Do you use a dedicated Email Service Provider and, if so, do you have automations set up that are designed to nurture and convert your prospects as well as encourage re-purchasing from your returning customers?
If you’re lost with that question, that’s ok. There’s a lot to break down there. In future articles, we’ll dive more into some of these individual components, but this specific article is a great overview of Email Service Providers (ESPs) if you aren’t yet using them or even if you simply haven’t heard of them.
What is an ESP?
An Email Service Provider (ESP) is a software platform that facilitates email communication with your prospects and customers. All industries can use ESPs but we’re looking specifically at the e-commerce industry in this article.
One of the most well-known examples of an ESP is MailChimp. MailChimp is a great starter option because it also happens to be among the cheapest. (In fact, it even has a free option!) However, its feature scope is more limited than its competitors.
A significant competitor that’s been trending the last couple of years is Klaviyo. Klaviyo offers competitive pricing and robust automations, as well as a fantastic native app for both Shopify and BigCommerce. Another strong option is ActiveCampaign, which offers even more options for automations with features like tags. ActiveCampaign has more integrations than any other ESP we’ve ever seen, including nearly any e-commerce platform you can imagine. (While Klaviyo is hyper-focused on the e-commerce space, ActiveCampaign also markets itself to other industries. In fact, Empower Ideas uses ActiveCampaign.)
If you’re curious about which ESP would be the best match for your company, hit reply and let’s chat. As an independent agency, we can help you make an informed decision between the various providers, including the three we mentioned above, plus options like Emma, SendGrid, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, and more.
What’s an automation?
Quite simply, an automation is when a contact (a customer, prospect, or anyone else who signs up) receives an email that your company did no work to prepare or send.
The most basic example of an automation is an order confirmation email after buy something online. In fact, this automation is so essential that Shopify doesn’t allow any ESP other than Shopify itself to send the order confirmation email.
An automation, at its core, is an "If this then that" trigger-result system. In the case of our example above, the trigger ("if") is the order being placed and the result ("that") is the order confirmation email being sent.
But automations can be much more complex than sending a single message after a single trigger. For example, if your company prepares custom-made merchandise that takes a couple of weeks to ship, an automation could send a follow-up email a few days after the order confirmation that provides information around the custom prep process and the timeline for when it will be shipped.
Another example is a newsletter "welcome series." This is a series of emails that get sent over a prescribed period of time when someone new subscribes to your company’s email list. The emails might include information about what the newsletter will share, promotions and discounts, behind-the-scenes stories, and more. These emails are targeted specifically at prospects that have had limited exposure to your brand in the past, and educating them about your business and products.
Automations can even have complex "or" logic. For example, if the welcome series offers a promotion or discount, the subsequent message could differ depending on whether the prospect took advantage of the promotion or not.
What does it mean to nurture and convert?
This one is easy. To "nurture" prospects is to maintain contact with them over an extended period of time, even if they aren’t buying from you right now or haven’t bought anything yet. The idea is that you will be top of mind when the customer is ready to buy.
For example, board games aren’t something that most people buy regularly. They probably purchase the occasional game for a specific event or because they’ve heard good things about it. A board game store’s target customer might make several purchases in a year. Even so, that means there could be many months between or before purchases. A "nurture" campaign would be this board game store sending a regular email newsletter to keep its contacts engaged and so when they are ready to place their next order, your company is the first place they think of.
"Converting" then is making the purchase or completing the goal. Of course at that point nurturing starts over to work towards that customer becoming a repeat customer. It’s always cheaper to keep an old customer than make a new one.
Putting it all together
Let’s re-examine our original question: Do you use a dedicated Email Service Provider and, if so, do you have automations set up that are designed to nurture and convert your prospects as well as encourage re-purchasing from your returning customers?
What we are asking, then, is if your company has software for keeping track of your contacts and reaching out regularly to prospects who may be ready to buy and to customers who may be ready to purchase again. Automation can help send the right message to the right person at the right time, and this nurture can help ensure your company remains top of mind when the customer is ready to make their next purchase.
If you need help sorting it all out, we're here for you. We offer ESP set up, automation set up, content creation (i.e. email writing), and much more. Just hit reply and let us know how we can help.