As part of our onboarding process, we always ask our customers what email marketing platform they use and if they are running any current automations. This is an important question for two reasons. First, we want to make sure the built-in email automations that come with Bloom Commerce and Shopify aren’t going to conflict with any existing automations. But more importantly, the answer provides us immediate insights into how they approach marketing automation.
More often than not, we find our customers aren’t using the tools they have at their disposal. But why? It is likely because they haven’t tried or maybe they feel like they don’t have time to learn.
In this third article, of four part Why Shopify series, we’re going to cover how to get started with marketing automations, and maintain meaningful relationships with your customers.
Why is automation important?
Automation allows businesses to respond rapidly to customers' needs, track their interactions, and automatically send the right communication at the right time, in an organized fashion. Automation also helps businesses to identify trends in customer behavior, anticipate customer needs, and personalize customer experiences. By automating processes, businesses can save time, money, and resources while gaining insights into customer preferences.
The fun doesn’t stop there. Automation also helps businesses to stay connected with customers via automated emails and notifications, helping to build customer loyalty and gain customer trust. Ultimately, automation provides a valuable tool to help businesses create meaningful, ongoing relationships with their customers
First, map it out.
If you haven’t read our article on the importance of creating your marketing plan by first defining a solid strategy, we recommend you give it a read before diving into automations. After your strategy is in place, you can start with user journey map. This helps to visualize the automation flow and see where important decisions, or conditions exist that will likely trigger an event. You’ll likely find the full customer journey is more complex than you initially thought, allowing you to plan much more effectively.
That said, don’t over do it. You should be able to create your mapping fairly quickly. The tool we use is Lucid Chart. There are many others including Figma’s FigJam, Miro, Creatly, or SmartDraw. Here are the steps you need to map out:
Start and end points: These are the bookends to your map. It is important to know what dependencies might exist for the flow to start. For example, the customer needs to first be part of a certain segment.
Events and triggers: Automations work when certain events get triggered. These are typically actions the customer might take, or inputs/outputs from the system. An example would be when the customer creates an order.
Conditions: When your customer, or the system has to decide on the next step in the process, a condition has to be met. Imagine if the customer had already received the first email in a drip campaign, we wouldn’t want to send them the same email again. So the condition met was that the first email was received, therefore send the second email. Normally conditions are yes/no answers, or if/else statements.
Views: These are what your customers see and interact with. Views can be the actual email, social media post, landing page, lead generation forms, confirmation views, or redirects.
Systems: With complex automations, you might have multiple systems talking to each other. A social post might lead to a landing page on your website with an embedded lead generation form managed by your digital marketing platform. We recommend trying to organize your journey map by these systems so it is easy to see when the customer hops from one to another.
Segment, segment, segment.
Without segments, there is little-to-no personalization. Segments allow merchants to understand their customers better and target them with more relevant communications and offers. With numerous manual and dynamic tags, queries, and Shopify Flow capabilities, our customer’s use Shopify’s Customer Segmentation tools to define audience cohorts and discover valuable insights. Customers are grouped according to factors such as location, purchase frequency, or lifetime value. With Shopify Flow, merchants can set up automated triggers based on customer attributes and behaviors, such as order amount or time since the last purchase. Dynamic queries can also be used to uncover valuable customer insights, such as customers who have purchased a particular product or shoppers who have viewed a particular page. This data can then be used to create targeted campaigns and offers.
In addition, merchants can also export customer lists to other marketing platforms for further analysis. With Shopify Segments, merchants have the ability to create highly personalized and targeted campaigns for their customers. For example, merchants can create a segment for customers who have not purchased in the last month and target them with an automated SMS offer or discount using Klaviyo. Additionally, manual and dynamic tags can be used to segment customers based on their lifetime value or purchase frequency. By leveraging the power of Shopify Customer Segments, merchants can gain a deeper understanding of their customers and strategize accordingly.
Ready, set, automate!
Let’s start with Shopify’s native workflow automation app called Flow. It is designed to help you streamline processes, improve customer service, and automate customer relations. Automate business processes that better manage customer interactions and data. This can help you save time and money while improving customer relations. Shopify Flow integrates with popular customer service and marketing tools, allowing businesses to manage customer relations from a single platform. It also provides an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to help businesses quickly set up and customize automated processes.
Use your customer journey map as your foundation for creating rules and tasks that are triggered when customers take certain actions. For example, create a flow that sends and automated email when customers make a purchase, when a customer returns an item, or when a customer subscribes to a newsletter. Or, use Flow to automate customer service tasks, such as responding to customer inquiries or providing customer support. Shopify Flow integrates with customer service and marketing tools, allowing businesses to easily track customer data and provide timely and personalized customer service. With Shopify Flow, businesses can improve customer relations and automate customer interactions, creating a more efficient and cost-effective customer experience.
Now, let’s talk about emails. Likely your primary method of communicating with your customers, there are several different types of email automations that businesses can use to best communicate with their customers and prospects. Some common types include:
Welcome Emails: These are sent to new subscribers or customers as soon as they sign up for your list or make a purchase. They are a great way to introduce your brand and set expectations for future communications.
Abandoned Cart Emails: These are sent to customers who have added items to their online shopping cart but have not completed the purchase. The goal is to remind them of the items they left behind and encourage them to complete their purchase.
Win-back Emails: These are sent to customers who haven't engaged with your brand in a while, with the goal of re-engaging them and bringing them back as a customer.
Order Confirmation and Shipping Emails: These emails confirm that an order has been placed and provide tracking information for the shipment.
Post-purchase Follow-up Emails: These emails are sent after a customer has made a purchase and may include a survey to gather feedback, upsell or cross-sell recommendations or a thank you note.
Re-engagement Emails: These emails are sent to people who haven't opened or clicked on any of your recent emails, with the goal of re-engaging them and keeping them on your list.
Each of these types of automations serve a different purpose and can help you to achieve different goals. It's important to evaluate your business objectives and segment your email list accordingly before setting up an email automation campaign.
Define a Campaign Type
The are many different campaign types. The two we most regularly automate are Drip and Nurture Drip campaigns. These campaign types are often confused, but have few key differences.
A drip campaign is a series of pre-written and pre-scheduled emails that are sent to a specific group of people over a certain period of time. The goal of a drip campaign is usually to educate the recipient or guide them through a specific process, such as converting a visitor to a customer, or promoting a new product to an existing segment. Drip automations are typically triggered by a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.
On the other hand, a nurture campaign is a series of emails that are sent to a specific customer segment over a certain period of time with the goal of building a relationship with a potential customer. Nurture campaigns focus on providing valuable content and building trust, with the ultimate goal of converting them into a customer. Nurture campaign automations can be triggered by a variety of actions, like detecting a repeat visitor viewing the same product across multiple visits, or a recipient who hasn't responded to a previous campaign email.
To recap, Drip campaigns are more focused on guiding the recipient through a specific process or educating them, whereas nurture campaigns focus on building a relationship and trust with the recipient. We often use both types of campaigns as part of a larger marketing strategy.
Apps you should check out
If you follow us you probably already know that Shopify can integrate with many different apps to give merchants the best possible options for their business. Here are some popular ones that we see used by our Bloom Commerce customers:
With these apps, you can access even more features and tools to help run your business. Klaviyo, for example, allows you to send automated emails and SMS messages to your customers based on their buying habits. MailChimp provides a way for you to define your customer journey and map the journey to automations, and ActiveCampaign blends proper CRM features, content marketing, and email automation all in one package.
Marketing automation with Shopify enables you to be proactive and dynamic in your strategies. Automation allows businesses to use the collected data to create personalized email campaigns tailored to their customers’ needs. Not only is this approach more efficient, but it also helps to ensure that businesses are always delivering the best customer experience possible. Additionally, the ability to track customer behavior and segment customers as their habits and preferences change allows you to personalize your messages to each customer.
We encourage you to explore the Shopify apps listed above, or reach out if you want to discuss how you can confidentially start using marketing automation for your business.