60% of consumers say they have made purchases because of a marketing email they received. With numbers like this, it is clear that email as a channel for marketing your online store is too powerful to ignore. Compared to other marketing channels like social media which have single-digit conversion rates, email marketing sits comfortably as one of the channels with the best return on investment (ROI).
For eCommerce businesses, adopting email marketing is, therefore, a no-brainer. You spend significantly less for higher results and have complete control over how you market to your audience. Smaller eCommerce businesses stand to benefit even more since they do not have the luxury of resources to invest in marketing. A simple yet thought-through sequence of email campaigns powered by automation can scale up your eCommerce business and boost your sales.
What is eCommerce Email Marketing?
eCommerce email marketing is the use of email marketing to promote products and services from your online store to potential and existing customers. Emails are widely used today by about 4 billion people on the planet. There is a very high chance that the customers you need for your eCommerce business are in that 4 billion. Emails are a potent source of reaching out to your audience to let them know about the interesting products you have to offer.
I like to say think of your eCommerce business as a brick-and-mortar store. How would you interact with customers as they came into your store to shop? Would you welcome them with a heartwarming message? Perhaps you would let them know the deals and discounts you have for the day. I am sure you would say “thank you for shopping with us” after a customer’s purchase. Your eCommerce email marketing strategy should be crafted along these lines. Every interaction you would have with a customer in a physical store should be replicated in the online store experience as well. In this article, we will look through 13 eCommerce email marketing campaigns you should adopt to boost sales.
eCommerce Marketing Campaigns
Welcome emails are 86% more effective than standard newsletters. If you are ever going to have an email campaign with enormous engagement, welcome emails are your go-to. They generate as many as 5 times more clicks than the usual promotional emails. Customers who sign up with your brand expect to receive a welcome message from you within minutes. This makes welcome emails the best medium to communicate your brand’s value to your audience.
Tell customers what they stand to gain from your brand from the onset. You don’t want customers wondering if they chose the right brand. Briefly list out the qualities of your product that is beneficial to your client. If your brand is associated with environmental causes like sustainability, talk about it. Many customers feel comfortable shopping from places that are helping the environment.
Make use of offers to entice your customers to make their first purchase. Add a discount or promo code to your popular products and consider adding a deadline to push customers to decide faster. You can even offer a free resource or sample of your product if your budget allows it. Another thing you should aim for with welcome emails is to let customers know what to expect from you. Will you be sending any promotional emails and how often? Allow them to set their own preferences for promotional materials they would like to receive. This will help you with personalizing their experience. Take a look at this welcome email from ROCC that executes the points we have talked about seamlessly.
You will probably not be able to communicate everything in one email and that is fine. Welcome emails are often broken down into a series of emails over several days.
Newsletters are classic examples of promotional emails you can send to your audience. As the name suggests, promotional emails are emails you send to promote your brand and products. They can be in the form of periodic product announcements, customer highlights, or even How-to tutorials. When it comes to newsletters, there are no hard rules or boundaries. Allow your creativity to flourish and ask yourself “What would my customers want to get from my emails?”. From the answers you compile, you will have enough ideas to start your newsletter.
The goal of newsletters is to nurture the relationship with your customers. Brands often use it as a medium to educate customers on new industry knowledge and trends. Don’t forget to also incorporate storytelling into your newsletters. Perhaps your product has helped a client reach a certain goal. Share that client success story with your audience. Keep in mind not to make your newsletters too long and clumsy. The design should be clear with visible text and a call to action.
Chili Sleep’s uses this simple newsletter to announce their new product to their audience. It has a clean design and a clear call to action.
Abandoned Cart Emails
How many times have you put an item in the shopping cart of an eCommerce store and simply never gone back to purchase? Probably more than once. Shopify puts abandoned cart rates between 60% and 85%. That is such an enormous percentage of potential sales to let go. Abandoned cart emails are designed to remind the recipient to checkout and complete the purchase they intended to make.
When creating an abandoned cart email, keep the text simple with a clear call to action. Also, consider including an image of the item in the email. There should be a text description of the item alongside the price. Doing this will make sure your customer still knows what item it is at first glance especially when images are not shown by default in the email. You can show the credibility of your product by including a short statistic or fact. An even better option is to subtly place a review or customer satisfaction story in there. If you want to spice things up a little, add an incentive to further convince them to complete the purchase. I particularly like this example from Rudy’s because it combines a witty headline with every element highlighted in this point. They even add a time limit to get customers to purchase now.
Thank You Email
Customers keep every business going, including yours. Without them, there would be no reason to do what we do. As such, it is important to appreciate them now and then. I don’t mean a “Thank you for your order” or subscription message. Yes, those do matter, however, a heartfelt thank you message to your customers periodically is in order. Some brands send thank you messages when they hit a milestone. Others randomly send them out as well. There really isn’t any formula to it.
Dedicate one of your newsletters to say thank you to your customers. No promotional material or noise, just a simple heartfelt thank you message. Customers can tell when you are being genuine, so thank them. If you are feeling generous, you can offer discounts or promo codes as well.
Italic takes an interesting approach to thank you emails by selling an item at a loss every Tuesday to show gratitude to their customers.
Order Confirmation Email
Customers who buy from you will expect a confirmation email with basic details of their purchase. Order confirmation emails are usually automated and include the purchased item, price, delivery time, and address.
Do not look at order confirmation emails as digital receipts only. They have one of the highest open rates, and therefore present you with an opportunity to engage further with your clients. Add some incentives in the form of a discount on their next purchase to get customers coming back. If you are sure about your product, you can emphasize a money-back guarantee or returns program if available. Upselling similar products also make sense in this type of email since customers are already in their buying element. Recommend accessories or other products that complement the purchased item.
Also include channels for your customers to ask questions if they have any. Take a look at Trade’s confirmation email. They used their confirmation emails as an opportunity to announce their bag size changes.
Shipping Confirmation Emails
Once customers have purchased from you and their items have been shipped, a shipping confirmation email is in order. Shipping emails are among the most expected emails by customers as it builds on their excitement of receiving a new product. These emails notify the customer that their product is on the way and usually contain the tracking information as well as frequently asked questions that customers may have.
Similar to the order confirmation email, shipping confirmation emails should be seen as an opportunity to engage the customer. Include tracking details for the customer to keep up with delivery. If tracking is not an option, then an estimated delivery date is fine. Encourage customers to refer a friend for rewards. Feals offers $20 to the customer and their friend as part of their shipping confirmation email in the example below.
It can be frustrating to spend time and resources to acquire customers who interact once and vanish after. It happens to the best of brands and that is why win-back email campaigns exist. This particular campaign is aimed at bringing inactive customers back into your fold. As you manage an online store, you will gradually be able to determine what the average purchase frequency for your product is. For some products, it could be one week and for others, maybe two.
Once you have determined the frequency, you can easily tell which customers are inactive based on their last purchase date. Generally, start showing concern if a customer has not interacted with your brand in 30 days. After 90 days, you should be concerned. Re-engage these inactive customers by first segmenting them and targeting them with personalized messaging. Since you know their last purchase, you can give them a discount on a similar item. The essence of a win-back campaign is to dangle something attractive in front of your inactive customers so they bite. Win-Back campaigns can be automated to save you time. TinyEmail’s predefined segments automatically group your inactive customers for you to email if you have integrated with .
Price Drop Emails
Price drop emails are another example of automated email campaigns that you need for your eCommerce business. These emails are sent out to customers whenever there is a price drop on their favorite products. The user behavior data you capture through cookies and account information is used to personalize and send these emails to your customers. When a customer frequently visits or saves an item to purchase later, they can be easily notified of price changes. Who doesn’t love to save some money? We all do, and it is even better if we are saving on something we want. Columbia executes this strategy flawlessly and even includes cross-selling to get the customer to buy more.
We have all had that disappointing experience of trying to buy an item we really want, and being met with “Sorry, out of stock”. This is bound to happen to any eCommerce business at any time especially when demand increases beyond supply. However, you must ensure that this doesn’t affect you negatively by driving your customers to your competitors. Back-in-stock emails help you achieve this. How? Customers often save items they really want on their waitlist or favorites. Send out back-in-stock emails to customers who have interacted with out-of-stock products on these wait lists or favorite sections. This way, customers are kept up to date and you do not lose them. Take a cue from Huckberry’s back-in-stock email.
Upselling is a marketing technique that tries to convince customers to purchase a more expensive product in an effort to get them to spend more. You may have come across many upselling emails without realizing it. They are often subtle and try to coerce customers with reasons why they are better off spending more. It could be for more features and benefits the upgraded product gives. At the end of the day, upselling emails get customers to spend more with your eCommerce brand than they had planned to. Dollar Shave illustrates how they upsell customers after they have made an initial purchase with them.
Cross-selling in eCommerce email marketing is a very popular technique employed by both big and small brands. Complementary products are recommended to customers as a way to boost sales. It is very common to see eCommerce brands recommend similar products that may go together. Some even bundle several products and offer them to customers. All these are examples of cross-selling techniques you can use to engage customers. Let’s take a look at this example from Apple where they offer similar action-packed games for customers to explore.
Feedback is a vital part of any business. You want to be able to know if your customers are satisfied with your products and services. In the online store environment, it is even more important because customers can access your competition with the click of a button. Survey emails provide you with the channel to request feedback from your clients.
Your clients have a wealth of information about your business and how you can improve it. Ask them frequently how they feel about your products. Are you meeting their expectations at all? What do they like about you compared to your competition? How do they think you can improve? As simple as these questions may be, genuine customer answers to them will give you the upper hand.
Start by inviting your customers to share their feedback in return for a discount or a valuable resource. Surveys are known to sometimes be long so it is a good idea to let them know how long it would take. Use interactive forms that make it easier for customers to use. Finally, if you need feedback urgently for a decision, let the customers know that there is a deadline to it.
Referrals are a solid way of getting the word out about your eCommerce business. People trust product recommendations from those they know. It makes perfect sense to encourage customers to share your products with their friends through a referral program. I like this email from Lumina as an example of what a referral email should look like. It highlights the product, makes an offer, and has a bold call to action customers can click on. After all, who wouldn’t want a free webcam?
Ways To Make Your eCommerce Email Stand Out
Take note of the following elements to help your campaigns stand out from the crowd.
Integrations: Find Email Service Providers that allow you to integrate with third-party eCommerce platforms. TinyEmail allows you to integrate with Shopify, Woocommerce, and a host of other platforms that bring in data for a more personalized email experience for your subscribers.
Lead Capture Forms: Having forms on your website to capture leads will help you get potential customers into your marketing funnel. You can then use campaigns like the welcome email series to welcome them and the other campaigns to nurture them into paying customers.
Subject Lines and Preheaders: Subject lines are preheaders are the first thing a subscriber sees when they receive your email. They are a determining factor as to whether your email gets opened or not. Craft enticing subject lines that tell the customer what the email is about. For a detailed breakdown on this subject, read this article on how to write great subject lines and preheaders.
Email Design: Email designs are an important part of your email marketing process. Imagine having great content that is poorly designed. The appeal to read it will simply not be there. Design your emails to be clean and visually appealing. Use your brand colors and assets to make the emails easily recognizable and always make your call-to-actions bold and visible for subscribers to see. As a rule of thumb, ensure that the emails you design are mobile-friendly and show up responsively on mobile screens.
Personalization through Segmentation: Segmentation will help you to divide your customers into highly targeted categories that make it easy to personalize their emails. For eCommerce brands, you can segment customers based on purchase history, purchase frequency, and demographics among many others. Read our articles about segmentation and personalization for more tips.
Test, Test, and Track Results: After everything is said and done, you will need to test more and more strategies till you find a fit. Employ A/B testing to your copy, images, subject lines, segmentation, and personalization strategies. You can now make informed changes to your strategy from the results that come in. Be attentive to your open, click, and conversion rates as they would help you understand the performance of your campaigns compared to your industry benchmarks.
For online businesses, email marketing presents a low-cost yet highly effective medium to nurture relationships with customers and ultimately boost sales. These 13 campaigns will help you build a solid eCommerce email marketing strategy. As time goes on, feel free to experiment with different ideas and techniques via these campaigns. You will eventually find what works best for your eCommerce brand.