Marketing Automation for eCommerce Businesses

Every online business needs marketing automation to achieve growth. eCommerce marketers know that managing multiple marketing processes across multiple channels is impossible without a team with many people or efficient automation tools. The problem for small businesses is that marketing takes a great deal of time and effort. With marketing automation, businesses can target customers with automated messages across multiple channels according to sets of instructions called workflows. Workflows may be defined by templates, or they can be custom-built, or modified mid-campaign.
The common challenges that eCommerce businesses face are generating leads and keeping customers engaged throughout their journey. Longside these, they face an explosion of data that they struggle to put in use. With good marketing automation software and relevant marketing automation strategy, you can overcome these challenges by putting data to work by streamlining workflows.
In this article, we will look at what marketing automation is, what it does and what it aims to achieve. We’ll also look at the specific areas of your marketing processes that can benefit from automation, and at where you can apply it to save time and improve conversion rates.
Let’s begin with a description of marketing automation.
marketing automation.

Table of Contents

What Is Marketing Automation?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could target qualified, relevant leads automatically? You can go about your role in the business and spend less time devising and implementing marketing campaigns to increase your ROI. That is basically what a marketing automation tool will do for you.

Marketing automation uses workflows. These are effectively a set of instructions. Think of them as directions such as ‘If consumer A is between the ages of 18 and 35, do this…’ or similar. In other words, the marketing automation routine looks for the right leads and lets them know your brand is out there.

That is a very basic explanation of what these systems can be used for, and in fact, they are far more sophisticated. These marketing automation platforms are used to automate repetitive tasks within the marketing realm – send welcome emails, for example – and we will talk more about these specifically later on.
So, to summarize and move on, marketing automation is about taking mundane yet important marketing efforts and tasks out of the hands and automating them as far as is possible. That’s what it is, so let’s now look in more detail at what a marketing automation platform actually does.

What Does Marketing Automation Do?

We’ve talked above about marketing automation being a method of saving time in finding and contacting qualified leads. That is, for many businesses, the main purpose of investing in and implementing such a system. Before we go on, you might want to look at these statistics derived from a marketing research in eCommerce:
Each of those is an eye-opener considering we are talking about a software package or tool that works almost entirely alone. So, it’s about qualifying leads, but what else can good marketing automation tools do? Here are a few of the functions you can instruct it to perform:
These are just a few of the main features of a quality marketing automation tool and there are many more. Simply, as we have said, these tools are there to simplify the marketing aspect of your eCommerce store. Before we move on to look in more detail at the major benefits of marketing automation, we need to explain how such a tool does the job.
benefits of marketing automation

How Does Marketing Automation Work?

A marketing automation tool will operate in conjunction with your customer relationship management (CRM) and customer data platform (CDP) software. These are the systems you use to gather and analyze customer information. Let’s try and explain in simple terms how this works.
When a consumer visits your website or store you ask them to register. They give you simple information such as their address, email, phone number, and perhaps age and other defining information they are willing to give you.

Data Collection and Analysis

You can also collect such data from email interactions – perhaps a consumer sends an email query regarding a product, at which point they become a lead. Then there is the rich vein of data that is social media. People remain unaware of how much information is out there that they have willingly shared, and some tools can gather data from social media pages.
Your system will note website visits per customer – number of times, pages visited, how long they stayed, and so on, each of which is important information for your marketing team. If you have an eCommerce app this will also be a source of consumer data. Now that the marketing automation software has all of this information, how does it use it to create automated marketing routines?

How Marketing Automation Uses Data?

A marketing automation tool will come with a dashboard via which you tailor your requirements and provide access to the customer data you already hold. The tool will then be able to automatically perform a series of functions including the following:
We’ll talk more about the various areas that can be tailored to consumers further on, but for now, think of it like this: the marketing automation tool builds a full profile of each consumer in your database, allowing it to target leads as specifically and personally as possible. Personalization is the key to effective customer service, and it is this that you need to remember at all times.

What Is The Purpose of Marketing Automation?

It may seem that we are taking a step backward in talking about the purpose of marketing automation, but it is a subject we’d like to revisit before we go on to look at these tools further. We know that marketing automation is about saving time, better use of resources, taking mundane tasks off your hands, and also about getting you better leads, but there is more to automated marketing than this.
The online shopper has come to expect quality service and personal treatment, and this is an area in which automated marketing scores very high. Being able to ensure that your leads get relevant messages you are building trust in your brand. Research has shown that most online shoppers want brands to contact them and keep them informed – either via a regular newsletter or by messages about new products and offers – so this element of automated marketing must be understood.
The purpose of marketing automation is ultimately to get you more leads, keep your regular customers informed, build your brand, and improve your ROI. Now that we’ve summed up here, we want to give you a couple of examples of how your marketing automation tool may do its job.

Some Examples of How Marketing Automation Works

Marketing automation does not perform every task in the same way. It can be used for various areas of your marketing needs – as we have seen and will see in more detail soon – yet is commonly used for a few essential marketing routines. Let’s have a look at a couple of imagined scenarios.

Example 1: A visitor to your online store has been sitting on one product page for X minutes. You have a workflow in your marketing automation tool that instructs a personalized message to be sent in this scenario after the consumer has been there for X minutes. A pop-up is sent with a message such as ‘Hi Angela, we see you’ve been here a while, if you buy within the next half hour, we can offer you free delivery!’ Free delivery could be replaced by a discount, a special offer, or any other enticement to purchase.

The above example is an important one as people do like to just browse in online stores, and a suitable enticement to purchase is known to be a successful method in many cases.
Example 2: A regular customer of yours has not visited your store for X weeks. As above, X is predetermined by you within the marketing automation workflow. This workflow monitors customer visits and sees that this particular consumer has swayed from their regular visiting behavior. An email is created by the system reading, perhaps, ‘Hi Angela, we love having you as a regular at our store, but we haven’t seen you for a while! Can we interest you in a 10% discount on your next order?’
This message could also mention new products they may be interested in, for example or special offers that may be coming up. Retargeting existing customers is as important as seeking new ones.
Example 3: A visitor has put several items in a cart and has then left the store. This is a surprisingly common occurrence with some research suggesting cart abandonment may be as high as 80% in certain market sectors. The marketing tool has a workflow instructing it to send an SMS or email to those who abandon carts inviting them back to complete the purchase, perhaps with a discount or offer involved.
The key to each of the above is personalization, and we cannot stress too strongly how important it is to treat each customer as a valued individual. Remember that each of the above will be performed entirely automatically. You don’t even have to press a send button. Everything has been pre-determined, and the above are just three of the incidences that a marketing automation tool can be used for. We’ll revisit some of these in the next section which looks at various functions that can be used within a marketing automation tool. Some we have mentioned before, but it is always worth repeating important points when looking at marketing.

Ecommerce Businesses and Marketing Automation in More Detail

So far, we have talked about what marketing automation is, how it works, and what the purpose is. We want to look back at some of the many areas of automated marketing in which you can create workflows within your tool for it to react to. We’ll cover each with a few words that explain where they can be used to best effect.
Welcome emails are a must if you want to ensure the customer is made to feel valued by you and your brand. The welcome email can be a simple ‘Hi Angela, thanks for becoming an customer, it’s great to have you on board! Look out for messages about special deals and more.’ The important part is that the introduction should be personalized. By using the data available from the consumer’s sign-up form, the tool can create a personal message similar to the above for every new client and send it automatically. Whether you have 50 or 500,000 customers that’s a lot of time saved.
Pop-ups are a double-edged sword in marketing; some people find them useful; others find them an intrusion. We suggest that they are used when the moment is right – for recommending products complementary to one the customer has put in the cart (‘We see you like this, you might also like this’ type of thing) and for giving an incentive to the consumer to move along and complete the purchase. Once again, make sure the message is a personal one, and not generic.
Socital popup
Cart abandonment messages fall into the same category as the above but will be triggered by a consumer leaving your site or store with items in a cart. As mentioned already this is a surprisingly commonplace occurrence. Often, it is down to delivery charges or taxes the consumer was not expecting. It can also be because they have not quite made up their mind. 
An email or SMS reading ‘Hi Angela, we see you’ve left items in your cart. We’d love you to come back and shop with us, so would a 10% discount interest you?’ Everyone likes to save money, and you could also use free delivery as an incentive. 
Newsletters are a great way of keeping your customers informed and engaged. Most online consumers say they are happy to sign up for regular communication such as this if it is relevant and contains information that is of interest to them. Recent research into eCommerce discovered that more than 50% of consumers want brands to communicate with them more often. 
This should, in fact, not come as a surprise when you compare shopping online – where there is little personal interaction – with an individual who is loyal to a particular brick and mortar store. Put offers in the newsletter, and make it fortnightly or monthly, and you will see impressive email open rates. 
Retargeting has been mentioned formerly and is an important element of marketing and growing a brand. It is all too easy to concentrate completely on getting new leads and growing a brand, and as such forget about your existing or prior customers. A consumer who has bought with you once is as important as one who has been regular, and sometimes the regulars stop shopping with you.
This is when an automated personal email or SMS will be triggered and sent to the customer who requires retargeting. Offering them an incentive to return – a discount, special deals, free delivery, or new products – is a successful way of bringing even a small percentage of the former customer back. You may also ask politely why they have not continued their custom with you as this information can be used to revamp your approach. 
Scheduling for emails or messages to be sent to regular clients automatically is a great way of advertising upcoming deals, sales, product launches, and offers. This method can also be used to take advantage of seasonal offers. Think Christmas and New Year, Black Friday and Thanksgiving, Easter, and any other holidays of note. 
Furthermore, if your sign-up form includes the birth date you can set a workflow to automatically method a customer on or just before their birthday offering a discount, for example. This very personal message option is one that is successful in many marketing campaigns and different markets. 

A/B testing is an important part of getting your online marketing right. It involves two examples of copy – an article, landing page, product description, email, or an ad – one being a control example, and the second being an alternative. The automated marketing tool can be set to run A/B testing with select targeted consumers automatically and will analyze the data that is returned and provide you with the results – all without your intervention.

The above examples of where you can use automated marketing tools to the full are not all, and you will find that when you get to know your chosen package it offers many more features. You will be able to use it, for example, to generate personalized landing pages for each client or group of clients, and to manage social media across all platforms. It is highly recommended that the package you choose accesses social media pages as not all are equipped to do so. 
Social media needs special attention as it is the source of social trust. This is where your brand is built by gathering more likes, follows, and shares, which the automated marketing tool can monitor. Social trust is vital to growing a brand as the more people digitally acknowledge you on social media – sharing with friends, for example, or retweeting – the greater your audience becomes, and the more trust consumers put into your brand. Think of it as ‘word of mouth’ for the digital age: once, you would visit a new store on the high street and tell all your friends about it. Now, it’s done by social media.
Now we know quite a lot about what automated marketing is all about, it’s time to give you some advice as to the best practices, so you can ensure you get the best out of this useful and effective tool. 

Marketing Automation Best Practices

There are many ‘dos and don’ts’ involved in marketing, and the same applies when you are devising your strategies for marketing automation tools. The following are important points you need to remember if you are to ensure effective use of your marketing tool. 

Some Marketing Automation Software Examples

The market for automated marketing software and tools is a strong one, and it is growing along with demand. The benefits of such a tool have been recognized and confirmed by many eCommerce businesses, and the time and cost-saving element, along with the added bonus of a streamlined customer experience, cannot be overlooked. Here are two of the popular examples, with some of their features.


hubspot landing page
HubSpot is a leading marketing platform that offers comprehensive tools in CRM and social media, as well as featuring some impressive automated marketing functions. Its content management and web analytics functions are highly regarded, and it is widely used across a variety of markets within the eCommerce world. Highly recommended by many users, it’s a good example of a CRM/Marketing Automation tool combined.


Salesforce landing page
One of the market leaders in the CRM/Automated Marketing world is Salesforce. They offer a variety of packages that can handle sophisticated marketing automation routines as well as being one of the best in the field for data gathering and analysis. Used by small and bigger businesses, Salesforce is one for the shortlist.
There are many more we could add but suffice to say the above two are leading the market for good reason. So, we hope we have given you a good approximation of what marketing automation is about, and why it is essential for your eCommerce business and future growth.
Let’s finish with a few words about what automated marketing adds to the customer experience.

What Does Automated Marketing Add to The Customer Experience?

While your primary aim in investing in a marketing automation tool is brand growth and ROI, these tools are also designed to improve customer satisfaction and create customized and relevant experiences on your online retail or eCommerce website.
We have already touched on the fact that the modern consumer expects special and individual treatment, and that is one factor that is enabled by way of a good marketing automation tool. By creating relevant content – personalized campaigns, emails, offers, and ads you are assuring your customers that they mean something to you and that as an individual they are important.
One benefit that the consumer also gets is that such a tool can send them the right message at the right time at any point during the customer journey. The example we used in which a customer has been sitting on the same page for some time is apt here: instead of waiting for the consumer to get in touch and tell you why they have stalled in the process, an automated message is delivered to them in a timely fashion and can ask how you can help and offer incentives.
The seamless and streamlined marketing automation system means that consumers will not be a party to adverts and suggestions that are not relevant to them. Each of your marketing communications via the automated tool will be directly aimed at the individual thanks to the data in the CRM that the tool has access to. Customers are far more likely to open an email that is personally addressed to them, and more so when they see in the subject line something that is of genuine interest to them.
The use of an automated marketing tool makes the entire customer journey easier, smoother, and more enjoyable for the consumer. In short, it takes them straight to the point and presents them with the very product or service that the marketing tool knows they want and need.


One of the aspects of marketing automation is the direct collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Marketing automation helps sales and marketing alignment. It creates service-level agreements and processes in general on what strategies both marketing and sales teams should deploy.
Marketing automation streamlines the sales funnel and makes it easier for the sales and marketing teams to generate leads and turn them into current customers.
Ecommerce marketing professionals can take away from this article a lot of information that shows how much easier running their daily tasks will be if they use a marketing automation tool. When set up correctly it will take a lot of the day-to-day communication that is essential in operating an eCommerce building out of their hands, and yet keep up with brand exposure and improve returns on investment.

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