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Email Marketing for eCommerce:

14 Campaigns that Create Massive Revenue Growth

INTRODUCTION

Why we wrote this

Email marketing might be the most important digital marketing channel for eCommerce businesses. Email marketing is hands down the best way for businesses without a physical storefront to connect with customers in a timely and relevant way.

If your email marketing is program is underperforming, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of revenue (even if you do have a physical storefront).

This guide will show you exactly which emails to send and when to send them to maximize your email ROI and ensure that you’re getting as much revenue from your email marketing as possible.

CHAPTER ONE

Email marketing 101: the customer lifecycle

The customer lifecycle simply explains how a customer interacts with your brand at every stage of the buying process. If you understand the customer lifecycle, you can track and anticipate buying behavior and send targeted emails that say exactly what customers need to hear to make a purchase.

The customer lifecycle is sometimes called the customer journey. It traces the customer’s progress from first visiting your site, to the first purchase, then repeat purchases, and finally to becoming a loyal customer.

The Customer Lifecycle

If your email marketing is well executed, the customer lifecycle can be a true cycle, where customers return to earlier stages in the cycle and make multiple purchases. You achieve that with triggered emails that send automatically, based on key customer buying behaviors.

A complete eCommerce lifecycle email marketing program consists of 8 triggered emails and email series. Each triggered email reaches the customer when they are most likely to convert and increases your customer lifetime value and overall email marketing ROI.

But, before you can use the lifecycle eCommerce email marketing strategy, you need the proper email deliverability infrastructure and behavior tracking mechanisms in place.

CHAPTER TWO

How to maximize email deliverability

Even if your behavior tracking is perfect and you’re sending excellent triggered emails, your email marketing performance is going to suffer if your emails don’t reach the inbox.

So, implementing the proper email authentication protocols and following deliverability best practices is vital to the success of your email program. Spam filters don’t care if your CTA is perfect or if the email design is beautiful. If your email fails deliverability checks, it goes to the spam folder or gets blocked entirely.

Here’s how to keep all your hard work from going to the spam folder.

Set up email authentication

There are three email authentication protocols that your emails need: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

You need all three in place to ensure optimal email deliverability because different email servers may use different authentication methods. And, some email servers use all three authentication protocols.

SPF authentication

Your SPF record is simply a list of computers that are authorized to send emails from your sending domain. The SPF record for your domain is published in a Domain Name System (DNS) record.

When an email server receives an email from your domain, the email server will check the SPF record to ensure that the sending domain is on the list. If the domain is listed in your SPF record, the email server sends the email through to the inbox. Otherwise, the email is rejected.

The SPF Authentication Process

SPF authentication detects malicious emails from false email addresses. Implementing this authentication protocol helps ensure email deliverability and protects your email domain from being used by cyber criminals.

DKIM authentication

DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail. It’s an authentication protocol that encrypts your emails, and attaches a DKIM signature to your email header so that email servers and authenticate and decrypt your emails.

Like your SPF record, your DKIM record is published in a DNS record. Email servers use the DKIM signature to locate your DKIM record and retrieve the decryption key.

The DKIM Authentication Process

DKIM authentication helps prevent email spoofing and spam.

DMARC records

DMARC is a big part of email authentication. And it’s critical to maximizing email deliverability.

Your DMARC record is published in the DNS record (just like SPF and DKIM). Then, your DMARC record gives receiving email servers information about your email authentication infrastructure and which authentication protocols should be present.

That way, if a malicious email shows up claiming to be from you, the receiving email can check your DMARC record and see that you use SPF and DKIM authentication.

Then, even if the malicious email somehow passes one of the authentication checks (which is very unlikely, but we’ll pretend for the sake of demonstration) but doesn’t have the other authentication protocol in place, the email server can confidently reject or send the email to the spam folder.

How DMARC Works

So, DMARC helps improve email security and deliverability by enabling email servers to communicate which email authentication protocols are setup on each email domain.

Checking your email authentication

Before you get too deep in the weeds of implementing email authentication, find out which protocols you’re missing. These protocols may already be in place, depending on your email service provider.

You can check your email authentication protocols with simple online tools.

SPF check: MXToolbox SPF Record Check

DKIM check: MXToolbox DKIM Record Check

DMARC check: DMARCian DMARC Inspector

If any email authentication protocols are missing, work with your email service provider, system administrator, or development team to get all three protocols setup.

Warm up your IP address

When you first get an IP address for sending emails, that IP address has no sender reputation. Your IP address reputation is like an email sending credit score. A better reputation indicates to receiving email servers that your IP address is trustworthy and sends good emails.

But, when an IP address has no sending history and no reputation, receiving email servers are wary of emails from that IP address. If you start sending tons of emails from a brand new IP address, receiving email servers may mistake you for a spammer.

So, you must ramp up your send volumes gradually, to establish credibility with email service providers and build your sender reputation. Steadily increasing your email sends each day is called IP address warmup.

Quick vs Slow IP Warmup

Most email providers won’t even notice that you’re sending emails until you send about 100 emails a day. So, 100 emails per day is a good starting point. After that, ramp up your daily send volume over the course of about 15 days. On about day 15, you should hit your max send volume.

Sample Warmup Schedule

Your IP warmup schedule may vary, depending on your maximum send volume. But, the important thing is that you don’t just max out your email sends on day 1 of using a new IP address.

Also, email providers evaluate the quality of your emails during the warmup period. So, send real, high-quality emails. Also, leverage emails with reliably high open rates—like transactional emails, which we’ll cover further on—to make your emails appear more trustworthy to email servers.

Remove inactive subscribers from your lists

People often keep inactive subscribers on their email lists because it feels counterintuitive to make your lists smaller. But properly identifying and removing inactive subscribers can improve your email marketing ROI and email deliverability. Here’s how it works:

If you think about it, sending an email to a truly inactive subscriber is a waste of an email. They’re not going to open it, much less click-through or convert. And unsubscribes and unopened emails aren’t good for your sender reputation. So, waiting until an inactive subscriber unsubscribes on their own isn’t helpful.

At worst, an inactive subscriber may get annoyed that you keep emailing them and mark your emails as spam. In short, proactively removing inactive subscribers from your list is best for your deliverability and your ROI.

The key is knowing when a subscriber is truly inactive.

It’s impossible to read people’s minds. So, the best way to identify inactive subscribers and remove them is by establishing a sunset policy based on how often you send emails. A sunset policy defines how long you keep subscribers who aren’t engaging with your emails at all.

If you send a lot of emails—a daily email, for example—you should remove inactive subscribers faster. If you send only a few emails a month, you can keep inactive subscribers on your list longer, to give them a chance to engage.

But, once you’ve established sunsetting policies, stick to them. Your email marketing metrics will give you all the information you need to identify inactive subscribers and remove them from your lists. Set up a schedule to evaluate your subscriber behavior and purge your lists of subscribers that are outside your sunsetting policy.

Sample Warmup Schedule

This will improve your email marketing performance—because you’ll no longer be sending emails to people who aren’t going to open them—and it will improve your ROI, since you’ll be sending fewer emails, overall.

CHAPTER THREE

How to track customer buying behavior

The foundation of any email marketing strategy is identifying new customers and collecting email addresses, and spotting existing customers when they return to your site. There are four ways to identify anonymous customers and gather new subscribers:

  1. Make it easy for customers to login to their account.

    If someone has purchased from you in the past, they may already have an account with you. Getting returning customers to log in and stay logged in each time they get on your site enables you to identify existing customers and track browsing and buying behavior for better email targeting.

  2. Use pre-submit tracking.

    Visitors in the checkout process are invisible until they sign in or submit their information. Pre-submit tracking collects information that’s entered into form fields even if the customer doesn’t click the submit button or complete their sign in. This enables you to identify far more sessions and collect more email addresses.

  3. Implement email append into your current email program.

    The Rejoiner email append feature enables you to leverage your existing newsletter sends to identify more customers.

  4. Use on-site email capture.

    Email capture technology offers multiple ways to capture email addresses on-site and identify visitors (we like JustUno).

 

But, regardless of which email capture provider you use, there are three email capture methods that offer the best conversion rates:

  • Pop ups for first time visitors that offer an incentive (20% off, free shipping, $10 off, etc.) in exchange for their email address.

    This builds your email subscriber base and encourages new customers to make that first purchase.

  • Exit intent pop ups to engage and convert visitors with targeted offers.

    This is presented at the moment a visitor demonstrates intent to leave your site. This also helps you gather more email addresses. But, it can also help reduce browse abandonment and shopping cart abandonment rates.

  • A contest pop up which offers the chance to win a great prize in exchange for an email address.

    This method is great because it collects emails at a very low cost per email address (unlike a discount, only one or a few customers win. But, they all enter their email addresses).

All of these methods identify anonymous visitors, so you’re able to send relevant, personalized, and perfectly timed emails and track customer buying behavior sitewide. Tracking customer behavior will generate a ton of data that will help you understand what products a customer is most interested in and what email marketing campaigns will get the sale.

Once you’re collecting email addresses and tracking customer behavior, the next step is to identify which behaviors indicate the best opportunities to increase sales. Then, there’s an eCommerce email campaign specifically designed to capitalize on each conversion opportunity.

CHAPTER 4

14 eCommerce email marketing campaigns that will boost your revenue (with examples)

All of these eCommerce email marketing campaigns are triggered emails. That simply means that they are sent automatically when a customer takes a certain action on your site. Sending triggered emails has three main benefits:

  1. You can automate triggered emails.

    Since all the actions that trigger an email are tracked by your analytics and email marketing software, you can automate all of your campaigns so you never miss conversion opportunities or send irrelevant emails.

  2. Triggered emails offer the best opportunities for email personalization.

    You can use all the information you’ve collected to make personalized product recommendations, offer the highest converting discounts, and follow up with other relevant email campaigns.

  3. You can generate more revenue by sending fewer emails.

    Since you only send emails when a customer’s behavior indicates that they’ll be receptive to your message, you send far fewer emails in the long run.

    This may seem counter intuitive. But, you’ll never send emails to customers who don’t want them. So, triggered emails lower your unsubscribe rate and make your email marketing more cost efficient (and therefore more profitable).

With all that in mind, these are the triggered email campaigns you need to send, along with the behavioral trigger for each.

Browse abandonment

This is not a secret: customers enjoy window shopping. Browse abandonment emails turn these window shoppers into customers.

The behavioral trigger for browse abandonment emails is when a customer visits a product page or product category a certain number of times without buying. You can set the number of browsing sessions as high as you want. But, keep in mind that setting the threshold too high will cause you to miss opportunities.

A good tactic for optimizing your browse abandonment email campaigns is to test different thresholds (three browsing sessions vs two browsing sessions, etc.) and behavioral triggers. Then identify where you get the best conversion rates without causing unsubscribes.

Also, track multiple browsing behaviors to identify purchase intent, and test each one:

  • Looking at the same item more than once.
  • Browsing multiple items in the same product category.
  • Clicking on a certain product in an email.
  • Searching your site for a specific product.

Lastly, browse abandonment emails are sent only to website visitors who have not added any items to their shopping cart. Potential customers who have filled their cart get an abandoned cart email, which we’ll cover shortly.

Browse abandonment email best practices

Here’s what will make your browse abandonment emails successful:

  • Send more than one email.

    Any sales professional knows that it usually takes more than one conversation to complete a sale. The same principle applies to email marketing.

  • Send your first email 60 minutes after the customer has abandoned your site.

    This gives the customer ample time to return and make a purchase without any interference from you, if that’s their intent. But, it’s also quick enough that potential customers will remember that they’d been browsing.

  • Send a second email 3 to 5 days later.

    At this point, if the browse abandoner hasn’t made a purchase, it’s time to send some suggestions. Include any products that the customer browsed directly, and suggest other top selling products in the same category.

  • Use dynamic insertion to ensure that you only suggest relevant products.

    Dynamic insertion enables you to use information from the customer’s browsing session to make personalized recommendations, which increases conversion rates.

  • Always include customer support contact information in your browse abandonment emails.

    Taking a customer service approach helps build brand loyalty. But, it also gives potential customers who have questions or concerns a way to get over those barriers to buying.

Here’s an excellent example of a two-part browse abandonment campaign from Fully:

Browse Abandonment Email Examples

New subscriber welcome email series

Subscribing to your email list is essentially the first major step in the buying process (visiting your site being the first step).

So, it’s important that you continue the conversation, deepen the relationship, and guide your new subscribers to the next step. That’s what your new subscriber welcome series is for.

This is your opportunity to introduce your brand, show new subscribers what to expect from your email program, and provide potential customers with the resources they need to move through the buying process.

When should the welcome series go out? Immediately.

New subscribers are interested in your products and seeking more information. This is no time to be coy. Also, new subscriber welcome emails get 4x more opens and 5x more clicks than most other promotional emails. If you don’t send a welcome email, you’re missing a huge engagement and conversion opportunity.

However, remember that this email goes only to new email subscribers. Customers who have just made their first purchase get a different welcome email, which we’ll talk about next.

New subscriber welcome email series best practices

Here’s how to get the best results from your new subscriber welcome emails:

  • Use a double opt-in in your email collection systems.

    A double opt-in ensures that you get correct email addresses and minimizes unsubscribes.

  • Send the first email immediately.

    There’s no need to wait. Subscribing to your email list is essentially requesting more information. So, send it.

  • Follow up with a customer service email.

    This isn’t a sales email. The purpose is to get more information about the customer’s interests and expectations, so you can make future emails as relevant as possible.

    However, if you included a limited time offer in your first email (like the example below), you can mention that the offer expires soon.

Here’s a great example of a new subscriber welcome email from Mother Dirt that demonstrates how simple your first welcome email can be:

New Subscriber Welcome Series Email Example

New customer welcome email series

The new customer welcome series is the email that you send once a customer has made their first purchase. The first objective of your new customer welcome email is to provide an excellent buying experience by welcoming new customers to your brand and including them in your brand story.

Once that’s done, then you go after that second purchase. Although the customer experience is your priority, it’s important that you take the opportunity to encourage new customers to make a second purchase.

When you consider the cost of acquiring a new customer, the first purchase is the least valuable in terms of profit margin. Repeat purchases are what really maximize your customer lifetime value and power explosive revenue growth. So, use your new customer welcome emails to grease the rails for future purchases.

New customer welcome email series best practices

Here’s how to create welcome emails that turn new customers into loyal customers:

  • Send a series of welcome emails

    You can test to find out the best number of emails for your welcome series. But, three emails is a good starting point.

  • Introduce your brand and make your customer feel like part of your brand story.

    Use your first email to start with a strong brand statement, and establish credibility and trust.

  • Follow up with additional product and marketing information.

    Include information about your social media channels, your blog, and direct new customers to support resources (how-to guides, instruction videos, etc.) that will help them get the most from their new product.

    The second email is also a good opportunity to solicit feedback and gather testimonials.

  • Include a discount in the third email.

    If you’re going to offer a discount to incentivize future purchases, the third welcome email is where you introduce your offer. You can calculate the average time between purchases—known as purchase latency—to determine the best time to send your third welcome email.

Here’s an example of a solid welcome email series from Peak Design:

New Customer Welcome Series Email Example

Abandoned cart email

We can pretty much guarantee that abandoned cart emails will be one of the most profitable promotional emails you send. In some cases, your abandoned cart email campaign will be your most profitable campaign. Abandoned cart emails are so valuable that we can’t cover everything here.

Check out our abandoned cart email guide for a really in-depth look at how to create hugely profitable abandoned cart email campaigns. That said, the most recent card abandonment studies showed that nearly 70% of eCommerce shopping carts are abandoned. If you do the math based on your website traffic, you’ll probably be horrified by how many carts are being abandoned on your site.

The bottom line is that an abandoned cart email campaign enables you to reach out to customers who have abandoned their cart, and bring them back to your online store to complete their purchase. These customers have demonstrated massive buying intent. So, you’ll often win the sale. That’s why abandoned cart campaigns are so profitable. And, since they’re so profitable, abandoned cart emails are an absolute necessity for eCommerce email marketing.

Abandoned cart email best practices

As we mentioned earlier, we have a much more thorough guide on abandoned cart emails. But, here’s a quick rundown of how to create abandoned cart email campaigns that convert:

  • Send multiple emails.

    You should test to find the exact number of emails that gets the most conversions for your business. But, the key here is that you send a series of emails to recover the most abandoned carts possible.

    However, ensure that you configure your abandoned cart email software to stop sending emails if a customer completes their purchase.

  • Send your first email within 30 minutes of cart abandonment.

    It’s important that you reach customers before they move on and purchase from another brand, without emailing too many customers who were going to return and complete their purchase without any encouragement.

  • Take a customer service approach.

    Customers abandon carts for all sorts of reasons. Your goal is to find out why they abandoned their cart and help them over that hurdle.

    The easiest (and least expensive) hurdles to address are technical problems and buying friction in the checkout process. So, always include customer support contact information in your abandoned cart emails, so that customers who simply need help completing a purchase can get that help.

  • Intelligently employ offers and discounts.

    It may not be optimal to offer a discount immediately, in the first abandoned cart email. But, cost is a huge reason why customers abandon online shopping carts. So, offering a discount at some point in your abandoned cart email series reliably increases conversions.

    And, continuing the theme from the email campaigns above, test different discounts and offers to find out what converts the best.

  • Use session regeneration.

    Many cart abandoners will return to their cart on a different device than the one they were using when they abandoned their cart. Implement session regeneration to ensure that all the customer’s items are still in the cart if they return on a different device.

    This makes it easy and convenient for them to complete their purchase. Therefore, session regeneration increases conversion rates.

  • Make your abandoned cart emails mobile friendly.

    Most internet traffic comes from mobile devices. As such, your abandoned cart emails must be mobile friendly. Your abandoned cart email performance (open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, all of it) will drop dramatically if your emails display poorly on mobile devices.

Here’s an example of a great abandoned cart email from H.V.M.N.:

Abandoed Cart Email Example

Back in stock notifications

When an item is out of stock, it’s inconvenient for you and the customer. But it’s a legitimate reason for a customer not to buy. However, the buying intent is still there. And, it’s an easy buying obstacle to remove. All you need to do is let the customer know when the item is back in stock.

The behavioral trigger is also easy to detect, especially if you’re already sending browse abandonment or cart abandonment emails. If a customer browses an out-of-stock item or adds one to their cart, sending an email when the product gets restocked is an excellent conversion opportunity.

If all the items a customer browsed or abandoned were out of stock, you can send a back in stock notification when the item comes available, rather than sending a browse abandonment or cart abandonment email. This saves customers from clicking through on an abandonment email only to discover that the item is still out of stock.

But, you can still send browse abandonment and cart abandonment emails for products that were in stock when the customer abandoned them. Simply exclude the out of stock items from the abandonment email. Then send back in stock emails for those items later, if your email software has this capability.

Back in stock notification best practices

Here’s how to make the most of an inconvenient situation with back in stock notifications:

  • If your email software is capable enough, send browse abandonment or cart abandonment emails for items that were in stock.

    If a customer has a mix of in-stock and out-of-stock items, you can engage them with browse abandonment or cart abandonment emails for the in-stock products. But, exclude any items that were not in stock. Save those for the back in stock notification.

  • Use dynamic insertion to show pictures of the product.

    Visually reminding the customer of what they wanted to purchase helps drive conversions.

  • Use session regeneration, when possible.

    Make it as easy as possible for customers to complete their purchases once the items have been restocked.

  • Make alternative buying suggestions if the item won’t be restocked for a long time or will never be restocked.

    This makes the best of a bad situation. It’s best if people never have the chance to place orders for things that have been discontinued. But, if it happens, this helps you continue the relationship (and maybe turn the whole thing into a sale, after all).

Here’s a perfectly executed back in stock email from UNIQLO:

Back in Stock Email Example

Price drop emails

Price drop emails help extend the life of your browse abandonment and cart abandonment emails. If you send a browse abandonment or cart abandonment series to a customer, and they don’t complete their purchase, there’s still an opportunity to win the sale: when the price of the abandoned product goes down.

The trigger is fairly simple. When you reduce the price of an item, send a price drop email to all the customers who received a browse abandonment or cart abandonment email for that item, but haven’t purchased yet. It provides one more conversion opportunity with customers who demonstrated high buying intent. And it gives you a built-in list of interested customers for sales and clearance items.

Price drop email best practices

Here’s how to ensure that you’re always letting your most interested customers know when the deal gets even better:

  • Suppress general sales promotion emails to customers who receive a price drop email for the same products.

    If the products are the same, the sales promotion email is redundant. This only applies if all the products are the same, though.

  • Use session regeneration for price drop emails sent to cart abandoners, if possible.

    Session regeneration may not be available for all price drop emails, depending on how long it’s been since the customer abandoned their cart. But, if you can use it, session regeneration is a reliable sales generator.

Here’s a simple price drop email example from Triumph:

Price Drop Email Example

Production education emails

When a customer purchases an item, they’ll have a lot of excitement and anticipation while they wait for it to arrive. A production education email gives them information that will help them get the most from their product when they get it.

It’s easy to trigger production education emails. Identify products that you have educational materials for in your email software. Then, an email will send whenever a customer purchases one of those items. Your production education email should arrive after the transactional email (more on those later on) and before the product actually arrives.

This may not seem like a marketing email. But it improves your email marketing in a couple of ways:

  1. It improves the buying experience, which makes it more likely that the customer will make additional purchases.
  2. Production education emails are very likely to be opened, which gives you an opportunity to make cross sell suggestions.

It might be tempting to focus on the cross sells, because that’s the immediate money maker. But the main purpose of a production education email is customer service. So, put the product information, and links to instructional videos and content up front. That way, you’ve delivered excellent customer service before you make any buying asks.

If you do it right, sending production education emails builds brand loyalty and improves your customer lifetime value.

Production education email best practices

Production education emails are all about customer service. Here’s how to make sure your production education emails help you retain customers and maximize your customer lifetime value:

  • Focus on customer service.

    The bulk of the email should focus on providing educational resources about the product and ensuring that the customer has the information they need to contact you if they need help once the product arrives.

  • Make cross sell recommendations.

    We’ll talk about cross sell emails next. But, make sure that you’re not confusing a cross sell with an upsell. The production education email should only recommend products that make the customer’s purchase even more valuable to them.

Here’s a few examples from Peak Design who cares a lot about product education:

Price Drop Email Example

Cross sell emails

If someone purchases one of your products, and you know they would get value from a related or complementary item, then it’s the perfect time to send a cross sell email to that customer (not to be confused with an upsell, which usually happens during the checkout process).

To make this campaign work, just find two products that can be used together. Then, using your email service provider’s segment builder, build a segment of customers who have purchased one product, but not the other. You should only send this campaign for products that work perfectly together. So, when someone opens this email, their first thought will be: “This looks useful…” That response entices them to return to your site, in buying mode.

Even though cross sell emails may have a small audience, they’re valuable because any conversion is a repeat purchase. So, the ROI from these emails can be very high, in terms of profit margin.

  1. It improves the buying experience, which makes it more likely that the customer will make additional purchases.
  2. Production education emails are very likely to be opened, which gives you an opportunity to make cross sell suggestions.

It might be tempting to focus on the cross sells, because that’s the immediate money maker. But the main purpose of a production education email is customer service. So, put the product information, and links to instructional videos and content up front. That way, you’ve delivered excellent customer service before you make any buying asks.

If you do it right, sending production education emails builds brand loyalty and improves your customer lifetime value.

Cross sell email best practices

Cross sell emails are fairly straight forward. But, here’s our advice:

  • Avoid using cross sell emails as an excuse to send product recommendations.

    It’s easy to get too liberal when you’re looking for good cross sell candidates. Ensure that the products you send in your cross sell emails are truly cross sells, and not just similar products.

Here’s a beautiful cross sell email example from Bavsound (notice how the value of the recommended product almost depends on the customer having purchased the original product):

Cross Sell Email Example

VIP emails

No matter what, you’re going to have a small percentage of customers that you wish all your customers could be like. This fact is explained by the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In business, the 80/20 rule means that 80% of your profits are generated by 20% of your customers.

In eCommerce, that ratio can be even more dramatic, because the 80/20 rule is fractal. This means: 20% of 20% of customers (4% of customers) will deliver 80% of the total 80% profit (64% of profits). In summary: 4% of your customers are worth 64% of your total profits.

VIP emails target your most valuable customers (the 4%), and incentivize them to continue making purchases.

Now, you must define what makes a customer a VIP to your business. Loyal customers aren’t always VIP customers. Consider these factors as you define your VIP customers:

  1. Total number of purchases.
  2. Total spend.
  3. Average Order Value.
  4. Frequency of Purchases.

The goal is to identify what makes a customer most valuable to your business, based on your profit margins, sales volume, and so on. Then identify the behaviors that your most valuable customers exhibit.

Lastly, you create a customer segment based on these behaviors, so you can thank your best customers for their business and give them special treatment. And, special treatment doesn’t mean just give them another discount.

VIP’s are already loyal customers. This group of customers don’t necessarily need (or want) more discounts. They want to feel special. An excellent way to make VIP customers feel special is to offer them exclusivity.

Here are a few ideas for offering exclusivity to your VIPs:

  • Invitations to new product launches.
  • Invitations to the company headquarters.
  • Invitations to private parties.
  • Access to exclusive products only available to VIP’s.

Scarcity and exclusivity help create a VIP loyalty program that makes VIPs feel special and connected to your brand, and that just makes them want to buy more.

Here’s a personalized VIP email example from DAVIDsTEA that illustrates how you can also use VIP emails to connect with your customers:

VIP Customer Loyalty Email Example

Replenishment emails

Replenishment emails are the one eCommerce email campaign that may not be useful to every eCommerce store.

That’s because replenishment emails work best for products that have predictable usage cycles. So, you can anticipate when a customer will need to buy again. Here are some examples of products that are good candidates for replenishment emails:

  • Vitamins
  • Supplements
  • Cleaning Products
  • Makeup
  • Coffee

There are others. But, you get the idea.

If you sell consumable products, determine the typical consumption timeline for those products, and create triggered replenishment emails that send near the end of that consumption timeline.

That way, right about the time that the customer needs more, they get an email that helps them reorder quickly and easily. Replenishment emails are a great way to generate recurring revenue.

Replenishment email best practices

Here’s how to reliably generate recurring revenue with replenishment emails:

  • Send replenishment emails before the customer runs out of the product.

    When a customer reorders before their current supply is gone, it’s better for you and better for them. You get another sale, and the customer never runs dry on the product.

    So, it’s best to send your replenishment email 10 days before you believe the customer will run out. That gives them plenty of time to reorder. And, it gives you time to send follow-up emails.

  • Include a link to your subscription service, if you have one.

    Subscriptions to regularly purchased products make life easier for the customer. Subscriptions also make your recurring revenue more reliable. So, if you offer a subscription, always include a link and CTA for it in your replenishment emails.

Here’s a replenishment email example from Rockin’ Wellness with two emails, one sent 10 days before the product runs out and one email sent 5 days before the product runs out:

Cross Sell Email Example

Win-back emails

A win-back email campaign re-engages customers who are exhibiting signs of defection. Defection means that the customer has not purchased for an abnormally long period of time.

The key is to measure what “normal” and “abnormal” periods of time are for your customer base. You need to know how long does it take the average customer to go from their first purchase to their second purchase, and from their second purchase to their third, and so on. Understanding the average time between purchases enables you to assess when customers have crossed the threshold into “abnormal” behavior.

If you plot the average time between purchases, you can see what the customer lifecycle looks like for any business. Here’s an example:

Rejoiner Latency Measures

In the early stages of the customer lifecycle, engagement with the company is accelerating, and the time between each purchase decreases. This is when customers are heavily engaged with your brand and want more.

After the fourth purchase, engagement decreases, and the latency between purchases increases. This is ordinary human behavior. Customers start off heavily engaged with a brand, then lose interest over time.

The important part of this analysis as it relates to win-back campaigns is determining when customers start to lose interest. In the example above, customers begin to lose interest after the fourth purchase.

When a customer starts to exhibit behavior which indicates they are losing interest, that’s when you trigger your win-back email campaign.

Your win-back campaign is where you pull out all the stops. Extending the customer lifecycle is pure profit, especially if you’re scooping up fourth and fifth purchases. And, the customer has shown that they’re ready to defect to another brand. So, this is where you send your big discounts.

Win-back email best practices

Here’s how to win those extra purchases with win-back emails:

  • Avoid sending win-back emails before customers show signs of defection.

    Sending a win-back email to a customer who’s still actively engaged with your brand is just giving away profit. That customer was most likely going to make another purchase on his or her own.

    So, it’s critical that you take the time to accurately identify when customers start drifting away from your brand. Otherwise, poorly timed win-back emails will eat up profit margin from your most valuable sales.

  • Use a customer-focused tone.

    Win-back emails are all about the customer. Use emotionally charged subject lines, copy, and CTAs that make customers feel valued (and thus increase open rates, click-through rates, and, yes, conversion rates).

  • Make an offer the customer can’t refuse.

    If you successfully win a customer back, they’ll often make multiple additional purchases. So, even though your win-back discount is deep, it frequently pays for itself.

Here’s a win-back email example from VetRXDirect that shows how easy it is to be customer focused in your win-back email campaign:

Cross Sell Email Example

Date-based emails (birthday emails, anniversary emails, and others)

Date-based emails are some of the easiest to send because they’re incredibly easy to trigger. Any email that gets sent on a specific date is a date-based email. This includes:

  • Birthday Emails
  • Anniversary emails (this might not be what you think).
  • Congratulatory emails.
  • Any other personal events that may be important to your customer.

The low-hanging fruit here is birthday emails and anniversary emails. Congratulatory emails are those that you send on days like a baby due date. Then, you can also create campaigns for other personal dates, based on what information you’re able to collect about your customers.

But, birthday emails and anniversary emails are pretty much gimmes. Both of these events offer a natural way to reach out to customers and make them feel important. As a bonus, you also have an opportunity to make an offer or two.

Birthdays are fairly easy to collect. Simply add a birth date form field in places like:

  1. Your email subscription form.
  2. Account registration forms.
  3. On-site email capture popups.

You can also offer an option for customers to set their birthdate in their email subscription preferences.

Regardless of where you ask for a customer’s birth date, it’s a good idea to add some copy that explains what the customer will get for telling you their birthday. Usually, offering a birthday discount is enough to entice them to enter their birthdate, since they’re already giving you other information.

Anniversary emails are emails that you send to customers on the anniversary of their first purchase. Just something small to thank customers for buying from you (and help them buy again).

Date-based emails are a great way to stay in contact with your customers and send discounts in an organic, non-intrusive way.

Date-based email best practices

It’s easy to setup date-based email campaigns. Here’s how to make sure they generate revenue:

  • Send discounts and offers.

    Unlike other triggered emails, the customer didn’t exhibit any behavior to indicate they wanted an email other than telling you the date. Discounts and offers ensure that the email is valuable for the customer. And it helps you make more sales.

  • Format your email like a card or an ecard.

    This is especially true for birthday emails. But it works for any other date-based email as well. People are accustomed to getting congratulatory cards. And formatting your email like a card keeps it short and easy to read.

  • Personalize your subject lines.

    Personalization is a reliable conversion booster. Use dynamic insertion to add the recipient's name to the subject line. Also, let them know there’s a discount inside to communicate the value up front.

  • Automate your date-based emails.

    Since date-based emails happen on the same date every year, they’re super simple to automate. Automation ensures that you never miss an opportunity to send a date-based email.

  • Send a birthday email sequence.

    It may not make sense to send more than one email for other date-based emails. But, you can definitely send a series of birthday emails: a pre-birthday email, a birthday email, and a post-birthday email to remind customer to use their birthday discount.

Here’s an example of a really crisp, concise birthday email from Rent The Runway:

Date Based Birthday Email Example

Transactional emails

Technically, welcome emails and abandoned cart emails are transactional emails. But, we’ve already covered those.

Here, we’re talking about the more mundane transactional emails:

  • Confirmation emails (order confirmation, shipping confirmation, account confirmation).
  • Notification emails (subscription pre-shipping notification).
  • Customer feedback emails.

The first rule of transactional emails is that they have to do their primary job first. Nobody wants an order confirmation email that doesn’t confirm the order. The second rule of transactional emails is that you need to optimize them to help customers take the next step in making another purchase.

Every transactional email is potential real estate for cross sells. Or, you can remind customers of products they browsed but didn’t buy. Either way, the email has an opportunity for the customer to make another purchase.

The beauty of optimizing your transactional emails for conversions is that many transactional emails are associated with making a purchase or taking a step toward making a purchase. So, customers are receptive to product recommendations in transactional emails.

In short, optimizing transactional emails for conversions takes advantage of every possible sales opportunity, without being intrusive.

Transactional email best practices

The transaction part of transactional emails is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to nail the email marketing part of transactional emails:

  • Make sure your transactional emails do their job first.

    The customer should get the information they expect in a transactional email first. The marketing content—product recommendations, any other CTAs—should come after the transactional information has been delivered.

  • Send only the necessary transactional emails.

    It may be tempting to send more transactional emails to get more sales opportunities. You could send a shipping notification email every time the mail carrier updates the shipping status. But that will annoy people very fast. Send only the necessary emails. But optimize them for conversions.

  • Tell the customer “what next.”

    Your CTA should feel like the natural next thing to do. What should a customer do while they wait for their purchase to arrive in the mail? Browse your site for their next purchase, obviously.

Here’s a brilliant order confirmation email from Huckberry that shows how you can casually optimize your transactional emails for conversions:

Cross Sell Email Example
CHAPTER 5

eCommerce email marketing best practices

We’ve covered a whole bunch of eCommerce marketing emails. You’ve probably noticed some common themes between all of them. So, here’s a quick list of best practices that apply to almost any eCommerce marketing email you send:

  • (Almost) always send an email series.

    There are only a couple of eCommerce email marketing campaigns here that don’t involve at least two emails. And, even the campaigns that work with just one email might work better with two or more. It’s almost always worth testing to find out if sending an additional email will get more sales.

  • Employ discounts and offers carefully.

    Discounts and offers are usually reliable conversion boosters. But, it’s still best to test and find out which discount or offer works best, and when is the best time to send a discount.

    Also, if your email marketing software supports it, use dynamic discount codes. Static discount codes can be shared and abused, which costs you money and makes it more difficult for you to use discounts and offers as a sales tool.

    Dynamic discount codes can only be used once. So, they can’t be abused. This enables you to employ discounts wherever it’s best for your business, without the risk of losing profits to leaked discount codes and code sharing.

  • Use dynamic insertion for email personalization.

    Many of the email campaigns we’ve covered require you to add a specific product to the email, based on the product page a customer has visited, a previous purchase, or items added to the customer’s shopping cart.

    Adding these products and the associated images requires dynamic insertion, where your email marketing software automatically adds the appropriate content to your emails based on data from your analytics software.

    If your email marketing software doesn’t offer dynamic insertion, it’s virtually impossible to send automated emails. This makes it difficult to implement other marketing automation, as well. Long story short: make sure your email service provider offers dynamic insertion.

These are the big three things that you should nail down before you start tweaking the tiny details of your email marketing. If you get these things right, your email marketing program will be in good shape, before you even start optimizing.

Lastly, here’s some bonus information to help with your eCommerce email newsletters.

CHAPTER 6

Email newsletters: How to send newsletters that actually generate revenue

An email newsletter may not be the most profitable email you send. Most of your email ROI will come from the eight triggered email campaigns we’ve covered here. However, newsletters are still a useful digital marketing tool.

But, here’s the key thing to understand about email newsletters: there’s no possible way that a single email can be relevant to every one of your customers. Therefore, you should stop blasting email newsletters to all of your customers. Here’s what to do instead.

Segment your email newsletter audience

Timing and personalization go a long way in email marketing. So, segment your audience, and create newsletters that will be relevant to each audience segment. There are plenty of email segmentation strategies. Which one you use depends on your product and audience.

Here’s a whole list of email segmentation ideas can be used for your email newsletter and other lifecycle email marketing campaigns:

Rejoiner eCommerce Segmentation Matrix

It may not be cost or time efficient to create a separate newsletter for every possible audience segment. But, you can identify the most valuable segments of your email lists, and send them a newsletter when you have relevant news for them.

For example, if you’re having a sale on a particular product or category of products, use your behavioral data to identify the customers who have visited the relevant product pages or clicked on those items in previous emails, and only send the sale announcement newsletter to that particular audience segment.

Essentially, what you’re doing here is applying the principles of triggered email to your email newsletters. This enables you to get the best email revenue from your newsletters, while sending fewer emails.

Think of your brand as a publisher

Sending consistent, high-quality content builds trust with your audience. When your subscribers realize that your newsletter consistently delivers excellent information, they’ll start opening and clicking more. Here’s the thing: a sales pitch is not what people consider to be excellent information in their inbox.

You’ll get far better results if you take an editorial approach. Think of your brand as a publisher. Produce a newsletter with the type of information that your audience might like to read in a newspaper, magazine, or on a popular blog.

Be informative and helpful in your newsletters. That way, your subscribers trust your emails, and will be more open to your message when you do send marketing emails.

Sunset inactive subscribers

We covered this earlier. But it’s especially important to remove inactive subscribers from your list if you send an email newsletter.

Broadcasting an email newsletter means that you’re sending more emails. So, inactive subscribers send more negative email engagement signals to email service providers. It just diminishes your sender reputation even more when you continually send email newsletters to inactive subscribers.

Avoid discounting

If you include a discount in your email newsletter, it’s hard to avoid turning your newsletter into a sales email. It also erodes the value the discounts you send in other emails. There’s no urgency or scarcity involved with a discount if the customer knows that they’ll get another one in your next newsletter.

Additionally, offering too many discounts can have a significant impact on your bottom line. It’s harder to grow your business when you’re giving away a lot of profit margin. Your newsletter simply isn’t the best place for discounts. Save them for when they really matter.

CHAPTER 7

Measuring email marketing performance

There are a lot of email marketing metrics you can use to evaluate and improve the various aspects of your emails and email marketing campaigns.

However, the ultimate goal of email marketing is to generate revenue. It’s wise to track things like your open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. But these metrics give you a very zoomed-in view of specific parts of your email program.

There are a few email marketing metrics that you need to track to evaluate how much revenue your email marketing program is generating on the whole.

Last-click revenue

Some say that first-click attribution is more important than last-click attribution. But it’s not an either-or situation. Both the first click and the last click are important. These two metrics simply tell you different things.

The first click tells what brought a customer to your site in the first place. That’s valuable information. But customers may visit your site and interact through several different marketing channels before they make a purchase. The last click tells you what closed the deal.

Email marketing is direct marketing. Its purpose is to get the sale. So, tracking last-click revenue gives you the clearest picture of whether or not your email marketing is increasing your revenue the way that it should.

Fortunately, most analytics software—including Google analytics—has an option to track the last click (it’s easier to record what the customer clicked just before buying than to find out what they clicked days ago when they first visited your site).

Tracking last-click revenue isn’t the only attribution model. But if email is part of your marketing strategy, tracking the last click is important.

Conversion rates

Most marketers track conversion rates. We intuitively understand that conversions are important. But it’s a common mistake to get hyper focused on other metrics. The trouble with spending too much time on other metrics is that they don’t necessarily lead to more sales.

For example, improving your open rates is good. But if you get more opens, and that doesn’t lead to more conversions, then your email subject lines may be appealing to the wrong audience or the content of your emails may need to be adjusted to take advantage of the additional email opens.

In this situation, further improving your open rates most likely won’t lead to more revenue. In conclusion, tracking and improving the various aspects of your email marketing is smart. But always keep an eye on your conversion rates and how changes impact your conversion rates.

That brings us to making changes.

Use control groups to measure improvement

Marketing is more science than art. That means it’s best to take a methodical approach to making changes and measuring improvement. The best approach is akin to the scientific method.

The overall process looks like this:

  1. Build an email or email campaign, and send it out to establish a baseline of performance.
  2. Create a second version of your email or email campaign that features one very specific difference. Send it out.
  3. Compare the performance of the original campaign to the second version to discover if your change improved the performance metric you were targeting.

The original email and group of subscribers that you emailed that campaign to is the control group. If the second email campaign beats the original in terms of performance, it can become the new control group.

This method enables you to methodically ratchet up the performance of your email marketing by isolating each element and iterating on it until you’ve found the optimal version. It also ensures that you can accurately attribute improvements in performance to specific changes.

If you make several changes to an email campaign, it’s impossible to know which change (or changes) actually produced that improvement. That makes it challenging to replicate those changes in other email marketing campaigns or to understand which elements didn’t need to be revised.

There are two common ways to utilize control groups, identify successful changes, and consistently improve your email marketing:

These two types of testing are cornerstones of conversion rate optimization. And you need to create control groups and a methodical process to use both of them.

If you take this steady approach to your email marketing, you’ll improve your email marketing ROI in two ways:

  1. You’ll send email campaigns that generate more sales.
  2. You’ll spend less time, effort, and money testing and iterating on your email campaigns.

So, using control groups for methodical testing and improvement is a double boost to your email marketing revenue.

CHAPTER 8

The best email marketing tools

Sending out lifecycle email marketing campaigns, optimizing your email newsletter, and measuring performance is really difficult without good email marketing tools. These are the best email marketing tools we know of that will help you follow the advice we’ve given here:

  1. Rejoiner

    If you want to send all of the email marketing campaigns we outlined in this post, and send more profitable email newsletters, and optimize your marketing emails for conversions, Rejoiner takes care of everything.

    Rejoiner is email marketing software that comes with a team of experts that will help you build the best eCommerce email marketing campaigns ever.

  2. MXToolbox

    MxToolbox offers online diagnostics tools for testing your email authentication infrastructure, IP address reputation, DNS records, and a whole lot more.

  3. Canva

    If you’re building your email visuals yourself, you can create images for your emails in your browser, for free. Canva is great for making your emails look better on a budget.

  4. JustUno

    JustUno helps you add intelligent email collection pop ups and forms to your website. The software uses AI to help optimize your email collection efforts, so your email lists are as profitable as possible.

  5. Searchbug

    Searchbug provides bulk email validation and email list cleaning, which helps optimize your email marketing performance by removing the unusable email addresses from your databases.

  6. Google Analytics

    This is an obvious choice. But, Google Analytics is one of the best analytics suites on the market when it comes to integration and cost. There are plenty of analytics platforms to choose from. However, Google Analytics is a solid default choice.

It’s not a long list. But, with only these tools, you can build and execute an incredibly profitable eCommerce email marketing strategy based on making the most of the opportunities presented by the customer lifecycle.

The right message at the right time seals the deal every time

This entire guide really boils down to these two things: timing and relevance.

That’s what lifecycle email marketing is all about: identifying the best time to send an email and the best message to send. And, then sending an email with the most relevant message at that moment, based on customer behavior.

If you implement behavioral tracking, and start sending these eight eCommerce email marketing campaigns, your email marketing ROI will go up, and your overall revenue will grow. There’s no doubt about it.

So, start building your lifecycle email marketing today.

CONCLUSION

What to do now

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