📩  Ecommerce Email Marketing Best Practices For Growth
There are a million and one things you can do to make your ecommerce email marketing the best it can be.
Some of the biggest brands have full-blown teams dedicated to their email marketing.
But what if you’re a 1 or 2 person show managing all of that?
It can be confusing where to start, and easy to overlook the basics and ecommerce email marketing best practices that could be making you some serious money, (and keeping you out of the spam folder.)
Let’s take a look at which best practices are most important for your bottom line.
1) Create and set-up basic flows:
The best part about ecommerce email marketing is a lot of it can be automated with services like ActiveCampaign and Klaviyo. Which means you can be making some serious money in the background, IF they’re set up and set up correctly that is.
Here are the basic automated flows you need to make sure you have set up.
Ecommerce Abandoned Cart Automations
Over 70% of online shoppers will put items in their shopping cart and never come back.
Don’t take it personally thought, a lot of people abandon their cart for reasons other than the immediate thought that they didn’t want whatever you’re selling.
Maybe they had to go get their credit card and got distracted, maybe they wanted to look around for a few other deals, maybe their boss caught them online shopping at work and they had to abruptly leave their cart.
Plan to create 3-4 emails spaced out over a 5-7 day span with the first email going out between 30 minutes and two hours after checkout.
Keep the first email simple and simply remind the person they left something in their cart. Don’t try to get too sneaky with your subject lines. According to a recent benchmark report published by Klaviyo, “Subjects lines that merely reminded the abandoner that they left something behind tended to perform the best with an open rate of 47.67%, almost 4% higher than the average.”
With each following email, add in little snippets of why they should by from YOU. To do this, think of some of your biggest objections, your biggest roadblocks to purchase. Is it price, is it delivery time, do you have a lot of competitors your customers could buy from instead? Tell them why they should by from you.
For example, in the email below – a simple reminder is included that all bedding sets come with a 100 Night Trial for their high-end and patent pending linen bedding sets.
Save any discounts for your final two or your last and final email. And don’t go crazy. Reports show that sometimes 5% can be just an effective as a 15%. Early and deep discounts will train your customers to always wait for them.
In addition, be sure to offer suggestions. Maybe their first selection wasn’t their cup of tea. Use “recommended feeds” in an ESP like Klaviyo to offer recommendations on items the shopper may like.
Be sure to add your brands personality to these emails, don’t just use the pre-made out of the
box email templates and text. Be fun and remind them why they should be with YOU as opposed to someone else.
Aim to achieve 5%-15% recovered carts. This number will vary depending on what you sell and your average dollar value per order. For example, if you sell a very high end item, you’ll probably be closer to the 5% recovery rate side. If you sell reasonably priced clothing, you should aim to be closer to the 15% side.
To see the power in cart recovery, check out this quote from a recent shopify report, “If your company can recover 9% of 200 sales, at an average order value of $75, then you would be making an extra $1,350 a day, $40,500 a month, and a staggering $486,000 more per year.”
If after testing and optimizing, your emails are still not bringing customers back, look into other reasons why shoppers are abandoning their carts, including extra fees and shipping costs, clunky checkout experience, and more.
Below is a recent study on other reasons why shoppers may abandon their carts.
Ecommerce Browse Abandonment Automations
Plan to create 1-2 emails going out 2-24 hours after they viewed a product. These emails will be similar to but a little less aggressive than your abandon cart emails.
Keep it mind that, you’re more likely to have someone who viewed something that they’re only semi-interested in. If they absolutely LOVED it, they would have probably placed in their cart so show them what else you have to offer.
Use a recommended product feeds for this and avoid using any coupons in this flow. Instead, create a sense of urgency by either saying the item they viewed it one of your top sellers and/or is running low on stock.
Ecommerce Welcome Series Automation
The Holy Grail of automated ecommerce email flows if you ask me.
It’s the first impression most people have to your emails and your best shot to show them why you’re the bee’s knees and their obvious choice for buying whatever you’re selling.
Each welcome flow will be widely unique from brand to brand but here are some things to keep in mind with your welcome flow.
Send your first email immediately. Studies show that people expect to get an email right away and they will be far more likely to read it even compared to 30 minutes later.
Just like your abandon cart emails, think of your main objections or unique value propositions and think about how you can create an email off of each one.
Also but sure to include social proof. Did you win an award for your product/s? Got a major shout out from a celebrity. Go ahead and brag about it. Don’t be shy.
Create one final email in your flow for people who have not taken any engagement; either they did not use the coupon or they have not revisited your site. Make it very personal and text based, ideally from the “owner”.
Tell them you noticed you haven’t done “XYZ”, and that you’re there to answer any questions. Offer some of the “owners” top picks in the email, a final discount and anything else you think may push them back to your site.
If users still do not take action, push them to your winback flow, discussed in a little later.
Ecommerce New Customer Thank You Email Automation
This could by far be one of the EASIEST and most surprising ways to make serious money you would have otherwise have left on the table.
The following example boasted an insane 91% open rate, a 5% click through-rate, and an amazing 1.8% re-purchase rate and accounted for 12% of total sales from automated flows alone.
All from sending a simple and genuine thank you notel 2 hours post purchase.
Following this first email, continue the conversion with information on your loyalty program, and mention how they now have access to things like VIP/Customer Only Sales. Make them feel part of a community and that you genuinely appreciate them trusting you with whatever they needed to buy.
Ecommerce Repeat Customer Thank You Automation
Similar to your post purchase thank you to new customers, thank your biggest and best fans – your repeat customers. Emphasize how much you appreciate their business and reward them with even more exclusive VIP sales, extra points your loyalty program, etc.
Don’t have any loyalty programs set up? Don’t worry. Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. You’ll be surprised how far it’ll take you.
2) Keep Your Ecommerce Email Metrics Healthy
Your open and click rates are more than just an indicator of how well your emails are performing, they could have a serious impact on your deliverability and the likelihood you’ll end up in the dreaded spam folder.
Each industry varies, but in general, a healthy open rate for ecommerce stores is somewhere between 15-30%.
If you’re consistently below 10% on your open rates, you need to drop everything you’re doing and clean your list. (We’ll cover this in a following section).
As far as click thru rates, aim to get anywhere from 1.5-3%. If you dip below 1%, stop and evaluate the content and layout of your email. Make sure any calls to action are clear, obvious and above the fold.
Besure to check your spam and deliverability rates on occasion as well. Your spam rate should be lower than 0.1% and your bounce rate should be lower than 2%.
Also, keep an eye on your unsubscribes. Remember that people unsubscriber for reasons other than they don’t like you. If these cases, your unsubscribe rate should be very low, below 0.5%.
If you’re any higher than 1%, you need to consider a few of the following reasons why people are unsubscribing in the chart below.
3) Ecommerce Email A/B Testing
Don’t just look at open rates. A great open rate is nothing if the click throughs are half of your “loosing” subject line. The best click through rates comes from a good subject line that is beautifully in line with the message of the email. It’s not uncommon to see the “loosing subject line” have a higher click through rate.
Make sure the content within the email is directly related and even directly referenced whatever is in the email. Making a smooth transition from subject line to email content makes sense and doesn’t feel forced. When an email feels forced, the reader will feel like they’re in a “gotch-ya” situation and will be less likely to continue the conversation with you.
Try using questions, include discounts, use emojis, etc. You won’t know what your customers respond well to until you test.
Marketers are getting pretty creative when it comes to “from names”.
For example, test: Mary from Little Lamb Shop v. Mary // Little Lamb Shop.
The latter is more visually interesting with the “//” and stands out in the inbox without trying too hard. Overall, open rates increased by close to 30% with this tactic.
Another fun “from name” angle is to change the from name for each send. The cooking magazine, Epicurious, is a great example of this. (Check out my personal favorite, “Teri Yaki”…)
Please do not let your preview text say “View this email in your browser”. A lot of people overlook this one (including Epicurious above), but it can have a big impact on your open rates. Make it an extension of your subject line, tease with a little more info on what’s inside.
Text based/HTML based
Do your customers respond better to image heavy emails or personal text based? CTA placement? Do some industry standard A/B tests.
Evening (7pm-9pm) is becoming a more popular time to send e-commerce emails, when people are settling down for the night and simultaneously watching TV and playing on their phones.
But, if you’re in the beauty industry for example, early morning (7am-9am) might work well for you considering this is when women are doing their daily routines and beauty products are top of mind.
When A/B testing, be careful of becoming obsessed with one metric. Again, great open and click through rates mean nothing if they don’t result in revenue. Identify what helps get your customer across the finish line.
4) Ecommerce Email List Cleaning
Keeping your list clean is the best way to maintain a healthy open rate. Here are a few things you should be doing regularly:
- Run a list of people who have never ever opened an email from the time you started your business to 6 months ago. These people are long long gone and will only continue to not open your emails. Label this, “Inactive – Master” and be sure to suppress these people on every send.
- Set up a filter to remove any bounced emails as soon as they are triggered into your welcome flow. Either they gave you the wrong email address on purpose or they misspelled on accident. Either way, they’re goners.
- Set up a win-back automated flow. Create a segment of users that automatically pulls people who have not purchased or have not opened an email in at least 60 days. Set up a series of 2-3 emails telling them you’ve missed them and to come check out some of your latest items. If people have not engaged with this flow, add them to your “Inactive – Master” list.
- Set up a win-back campaign. Slightly different from an automated flow, this is a one off email send where you can feature new updates you’ve made to your site, or improvements you’ve made to your customer support. Run a series of 2-3 emails. If there are no opens. Keep them in your “Inactive – Master” list.
Whatever you do – Do NOT buy a list. You will find yourself deep down in the darkest coldest parts of the spam folder and you will not be able to get out.
5) Add address and unsubscribe to bottom of email & comply with all CANSPAM & GDPR Laws
For US and Canadian senders, keep in mind that in order to be compliant with both CAN-SPAM and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), you need to include your physical business address and a way to easily unsubscribe in your email (usually the footer).
Failing to do so could impact your deliverability scores since email providers will not see you a legitimate business and could cost you serious money as regulatory agencies are starting to crack down on offenders.
In addition, if you email to customers in the EU, (even if you predominately do business in the US), you need to be fully aware of new GDPR regulations and the big changes that are coming with them.
For example, no more “pre-checked” boxes that automatically opt people into your list. You can learn more here: https://www.e-xanthos.co.uk/blog/gdpr-means-ecommerce-businesses-prepare-2018/
6) From Line
Do not use a generic “noreply” or “email@example.com”. It’s a glaring red flag that, in the event they need it, customer support is going to be a nightmare to get ahold of. It’s dehumanizes your brand and is such an easy to change to make, it’s a no brainer. Instead, use something more genuine like firstname.lastname@example.org.
It could also help boost your reputation with email providers. That’s because if someone was to respond to your email, via hitting the reply button, this is seen as a good signal that you’re a legit entity and your customers want to engage with you. BUT – people will not do this if you’re sending from a “no-reply” address.
Look at how unfriendly the following email looks with the big glaring DO NOT REPLY…If feels uncaring. Aria probably wouldn’t have seen a lot more replies to their request for a review if they had simply changed to something like, “VIP@aria.com”.
Ecommerce Email Marketing Best Practices
In the end, try to remember that your brand is unique and what other brands are doing may not work well for you. For example, some big brands see success with big beautiful HTML/Image heavy emails, but it may not work well for your brand if your customers are looking for a more genuine personal experience.
Use the best practices discussed in this article as guidelines and always be testing!
Howdy! I’m an Email Marketing Automation Expert and Klaviyo Partner. I left my corporate job 3 years ago to pursue freelancing and have since become a Top Rated Upwork Freelancer. I think small to medium sized e-commerce businesses deserve emails that are just as beautiful and profitable as the “big guys”. I geek out over automation and segmentation daily. I’m also a classically trained pastry chef, but that’s a different blog post…