Automation Tips for Busy Holiday Marketers

October 22, 2015

By: Magento Partners,
Author Title: 
Skip Fidura, Client Services Director
, dotmailer

Holiday marketing season 2015 is upon us and HR departments are gearing up to hire hundreds of seasonal staff. The one place we will not see seasonal hires is marketing. Yet the frequency of campaigns will rise dramatically and marketers will be consumed by the extremely hectic cycle of creation, testing, execution, monitoring, modifying, creation, testing, execution, and monitoring modifications.

How do we marketers do it all? Automation.

Marketing automation focusses on systematically detecting a consumer’s actions and automating the retailer’s response, but it is an enormous time saver, enabling you to shift your time and attention to being more strategic while delivering one-to-one high performing messages at scale.

The most successful automated campaigns are designed to meet the busy shopper’s expectations by: 

  • Easing the shopping experience

  • Recognizing them as a customer

  • Anticipating their needs

Simple Automation

If you are a marketing automation novice pre-holiday season is not the time for you to plan, design and develop a highly complex automation program. You do have the time however, to master these crucial basics: 

  • Personalization. If you have their name, use it.  Addressing someone by name is fundamental to recognizing them as a customer. According to CMO.com, 70% of your competitors aren’t using personalisation so you can strand out here.

  • Dynamic Content allows you to include specific merchandise in your emails tailored to the reader’s preferences or segment. The pay-off in time saved by generating one automated campaign with dynamic content vs. multiple campaigns with static content is astounding.

  • Campaign Scheduling is a holiday gift to you because it allows you to send campaigns while you enjoy the holiday season. If history is any indicator, post-holiday sale emails start flooding in about 3PM on Christmas day. I know what I will be doing at that time (food, family, and football) and I sincerely hope you will be doing something similar. What I definitely do not want either of us doing is pushing the send button (but sneaking a peak at the stats is okay).

Advanced Automation

For anyone ready to move beyond the basics this holiday season consider these advanced automation tactics. Triggered emails are based on various types of events with subtle nuances. For the holidays we will focus on action and behavioral triggers.

Action Triggers

Action triggers are based on the consumer taking a specific action such as registering for your site, signing up for your email or making a purchase. What follows can be a single email or a series of messages which thank them, reinforce their relationship with the brand, and help them to the next key event in the purchase process.

Transactional Messages have enviable open rates so when etailers merely send a system generated message with about as much warmth and humanity as a metal stop sign in January, they are missing a valuable brand building and cross-selling  opportunity. Here is a checklist of six things to include in purchase and shipping confirmation emails:

  • Thank the customer for their purchase.

  • Confirm payment and product details.

  • Be as specific as possible about delivery, providing tracking links where possible.

  • Showcase related products and make it easy for the customer to add them to their order.

  • Share customer service contact information and links to FAQs.

  • Introduce the customer to your social media community.

Post Purchase Programs take that notion further. You’ve thanked them and confirmed the order, now you can build on that by asking for a review, proactively sending FAQs or other support tips, and cross-selling additional items. Each of these enhances the customer’s experience and gives them a better impression of your brand than a generic order confirmation followed two weeks later with another “sell, sell, sell” message.

Behavioral Triggers

Behavioral triggers use an individual’s single interaction or pattern of multiple actions with your website and emails to drive future communications. This ‘digital body language’ may also be based on a consumer NOT taking an action.

Remail Campaigns are triggered when a subscriber has not opened an email within a specified number of days.

Abandoned Cart Emails have become as commonplace as order confirmation emails but similarly are not given as much love and attention as they deserve. Now is the time to test and optimize these programs. Here are six things to keep in mind:

  • Provide delivery options and deadlines for gifts to be received by Christmas

  • Reinforce brand trust with links to reviews, testimonials, and social media platforms

  • Introduce the fear of missing out by playing upon limited time and stock alerts

  • Suggest related products alongside the contents of their saved cart

  • Consider offering free shipping or an additional, limited time, discount

  • Reinforce that checkout will be quick and easy as their cart is already saved

Abandoned Browse Programs are great at helping the shopper answer the perennial, “I know I saw that somewhere on the internet,” question but have to be treated very carefully to not creep the consumer out. In addition to the first five abandoned cart tips above, consider starting with this effective copy:  “We noticed you were looking at…”

Hopefully you’ve picked up several ideas on campaign automation that will bolster your results and save you time this season. Perhaps you’ve gained quite a few. Don’t let that be overwhelming. You can achieve your goals if you think big, start small, and scale quickly. And, lastly, remember that for your customers the holiday season is not all about buying so for you it should not be all about selling.

About Skip Fidura
Skip Fidura, the Client Services Director at dotmailer, has over 20 years' digital and direct marketing experience on the client, agency and provider side. Prior to joining dotmailer in 2009, he was Email Partner at OgilvyOne London and the European Operations Director for Acxiom Digital. He has worked with clients as diverse as BT to Odeon and Reader's Digest to DHL, helping them to build their email programs to drive increased customer lifetime value, loyalty and ultimately return on investment. A globally recognized blogger and speaker Skip is also the Chairman of the Email Marketing Council of the UK Direct Marketing Association.

About dotmailer
dotmailer is a marketing automation platform, supported by world-class strategic and support services. It enables B2C and B2B retailers to use transactional, behavioral and social insights to design, test and send powerful automated email and multichannel programs—and then be smarter and faster the next time round. With dotmailer you improve your engagement rates, increase your ROI and really connect with your customers. Established for over 15 years, dotmailer is a global business headquartered in the UK and boasts more than 70,000 users in over 150 countries. Key ecommerce clients include Elemis, Paperchase, Fujifilm and Howies. dotmailer—a global leader in multi-channel marketing automation—integrates seamlessly with Magento Community Edition v1.4 upwards, and Magento Enterprise Edition. Need more holiday marketing tips?  Download their 4-Part series of whitepapers.