eCommerce Email Marketing 101: 8 Campaigns You Need to Be Sending

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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While eCommerce email marketing is one of the most essential marketing modalities that retailers can engage in, there are still scores of sellers who neglect this sales powerhouse.

According to a 2019 Data & Marketing Association report, email marketing generates an average ROI of $42 per every $1 spent.

Clearly, email is one of the most effective ways for online merchants to connect with customers and drive sales.

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However, it is worth noting that eCommerce email marketing isn’t wholly dependent on assembling the right message. It’s about building the right sequences and sending those emails at the right time.

If retailers send the right emails at the wrong time or to the wrong consumers, results will be nil, and people will likely unsubscribe in short order.

Alternatively, if sellers send out the right sequence at the right time to the right folks, merchants can quickly cultivate a loyal following of brand evangelists.

To help lay the foundation for top-performing eCommerce email marketing strategies, today, we will be covering eight campaigns that retailers need to be sending to their subscribers.

Let’s get started.

Start with the Welcome Series

When merchants gain a new subscriber, those folks are waiting to hear from the seller. That is the entire point of them subscribing.

pura vida email thank you message

Therefore, the best time to contact consumers for the first time is right after they sign up.

The “Welcome” email series should consist of at least three emails, as this will allow new subscribers to familiarize themselves a bit with the brand.

The fact is that while the welcome series might seem somewhat frivolous to some, Respondr explains why welcome emails work, showing that this series generates 86 percent higher open rates and an average of 320 percent more revenue per email than other promotional messages.

The welcome series can be automated through a company’s email marketing service provider. However, for those who have yet to commit to a specific tool, it is advisable to figure out a business’s needs so that it can establish how to decide on the best email marketing platform for its purposes.

Browse Abandonment Emails

No matter if one is talking about IRL stores or eCommerce websites, consumers love to window shop.

Browse abandonment emails are the perfect tool for converting looky-loos into paying customers.

This eCommerce email marketing series is triggered when a shopper visits a category or product page a specific number of times without adding an item to their shopping cart. Those who actually place an item in their cart but fail to complete their purchase will be discussed in the next section.

The best way to optimize the browsing threshold for triggering the campaign is to A/B test marketing emails to determine the highest open and conversion rates without causing users to unsubscribe.

actions that correlate purchase intent graphic

Additionally, merchants should track multiple types of browsing behaviors to best identify what actions correlate with purchase intent. These behaviors can include:

  • Viewing a single item multiple times
  • Looking at various things within the same product category
  • Clicking specific items featured within an email
  • Conducting specific product searches without converting

Since all of these eCommerce email marketing campaigns are a series of emails, merchants should send the first browse abandonment message an hour after the user leaves the site.

If the first email does not spur them to come back and buy, send a second email three days later and then five days later if the second communication does not get them back on the site either.

Abandoned Cart Communications

Consumers abandon their carts for a variety of reasons. As the Baymard Institute’s research shows, some of the top explanations include:

  • Extra costs too high
  • Forced account creation
  • Too long/complicated checkout process
  • Couldn’t calculate order total upfront

Given that the average abandoned cart rate online is nearly 70 percent, this eCommerce email marketing series is likely to be one of a brand’s most profitable.

spanx automated follow up email

When it comes to reducing cart abandonment rates, this series is critical as it has proven to be incredibly effective in reeling consumers back to a site to convert.

The reason for this is that those who receive the email have already shown an intent to buy, but either forget to finish their transaction, or they might need a little extra incentive to complete their purchase.

Since merchants aren’t exactly sure why a consumer ditched their basket, it is best for the first email in the series to merely remind the customer about their unfinished order. Sometimes, shoppers get interrupted and simply need to be reminded about their potential purchase.

The first email should hit a customer’s inbox within 30 minutes of abandoning their cart.

If that email fails to earn a conversion, then retailers should send a follow-up a day or so later offering the shopper a discount or other perk like free shipping. Of course, merchants should test different discounts to establish which offers convert best and cost sellers the least.

In addition to A/B testing various offers, retailers should also check to see which number of emails in the series produces the best results in recovering as many abandoned carts as possible.

However, do be sure that the abandoned cart series is configured to stop sending emails once a customer completes their purchase. Otherwise, shoppers could become irked and get turned off to a brand.

New Inventory Notifications

Encouraging the elusive second purchase is a challenging task, albeit one of the most profitable a brand can pursue. The reason for this is that, as Adobe reports:

“In the US, 40 percent of revenue comes from returning or repeat purchasers, who represent only 8 percent of all visitors. Marketers in the United States and Europe must bring in 5 and 7 shoppers, respectively, to equal the revenue of 1 repeat purchaser. Repeat purchasers account for even more revenue during the holiday season and times of slow economic growth.”

Additionally, as has been found by a variety of studies, when consumers make a purchase, they become exponentially more likely to place new orders with each consecutive transaction.

Therefore, an ideal method of encouraging repeat purchases is to leverage eCommerce email marketing to send out new inventory notifications. Through this email series, merchants will send out email blasts for new products that have just hit their digital shelves.

air zoom wildhorse email series

The key to this email series is to keep things simple and focused on a single call-to-action that entices readers to check out the new arrivals. Since the email will have a singular focus, it is wise for merchants to craft a dedicated landing page to increase conversions, as arriving on the site’s homepage (or similarly unrelated destination) will only serve to frustrate consumers.

Naturally, given the increasingly visual nature of the internet, retailers will want to include images of new items as this will elevate a user’s desire to check out the store’s latest offerings.

Finally, it is also essential to consider the audience for the merchandise. If a seller gets in a new range of women’s yoga pants, it’s probably not a great idea to send out an email to its male buyers. Therefore, it is critical to segment email lists according to the audience demographics that will be interested in the new arrivals.

Back In-Stock Notifications

From time-to-time, sellers run out of merchandise. This situation can be quite inconvenient for retailers, but even more so for shoppers.

While the customer is unable to purchase the item, the intent to buy still exists. Therefore, allowing customers to opt-in to receive back in-stock notifications is an easy and natural way for retailers to earn a conversion after the item becomes available again.

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However, sellers need not require a user to enter their email to receive such a notification. Utilizing behavioral triggers (such as viewing an out-of-stock item or adding one to their cart), merchants can automatically segment these individuals into back in-stock eCommerce email marketing campaigns.

Again, merchants will want to utilize stunning images that sell in these email notifications to help remind customers precisely what the product is and to reactivate their desire to purchase the item.

Additionally, when items are temporarily unavailable to purchase, merchants should consider sending shoppers alternative buying suggestions if the item will not be restocked for a considerable amount of time–or ever again.

While this may not be ideal, it does help to make the best of a bad situation and turn consumers toward other products that they might be interested in instead.

Price Drop Emails

Everyone loves a good sale.


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Given that paradigm, price drop emails are an effective means of pulling in customers who have been eyeballing a certain something but have yet to pull the trigger.

In fact, this eCommerce email marketing message perfectly complements both browse abandonment and cart abandonment emails because if neither of the latter gets a shopper to convert, the price drop email could be the perfect catalyst to earning a sale.

The trigger for this email campaign is relatively simple. When the price of an item is slashed, send out an email to those who have received browse abandonment or cart abandonment emails for that specific product, but have yet to purchase.

This eCommerce email marketing campaign not only targets those who have shown an intent to buy, but it also provides a built-in incentive to complete their purchase, making it a highly lucrative message.

However, something to keep in mind is that if sellers are sending out a general sales promotion email to customers that features the same reduced-price items, it is best to suppress that blast for those who receive the targeted message.

Not only is receiving both emails redundant for the shopper, but it also comes off as a bit pushy on the seller’s end.

Review Request Emails

Using product review to increase eCommerce sales is a widely used industry tactic. However, in order to get reviews, retailers are going to have to put in a bit of effort as most buyers won’t come back and write up an assessment unprompted.

Therefore, when a consumer purchases an item from a merchant, it is necessary to send them a follow-up email asking them if they would leave an honest review of the product on the site.

The success of this email largely rides on its singular focus. By concentrating the email on the product image and copy that will effectively persuade a customer to log in and leave a review, merchants are more likely to achieve their goal.

best practices maximize number of reviews

Some of the best practices that retailers will want to keep in mind to maximize the number of reviews they generate include:

  • Automate the message: While sellers can initiate the campaign a few days after a purchase is made, it is wise to simply establish an automated campaign that is triggered to send a few days after consumers receive their merchandise. This will help to generate more reviews with less effort.
  • Employ star ratings: The fact is that not all customers will want to write a review. For that reason, it is advisable that merchants give buyers the option in-email to simply give the product a star rating without having to write a blurb. While this is not as impactful as a full-blown review, it is better than having no feedback on a product at all.
  • Offer an incentive: While some shoppers are happy to leave a product review, others will require a bit of coaxing. For those individuals, a motivation for leaving a review is in order. Retailers can offer discounts on future purchases or offers of free shipping, as these will not only help to earn a review but also serve as a catalyst for another transaction.

However, it is important to note that stores selling a considerable number of units will not generate purely positive reviews. Eventually, an unsatisfied customer will surface. Therefore, it is advisable that retailers learn to handle both positive and negative reviews effectively.

Re-Engagement Emails

Here’s the thing: Not everyone who buys from a brand will rush back for a second purchase. In fact, most buyers will vanish for prolonged periods of time–if not forever.

For those who have not engaged with a brand for a lengthy period, the re-engagement email is the seller’s best tool for reconnecting with lost customers and getting them to come back and buy.

However, to succeed with this eCommerce email marketing campaign, retailers are going to have to really push the limit with their incentives. Therefore, offering something like a 20 percent off coupon is in order.

By giving dormant customers an attention-grabbing offer that they usually wouldn’t receive, merchants can effectively pull some of these users back into an actively engaged status.

And again, those who complete a second purchase are exponentially more likely to complete a third.

Another element that sellers will want to include in the re-engagement email is images of products that the shopper might want to purchase. Since the user might not have a direct need from the brand (hence their dormant status), sellers can include images of items that are related to the ones they previously purchased or are included in their wish list, as this could spark an impulse purchase.

hellofresh re-engagement email

By sending out an automated re-engagement email to consumers who haven’t purchased anything in the past three to four months (based on their last transaction date), retailers can potentially increase their customer base.

eCommerce email marketing is one of the single most effective promotional channels available to retailers. Given the fact that subscribers are already interested in a company’s offerings, the diverse nature of the potential marketing messages and the personalized nature of the emails, there is a tremendous amount of revenue that can be generated from this modality.

By utilizing these eight eCommerce email marketing campaigns, merchants can increase their active user base, cultivate deep and abiding relationships with their audience and significantly pad their bottom lines.

However, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, email marketing requires getting the right message to the right folks at the right time. If your brand could use some help in honing its email marketing prowess, reach out to Visiture’s eCommerce email marketing experts.

We can help craft your company’s highly engaging email campaigns that convert.

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