5 Things Not To Do In Your Autoresponder Series

You might have seen them more often lately, these autoresponder series or event driven emails that remind you of a product you left in your shopping cart, welcome you to the email program or wish you a happy birthday.

 

 

Now instead of focusing on what is best to do, I’d like to share some mistakes or email marketing no-no’s to avoid when you are offering products in your autoresponders to subscribers and customers.

 

1. Don’t pick competitive products.

After all, the object of the email is to increase sales and average order value, not shift them. If you offer competitive products, you could end up cannibalizing the original purchase. Offering too many choices can confuse the (conversion of) the recipient.

How do you avoid pushing competitive products as upsells? Put in place functionality on your website that automatically selects appropriate items to upsell. But this doesn’t happen all on its own. You’ve got to create the business rules that drive the application. If you have a smaller assortment, you can even handpick them sort of like filling the snackrack besides the counter at the convenient store.

 

2. Don’t pick something they already have.

Nothing shows your customer that you know nothing about their purchase habits more than offering them something they already have. It a sure way to kill relevance.

 

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Well, some products you can have multiple of, like socks. You should have at least two of them. But seriously, sometimes offering a discount if they order more of the same can be a good idea. Discount when ordering 2, 5 or 10 of the same product. So the only rule here is, don’t pick something they surely don’t need.

How do you avoid offering an upsell that the customer already purchased? Make sure your customer data is current and is fully integrated with your ecommerce site.

 

3. Don’t show something you don’t have in stock.

Again, this rule seems to be a no-brainer. And again, you’d be surprised how often this occurs.

If it does occur, you need to turn a negative into a positive. Craft a friendly “out of stock” message and, if possible, include an option for a rain check. Keep customer service in the loop, so they can respond appropriately to customer inquiries.

How do you avoid offering an item that’s out of stock? You’ve got to button up your back-end systems. Make sure that inventories are in near time, and set up business rules on when to change the “in stock” sign for an item from your site (for example, when inventories fall below a certain number of items).

 

4. To be or not to be more generic – that is the question.

Here’s where you need to strike a delicate balance. From the customer’s perspective, it would be smart to offer upsells that fall within certain categories or brands based on past purchase behavior.

From the company’s perspective, it would be smart to offer upsells from different (but related) categories or brands, to expose the customer to a deeper breadth of product offerings.

How do you achieve this balance? Amazon calls it “the wildcard”, be as targeted as possible, but always put in a different product as well.

 

5. Don’t be so obvious about it.

If I’m purchasing an item for, say, $25, it’s probably OK to offer me items in the same price range or slightly higher. Depending on your average order value, you can play with the numbers. If you offer me a $100 item, I might experience a huge disconnect with your brand.

How can you upsell without being so obvious about it? Depending on your brand and products, you could categorize your upsells. For instance: “You might like…” for similar-priced products, “Treat yourself…” for slightly higher-priced products, and “Go ahead, indulge!” for big-ticket items. This is an area that should be tested to see what works best with your audience.

 

Make sure your upsells don’t turn into upsets.

As I said in a previous post on upsells in email, they are a given in ecommerce and email marketing. As with any marketing tactic, there are best practices to follow so that your upsells don’t turn into upsets.  So how have you implemented upselling and your auto-responders? Be sure to share in the comments.