6 Essential Marketing Automations to Support Your Ecommerce Store | Coronavirus Series

essential marketing automations

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Explore daily insights surrounding the coronavirus crisis or check out these additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.

With the coronavirus crisis rapidly evolving, businesses across the board have been hit hard as consumer habits are forcibly changing. Many retail stores, in particular, have been encouraged or required to close the doors to incite social distancing.

We’ve been surveying some of these brands to better understand what the impact has been on ecommerce. Some brands have seen revenue increases of more than 100 percent because consumers need to move the bulk of their shopping online, but many are struggling. And those who are seeing increases aren’t necessarily prepared for the influx of traffic to their site.

Many brands are grappling with the best ways to create an optimal online experience in the least amount of time possible. Being able to quickly and efficiently transition to ecommerce will be crucial to the health of their business as shoppers in self-quarantine turn to their phones and computers to make most of their purchases for the foreseeable future.

If you’re feeling some of this anxiety and wondering where you should start, there are a few quick and simple email automations you can implement to increase conversions and influence retention. Here are six foundational automations we recommend to boost your revenue overnight:

1 | Welcome series

When someone is browsing your online store, they may decide they want to sign up for emails from your brand. Whether it’s because they want to be notified of future sales, they want to be the first to see new collections, or they’re just trying to snag that 10 percent off coupon your popup form promised, putting these subscribers into a welcome series is a unique opportunity to make a good impression and develop brand loyalty from the beginning. 

That’s why one of the first things you should do for your online business is set up a welcome series—especially considering these emails are known to be high-performing with an average conversion rate of three percent

A welcome series can consist of anywhere from one to six or more emails that are sent in a drip to subscribers, which means each email is delayed by a certain amount of time. For example, you may send the first email in a welcome series to your subscriber the same day they subscribe and then send one every other day over the course of the next 10 days.

The purpose of these emails is to communicate your value to subscribers who have already displayed a clear interest in learning more about your brand. You might want to use these emails to talk about your mission, introduce the founder or CEO, share relevant content, or offer a special promotion. There are plenty of different ways brands leverage the welcome series—some keep it super simple, while others communicate a more robust offering. 

Just as you might welcome a shopper to your store, a welcome series makes your business friendly, approachable, and human.

2 | Abandoned cart flow

A shopper is browsing your site, they find a product they love, and they add it to their cart. And for some reason, they don’t complete the purchase. Maybe their WiFi went down, maybe their kids started crying, or maybe they’re going to keep browsing to see if they can find a better deal elsewhere. No matter the reason, that shopper has shown intent to buy, and giving up on them now means you’re leaving money on the table. 

Still not convinced? When three-fourths of shoppers who have abandoned shopping carts say they plan to return, creating an abandoned cart flow is a must. And by following up with this kind of email, you can recover up to 15 percent of lost revenue.  

Like a welcome series, your abandoned cart strategy can include multiple emails sent as a drip campaign. You could send just one reminder email, but many brands send two or three abandoned cart emails with varying offers, while some send up to seven or more. 

Each message can feature different offers that vary from simple reminders (showing the shopper the product that previously caught their eye) to incentives if they still haven’t made a purchase after a few days.

3 | Browse abandonment flow

Browse abandonment messages are similar to those you feature in your abandoned cart flows, but they’re specifically for shoppers who have only viewed certain pages on your site—not those who’ve added items to their cart.

Additionally, browse abandonment emails are highly effective with an average open rate of over 50 percent and an average click through rate (CTR) of over 10 percent, which means they’re a low effort and high-value implementation.

If you don’t have many different products or SKUs on your website, you probably want to create a browse abandonment flow that looks similar to your abandoned cart flow where at least one email encourages your shopper to buy the item they were looking at. 

But if you have a larger and more diverse inventory, you can also make recommendations on other similar products they might like based on their browsing history. By cross-selling related items, you could introduce them to a product they weren’t necessarily looking for or couldn’t find that they end up buying.

There are a few dos and don’ts to creating an effective browse abandonment strategy, but as long as you have a basic one, you’re off to a good start. And like the other automations on this list, sending more than one browse abandonment email can increase the chances the shopper buys, whether it’s the item they originally browsed or something different.

Just as a physical store often has associates on the floor who help customers look for certain items and make suggestions, browse abandonment flows can do all the heavy lifting when it comes to cross-selling and making relevant product recommendations.

4 | Back in stock

What happens if a shopper visits your ecommerce store and finds the product they’re looking for but that item is sold out? If you don’t have a way for them to receive notifications of a restock, nothing. But if you set up a back in stock automation, shoppers can indicate their intent to buy an item and then be automatically notified once it’s back in stock. 

Since they likely won’t be checking back every day to see if the item is available, these automations can help to keep you from losing customers even if something is out of stock. Similarly, sometimes a customer might go to a store and find the item they want is unavailable in their size and leave their phone number or email to be contacted once it’s restocked.

Like the other flows, back in stock emails can be pretty simple, and these in particular only need one message with a call to action (CTA) leading back to the product page to be effective. And because they’re triggered based on an item being restocked, you don’t have to worry about following up with customers individually.

Back in stock flows are nice to have any time you stock an item in low quantities or if you have a certain product that sells out quickly. But especially in this time of uncertain or unpredictable inventory, having a back in stock automation is crucial to maintain transparency and communication with your customers. 

5 | Replenishment campaign

If you offer a consumable good such as shampoo, toilet paper, makeup, or cleaning supplies, which are used up after a certain amount of time, you may want to consider creating a replenishment campaign.

By predicting a customer’s approximate time to next order, you can schedule emails to arrive right around the time they usually run out of their product by using past purchases to predict when they’ll make their next purchase. 

Not only does this contribute to an exceptional customer experience by making it significantly easier to repurchase, but it also reduces the chance they’ll go to a competitor or look elsewhere to replace the product. As brands look to implement stronger customer retention strategies and influence repeat purchases, replenishment campaigns can be a huge differentiator if the products you sell are consumable.

Just like someone might buy these goods at the pharmacy next to their house because of convenience, making the next purchase simple for online shoppers means that buying from your brand is the most convenient way for them to replace necessary items.  

6 | Winback campaign

Even if you haven’t optimized your email marketing to this point, you’ve probably been growing your list since you first set up your online store. And while not every subscriber is going to be as engaged today as they were when they first entered their email, this is a great reason to set up a winback series. 

A winback flow consists of a series of emails sent to customers who used to engage with your brand, but who haven’t interacted with you for a while. Since acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one, encouraging repeat orders is key.

By setting up a winback flow, you can send emails targeted to an unengaged segment of subscribers who haven’t opened an email or bought from your brand in a certain amount of time in order to encourage them to shop with you again. This is similar to posting about an end of the season sale in the windows of your store to attract the attention of shoppers who haven’t been in for over a year.

Instead of trying to pull in new customers, a winback automation uses the most valuable asset you have—your email list. If you’re following email deliverability best practices by segmenting your normal emails to engaged customers, this unearths the opportunity to create a targeted campaign with the intention of gaining back the business of someone who hasn’t shopped with you in a while.

How small changes can impact long-term results

We know that the coronavirus pandemic has created countless challenges for retail and ecommerce businesses. While this can be a scary time with uncertain implications for the future, there are small changes you can make online to lessen the impact of these trying times. 

We know there are a million different areas where you could put your time and energy into right now. But the few minutes it takes to implement these essential automations are minimal compared to the value they’ll generate over the following days, weeks, months, and years to come. They’ll allow you to nurture customer loyalty, influence brand affinity, and invest in the future of your business. 


Looking for more information? These resources may be helpful to you as you adjust your marketing strategies to navigate the coronavirus crisis. 

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