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Identifying the Most Profitable Automations for E‑Commerce Businesses

We analyzed the data of 150,000 businesses that use Mailchimp to learn how much revenue each automation type has generated.

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In 2017, we made our one-step marketing automation features free for all Mailchimp users. Now, no matter the size of your business or budget, you can use automation to create targeted emails that send when triggered by a specific date, event, or activity. It’s a great way to personalize your marketing and communicate with customers, so you can turn your attention to the other tasks on your to-do list.

But the benefits don’t end there. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the ways businesses with connected e-commerce stores have been using automations to help them sell more stuff and make more money. We’ll compare different automation types and analyze the data of 150,000 businesses that use Mailchimp to learn how much revenue each automation type has generated.

Automations for each phase of the customer journey

The relationship between businesses and their customers often changes over time, but marketing automation makes it easy to engage with people every step of the way, regardless of where they are in the customer journey.

If your goal is to connect with new contacts, for example, our welcome message, education, and date-based automations can help. If you want to sell more stuff, try our abandoned cart, product follow-up, and category follow-up automations. To boost customer loyalty, we have best customer, first purchase, and joins list group automations. Or, when you want to bring people back, build a customer re-engagement automation to spark new interest in your brand or products.

Each automation type plays a key role in connecting with e-commercecustomers, but we wanted to know their effect on sales, too. First, we took a broad look at the number of orders generated by automations from each step of the customer journey against regular bulk emails sent to an entire list.

It comes as no surprise that automations designed to sell more stuff come in first place by a wide margin, with almost 16 times more orders per recipient than regular bulk email—3 times the increase over the next highest category.

In second place are automations used to connect with new contacts, generating 5 times more orders per recipient than a bulk email. In a close race for 3rd are boost customer loyalty and bring people back, producing around 3 times more orders per recipient.

A breakdown by automation type

Next, we looked deeper into each category to identify the top-performing automations. Once again, we’ve compared orders generated via automations against regular bulk emails.

A few things jumped out to us after reviewing this data:

  • As expected, the automations designed to help you sell more stuff land toward the top of the graph. The abandoned cart series has a commanding lead over the other automations, increasing orders per recipient by a factor of 37. They’re so effective, in fact, that the average user earns enough money from abandoned cart automations to pay for their entire Mailchimp account. If you sell stuff online and don’t have an abandoned cart automation yet, you should probably stop reading and go set one up immediately. Don’t worry, we’ll wait. Here are some more tips on how to start an online store to help you out.

  • Specific product follow-up and category follow-up automations—which are triggered when customers purchase specific products (or products from a specific vendor)—are also particularly effective for generating orders. A flower shop, for example, may set up a category follow-up automation that highlights vases immediately after a customer purchases a bouquet of flowers.

  • The recurring dates automation (from the connect with new contacts category) performs very well for e-comm businesses, creating around 14 times more orders per recipient than a bulk email. It uses date-based merge tags—like the date of a first purchase or a company anniversary—to trigger emails to your subscribers.

  • Among automations designed to boost customer loyalty, targeting your best customers generates the most orders per subscriber. Users define their best customers in a number of different ways, but they are ripe for increasing revenue. Targeting brand new customers can be a valuable tactic as well, as the first purchase automation generates 5 times more orders than a regular bulk email.

  • Even the customer re-engagement automation—which specifically targets people who haven’t made a purchase in a while—was effective in helping businesses generate 3 times more orders per recipient than a bulk email.

Next time, we’ll dive even deeper by exploring the differences in revenue generated by single-email automations versus automation series.

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