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7 ideas for how to improve your marketing automation strategy – Coronavirus times

7 ways to improve your marketing automation strategy

When the pandemic struck in March, businesses had to quickly adjust their marketing strategy from standard spring fare to
crisis communication. But now that the post-Memorial Day summer season has begun, customers have grown weary of that refrain. It’s time to get your automated communication on track to deliver what customers want to hear from you now. 

Current trends

Planning a relevant marketing strategy starts with an assessment of where consumers are today. They are at home, for the most part, because vacations away and even travel into work, as well as all indoor attractions and restaurant options are off the table for most. 

The obvious winner in this scenario have been services like food delivery and streaming entertainment. But as the period of self-isolation has expanded, people have stopped being so passive at home, and that increases demand for other goods and services, like the equipment for workouts at home, cooking and baking at home, and whatever is needed to make one’s makeshift home office suitable for the long term. 

Now that we’re entering into the summer season, and the outdoors beckons, demand is spiking for making the most of whatever patch of outdoors one has, whether it is a full yard that can contain a playset for the kids, a pool for adults, and a full suite of furniture, or a tiny balcony off a city apartment that can just fit a bistro table and chairs, and maybe some plants.

 Even those who have no outdoor space of their own are looking for ways to enjoy the longer days of the season. So the demand for bicycles has surged to such an extent that the current supply can’t meet it.

So how can you draw on these trends in your marketing strategy? When you identify the situation of your target market, you can ascertain their needs and what they want to hear from you. 

Take your signals from what people are doing or planning on doing now to optimize your marketing communication. Keep your automated messaging centered on the type of activities that your customers are interested in now. That means that you can use automation effectively to deliver relevant messaging.

Consider possible needs they may have discovered by the shifts at work. All those people working at home may need to order things to keep their home office organized and comfortable. If they’ve been making do with just a spare chair and laptop literally perched on their lapse, they may now be prepared to invest in what better meets their needs, whether they want a standing or conventional desk, a swivel chair or one that promotes better posture, as well as other items with ergonomic design. 

Even if they are not working from home, there is a lot to do in and around the house. A change in season typically means a change in scenery and for those who have to concentrate all that on their one homes, that means more interest in decor, including curtains, linens, furnishings, pillows, lamps, vases, and more. 

Those with backyards are looking to furnish that space, not just with lounge chairs but also the equipment that will enable them or their children to play. This is the perfect opportunity for sellers of sports equipment to market their wares for those looking for such outlets when barred from gyms and public fields. 

As people are thinking about how to be more active and healthy, it is also a good time to offer health supplements, athletic fashion and swimsuits, running shoes, and products to protect their skin from the sun when they go outside. Just like the warm weather beckons us out, you want to beckon your customers over to your site for purchase. Here’s how to do it.

Win over the new customer

The shutdown of bricks-and-mortar meant that customers had no choice but to embrace online shopping if they were to continue to buy while stores are ordered closed. That means there are more customers online than there were before who could appreciate some hand-holding. Even if your new customer has experience with online shopping, feeling appreciated and welcomed by your business goes a long way in fostering loyalty.

Here’s where welcome emails enter the picture. That communication will frame the new customers’ first impression of your brand, which they will carry through with them into your relationship. So be sure to make them positive. 

Below is an example of welcome email sent out by the craft store Michael’s: 

thank you email - ecommerce

There are several positive notes packed into this email:

  1. It delivers a note of appreciation for signing up for the emails with a warm thank you.
  2. It incentivizes making that first purchase within a reasonable time frame with a discount code good for 2 weeks.
  3. It has a CTA that asks for preferences, which allowed users to select interests, channel preferences, so that the communication will meet their expectations. 
  4. It lets the customer know that there will be additional follow up communication so that they will anticipate it and may be more likely to click through those emails.

The same kind of approach can be adapted for a variety of verticals, including beauty, fashion, and sports. It’s possible to also break up or regroup the four components of the Michael’s welcome with one for the preferences and heads up on future emails and a separate one with the thank you and discount offer.

The special welcome discount is important in getting prospective buyers to convert as customers. According to a 2018 survey by RetailMeNot. 80% of consumers prefer having an offer when they make their first-time purchase with a brand that is new to them.

Promotions for existing customer

In addition to welcome offers, special discount codes are very useful in incentivizing online orders in general. According to the RetailMeNot survey:

  • 74% of Americans say offers are a top factor when deciding where and what to buy online.
  • 81% of Americans say finding a great offer or discount is on their mind throughout the entire purchase journey.
  • Nearly all consumers (94%) search for a deal or offer when shopping online.
  • 62% of consumers agree they cannot complete a purchase before searching for an offer.
  • 67% of consumers have made a purchase they weren’t originally planning to make solely based on finding a coupon or discount.

Promotions can be tied to various events that can be set by marketing automation. They include:

Calendar events like holidays always prompt sales. It’s also possible to think about how to tie in your items to the occasion. When July 4th is coming up, you can put a sale on everything red, white, and blue, including select lines of makeup, clothing, and even sporting goods, for example.

Personalized customer milestone promotions. These could be discounts on the week or month of the customer’s birthday or personalized discounts on the anniversary month of the customer’s signing up to go out each year. For example, online fashion retailers often send out a dollar amount reward or gift card on a customer’s birthday to incentivize treating oneself for the occasion. Target sends out a 10% off promotion on the month of the Target Red Card anniversary. This approach can be extended to specialized items like health products with the ultimate birthday gift to yourself in the form of improving your health.

  1. Exclusive promotions for those who follow you on social media. This is a great way to incentivize opening up communication through that channel. It’s particularly effective for fashion and beauty because of the visual component and the possibility of showing makeup tutorials on video and shoppable Instagram stories. 
  2. Retargeting to activating passive customers. Set your own rules for how long you allow for a customer to have not placed an order before sending an email that will offer a special limited time discount with a message like “We miss you!” or “We wanted to be sure you don’t miss out on our amazing new collection.” It’s possible that will revive their interest in your fashion, makeup, or accessories.
  3. Loyalty reward promotion. Show your loyal customers that you don’t take their business for granted by offering a special promotion they can use on top of general sales. This doesn’t have to be a discount but can be a free gift or free expedited shipping and the like. You don’t have to find who these customers are, as they can automatically be identified and messaged through automation software. You can also set up a loyalty program with built-in discounts and special offers like special VIP previews of new offerings. Remarkety offers out-of-the-box integration with various loyalty and rewards points services like Swell (Yotpo) and
  4. Upselling promotions.Personalized coupon offers. These can be different discounts based on the amount of purchase like the “the more you spend, the more you save” discounts with higher percentages off higher purchase amounts popular among fashion retailers. Or it could be an offer of a free gift with minimum purchase that may even be specific a special discount/incentive to carts that contains a specific items or items from to purchase selection.a specific category. So an order of tennis rackets and covers may earn the customer get a free package bonus of tennis balls while a baseball bat order may get a free baseball cap. It doesn’t even have to be free. Cosmetic brands often offer a bonus offer of a special selection of cosmetics available at a bargain price with a set minimum purchase. 
  5. Abandoned cart incentives. You can try to get your customer to check out that abandoned cart without offering a promotion as we saw in How To Bring Your Clients Back When They Abandon The Customer’s Journey . However, some customers will not move unless they get that extra incentive. That fits with RetailMeNot’s finding that ¾ of shoppers said they have abandoned carts due to cost considerations.
  6. Remember to figure out where your target customer is now and what they want to hear to effectively communicate and connect with them on their own terms.