Guest post: Four omnichannel automated workflows that boost customer loyalty

In this blog post, our friends at Omnisend give an overview of the power of omnichannel marketing automation and share how it can help you secure long-term customer loyalty.

If you run an ecommerce store, you probably already know that repeat customers are your best friends. And, if you’re smart, you’ll be putting in the effort to keep them.

Don’t get me wrong – new customers are great. But loyal repeat customers create more revenue. In fact, research from LoyaltyLion shows that the top 53% of a store’s revenue comes from 20% of its customers.

So how do you transform a customer into a loyal, ride-or-die shopper?

Easy. By giving them what they want.

Today customers want a personalised experience, they want to know that a brand values them, and they don’t want to be a faceless number in a marketer’s excel sheet.

Instead, by personalising the customer experience, and showing that you actually care about them, the customer will pay you back with fierce loyalty your competitors can’t buy. And what’s the best way to personalise the customer experience? By creating an omnichannel marketing automation strategy.

Omnichannel marketing automation best practices

I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t automation the opposite of personalisation?”

You might think that – but automation has come very far. Today you can tailor your automation strategies to send hyper-relevant messages and ultra-targeted automated workflows that respond and adapt to how a customer engages.

When we talk about marketing automation, one thing typically springs to mind: email. It’s true that in the past, email automation essentially was marketing automation. But today, we can go so much further. It’s now easier to add several channels into the same automation workflow to create an immersive customer experience. We can keep our customers up to date on the latest changes no matter where they are engaging.

So what are the best practices for setting up and delivering your automation workflows?

Segmentation and targeting

To have a real shot at using marketing automation for customer loyalty, it helps to know exactly who your customer is.

We don’t do that “spray and pray” deal anymore. Turns out, more than one in five consumers state that irrelevancy causes them to opt out of communication with a brand altogether. So make sure your automation campaigns are unique to each customer.

For many, personalisation starts with segmenting email subscribers. This principle also works in omnichannel marketing automation: you want to separate your customers into smaller lists and tailor your messages around who they are.

By segmenting your customers, you’ll be able to craft campaigns for each customer and automate your relevant messages.

Know your channel, and use it accordingly

According to our recent report, campaigns including three or more channels earn a 250% higher purchase rate over single-channel campaigns. This shows how important it is to integrate more channels into your automation workflows beyond emails.

But make sure to tailor your channels to your customer. Don’t bombard them with SMS messages and web push campaigns every day – just as quickly as consent is given, it can be taken away. So don’t abuse it.

Follow up your instant messages with emails

While email is a great place to start, instant messages are also a perfect way to engage customers.

This includes push notifications, SMS messages, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. But remember, many of these channels have limited space meaning you can’t add all of the information you might like. Make sure you follow them up with an email that has more detail so your customers can get the full picture.

Don’t just set it and forget it

One of the biggest mistakes we see with omnichannel marketing automation is the tendency to set it and forget it.

While it’s true that automation removes many of the menial tasks we have to do, this doesn’t mean you should forget about it.

You should always be testing and tweaking your automated campaigns regularly. Don’t keep doing something because someone said you should – make changes to find the best way that works for you.

Four omnichannel automation workflows that boost customer loyalty

The first contact you make with your customer comes when they sign up on your site. Whether you’re using integrated sign up forms, pop-ups, or landing pages, this is the first tangible interest a customer can show with your brand.

One way to show a customer that you care about them is with a great welcome series:

#1 Welcome series

A welcome series aims to accomplish three main things:

  • It’s the first point of direct contact with a customer
  • It shows your customer what they can expect from you
  • And, shows your customer an incentive for signing up

Many brands tend to turn to email for their welcome campaigns and why wouldn’t you? Welcome emails have an average open rate of 51%. You just need to think of ways to extend this campaign across channels and give your customers more.

So here’s what you can do:

  • If they’ve opted in for push notifications or SMS messages, hit them with a discount code within a minute of signing up
  • Follow up with an email at the same time, listing potential products and the discount they’ve earned
  • Use your emails to invite your customers to engage with you on your other channels

If you want to create a sense of urgency, you can always include a “valid until” date.

Provided they haven’t used the code or purchased yet, follow up a few days later with another email reminding them of the code and proposing more product recommendations. Email is better for this as it’s a softer approach and isn’t as “in-your-face” as other channels might be.

Check in with your customers and remind them of the code you’ve offered. Propose a few products that are fan favourites, and include some UGC. For example, if you have a considerable following on Instagram, post some reviews you’ve had on that channel.

Instagram Loyalty (1)
This not only encourages your customers to join the network, but it shows them what others have bought and are happy with your products.

Your welcome series sets the stage for the relationship between you and your customer. It’s important to get this first step right – you never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

#2 Browse and cart abandonment series

When you have a customer that has browsed your site but hasn’t purchased, sending a soft-approach email series might be enough to call them back to purchase.

Cart Abandonment Email (2)
But remember, don’t be creepy. Keep product recommendations specific to the category they were browsing, rather than listing each and every product they looked at. As consumers, we know our movements on the web are being tracked but throwing it in your customers’ faces is a bad reminder.

As long as you’re showing you’re there to support your customers, rather than pushing overly direct sales messages, you’ll prove to your customers that you care about them beyond their purchase.

For cart abandonment, you can be a bit more direct. Combine more channels into the mix to create an omnichannel experience.

For every immediate channel you use (like SMS, WhatsApp, push notifications), follow up with an email that gives more information. You could also send an instant message within 15 minutes of the cart abandonment, and follow up an hour or so later with the email.

This tactic achieves two things.

First, you get a super immediate callback. When your customer clicks off the page and goes elsewhere, right away they’ll receive a push notification to remind them of what they left in their cart.

Second, you get a backup plan. Say they’re busy, and they don’t have time to complete their purchase right now. That’s okay, they’ll have another reminder in their inbox with the photos of the products they fell in love with in the first place.

Cart Abandonment (3)

#3 Order and shipping series

When it comes to building trust and loyalty for a customer, nothing does it better than the messages you send post-purchase.

Think about it – ever purchased from a site and not received a post-purchase confirmation? If you didn’t, it was probably pretty terrifying. You end up biting your nails, wondering if your order went through, if it went through twice, and whether or not you’ll ever actually receive what you ordered.

Luckily, order and shipping confirmations are pretty much standard these days. They also pose the perfect opportunity to encourage long-term loyalty. Show them the loyalty points they earned from their first purchase and the products they could be sending them on.

Shipment Email (4)
Getting a confirmation email is standard. But how many marketers actually give their customers the choice of where they’d like their updates sent?

With omnichannel marketing automation, you can meet the ask. Some customers want more immediate updates on their order, via SMS or web push notifications. Others might like to be updated via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp – as they already use these apps every day.

The idea is to let the customer continue with whatever they’re doing but to give them critical notifications on their purchase without breaking their experience.

As always, when you send one of these more immediate messages, follow up with an email that recaps everything they’ve ordered. Make sure each message has a link so they can go back to your site and track their order status or package.

By giving the customer the choice of channel, you’re showing them that you’re ready to be where they need you to be.

#4 Loyalty series

This is your time to shine: to show your customers how much you appreciate their business. When you have a great loyalty program in place, be sure to combine it with an omnichannel customer experience.

In your loyalty series, you can send a few different messages to help onboard the customer.

When a customer first signs up, or better, makes the first purchase, use this as an opportunity to tell them more ways they can earn points with your loyalty program.

  • If a customer creates an account but hasn’t yet purchased, you can encourage them to start earning points through other means – such as connecting with you on social media or sharing posts
  • If a customer has purchased, let them know how many points they’ve earned with their purchase, and if applicable, what kind of discount they’ve earned
  • If a customer has purchased, but checked out as a guest, you can always use your loyalty program as an incentive to get the customer to create an account. Use the FOMO “Don’t lose your points” game for this

Start by communicating with an email. Then, when your customer earns new points, send instant messages that give them an update on their loyalty status, like via push notifications, SMS, or another messenger.

Not only does it bring them back for more purchases, but it also gives them something to strive for. After all, if you’re offering a discount on a brand they already love they’ll keep returning to you over your competition.

Customer loyalty is invaluable and is often a make-or-break scenario for a lot of ecommerce businesses.

In today’s world, customers hold all the power. The ecommerce market is saturated and customers have more choices than ever before. All this choice means they won’t have to go far to find someone with pretty much the same offer as you.

By creating an omnichannel customer experience that fosters customer loyalty, you can improve your retention rate and reduce the risk of losing your customers to the competition.

After all, your customers are the heart of your business so treat them like it.

About Omnisend

Omnisend is an omnichannel marketing automation platform built for ecommerce. For those who are ready to graduate from simple email blasts to sophisticated automation workflows, Omnisend is the perfect tool. Connect with your customers using email, SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, push notifications, and Google and Facebook retargeting ads, all from one easy to use platform.