6 Myths & Misconceptions about E-Commerce Email Automations

In this article, we’ve discussed six misconceptions relating to email automations that need to be addressed and proved wrong.

Robbie Fitzwater
Updated on

As a business person, you might have come across many warnings and stories relating to automation, and many “experts” might have suggested you to not use this marketing tool, giving very solid reasons for that.  

But guess what? Most of these stories and reasons that you came across are either myths or misconceptions, which are depriving you of many benefits and cool outcomes of using email automation 

So let’s see what these misconceptions are and how they have 0f truth to them in this article!

What is email automation?

E-commerce email automation, also known as Email flows, are the emails sent based on specific triggered behaviors of the audience. They perform a particular action; they get a particular email. These emails containing different messages and notifications are placed strategically at various customer journey stages. 

So if they open an email that may trigger another email, they may start a sequence that would be based on a person’s behavior i.e., these would be highly personalized emails. This means that you connect them to content that is aligned with the context of who they are and what they were doing. 

This is a very powerful E-commerce marketing strategy as it is a highly relevant and personalized way of approaching a customer and a very effective way of dialing in exactly what you want somebody to receive at the right time. This may also help you orchestrate your customer journey and nudges the audience towards the direction or the behavior you want to see in them.

So for businesses, it becomes more effective if they do it on a higher level and automate it to a certain level, at certain times, and at certain points where they’re more likely to take the next step. Similarly, in e-commerce businesses, as it doesn’t function on one-to-one interaction, this automation allows a lot more personalized interaction, which is valuable for customers because it may make them feel heard. 

Why is email automation important for E-commerce businesses?

Most business people are always asking questions like why automation is essential for the e-commerce business. Therefore, we have listed down some prominent factors that make them so important. 

·      More Consistent revenue

So firstly, automation in email marketing brings a significant amount of revenue for the business, and that revenue may also compound over time. So if we use automation wisely and in an effective manner by increasing and improving them over time, we can see an increasing rate of return. 

Every automation is effective on different levels, but if we can do that at a high level, we can consistently raise the baseline level of revenue we’re going to be earning from that automation.

If the automation you’re using and improving brings a good amount of traffic every month, then it results in driving more and more incremental revenue for those given months. Any small or high-level improvements can also increase the baseline level of revenue month after month.

Suppose, If we introduce automation that makes $2,000 extra a month, we have our baseline plus those $2000. If we introduce another one, that’s going to be our new baseline.

Then in the next month, there was an additional $3000, further increasing our baseline. 

So we’re just raising our baseline once after month after month after month.

So, in this way, if we can raise it $2000, $3000, $4000, over a few months, that adds up well and fast, and in five months, we’re making $9,000 more a month.

And that consistency is nice in that it offers a lot of predictability, a lot of value.

But again, this all depends on the understanding of the customer journey and understanding of what behaviors we want to see at different stages that will drive a little bit more revenue.

·      Connecting content with context

Another benefit of using automation is that we can connect context to the content, i.e., it makes sure that the right message is sent to the right person at the right time. And this is something that doesn’t happen in the typical marketing campaigns.

This helps in aligning and coordinating the information we have about our customers and the behavior we want to see in them. We can leverage that to make our interaction with the audience more to the point and relevant to their need. 

This means that the type of content being sent to them is relevant to the stage of their customer journey that they are in. For example, we may send a second-time purchaser a different kind of content than a first-time purchaser. This kind of interaction adds value to the customer.  

·      Orchestrates Unique Customer Experience

One of the other advantages is that, as mentioned previously, automation can orchestrate a unique customer experience at different stages of the customer journey. 

So we look into our email marketing ecosystem and use automation that drives the customers down the path we want to see them on. 

Ideally, we need to be able to understand that ideal customer journey based on the different needs of the customers (like preferences, tastes, and business). For example, whether we want to get more people in terms of purchases, i.e., just to improve the number of individual purchases, or do we want to drive lifetime value through subscription opt-ins.

·      Digital Petrie dish

Another component very huge and valuable in the areas of marketing is our ability to test and optimize automation. 

It is done by sending one-to-one messages to the customers based on insights relating to them, such as their behaviors and actions. Again this is highly contextualized. 

Sending various messages like these will help us understand the value of different automation designs and types by comparing the responses of the audience to each one of them. 

For example, if we’re seeing people responding to different value propositions in one version of automation versus another version, that’s going to give us insights into how we can gradually improve and evolve the design we’re using.

Consider your automation testing as a digital Petri dish that assists you in constantly improving and iterating your content. This offers you the opportunities to constantly grow and improve your business.

So again, if we introduce new automation over time, we can understand what different behaviors we want to be seeing. And also the amount of effort we’re going to be putting into those. This can help build a process and a system for introducing new automation, and then we kind of reverse engineering to get the desired behaviors.

So first, we have to be clear on our goal while introducing this automation. 

Do we want somebody to come back? Do we want somebody to make a faster repurchase? Or do we want to compress the initial sales? And do we need to combine SMS with our email automation?

All these things can be done while testing and experimenting with automation, and this would eventually help in improving your business by adding to it more value as well as more revenue; as we talked about earlier, if we can increase that $9,000 over five months, that is going to be a consistent baseline level of additional revenue every month. So that $9,000 over a year, turns into $108,000. So as a business, it seems very profitable.

6 Myths of Email Flows and why it’s not true

Now moving on to the focal point of this article, we will talk about some of the myths and misconceptions regarding automation and see why they are not true.

·      Difficult to Create and Manage

The first myth is that automation is extremely difficult to create. 

However, this is not entirely true; you can also use your old content for your new automation. 

For example, if you have used content for campaign emails, you can reuse it for your automation. You just have to find a way to automate those campaigns and fit that context into the customer’s journey. In this way, you can use that foundation you have already built and get the most out of your existing emails. 

However, if it is not possible to do so and integrate the campaign data into automation emails, this is where testing and experimenting come in. 

We never know what is going to work and what will not, so we take our chances in experimenting and collecting the data.

·      Solution for Bad Data

Some people think they may be a silver bullet solution for bad data, for example, data silos or uncleaned data. And it is difficult to use this data as it is difficult to contextualize it according to different needs. 

So it just makes it a little bit more difficult, a little bit less resonant at different levels because we can’t make up for that bad data.

Thus cleaning that data and making sure you have accurate sources, and also aligning different data sources across the organization help here.

Also, the email service provider that we’re using is very crucial such as Klaviyo. It is an effective tool for this as it eases the way to build flows through a system, but they connect with a bunch of different API connections.

So a lot of your different data sources ideally should be plugged into here, such as your customer service data, your loyalty program data, your Shopify data, or your big commerce data. 

·      For everyone? No.

One of the other misconceptions about automation is that people believe that it will go to everyone. This is not the case, and not everybody is going to get it. 

These should be sent to a narrow window of people based on behaviors they’ve exhibited. The more narrow they are, the more contextual they are, and the more they’re, the better they’re going to perform again.

The difference between an automated email and a quick campaign or trust-based email is that you’re going to be sending this to a very narrow window of people over a given time horizon.

·      “Too many” emails

In fact, in some cases, there is also this typical element of self-consciousness that if you send too many emails to a person, they might start getting annoyed and hate you. So you end up sending only one email per week.

This is not true there is a chance someone might not even open your every email. So it is acceptable to send repetitive messages to your audience as long as they are relevant to them and will ultimately help them. 

These are meant to add value beyond the transaction. These are meant to assist them and hold their hands throughout the walk-in, their customer journey, or the purchasing journey.

There’s no such thing as too many emails. There is such thing as too many bad emails, but hopefully, if you’re not falling into that camp, you should be fine.

·      Consistent Performance 

Apart from this, believing that your automation would work the same throughout the year can also be considered a misconception. 

In some businesses, which depend on seasons or months of the year, the revenue generated varies largely. Thus your automation may also perform differently at different times of the year. They may bring different amounts of traffic during different periods of the year. 

Seeing this, you can also avail the times when traffic is not at its peak, and maybe in a season where you’re not having a ton of people coming in, you can test and experiment with your automation to have a little bit better performance during your big and heavy seasons.

·      Perfection from Day One

Another thing you need to take care of is that you don’t want to be right on point and perfect from day one. You won’t nail it all on your first experiment. You would have to go through a long process after which only you’d be able to nail it.

And for that, you’ll have to take all the risks of sending different mixes. You can’t learn anything until they’re sent. 

Be sure of the fact that you don’t bombard people’s inboxes, but don’t let too many precautions prevent you from unleashing your content in the world 

The more learning and the more improvement you can be doing over time, the better position you’re going to be in, in the long run.

So if you find out that a certain value proposition works so well with a certain audience, you can think about bringing that into your social channels and bring this into your top-of-the-funnel ads. This is exactly what’s going to be pulling people through.

·      Replace Your Workload

One of the last misconceptions is that this is going to replace all of your other workloads. But this cannot be the case as, if you’re doing this well, you’re not; it’s not just like a set it once and then forget it.

It’s like your website now, and that website is constantly evolving, like an entity. So you can’t just leave it be. You need to be consistently improving, tweaking, and insistently changing, or else if you had a perfect site in 1997 and you let it go till today, you’re not going to have a perfect site according to today’s times.

So these need to be evolving. These need to be changed. And you need to be thinking about ways to introduce more of it, optimizing and improving again and again

Considering that a particular version worked for one audience, then it could be experimented on all or some other audiences too or seeing that this is working particularly well with one group. Maybe you can branch out and build a specific fork of automation for that specific group.

You might take it like this, “it’s not going to replace what I’m doing right now, but it’s going to be able to expand what I’m doing.”

So once you introduce one automation, you can layer on top of that a new automation as opposed to manually doing all of that. This adds more and more value over time.

So using the same example as before, if you can introduce like a $2,000 automation, additional $3,000 or additional $2,000 over time, that adds up and that’s kind of a, a monthly recurring activity. 

This is going to be one of those systematic ways you work to kind of like move a needle and build some more predictability into the system. If you can do that over time, it’s going to help the business to evolve and thrive because you’re prioritizing these based on the revenue.

So you want to be able to have a pretty stable, steady level of effort over time, but this is going to be an area where you’ll evolve, change and improve over a long window of time. And the longer you do this, the more insights you’re going to have.

Conclusion 

There are a lot of misconceptions or myths around email marketing automation. E-commerce is a unique space where there’s no perfect way of doing everything. So it’s going to vary by business and by situation by marketplace or industry.

But the more you unpack and understand what email flows, email, automation, and personalization and how it impacts these, the more you’re going to be able to understand how to make them better.

Also, the confidence of the business person counts as very crucial too. The less intimidated a marketer is around that automation like an improvement, curiosity, and insight, the more this person is going to be successful in this space because nothing’s going to be perfect from day one.

You need to be able to live inside that testing and experiment grounds since the people that are doing it effectively are the ones that are doing the best work with this.

And that’s where some of the real innovation happens because if you know your customer so well that you understand exactly what they need, at different stages of that customer journey, those are going to be things that allow you to align and orchestrate this customer experience to make that journey more detailed, a little bit overall improved. 

And that’s where we’re going to see the most revenue and the most value in the business over time.

I tried to sum up all the well-known myths and confusion regarding Email automation in this blog with as many details as possible.

But still, if there is any confusion or anything I missed out on, feel free to ask away, and don’t forget to give your feedback too in the comments below!

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