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“The money lies in the list”. If we had a penny for each time we heard it, we’d all be billionaires! Nevertheless, as cliche as the saying might be, it still holds true. Businesses and brands spend a lot of time, effort and money to build their email lists.

However, if you keep sending the same welcome email and newsletters to everyone who comes to your site, you’re not going to go far. Email marketing is all about reaching the right users at the right time.

Lifecycle email marketing tips

Every user who comes to your site is at a different stage of the conversion funnel. While some might be your loyal and consistent users, some others might be first-time visitors. You don’t want to communicate with both these users in the same way, do you? Well, it’s similar to communicating with someone on the first date as opposed to someone you’ve been dating for a while now! You’d need to show what value you bring in the former scenario, wouldn’t you? Why consider users different?

Similarly, if you send the right message to the user at the right time, not only will you increase the probability of the user buying from you but also increase the chances of the user coming back to buy again from you. We understand how segmentation and targeting work for email marketing and yet, the tricks work on us too!

So, when is the right time to email the customer? And what should you write to him?

A typical sales conversion funnel for an e-commerce store looks like the following:

Product/brand discovery outside site (Awareness) -> Customer visits site -> Customer browses through products (Interest) -> Customer adds product to cart (Decision) -> Checkout (first purchase) (Action) -> Repeat purchase(s) (Delight).

Email marketing in sales funnel
A typical conversion funnel

When a visitor visits the store for the first time

When a visitor gives you their email address in the overcrowded internet space, they expect a lot. They expect you to email them and not just shamelessly ask them to buy stuff.

Someone who comes to your online store/website for the first time doesn’t know you. They probably saw your ad or a friend referred them or they found you somehow. Great! The first step is done. This guy is now aware of your brand. However, you still need to convince him that you have the perfect solution to his problem. You still need to build trust and loyalty with this guy. Bombarding him with products nudging him to buy instantly is obviously not ideal here.

Ideally, the first email you send him should show gratitude and support. Start by thanking him for subscribing to your email newsletter, welcome him to your family, offer quick access to support and if feasible, offer him a gift. It is the perfect chance to build a relationship with the visitor who could then turn into a customer. Use this opportunity to tell your story – nothing excites people like real-life stories.

Okay, you have shown gratitude. Next what? What do you want the visitor to do next? Why did you ask them to sign up in the first place? Include a clear call to action in your welcome email. Whether you want the customer to download an ebook or visit your store, highlight it in your email. The best time to send welcome emails is in the first 24 hours of user signup – of course, you’d also want to A/B test the best time which suits your needs.

Takeaway:

  • Show gratitude.
  • Offer quick access to support.
  • Offer a gift/discount if feasible.
  • Include a clear call to action.

Chumbak does an amazing job with their welcome emails. Eye-catching creative, social media buttons and a clear call to action – they seem to have got it right.

Chumbak Welcome Email
Chumbak Welcome Email

Vogue India shows how welcome emails work for magazines. Engage the visitor with curated and personalized content. Notice how Vogue asks the visitor to visit their site and consume content rather than outrightly asking them to subscribe.

Vogue Welcome Email
Vogue Welcome Email

Kate Spade believes in building the brand rather than asking the visitor to directly shop. They use welcome emails to introduce themselves, what their brand believes in and includes category wise redirection.

Kate Spade Welcome Email
Kate Spade Welcome Email

When the customer browses through products and leaves

A customer may have several reasons to browse through your products, services, blogs, etc and not move further in the sales funnel. He might still be comparing and exploring products or might not be ready enough to purchase. However, when the visitor is ready to purchase, you want to make sure that you’re there and that your product is the first product on his consideration set.

But before we talk about the emails you should send customers who leave your site after browsing through products, we need to talk about how do you define “product browse abandonment” criteria. Of course, if you emailed every customer who came to your site and left without making a purchase, you’d come across as intruding! Whether you want to email the customer based on his frequency of visit or the pattern of products he visits, set clear criteria.

As mentioned, a customer might abandon your site for several reasons. Identify scenarios in which the customer might leave your site. Be it the pricing, shipping or delivery time, often times, customers just need some nudge to proceed. Consider highlighting your value proposition, free or discounted shipping or other feasible discount options, and offer support.

Takeaway:

  • Highlight your value proposition.
  • Highlight free or discounted shipping, when available.
  • Offer support.
  • Keep the personalization minimal.

J. Crew sends a fantastic browse abandonment email with additional categories to explore. J. Crew doesn’t overdo personalization, just adds a simple “Like it?” along with the product/category you were browsing through. It is minimal, relevant and effective!

J Crew Product Browse Email Marketing
J Crew Product Browse Email

When the customer abandons cart

Ah, the infamous cart abandonment issue. The customer added products to his cart but isn’t convinced enough to check out? You’re not alone, my friend! Probably the customer isn’t ready to make a purchase or he is still indecisive. Your job is to build trust and push him enough to proceed to the next step.

Ideally, you’d want to remind them of what they’ve left behind and include social proof like reviews and ratings to instill a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). We’d say, focus on one specific product from the cart rather than all the products and include social signals for that product. You could also offer them an incentive, if feasible, depending on the value of the cart.

Takeaway:

  • Remind the user what they’ve left behind.
  • Include social proof to show the popularity of the product in the cart.
  • Offer them an incentive depending on the value of the cart.

Myntra reminds you of the products left behind in your cart. Notice how they focus on one specific product in the cart rather than all and create a sense of urgency. They also recommend similar products based on your behavior and interests.

Myntra Cart Abandonment Email Marketing Tip
Myntra Cart Abandonment Email

The customer completes first purchase/use case

Congratulations! A customer just made his first purchase. Going good, eh? Well, your job as a marketer doesn’t end here. Post-purchase emails also help in building lasting relationships with the customer. Don’t leave the customer hanging out there once he purchases.

Of course, you’d want to offer support and tracking details after purchase. It is also a nice practice to show gratitude and ask for feedback. Let the customer know how every action he takes impacts you. Related products or personalized future recommendations can also be added to these emails.

You can also include product videos/tutorials in the email. If you have an easier way of using the same product or a customer testimonial video of using the product or simply a product tutorial, include it in your email and build a lasting relationship with the customer!

Takeaway:

  • Upsell and cross-sell products.
  • Add product tutorial/testimonial videos.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Include tracking details.

We were awe-struck by the email Zomato sent us on buying their subscription plan, Zomato Gold. The email has all the elements we’d expect – congratulating the customer, product/service tutorial, similar product/service recommendations and offering assistance.

Zomato Purchase Email Marketing Tip
Zomato Purchase Email

The customer completes first milestone

Milestones can range from purchase value/frequency to the time a customer spent with you. Let the customer know how you appreciate their loyalty. Offer them a “star customer” badge or upgrade them to a “premium customer”. This is also an ideal case to ask the customer to be involved with you. Show them their actions and opinions matter by asking them for feedback, review or rating. You can also engage them in your referral programs or social media contests.

Since the customer has spent a significant amount of time/resources, he obviously expects a lot now. It is time to get personalization game on! From curated content to products and recommendations, go all in.

Takeaway:

  • Congratulate them and offer them a star/power buyer status.
  • Ask them for referral and reviews.
  • Involve them in social media contests or native contests.
  • Personalize and recommend products.

See how Dorothy Perkins incentivizes users upon reaching a milestone. While they base milestones upon the time a user spends interacting with their product, you could do it for the amount a user spends as well.

Dorothy Perkins 6 Months Milestone Email Marketing Tip
Dorothy Perkins 6 Months Milestone Email

Repeat customers

Return customers spend 120% more than new customers, according to Stitch Labs report. Evidently, repeat customers should be treated differently than new customers. A customer who returns to your site to make another purchase definitely shows you did something right! Good job. Now it’s time to nurture it further.

At this stage, customer experience is what drives them. Sell your experience, not the product. Form stories around your products and show how your products solve their problems. You can also use user-generated content in your email.

Takeaway:

  • Use storytelling in emails.
  • Cross-sell personalized products.
  • Segment users based on the frequency of purchase, purchase value and type of products.

Let’s have a look at how Amazon, the e-commerce giant handles repeat customers – concise, elegant and effective! Asking the user for his feedback makes him feel “heard” and “cared” for. They also include a sense of urgency in the email as well as links to curated products for the user.

Amazon Survey Email to Repeat Customers Email Marketing Strategy
Amazon Survey Email to Repeat Customers

Evidently, email marketing is one of the best performing ways for e-commerce stores to increase sales and profit from current visitors and customers. If done right, it could be one of your highest ROI generating channels. You just need to reach the right customer at the right time and nudge them enough to push through the sales conversion funnel faster!

Have you come across any interesting emails lately? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below or write to us at [email protected].

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