This is an article by Christina Coons. She is a professional digital marketer at Northcutt, an inbound marketing agency. She specializes in e-commerce, social media, and public relations, and spends her days helping brands succeed online. Feel free to follow her Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Five Areas Of Your Sales Process That Could Benefit From A Touch of Automation
Is your sales process as efficient as it could be? Probably not. Here are a few areas you should automate, both to save time and improve conversions.
As you’re no doubt well aware, running a digital storefront is no mean feat. From lead generation to cart management to the follow-up process, there’s a lot of stuff to deal with, especially if you’re running a small business or a startup. The more you can do to streamline your workload, the better.
That’s where automation comes in. Whether you’re using Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, or something else entirely, you’ve a portfolio of incredibly powerful marketing tools at your disposal. Knowing how and where to apply those tools can rocket you ahead of your competitors, while also saving you some considerable headaches in the process.
Mailing List Subscriptions
One of the most important steps in building a successful storefront is marketing – and a critical step in the marketing process is creating customer lists. This is doubly true for customers who’ve completed a purchase – especially if they’ve opted to subscribe to a mailing list or consented to receive updates about your products.
By setting things up to automatically export and import customers to different marketing/email lists, you’ll save yourself a ton of time. Not only that, it’ll ensure you don’t make any mistakes, like adding someone to a mailing list when they’ve not consented. Mailchimp is your best bet here, and it includes a plugin for the majority of eCommerce platforms on the market.
The Shipping Process
Once a customer’s made an order, you want to keep things moving. You want to ensure their checkout and purchasing process is as smooth and painless as possible. Wasting time manually printing out invoices and writing out shipping labels is exactly the opposite of what you want to do.
Did a customer abandon their shopping cart? Is a product on-sale that a prior lead might be interested in? Do you just want to send a ‘thank you’ email to someone who made a purchase?
This is all stuff you can automate, so long as each email you send adheres to the following guidelines:
- Make sure the subject line is clear, and makes it obvious at a glance what the email’s about – ie. “Thanks for Your Purchase! Here’s a Gift for Next Time!”
- Include non-sensitive personal information like the customer’s name, email, and/or address.
- Keep the body concise. people shouldn’t have to skim through several paragraphs to get to the core message of your email.
- Use relevant messaging. Someone who purchases beard oil, for example, would likely be interested in a coupon for cologne or grooming tools like scissors or a brush.
- Ensure it’s timely. Certain events, like the completion of a purchase or a newsletter subscription, should immediately trigger an email response.
- Don’t oversell. Not every email needs to include a coupon or product recommendation. Make sure you just focus on what matters to each particular shopper.
Again, MailChimp’s probably your best go-to here.
Keeping your product inventory up-to-date can be difficult enough if you’ve just got a single storefront. As your business grows, however, there’s a good chance you’ll end up selling products across several different platforms or services. Managing all these disparate platforms is not only time-consuming, it could damage your bottom line if you do it poorly on account of product shortages, overstocking, and shipment delays.
Most eCommerce platforms have inventory management built in, but if you want to consolidate across several different ones, things get a bit more complicated – you may want to rely on a tool like Core.
In addition to automating your shipping and handling, you should also look into a way to provide customers with automatic updates on purchased products. When did you ship their purchase? Has it arrived in their country? Is it held up in customs?
Granted, your customers can look into this manually, but it makes for a much better experience if you handle it for them. Bonus points if you can also set up automatic notifications for yourself, too, through a tool like Zapier.
So, there you have it. A few areas of your storefront that could do with a touch of marketing automation. I’ll close things off with a word of caution – avoid over-automation. No storefront in the world completely runs itself, and there are certain things that absolutely require a human touch.
Bear that in mind,and you’ll be just fine.