eCommerce Email Marketing: How To Increase Your Sales By 10-25% By Sending More Emails

By Andrei Babor
ECOMMERCE EMAIL MARKETING created by Shopify developers

This is a guest post by John McIntyre. John is the CEO and founder of ReEngager, a company that helps ecommerce stores increase sales by 10-25% with eCommerce email marketing. This is a long post, so make sure you bookmark it and come back to it whenever you want to get better results from your email marketing!

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eCommerce email marketing ROCKS.

If you aren’t sending emails to your subscribers and your customers, you are missing out – big time.

Maybe you’re a seasoned email marketing pro, and you know this already. Or perhaps you have a relatively successful store, but you rarely, if ever, send emails to your customers.

Either way, you’ll get some good ideas here on how to sell more of your products through email marketing.

Firstly though, let me back up and give you some of the science behind eCommerce email marketing.

The Science Behind eCommerce Email Marketing

Did you know that BILLIONS of people use email? Experts predict that by 2017 there will be over 4.9 billion email accounts worldwide.

That’s good news because email usually outperforms every other marketing channel.

Check this out:

Email now accounts for more than 7% of ALL eCommerce user acquisitions. This makes it the second-most effective customer acquisition channel (behind search engines at 15.9%).

It gets better…

Not only is email one of the most effective marketing channels at your disposal, it also gets you better quality customers! The customer lifetime value (CLV) of customers acquired via email is 12% higher than average. For comparison, Twitter’s CLV is 23% lower than average.

So if you’re spending any time at all promoting your Shopify store on social media, STOP! Read this blog post. Make some notes. And then replace your social media promotion time with email marketing time.

Your bank account will thank you.

Now, out of all the research I’ve done on eCommerce email marketing, the most amazing fact I’ve found is this:

The average return on email marketing is $44.25 per $1 spent.

That’s a 4,425% return on investment.

Wowzers.

Anyhow. That’s enough science for the time being.

Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of HOW to actually generate sales with eCommerce email marketing.

First up, we’ve got a classic campaign that you’ve probably heard of – except this time it’s different.

Campaign #1 – How To Increase Checkout Conversions By 65%

Ever heard of cart abandonment?

Cart abandonment is when someone adds a product to their cart, starts the checkout process, and then leaves before completing their purchase.

Is it a big problem?

Yes, it is.

According to the Baymard Institute, two-thirds of shopping carts are abandoned.

Think about that for a second.

Did you do $100,000 in revenue last year?

That means you probably had $200,000 in abandoned carts (i.e. orders that were started but not completed).

$1M in revenue last year?

You probably had $2M in abandoned carts.

Business Insider predicts online retailers will lose as much as $4 TRILLION to cart abandonment this year.

The good news?

Business Insider also predicts that smart retailers and eCommerce companies will be able to recover about 63% of that lost revenue.

That’s where a good cart abandonment email series comes in.

Here’s how a cart abandonment email series works:

  1. Someone abandons their cart
  2. You capture their email address before they leave (using Shopify’s multi-step checkout)
  3. You then send one or several emails to them, to remind them of their abandoned cart, and to tell them to come back to check out before someone else buys it

Simple, right?

Here’s How To Set It Up:

Email 1, sent within an hour:

Your first email should be a simple reminder of what they left in their cart.

Don’t give them a discount yet. Some people will abandon just to see if they’ll get a discount, while others genuinely intend to complete their purchase at full price. Giving away discounts at this stage eats into your margins unnecessarily.

Make sure you show them a picture of the product in the email and make it easy for them to complete their order with a big call to action and button to click on.

Email 2, sent within 24-72 hours:

In the second email, remind them again, but go deeper. If they didn’t buy after receiving the simple reminder, then there’s probably another reason for their delay.

They didn’t just get distracted. They might have gone to check out one of your competitors. Or maybe they didn’t know you had free shipping.

That’s why in email 2, you address these potential concerns.

Explain why your company is awesome. Make it crystal clear why you’re better than your competitors (don’t mention your competitors, just be clear on what your differentiators are).

This is called “brand indoctrination” and includes things like telling a brand story, listing the benefits of doing business with you (like free shipping and free returns), and focusing your language and offers to stand out to your particular demographic.

Email 3, sent a week after they abandoned:

If they haven’t bought 7 days after they abandoned, and they’ve received at least 2 reminders, then there’s a good chance that price is their main concern.

It’s time to give them a discount, free gift, or some other offer that’s designed to get them to purchase.

Make them a compelling offer, alongside the brand indoctrination, product image and powerful call to action.

Email 4 onwards, sent once a week

4 or more emails isn’t always necessary, but it can be helpful, especially if people keep buying. A good rule of thumb is to not stop sending cart abandonment emails until people stop buying. If you’re still seeing conversions, keep sending emails.

When working with our clients at ReEngager, we find that people usually stop buying after 3-7 emails.

That’s your standard cart abandonment email sequence.

But there’s more to it.

Most cart abandonment email case studies (like this one) demonstrate improvements of 5-15%.

But what if you wanted to recover 40% like Envelopes.com did in this case study?

Instead of one sequence with one trigger (cart abandonment), you create a separate campaign for three separate triggers:

  1. Checkout abandonment (explained above)
  2. Cart abandonment (when someone adds a product to their cart but abandons before they even reach the checkout)
  3. Category abandonment (when someone visits a specific category but doesn’t make a purchase)

Sounds good, right?

Now, you need to have someone’s email address to do #2 and #3, and an advanced email software like Klaviyo, so this works well when you have a lot of people on your mailing list who haven’t bought from you before.

This just means that cart abandonment and category abandonment sequences will only send when someone browses your site after receiving an email from you (such as a weekly newsletter).

In this case, you already have their email address, your Klaviyo tracking script is tracking them, and when they leave, you’re armed and ready with your automated email sequences.

Let’s look at some examples, and then we’ll talk about how to TRIPLE your transactions and revenue per email compared with standard promotions.

Cart Abandonment Email Example 1 – Fab

If you want some good eCommerce email marketing to study, check out Fab. They’re doing a lot of things right with this email.

  • The subject line mentions the product and adds urgency (“act fast”)
  • Friendly headline (“Smile, it’s still for sale”)
  • Benefits of Fab in a header
  • Photo of product
  • Big red button to buy (always make your buttons easy to see)
cart abandonment 1
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Cart Abandonment Email Example 2

FiftyThree is another company to watch when it comes to email marketing. Here’s what they’re doing right:

  • Relevant subject line
  • Big, bold headline
  • Specific product and photo in the email
  • Obvious button to complete the order

They could improve this email by adding:

  • The specific product in the subject line (just like Fab did)
  • Mention the benefits of FiftyThree in the header (again, just like Fab did)
cart abandonment 2
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Cart Abandonment Email Example 3

This email from Doggyloot also has a lot of potentials. It’s a bit ham-fisted, but for the right audience, it will still do a good job.

Here’s what they’re doing right:

  • Dog-related subject line
  • Funny image in the email
  • Urgency by saying the items are almost sold out
  • Photos of products in the email

And here’s what I’d change:

  • Mention the specific product in the subject line
  • Add an animated timer to emphasize that the products are almost sold out
  • A little less cutesy language (including the puns)
cart abandonment 3
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Campaign #2 – How To Triple Your Transactions And Revenue Per Email

If you’re one of the smart eCommerce retailers who IS already sending emails, you’re probably sending regular promotions.

That is, a couple emails a week, or maybe a few a month, with your latest deals and new products.

Sending regular email promotions are a valid way to generate revenue for your store, and it’s an essential part of an eCommerce email marketing strategy.

But it’s NOT the only thing you should be doing (as you discovered in the last section).

Once you’ve got a cart abandonment email strategy, the next step is to create a welcome email that makes people excited about having joined up to your email list.

What’s so good about welcome emails?

74.4% of consumers expect a welcome email when they subscribe, so it’s no surprise that subscribers who receive a welcome email show, on average, 33% more long-term engagement with that brand.

This engagement translates into 4 times the open rates and 5 times the click rates compared with regular promotions.

But what really matters is the fact that welcome emails produce serious revenue, to the tune of 3 times the transactions and revenue per email compared with regular promotions.

So how do you create a welcome email?

How To Create A Welcome Email

You can send a welcome email whenever someone subscribes to your list. This could be a prospect who has signed up for a free coupon or discount, or it could be a new customer.

While welcome emails aren’t complex, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when you create yours.

Your welcome email needs to:

  • Welcome them to the family (by saying something like “Welcome to the ShopifyNinjas family”)
  • Begin the brand indoctrination process (by explaining in 2-3 sentences, or 3 short bullet points, what makes your company and products special)
  • Give them the incentive (the coupon they signed up for)
  • Make an offer (with the coupon they signed up for if they’re a prospect, or with related products, if they’re a customer)
  • Set expectations (by telling them what you’ll be emailing them in the future, and how often they can expect to receive emails)
  • Encourage subscribers to connect with you on other channels (by linking them to your social profiles)

This is one of the most important emails you’ll ever send your customers, so put aside some time to create something really compelling. You’ll be glad you did.

Now, before we look at how to increase your profit margin by 75% with eCommerce email marketing, let’s take a look at 3 welcome email examples.

eCommerce Welcome Email Example 1

Aritzia, a women’s fashion boutique, does a solid welcome email.

Let’s look at what they’re doing right:

  • Logo and category links at the top (for easy browsing back to their website, and brand awareness)
  • Friendly welcome (“Hi, Since you’re new here…”)
  • Brand image (girl in blue dress)
  • 3 bullet points on why Aritzia is awesome and deserves your business
  • Links to social profiles at the bottom

I’d also like to see some kind of offer and a link to purchase on the website. It doesn’t have to be a coupon, but I do believe every email should have some kind of call to action. Especially a welcome email (since they get extremely high engagement).

1-welcome-Aritzia
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eCommerce Welcome Email Example 2

If you want to see some great email marketing, sign up for Bonobos emails. They nail it more often than not.

They’re doing great with this welcome email:

  • Logo and menu up top
  • Relevant headline
  • Incentive
  • Benefits of incentive
  • Easy to see “shop now” button

They could improve this by:

  • Adding some brand indoctrination (why is Bonobos special?)
  • Perhaps including some kind of testimonial
  • Links to social profiles (though they may have left these out to push more people towards the incentive)
1-welcome-bonobos
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eCommerce Welcome Email Example 3

Here’s Fab with another great email.

Here’s what’s great about this one:

  • Logo and benefits in the header
  • Welcome message
  • Brand indoctrination
  • Brand image

What I’d change:

  • Add an offer or incentive
  • Change the call to action (“download the app” isn’t going to make them any sales right away)
1-welcome-fab
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Campaign #3 – How To Increase Your Profit Margin By 75%

This is where it gets exciting.

In eCommerce, you live and die by your margins.

If you can get better margins than your competitors, you gain a huge edge on them. Plus, it makes your business more fun because you have more cash for all the fun things in life – whether you’re investing to build wealth, traveling, or collecting exotic sports cars.

That’s why it’s important to look after your customers and actively market to them via email.

Did you know that you can increase your profit margin by 75% simply by increasing customer retention by 5%?

This is where you make your money as an entrepreneur.

It’s 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell something to an existing customer. Plus, when you get a customer to buy from you again, they will spend an average of 67% more than new customers.

In other words, the PROFIT in this business is in your existing customer list – not in getting more customers. It’s in sending emails, promotions, and campaigns to people who have bought from you before.

It begins with your customer onboarding series.

Here’s How Your Customer Onboarding Email Series Should Work:

First, welcome them to the family (just like we discussed with the welcome email above). Plus, throw in some related product recommendations.

When’s the best time to make a sale? Immediately after you made one.

Next, send them an email a few days later asking something like “Do you have any questions?” Check in with them. Find out if they’re happy, or if they have an issue. Try and get them to reply to this email.

(This will help your email deliverability and domain reputation with Gmail, Yahoo, and the other email providers.)

In email 3, sent a few days after you expect their product to arrive, ask them if their product arrived safely, and if there’s anything you can do to help them. Again, keep up with the product recommendations.

In email 4, request a product review (and – you guessed it – make some product recommendations). Send this one a few days later.

4 days later, in email 5, it’s time for an automated promotion. Create a time-sensitive promotion (with an animated timer in the email to emphasize the urgency), such as a discount offer, or a free shipping on orders over $100 offer, or some other offer.

Here’s the email series summary:

  1. Welcome
  2. Do you have any questions? (3 days later)
  3. Did your product arrive safely? (2 days after product should have arrived)
  4. Request a product review (3-7 days later)
  5. Time-sensitive promotion (3 days later)
  6. Time-sensitive promotion (1 days later, 24 hours before the promotion expires)

These are short, simple emails and should NOT take you months to create. You could set up a sequence like this in a day or two with any email tool (though Klaviyo is definitely the best option for eCommerce stores).

Don’t forget to optimize your transactional emails.

Did you know that your transactional emails – that is, your shipping and order confirmations – get the highest engagement score out of ANY emails you send?

That’s why you need to add related product recommendations and brand indoctrination to these emails. It’s an opportunity that’s TOO good to be ignored.

You can also do this with Klaviyo. Another great tool is Receiptful.

Let’s take a look at how some big eCommerce companies are doing their transactional emails.

Transactional Email Example 1

Here’s an example with a review request email that goes out to new customers.

Wondering what they’re doing right? How about:

  • The logo up top so the receiver knows who it’s from
  • The conspicuous lack of menu buttons (to focus the customer on the main call-to-action – leaving a review)
    a friendly, relevant headline

Now, what could they improve?

  • It’s too much text for my liking – there should be a sub-headline that refers to the review (so I can scan the email and figure out what the heck it’s about)
  • The images and “leave a review” links should be above the signature, not below it.
customer 1
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Transactional Email Example 2

GoDaddy is excellent at transactional emails. They make you want to buy as much as you possibly can all at once. Just look at this email…

  • Relevant headline
  • All the information you need about your order (such as who to call for billing, and where to get support)
  • A bright, attention-getting, orange ad on the right (“Save 25% off your next purchase…”)
  • Go Daddy Deals

The only thing I would add to this email is a promo banner at the bottom of the email, but other than that, this is a perfect transactional email.

customer 2
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Transactional Email Example 3

The last transactional email here is from Dollar Shave Club, and it’s awesome. This email is beautiful, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Logo up top, so you know who it’s from
  • Tells you what’s happening (“1 item ships on 9/10”)
  • Then it offers you more products (“Toss More In?”)
customer 3
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Want More Easy Ways To Increase Your Revenue?

The ideas I’ve shared here are just the beginning of a full-scale eCommerce email marketing program.

If you want more ideas like this, check out our latest post on ReEngager. You’ll get 5 case studies on eCommerce email marketing, plus there’s a free download available with 10 easy ways to increase sales by 10-25%.

Thank you again for following our Shopify Insider Blog @ Blackbelt Commerce,  we have many other valuable and informative posts that will help you to continue to optimize your website such as 3 Ways To Increase Your Shopify Conversions and How To Improve Customer Experience Using Shopify Plus. 

Questions? Post a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

 

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