The Big Bible of implementing email in e-commerce
Updated: Jul 1, 2019
Do you want a full guide on how to implement email marketing in ecommerce?
I’ve been doing it for a while, so it’s gonna be a looooooong post…
If you implement these tips in the right way, you’ll see 10-30% extra revenue every month depending on the engagement level of your audience.
STEP 0: GET THE RIGHT EMAIL MARKETING SOFTWARE
Sign up for a killer email software tool. My recommendation is Klaviyo.
Then, find a cool pop up software tool as well. I mostly use OptinMonster.
Integrated these together and with Google Analytics so you’ll see all the data to analyze and learn from later.
STEP 1: SET UP THE RIGHT LIST SEGMENTS
Many people miss this step but it’s important to create the right segments on your current or future list.
It will help you send out emails to the right segments and not just blasting your list with a lot of emails.
Create the following segments:
Clicked in the last 30 days (most engaged)
Opened in the last 30 days (highly engaged)
Opened in the last 30-60 days (engaged)
Opened in the last 60-90 days (semi-engaged)
Opened last time more than 90 days (unengaged)
Never opened any email since signed up (created less than 90 days)
Window shoppers (opened at least 5 times in the last 30 days but never purchased)
See the importance of these segments at STEP 5.
You can also create segments based on product categories or locations or whatever makes the most sense for your store. Eg. men, kids, and women for clothing stores, etc.
STEP 2: START WITH THE EMAIL FLOWS
Let’s start sending emails.
Firstly, there are two main types of emails.
AUTOMATED EMAIL FLOWS
MANUAL CAMPAIGNS (these can also be called broadcasts)
The flows are set up once (and ideally updated regularly) and automatically sent out by the email software when the recipient fulfills a condition of the flow trigger.
Manual campaigns are (believe it or not) set up manually and sent out once by you.
I always recommend starting with the automated flows since they are a solid basis of your email marketing.
Once they’re set up, they’ll automatically print money for you.
ABANDONED CART EMAIL FLOW:
Who receives it: those who added a product to their cart but didn’t buy.
Hopefully most of you already use it because usually 60-70% of the carts are abandoned leaving a big pile of money on your table every month.
You can use Klaviyo or other specialized software tools for this such as Abandonment Protector.
I’ve already seen an example for my client where these 3 emails counted for 12% of the store’s revenue.
What does this flow look like?
Email #1: Start with one email after 30 minutes offering help to your people and asking why they left the cart. You can use GIFs to make it more fun.
I prefer not using discounts right away in the first email but rather offering some help because we suppose they wanted to buy the product but something happened before checking out.
Email #2: This is after 4-6 hours of abandonment. You can start the discount in this email.
Email #3: This is an urgency email after 24 hours. It’s time to scare your people by letting them know that if they don’t buy now, they’ll lose your awesome product forever!!
I then start sending them 2-3 cross-sell emails if they haven’t purchased anything yet.
Tip: you can send them Messenger messages too because sometimes they’re crazy effective.
BROWSE ABANDONMENT EMAIL FLOW:
Who receives it: those who checked a product on your site but didn’t buy.
This is for those guys who viewed a product, left their email, but haven’t purchased anything.
Don’t underestimate this flow because it can bring in even more money than your abandoned cart flow.
The structure is very much the same, but I like putting some other related products into the email while I don’t do that for abandoned cart emails.
The reason for that is because it’s a distraction for the latter, while people who are only viewers are less engaged towards a product and they can quickly change their opinion.
NEW CUSTOMER THANK YOU FLOW:
Who receives it: This is sent to your new customers who have bought something for the first time.
There are so so so many ways to make this flow…
Let me show you my favorite one though.
Email #1: The first email can be a longer one since your guy just purchased something from your store, so they’re committed now. Actually, people expect a longer email after their purchases.
The first email should introduce your brand to them, and you can ask people to whitelist your emails so they won’t end up in their spam folders.
Also, you can give them some special offer as an upsell (I use this mostly for dropshippers because their audience’s attention span is short).
Email #2: I send out the second email the next day showing people customer reviews, customer selfies and videos with the products from the store.
I don’t sell in this email. It builds trust. 🤝
Trust-building emails: The next emails are about trust building, too.
Depending on your delivery time, you should send out one email every day.
Showcase your customer reviews, new product lines, social media community, telling more about your brand.
Email around delivery: After they get the product, I send out 3 emails:
The first one is a plain text email telling them we’re giving them a gift the next day.
The second is a promo email with a discount, gift card, etc.
The third email is a very short one after 24 hours to create urgency around the promo.
Survey and selfie emails: After these, you can send out survey emails or ask people to send you video testimonials and selfies with the product for free products or participating in a contest with other customers.
REPEAT CUSTOMER FLOW:
Who receives it: this is sent out to customers who purchased more than one time but haven’t reached the VIP level yet.
Obviously, they’re quite open to your offers now.
Email #1: The first email is a (very) thankful email to them. You must be like a small kid here who gets gifts twice during Xmas.
The following emails: These are cross-sell emails and you can send them out every second day.
VIP CUSTOMER FLOW:
Who receives it: This is for guys who reached the VIP level.
Who’s a VIP?
You decide. Generally, I create a VIP segment for people who purchased at least 4 times or purchased over an $X amount already.
(The revenue/email sent out ratio will be pretty high for this flow.)
Email #1: In the first email, I give them some special offer (not the usual discount, forget it) such as a lifetime VIP card. Please, appreciate people’s loyalty.
The following emails: Then, I send out 1-2 emails every week in this flow with a great variety of content: you can survey them on why they like your store, ask their opinion about your new products, remind them about their gift cards, you decide.
Be creative here and don’t be afraid to ask them since they’re the core of your tribe.
Who receives it: This is for customers who purchased at least 60 days ago and haven’t opened any email since then.
There are many different variations but here’s one that works for me.
Email #1: In the first email, we tell them we haven’t seen them for a while and give them a discount offer.
Email #2: After 7 days, we send another email with a different offer, free shipping or anything else.
Email #3: After another 7 days we can send another type of offer.
The point here is to find the thing your unengaged subscribers react to.
You can send these emails until your re-engagement flow if you want.
RE-ENGAGEMENT AND RE-ENGAGEMENT CONTEST:
Who receives it: The re-engagement flow is to everyone who hasn’t opened an email for at least 90 days (whether they purchased before or not).
These emails usually have a low open rate, which affects negatively the deliverability of your account.
So, I just send out 2 emails and make them as punchy as they can be.
Email #1: You can try different incentives; what I really like is to offer them free products in the first email if they participate in our contest.
Email #2: The second email is an urgency email, saying something like ‘Only 3 hours left’
Then, the clickers go to the contest flow where they get more info about the contest and promotional offers.
The purpose here is to excite people about the contest, give someone free products while the others use their discount code and purchase.
STEP 3: RETARGET NON-BUYING WEBSITE VISITORS
Up to this point, I showed you all the main email flows that I use for my ecommerce clients.
But I forgot one which helps you to monetize your traffic that doesn’t generate sales on the front end.
You can use Wheelio, Optinmonster, JustUno, or simply Klaviyo pop ups.
Personally, I don’t use Wheelio because it tends to attract ‘cheap guys’ who just want to win something free and leave their email in Wheelio.
But once they have subscribed, they don’t open your emails. Also, it doesn’t always fit your brand.
Let’s talk about a simple one here instead: Optinmonster pop ups with discounts.
In Google Analytics, I check the average time that the visitors spend on each page of the website.
Then, I set up different popups for the most popular pages and let them display at the average time spent on the page.
Why is the timing important?
Because you don’t want those people to see the popup who would buy without a discount, but you don’t want too few people to see it either because then it loses its efficiency.
I say something like 17% off if you buy with this discount, check your mailbox.
Then, I create a short flow in Klaviyo for the subscribers.
It’s not too long because these people are not really engaged yet, they just want to buy with the discount.
So, I put the discount into the first email and in the next 2-3 emails I create urgency.
You can test the number of emails, sometimes 2 is enough.
Tip: put the discount code in the thank you page of the popup because many people won’t check their mailbox.
It’s a very effective flow and it can generate the biggest revenue to your store since usually 96-98% of your traffic doesn’t buy anything the first time.
STEP 4: SEND CAMPAIGNS
Every store and agency I know sends different types of email campaigns. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
This is why I can’t say this post will be a “forget-everything-else-and-use-only-this-shit” guide, but rather I’ll try to sum up how things should be going to get some bucks for your store.
Rule #1: Many stores send out only sales emails to their list.
OK, I guess it’s boring to read.
And your list thinks the same thing upon opening your emails.
So, please don’t just sell them 24/7.
I think a healthy store should send out these types of emails:
#1 TRUST emails: they create bonds between your audience and your brand/store.
You don’t want to sell anything in these emails but be creative and communicate with them as you’d do with your family members.
A few ideas:
Survey them…what do they think about your store and products, and why did they choose your store
The next week, you can send out the most recent customer reviews and survey results
You can ask them to send you selfies/videos about the products they purchased and announce a contest for the best video
I also love sending them jokes on boring Monday mornings lol
…and so on…
#2 CONTENT emails: nurture the leads
If you’ve ever done B2B sales, you know why it’s important. But we sell to people ultimately, so what works there, it can work here too.
Send them content that they’re interested at.
Start a blog, YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Then, write a short intro to these in the email, add the link and send it to your list.
Help them solve their problems with your content.
They’ll be thankful.
#3 Good old SALES emails
I like to use two types of sales emails:
A. Product sales emails
In this, you want to sell only one of your products. I think I don’t need to talk too much about this. :-)
Write good copy, tell people why it solves their problem and why this product is AWESOME!!
B. Promo emails
This is a sequence of 3-5 emails that we send out during holidays and special promotions.
We excite people about the promo session, show them a lot of products, and give them special offers.
The final 1-2 emails are always about urgency. It simply sells.
Use this type sparingly though.
Depending on your brand, I’d use it every 3rd month, or a maximum of twice a month.
If you run too many, people will feel like you are an irritating bug in their mailbox (seriously).
Finally, how many email campaigns per week and what ratio of these types?
I’d say it depends on your brand, so you need to test it. I’m okay if a few people say the emails are annoying, it means we email them enough times.
Let’s say 3-5 times is the ideal number (once a month is nothing!!)
About the ratio: a max of 50% of your emails should sell something (I know you will finally end up above that haha).
Experiment with what content and types of emails your audience likes.
STEP 5: YOUR EMAIL LIST IS LIKE YOUR TOILET
Some people’s toilets are dirty while others are unbelievably clean!!
(In my country, we say something like ‘It’s so clean you could eat from it!!’)
I don’t say you should do that, but a dirty toilet is always a bad thing (and unhealthy, too).
So, if you want to keep your business healthy, you should definitely keep your email list clean.
I know those potential clients who say they have a huge 120K email list.
And after 2 weeks 90% of them are deleted because they didn’t open the emails.
You should keep your list clean, not just because it’s the nice thing to do, but because if you send out a campaign to 120K people and only 2-3% of them open it, the email platforms such as Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL will flag you and your emails will end up in the spam folder probably until the end of your life.
Simply, because people are not interested in your emails.
Especially, if your open rates are below 10%, you should clean your list asap.
So, how to keep your list clean?
Here’s my process.
Use the ‘Most Engaged’ and ‘Highly Engaged’ segments you already created (see at STEP 1) who opened at least one email in the last 30 days or clicked at least one email in the last 30 days.
I usually send out the sales emails only to them.
The ‘Engaged’ and ‘Semi-Engaged’ segments and those who subscribed in the last 90 days but haven’t opened an email yet, they don’t get sales emails, just content/trust and other non-salesy emails.
You have to understand that they need more nurture to become purchasers.
Don’t try to sell to cold leads!
I set up a segment that I simply call ‘To be deleted’.
They haven’t opened an email for 90 days and already received our re-engagement flow.
Every Monday, I delete these people.
Is it a waste?
They haven’t reacted to our emails for 90 days!!
If you send out campaigns 4 times a week, that’s around 50 opportunities to open one of our emails.
But they didn’t do that, so goodbye!! ;-)
Follow these steps and you have already done more than 95% of ecommerce business owners to keep your email deliverability high, while not irritating people and selling to the right segment.