21 Reasons Why eCommerce Marketing Automation Doesn’t Work

Marketing automation this, marketing automation that… you keep hearing how important it is to use marketing automation software in online stores to increase customer engagement and loyalty. Yet, after implementing this solution in your eStore, no miracles have happened. The numbers have stayed exactly where they were before. So where does the problem lie? Is it the marketing automation tool you’re using or is it something else?

Today we’ll look at the 21 most common problems and frustrations related to eCommerce marketing automation and give suggestions on how to deal with them. Happy reading!

The Most Common eCommerce Marketing Automation Frustrations

If you were to gather people from various eCommerce businesses responsible for marketing automation and ask them what problems they encounter in their daily work, their answers could be divided into several categories. Let’s take a look at each of them and see if we can find a solution.

The Implementation of Marketing Automation Software Is Blocked by Other Departments in the Company

TThe platform you’ve chosen hasn’t brought your online store any results so far, because… it hasn’t been implemented yet. You are eager to get started, your requests have been greenlit, but there is hardly any progress with the implementation, because… your coworkers are being difficult. Here are some examples:

1. ‘My COO says you can’t do it.’

Yes, sometimes the biggest opponent to the implementation of marketing automation software in an eCommerce business is the key decision-maker. In some cases it’s a matter of inflexible personality, but more often it’s grounded in his or her previous negative experiences with the implementation of complex tools in a large company, such as yours.

To overcome this obstacle, you will have to come prepared. Ask your marketing automation tool vendor for information on previous implementations, including resources necessary to implement their solution into companies similar to yours. It is also a good idea to prepare a list of technical difficulties that can be expected along with proven ways of overcoming them.

Remember that the best providers will not leave you alone in such a situation, but will provide substantive arguments – and offer technical assistance. This will allow you to “drag” your manager or COO to your side and the implementation of the marketing automation software will become real.

2. ‘Our technology is outdated and we will not manage.’

It happens that a company goes astray – or takes shortcuts on a daily basis – and after some time the technology it uses is simply too weak or outdated to manage new solutions. Even the most respected brands sometimes fall into this trap. So how would you implement a multichannel marketing automation tool in such conditions?

Well, the problem will catch up with you sooner or later, and if not now, you will have to deal with it sometime in the future. Isn’t it better to take care of an issue faster and start enjoying the growth that will come from using marketing automation? At the same time you’ll be able to prevent a disaster which could arise due to an unpaid technological debt.

3. ‘Our IT department keeps blocking me.’

IT departments in companies are very strange environments that have developed their own folklore of behaviors and customs that are often difficult to deal with. These include finding problems that prevent the company from implementing new tools. So how do you disarm their arguments?

Skirmishes with nerds who are not interested in your company’s business goals is a topic for a separate, veeeeery long article. For now, let’s just say that working for your company is not compulsory!

4. ‘Our security department has concerns.’

Some organizations have a separate unit that is solely responsible for the security of systems, data, and personal information. Such a specialist is there to question the security measures applied to any new tool that the company plans to implement. He or she also raises the issue of the risk that your company bears in the event of, for example, a leak of sensitive data. Such an incident can cost you dearly not only in terms of image, but also financial and legal costs.

The leading marketing automation solution providers are well aware of that, that’s why they are ready to provide you with all the necessary details about their security measures, protocols, certificates, concrete, rubber and adhesive tape – everything that makes their tools 100% safe. Ask your provider for this information – they’ll be happy to give you a comprehensive answer to keep your safety experts satisfied.

5. ‘Our lawyers don’t make my work easier.’

In some companies, lawyers are even more difficult than the security specialists! They analyze your contract with your marketing automation provider very meticulously, as if it was an old Babylonian document, and question every paragraph. On one hand, they don’t want to “give up” too much, and on the other, they want to “take” as much as possible.

We understand that too. Again, there is a solution for that. The best marketing automation software providers will allow you to be flexible with the provisions of the contract, because they understand that at the end of the day having a deal is better than not having it at all!

Marketing Automation for eCommerce Sabotaged by a ‘Difficult Customer’

If you have already dealt with the above problems and the marketing automation software has been successfully implemented in your online store, then your first answer to the question on stagnant sales and lack of customer loyalty is probably:

6. ‘It is difficult for us to break through with our offer, because there is huge competition.’

The fact is that more and more stores are operating online – especially now, in the pandemic world, with the traditional trade significantly limited or even completely closed. This increased competition makes it difficult to attract new customers. Which only means that now you have to try harder.

Do you make the most of every potential sales lead? Stop complaining that there are no new buyers – focus on not letting the ones at your fingertips go to waste! First of all, focus on moving users down the sales funnel who have already visited your online store and are within your reach. But that’s not all. Are you investing time and effort in non-sales content? Do you create content that shows you as an expert on the subject, and not just a trader? I mean an expert eCommerce blog, expert newsletters, industry reports based on your unique data, professional product reviews and advice – you have many options to choose from. You can allow access to some of this content via a registration form, which will help you collect valuable sales leads.

7. ‘Customers buy in our online store only once.’

Yes, the old problem of customer loyalty. All eCommerce stores struggle with it, but the best among them know how to win back many of their one-time customers.

First of all: is your marketing automation really data-driven? Do you use knowledge about behavior and preferences of each of your users and customers to recommend products they need at a time when they may need them? Are your users and customers properly segmented in your database? Do you personalize your offers accordingly? Do you have working methods to win back customers? Have you created your own loyalty program? No? So now you know how much there is to do 🙂

8. ‘Users abandon a lot of shopping carts.’

An abandoned cart is every online store’s nightmare, we know it! Every day users add products to their shopping carts en masse and then they abandon them in an equally massive amount. You can’t help it. But you can recover some of these abandoned carts by encouraging users to complete their purchase. This is one of the key benefits of using a multichannel marketing automation solution properly.

But in order for it to work, you need to prepare an appropriate communication automation workflow and enable it for a precisely chosen segment of your users and customers. The sending time is also important – do not bombard them with messages immediately after abandoning the cart, give them a day or two to think about the purchase. Use several communication channels, not just email – some people will ignore this channel, but they will read SMS, web push notifications or mobile notifications willingly.

9. ‘Our clients do not respond to CTA in our emails.’

We feel sorry for you, we really do… but please be aware that people don’t click CTA in your newsletters for various reasons – not only because they just don’t want to. It could be that your CTAs simply suck.

Take a critical look at your marketing messages, the call-to-action you use and answer honestly: are they always placed in the best part of the message? Do they stand out from the background or do they blend in with it? What language are you using? Are your CTAs encouraging, in the form of a declaration in the first person (I want to know more!) or are they imperative, in the form of a command in the second person (Find out more!)? And the most important question: do you know how to communicate to your recipients the benefits of clicking the CTA?

Do you face at least 3 of these problems in your online store?
Talk to our expert and find out how to solve them!

Your eCommerce Store Is Overwhelmed by Data

Data is a separate category of problems for any eCommerce business. Everyone knows that analytics is important. But how do you do it right? Not knowing how to answer this question may result in your eCommerce marketing automation not being used to its full potential. Let’s take a look at the most frequently indicated difficulties in this regard.

10. ‘Our analytics is a mess – we collect a lot of data, but not much comes out of it.’

In your online store, you collect data about customers, their behavior and preferences so meticulously that you have forgotten that data collected in different systems should be correlated with each other. As a result, you are unable to read anything useful from them.

The good news is that there is a way to fix this. Have you ever heard about a single customer profile? No? Then slide four paragraphs down 😉

11. ‘I don’t have access to data in real time – I still have to ask for manually generated reports.’

Sometimes it is even worse: the data in your eStore may be collected well, but to gain access to it, you have to engage an entire bureaucratic machine to have them exported and sent to you. Manual work in unreal time!

How to solve it? The marketing automation software in your eCommerce store should provide an advanced reporting tool that you can easily handle yourself. Ask the company whose solution you intend to use about this module – without it, your tool will be a toothless tiger.

12. ‘My client segmentation is poor.’

Customer segmentation is another Achilles’ heel in online stores. Usually, companies neglect this topic for a long time and when they finally wake up there are so many contacts in the database that it is impossible to figure out in which segment they should be. As a result, the main segment in your eStore is a segment called “other”, which from the point of view of increasing sales and building loyalty, is useless.

An intelligent segmentation of contacts in your database – with particular emphasis on customer segmentation according to the RFM methodology (short for Recency, Frequency, Monetary) – is a topic for a separate article.

If you really don’t know how to do it, remember that your service provider most likely offers professional assistance in this area – from training in segments building and optimization, through assistance with design and ongoing marketing campaigns management, to a complete campaign execution, i.e. full service of your multi-channel marketing campaigns. When discussing the terms of future cooperation, check how advanced help you can count on!

13. ‘I don’t have a single customer profile.’

…this is the optimistic version. The pessimistic version is: I’ve never even heard of something like this! Yet having and using this feature in an online store becomes a necessity. So let’s explain what it is: your customers use different communication channels and come into contact with your store in different places (website, i.e. eStore, traditional store, mobile app, social media, email marketing, etc.). Single customer profiles allow you to combine all behavioral and transactional data from these sources with each other and build on this basis an effective, personalized marketing communication.

What are the benefits here? First of all, thanks to the single customer profile, you can maintain consistency in communication and smoothly move individual customers through your sales funnel. For example: a customer bought a coat in a brick-and-mortar store and used a discount on their loyalty card. You know from his or her behavior that he/she ignores messages received via email but always opens the mobile pushes. Thanks to the single customer profile, after such a purchase, you can send them a message in the mobile app with a special offer for an additional product, e.g. a scarf or a hat (this is called cross-selling).

You have a lot of possibilities here. However, the most important thing is whether your platform offers them and whether you know how to use them.

14. ‘I have poor deliverability.’

You don’t know why, but a lot of your marketing messages never reach your subscribers…

Many factors affect deliverability. Some of them are on the side of your marketing automation software provider – the best ones guarantee a stable deliverability at a level slightly lower than 99%. However, most of the factors that increase deliverability are on your side. Do you know the spam criteria for major email providers (Google, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) and follow their recommendations? Do you keep your subscriber lists clean? Do you use message throttling? If not, ask your marketing automation service provider for help.

15. ‘We have a lot of contacts in our database, but without consent to receive marketing communication.’

Well, if you don’t sow, you won’t harvest… Fortunately, having a contacts database without explicit consents to receive marketing communications is not the end of the world. If you’re smart, you can quickly make up for it.

How? Run a separate, visually and content-attractive activation campaign for this particular segment of your contacts. Put your best foot forward – whether that’s  high-quality content or a unique offer – and encourage them to act, which will involve clicking the previously missing “I consent …” field. Simple! 😀

Marketing Automation for eCommerce vs Your Limited Resources

Sometimes the problems with marketing automation you face result from the very character of your company – its size, nature, business model, etc. The most common problems in this area are as follows:

16. ‘I have a limited budget for marketing activities.’

We understand that no one has a budget made of rubber, and we all need to be effective in some way. Your superiors are looking at your spending so you can’t spend too much on marketing campaigns. Even paying for access to the platform required a lot of persuasion on your part… so what can you do about it?

While PPC advertising is becoming more expensive and less effective, email efficiency remains the same, and it’s still the cheapest way to reach customers. So inthe beginning don’t run campaigns on all communication channels, i.e. SMS, web push, mobile etc. Focus on automated email marketing campaigns only. Over time, as you collect data on customer preferences and behaviors, you will be able to include other channels. And until then, your results will surely make your company’s vault open  😉

17. ‘I know what I should do, but I don’t have time to do it.’

You have so much to do that – just like in an old saying – you run around with an empty wheelbarrow, because there is no time to load it! Meanwhile, when working with a marketing automation tool, you need systematic and methodical work on configuration, building workflows and optimizing along the way. But how can you make a commitment when you mainly put out fires?

So I say it once again: you don’t have to do everything by yourself. The best marketing automation service providers relieve their clients of tedious analytical or strategic work. By delegating some of the tasks to external experts, you will quickly optimize your activities, which will result in less and less fires!

18. ‘We lack time, human resources, production capacity…’

In fact, using marketing automation is a full-time job – and you can’t always afford it in your eCommerce store. So you do it randomly, inconsistently – and your results reflect that.

The solution is the same as in the previous point: entrust some – or even all – of your tasks to external experts and enjoy a gradual, steady improvement of your results.

eCommerce Marketing Automation and… Incompetence

This is the most challenging category, as it requires some self-criticism from you – and from other people in your eCommerce business. We like to think that we are competent, but very often we simply have gaps in our knowledge and experience, which affects the final result of our actions – or rather the lack of them. Let us consider some of the most common difficulties in this regard.

19. ‘It’s hard for me to show that what I do influences the results.’

Somehow you can’t really see the correlation between your actions and the results… As if you didn’t know how to use marketing automation or even didn’t do anything!

Which brings us to the next point, which is:

20. ‘I don’t know what to do or how to do it, but I won’t admit it!’

Well, you like having a job – at the end of the day your bills and mortgage will not pay off by themselves, so you just stay put… you pretend that everything is OK, you blur the picture as much as you can and pray that your managers don’t ask questions, because you simply don’t know the answers! Marketing automation remains black magic to you.

Well, there is a solution for that too. It is never too late to ask for help, retrain or upskill. Folk wisdom says that we learn throughout our lives – and that remains true. As a last resort, you can always outsource marketing activities to external experts, e.g. your eCommerce marketing automation software provider.

OK, but what if you can’t sympathize with any of the above problems? We gave you 20 options and 20 times you answered ‘no’… What then?

Then there is one last option:

Your eCommerce Marketing Automation Platform Sucks!

Well, if none of the above situations apply to you, and your eCommerce performance remains unsatisfactory, then something must be wrong with the platform you are using. It lacks some important features, it is underdeveloped in some way, etc. We cannot say what exactly is missing, we can only say with empathy: it happens!

Whatever the problem is, upgrade to a better tool with high-class customer support to help you do what you can’t do yourself.

And what platform is the best and offers its clients expert support? Well, we’re a bit biased, but take a look at ExpertSender.

First of all: we ensure deliverability of as much as 96.5% of messages sent on behalf of our clients. Secondly: each client can benefit from our five-star expert support. With us, you always talk to a human being, as we avoid the ticketing system at all cost. On request, we even offer the campaign execution system we mentioned earlier(i.e. we cover the entire campaign, while you are sitting, drinking your coffee and looking at the reports). Third: our automation of multi-channel marketing is based on the data you collect, which we help to put together into a single customer profile for each user and customer. As a result, customer acquisition and retention becomes much easier.

Do you face at least 3 of these problems in your online store?
Talk to our expert and find out how to solve them!
Written by
Jarek Wasielewski
Digital Content Specialist at ExpertSender
After work: local historian. Double bass enthusiast.
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