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November 4, 2020 - By Hawke Media

3 Essential Revenue-Driving Automations for the Holidays

2019’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend saw opportunities continue to grow for ecommerce retailers. In 2019, more than $28 billion was spent online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. However, as we all know, 2019 was a different world, and times have changed drastically. With online shopping already seeing an increase, the consensus is that this holiday shopping season will be longer and larger than ever.

With this increase in online shopping comes an increase in competition—meaning that not only will they have to be prepared for an unprecedented surge in potential customers, but they’ll need to stand out to shoppers who will be inundated with promotional content.

Automated, revenue-driving messages will help ecommerce retailers accomplish this goal. In Q2 of this year, when the heart of the pandemic set it, data showed that automated email marketing accounted for 26% of all email conversions, yet accounted for less than 2% of email sends. These targeted, relevant messages can be the lifeblood of any retailer’s email program.

Here are three essential automated workflows that are guaranteed to help you maximize this potentially record-breaking, one-of-a-kind holiday season.

1. Welcome Message

Most online stores see a significant increase in email subscribers during the holidays—many of whom are looking for a discount. In Q2 of this year, Omnisend reported that welcome messages generated a stunning 48% conversion rate and accounted for 9% of all email conversions. If you don’t yet have a welcome message, create one. Once you have one, consider the items that new email subscribers might be looking for, including:

  • Incentives: If you can, be sure to include one, but make sure it aligns with your holiday strategy. If you are continually running 30% off campaigns, offering a 10% welcome offer does not provide a strong reason to purchase. Alternatively, you may want to consider a stackable discount, such as offering a dollar amount discount (with a minimum spend) that can be combined with another incentive currently being offered.

Alternatively, suppose you either can’t offer a discount or change your current one, be sure to adjust your messaging to focus on a sense of urgency. Many consumers are aware there may be product shortages the more they move through the season. Focusing on “get it before it’s gone” messaging can be enough of an incentive to convert a new subscriber into a customer.

  • Holiday differentiators: Focus on making the customers’ purchasing journey as easy as possible. If you offer gift guides or different holiday categories of products, be sure to promote them in your navigation bar and the email body. You should also include product recommendations, such as ‘customer favorites’ for new shoppers—a little social proof can go a long way.

Also, put a very large emphasis on your competitive differentiators. These can be free or fast shipping, satisfaction guarantees, BOPIS options, customer support availability, and return policies. Extended return policies, knowing many shoppers may be purchasing earlier than ever, can be especially appealing for consumers.

2. Cart Abandonment

With tempting offers abound this holiday season, as well as the tendency for people to use carts as a kind of ‘wishlist,’ abandoned carts are going to be as common as ever. So it’s up to you to win back as many of these as possible. With only 20% of retailers taking action on abandoned carts, this is your chance to get a head start on your competitors!

A few things to consider for your abandoned cart workflows these holidays include:

  • Shorten timing between messages: People shop differently during the holidays. Buying decisions tend to happen quicker than they otherwise might. Consumers also tend to use shopping carts as makeshift wishlists. Use this knowledge to your advantage by keeping anticipation high.  

Shorten the timing between your messages. If your third message sends on day four or five, this may be too long. And while it can be successful throughout the year, the holidays are a perfect time to add a fourth or fifth message to your abandonment series. Doing so allows you to stay top of mind for those who take longer to make a decision, and can also help spur new sales for those who ultimately purchased elsewhere. After all, people are making multiple purchasers throughout the season.

  • Urgency and incentives: Products tend to sell out quickly, and consumers know it. With cart abandonment, consumers have already chosen their interested products, so be sure to exploit fear of loss within your messaging. And remember, people will have a ton of great deals to choose from over the holidays, so consider how your incentive strategy aligns with the holiday season promotions.
  • Filter by the cart: Combined with an incentive strategy is message filtering by the cart itself. Automating messages based on the abandoned cart total or the abandoner’s purchase history can help you deliver more relevant messaging. For instance, if you know the abandoned cart is less than the free shipping threshold, you can offer an incentive that increases the cart total. For those with higher value carts, you can offer incentives that maximize margins and focus the message on the value-adds that matter, such as free returns. 

3. Browse and product abandonment

Browse and product abandonment messages help you re-engage with the 89.1% of visitors to ecommerce websites that never get as far as placing an item in their carts. Browse abandonment messages are triggered when visitors browses a specified category on your site, whereas product abandonment messages are triggered when visitors land on a specific product page.

These automated messages are the definition of the right message to the right person at the right time—which is probably why product abandonment messages have the highest open rates of any automated message. If you are not already using these messages to target window shoppers, do so. Once these messages are set up, consider the following tips to maximize their effectiveness.

  • Product or category: You can use either product or a general browse abandonment strategy based on the types of products you sell. Either way, maximize their effectiveness by setting the automations for high-traffic categories or products and holiday-related items.
  • Incentives: You can use incentives that align with your holiday strategy, but be mindful there is no obligation to start offering discounts at this stage. Again, be sure to rely on using a sense of urgency inside of your messaging. Also, be sure to visibly promote those competitive differentiators such as shipping and return policies—they can go a long way in convincing shoppers to return.
  • Timing: Follow timing rules similar to cart abandonment. Remember, people are browsing multiple sites, so the sooner you can get in front of the shopper, the better chance you’ll have of recovering the sale.

Add SMS to all automated messages

Adding SMS to the automated workflows can be a conversion goldmine for retailers. SMS are more immediate than email and can be a great way to cut through the inbox noise. Last Black Friday, SMS saw a 7x higher order rate than email. Here are a few ways to use SMS inside of these three workflows:

  • Last chance/offer expiration reminders
  • Drive subscribers to check their unopened email
  • Provide a welcome or abandoned cart discount
  • Use as the fourth or fifth abandoned cart message (instead of an email)
  • Send a reminder that items sell/are selling out fast

Final Thoughts

So there you have it—three revenue-driving automation workflows that are an absolute must for what promises to be a bumper holiday season. By implementing these automations and adjusting them for holiday shoppers, you’ll be engaging customers with targeted, personalized messaging that will cut through the flood of promotional messages and increase sales.