Once the decision is made to implement an e-commerce site the priorities of most organizations focus on two areas: branding and operations. Marketing managers and product line managers spend a lot of time and energy on the colors, fonts, images, navigation and overall user experience. E-Commerce managers and Operations managers worry about inventory, fulfillment, payment integration, and call center. All of these items, and more, are vital to the development of a first-class e-commerce site and customer experience.
But what happens once the site goes live? Unfortunately, “build it and they will come” only happens in the movies. I have been involved in a number of very exciting and fully operational e-commerce projects which ended up not generating the hoped-for revenue because the traffic to the site wasn’t there, and when people did come they didn’t always buy or buy enough.
The truth is that running an e-commerce site is a marathon, not a sprint. There is a lot of excitement in the building since that is the fun new exciting part, but real success comes from what you do after the site is up and running. In fact, although customers do not like to hear it, I tell them that the cost of the software and services to build the site is only going to be a fraction of the real cost – which is executing marketing campaigns, keeping content fresh, merchandising, and drawing people to the site.
So – what is one of the best ways to drive engagement? Marketing Automation.
Often when I use those words, “Marketing Automation”, e-commerce managers and marketing directors hear “email blasts” – but that is the easiest and least productive use of the software. What a true marketing automation platform provides is a Customer Data Platform (or a least a connection to one!) which is used to log all the interactions between your customers and your online and offline properties. This data is used to segment customers and then target them individually, not in a blast, with offers and products that they have expressed interest in.
Marketing automation allows you to define different customer journeys for each of your customer segments and then treat them as individuals – not recipients of a generic mass email. Simple automations like following up on abandoned carts is a easy task. More advanced systems will even identify repeat customers who might be likely to churn and automatically segment them for special handling. AI and Machine Learning embedded and attached to marketing automation can be used to better support – not just “sell” – each customer by catering to their buying patterns.
Customers go through various stages in the journey and marketing automation flows can be set up to automate the touch points at each stage. Since the customer journey starts on a different date for each customer it makes more sense to give each customer their own path and timeline versus emailing all customer at the same time and assuming they are all at the same point.
Marketing automation is even more important post-sale as it can be used to automatically follow up on orders, incent repeat visits, and capture survey results.
The connection between Marketing Automation and E-Commerce should be deep – not independent operations. Data from the e-commerce site needs to flow into the marketing automation engine, and the marketing automation engine should also provide real time offers and product recommendations on the site. A true symbiotic relationship.
Finally – you need a good partner to help lead the way and help you maximize the value of your investments in both e-commerce and marketing automation. At Dunn Solutions we have the experience and technical skills to bring it all together and partner with you to not only “go live”, but thrive!
Contact us today to discuss your commerce marketing needs!