If you don’t already know, I love MailChimp. I’ve always been a huge advocate of the product, partly because I’ve seen it’s evolution over the years. The company is self-funded, customer focused and tailored for small to medium size businesses in the market. For someone like myself, who did not know anything about front-end development or digital marketing, it was intuitive and fun. What’s more, as my skills improved, I was able to unlock more robust features MailChimp enables through their platform.

When you’re looking to use a tool like MailChimp, you must ask yourself: “what kind of message would I like to send to my customers based on some kind of behavior?” You can easily send batch emails to your customers and segment the message along the way. However, the true power of email marketing is the ability to automate personalized messages to customers in a targeted fashion. For someone like me, who runs multiple businesses and want’s to incrementally improve the performance of marketing channels, automation is critical.

Determine the kinds of messages you’ll want to send

Before you begin building your email automation strategy, you’re going to want to know what functionalities your Email Service Provider (ESP) supports with ease. MailChimp has a slew of pre-built automation flows as well as custom flows to help your business support unique needs. For the most part, every email automation strategy should have the following:

  1. Onboarding Series
  2. First Purchase Thak You Series
  3. Product Review Series
  4. Customer Churn Series
  5. Abandon Cart Series

These email automation programs are fairly easy to do so long as you have E-Commerce Integrations setup. I’ll walk through each one and what to look for. These email programs can be changed according to what your business needs.

Onboarding Series

Your onboarding series should do a few things. First, it should greet the customer immediately after signing up and give them an idea of what your product or service can do. If you find that the customer has not completed a desirable action after a few days, you can send several other emails that slowly nudge them in the direction you want. For instance, my families business has a 6-part onboarding series. The first three inform the customer about our brand, products and customer reviews. The remaining three, assuming the customer has not made a purchase, incentivizes the customer to make a purchase with the use of promo codes. We find that this is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase adoption from a pool of prospects.

First Purchase Thank You Series

When a customer makes a purchase at your store, they are indirectly voting for your brand with their trust. As a business owner, this is a very humbling gesture that should never be taken for granted. So how could you show your appreciation at scale? You guessed it: email automation.

You’re going to want to set up an automation program that triggers some days after the customer makes their first purchase. Normally, you’ll have the CEO write a thoughtful thank you note with very little imagery or fluff. We employ this at RogerXimenez.com, where my father wrote a concise note thanking the customer for their business. If you want to go the extra mile, set up another email series for customers who make their second purchase and thank them again for their repeat purchase—extend a hand by inviting them to tell others about our brand and feel free to reach out if they have any questions at all.

Product Review Series

One of the most important features of an E-Commerce store and to the minds of customers are product reviews. Customers want to know what other customers think of your product. Balancing the timing of your thank you series & product review series is key here. Ideally, you’ll want to target a customer every time they make a purchase but only when they’ve experienced the product. If you can reliably determine the time at which a customer will receive a product, you can automate this product review process. For E-Commerce stores, this means triggering the email after shipment most times. Without a doubt, this has been the #1 way in which we’ve been able to garner our product reviews.

Customer Churn Series

It is a known that it is more costly to acquire a new customer than convert an existing customer. For these reasons, businesses most put retention programs in place in order to keep existing customers engaged. When a customer no longer engages with your products or service, it is commonly referred to as churn. Retaining customers will not only help you keep a healthy, active audience but it will also improve your revenue projections over time.

For this series, you’ll want to determine the appropriate time delay in the last purchase to re-engage with customers. This time delay will be different for every business. It can be 14-days for recurring purchases like foods or supplies. It can be months for luxury goods and travel. Ensure that you base this process on your customer purchasing behaviour.

We employ a customer churn series after 3 months, as new products inevitably enter our eco-system and fashion trends shift. What’s more, our churn series programmatically engages the customer once a month after the initial send up to 6 months until the customer makes a purchase once more. After that, the series will reset for that given customer.

Abandon Cart Series

Most of your customers are abandoning their shopping cart. No, it’s nothing to do with your product or service not meeting their expectations. It’s simply a natural set of behaviours customers follow. They will investigate products, add them to cart and either get distracted or leave because they’re not ready at that time to make a purchase. These customers are of high-value, given that they’ve explicitly shown interest in your products or service.

Assuming you’ve integrated MailChimp with E-Commerce platforms like Shopify, you should be able to do this with ease. If you have another platform, you’ll want to get some developers to help integrate into MailChimp.

Our abandon cart program sends 1-hour after abandonment. What’s more, we have a followup abandon cart email that sends 24-hours after the initial abandonment if the customer does not make a purchase within that timeframe. The second email contains a promo code and information on similar products. This is definitely a powerful marketing tool.

Final Thoughts About MailChimp

I’ve been using MailChimp for over 7 years now and will always refer to their platform as the be all end all of small to medium size business marketing automation. You simply cannot beat the features, experience, and price of their platform when compared to other providers like Bronto, Responsys, ExactTarget and Marketo.