleanster Research, respondents reference the “garbage in/garbage out” obstacle. When asked what are the challenges to setting up and using marketing automation, 95% of respondents said getting access to existing customer data was the number one hurdle, while 83% said fragmented systems and 80% said the limitations of systems. So the net take-away is that it isn’t enough to have the infrastructure, you also need to have it linked and pulling good directional data.

It is also no small feat to get marketing and sales on the same page, which many of you already know if you are in a DTC department and are tasked with coordinating with national wholesales and distribution. 90% of those surveyed in the Gleanster study said that getting marketing aligned with sales was one of the top challenges that caused them to fail at their current marketing objectives. Many DTC programs are not in concert with wholesale and this will create a disconnect between the first sale and customer re-engagement.

What About Implementation?

The good news is you can do this – now – as in tomorrow.  You do need to connect Google Analytics, your chosen eCommerce platform (e.g. WineDirect) and your email platform (e.g. Mailchimp). This is so that the related eCommerce data from your campaigns is passed into Google Analytics and then shared. (This can also track non-campaign ecommerce sales.) This process isn’t as hard as it sounds. WineDirect is able to do this for about $500, which is about what we would charge, depending on the channels.

What you should see when they’re connected in this manner is the syncing of information. For example, if customer X has a lifetime value of $200 and purchased   only Chardonnay, when you look at this customer profile in Mailchimp, you should see that their total lifetime value is $200 and that they’ve purchased Chardonnay.  We can then use this information for any targeted marketing to this customer.

Putting This to Work

Below are some examples, from easiest to hardest, of marketing automation you can do with relatively little expense and input.

The Abandoned Cart email is a valuable under utilized tool. Everyone should have it set up because it is easy and so very worth it. Two thirds of us leave carts––and the open, CTR, and conversion rate off of these emails is multiple times better than a typical sales email. According to Moosend Team’s 2017 article, more than 40% of cart abandonment emails are opened. Out of those, half are clicked on with a 21% click-through rate, with 50% purchasing. It is impossible to ignore the success rate of the abandoned cart email.

In Mailchimp it is easy to setup an abandoned cart email, go to Campaigns and choose to turn on the Abandoned Cart Email Automation. Then you will be given a layout and steps to follow to send out an email to customers who have abandoned their cart. You can choose when to send this email to them as well, whether its 6 hours or 24 hours.

The best abandoned cart emails have similar qualities:

  • They are specific to the product that is abandoned
  • They are creative and true to your brand (and usually humorous)
  • There is an offer or incentive to complete purchase
  • It suggests related items (you already know what they considered buying, so take the opportunity to suggest other options)

Asking for a review is another easy win. I mentioned that Amazon pioneered the “non-professional” peer review, and now 80% of us look at them. My husband won’t buy anything with out looking at the ratings. It’s also becoming so important that unless you are a known or trusted brand, most people won’t buy unless you have a high rating. So if you’re a smaller winery and are primarily trying to get online customers – reviews are going to be critical.

To ask for reviews, you simply go back to the same targeting area in Mailchimp and choose an email to send a few days after a purchase. You can also target based on purchase amount. Let’s say you want to send an email to a customer two weeks after they have purchased… and only send out to people who have spent $1000 or more in their lifetime. With most email tools it is easy to set the parameters in the campaign, allowing you to target your customers who are most likely to respond due to their purchase history.

Earlier I mentioned multichannel campaigns. It is always desirable to hit a customer with the same message in two or more channels (the customer sees the offer in an email on their phone, and then they swipe over to their Facebook stream and see it there, too.) But, what if a user didn’t take the action you wanted them to take the first time? Resends are standard, but chances are, your customer isn’t going to be inclined to open the second notification, either. In this case, try using a different channel to send the same message. For instance, why not schedule a Facebook ad to your list that hasn’t opened an email?

A multi-channel approach isn’t rude or pushy. Actually the opposite. It means that you’re always catching the prospect at the best moment, and in their chosen channel. Not everyone responds to his or her emails actively, and not everyone has a Facebook account – covering all areas online and offline means that you’re allowing your customers to interact with your brand in the way they find most convenient.

You can also try different messages in different channels and, over time, learn the impact of these message and channels. You will ultimately find out the best way to run a multi-channel and multi-ad campaign, which will best suit your customers. Creating dynamic and captivating campaigns will keep your customers engaged.

In essence, dynamic content is continuously updated information—copy, images, prices, or products—that can be inserted into emails in order to provide customers with a more responsive, relevant messaging experience. In this scenario, your chardonnay buyer gets an image and offer of chardonnay while your cabernet buyer gets an image and offer of cabernet.

Think about it this way: when you personalize a messaging campaign by including user first names, what you’re doing is pulling information held by your marketing platform (each recipient’s first name) and automatically adding it into each message that’s sent. A message that uses dynamic content works the same way, except that the information you’re including is taken from an API, rather than from your marketing platform’s collection of user profiles. Because the message will pull the information from the chosen API right as the message is sent, using dynamic content makes it possible to keep the information you’re including in messages as up to date and relevant as possible.

While different brands will likely use dynamic content in different ways, there are a couple significant benefits to taking advantage of this tool.

First, research conducted by Appboy has found that when marketers use tools like dynamic content to personalize the messages they send to customers, they see a 27%+ increase in related conversions, compared to messages without personalization. That represents a major opportunity to drive more users to your app or site, encourage deeper engagement, and convince more of your customers to make a purchase or sign up for a subscription.

Second, using dynamic content can be a powerful way to make the messaging experience better and more relevant for the people receiving it. Dynamic content is fundamentally of-the-moment, making outreach feel responsive and timely. If, for instance, you send an email with weather-focused dynamic content to a customer in Brooklyn while it’s raining at 9 a.m. and another one to a customer in the same neighborhood when it’s sunny at 10:30 a.m., each customer will receive a message with content that matches what’s happening when they receive it. That makes it possible to really take advantage of mobile’s potential for smart, real-time customer/brand communication, supporting higher revenue and stronger relationships with your users.

So, go forth and automate. The benefits of marketing automation has been proven as one of the most lucrative methods of marketing to your customers. This target marketing through direct and exact engagement will help position your company’s marketing path leading to a higher response rate and hopefully, increased completed sales.

  Susan DeMatei is the President of WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California. www.wineglassmarketing.com

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