How To Improve Customer Experience Through Personalized Marketing Automation

personalized marketing automation

Customers enjoy personalized experiences. Historically, only the most upscale brands could afford to invest in staff for live consultations or custom products. However, with the rise of personalized marketing automation, any brand can create a customer experience tailored to the individual consumer.

Here’s more on how to embrace marketing automation for your business.

Table of Contents

What is personalized marketing automation?

Personalized marketing automation is a system that delivers targeted messages, offers, and experiences to customers based on data like their demographic information, purchase history, browsing behavior, and interactions with a brand. This allows you to create relevant and engaging campaigns that resonate with your customers personally.

You can deliver personalized marketing messages across various marketing channels, including email, SMS, social media, websites, and mobile apps. Personalized marketing messages sent via text or email require the customer to opt in to receive communication from your brand.

How personalized marketing automation works

Marketing automation campaigns are typically built with marketing automation software. These tools host a database of subscriber properties—information like their name, email, country, activity history, and number of purchases. Potential customers provide this information and consent to receiving communication from the brand.

There are many tools you can use to automate your marketing campaigns. The Shopify Flow app allows you to automate many many functions to help execute marketing initiatives. You can also power automated marketing emails directly in Shopify, using Flow's powerful triggers with Shopify Email or an integrated third-party app like Seguno.

Software is set up to send messages to subscribers, relying on the following:


Triggers are the criteria a customer must meet to set off marketing automation. Triggers can be activity-based (like when a customer abandons their cart or makes their first purchase) or property-based (like when a customer’s sock subscription is about to expire).


In response to a trigger, marketing automation software performs an action. Actions can include:

  • Personalized messages
  • Automated email campaigns
  • Lead scoring and nurturing
  • Dynamic content delivery
  • Social media posting and engagement
  • Website tracking and behavior-based segmentation
  • Real-time alerts to sales teams
  • Automated follow-ups

Filters and branches

Filters and branches apply to subscribers already within a marketing campaign. Filters remove customers from a campaign (for example, to ensure that a customer who purchases a product after receiving an abandoned cart email doesn’t receive another abandoned cart follow-up). Branches segment a campaign to create a more tailored experience. For example, new customers are sent to action A (a message saying “Discover our other products”) and existing customers are sent to action B (a message saying “Save 10% on your next re-order by subscribing”).


Variables are embedded within messages themselves to refer to a customer property. For example, a personalized marketing email might include a {{ first name }} variable in its text, which, when sent, inserts the recipient’s first name.

Personalized marketing automation example

You can create robust, highly personalized marketing automation campaigns by combining triggers, actions, and filters or branches. Here’s a simple example of a personalized marketing automation campaign for new customers of a skin care brand. The goal is to encourage them to become repeat customers through automated marketing materials.

  1. Trigger: A customer places their first order.
  2. Action 1: Send a custom receipt email with information on when they can expect their order to arrive.
  3. Trigger: Wait five days.
  4. Action 2: Send an email with tips for how the customer can make the most of their new product.
  5. Trigger: Wait 30 days.
  6. Branch: If the customer’s “city” property is set to a city where your brand has a retail location, run Action A. If not, run Action B.
    1. Action A: Send an email suggesting they visit the nearby retail location.
    2. Action B: Send an email suggesting they re-order online.
  7. Filter: Remove customers who place another order.

Benefits of personalized marketing automation

Most large-scale ecommerce stores have embraced marketing automation. There are a few reasons this is an attractive strategy for retailers, including:

Low cost, high ROI

Marketing automation tools typically charge a fraction of a cent to send an email. SMS costs about 1¢ per message, on average. Since campaigns focus on people who’ve already consented to receive communications, the campaign’s audience is lower-funnel and more likely to lead directly to increased sales. These campaigns are more effective and less expensive than awareness campaigns, which target audiences that have never heard of the brand.


Most marketing automation campaigns include links prompting customers to take direct, measurable action, such as making a purchase or booking a consultation. Since many customers click links to landing pages in messages, marketers can track the activity generated by each message using UTM tags. For instance, when a customer clicks a link to your store in an automated marketing email, you can use Google Analytics to see that they came from the email and whether or not they made a purchase.

Personalized experience

Filters and branches in automation can help your campaigns better comply with each customer's preferences. This ensures subscribers get messages when they’re ready for them, and, perhaps more importantly, subscribers do not receive notifications when they don’t want them. Some subscribers may be happy to hear from you twice a week, whereas others might prefer not to hear from you more than once a month.

Email list health

Personalized emails from marketing automation campaigns tend to have high open and click rates because customers can often tell the correspondence is tailored to their preferences. This improves overall email deliverability from your domain, setting you up for future marketing success.

5 types of personalized marketing automation

  1. Welcome campaigns
  2. Post-purchase upsell and cross-sell campaigns
  3. Winback campaigns
  4. Cart abandonment campaigns
  5. Birthday and anniversary campaigns

Personalized marketing automation can take many forms, and there are a handful of message types ecommerce brands can benefit most from. Consider the following a personalized marketing automation starter kit:

1. Welcome campaigns

A new email or SMS subscriber triggers a welcome campaign. This type of campaign typically focuses on nurturing subscribers toward their first purchase with a mix of product education, promotions, and managing sales objections.

2. Post-purchase upsell and cross-sell campaigns

These campaigns, triggered after a customer makes their first purchase, encourage the customer to make an additional purchase.

The goal of an upsell campaign is to encourage the customer to make a second purchase of a higher-priced or higher-commitment product. For example, after a purchase, a supplements brand delivers an automated email informing the customer of the benefits of an auto-renewing order.

Cross-sell campaigns focus on selling complementary products. For example, apparel retailer DUER sends personalized emails to customers who’ve purchased their jeans, encouraging them to consider a matching shirt or belt.

3. Winback campaigns

Brands might determine that if a customer hasn’t made a purchase over a given period, such as a year, they’ve lost the customer, meaning they don’t expect the customer to purchase again. They can then create a win-back campaign to encourage the customer to return and make another purchase. These campaigns typically include focused messaging, such as a winback-specific promotion featuring a time-limited discount.

4. Cart abandonment campaigns

Subscribers who come close to making a purchase and then decide not to are some of the most likely prospects, since they’ve already indicated intent. By sending tailored emails to these potential customers, you can rope them back in to finish their purchase, and address common questions, or even offer them a discount to get them over the line.

5. Birthday and anniversary campaigns

Sending customers a discount or free bonus on their birthday (or the anniversary of their first purchase or another meaningful date) is a great way to develop brand loyalty. Note, this is most effective if your business collects the required data (like their birthday) and if the discount is more substantial than other discounts your brand offers.

4 tips for personalized marketing automation

  1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes
  2. Practice good list management
  3. ​​Integrate your systems
  4. Iterate and test over time

Every business has its unique customer journey, meaning the perfect personalized marketing automation strategy will differ from business to business. But there are a few best practices that apply to all campaigns:

1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes

Every brand has a different relationship with its customers and different expectations about how much its customers want to hear from them. If you sell a consumable product, your audience may want to hear from you more regularly. If your brand sells few products, or if you only expect your customers to make a single purchase over multiple years, your audience may be less keen to receive messages regularly.

2. Practice good list management

With multiple marketing automation campaigns across numerous channels, keeping track of what subscribers are getting which messages can quickly become complicated. Consider the following list management principles:

  • Have an accessible subscriber preference page.
  • If your business has multiple email marketing automation lists (e.g., one for new product updates and another for offers and promotions), clarify which list customers are subscribed to.
  • Include generalized filters to ensure subscribers in multiple campaigns don’t accidentally receive numerous emails from you on the same day.

3. Integrate your systems

Integrate multiple subscriber data sources for the most effective campaigns. Many ecommerce brands integrate marketing automation software with an ecommerce platform like Shopify, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, a subscription app, and a customer feedback app to give a fuller picture of their customers’ behavior.

TIP💡: Shopify has a suite of tools that serve as marketing automation software with no integration needed. Or browse the Shopify App Store for apps that make integrating customer data and functionality exceptionally easy.

4. Iterate and test over time

Marketing automation campaigns provide excellent data about what messages subscribers are opening, clicking, or purchasing from. They also offer the opportunity to A/B test different strategies. Use this data to understand more about your audience and improve your campaign’s key metrics.

Personalized marketing automation FAQ

What are some examples of personalized marketing automation?

Examples of personalized marketing automation include abandoned cart campaigns, win-back campaigns, and post-purchase cross-sell campaigns. These can be managed through various marketing automation tools and delivered via email, SMS, or push notification.

How can I collect and analyze customer data for personalized marketing automation?

A marketing automation platform typically includes data collection functionality through contact forms or newsletter subscription forms. Most automation platforms, such as Shopify, integrate with other customer data sources to collect additional data.

Are there any challenges or limitations to personalized marketing automation?

Marketing automation is designed for people who agree to receive your messages. You should never send marketing automation campaigns to people without consent. Due to this limitation, marketing automation works best as a strategy targeting those who are mid-funnel or close to purchasing. It’s best to complement their automated marketing efforts with top-of-funnel or awareness-focused marketing campaigns.