Email is one of the most powerful tools in marketing. It can quickly become one of your top revenue generators and, if done right, provide you some of your highest eCommerce conversion rates.
Merchants wanting to get the most out of their email marketing lists need to be serious about using automation to send emails more often and with better targeting. Automated emails allow you to set emails up one time and then monitor and make small changes instead of creating many emails from scratch.
Automation emails build a form of marketing “equity” for your brand. While a typical marketing email is one-and-done, automation campaigns continue to yield results with little to no input.
While you can get pretty sophisticated with email automation, this post is a primer on the most foundational automation workflows your shop should be using. I’ll also share some suggestions for more advanced automation tactics.
The most common, and most successful, type of email automation is the cart abandonment email. In 2017, our partner Klaviyo conducted an abandoned cart benchmark study analyzing more than nine million abandoned cart emails sent through their service. The results only reinforced the importance of these automated emails.
As you can see, not having a cart abandonment program in place can cause your company to miss out on a lot of traffic and conversions.
Often, cart abandonment emails can be configured in your eCommerce platform. These are typically pretty simple and don’t give you a lot of customization options. Instead, we advise that you create your cart abandonment emails in your email service platform, so you can customize them to look like your brand.
Essentially, a cart abandonment email sends a reminder to shoppers that have added an item to their cart, but not purchased in an extended amount of time. A cart abandonment email can remind distracted shoppers about a product they liked or even create urgency with a special offer.
A basic starting point for cart abandonment emails is a three email series:
You should monitor this and make changes according to what is working best for your particular email audience. Testing will be your friend, and you should tinker with your time delay, subject line, and email content.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and imagine why they might not have gone forward with their purchase. Test content that emphasizes different aspects like customer testimonials or your warranty and returns policy. Maybe it’s time to try a discount or free shipping.
As you monitor your open rates with each email in the workflow, you might find that three is too many, and you can reduce your sequence.
The next most important email is the Welcome Email.
Welcome emails usually don’t yield as high of a return as the Cart Abandonment Email, but serve another very important purpose: introduction to your brand and to your email marketing channel.
You can tell them what you want them to know about your brand and what you have to offer them.
You’ll want to include what they can expect from signing up to receive your emails, the benefits of being on your email list, and other ways they can connect with you, like social media or your blog.
These should be set up to send very closely after a new subscriber signs up. We recommend a series for this as well. You can do anywhere between 3-5 emails, but again, this should be monitored to see what works best for you.
Here is an example of a welcome email series:
If you have more you’d like to say, you can add more emails, but you shouldn’t have more than five.
Your welcome series should last about a week, give or take a few days.
When planning your welcome series, be clear about your objectives for it. Do you want to accelerate the first purchase? Is your goal to express the brand and build trust?
The emails included in your welcome series should be a reflection of your objectives for the list. For customers, it sets expectations for future communication. For merchants, it’s a way to kickstart a new customer relationship.
A win-back email is sent to bring customers back who haven’t visited your site or purchased in a while.
We recommend a trigger based on a customer’s previous order date. This would be sending to those you haven’t purchased in the last 3, 6, 12 months, depending on what makes the most sense for your business.
These emails will most likely convert better if you offer an incentive to come back. If you aren’t able to offer a discount, you might choose to show them new things you have to offer that they are missing out on, such as new items for sale or best sellers.
You might also choose to create a win-back series. In a series, you can build urgency by having a coupon with an expiration date, or try a sequence of different product recommendations to make sure you’re presenting the item that appeals to your customer most.
This is where you can really help email provide value to you without having to spend hours creating emails each month.
Segmentation is a very powerful tool that not enough companies use to its full potential.
You can segment based on anything, but the most beneficial segments we’ve seen are behavior-based such as what links your subscribers click within your emails, how often they interact with your emails, their browse history or their purchase history.
Other useful segments may be built based on customer gender, location, age, or any other data you might have about your subscribers.
In your Welcome Email series, you show your new email subscriber the product categories you have to offer. They click on the category that interests them the most. By clicking on that category, they are automatically put into an address book (segment) where they will receive an automated email about the products in that category. You can set up an automated email series to go out to subscribers once they are added to that segment.
You may have “value shoppers” that will only click on an email when they are offered a discount code or incentive. Add these subscribers to an address book that you only send them emails when you’re having a sale or promotion. This will help decrease your unsubscribe rate and number of spam complaints.
Most Email Service Providers offer web tracking. This allows you to retarget customers based on products or categories they viewed on your site. You can then group customers by the products they have viewed on your site so that you can send them emails to let them know when you’re running a promotion or sale on the products they’re interested in.
An important segment to consider is an active customer, or frequent purchase segment. Depending on your business, you can set an automation to be sent once someone has purchased 3 or more times letting them know they are on your VIP list and will get special offers/promotions. Treat these people well; repeat customers make up 80% of most online customer bases! Send them some special discount codes, offer them a special rewards program or lifetime free shipping.
There are so many more automated emails you can set up; these are just the basics. You can slowly add each one to your email marketing platform. As you grow, you will want to add more, but getting started with these should show you a significant lift in revenue.
For our email marketing clients, automation is one of the first things we focus on. These efforts have a powerful return on investment, not just in the short-term, but for years to come. If you’re looking to take your online store’s email marketing to a higher level, let us know.