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Email Marketing Automation 101

Email Marketing Automation 101

By Dominique Daly, Content Marketing @Hurree

Email marketing is by far the most lucrative channel in eCommerce. Seriously, look at this statistic. For every $1 spent on email marketing, companies generate $32 of revenue.

Why is it so powerful?

Because all roads lead back to email marketing.

Leads from almost all of your marketing channels either convert on the site when they buy something (and leave their email) or convert through a popup (and leave their email).

And everyone still expects to be sold via email.

After all, 73% of millennials prefer communication from businesses to come via email.

The only exception to that, of course, are online marketplaces and Messenger bots, where your customers can purchase directly without having to go to the site or leave their email.

So, with 99% of your marketing channels using email, it’s a good idea to start your automation there.

The first challenge in email automation is how to personalize your emails to each customer. How do you make your email campaign relevant to every one of your email subscribers?

You can’t.

That’s why you should segment your list first.

What is Email Segmentation?

Email segmentation is the process of taking your email list and breaking it down into smaller segments. The segments are grouped based on shared characteristics.

Grouping customers in this way makes it statistically more likely that a particular segment will respond positively to one type of messaging over another. In turn, marketers can deliver a more personalized experience to their customers based upon their individual needs rather than taking a generalized mass-marketing approach.

Email segmentation is crucial in modern retail settings as a staggering 80% of consumers state that they’re more likely to purchase from a company that personalized their customer experience.

Some other benefits of introducing email segmentation into your overall email marketing strategy are:

  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Boosted revenue
  • Better insights about your customers

Email segmentation is crucial to improve your customer experience, which in turn will boost your revenue significantly.

Here’s how.

How Email Segmentation affects the Customer Experience

Great customer experiences are rare; we talk a lot about how to create them in the e-commerce marketing industry, but in reality, most companies aren’t delivering.

Only 1% of consumers attest to consistently having their expectations met by retailers, and 85% are so fed up with this substandard service, they would pay more just to receive the red carpet treatment.

Where are eCommerce companies going wrong?

Well, what if I told you the problem is pretty self-explanatory: most companies think that they’re customer-centric, but in reality they’re revenue-centric.

By focusing your attention on what your customers want and need as humans, rather than trying to hard-sell your products at all times, you can improve your customer experience tenfold.

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

The concept of customer experience describes the holistic view that a customer has of your brand; it incorporates everything from brand image, customer service, user experience (UX), and even the physical experience of your products’ packaging and product quality.

Every touchpoint counts when it comes to customer experience, and even the smallest forgotten or ignored element can impact whether a customer returns to your brand.

There are three areas that you need to focus on to deliver a great customer experience:

  • Nailing your target audience
  • Personalizing your messaging
  • Having an omnichannel presence

Segmenting your emails can help you with all three of these areas. By drilling down into who your customers are and what they need, you will be able to deliver the right message to them, at the right time and on the right platform. All of which will supercharge your customer experience.

And there’s one tactic that can help you reach your goals in each of these areas: email segmentation. Mastering the art of email segmentation will make you hyper-focused on optimizing your customer experience and help you improve your email marketing ROI.

the value of UX in ecommerce
Source: Hurree

There are 4 basic ways you could segment your email list.

4 Top Email Segmentation Strategies

Choosing the right segmentation strategy for your email list is the key to optimizing your customer experience. Depending on the size and characteristics of your audience, your brand may be better suited to one strategy over another, or a combination of strategies could even work best.

Let’s take a look at the 4 types of email marketing segmentation used by eCommerce businesses to improve their customer experience and grow their sales.

4 four types of email segmentation strategies banner graphic

Demographic Segmentation

Demographics are the signifiers of our age and stage in life; name, gender, age, income, marital status, occupation, etc.

When it comes to demographic segmentation, there’s a universal understanding that if you’re a 19-year-old boy in college, it’s almost certain that you have different interests and modes of communication than a 58-year-old woman with grandchildren. It’s soccer vs Downton Abbey; Drake vs Frank Sinatra. Apples and oranges.

Let’s imagine you work for a garden & homeware store that wants to create an email marketing campaign to promote summer deals. You could generate age and income-based demographic segments, splitting up your younger and older customers to determine what products each segment would likely enjoy most.

Segment A includes young men and women aged 18 - 28; this email pulls low-price-tagged options for BBQs, swimming pools, heavy-duty water guns - everything needed for the perfect pool party.

Segment B includes a middle-range demographic of people aged 29 - 45; this age range includes people most likely to have children. We send our middle-range segment an email that provides links to play sets like swings, family-sized tents for camping, picnic cooler-bags, plastic wine glasses (because people with kids need to have fun too).

Segment C groups your older customers, aged 45 & beyond - a demographic who are likely to have a higher level of disposable income. They enjoy the finer things in life at a calmer pace; send an email touting top-of-the-range deck-recliners, firepits, and heaters for late nights around the garden table, gardening tools for hobbyists, etc.

In life, it’s usually not great to make generalizations. But when it comes to demographics, as long as you don’t get too specific, they tend to ring true. By offering your customers products suited to where they are in their lives, you can be confident that you’re streamlining and improving their experience.

Demographic segmentation is HUGE for the clothing and apparel industry. Here’s an example of this in action from Adidas.

adidas email segmentation by gender demographic

Geographic Segmentation

Where you live or spend the majority of your time can determine a lot about your lifestyle. geographic segmentation uses location, climate, culture and language to group customers into segments.

Geographic segmentation requires fewer data points than other strategies and it’s one of the easiest to implement. This is crucial for a company whose customers pick products based on their location or climate.

For example, Airbnb uses geographic segmentation all the time. The company sends emails based on the customer's location and displays popular neighboring travel destinations in their area.

Airbnb geographic segmentation ecommerce

Psychographic segmentation

Psychographic segmentation digs deeper into your target audience, grouping them based on their likes, dislikes, opinions, lifestyles, beliefs, or motivations. Segmentation of this kind is more difficult to analyze than demographic or geographic segmentation as psychographic data points are subjective and require much more extensive research and analysis to ensure that the results are accurate.

Psychographic segmentation helps you to position the same product in various ways to different segments depending on their aspirations or preference of use. Positioning is vital when it comes to convincing different segments of the market to purchase your products or services.

Let’s look at an example of how a customer’s psychographic data, for example, their interests, could impact which product positioning they respond to.

Yoga pants were originally designed for Yoga practitioners. But then, their highly flexible exercise material has been transformed into a multi-use item for many types of sports. The classic yoga pants trend has even become a staple of casual wear for many different activities - perfect for lounging, meeting friends, walking your dog, etc.

After conducting market research and speaking with their customers, an exercise leggings brand finds they have three broad segments of customer psychographics: some who like yoga, some enjoy running, and some who simply wear their products for lounging. Using this data, the brand can craft campaigns, useful content, and insert imagery that reflects each segments’ interests and serve the most relevant content to the right audience.

Sweaty betty email campaign segmentation

Another example is a traditional Yoga International. They offer yoga classes online and they realized that people take their classes for different reasons. Some people take Yoga classes to get stronger.

These customers would get this email:

yoga for strength email campaign

Yet other people take Yoga to improve their sleep.

And they would get this email:

yoga for better sleep email campaign

Behavioral Segmentation

Another great way to segment your email list is by the behavior of your subscribers on your site. Your subscribers create a digital footprint as they navigate your site and you can collect this data to help improve their customer experience and personalize the emails you send them.

Here are a few data points you could collect about your subscribers:

  • Pages they’ve visited
  • Time spent on the site
  • Time since their last visit
  • Call-to-actions (CTAs) clicked
  • Forms they filled out
  • Previous purchases
  • Abandoned cart items

This is by far the most powerful way to segment your list. And the proof is in the numbers.

Organizations that use behavioral data to segment emails outperform their competitors by 85% in sales growth.

Brands use behavioral data to make suggestions to customers based on their previous purchases, to offer them discounts on an item they have viewed, or remind them of an item in their basket.

This makes the customer’s experience more seamless, more valuable, and more personalized.

behavioral segmentation for email automation

As you learn more about a customer you will be able to personalize your emails to them even more. Implementing these segmentation strategies across all of your marketing channels will improve your customer experience by delivering a consistently personalized experience, and will improve your sales.

Now that you know all about email segmentation, let’s look at the type of email automation you could use this for.

Cart abandonment flows

Cart abandonment emails are the most powerful emails you could send. This is an email designed for the customer that has added something to their cart but then left your site.

Here’s a really creative example from Casper. Notice the great headline and the nice organic testimonial on the bottom.

casper cart abandonment email

Welcome series

Welcoming your customer right after they purchased your product (or signed up for your newsletter) is a super important leg of the customer journey. It’s your first interaction with them, and you need to make it special and memorable.

Here’s a great example from Nike.

nike welcome email example

Order confirmation emails

Another way you could send that welcome email is as an order confirmation. This is where you would confirm the order, offer the customer a complimentary item, and showcase your warranty and return policy.

omnisend welcome email

Shipping confirmation emails

A shipping confirmation is the same idea. It is another touchpoint along the customer journey. You can send a shipping confirmation email as well as a delivery confirmation. Use Route to show the package in real-time.

route package tracking app ecommerce
Source: TechCrunch

How do you automate all of this?

There are 3 basic ways to do this.

3 Ways to automate your email marketing

Here they are:

1. Create each email sequence manually

The most common way to do this is to create each email sequence yourself. Use an email tool like Klaviyo to create all of these flows. All you have to do is to set the conditions correctly and design each email in the sequence.

Here are some of the flows you could create using Klaviyo.

2. Use a Data Integration Platform

Another great way to automate it even further is to use a data integration platform like Hurree. You can sync data between all of your marketing channels and create a personalized experience for your customer across every touchpoint.

So for example, if you are sending them a cart abandonment email, you could also send them a personalized message on Intercom or Facebook Messenger, reminding them about their cart.

You can literally create these flows across multiple channels and this will increase your click-through rates and sales exponentially.

3. Use an AI Email Automation Platform

The third and most powerful way to automate your emails is through an email automation platform that uses AI like ReSci (Retention Science).

ReSci lets you decide on all of the templates you want to use and then uses calculates the best days to send them and selects which email each customer should receive. They use predictive analytics to take each email subscriber and send them the template that they are most likely to engage with.

ReSci AI email automation platform

Recap

The most you automate your email marketing the more precise your personalization will be and the more you’ll be able to send the right message to the right customer, at the right time.

Up next, we discuss the top marketing automation tools for 2021 and beyond.

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