ECOMMERCE EMAIL MARKETING: 5 AUTOMATIONS TO BOOST SALES (WITH EXAMPLES)
Let’s talk about ecommerce email marketing!
More specifically, let’s talk about the best set-and-forget email campaigns you can use right now to grow your eCommerce store revenue.
Two of the most common question I hear are:
Does email marketing increase sales? (um... yes, it does!)
How is email useful for ecommerce?
Digital Marketer even defines eCommerce email marketing as the art and science of using emails to generate sales from customers and prospects.
It can be used to attract new customers, sell more to existing customers, and to elegantly farewell lapsed customers.
Now, you might want to spend your money on an eCommerce email marketing course...
(That's assuming you even have the time!)
But if you're an astute business owner, you won't want to spend money where oyu don't have do... and I hear ya!
That's why I've put together this article and included some of my favorite eCommerce email examples that you can quickly and easily replicate in your own store!
So, how do you sell through email marketing?
In eCommerce email marketing 101, there are two main types of emails you’ll send: transactional emails; and, marketing emails.
These are known as eCommerce email marketing best practises and both should be employed as part of your digital strategy.
A ‘transactional email’ is an email that’s triggered as part of the purchase process and is usually a requirement or an industry-standard - think ‘order confirmation’ emails, shipping alerts, email confirmations...that sort of thing.
Most of the time, if you're something like Shopify email marketing or WooCommerce emails, these emails are handled natively (meaning they’ll come with the tool).
A ‘marketing email’, on the other hand, has a much broader scope and with that often comes the need to employ additional tools like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, or HubSpot which each offer a lot more functionality.
The importance of email marketing in eCommerce shouldn't be overlooked.
These types of emails can be used to attract new customers to sign up to your email database, to educate your customers about your products, to promote reviews and referrals, or even to clean out your email database.
Think of it as a direct line to your customers and prospects.
This makes it far more personal than other tools like Facebook, Instagram, or Google Ads…
...and the conversion rate is often much higher.
The Hook (Subscriber Discount Emails)
Abandoned Cart Emails
Birthday or Anniversary Emails
List Cleaning Emails
After-Sale Follow Up Emails
THE HOOK (SUBSCRIBER DISCOUNT EMAILS)
This is number one on this email automation list because it’s probably the most common ploy that I see used on eCommerce sites, and that’s for one simple reason; it works!
Here’s what you need to know about these types of emails:
- They’re an important part of the mix because they’re one of the quickest ways to capture a customer’s email address
- They’re also important when you consider that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one
- They should always be part of a series of emails (or, as marketers will call them, an ‘automated sequence’)
Sending out a single email when someone has subscribed to your list is essentially futile if they don’t use the discount you’ve given them.
This is because research shows that the likelihood to purchase decreases over time, meaning the sooner you can get someone to make a purchase on your site, the better!
A really good way to make the most out of these emails is to create a three-part ‘welcome’ campaign.
Here's what it should look like:
Email 1: Sent immediately after a customer subscribes
The first email should give your subscriber the coupon code (or whatever you’ve offered them) upfront, then it should add in some useful information to hook them back into your site (for example, articles or product recommendations).
Email 2: Sent 48 hours after subscribing IF no purchase has been made
The second email should remind them about their coupon, introduce an expiry date to increase urgency, and have a button to send them back to your store page...and that’s it.
Keep this one super simple.
I tend to gravitate towards emails with a bit of humour in them, which is why I love this example from Beardbrand.
Email 3: Sent 72 hours after subscribing IF no purchase has been made
This final email needs to prominently display the time left before the coupon expires as well as a button to your store page.
It's basically a rehash of the previous email with the logic being that, if they haven't completed a purchase by now, they're not likely to as a result of your coupon code anyway.
ABANDONED CART EMAILS
The second type of automation that should be a staple in every eCommerce strategy is the ‘abandoned cart’ email.
There are a number of reasons why a cart is abandoned but, most commonly, it’s because of unexpected costs at the checkout.
Added costs such as taxes or shipping costs are estimated to account for 15% of all cart abandonments.
The ‘abandoned cart’ automation helps you to capture sales from the customers who had a genuine reason not to complete a purchase on your site but are still interested.
A lot of eCommerce businesses don’t use these types of emails because there’s the perception that you’re just badgering your customer.
However, an ‘abandoned cart’ notification is no different from any other type of retargeting campaign.
A friendly, well-worded email to remind your ‘almost’ customers about your store can yield great results.
In fact, on average, abandoned cart emails have an open rate of 45%, and if they’re sent within 20 minutes, a conversion rate of 5.2%.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, here are some more stats from Salescycle that might:
- More than a tenth (11.61%) of cart abandonment emails are clicked
- The average order value (AOV) of purchases from basket abandonment emails is 14.2% higher than typical purchases
- Nearly a third (29.9%) of clicks lead to a purchase back on site
BIRTHDAY OR ANNIVERSARY EMAILS
Okay, we all love freebies...
...and what better excuse to surprise and delight your customers than by sending them a special gift or discount on their birthday.
In case it’s not obvious to you, a birthday email is an email you get on your birthday!
Simple. And, you’re welcome.
But what you may not know is that birthday emails perform impressively well in email marketing.
Here's the Skinny on Birthday Emails:
- Birthday emails get 481% higher transaction rates than other promotional emails.
- Birthday emails generate 342% more revenue than promotional emails.
- And birthday emails get 179% higher unique click rates than promotional emails.
For all of the reasons above, birthday emails have become a highly popular tool for eCommerce businesses. Check out our pro tips below for a few effective ways that you can stand out from your competition.
Pro Tip 1: Get in Early
Send the email a few days early and preface it by saying something like “we hear your birthday is coming up…”.
Pro Tip 2: Make it Quirky
Celebrate their ‘half birthday’ (that’ll be a real hit with Alice in Wonderland Fans) but also acknowledge that you’ve taken time to get to know when their actual birthday is.
Pro Tip 3: Do Something Different
Forget the birthday and celebrate the anniversary of the first time they bought something from you. This shows them that you value their business as well as keeping you front-of-mind.
LIST CLEANING EMAILS
In eCommerce email marketing, more than email marketing in other industries, this is probably one of the most important automations you can have, but it’s also the one task that most eCommerce businesses fear the most.
And I get it… it seems counter-intuitive to actively remove people from your database, especially because you might be “proud of having a big database”.
But, there are a number of reasons why you need to embrace this campaign for your business.
4 Reasons You Should Regularly Clean Your Email Database
- Your email marketing tools will charge you for a certain tier of users, and in a world where every cent counts, wouldn’t it be great if you could maintain a list that was both cheaper and more profitable!
- A clever list cleaning campaign can help drive sales from customers who may not have purchased from you in some time (and may just need an extra little nudge).
- How great does it look that you care enough about your customers that you’d offer to stop sending them emails they don’t want to receive?
- Reputation is everything! These days, your ability to send email marketing campaigns is all predicated on having a squeaky clean reputation. Removing dud emails helps to reduce things like bounce rate and spam complaints, which all count towards your reputation.
Now, before you start this campaign, there’s something you can do immediately that will help improve the return on investment (ROI) of your list.
In your email marketing tool, locate the customers who you’ve tried to email but who’ve bounced.
There are generally two different types: ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ bounces. Here’s how I like to think of them:
A soft bounce = Can’t be delivered right now
A hard bounce = Can’t ever be delivered
Find all of the ‘hard’ bounces and archive those users ASAP!
So here’s the anatomy of a list cleaning email campaign...
Email 1 - Re-engage
Conditions: Set this to be sent to any customers who have not opened an email from you for the last 6 months (you can change this to 12 months if you don’t send out many emails in a year).
Use a subject line such as “We haven’t heard from you in a while…” then in your copy include things like:
- Re-introducing who you are, and how they came to be on your list;
- Offering them a small discount or gift, some sort of incentive to re-engage;
- Adding a big button sending them to your store page;
- A ‘thanks’ and a friendly sign-off.
Email 2 - Last-chance
Conditions: Set this to be sent to any customers who didn’t open the last email - this time use a more direct subject line (or something a little cheeky, if it’s on-brand!).
- Mention the last email you sent and the gift or discount you offered.
- Ask them if they still want to receive your emails
- Add a button to unsubscribe (*or stay subscribed - see below)
- A ‘thanks’ and a friendly sign-off.
AFTER-SALE FOLLOW UP EMAILS
A follow-up email can be used for a number of things, but here are my two favourite ways to use these emails:
- To ask your customers how they found using your service. These should be triggered once your shipping tool has registered a successful delivery (which doesn’t work for non-tracked orders) and is a great way to capture feedback from your customer - while you have their attention.
- To ask your customers how they’re finding your product. You can set these for a certain time after the delivery (long enough that they’ve had time to use your product).
So, how do customer review emails work?
Firstly, figure out what you want your customers to review and where you want them to review it.
If you’re asking them to review the overall experience they had shopping with you, send them somewhere public like Google or Facebook* (whichever one is your biggest source of traffic).
If you’re asking them to review the product they’ve purchased, check whether or not your store allows customers to leave reviews directly on the product page - if they do, this is the best place for these reviews.
This is because:
- Google often uses customer reviews as rich snippets in their search results which can help with ranking, and also helps make your search results take up more space on the results page.
- If a customer lands on your product page (or searches for a specific product), chances are they know what they’re looking for and they’re just looking for a bit of social proof that your products are worth their money - customer reviews are a powerful conversion tool.
*If your biggest source of traffic is Instagram I suggest sending them to Facebook since it owns Instagram, but either is fine.
Owning a small business is a massive undertaking, so finding ways to make more money while saving on time can help you make huge gains.
Utilising eCommerce email marketing or - more specifically - email automations help to add another string to your bow.
As you can see, they're a way to continually engage with your customers without having to pour massive hours or dollars into it.
Okay, so now you know the top 5 email automations that every business should be using. Just, to re-cap:
Your email automation strategy, at the very least, should look to:
- Hook in customers with an offer
- Catch customers as they abandon a cart
- Celebrate a significant moment with them
- Clean your list of disengaged contacts
- Seek customer reviews
The great thing about these types of emails is that they’re relatively low maintenance but can yield some really positive results.
Now go forth and market!