Between navigating new platforms like TikTok, keeping up with search algorithms, and testing texts, it’s easy to forget that email is still one of the most powerful channels in your ecomm marketing arsenal.
For ecommerce companies, automation is essential when it comes to email. After all, manually sending an email every time a customer places an order would be impossible to scale. But if you’re really going to hit those KPIs, you need to think about automated emails as more than a means of communicating essential information.
These 7 automated email flows are designed to do just that, helping ecommerce stores kick their customer engagement goals and increase retention rates.
We’re going to go ahead and guess that any ecomm marketer reading this already has a welcome email set up for those customers who have just signed up to their email list and/or made their first purchase.
You might think that, because they are so widely adopted, welcome emails are a less effective tactic but, in fact, the opposite is true. Because customers expect a welcome email to land in their inbox, they’re actually more likely to open it. In fact, more than 8 out of 10 people will open a welcome email and they have a click-through rate of around 25%.
With that in mind, consider how you can make the email your customer is most likely to open worthy of their time. First of all, it’s important to set up different welcome emails for different types of entry points. At a minimum, you’ll want one for customers who sign up to your list without making a purchase and one for those who have made their first purchase.
The email for the customer who signed up to your list may contain a discount code or offer that expires after 24 hours, while the email to the customer who made their first purchase may include a confirmation along with some additional information about your company values and points of difference.
Remember to revisit this welcome flow at least quarterly. It’s an easy one for marketers to forget.
Examples of welcome emails
The founder’s letter By making your first interaction with your new customer a letter straight from the founder, you can tell your brand’s story in a way that feels authentic. In the examples below, you’ll see how this is done differently depending on the brand.
Supergoop has done a terrific job of distilling their company mission (create an SPF so good that everyone is happy to wear sunscreen every day) in a short, sharp letter from the founder that still feels authentic. They’ve also added a discount code with a clear CTA. It’s clean, it’s simple and it works.
The educational welcomeSome brands need more explaining than others. They might offer a new product, a complicated one or something so prevalent that the differentiation point needs to be communicated. Take a look at the examples below and you can see how two very different ecomm players have made the educational welcome their own.
The upfront offerA discount code will often appear towards the end of a welcome email, but some brands are taking it one step further and throwing that discount code right up top. Let’s face it, often people sign up to your email just to get that sweet, sweet deal, so it doesn’t hurt to fast-track that sale. In the examples below, you’ll see one instance where we have a code for a discount and another that offers free shipping. Either way, there’s an incentive to buy. Like now.
Abandoned cart reminders
How often have you added something to your cart only to get a Slack message that prompts you to check your email that prompts you to jump on a meeting… three hours later that product you intended to buy is all but forgotten.
With Ortto, you can easily set up a templated abandoned cart recovery Playbook to ensure an email lands in the cart abandoner’s inbox at the right time, with the right message. Start with a cleverly-worded, beautifully-designed reminder that includes a visual of the product in their cart with a clear CTA button. You might want to use this space to share a testimonial or answer a few FAQs to get ahead of whatever it is that’s holding your customer back.
From here, a reminder that includes a discount or offer may follow 1-2 days later, and another final reminder 1 week after the cart abandonment. Remember to use the data you have at your disposal to help craft messages and continue to A/B test and use our AI subject line suggestions to maximize efforts.
Examples of cart abandonment emails
For the most part, cart abandonment emails are fairly straightforward. There’s an engaging subject line, some clever copy, and the items you left behind. This can be enough to get the job done. But if you want to step it up a notch, think about how your brand’s personality could come to life a little more with your emails.
In the examples below, you’ll see how Whisky Loot has a bit of fun sharing all the things you could do with your subscription. Nuzest take a different approach with a letter from the founder thanking you for visiting the site, sharing his mission and vision, and offering help. Girlfriend Collective keeps it nice and simple. Whatever route you choose, make sure what you’re putting out there really represents who your brand is — that way, even if your cart abandoner doesn’t end up buying, you know you’ve left the right impression.
In a cart abandonment flow, you already know exactly which product the customer was ready to purchase. In a browser abandonment flow, however, the customer may have clicked on multiple products or even just category pages before they abandoned ship.
It’s possible that the browser was just window shopping. Or maybe they ducked out because they didn’t find what they wanted. Or, it could be that they just weren’t getting their questions answered. It’s important not to make too many assumptions and cover your bases, without writing a novel of an email.
If you’re sharing specific products in your browser abandonment flow, set things up to include both products they looked at while browsing and similar products they missed. It’s also a good idea to offer some help or share some FAQs to ensure all their questions are answered.
Just like cart abandonment, browser abandonment emails work best when you’re doing some A/B testing to see what really works. If you’re an Ortto customer, you can use the ‘Turn Browsers into Buyers’ Playbook to turn window shoppers into buyers by sending them emails with the products they’re most interested in.
Examples of browser abandonment emails
In the examples below, we have three very different types of browser abandonment emails.
Ritual share some product benefits, including a price justification, along with a discount code
The Sunday Collective have a similar format to cart abandonment emails, but reference ‘looking at’ rather than ‘in your cart’
Thrive Market share some FAQs about membership and offer a discount
So you got a sale. Well done! But what if that sale could be bigger and better? With automated email workflows, you can upsell those customers just like your salesperson might at a cash register.
You might choose to recommend products that they’ve been browsing, remind them they may be low on a product they’ve previously purchased with you or, if you’re in the business of beauty, supplements, or groceries, offer them a discount to swap from a one-off purchase to a monthly subscription.
In any case, make sure that the upsell experience is incredibly simple — can you make the checkout process one-click and ensure additional products will be shipped with the original purchase? Whatever you can do to make the decision easy for the customer will be worth the effort.
While automated upsell sequences do take some creativity, when you get them right they can give your customer lifetime value a serious boost.
The KiwiCo example below is the perfect example of an Upsell campaign that does just that — encourages the customer to upgrade their subscription with an incentive. The CTA is super clear and the subject line, “Add a book next month for FREE!” would compel you to click.
As the welcome email data showed, customers tend to get excited about emails early on. Over time, however, they tend to drop off and on average email lists decline by around 22% each year.
Database decay is, unfortunately, inevitable. People change email addresses, go on unsubscribe sprees, or have lifestyle changes that mean your product no longer fits into their life. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely out of your control.
A strong re-engagement campaign will be triggered by a specific action from your customer — whether it’s a period of time that’s elapsed since they last made a purchase, a number of unopened emails since they signed up to your database, or revisiting your website after 3-6 months of unopened emails.
Set up a flow that makes sense for the trigger - it might be a discount or offer like the Blue Apron example below, a reminder to refill a product that was purchased previously, or a prompt allowing them to switch to less-frequent emails or opt-out completely.
The benefits of a re-engagement flow are two-fold, it’s a list hygiene activity that helps ensure your database is full of qualified prospects and it could bring former customers back.
Feedback and referral requests
Referrals, positive reviews and user-generated content are incredibly valuable and worth pursuing. After all, a third-party review gives credibility to your brand and products, and convinces other customers to get on board.
But you’re not going to want to ask an unhappy customer for review or referral, so you’ll need to ensure you have automated workflows that are based on your customer’s actions. Let’s say they’ve purchased a product, received it, and had enough time to test it out. That flow might ask them for a review of the product itself (e.g. the Temple & Webster example below) and the star rating they give could set off another series of emails based on whether they had a positive or negative experience.
Now, if a customer has come back and made a second purchase, we can assume they’re into it and we can get a little bolder, asking them to leave a more public declaration of their love on social media or to refer a friend in exchange for a discount or offer like the Me Undies example.
These flows can be tricky to set up initially, but they are worth their weight in gold. Both so that you can receive feedback that improves your product or customer experience, and so that you’re generating referrals and gathering up that all-important UGC.
Examples of feedback and referral request emails
Who doesn’t love a birthday offer? If you’ve got that data on file, it’s a simple way to check in with your customer when they’re more likely to be in the mood to spoil themselves or spend the gift cards they received from their loved ones.
Consider sending a milestone email to show your customers they’ve been with you for a year, or to celebrate the first time they left a review or took another action that’s important to your business.
Whatever you’re celebrating, make it fun, keep it simple, and be generous!
The final word
Automated email flows are one of the most effective ways of pushing your customer from browse to buy to loyalty. The best flows are set up with balance top of mind, both when it comes to the volume of emails and the actual content within emails. So think like Goldilocks and when you find that flow that’s just right, give yourself a hard-earned high five.
With Ortto, you can automate email flows, build beautiful branded emails, understand message sentiment, and get AI suggestions that help boost open rates. Sign up today to get started.