The highest ROI marketing channel for online stores is also one of the most overlooked: Ecommerce email marketing.
In a world of influencer campaigns, TikTok ads and SMS marketing, it’s easy to forget the power of email marketing – one of the least sexy marketing options – but when done right it is the most effective.
Any brand that takes email seriously and tracks channel attribution in Google analytics can vouch for this. Shopify even lists email marketing first in their list of Ecommerce marketing strategies.
Email marketing has been around forever. It still provides an astronomical return on investment for an Ecommerce business.
Once someone has signed up to your email list, you can market and re-market to them continuously for minimal cost outside of creative and design. This is called “owned media” because you essentially own the email channel with full control, and can use it to send people back to your Ecommerce platform whenever you like.
Perfecting a winning Ecommerce email marketing strategy isn’t as straightforward as you may think, though. We’ve assembled this in-depth email strategy guide to shed some light on what a winning email strategy looks like for a successful Ecommerce brand, from growing your email list to ensuring your campaigns steer clear of the dreaded spam folder.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about creating a lucrative email marketing system of your very own.
Here is everything you’ll find in this strategy guide:
Ecommerce Email Marketing Software: Choosing the Best for Your Brand
Choosing the right email service provider (ESP) for your online store is incredibly important in crafting your overall strategy.
There are a myriad of options available, all with their own unique sets of pros and cons. Among the most popular email automation software options for Ecommerce are Klaviyo, Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, and Listrak.
You’ll need to conduct some careful research into which option is right for your business. This is a big decision and changing email platforms at a later date can be difficult and time consuming.
Picking an Email Marketing Service for Ecommerce
Things to think about and keep in mind during your search include:
- Automation capabilities
- Integration capabilities
- Ease of use
- Customer reviews
- Customer service
Here in our Ecommerce email marketing agency we have made the decision to only work with brands who use Klaviyo as their email marketing software.
There are a few reasons for this, but primarily we feel that when it comes to running effective email marketing campaigns for Ecommerce brands, Klaviyo is best option for the vast majority of online stores we speak with. To learn more about why, read our complete Klaviyo review. We also created a very in-depth breakdown of Klaviyo’s pricing for both their email and SMS.
Having said that, if you choose not to use Klaviyo you’ll still be able to apply what you learn in this guide and implement it using your email platform of choice.
Important Email Marketing Best Practices
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of what a successful email marketing strategy looks like, it’s important to understand what you need to do – and not do – to avoid violating spam laws and getting your IP blacklisted as a spammer.
In email marketing of any kind there are definitely some mistakes you want to avoid as they’re costly to fix.
In order for your emails to reach the maximum number of subscribers and existing customers, there are some basic best practices you need to follow. There’s a lot of literature out there on the subject so we won’t go too in-depth, but nevertheless pay attention to these recommendations to maintain a good sender reputation.
Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid:
These tactics have no place in a successful Ecommerce email marketing campaign strategy. Unfortunately we still see these happening fairly often when working with new agency and email consulting clients.
- Don’t buy email lists
- Don’t Continuously email unengaged subscribers who aren’t opening
- Never blindly email your entire list without segmenting
- Don’t trick people into opening your emails by concealing your company name
- Don’t use curse words likely to trigger spam filters in your email copy
- Don’t include attachments in your emails
- Don’t ever send an email without fully testing it first
- Don’t try to hide your unsubscribe links
Those are all fairly basic but even in 2022 they need to be repeated.
Quick Email Marketing Tips & Best Practices:
- Test your emails on multiple devices before sending them
- Include a visible, easy-to-access “Unsubscribe” link
- Keep your email lists clean by removing dormant subscribers and hard bounces
- Provide a “View in Browser” link so everyone can see your email as intended
- Proofread – spelling errors and grammar mistakes reflect negatively on your brand
- Offer valuable content that your subscribers will want to open time and again
- Plan out your schedule well in advance, including plenty of value add non-sales content
- Use a unified font and color scheme to match your overall brand
- Make it clear people can unsubscribe anytime
- Only send an email when you have something valuable to say or share.
The above should get you off to a good start with solid email deliverability.
If your emails aren’t getting opened at a good clip (MailChimp digital marketing reports the average open rate for Ecommerce emails is 15.66%), take a hard look at your subject lines, email frequency, and most importantly your segmentation.
Who you’re sending to – and not sending to – is the biggest factor in achieving consistently strong open rates. Sending emails to huge audiences who have not shown any interest in your brand for some time is one of the biggest causes of poor email open rates.
Email Marketing List Segmentation for Ecommerce Brands
As we’ve mentioned, relevancy is the name of the game when it comes to email marketing. You’re competing with countless other brands in the inbox, and the only way to truly stand out is by sending marketing emails that speak directly to your recipient.
You accomplish this by breaking your master list of subscribers into sub-categories, or “segments.”
There are a million different ways to break up your email list, depending on your niche and business, but to start, we’re going to focus our attention on the most universal subscriber types, and show you how to identify them.
This will give you an understanding of the very basics. We’ll dive deeper into the world of Ecommerce email marketing list segmentation in other articles.
Potential Purchasers Segment
This segment of your list is going to be comprised of people who have expressed some sort of interest in your online business product line but have yet to actually follow through and make a purchase.
We could theoretically sift through every email subscriber to manually identify who exactly fits into this category, but thanks to automation, we don’t have to. Instead, we can create a few rules within our ESP to identify this group for us.
Here’s how Klaviyo configures this segment to give you an idea of exactly who it’s targeting.
This segment (which Klaviyo has pre-configured for all its email clients – pretty sweet!) is going to hone in on members of your list who have recently interacted with your company, either via email or on your website. We know they’ve done so because, like most ESPs, Klaviyo tracks this information for us.
In this case we’re creating a list of conditions that are most indicative of someone who’s strongly considering making a purchase. They’ve either viewed a specific product on your website, clicked one of your emails, or been actively clicking around your website at some point in the last 30 days. (This last point is especially important to note because it means your company is likely still fresh in their minds.) For whatever reason, though, they have yet to purchase from you, as evidenced by the fact that they meet the “Placed Order zero times over all time” rule.
This is powerful information to have, and you can already begin to imagine how it could be used to turn these warm leads into purchasers via targeted email marketing campaigns. You can stay top of mind with this segment using email campaigns designed specifically to address the common concerns potential customers have about purchasing from a new company for the first time.
Put yourself in this group’s shoes: what prevents you from impulse-buying that trendy new product you saw on Instagram? Factors like price, perceived value, and site security can play a big role in determining whether or not someone ultimately decides to buy from you.
By addressing these concerns while increasing desire for your products, you increase the likelihood of them ultimately becoming purchasers.
This can be done effectively with educational content marketing messages delivered via email over time with a good dose of social proof and details on your brand story and values. This helps to round out your overall Ecommerce email marketing program and gives readers variety.
Email Campaign Content Ideas for Potential Purchasers
Great email content to send this “on the fence” subscriber segment includes social proof in the form of product testimonials, information regarding product warranties or money-back guarantees, and imagery of your product in action. If margins allow it, you can also consider providing a one-time-use coupon code.
These subscribers are this close to purchasing your product, and a timely email may be all you need to nudge them across the proverbial finish line.
Existing Customer Segments – Regular & VIP
While the previous segment of your email list has yet to make a purchase, these two groups will be comprised of your past purchasers. Both one-time and repeat customers.
Identifying these segments is fairly simple, as we’ll demonstrate using a Klaviyo account integrated with a Shopify store.
As you can see, creating rules to automatically identify the purchasers of your products is fairly easy to do. Simply set the “Placed Order” metric to at least once over all time and ensure that the subscriber is not suppressed (Klaviyo and most ESPs will flag a user as suppressed if they have either marked your email as spam or unsubscribed from your list before) and you’ll have a list of all recipients who have purchased from you before.
While this general segment is useful if you want to only target the subsets of your list who have not yet made a purchase, it doesn’t give us much information about the people in it.
Individuals who have made one purchase of $9.99 are weighted the same as your most loyal customers who have spent $1,000 over the course of 30 transactions on your site, which isn’t really that useful from a marketing perspective. You want to encourage customers to continue to buy from you, and to give the ones that do the VIP treatment.
How do you accomplish this? By creating rules to identify your most important email recipients. These are your VIPs and they live in their own VIP segment.
There are two basic ways to define who qualifies as a VIP: total revenue or number of purchases. It’s up to you to determine which segmenting rules make the most sense for your business, but we’ll show you how to set each up within Klaviyo.
VIP Customer Segment – Based on Amount Spent
Pretty simple, right? In this instance, we’re telling Klaviyo that anyone who has spent over $1,000 on our site and is not suppressed (i.e. can still receive our marketing emails) is a VIP customer.
VIP Customer Segment – Based on Number of Purchases
Equally simple. In this case, all loyal customers who have placed 10 or more orders on our site and is not suppressed qualifies as a VIP.
It doesn’t matter how you determine who qualifies for VIP status on your website, so long as you treat them with the care and respect your biggest repeat customers deserve.
These people have a clear affinity for your brand – make sure they know you value them as much as they do you!
Email Marketing Ideas for Loyal Customers & VIPs
You want to create room in your Ecommerce email marketing program to make this segment of your list feel special.
Exclusive loyal customer discounts and free gifts are great ways to do so, but there’s really no limit on how you can cultivate a great relationship with the most important repeat buyers in your Ecommerce business.
Consider automating a plain text email from the company CEO’s address thanking them for their repeat business or asking them for input on products you’re about to add to your website.
These are simple campaigns you can implement to keep them engaged while making it clear that you are aware and appreciative of their business. It’s worth keeping in mind that SMS marketing can also perform well for VIP customers if you’re using this channel.
Specific Product Purchasers
There is one final sub-segment of existing customers that you will likely find useful in your Ecommerce email marketing strategy – people who have purchased a specific item or items from your online store.
Here’s how to create a segment of users who have purchased a specific item from your store. The “Items” field has been intentionally left blank – to fill it in, simply select the desired item from your catalog…
Email Campaign Ideas For Specific Product/Collection Purchasers
The better question here may be what not to send this particular segment.
Let’s say you run an online streetwear shop that sells men’s and women’s hats. You’d like to send an email promoting one of your best-selling women’s hats.
Who should you send it to?
In the interest of keeping your emails relevant, most Ecommerce businesses will generally want to exclude two segments from receiving this particular email: past purchasers of men’s items and past purchasers of the hat in question. These two groups of existing customers are among the least likely to find an email promoting this style useful, which increases the risk of them either unsubscribing or flagging your emails as spam.
To create these segments, simply follow the steps outlined above. Then when you’re selecting the lists and segments you’d like to send your promotional email to, exclude anyone in them from receiving the email.
Extra Tip: If your products are frequently given as gifts, you may want to dig a little deeper before determining whether or not a purchaser of a men’s item is indeed a man.
The Engaged Subscribers Segment
One of the most useful pieces of information you can glean from your ESP is an understanding of who is actually engaging with your emails. This is hugely important information for running successful Ecommerce email marketing campaigns.
Here’s one of the many ways we could define an engaged user based on Klaviyo’s rules.
You’re free to customize this definition as you see fit, but assuming you’re emailing with some regularity, the rules in place here should work fairly well in identifying which of your email subscribers are actually interested in what you have to say.
Take a look at the individual rules to familiarize yourself both with how to set them up and the logic behind them.
These rules tell our email marketing service (in this case Klaviyo) what a user needs to have done to be considered engaged. They need to be present in our master subscriber list (called Newsletter), they have to have opened an email at least once in the past 90 days, and they have to have clicked an email at least once in the last 90 days.
It’s important to note that we also stipulate that they have to have subscribed more than 90 days ago and that they have received at least 5 emails since doing so.
Because without these two rules, we’re potentially not giving our subscribers enough opportunity to interact with our Ecommerce email marketing campaigns.
By including them, we’re ensuring that they’ve had ample opportunity to do so – if they don’t, they’ll become part of our “Unengaged Subscribers” list.
Email Campaign Ideas For Engaged Subscribers & Customers
By nature, engaged subscribers are going to be the people on your list most likely to interact with your email marketing efforts.
That doesn’t mean that you have carte blanche to email them every single day.
The email strategy you’ve been employing is clearly resonating with them, so keep it up without overdoing it. Be consistent without being pushy and use the list segmentation tips outlined above to maximize the relevancy of your emails.
Unengaged Email Subscribers
This segment is the inverse of your Engaged Subscribers segment. They’ve been present in the master list for the same amount of time and have received the same minimum number of emails, but they haven’t taken the minimum actions to be considered engaged: they haven’t opened or clicked your emails.
The chances of these contacts being converted to new customers via email marketing is low.
Here’s what this particular subscriber segment looks like.
These subscribers might be uninterested in your brand, or just the type of people who don’t interact with emails even though they sign up for a lot of different offers. A very small number may even be spam traps.
“Spam traps” can refer to any number of email address types that aren’t owned by real people. They look like real email addresses, but they were either created by an ISP to identify email spammers, were abandoned by real email users, are email addresses featuring typos made by real people, or they were completely made up by legitimate subscribers and don’t actually exist (how many times have you typed in some variant of “email@example.com” in order to access gated website content?).
It’s hard to identify spam traps because they look exactly like real email addresses.
That’s why creating an unengaged list is so important – not only will it help you rid your list of uninterested subscribers, but it will also help you purge spam traps from your list, keeping you off of email blacklists.
Campaigns to Send Unengaged Subscribers – Content Ideas
Not every unengaged subscriber is a spam trap and you don’t want to treat them as such – these users might simply not have been sufficiently impressed by the content you’ve sent to merit opening and clicking on it.
Nevertheless, you want to treat this segment with particular care, as repeatedly sending to known spam traps and accruing low open rates in the process can damage your sender reputation. This can ultimately result in your domain getting blacklisted, preventing you from sending any marketing emails. That’s not good.
We recommend excluding these segments from the majority of your email campaigns in favor of creating a specific automated email series designed to either turn these email addresses into engaged subscribers or purging them from your list entirely. We’ll cover all of that in our section devoted to automated email campaigns.
Growing A Healthy Email List For Your Ecommerce Brand
Email marketing for Ecommerce is a numbers game: if you want to get any mileage out of your email marketing initiatives, you need to have a sizable email list and a way to continuously collect email addresses from potential customers who are actually interested.
How do you do this?
With a smart popup form to convert website traffic to new subscribers.
Before you get disgusted by the idea of a sign up form popping up to cover your beautiful online store, take a look at the results of this split-test conducted by Aweber.
In this instance, the popup (lightbox) outperformed the traditional email signup form by a whopping 1,375%.
Popups clearly work, and, when implemented thoughtfully, can help significantly grow your list without compromising your store’s appearance of functionality.
Choosing the Right Opt-In Form
As is the case when selecting the right email marketing tool for your business, you’ll want to put some time into researching which service you use to build your email list. Most ESPs have a built-in popup form that you can customize for free.
Klaviyo for example supports beautiful forms with advanced targeting features that collect both emails, cell numbers for SMS marketing, and all kinds of other personal data you might want to ask for. Some Ecommerce brands however choose a third party tool instead.
Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to make sure of two things when selecting a third-party service: it integrates with both your email marketing software and your online store platform.
Once you’ve made your decision and have a popup form on your website, you’re going to want to split-test it extensively.
The testing options available to you will vary based on which popup from you select, but the most important factors to test include copy, call to action, image, and where and when it appears on your website. You may also want to test offering a discount or other incentive such as free shipping in order to get people to sign up, but that’s entirely up to you.
Getting people to sign up for your email is only half the battle, of course – you need to have an automated email marketing campaign set up and ready to nurture your new leads.
We’ll talk about writing an awesome welcome email sequence shortly, but first we’re going to strongly consider requiring your new subscribers to confirm their subscription.
Sometimes referred to as double opt-in or dual authentication, this process requires users to confirm receipt of an email prior to adding them to your marketing list. Simply typing an email and hitting “enter” won’t cut it.
While adding a step to the sign-up process may seem counterintuitive as it creates friction by requiring users to take an additional step, it’s worth doing: this will help to keep your list clean of mistyped email addresses and spam traps.
By requiring new subscribers to take this single step, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of you earning a poor sender reputation. This is great for peace of mind and also for your wallet, as most email marketing platforms charge you based on the number of subscribers in your account.
Important Ecommerce Marketing Email Automations Every Online Store Needs
At this point, you have a solid foundation for a winning email marketing strategy.
You’ve selected the email software that’s right for your business, created a high conversion rate opt-in form, and have rules in place to automatically break your master list into various segments based on email engagement and purchase history from your Ecommerce platform of choice.
Now it’s time to start building out the automated email campaigns (called Flows in Klaviyo) that will effortlessly make you money, beginning with arguably the most important of all: your email welcome series.
There are a couple of terms you’ll want to be familiar with to make the most of the following recommendations. You’ll be using these to define your email automations much in the same way you segmented your master email list above. While they may vary across ESPs, their essential functions are the same.
Anything that will prompt an automated campaign to be sent, or a sequence to start.
A user entering a certain list or segment can trigger an automated campaign. A purchase triggers transactional emails and email receipts.
Many different actions from website visitors such as adding a product to cart browsing a category can trigger automated emails as well. Not just website purchases.
Email Trigger Example
A user subscribes through a popup and joins the “Newsletter” list, triggering a welcome email series.
Email Trigger Filters
Anything that prevents a user from receiving an automated email campaign they would have otherwise received. There are a number of different filter options available, including actions, properties, and location, among others.
Email Filter Example:
You create a “Browse Abandonment” campaign to send to anyone who has viewed a product on your website 30 minutes after they have viewed it, but filter out anyone who has made a purchase within that timeframe.
An in-flow check that determines whether or not someone receives a certain email. This is Klaviyo specific terminology but most good email marketing tools will have the equivalent of a Conditional Split to send users down different paths based on their behavior. This is a factor in successful email personalization.
Conditional Split Example
You create an “Abandoned Cart” campaign, but only want to offer discounts to subscribers whose carts have a value over a certain dollar amount. You add a conditional before this discount email to ensure it is only sent to recipients with a high cart value.
A pre-determined delay that is configured to space your emails apart within an automated campaign.
Time Delay Example:
You want to give users a chance to complete their purchase before sending a cart abandonment email. You place a 30-minute time delay at the beginning of the flow, preventing anyone from receiving the first Abandoned Cart email until 30 minutes after they’ve entered the flow.
Welcome Series – #1 Automation in Email Marketing for Ecommerce
The sequence of welcome emails is the most important automated campaign a brand can set up in our option. It is the highest volume, and will most often drive more revenue than any other single automation. It is also responsible for turning all of those leads and potential customers you’re collecting through pop up forms into new customers.
Welcome Email Sequence Technical Setup
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what a basic welcome series constructed in Klaviyo might look like, complete with a trigger, time delays, and a conditional split. We’ll then discuss creating your welcome emails themselves.
It’s pretty easy to see how these concepts actually work, isn’t it?
We’re telling Klaviyo what we want to have happen at every step of the way. Once someone subscribes to our newsletter, they’ll immediately receive a welcome email. A day later they’ll receive a more formal introduction to your company and products. A day after that they’ll get an email featuring testimonials about how wonderful your product is.
Things get more interesting after this third email, because now we’re employing conditional logic to ensure that the only people who receive our gift (typically a discount code) are yet to make a purchase after entering this particular campaign.
As you can see, this is very easy to configure, but don’t let its simplicity belie its importance: taking steps like this will save you money in the long run. If someone customers purchase your product at full price, you have no reason to offer them an additional discount.
Creating an Ecommerce Email Welcome Series – Content Ideas
The content you provide in your welcome email series will largely depend on what you promise users in your opt-in form. Welcome emails are huge revenue drivers for Ecommerce stores.
If you offer a 10% discount in exchange for signing up, you had better follow through and send that discount the second they join your list in the very first welcome email. The same goes for any kind of content piece, free gift with purchase, or anything else you want to test to incentivize emails opt ins.
If you merely said that you would provide news, updates, and periodic sales, you have some creative leeway in how you go about cultivating your new relationship with these subscribers.
You’re free to configure this series as you see fit in terms of content and timing but remember that welcome emails often serve as your first real off-site communication with your contacts.
Make sure these initial welcome email automations do a good job communicating your brand’s voice, set reasonable expectations for future emails and look professional.
We have created a full in-depth guide like this one just for your Ecommerce welcome series so be sure to check that out.
Here are some quick welcome series email marketing tips though to help you with content:
- Start by immediately giving people what they signed up for. This is key to building trust and strong new customer relationships.
- Somewhere in the first two welcome emails in this series, ask your recipients to whitelist your account by adding your email address to their address book. This will help guarantee your emails don’t wind up in spam. You can also asl people to “drag the email to their inbox” if it lands in the Promotions tab
- Don’t be afraid to create a long series of five emails or more. Think of the welcome email sequence like a salesperson working for you 24/7 converting new subscribers into new customers. So answer questions, highlight specific product benefits and brand USPs, and provide lots of social proof, positive reviews, and happy customer stories.
- Remember to use filters to remove any buyers from the sequence. You do not want existing customers to keep receiving a welcome email sequence reminding them to use the new customer coupon code! This will not encourage customer loyalty at all.
Overall the welcome series should be the email automation you spend the most time on and put the most effort into.
Remember, many of the subscribers going through this automation will be your future customers. So treat them well. This always starts with attractive, well written welcome emails.
Cart Abandonment Email Series to Recover Lost Sales
According to Barilliance, upwards of ¾ of total online shopping carts are abandoned each year.
That is an absolutely astounding figure that should hammer home the importance of creating an Abandoned Cart email series for any serious Ecommerce business.
Luckily for the non-techie crowd, any good email service provider will have pre-built abandoned cart emails that you can enable at the click of a button.
Let’s take a look at Klaviyo’s default setup.
This campaign is triggered when someone has begun the checkout process on your website but hasn’t placed an order since doing so. Once four hours have elapsed (we actually like to use two hours), they’ll receive their first abandoned cart email, which will ideally contain the following content:
This admittedly-unattractive email template is actually a beautiful masterpiece, because instead of “item.product.title”, your recipients will see the name of the product(s) they left in their cart, alongside a picture of the item.
This content is dynamically generated so that it accurately mirrors what the recipient left in their cart, allowing you to create personalized messages for each shopper.
The email is complete with a call to action prompting users to return to their cart which, when clicked, will return them directly to where they left off in the checkout process with all of their items saved thanks to the power of technology and cookies.
When populated into branded email templates to match your Ecommerce site, these personalized abandoned cart campaigns are highly effective, have a high conversion rate, and look great.
Here’s one of our favorite personalized email templates from Beardbrand that started out life looking like the ugly default template above.
This will do a great job of recovering abandoned shopping carts. These guys always send really good emails!
After that initial email is sent, you have a couple of options available. You can elect to wait 20 hours to send one last reminder, as Klaviyo has done, or you can take it a step (or two or three) further.
We tend to see a 3-5 step abandoned cart email series perform extremely well for most brands.
Let’s say that you decide that capturing cart abandonment sales is worth the cost to offer free shipping, or taking 10% off the total cost with a coupon code. Rather than ending the series after two emails like Klaviyo’s default has done, you send a third email a day later with a discount code inside it in an effort to get people to finally make the purchase.
If they still don’t purchase, you can configure another follow-up email or two, as we’ve done in the example above.
There’s no need to worry about your recipients getting overwhelmed by these emails, either, because your ESP will recheck your filters prior to sending the next email in a sequence.
If at some point they fail to be met, the recipient in question will be removed from the email sequence.
In this instance, were a user to make a purchase after receiving the second email, the “Placed Order zero times” rule would fail to be met, meaning they would exit the sequence without receiving emails #3, #4, or #5.
Deciding whether or not to offer a discount is completely up to you, but we’d recommend not doing so immediately, as this will condition your recipients to always abandon their carts.
Browse Abandonment Automated Email Marketing Campaigns
Ever looked at a product online only to see it pop up on the sidebar of your Facebook feed minutes later?
It’s no coincidence – it’s retargeting. And it can be done via email marketing just as easily as through social media advertising on other online ads. This email flow is highly profitable for Ecommerce businesses but very often overlooked.
This is how it’s built in Klaviyo.
The flow itself is very similar to the Abandoned Cart flow, with two notable exceptions: it filters out anyone who’s started a checkout since starting the flow and anyone who has already been in the flow in the last 30 days.
The reason for the first filter is because you’ve already created an automated campaign to handle users who have started checkout but haven’t placed an order: your abandoned cart series.
The reason for the second filter is that you want to avoid emailing people excessively. Think how many products you view on any given Ecommerce site. It would be extremely annoying if you received an email every time you merely looked at a product.
Again, you’re free to build your browse abandonment email flow out as much or as little as you’d like. Many brands keep it to one email sent after 2 hours, others add in an additional follow up a day later. The link above takes you to our full Browse Abandonment Guide, by the way.
Keep in mind where your customer is at in the buying process and tailor your email content accordingly. At this stage they’ve only expressed a passing interest in the product and could still be in the research phase.
Also, in some cases a LOT of your subscribers can trigger this flow each day so you might want to refrain from using discount codes here if you don’t want them to be too widely available. This sequence can absolutely drive substantial revenue without the use of coupons for most brands.
Here’s a real world browse abandonment example email from I Love Ugly
The VIP Customer Email Automation
We took the time to create the VIP segment earlier – now it’s time to put it to work with a VIP email sequence.
Whenever someone is added to your VIP customer segment, a campaign can be sent letting them know that they’re now part of your VIP club and can expect to receive exclusive perks that aren’t available to other customers. This is typically delivered a few minutes to an hour after the purchase, once the necessary transactional and order confirmation email receipts have been delivered.
Including a VIP discount in this series is a great idea (we’ve done so above), but there are really no limits to how it can be customized. Just go out of your way to let your most valuable and loyal customers know you recognize their loyalty, and them them something over and above what they’re used to getting. This is great for building long term customer relationships and encouraging more brand loyalty.
You can use a different sender name for these emails such as Brand Name VIP Club, or something that makes the email stand out in the inbox for repeat customers.
Ecommerce Re-Engagement & Win Back Email Automations
It is important to put automations in place designed to engage people who were once interested in your brand, but have now gone cold. There are several criteria you can use in these important promotional emails.
The two main ones are:
- Customers who made a purchase but have not returned for XX days or months
- Subscribers who have stopped opening your emails for XX days or months
In both cases, the idea is to build a short email automation that uses curiosity, humor, or maybe even a great one-time offer to bring people back and get them engaging with you again.
Hopefully they purchase, but getting them opening your emails again is a win too as they re-enter your engaged email segment.
The default Klaviyo setup for a Winback campaign looks like this, with the first message sending 75 days after a purchase if no other orders have been made since then.
A follow up email is sent 15 days later.
Be as creative as you want with these emails. Especially if you’re dealing with subscribers haven’t interacted (opened) in a while, which means the typical messaging isn’t resonating.
You can experiment with subject lines and email content/offer, along with the actual layout of the sequence itself. Feel free to expand or shrink this flow as much as you’d like. However you do not want to keep email people indefinitely if they are not opening your messages.
At some point you want to let people go if they don’t show interest and focus on new subscribers and existing customer relationships. That’s where the money is made for an Ecommerce business.
We not fans of the “buy or die” approach which involves emailing someone continuously until they purchase or unsubscribe.
However you build these flows, make sure you have a mechanism in place to easily identify the subscribers who make it all the way through the series without engaging (opening or clicking) an email.
You’ll want to isolate these subscribers and clean them from your list. That’s right, you can safely remove them from all future Ecommerce email marketing messages.
In the example sequence below you can see the very end of a re-engagement series for subscribers who have not been active. We created a profile property called “Delete” and set it to “Yes”.
If we want to suppress these profiles, we can simply create a segment of individuals who have this property on their profile and remove them at our leisure – once per month works well. This is a good practice to keep your list clean and responsive.
Your email service provider will love you forever if you do this!
Additional Ecommerce Email Marketing Automations You Can Build to Increase Sales
What we’ve covered so far are just some of the basic automations you’ll want to implement. This is a beginner guide after all.
These are proven and always drive results. However, there is a LOT more you can do with automated email sequences based on behavioral triggers, especially in Klaviyo, which really shines in this area.
For other ideas, take a look at the Klaviyo flow library below. We’ll also cover more advanced sequences Ecommerce sites can use to grow sales on autopilot in other articles and tutorials.
There is a lot of room for creativity here for advanced email marketers. Everything from cross selling, to promoting your referral program, to asking for customer reviews and user generated content.
Sending Order Confirmation Email Receipts
It is worth noting you can also set up your transactional emails such as order confirmations to send through Klaviyo or another Ecommerce email service provider. You’ll often have to contact your ESP to get you set up with this as sometimes it is not available as standards.
This is because the rules around what can and cannot be included in an order receipt or other transactional emails is a lot more strict, so some manual approval is involved.
Email Marketing Ideas for Ecommerce: One-Time Email Campaigns, Newsletters & Broadcasts
All of the email strategies we’ve covered so far are automated sequences (called flows in Klaviyo). This means they happen on autopilot and run in the background 24/7.
But even the most complete set of advanced email automations is only half of a truly comprehensive email marketing strategy for Ecommerce. It is not uncommon for email promo campaigns to account for well over half of your email revenue as tracked by Google Analytics or another tool.
Your periodic, one-off emails campaigns are where you really let your marketing creativity shine through. And even though everyone loves those sexy automations, the majority of sales are often made from one-off promotional emails – whether you’re promoting specific products, educational content, or your latest holiday sale offer.
There are two keys to a high-performing email marketing plan: consistency and variety. This is where manually sent, one-off campaigns come in.
You need to email your recipients consistently so they recognize you and develop a relationship with your brand, and you need to vary up what you send them so that they don’t grow numb to your emails.
It is not enough to rely just on the automated email sequences we covered earlier. They’ll only take you so far.
The one-off campaigns you send to compliment your automations should fall into one of these five general categories:
- Sales and promotional emails
- Education and trust building
- Brand story and social proof
- New releases and product recommendations
- Seasonal or event based
Sales & Promotional Ecommerce Marketing Campaigns
Of the five main campaign types listed above, these emails generally drive the most revenue because they’re incentive-laden and usually are sent out during or near peak shopping times such as:
- Black Friday/Cyber Monday
- Valentine’s Day
- Mother’s Day/Father’s Day
- July 4th
- Etc etc. You know the drill.
The aggressiveness of your mailing strategy during these times of the year will depend largely on the conditions of your offer, the market you’re in, and the positioning of your brand.
If your sale is a week-long event, you can space your promotional emails out nicely over the course of the week. However if you’re on the more aggressive side emailing daily or even twice daily during the busiest Ecommerce sales periods and holidays is totally acceptable. Just pay extra attention to who you’re emailing and make sure they’re highly engaged.
You only get one Black Friday per year, so make it count.
If a sale only lasts for 24 hours, you’re going to need to send out multiple emails throughout the day to get maximum mileage out of it.
Regardless of the terms of your offer, you’re going to want to pay special attention to how you determine the recipients of each iteration of your promotional Ecommerce email marketing campaigns.
Segmention During High Volume Periods
The second someone makes a purchase from you during these promotions, be sure to add them to a special segment, and consider excluding this segment from receiving any subsequent promotional emails.
However, it is perfectly acceptable to keep emailing recent buyers during your biggest sales. People will often come back more than once in these periods. Excluding recent buyers during times like Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend can result in lost sales.
In certain cases when running promotions during the rest of the year you’ll also want to exclude recent purchasers from the last few days if you’re running a big discount.
Don’t send a 25% off sale announcement email on a random day in March to someone who purchased from your Ecommerce store at full price yesterday. That can lead to a high number of customer service tickets and potentially harm existing customer relationships.
Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with attractive short term offers.
If you have a 48-hour sale, for example, you may want to send out four emails in total in addition a teaser announcement a day or two before:
- One on the morning of the first day announcing the sale
- A second email on the evening of the first day
- A third on the morning of the second day
- A last-chance reminder on the evening of the second day
If you want to be less aggressive in this scenario you can screen openers of the first email from receiving the second email in the evening. While you obviously want to capture sales with these first two emails, their primary function is to alert users to the ongoing sale. You can hold off on creating urgency until the second day.
The 4 email timeline above works well, but some brands get a lot more aggressive than that during the really big promotional periods that don’t last long. Multiple email sends per day are becoming common. It is up to you to decide if this fits your brand, but it will result in more sales.
It is a good idea to create campaigns that send users to dedicated sale landing pages too.
There are a number of obvious sale opportunities built in throughout the year which are great for boosting revenue, but we caution against relying too heavily on them. You don’t want to condition your recipients to expect a sale from you – you want them to be infrequent enough that when you do decide to offer a discount, your audience is eager to take advantage of it.
Here’s a holiday announcement email campaign example from Ecommerce brand United By Blue.
Educational & Non-Promotional Email Marketing Campaign Ideas for Ecommerce Brands
One of the biggest mistakes digital marketers make in their email campaigns is always trying to sell. Our team of Klaviyo experts are always trying to encourage clients to increase their frequency of non-promotional campaigns. They work well in every market.
While driving revenue is unquestionably the name of the game, sending emails that do nothing but show product photos next to “Buy Now” buttons grows old. Fast. You need to keep people interested enough in what you’re sending to continue to open your emails.
In many markets, Ecommerce brands have the opportunity to do this by providing value to subscribers in the form of educational emails. These can simply link to your evergreen blog posts on your Ecommerce platform a lot of the time.
These aren’t nearly as overtly salesy in nature, but instead attempt to convey valuable information on topics your audience is likely to be interested in. It’s not all fluff, either – when done right, there’s usually ample opportunity to subtly plug your products.
Let’s say you have an athletic wear shop geared primarily toward 25-45 year-old women.
Instead of sending out yet another email promoting your workout leggings, you research and write a piece of content for your blog that details five yoga positions to help improve flexibility, and at the end of it mention that you just added three new styles of yoga leggings to your website. Then promote this blog post to your email list.
The focus of the email remains on providing education and value, but there’s still the opportunity for you to make a sale. This is a win-win strategy that will both make you money and keep your subscribers engaged with your content, while building brand trust.
Tip: To increase clicks through to your website from content promotion emails, remember to post entire article on your company’s blog, and only provide a teaser snippet and a link to the full article in the email.
Social Proof & Brand Story Email Campaigns
Showing subscribers how other people feel about your products can do a great deal to alleviate any concerns they may have about buying from you.
Social proof emails give you the opportunity to do just that. By sending these email campaigns, you can allay any misgivings a recipient will have about purchasing from you while simultaneously increasing desire for your products.
Reviews are a no-brainer here, but photos of others actively using your product are a goldmine for encouraging new customer purchases. These not only show that your product does indeed live up to the hype, but they help to create a sense of community that the recipient will naturally want to be a part of.
Email Campaigns for New Releases & Product Recommendations
Another easy email to create content for, these emails help draw user attention either to new or yet-undiscovered products with a bit more of a specific focus than your general promotional emails.
You can choose to focus on one specific item or an entire collection in these emails. This can often lead to more sales.
Some ideas for you to consider include drawing attention to new releases, highlighting bestsellers, or recommending certain items/collections based on the time of year or past purchase behavior.
Let’s assume the yoga pants used in the example above are the best-selling item on your website and that the same print is also available on a new sports bra you just released. You could easily create a laser-focused product recommendation campaign by creating a segment of yoga pants purchasers and sending them an email featuring the matching sports bra.
Whatever angle you take in these types of campaigns, don’t be afraid to let your products take center stage – they’re the reason your subscribers signed up for your emails in the first place!
Ecommerce Email Subject Lines, “From” Names and Preview Text
We’re getting into the nitty-gritty now.
While these aspects of crafting successful marketing emails aren’t quite as sexy as creating automated segments and dynamically-populated content, their importance cannot be overstated.
Because they play a huge role in determining whether or not people actually open your emails and see all the awesome content you’ve created inside.
Email Subject Lines
This is where you’ll be giving people an idea of what’s contained in your email.
In theory, writing a subject line is easy. All you have to do is relay your email content, right?
You have to tie your subject line to the content of your email – in a way that stands out in the inbox.
Sometimes it isn’t enough to just say “15% Sale Happening Now” or “New Leggings Have Arrived” and call it a day.
You’re competing with untold numbers of other emails for attention during high volume periods, so unless the recipient in question is absolutely head-over-heels for your brand, these drab subject lines are going to result in many of your emails going unopened.
A much better approach can be to hint at the content of the email without clearly defining what’s inside. This isn’t always the case, but it some instances it works well.
Here’s a great example from The Pink Lily Boutique…
This naturally piques your curiosity and makes you want to know what exactly they’re talking about. Upon opening the email, you have your answer: it’s all about their boldest new styles.
This email subject line works because it creates interest without relying on click-bait and the content is completely in-sync with the subject line.
If the subject line literally talks about the content of the email – “A gorgeous black dress and sparkly shoes” – it might not generate as much interest or curiosity. This is something to text in your market though ultimately. Figure out if your audience prefers to just know you’re running a Free Shipping promo this weekend, or if they respond to more of a teaser style subject line.
Leaving a little to the imagination can sometimes work wonderfully. Asking a question in the subject line is another great strategy to boost open rates.
Email Preview Text
Though not quite as important as the subject line, taking the time to add in preheader or preview text can make your emails stand out in the inbox if done well.
Preheader text is exactly what it sounds like: the text that appears prior to the header section of your email. I
f you don’t create custom preheader text, it will automatically be pulled from the top lines of your email and deposited into your recipient’s inbox by your email marketing service.
As you can see, the results can be pretty ugly.
Instead of a cohesive message, you get links, phone numbers, and a load of other unappealing data. If at the top of your email you have a line of text that says “click to view this email in your browser” theres’ a good chance that will also show as the preview text in recipient inboxes if you don’t add something yourself. Not too appealing.
Contrast that with this hilariously creative email from Chubbies…
They used their pre header text as an add-on to their subject line to both communicate what their email is about while grabbing attention. You probably won’t be able to get away with this same sort of tone, but it’s a great example of well-constructed preview text just the same.
From Name or Sender Name
Another term that’s exactly like what it sounds. This will tell your recipient who the email is coming from.
While you’ll most likely want to use your company’s name, especially for transactional emails, you may experiment with using a person’s first name in addition to that of your business. This can make your emails feel a bit more personal which can lead to higher open rates.
“Brad @ Chubbies” or “Sarah | The Pink Lily Boutique” would be acceptable substitutions in the two provided examples.
Split Testing As Part Of Your Ecommerce Email Marketing Strategy
There’s only one way to determine whether or not your email marketing strategies are working as well as they could be, and that’s by testing extensively.
You can split-test or AB test individual items, like email subject lines and body content, or entire automated campaigns comprising of 10+ emails.
There are simply too many factors at play to be able to test everything, so instead focus on establishing general best practices and work to refine them. Subject lines, sending times, body content, and general tone are great places to start figuring out what your audience is most responsive to.
This is an advanced concept which is not worth looking into until you move beyond beginner level. In the meantime you’ll be much better off focusing on the basics of getting your automated email flows set up, and creating a consistent campaign schedule.
After this move onto some basic split testing on your highest volume touch points. A good example would be a subject line split test for the first welcome email for new subscribers. Get that open rate as high as you can.
Final Thoughts on Your Email Program
While this guide aims to be as comprehensive as possible for the beginner, Ecommerce email marketing is an ever-evolving field that requires careful study to stay ahead of the curve. Participate in forums, stay up to date on what’s new in the industry, and subscribe to as many good Ecommerce brand newsletters as you possibly can to see what your peers in the field are doing – you’ll undoubtedly find some inspiration along the way.
We hope you found this guide enjoyable and look forward to seeing you in our inboxes soon.
Working With An Ecommerce Email Marketing Agency
Putting this all into place – even the basics – is a big project and a lot of work. In particular the automation setup can have a lot of pain points and potential pitfalls. Many brands like to work with a specialist Klaviyo agency rather than taking care of everything in house.
Here at EcommerceIntelligence.com we only do email, only for online retailers, and only on Klaviyo. So if you’d like to have a comprehensive email strategy built out and managed for your Ecommerce store then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We’re proud to offer one of the best done for you Ecommerce email strategy and execution services available anywhere online.