By Christophe Primault
Marketing automation is a highly prized ideal in retail, for both online and brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers can increase sales by having a complete customer history in front of them when a shopper walks in their door or visits their website.
Marketing automation serves two purposes. It reduces the repetitive tasks that come from copying data from one list (i.e., an email subscriber list) to another business software or app (i.e., a CRM database). In addition, it lets retailers provide a personalized experience for each shopper, based on his or her interests, buying behavior and preferences.
There are marketing automation software tools available online, however, many are geared to major creative agencies and larger sales enterprises. The complexity of the software setup (including the use of if-then logic flows), and the high monthly subscription fee make them a hassle for many independent retailers. The truth is, any retailer can make use of marketing automation to improve sales rates and build brand loyalty. Here is a three-step guide to start your own marketing automation system.
1. Set up your customer market segments
You can segment your customers in two ways, by interests and buying history. It is recommended that you do both.
First, create a list of the different types of customers based on their interests. If you are a women’s clothing store, for example, you may have lists for party/weekend attire, business and work wear, and plus-size women. Next create a list for types of shopping behavior. This could include amount of money spent, frequency of shopping and types of clothing.
Under each segment, list the sorts of special offers and marketing materials you can use. For example:
- A dedicated newsletter campaign for each customer interest.
- A section of your website with a landing page for each of the customer interests, with an email signup form to the relevant newsletter.
- Offers for special/seasonal events.
- Invitations to a fashion parade or social media event, for shoppers who spend at a certain level.
2. Use a CRM
Today’s shopper expects a certain degree of customized contact, and is increasingly immune to bland, broadcast-style emails and marketing. A CRM will let you store all your shopper contacts. It can form the basis of your loyalty program and will help you track buying history and specific product requests and interests.
CRM apps come in all levels of complexity. It may be best to start out with a free service like Zoho CRM or Capsule CRM, or one with a minimal payment fee like Highrise.
3. Sync and link
With CRM and a segmented customer list, you can create your own marketing automation system. For example, you can have all your email subscribers added to your CRM automatically with notes letting you know which subscriber lists they subscribe to. You can keep track of each customer’s buying history so you can offer deals that might interest him or her and increase your sales.
Look at the apps and add-ons pages of your CRM app or your email campaign software. There are often integration tools that help you link your existing customer data between email and CRM, and ways to sync all newly added customer information details so that you have a global view of each shopper.
Third-party services like CloudWork also offer a catalog of integrations that let you create a marketing automation system that is simple and effective. For example, you can automatically:
- Add all your email correspondents to your CRM app.
- See which customers are subscribed to your email lists.
- Add your paying customers to a loyalty list based on how much they spend.
- Track which subscribers open and click on your email offers.
Personalization is key to maintaining customers and increasing sales and CRM is at the core of this business operation. Take these three steps to get started now with DIY marketing automation.
Christophe Primault is the CEO of CloudWork.com, a service that integrates and syncs data between cloud-based business apps. He is also the co-founder and CEO of GetApp.com, the world’s largest cloud business marketplace.