Email to Support Your Shopping Cart

Your website provides you with real estate for validating claims and educating customers, and should be a critical part of every marketing campaign. Yet so many marketers toss up a landing page and call it a day. With e-commerce supplanting more and more brick and mortar stores, it may be time for you to re-evaluate your drip and nurture approach

Your website provides you with real estate for validating claims and educating customers, and should be a critical part of every marketing campaign. Yet so many marketers toss up a landing page and call it a day. With e-commerce supplanting more and more brick and mortar stores, it may be time for you to re-evaluate your drip and nurture approach.

E-commerce has become easier, more affordable and created opportunities for more businesses and more kinds of businesses. Applications such as Cart66, Magento, OpenCart and WooCommerce enable businesses of all sizes to provide an online shopping experience for their customers like never before. Unfortunately, it is not, “Build it and they will come”. Like much of the rest of our business, it’s Build it, market it like crazy, hope they will come, and beg them to come back.” That’s where drip and nurture marketing take the stage.

Drip campaigns are predesigned campaigns sent on predetermined schedulea to a general audience—your newsletter is a great example. Nurture campaigns are often called auto-responder campaigns, and they are sent in response to an action or interaction with your campaign or site. Think of your “Thank you for subscribing” confirmation email: The subscriber filled out a form, and, due to that action, you automatically acknowledge her action and thank her. Perhaps in two weeks, you will send her another email, but you might also automatically enroll her in your newsletter campaign.

Many of today’s shopping carts have auto-responder capabilities built in. When an order is placed, a confirmation is sent. When a shopping cart is abandoned, a reminder is sent. When an order is shipped, a notification is sent. All of these are nurturing messages and all good ideas, but let’s take your campaign a step further.

In November, I will be presenting at the WooConf event in San Francisco. This event is primarily for developers of the WooCommerce shopping cart for WordPress, but also draws a fair number of marketers. In my talk, I will focus on what I see as the top three concerns for an online store: “Buy Now, Buy More, and Buy Again.” That is: sell a product, upsell and cross-sell other products, and build a relationship resulting in return customers. I achieve these goals with drip and nurture campaigns.

Your first email is designed to introduce your store—invite visitors and entice them to make the initial purchase. This is neither a drip or nurture campaign, but more probably a single blast email. For the purpose of my example, depending upon how the blast is received, you will net those who are engaged and those who are not—more specifically identified as the passive (clicked but did not buy) and the active (clicked and purchased). These two groups now represent the members of the drip and nurture campaigns.

For the passively interested, start them out with a drip campaign designed specifically to find the trigger that turns their passive interest into active participation (buying). A newsletter is probably a bit too slow for this group, so think more about a weekly specials email. Offering various products and discounts through A/B and multi-variant testing, you should be able to identify key influencers. Drip campaigns should be designed with a single theme enabling you to keep development costs down and in a manner enabling you to make on-the-fly updates and announce specials. Our drip members are the Buy Now group. We want to figure out what it takes to get them to buy now.

For the more actively interested, let’s nurture their behavior. They have clicked and are in the process of making a purchase, so how can we encourage them to either increase the value of the purchase or add other products to increase the value of their cart? This is the Buy More group.

If they have started a cart, but not checked out, reminder emails keep the conversation active and presents the ideal time to introduce other products complementary to those items in their cart. You can use the tried and true, “other people who bought this item also bought,” or offer links to reviews and case studies. This is where your website real estate becomes so valuable—and why we will not launch an automated campaign that does not have adequate website support. Point these recipients to stories, videos or other documents helpful to the education and conversion processes.

For those who have checked out—great! you won a new customer—but don’t let too much time pass before you reengage them and remind them of other must-have items in your store. Learn from what they purchased and offer other items in the same category or similar category. This is our Buy Again group and personalization is key here (as it is with the Buy More group). Emails should be very specific and speak directly the items they’ve purchased. You might also ask them to provide a review of the product, if your site supports this.

If you’re ready to start selling online, it’s a great time to do so. Software for e-commerce is inexpensive and flexible—you can customize to meet nearly any need. While your store is important, the ease of use paramount, and stability critical, don’t forget to turn an evaluating eye to your marketing and messaging. Both are likely in need of a few tweaks here and there to help achieve “Buy Now, Buy More, and Buy Again.”

Automated Marketing: Drip vs. Nurture

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference. Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a reporter doing an article on nurture campaigns and was surprised that she did not differentiate between drip and nurture marketing. In fact, I know many seasoned marketers who also do not follow separate protocols for these two disparate approaches to marketing. So, while you may well disagree with me, here’s how I see it and how we develop campaigns for our clients

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference.

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a reporter doing an article on nurture campaigns and, as I had been in so many conversations before, was surprised that she did not differentiate between drip and nurture marketing. In fact, I know many seasoned marketers who also do not follow separate protocols for these two disparate approaches to marketing. So, while you may well disagree with me, here’s how I see it and how we develop campaigns for our clients.

Blast
Blast campaigns are not automated, though you might well schedule a blast to deploy automatically. A blast email is a single event—think of your weekend sale, your newly released demo, or your new YouTube video. You’ll send out a single email making this announcement. Let’s suppose, however, that you have a podcast series and each episode posts early Monday morning. Now, we’re talking automation.

Drip
Drip marketing is designed to keep you top of mind when your recipient is ready to enter or reenter the sales funnel—gentle reminders. These emails or direct mails are of a similar design and usually based upon a branded template or theme. The message is general and is sent to a general list. Of course, personalization and segmentation will ensure that your message is targeted and better received even when using a general list, but the message is sent on a predetermined schedule. We often refer to this as the passive path.

Think of the drip-irrigation system, from which this campaign style acquired its moniker. The water drips at a consistent rate regardless of whether or not the plant is thirsty. Drip, drip, drip. Your campaign should do the same.

In order to determine the frequency of the drip, or touch, you will need to test or survey your audience. If you are a nationwide pet food supplier, you might find that twice a week is the right pace. If you’re selling enterprise software, perhaps it’s more like once every two weeks. The span of time in between drips does not change the definition or purpose. You are regularly pinging your constituents with a cue describing an existing relationship and providing information that, in the long run, will contribute to their buying decision.

Eventually your recipient will receive a message from you—either at exactly the right time or of the ideal offer—and they will engage—click to watch, download, or take a test drive. Now it’s time to get your nurture campaign involved.

Nurture
Unlike the drip campaign, the nurture campaign fires off at will each time your recipient engages. When you send a drip event offering a preview of your new video and the recipient clicks to view, your nurture campaign should automatically deploy a message thanking them for viewing the video and offering up a link to something that nudges them to the next step in the purchasing process. Perhaps this is a white paper or a demo. It might even be a meeting with a sales person.

To build your nurture steps, give consideration to your current sales process: You acquire a lead, qualify the lead, nurture the lead by providing additional information as needed, and at some point close the sale. It’s critical to sit with your sales team and discuss their current process for closing sales. Along with management and your creativity, you should be able to architect a campaign that is a digital (or, if direct mail, a physical) representation of the sales team’s approach. Here’s a rough sketch of what that might look like:

  1. Acquire a lead
  2. Welcome the lead – for your first touch, consider a blast email that simply proves deliverability. If the email successfully makes it to the inbox and/or is opened, clicked, or not deleted, shuttle the opened and non-deleted emails to your drip segment (until such as time as they too engage and become a member of your nurture segment) and the clickers to your nurture segment.
  3. Qualify the lead – this might be an email that simply provides links to your social-media accounts, a YouTube video, a resource download, or high-value areas of your website.
  4. Auto-respond appropriately to the lead – With each specific type of engagement, automatically send a prepared message (called an auto-responder) that acknowledges the engagement, thanks them for the engagement, and offers an accelerated engagement (the next logical step in the sales process). For example, if they watched a video, now might be the time to offer them a white paper on the same subject. For someone shopping for dog food, you might offer them first a video on the benefits of this brand, if they watch the video, the next auto-responder might be a coupon on that brand, if they do not redeem the coupon, the next auto-responder might be a coupon with a higher-value discount and more urgency (shop until midnight tonight and get free shipping). If they still pass on the coupon, consider a video on another brand.
  5. Rinse and repeat. For each engagement, respond appropriately, and offer an accelerated engagement acting as a nudge in the right direction – your shopping cart or offline purchase.

If you’re using a CRM, each event can and should contribute or deduct from your lead score. For instance, if a lead unsubscribes, you can deduct from the lead score and if they open the email, follow you socially, watch the video, download the resource, or visit your website, you can add to your lead score.

We call the nurture campaign the active path because your recipients are actively engaged.

Automated and manual monitoring of your engagement in blast, drip, and nurture events is important. It ensures that you do not continue to email messages that are missing the mark and enables you to move drip recipients into the nurturing path at the appropriate time.

Recipients in the nurturing path that show no signs of life should be kicked back to the drip campaign and those in the drip campaign who are without a pulse should be retired so as not to adversely affect your sender reputation.