Email automation is a standard strategy in marketing, but it is not as simple as it sounds. With creative and powerful content, combined with proper implementation, email automation can help you build awareness about your brand, convert leads, grow your sales, and recover abandoned carts. 

If you own an eCommerce store, having an email marketing strategy is crucial to reaching your target market. Whether you’re new to email automation or have been at it for a while now, there are common challenges that may hamper your marketing efforts. Let’s take a closer look at the challenges with email automation that you may encounter and how you can overcome them. 

Common Challenges With Email Automation

Personalizing your automated emails

Personalization goes beyond just addressing your customer by their first or last name. There are many ways to get creative with email personalization. 

  • Create an experience for your customer. Help them visualize how your product/s can impact their daily life, for example, or give them a wonderful memory.

  • Associate your product/s with a specific aspiration. Identify your product/s as the key to achieving this aspiration. 

  •  Create an emotional connection with your customers by using the right tone in your emails. 

  • Understand your customers’ past behaviors and customize your emails to reflect their interests. 

Decline in engagement rates 

Just because a consumer ticked the box for “Receive promos and offers via email” doesn’t mean they will actually open your emails, much less visit your site via the link in the email. And if you overdo email marketing, you’d be risking having your emails marked as spam; if you underdo it, you will most likely experience lower conversion rates. How do you find the right balance, and how can you nudge your customers into actually opening your emails?

  • Personalize your email’s “From” line. You can do this by using the first name of one of your marketing team members alongside your brand name, i.e., “From: James from <Brand name/website>”

  • Keep your subscription list updated; make sure to get rid of inactive subscribers regularly. 

  • Make sure your emails always include the unsubscribe or update preferences option. 

  • Categorize your subscription list and customize your email strategy accordingly based on “customer life stages,” from a customer prospect to a new customer, repeat customer, loyal/VIP customer, lapsed customer, and lapsed prospect.  

  • Send content regularly to keep in touch, but not so frequently that your automated emails come out as just that — automated and impersonal. ‍‍

‍‍Creating an impersonal impression

Email automation is inherently impersonal. You have to make an effort to add a human touch to your automated emails, so they don’t read like a cold and generic advertisement. You don’t want your email to only promote your brand; you also want to forge and nurture relationships with your customers and build customer trust. Your goal should not just be to have a long subscription list; you should prioritize the quality of your customers, i.e., actively engaging customers over quantity. Remember, those loyal customers will also help promote your brand voluntarily. 

Forgetting to maintain and update old email campaigns

Automated emails should not be kept in limbo indefinitely. You should not just send out automated emails and then forget about them. You need to have a system that keeps track of all your email campaigns and refreshes and improves past or currently running campaigns based on available data. Keeping track of how your email campaigns perform will help you adjust your strategy, improve your communication, and develop more relevant content when necessary. 

Nurturing customer interest

Nurturing goes back to email personalization, which involves making automated emails not sound automated. To nurture customer interest and encourage a response, you have to know how to speak their language. You have to base your email marketing strategy on your research of what your target customers are looking for, what problems they need addressed, what common complaints they have, and what questions they usually ask. Then you can personalize your emails based on what you can do for them. 

Finding a strategy that works takes time

Even with all the tricks of the trade and essential marketing tips you’ll find online and in books, there’s no magic formula to a perfect email marketing strategy. Don’t aim for perfection; aim for constant optimization instead. You need to do all the work necessary to design a campaign that’s right for a particular product or promotion and your specific target market. Then you’ll test it and optimize where necessary. And you have to keep doing the same work for different products/promotions and a different target market. You will have to keep up with the times, trends, and changing customer needs. 

Standing out from the competition

Your research should also include the competition. Find out why people buy from them, as well as why others don’t. Identify what makes them different from others, especially your brand. And then use the information to highlight what you have to offer that others don’t and improve aspects of your brand that need sprucing up to stay competitive or, even better, stand out. 

Opening a two-way communication channel

Customers can’t respond to an automated email. But a customer’s ability to give feedback and be heard factors a lot into the kind of relationship you can build with them. Personalizing your emails in a way that already addresses a known need or concern is one way to make your customers feel acknowledged. Or you can encourage them to reach out through a carefully crafted CTA. 

Final Thoughts

Despite its limitations, email automation remains an indispensable marketing tool, especially in eCommerce. Even while you’re competing with dozens of other automated emails within a single customer inbox, you can stand out and have high open rates and click-through rates if you know what common traps to avoid as well as the best practices you can adopt to overcome common challenges with email automation. 

You should also adopt an omnichannel approach, which is a combination of emails and SMS communication. Recent studies have shown that SMS marketing has significantly higher open rates, click-through rates, and engagement rates compared to email. 

With mobile commerce also increasing, it only makes sense that consumers will be more likely to open and even respond to SMS marketing and that they do it more quickly. Especially when you can identify customers who prefer virtual chats, you can rest assured that they’ll have a high likelihood of engagement via SMS communication. The challenge, of course, is convincing your customers to provide their phone numbers. But the hesitancy is quickly declining. 

Don’t be afraid to explore all available channels for communication. And don’t be discouraged if an email marketing strategy is not successful. It takes a lot of trial and error, patience, and creativity to design and implement a strategy that delivers the results you want.