Optimising the Customer Lifecycle with Email Automation | Pure360

GUIDE

Optimising the Customer Lifecycle with Email Automation

Introduction

Every year eConsultancy asks marketers which channel delivers the best ROI. And year after year email comes out on top.

Despite this, email marketing still sees itself under-resourced and with less budget than other marketing channels.

Source: eConsultancy

Econsultancy also revealed that email marketing receives only 10% of digital marketing budget, coming behind advertising, search marketing, content, website and social.

For email marketers looking to expand the scope and success of their programs, automation is an obvious step to take. It promises big results for small teams.

Email automation saves time, improves results, and allows you to reach your customers at the right time with the right message. Sounds great right?

But automation still remains an untapped opportunity for most businesses. Our pals at Econsultancy found that nearly half of businesses they surveyed have yet to implement marketing automation. Of those who are using marketing automation, 26% have only one email automation programmes running. And 32% have zero!

Businesses around the world are paying for technology that they’re not even using.

We want to change that.

In this guide we break down email automation into clear and actionable advice.

We’ll talk you through what email automation is and explain the benefits. And we’ll even give you examples of how you can put email automation into use yourself.

What is email automation?

Email automation offers marketers the ability to send automatic, real-time messages to a subscriber based on their actions or circumstances.

Automation can be triggered by a website visit, a purchase, engagement with email campaigns, or particular actions a customer has taken.

You might already be familiar with basic email marketing automations without necessarily knowing it.

Welcome emails sent after sign-up and a cart abandonment email triggered when you fail to complete a purchase are examples of email automation in action.  Unlike newsletters or one-off email marketing campaigns, the sender doesn’t need to manage each send. They’re simply set up once, left to run and are automatically sent, every time.

What are the benefits of email automation?

The most obvious benefit is efficiency. Marketers don’t need to do a thing once the automation message is designed and set up for the first time. This frees up time and resource to let marketers focus on building an ongoing relationship with the customer, with minimal effort.

Email automation provides a real benefit for the customer too. It gives instant gratification, immediate answers and guides them along their customer journey. And done well, it appears to be a completely natural and helpful one-to-one dialogue with the customer.

And don’t just take our word for it – the numbers stack up too:

But in case you need any more convincing, here are a few more reasons why email automation makes sense.

10 benefits of email automation

1. Improve your customer experience

Email automations are tailored, relevant and personalised messages that are sent to individual recipients. And just because they’re automated doesn’t mean they’re impersonal.

Used hand-in-hand with personalisation, behavioural triggered emails allow you to create a highly individualised customer experience.

 

2. Increases scale and scope of campaigns

At some point email marketers often become victims of their own success. They’re asked to send more messages and continually develop their campaigns which puts a strain on resource.

Email automations help build capacity without extra headcount. And because they’re automated there’s no need for major ongoing management, setup and design work.

 

3. Improves the relevancy of marketing

There are so many conversations you could have with your customers using email automations and you don’t have to wait until they contact you to start a dialogue.

As automations are generally based on your customer’s actions, your messages always appear relevant to the recipient.

 

4. Allows for strategic thinking

Email automations can replace the repetitive tasks of setting up and sending the same campaigns manually. This frees up resource, allowing your marketers to focus on other activities that will acquire and retain customers.

 

5. Improves insight

Email automation software comes with detailed reporting which lets you see the results of every automation. It‘s real-time insight that shows how recipients react, engage and respond to each marketing message. Most importantly, this type of insight lets you instantly identify which campaigns are the most powerful in your toolkit.

 

6. Increases repeat purchases

It’s easy to include automated product recommendations as part of a post-purchase journey. Cross-sell and upsell automation based on recent purchases can help you drive additional sales from each transaction.

 

7. Recovers lost revenue

Cart abandonment emails are a great example of email automations that help generate noticeable revenue. They tempt people back to your website by encouraging them to complete their transaction. It’s well worth the effort – our customers typically see a 12% uplift in sales that would otherwise be lost!

 

8. Increases Customer Lifetime Value

Email automations allow you to automate requests for customer reviews, send offers to high-spending segments and trigger re-engagement campaigns to lapsed subscribers. These tactics all strengthen your relationship with your customers post-purchase and help increase their Customer Lifetime Value.

 

9. Improves customer service

Email automations can be easily used by your customer service team as well as marketing. Automations can be used to address frequently asked questions or resolve common issues, such as password reset requests. They improve the quality and efficiency of your customer service and reduces support costs.

 

10. Enables always-on marketing

‘Always-on marketing’ is more than just a buzz phrase. It’s the reality for how marketing needs to work today.

Because email automations can be based on real-time behaviours it makes them far more responsive and reactive than any other campaign. And it’s this timeliness that makes them both relevant and appealing to the recipient. It’s the very reason that email automations receive a far higher open rate than any other type of email campaign.

Email automations and the customer lifecycle

It’s nearly impossible to connect with every customer at each step of their journey – from prospect to customer and on to brand advocate – without email automations.

Without them you’d have to manage thousands of individual conversations and relationships simultaneously.

Some marketing wouldn’t even be possible without automation. Case in example, sending a personal discount to someone on their birthday.

Without automations your marketing team would need to send out an email every single day to everyone who was celebrating their birthday on that date. It would be an extremely time-consuming activity to carry out day in, day out.

With email automation you can appear as if you’re delivering personal emails without investing huge amounts of time on manual tasks.

You can follow the customer lifecycle with relevant and real-time messages that guides each person through their individual customer journeys. And if your customer is headed in the wrong direction, you can send an email automation to bring them back!

And don’t forget to consider what they might do offline as well as online. A good email automation strategy will be as holistic as possible to deliver a great omni-channel customer experience.

Here’s how to get started.

Mapping your customer lifecycle

A good starting point for designing an effective marketing automation strategy is to map out your customer lifecycle.

You can Google plenty of customer lifecycle examples, but ultimately your customer lifecycle is going to be unique to your business.

Mapping your customer lifecycle asks you to do two things:

  1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
  2. Chart how your customer interacts with you business

It’s important to do these together. Just because a customer has interacted with your business, doesn’t mean you should engage with them.

Your customer’s context should be your north star at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

  • What is their goal?
  • What is their mindset?
  • What emotions are they feeling?
  • What actions will they take?

Within each stage they are going to be taking a particular journey. Take for example, a person visiting a travel site for the first time.

What is their goal? They’re looking for inspiration and information on destinations for a summer holiday.
What is their mindset? They have a budget and timeframe in mind, but they haven’t made a definitive decision on where to go.
What are their emotions? Excited about the possibilities ahead of them but overwhelmed by the choice.
What actions will they take? Browse different destinations for inspiration. Open additional tabs to do research on travel blogs. Start looking into flight and hotel prices to get a rough idea of costs.

The visitor isn’t ready to buy now, so trying to push them through to purchase might be detrimental to the chances of securing their business – empathy is key.

Instead you could serve them destination guides to help support their decision-making. Being useful goes a long way.

To help you understand the marketing opportunities available throughout the customer lifecycle, here is a framework that sets out the general stages of engagement:

 

Awareness

The time a customer first becomes aware of your business They may not have had any interaction with you yet.

They may have arrived on your site via a Google search, word-of-mouth, or via an advertising campaign.

 

Evaluation

They will be trying to judge if you can meet their needs and whether you seem trustworthy.

They will start to research what you offer, looking for outside opinions of your business and comparing you to your competitors.

 

Purchase

The need is pressing. Their decision is made. They’re ready to buy but that doesn’t mean they’re over the line. They may have second thoughts, run into issues, or seek quick answers to final questions.

 

Experience

They’ve made the purchase, but your work isn’t done. With eCommerce return rates as high 30%, how you approach this stage can be make or break to your bottom line.

Now is time to set expectations, reduce buyer’s remorse and nurture the relationship.

 

Loyalty

Acquiring a new customer is up to seven times more expensive than keeping an existing one. You need to start building a lasting relationship. And while it’s nice to grab another sale from them, think about how you can add value to their experience. What can you offer that is going to keep them loyal and turn them into a brand advocate?

 

Win-back

They haven’t bought from you for a while and they’re no longer clicking on your emails. It happens but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost them for good.

Reminding lapsed customers about what you offer, or giving incentives to purchase again can rekindle the relationship.

10 examples of email automation in action

Once you have your customer lifecycle mapped, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to interact.

The starting point is likely to be an action that the customer takes:

  • Signing up to your newsletter
  • Browsing certain products
  • Adding an item to their cart

Or an particular event:

  • Their birthday
  • When their subscription is about to end
  • The end of a sale

It could also be based on a negative action or lack of interaction:

  • Abandoning their cart during checkout
  • Not opening a marketing email
  • Leaving a bad review

Once you understand the actions and events to react to, you can start to plan out what message you want to deliver.

It should be relevant and timely. But above all it should add value to the customer and your business – the best automations have a shared value.

We’ve taken the hard work out of getting started with a few practical examples of email automation in action.

CUSTOMER ACTION OR EVENT EMAIL AUTOMATION TRIGGERED BUSINESS PURPOSE
Someone signs up to your mailing list on your website A series of welcome emails
  • Encourages engagement
  • Introduces subscriber to benefits of the brand
A new subscriber doesn’t buy within a week of signing-up Introductory discount for a first purchase
  • Moves customer along buying journey
  • Increases conversions
A subscriber browses your website but add items to their basket Browse abandonment email with product recommendations or highlighting low stock levels of browsed products
  • Re-engages browsers
  • Increases conversions
Someone puts an item in their basket but doesn’t check out Cart abandonment email that gives recipients a quick way back to complete their purchase
  • Recovers lost revenue
  • Increases conversions
A customer completes a transaction Order confirmation with delivery information
  • Improves customer experience
  • Sets customer expectations
  • Reduces customer service calls
A customer receives their order Request for customer review
  • Gathers feedback
  • Increases product reviews for social proof
  • Improves customer’s post-purchase experience
A customer runs out of product or is likely to order again Replenishment email that offers a quick way to order again
  • Improves customer experience
  • Encourages repeat custom
A customer is celebrating their birthday

 

Birthday email offering a free gift or discount
  • Incentivises re-engagement
  • Increases customer loyalty
  • Increases brand affinity
Restocking of  a product that was previously out of stock  Back-in-stock alert to any customers who recently browsed the product
  • Increases qualified web traffic
  • Increases conversions
A customers fails to make a purchase after set period of time Lapsed customer campaign
  • Reminds customer of benefits of brand
  • Incentivises re-engagement before customer lapses

These are just a few starters – there are plenty more opportunities out there. But by adding these, you’ll instantly improve the customer journey and make the path-to-purchase even slicker!

These email automations don’t need to be just one-off messages either. Each email can spark a conversation made up of a series of messages that guides the customer towards your goal.

Email automatiom maturity

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GUIDE

Optimising the Customer Lifecycle with Email Automation

Introduction

Every year eConsultancy asks marketers which channel delivers the best ROI. And year after year email comes out on top.

Despite this, email marketing still sees itself under-resourced and with less budget than other marketing channels.

Source: eConsultancy

Econsultancy also revealed that email marketing receives only 10% of digital marketing budget, coming behind advertising, search marketing, content, website and social.

For email marketers looking to expand the scope and success of their programs, automation is an obvious step to take. It promises big results for small teams.

Email automation saves time, improves results, and allows you to reach your customers at the right time with the right message. Sounds great right?

But automation still remains an untapped opportunity for most businesses. Our pals at Econsultancy found that nearly half of businesses they surveyed have yet to implement marketing automation. Of those who are using marketing automation, 26% have only one email automation programmes running. And 32% have zero!

Businesses around the world are paying for technology that they’re not even using.

We want to change that.

In this guide we break down email automation into clear and actionable advice.

We’ll talk you through what email automation is and explain the benefits. And we’ll even give you examples of how you can put email automation into use yourself.

What is email automation?

Email automation offers marketers the ability to send automatic, real-time messages to a subscriber based on their actions or circumstances.

Automation can be triggered by a website visit, a purchase, engagement with email campaigns, or particular actions a customer has taken.

You might already be familiar with basic email marketing automations without necessarily knowing it.

Welcome emails sent after sign-up and a cart abandonment email triggered when you fail to complete a purchase are examples of email automation in action.  Unlike newsletters or one-off email marketing campaigns, the sender doesn’t need to manage each send. They’re simply set up once, left to run and are automatically sent, every time.

What are the benefits of email automation?

The most obvious benefit is efficiency. Marketers don’t need to do a thing once the automation message is designed and set up for the first time. This frees up time and resource to let marketers focus on building an ongoing relationship with the customer, with minimal effort.

Email automation provides a real benefit for the customer too. It gives instant gratification, immediate answers and guides them along their customer journey. And done well, it appears to be a completely natural and helpful one-to-one dialogue with the customer.

And don’t just take our word for it – the numbers stack up too:

But in case you need any more convincing, here are a few more reasons why email automation makes sense.

10 benefits of email automation

1. Improve your customer experience

Email automations are tailored, relevant and personalised messages that are sent to individual recipients. And just because they’re automated doesn’t mean they’re impersonal.

Used hand-in-hand with personalisation, behavioural triggered emails allow you to create a highly individualised customer experience.

 

2. Increases scale and scope of campaigns

At some point email marketers often become victims of their own success. They’re asked to send more messages and continually develop their campaigns which puts a strain on resource.

Email automations help build capacity without extra headcount. And because they’re automated there’s no need for major ongoing management, setup and design work.

 

3. Improves the relevancy of marketing

There are so many conversations you could have with your customers using email automations and you don’t have to wait until they contact you to start a dialogue.

As automations are generally based on your customer’s actions, your messages always appear relevant to the recipient.

 

4. Allows for strategic thinking

Email automations can replace the repetitive tasks of setting up and sending the same campaigns manually. This frees up resource, allowing your marketers to focus on other activities that will acquire and retain customers.

 

5. Improves insight

Email automation software comes with detailed reporting which lets you see the results of every automation. It‘s real-time insight that shows how recipients react, engage and respond to each marketing message. Most importantly, this type of insight lets you instantly identify which campaigns are the most powerful in your toolkit.

 

6. Increases repeat purchases

It’s easy to include automated product recommendations as part of a post-purchase journey. Cross-sell and upsell automation based on recent purchases can help you drive additional sales from each transaction.

 

7. Recovers lost revenue

Cart abandonment emails are a great example of email automations that help generate noticeable revenue. They tempt people back to your website by encouraging them to complete their transaction. It’s well worth the effort – our customers typically see a 12% uplift in sales that would otherwise be lost!

 

8. Increases Customer Lifetime Value

Email automations allow you to automate requests for customer reviews, send offers to high-spending segments and trigger re-engagement campaigns to lapsed subscribers. These tactics all strengthen your relationship with your customers post-purchase and help increase their Customer Lifetime Value.

 

9. Improves customer service

Email automations can be easily used by your customer service team as well as marketing. Automations can be used to address frequently asked questions or resolve common issues, such as password reset requests. They improve the quality and efficiency of your customer service and reduces support costs.

 

10. Enables always-on marketing

‘Always-on marketing’ is more than just a buzz phrase. It’s the reality for how marketing needs to work today.

Because email automations can be based on real-time behaviours it makes them far more responsive and reactive than any other campaign. And it’s this timeliness that makes them both relevant and appealing to the recipient. It’s the very reason that email automations receive a far higher open rate than any other type of email campaign.

Email automations and the customer lifecycle

It’s nearly impossible to connect with every customer at each step of their journey – from prospect to customer and on to brand advocate – without email automations.

Without them you’d have to manage thousands of individual conversations and relationships simultaneously.

Some marketing wouldn’t even be possible without automation. Case in example, sending a personal discount to someone on their birthday.

Without automations your marketing team would need to send out an email every single day to everyone who was celebrating their birthday on that date. It would be an extremely time-consuming activity to carry out day in, day out.

With email automation you can appear as if you’re delivering personal emails without investing huge amounts of time on manual tasks.

You can follow the customer lifecycle with relevant and real-time messages that guides each person through their individual customer journeys. And if your customer is headed in the wrong direction, you can send an email automation to bring them back!

And don’t forget to consider what they might do offline as well as online. A good email automation strategy will be as holistic as possible to deliver a great omni-channel customer experience.

Here’s how to get started.

Mapping your customer lifecycle

A good starting point for designing an effective marketing automation strategy is to map out your customer lifecycle.

You can Google plenty of customer lifecycle examples, but ultimately your customer lifecycle is going to be unique to your business.

Mapping your customer lifecycle asks you to do two things:

  1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
  2. Chart how your customer interacts with you business

It’s important to do these together. Just because a customer has interacted with your business, doesn’t mean you should engage with them.

Your customer’s context should be your north star at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

  • What is their goal?
  • What is their mindset?
  • What emotions are they feeling?
  • What actions will they take?

Within each stage they are going to be taking a particular journey. Take for example, a person visiting a travel site for the first time.

What is their goal? They’re looking for inspiration and information on destinations for a summer holiday.
What is their mindset? They have a budget and timeframe in mind, but they haven’t made a definitive decision on where to go.
What are their emotions? Excited about the possibilities ahead of them but overwhelmed by the choice.
What actions will they take? Browse different destinations for inspiration. Open additional tabs to do research on travel blogs. Start looking into flight and hotel prices to get a rough idea of costs.

The visitor isn’t ready to buy now, so trying to push them through to purchase might be detrimental to the chances of securing their business – empathy is key.

Instead you could serve them destination guides to help support their decision-making. Being useful goes a long way.

To help you understand the marketing opportunities available throughout the customer lifecycle, here is a framework that sets out the general stages of engagement:

 

Awareness

The time a customer first becomes aware of your business They may not have had any interaction with you yet.

They may have arrived on your site via a Google search, word-of-mouth, or via an advertising campaign.

 

Evaluation

They will be trying to judge if you can meet their needs and whether you seem trustworthy.

They will start to research what you offer, looking for outside opinions of your business and comparing you to your competitors.

 

Purchase

The need is pressing. Their decision is made. They’re ready to buy but that doesn’t mean they’re over the line. They may have second thoughts, run into issues, or seek quick answers to final questions.

 

Experience

They’ve made the purchase, but your work isn’t done. With eCommerce return rates as high 30%, how you approach this stage can be make or break to your bottom line.

Now is time to set expectations, reduce buyer’s remorse and nurture the relationship.

 

Loyalty

Acquiring a new customer is up to seven times more expensive than keeping an existing one. You need to start building a lasting relationship. And while it’s nice to grab another sale from them, think about how you can add value to their experience. What can you offer that is going to keep them loyal and turn them into a brand advocate?

 

Win-back

They haven’t bought from you for a while and they’re no longer clicking on your emails. It happens but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost them for good.

Reminding lapsed customers about what you offer, or giving incentives to purchase again can rekindle the relationship.

10 examples of email automation in action

Once you have your customer lifecycle mapped, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to interact.

The starting point is likely to be an action that the customer takes:

  • Signing up to your newsletter
  • Browsing certain products
  • Adding an item to their cart

Or an particular event:

  • Their birthday
  • When their subscription is about to end
  • The end of a sale

It could also be based on a negative action or lack of interaction:

  • Abandoning their cart during checkout
  • Not opening a marketing email
  • Leaving a bad review

Once you understand the actions and events to react to, you can start to plan out what message you want to deliver.

It should be relevant and timely. But above all it should add value to the customer and your business – the best automations have a shared value.

We’ve taken the hard work out of getting started with a few practical examples of email automation in action.

CUSTOMER ACTION OR EVENT EMAIL AUTOMATION TRIGGERED BUSINESS PURPOSE
Someone signs up to your mailing list on your website A series of welcome emails
  • Encourages engagement
  • Introduces subscriber to benefits of the brand
A new subscriber doesn’t buy within a week of signing-up Introductory discount for a first purchase
  • Moves customer along buying journey
  • Increases conversions
A subscriber browses your website but add items to their basket Browse abandonment email with product recommendations or highlighting low stock levels of browsed products
  • Re-engages browsers
  • Increases conversions
Someone puts an item in their basket but doesn’t check out Cart abandonment email that gives recipients a quick way back to complete their purchase
  • Recovers lost revenue
  • Increases conversions
A customer completes a transaction Order confirmation with delivery information
  • Improves customer experience
  • Sets customer expectations
  • Reduces customer service calls
A customer receives their order Request for customer review
  • Gathers feedback
  • Increases product reviews for social proof
  • Improves customer’s post-purchase experience
A customer runs out of product or is likely to order again Replenishment email that offers a quick way to order again
  • Improves customer experience
  • Encourages repeat custom
A customer is celebrating their birthday

 

Birthday email offering a free gift or discount
  • Incentivises re-engagement
  • Increases customer loyalty
  • Increases brand affinity
Restocking of  a product that was previously out of stock  Back-in-stock alert to any customers who recently browsed the product
  • Increases qualified web traffic
  • Increases conversions
A customers fails to make a purchase after set period of time Lapsed customer campaign
  • Reminds customer of benefits of brand
  • Incentivises re-engagement before customer lapses

These are just a few starters – there are plenty more opportunities out there. But by adding these, you’ll instantly improve the customer journey and make the path-to-purchase even slicker!

These email automations don’t need to be just one-off messages either. Each email can spark a conversation made up of a series of messages that guides the customer towards your goal.

Email automatiom maturity

It can be tempting to go wild with email automations thinking that more equals better. And while the most sophisticated email automation programs are both broad and deep, it’s important to take an iterative approach focusing on incremental improvements.

Simply adding more and more automations may be detrimental to your customer lifecycle.

Our Email Maturity Model is designed to help you to identify appropriate automation strategies based on your level of sophistication .

By identifying which stage of Maturity you are at, you can follow advice to implement appropriate tactics, and look ahead to improve your automation strategy.

Broadcaster

The Broadcaster can easily incorporate the basics of automation into their ‘one message fits all’ broadcast approach. These starter automations will make your existing campaigns work harder and make your team more efficient

Common challenges:

  • Not sure where to get started.
  • Lack of resource to set-up or manage automations.
  • Inability to measure success of automations.

Recommendations:

  • Try automatically resending existing campaigns to non-openers with a different subject line or at a different time and monitor the results. The effort will be less than setting-up a new campaign.
  • Focus on basic automations that respond to a single action. Set up automated operational emails to start building trust with your customers. These could include a welcome email, purchase confirmation, password reminders or delivery confirmation.
  • Offer incentives and rewards on automated emails so you can track your results such as a discount code on a welcome email.

Segmenter

The Segmenter knows that multiple conversations need to be happening at once with different segments. Automation is the perfect tool to manage this, allowing you to send messages that coincide with the purchase journeys of your different customers with minimal effort.

Common challenges:

  • Technical setup of multiple automated messages can be time and resource hungry.
  • Ensuring that multiple automations aren’t being triggered in quick succession causing you to bombard a recipient’s inbox.
  • Identifying when your customers’ propensity to purchase is at the highest.
  • Building a complete library of automations that form a complete ‘customer lifecycle’.
  • Making sure automations can be monitored and that customers can feedback to automated emails.

Recommendations:

  • Move towards automations that nurture rather than responding with to an email. For example, creating a series of welcome emails that move subscriber through the buying journey.
  • Implement cart abandonment emails that can be delivered as soon as a visitors leaves your website without completing a purchase.
  • Introduce date-based automations such as birthday and customer anniversary emails.
  • Invite the customer to sign-up for automations on your website. Simple forms such as ‘back-in-stock’ or ‘appointment reminders’ give customers control over what receive.
  • Use automations to engage customers who aren’t responding to your marketing emails or haven’t made a purchase in a while.
  • Use automations to move up into higher value RFM (Recency, Frequency and Monetary) segments. For example ‘You’re only one purchase away from a free gift’ may help trigger another purchase.

Recommender

The Recommender shapes behaviour rather than simply reacting. They use automations to enhance the entire customer journey and deliver noticeable impact on revenue and retention.

Common challenges:

  • Shifting reporting from measuring engagement to measuring business KPIs such as average order values and Customer Lifetime Value.
  • Future-proofing your automations – making sure the systems you are using can deal with multiple and complex automations, and the logic required to run them.
  • Prioritising automations – determining which messages should override less important automations.
  • Testing and optimisation of existing automations to improves results.

Recommendations:

  • Purchase automations that upsell and cross-sell relevant products based on most recently purchased items.
  • Browse abandonment campaigns that target people earlier in the buying journey.
  • Focus on great customer service. Use automations to quickly respond to customers if you receive a bad review, or use automations within your company to notify customer services teams when bad reviews are received.
  • Replenishment campaigns tied to the lifespan of a product to encourage repeat purchases.
  • Multi-stage renewal campaigns that secures repeat business as a subscription renewal date approaches.

Predictor

The Predictor enjoys having a wealth of online and offline data at their fingertips and the systems in place to execute sophisticated customer lifecycles. Their single customer view allows them to create instant automations that can be sent whenever and wherever their customers interact, creating a seamless real-time customer experience.

Potential challenges:

  • Too many automations can make ongoing management and reporting time-consuming.
  • Overly complex journeys can have a detrimental affect on your customer experience and lead to mishaps.
  • Making small changes can have a big knock-on effect on your overall customer lifecycle.
  • Integrating new data sources and channels into your automation strategy.

Recommendations:

  • Adopt a multi-channel approach to lifecycle automation including SMS, push notifications and direct mail.
  • Continue to monitor customer engagement for issues – more emails doesn’t necessarily mean a better experience.
  • Refresh automations regularly. If you have highly engaged repeat purchasers, they’ll soon start to recognise receiving the same automations and you’ll quickly lose their interest.
  • Go back to basics. If you’re automations feel overly complicated, refer to your customer journey maps to make sure you’re considering the customer’s context and adding value.
  • Bring brand personality and evoke emotions with automations. They don’t need to feel cold and operational just because they’re automated.
travel-social-proof

Being able to stay one step ahead and make relevant recommendations in real-time will give you a massive advantage during the highly competitive research stage.

 

2. Behavioural targeting

It’s unlikely that potential customers are going to move through the entire buying process in one go.

Behavioral triggered emails based on browsing history help your brand stay present within the mind and support your prospect’s path to purchase.

These could include destination guides to get them excited about the places they have recently viewed. Or alerts to let them know a hotel they were considering is filling up.

They also allow you to steal a march on the competition. Don’t just wait for a prospect to pick up their research again and hope that you’re part of their consideration.  Behavioural emails allow you to claim exclusivity of the entire research phase.

 

3. Booking abandonment recovery

Basket abandonment is a big issue in eCommerce. As many as 70% of baskets are abandoned.

The stats are even more bleak in the travel industry with 82% of people dropping out before they complete a booking.

This is even more damning when you consider the difference in buying behaviour between retail and travel. In retail it’s not uncommon for abandonment to be caused by a loss of intent – do you really need that extra pair of expensive trainers?

In travel, purchase intent doesn’t just evaporate. If someone has decided to go on holiday, the chances are they’ll end up booking a holiday. Those 82% of people who abandon bookings aren’t just scrapping their holiday plans altogether. They’re going to your competitors!

Booking abandonment emails are a must-have for every travel brand. They invite potential customers back to complete the bookings they dropped out of.

When should you send them? As soon as possible!

Research by Forrester showed that 90% of abandoned baskets go cold within an hour.

And in travel it’s likely that a prospect who abandons a booking might still be active in their purchase journey – doing further researching, hunting down deals, or comparing prices.

This is a key time to act and get that prospect back on track.

Letting them know their quoted price will only be held for a limited time creates urgency to buy. Adding a countdown timer will ramp this sense of urgency up and increase conversion rates.

 

4. Personalised promotions and dynamic content

Amazon has long been considered king of personalisation. And for good reason. The brand invested heavily in personalisation since the very beginning.

All the way back in 1998, Jeff Bezos laid out his vision for how personalisation would transform the web. He said:

“If we have 4.5 million customers, we shouldn’t have one store. We should have 4.5 million stores.”

Amazon has a lot more than 4.5 million customer today. And it also carries A LOT more products. Over 12 million products to be exact.

Trying to translate that wealth of choice into a one-size-fits-all website experience would be near impossible. Instead Amazon translates what it knows about each customer into a personalised experience from the moment they hit the Amazon homepage.

Makes sense, right?

Yet many brands are still offering the same homepage experience to every visitor.

Personalising what you show each person on your homepage is an effective way to grab their attention across the path to purchase.

As the travel purchase journey is a long one, having a personalised homepage is a real advantage. It allows you to quickly re-immerse customers in trips they have already looked at, helping them move closer to buying.

You can also surface relevant deals and promotions based on past trips to help you secure repeat bookings.

And you can get really clever with it.

Say you were running a ‘cheap flights to Orlando’ promotion. You might identify a several target demographics for this promotion.

  • The young family who want to meet Mickey Mouse
  • The thrill seekers who want to be hurtled around a rollercoaster at 80mph
  • The couple looking who are looking to grab some winter sun on a relaxing beach break

Rather than using the same content for everyone, you can instead adapt your creative to reflect each persona:

  • The young family are shown the Magic Kingdom
  • The thrillseekers are shown Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • The couple are told that Cocoa Beach is only a one hour drive from Orlando
Young family
Thrillseekers
Couple

5. Weather-based personalisation

Weather plays a huge role in when and where we choose to go on holiday. For this reason, weather-based personalisation is an excellent tactic for travel brands.

Personalisation technology, like our own, can use location-specific weather data to determine what content is shown on your website and within your email marketing.

It may sound gimmicky, but the weather has a profound impact on buying behaviour.

According to research by The Weather Channel, the weather affects consumers in three ways. Changes in the weather may cause consumers to:

  • postpone or bring forward planned purchases
  • buy (or not buy) a product immediately because of an immediate need
  • substitute the purchase of one product or service for another

Another study found that even major purchases like car and houses are affected by weather.

Consumers overvalue warm-weather features of cars and houses when it’s warm, and vice versa when it’s cold. So if you’re house hunting in winter, you may find yourself tempted by the cosy house with the wood burning stove!

The same can be true for travel and there are many tactics you can use:

  • Promote last minute beach breaks on your homepage during a rainy day in August
  • Show the real-time weather data in the locations your visitors are researching
  • Send triggered emails during a downpour to give your summer holidays ultra-relevancy
  • Offer weather specific discounts to tempt people to book

Beyond maximising for conversions, you can also start to create deeper experiences using weather data.

How you engage with customers in the period leading up to their holiday can leave a lasting impression.

For example:

  • Making suggestions of what to pack based on forthcoming weather forecasts
  • Sending alerts if there are weather risks that might delay their trip to the airport
  • Recommending things to do based on the weather – e.g. museums if rain is expected

 

6. Scarcity and urgency

Travel brands are constantly working against the clock.

Occupancy means that there’s only going to be a limited supply of what travel brands have to sell. Hotels only have so many rooms. Flights have a set number of seats.

The travel marketer is always going to look to drive maximum occupancy, even if that means slashing prices. If a flight leaves half full, that’s a lot of lost revenue disappearing into the clouds.

But it’s important to bear in mind that lower rates don’t create demand. They can set the wrong expectations and harm your price integrity.

Occupancy can be used to the advantage of the travel marketer. Consumers know that there’s only a certain number of rooms or flight available to them. If they have their mind set on a certain location on a certain date, then they’re more likely to make a booking if they think they might miss out.

Personalisation allows you to play off dynamic content by showing them the real-time behaviour of other browsers. This works in two ways:

  1. It helps them justify their choice by showing them it is a popular one
  2. It triggers their fear of missing out, which creates urgency to buy

A hotel brand could drive urgency by highlighting:

  • The number of people that are browsing the dates they’re looking at
  • How many bookings have been made in the last 24 hours
  • How many rooms are left overall, or at that particular price

You don’t have to limit these tactics to a single session. You could retarget the visitor via email to let them know how many people have recently booked on the dates they were interested in.

 

7. Post-purchase personalisation

Post-purchase marketing is often neglected, but in travel what you do after a booking can have a profound impact on revenue and loyalty.

Upselling and cross-selling is often viewed as a dirty tactic in travel. Trying to squeeze more out of customer by selling upgrades or flogging partner products.

But done right, it can actually add value.

80% of people find it helpful to be able to book all travel elements on one website. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to book everything in one go.

Personalised post-purchase emails journeys are an effective way to make sure your cross-sell and upsells are relevant and timely.

Beyond driving up additional revenue, post-purchase marketing is your opportunity to start building loyalty. The more you can personalise your communications with customers, the better chance you have of securing repeat business.

Think about how the customer journey works beyond the booking.

What do they need to know in the lead up? How can you help them prepare? What do similar people like to do on their holiday?

If you know it’s a family booking, you could recommend kid friendly activities or restaurants.

Or if someone has booked a five star hotel, recommend fine-dining restaurants nearby.

If you customer has also rented a car, let them know about the best day trips.

When done right, personalisation allows your brand to become a concierge – one that puts the customer’s needs before its own.

Conclusion

Personalisation in travel is not new, but in the age of experiential travel, it is increasingly relevant.

As consumer expectations rise, using personalisation to enhance the moments that matter is a smart way to meet them.

Personalisation also helps travel brands make sense of customer journeys which span multiple devices and multiple sessions over-extended periods. It helps them stand out and be proactive at the moments that matter.

The over-reliance on indirect bookings means that travel brands are at risk of losing more direct revenue. Personalisation gives customers a reason to keep coming back and helps travel brands break free from the pack.

Ready to personalise your customer experience?

Learn how our personalisation platform will help you drive more revenue and increase loyalty.

See Pure360 in action by booking your demo.

Seven ways personalisation transforms the travel customer experience

In this section, we equip you with seven tactics you can use to personalise your customer experience.

 

1. Personalised recommendations

Being able to make relevant recommendations is key to effective travel marketing. That applies to winning new customers and securing repeat business.

Yet there are so many factors that will influence what is relevant for each individual.

  • Are they travelling for business or leisure?
  • Are they looking for a beach holiday or a city break?
  • Do they have a destination in mind or are they open to inspiration?
  • Do they have set dates or are they flexible?
  • What is their budget?

Given the choice available and the variables that influence buying decisions, making relevant recommendations using just segmentation is impossible.

It’s a headache that needs to be solved by personalisation.

Recommendation technology has come a long way in recent years. Machine learning can analyse all types of data to ensure the right recommendations are shown for each individual.

From the moment a visitor hits your website, they’re going give off all kinds of signals about what they’re in the market for. Browsing behaviour, where they went on previous holidays, demographics, location – all of this can inform what is recommended to each individual.

travel-social-proof

Being able to stay one step ahead and make relevant recommendations in real-time will give you a massive advantage during the highly competitive research stage.

 

2. Behavioural targeting

It’s unlikely that potential customers are going to move through the entire buying process in one go.

Behavioral triggered emails based on browsing history help your brand stay present within the mind and support your prospect’s path to purchase.

These could include destination guides to get them excited about the places they have recently viewed. Or alerts to let them know a hotel they were considering is filling up.

They also allow you to steal a march on the competition. Don’t just wait for a prospect to pick up their research again and hope that you’re part of their consideration.  Behavioural emails allow you to claim exclusivity of the entire research phase.

 

3. Booking abandonment recovery

Basket abandonment is a big issue in eCommerce. As many as 70% of baskets are abandoned.

The stats are even more bleak in the travel industry with 82% of people dropping out before they complete a booking.

This is even more damning when you consider the difference in buying behaviour between retail and travel. In retail it’s not uncommon for abandonment to be caused by a loss of intent – do you really need that extra pair of expensive trainers?

In travel, purchase intent doesn’t just evaporate. If someone has decided to go on holiday, the chances are they’ll end up booking a holiday. Those 82% of people who abandon bookings aren’t just scrapping their holiday plans altogether. They’re going to your competitors!

Booking abandonment emails are a must-have for every travel brand. They invite potential customers back to complete the bookings they dropped out of.

When should you send them? As soon as possible!

Research by Forrester showed that 90% of abandoned baskets go cold within an hour.

And in travel it’s likely that a prospect who abandons a booking might still be active in their purchase journey – doing further researching, hunting down deals, or comparing prices.

This is a key time to act and get that prospect back on track.

Letting them know their quoted price will only be held for a limited time creates urgency to buy. Adding a countdown timer will ramp this sense of urgency up and increase conversion rates.

 

4. Personalised promotions and dynamic content

Amazon has long been considered king of personalisation. And for good reason. The brand invested heavily in personalisation since the very beginning.

All the way back in 1998, Jeff Bezos laid out his vision for how personalisation would transform the web. He said:

“If we have 4.5 million customers, we shouldn’t have one store. We should have 4.5 million stores.”

Amazon has a lot more than 4.5 million customer today. And it also carries A LOT more products. Over 12 million products to be exact.

Trying to translate that wealth of choice into a one-size-fits-all website experience would be near impossible. Instead Amazon translates what it knows about each customer into a personalised experience from the moment they hit the Amazon homepage.

Makes sense, right?

Yet many brands are still offering the same homepage experience to every visitor.

Personalising what you show each person on your homepage is an effective way to grab their attention across the path to purchase.

As the travel purchase journey is a long one, having a personalised homepage is a real advantage. It allows you to quickly re-immerse customers in trips they have already looked at, helping them move closer to buying.

You can also surface relevant deals and promotions based on past trips to help you secure repeat bookings.

And you can get really clever with it.

Say you were running a ‘cheap flights to Orlando’ promotion. You might identify a several target demographics for this promotion.

  • The young family who want to meet Mickey Mouse
  • The thrill seekers who want to be hurtled around a rollercoaster at 80mph
  • The couple looking who are looking to grab some winter sun on a relaxing beach break

Rather than using the same content for everyone, you can instead adapt your creative to reflect each persona:

  • The young family are shown the Magic Kingdom
  • The thrillseekers are shown Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • The couple are told that Cocoa Beach is only a one hour drive from Orlando
Young family
Thrillseekers
Couple

5. Weather-based personalisation

Weather plays a huge role in when and where we choose to go on holiday. For this reason, weather-based personalisation is an excellent tactic for travel brands.

Personalisation technology, like our own, can use location-specific weather data to determine what content is shown on your website and within your email marketing.

It may sound gimmicky, but the weather has a profound impact on buying behaviour.

According to research by The Weather Channel, the weather affects consumers in three ways. Changes in the weather may cause consumers to:

  • postpone or bring forward planned purchases
  • buy (or not buy) a product immediately because of an immediate need
  • substitute the purchase of one product or service for another

Another study found that even major purchases like car and houses are affected by weather.

Consumers overvalue warm-weather features of cars and houses when it’s warm, and vice versa when it’s cold. So if you’re house hunting in winter, you may find yourself tempted by the cosy house with the wood burning stove!

The same can be true for travel and there are many tactics you can use:

  • Promote last minute beach breaks on your homepage during a rainy day in August
  • Show the real-time weather data in the locations your visitors are researching
  • Send triggered emails during a downpour to give your summer holidays ultra-relevancy
  • Offer weather specific discounts to tempt people to book

Beyond maximising for conversions, you can also start to create deeper experiences using weather data.

How you engage with customers in the period leading up to their holiday can leave a lasting impression.

For example:

  • Making suggestions of what to pack based on forthcoming weather forecasts
  • Sending alerts if there are weather risks that might delay their trip to the airport
  • Recommending things to do based on the weather – e.g. museums if rain is expected

 

6. Scarcity and urgency

Travel brands are constantly working against the clock.

Occupancy means that there’s only going to be a limited supply of what travel brands have to sell. Hotels only have so many rooms. Flights have a set number of seats.

The travel marketer is always going to look to drive maximum occupancy, even if that means slashing prices. If a flight leaves half full, that’s a lot of lost revenue disappearing into the clouds.

But it’s important to bear in mind that lower rates don’t create demand. They can set the wrong expectations and harm your price integrity.

Occupancy can be used to the advantage of the travel marketer. Consumers know that there’s only a certain number of rooms or flight available to them. If they have their mind set on a certain location on a certain date, then they’re more likely to make a booking if they think they might miss out.

Personalisation allows you to play off dynamic content by showing them the real-time behaviour of other browsers. This works in two ways:

  1. It helps them justify their choice by showing them it is a popular one
  2. It triggers their fear of missing out, which creates urgency to buy

A hotel brand could drive urgency by highlighting:

  • The number of people that are browsing the dates they’re looking at
  • How many bookings have been made in the last 24 hours
  • How many rooms are left overall, or at that particular price

You don’t have to limit these tactics to a single session. You could retarget the visitor via email to let them know how many people have recently booked on the dates they were interested in.

 

7. Post-purchase personalisation

Post-purchase marketing is often neglected, but in travel what you do after a booking can have a profound impact on revenue and loyalty.

Upselling and cross-selling is often viewed as a dirty tactic in travel. Trying to squeeze more out of customer by selling upgrades or flogging partner products.

But done right, it can actually add value.

80% of people find it helpful to be able to book all travel elements on one website. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to book everything in one go.

Personalised post-purchase emails journeys are an effective way to make sure your cross-sell and upsells are relevant and timely.

Beyond driving up additional revenue, post-purchase marketing is your opportunity to start building loyalty. The more you can personalise your communications with customers, the better chance you have of securing repeat business.

Think about how the customer journey works beyond the booking.

What do they need to know in the lead up? How can you help them prepare? What do similar people like to do on their holiday?

If you know it’s a family booking, you could recommend kid friendly activities or restaurants.

Or if someone has booked a five star hotel, recommend fine-dining restaurants nearby.

If you customer has also rented a car, let them know about the best day trips.

When done right, personalisation allows your brand to become a concierge – one that puts the customer’s needs before its own.

Conclusion

Personalisation in travel is not new, but in the age of experiential travel, it is increasingly relevant.

As consumer expectations rise, using personalisation to enhance the moments that matter is a smart way to meet them.

Personalisation also helps travel brands make sense of customer journeys which span multiple devices and multiple sessions over-extended periods. It helps them stand out and be proactive at the moments that matter.

The over-reliance on indirect bookings means that travel brands are at risk of losing more direct revenue. Personalisation gives customers a reason to keep coming back and helps travel brands break free from the pack.

Ready to personalise your customer experience?

Learn how our personalisation platform will help you drive more revenue and increase loyalty.

See Pure360 in action by booking your demo.

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