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Here's Our Unconventional Perspective On Automated (Email) Flows
Writing this article was an interesting experience for me. Initially, I set out to compile a list of Email and SMS flows that we've implemented or observed among various eCommerce retailers...
Writing this article was an interesting experience for me. Initially, I set out to compile a list of Email and SMS flows that we've implemented or observed among various eCommerce retailers over our recent years in the industry.
Midway through drafting, I recognized that many sources online already offer simple lists of automated flows for eCommerce.
So, I went back to the drawing board, this time focusing on strategies for trigger-based campaigns. What are the various trigger-based campaigns available? Is it possible to integrate multiple channels into one campaign? If so, how? And how do these strategies fare with different marketing tech stacks in terms of ease of deployment?
These questions, largely unaddressed in my preliminary research, became the core of my new direction. I hope you'll find this revamped article valuable.
Automated Flows or Trigger-based Campaigns
Automated flows are distinct from newsletters in one fundamental way. While newsletters are pre-scheduled to be dispatched at a specified day and time to your entire (or part of your) audience, automated flows are triggered by specific events, such as cart abandonment.
We've identified 12 unique automated flows that most eCommerce businesses can implement. These can be broadly divided into three distinct categories:
Customer Journey Flows: Triggered by significant milestones in a customer's journey, these flows are initiated by events like signing up for a newsletter, making a first purchase, or not purchasing within a certain time frame since the last transaction. The sequence of these flows is typically predetermined. For instance, a Win-back Scenario can only be activated after a customer's initial purchase.
Customer Event Flows: Much like Customer Journey Flows, these are activated by specific customer-related events, such as cart abandonment or a customer's birthday. The key distinction is that the sequence of these flows isn't fixed. For example, a birthday flow could be triggered before a customer's first cart abandonment sequence, or vice versa.
Shop Event Flows: Different from the above two categories, these flows respond to universal events within the store, like the restocking of a particular product.
Here are the 12 automated flows categorized into these three groups:
Channel Utilization in Automated Flows
While emails are frequently used for many of these flows, there are actually several channels at your disposal. These channels include:
In-App (Mobile) Notifications
Let's consider two different types of customers for a moment. The first has shared both their email address and phone number. The second remains anonymous, identifiable only by cookies, without a known email or phone number. Now, imagine both customers abandon their carts.
Instead of constructing a Cart Abandonment Flow that depends solely on email, you could leverage multiple channels. For instance, the first customer might initially receive an email. If they don’t engage with the email within 24 hours, a follow-up SMS could be dispatched, which often garners a higher click-through rate.
Conversely, the anonymous customer might be retargeted through paid ad campaigns on platforms like Facebook.
*Granted, a real Cart Abandonment Flow would be more nuanced than this basic example, which is provided merely for illustrative purposes.
When seeking to employ multiple channels in your marketing flows, the marketing tools you use—for emails, SMS, or in-app notifications—become vital. The ease of orchestrating these diverse channels becomes paramount.
What do I mean?
In our article titled “Marketing Techstack Orchestration for eCommerce Companies with $100M+ Annual Turnover,” we introduced the concepts of "The Frankenstein" and "The Ecosystem" tech stack setups.
Within the “Frankenstein” tech stack approach, you select a dedicated vendor for each marketing function—Klaviyo for email campaigns, Segment for Customer Data Platforms (CDP), Attentive for SMS, and so on. Integrations between these platforms are then established to facilitate data flows. You can visualize the “Frankenstein” tech stack like this:
In the "Ecosystem" tech stack, you essentially work with a single, seamlessly integrated platform. Here, the integrations are pre-built for you by the product team of the "Ecosystem" platform. Here is an illustration:
In terms of utilizing multiple channels in your marketing flows, an "Ecosystem" platform like Bloomreach Engagement is notably superior.
Why is this the case?
Consider the complexity of implementing a multi-channel Cart Abandonment scenario within a “Frankenstein” tech stack, utilizing Klaviyo for email, Attentive for SMS, and Segment as a CDP. The process would look something like this:
Establish a Cart Abandonment flow in Klaviyo to send emails to subscribers.
Integrate Klaviyo and Segment so that Klaviyo informs Segment about subscribers who received and clicked the cart abandonment email.
In Segment, create a subgroup of email subscribers who received but did not click on the cart abandonment email, then send this subgroup to Attentive.
Initiate another flow in Attentive to text those who have not clicked on the email.
Identify anonymous customers (with no email or phone number) who abandoned their carts and target them via Facebook’s paid retargeting.
This approach requires juggling three different platforms (or four, including Facebook Ads Manager) and managing two distinct scenarios in Klaviyo and Attentive.
Contrast this with Bloomreach Engagement, where a single platform (or two with Facebook) and a unified scenario accomplish the entire process.
While it’s not impossible to execute a multi-channel flow strategy like cart abandonment within a “Frankenstein” tech stack, the setup, maintenance, and debugging are more complex and time-consuming.
Bloomreach Engagement's capacity to effortlessly orchestrate a flow like cart abandonment across multiple channels (including Email, SMS, In-App Notification, Browser Notification, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger) is a primary reason we regard it as a leading marketing platform.
Personalization of Automated Flows
When discussing personalization within automated flows, we believe there are predominantly two strategies that can be employed.
Zero-Party Data Personalization (link to dedicated article here): This involves tailoring content based on voluntarily shared customer data or preferences. Consider an eCommerce store catering to expectant mothers and parents of infants up to three years old. When a customer subscribes via email, they're prompted to share their due date or their child's age. This information shapes the subsequent communication. If the baby is already born, emails concerning late-stage pregnancy are irrelevant; instead, content aligns with the child’s current age, ensuring relevance and engagement.
Example: This email from a Welcome Series is not being sent to mothers whose baby is already born.
Let's take another example from the fashion sector. Knowing a customer's gender can alter the tone and content of a Welcome Series. Moreover, if we found out that a customer is in a long-term relationship, content might include products from both genders, especially since data often indicates women tend to shop across gender lines.
Customer Journey Personalization: Here, customization hinges on the customer's current position or stage in their buying journey.
Again, let’s take a cart abandonment email scenario as an example. Should a first-time visitor receive the same abandonment email as a repeat customer who's already made two purchases? To illustrate, I recently received a Cart Abandonment email from one of my favourite fashion brands, Public Rec (not affiliated with us). It looked liked this:
The fact is, I've previously purchased several items from Public Rec. Wouldn't it be more impactful if they acknowledged my history as an existing customer and contextualized the product I abandoned in the cart with the items I already own? A potential cart abandonment email might then be framed like this:
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