One of the many things that WordPress excels at is eCommerce. There are lots of really great eCommerce plugins out there that not only make it easy to set up an online store, but can also be easily extended and customized in a lot of interesting ways.
One of the most important ways to extend your eCommerce plugin is through marketing automation. Marketing automation is a powerful strategy that companies like Amazon have perfected to increase sales. This strategy encompasses everything from upsales and recommended products, to emails with bonus deals, additional information, and more product recommendations.
While this may sound complicated, there are a lot of great tools out there that make marketing automation fairly easy. In this article, I’m going to focus on solutions for Easy Digital Downloads—the WordPress eCommerce platform that I am familiar with. If you use a different eCommerce plugin, there’s most likely a similar solution for you, I just can’t say with any expertise what it is.
Marketing automation can be boiled down to working on one of two principles. The first principle is that most sales require multiple interactions with a customer. To create repeat exposure to your product, you need to use emails and incentives to keep your product fresh in the mind of potential customers and ultimately bring them back to your site to make a purchase. The other principle is that people have a difficult time passing up a bargain. This is where customer loyalty programs, upsales, and special bonus offers come into play.
Start with Analytics
It is very important to track the success and failure of all aspects of the different types of marketing that you do. Google Analytics, with eCommerce tracking enabled, is an excellent tool for this if you have your eCommerce plugin set to send all the necessary events. If you do, you will be able to track where your sales are coming from. In other words, not just look at numbers for site visitors, but see your conversion rate, by channel.
The EDD Enhanced eCommerce Tracking plugin from Shop Plugins is an easy-to-setup tool that ensures that the correct data is sent to Google Analytics. With this in place, you not only see where your traffic comes from, but where your sales come from as well.
There is also an EDD User History add-on by Brian Richards. This plugin adds information about a user’s path-to-purchase and payment history. It shows the referring site, and then every page on your site that a user visited, with time spent on each page.
I use both plugins, but I prefer using the more global view provided by EDD Enhanced eCommerce Tracking, over the more customer-centric view provided by EDD User History add-on.
A great way to both encourage sales and get added value from a sale is the EDD Social Discount add-on by Andrew Munro. This plugin gives potential customers a discount in exchange for a social share.
Not only does it give them an extra incentive to purchase, but it turns their purchase, or even an aborted purchase, into free marketing for your product. It is one of those great ways to get value by providing value, all while increasing your sales.
If you’ve ever been to the Easy Digital Downloads site, you will notice that they do a great job of showing you when a product you have selected is part of a bundle. This type of “upselling” shows potential customers how they can save by spending more. The extra value gives them an incentive to make a larger purchase.
This upselling is powered by the Cross Sell and Upsell add-on, which was also created by Andrew Munro. In addition to upselling, it also provides suggestions for similar products that someone might also be interested in.
One frustrating part about eCommerce is shopping cart abandonment. This is a problem that you need to address in your site design. Although this may minimize the issue, however, keep in mind that there is no silver bullet solution. The Sales Recovery add-on will send customers who start checking out, but do not finish reminder emails, which include discounts.
Turning Customers into Repeat Customers
Once you’ve made a sale, you want to make sure that you establish a relationship with the customer to encourage repeat sales. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but the most obvious way is to have customers opt-in to your mailing list at checkout. There are Easy Digital Downloads integrations for pretty much whatever tool you use for your email list.
In addition to adding customers to your general mailing list, you can also send very specific emails to them. One way to do this is using Receiptful, a free service from WooThemes co-founder Adii Pienaar. Receiptful lets you enhance both the design and the content of receipts sent by the many WordPress eCommerce plugins, including Easy Digital Downloads.
Another great tool for following up on sales is Drip. Drip is normally used with a direct optin form to enroll people in a course of some sort that ends with a special offer, or some other type of sales pitch. The idea is to send people two or three free bits of content that are not sales pitches, but provide value to them. Then, once a relationship has been established, you make the sales pitch.
Another way to use Drip is to start the emails after a sale. Fatcats Apps makes an EDD add-on that makes it simple to add people to a drip campaign after a sale. It is an excellent way to start a conversation with your customer, and send them helpful resources and special deals.
No matter which tool you choose, there are two important things to keep in mind. The first is that once you start offering discounts, as most of these tools do, your customers will start to expect these discounts. As a result, it becomes more and more difficult to sell without them. The second thing is that marketing automation can very easily feel artificial and become spammy rather quickly. Be sure to not go overboard with the number of emails you send—never ever sell your list to spammers, and be sure to make the communications as personal as possible.
These are just some of the tools, specifically the ones I am playing with on my own EDD-powered site, but there are a lot more out there. In addition, every eCommerce plugin for WordPress has an analogous tool for some, if not all, of these tasks. If you’ve found or made a better tool for one of these jobs, or a different way to implement marketing automation in Easy Digital Downloads, please be sure to leave a comment and let everyone know.
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