Marketing your ecommerce business is an essential part of your ongoing success.
Even if customers have already purchased from your store before, doesn’t mean that they will think of you every time they want to buy something.
That’s why you need to continuously remind them that you’re there, with a wide and exciting range of products to meet their every need and make every occasion better for them.
In order to stay first and foremost in your customers minds, and to make sure that new potential customers are being exposed to your company all the time, you have to make sure that they are seeing you, your products and your fantastic special offers at every opportunity.
Needless to say you can’t be physically posting adverts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s why you need marketing automation software.
The right software will not only help you to get your message out frequently, it will also help you target your customers and in some cases even help you to put your message together.
What is Marketing Automation Software?
Marketing automation software systems are an interactive solution which makes use of deep learning algorithms to predict which online users are most likely to be receptive to your products based on their previous online activity.
In addition, the software will also schedule messages according to the time of day your target audience is likely to see it, and post to platforms where they are likely to be spending time online. They go on to remarket products to customers who have shown an interest in the past.
What Should You Look For in a Marketing Automation System?
Every business is different, and depending on the size, structure and nature of your online store, you will probably need specific functions to be included in your marketing software, while other features which are invaluable to someone else are not going to be of much use to you.
When you are looking at which tools and software to invest in, keep the following considerations in mind:
You need to look not only at what your initial outlay is, but also what the cost scale looks like going forwards. Your business is growing. How many more people, contacts and what size data base can you add to your software at each tier, before you have to level up and pay more money? And how big are the jumps between cost levels? The chances are that there will be some kind of freemium version or trial period for most software, but make sure that you don’t commit yourself to a program only to discover that the next phase is way out of your price league.
On that note, though, once you have been through this article and you are clear on what you need from your software, and you are ready to try an application, it is worth finding out if they have a free trial version that you can make use of first, just to be certain before you pay.
The Marketing automation software you’re using may have complicated abilities and intricate systems that it makes use of, but it should still be easy for anyone (like yourself and those who work at your company) to use. The user interface should be geared towards making your life as easy as possible. You should be presented with a dashboard that shows you an easy to understand overview of your marketing efforts, and is easy to navigate.
If you or your team do require training, are the developers and resellers of the software able to provide you with it? And if so, at what extra cost to your company?
How easy is it going to be to integrate your new software with your existing CRM, your chosen platforms, and any other software involved in the smooth operation of your Ecommerce business?
Features and functionality
Overall, good marketing automation software should be able to deliver the following functions for your Ecommerce website:
Lead Scoring Abilities
Consumers can be unpredictable. Just because you as a business set out a conversion trajectory for them, doesn’t mean they are going to follow it! More and more we see consumers hopping in and out of the process sporadically as they choose. That’s why your software needs to track lead scoring, and the buyer journeys that prompted conversions. Only software that’s able to learn what your customers actions and reactions are, and then implement that learning, will be able to keep up with our ever-changing market. One way we do this is by assigning values to different actions, so that we can isolate ideal prospects. This is useful not only for your online marketing, but also because it helps reps to identify which customers to focus their attention on, depending on what your product is.
This is the practice of getting to know your leads gradually over time, by building up a knowledge base about them. You don’t want to scare a customer off by asking them too many questions all at once. Instead you start with what you already know about them, track their actions, and eventually start to ask them, one question at a time, for feedback.
You can use this information to add specific call to action prompts and then see what sticks.
You can’t be expected, as a marketer, to remember when every prospect and customer’s birthday is, or when their anniversary is, but your software should. This is when triggered communication comes into play. You can set up all kinds of different triggers and your automatic communication should kick in to market to the right customers, with the right message, at the right time. In this way you can make sure that those all too valuable customers remember what is important to them, and also have your brand to thank for it.
You are then first and foremost on their minds when they are planning their events, gifts, and even deadlines.
This doesn’t have to be based only on information the customer has willing given you, but also on their past activity and behavior. If a prospective customer engages with you on one platform, you can make sure that you follow up with messaging on Social Media and other platforms, too.
Last of all, triggered interactions give you valuable information about your prospects interests, and with the correct workflow set up, allow you to implement “if / then” workflows based on which products they have interacted with.
Cross – departmental Flexibility
Your chosen automated marketing software needs to be utilized by more than just your marketing team. It also needs to be accessible to your finance department, your buyers and your product managers. Marketing automation software should offer a unified system with a cohesive interface that makes sense to everyone who needs to use it.
Our Top 5 Marketing Automation Software Applications
Infusionsoft is a fairly good all-rounder for small to medium sized Ecommerce businesses. They offer various functions and specialized tools for managing your customer relationships, from the first contact through to conversion, and beyond into remarketing and relationship marketing. They are also well known for the range of industries they service.
Hubspot is a fairly expensive option, making it more suitable for bigger companies who have more to spend on their marketing. It also requires some training to use the platform, which means that you need to have at least one dedicated responsible marketing manager. It is undoubtedly one of the most conclusive options available, offering you everything from Email automation to Social Media integration, sales funnel tracking and buyer life stage, all the way through to workflows and even landing pages and SMART forms. However, it is pricey and can become time consuming.
Marketo offers you a web-based platform from which you can manage your email marketing and other marketing efforts. Designed to be used by different sized companies, you can choose the option within the platform that best suits your company’s needs.
As with other marketing automation software, it offers you integrated solutions that take care of your marketing across various platforms, lead nurturing, analytics, email, customer tracking and analytics and remarketing.
Marketo also offers an online community of marketers from around the world who are happy to share advice and sometimes even to collaborate and partner up for special deals. Marketo integrates with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Sugar CRM, allowing for bi-directional communication that helps your sales force to prioritize leads.
SharpSpring is another fine offering if you are looking for a fully integrated cloud-based solution that can take your marketing through from customer relationship management all the way through to analytics, with marketing automation, mobile, email, and social marketing. It also takes care of your sales team automation and even customer service and ticketing, making it one of the most holistic solutions available.
Furthermore, SharSpring interfaces well with every other CRM on the market, so you wont have to change your CRM just because you are taking on new software (which is one the drawbacks of some of the other more holistic options like Hubspot). You won’t lose any information in messy migrations.
Hatchbuck is designed to help you in automating both sales and marketing for small to medium sized businesses. It is an integrated solution that offers you email features, sales and marketing automation and user-friendly interfaces and dashboards.
Hatchbuck works well across a wide variety of business types because it includes features that maintain and track your prospective and existing customers throughout their buyer’s journey or lifecycle. It also allows for easy importing of contacts from a variety of both online and offline sources.
In the spirit of making automation easy, Hatchbuck has a huge library of email templates and other resources for your team to make use of.