4 types of email sequences to turn window-shoppers into buyers

Email Marketing

In eCommerce, email marketing is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. It’s easy, affordable, and gives you a solid reach into your customer base. However, many brands find that their email strategies don’t bear fruit. Why? Because brands are casting the net too wide with generic promotional emails.

If you’re going to stand out from all the other communications your customer receives, your messages need to resonate with your subscribers. How? Through a well-targeted email flow! Here are four email sequences which will help to boost your sales:

1. Welcome email sequences

They always say that there isn’t a second chance to make a good first impression, and this applies just as much to eCommerce! If your customer has made the decision to subscribe to your email list, newsletter or loyalty program, you don’t want to give them any reason to regret their decision. This makes your welcome email crucial in showing your customer how your brand operates.

It’s also one which is likely anticipated by your customer. 74.4% of customers expect some sort of welcome email when they subscribe. So, you want to make sure that you don’t disappoint!

A great welcome email flow accomplishes three key things:

  • Introducing your brand identity

  • Creating a personal connection

  • Providing value

So, a sample email flow might look something like this:

Email #1: Say hi!

It’s a good idea to keep your first email simple and to stay away from any stone-cold sales pitches — that will likely put off your customer. Instead, focus on introducing yourself and communicating the essence of your brand.

Glossier

Cosmetics brand Glossier keeps their welcome email short and to the point. They give their customer a brief summary of the kind of content they can expect as a subscriber. They also invite them to follow their Instagram channel for more frequent updates. The layout is clean and minimal to match their branding, helping to spark brand recognition in their customer.

Email #2: Introduce your brand story

Beek

With your introduction out of the way, your next email can focus on helping your customer get to know your brand. What are your values? What do you care about? What do your customers mean to you? This is the key to your customer developing trust and loyalty in your brand.

Footwear brand Beek cleverly illustrates its brand values by providing information about the production of its goods, as well as its charitable efforts. This allows Beek to market itself as a high-end but socially responsible brand which cares about giving back to the community.


Email #3: Provide them with valuable content

After building a rapport with your customer, it’s time to reward them for their attention. Although many brands choose to put a reward in their first welcome email, this doesn’t help with building brand loyalty long term. Your customer is far more likely to cash in on the incentive and ignore future communications. Instead, let this be the highlight to cap off your welcome series.

Michaels

This sample from crafts store Michaels shows how you can use a welcome email to promote more than just your product range. As well as a 20% off coupon, it also provides links to their blog and in-store class offerings. By asking customers to set their preferences, Michaels is committing to giving their customer base as much value as possible. This sets the tone for future email communications, giving customers confidence that they will be provided with relevant and interesting content.

2. Birthday email flows

A birthday email flow is one of the simplest sequences you can set up, but it’s by far one of the most effective. Birthday emails with a special reward see conversion rates which are 481% higher than regular promotional emails!

Here’s why:

It feels personal – Traditionally, someone’s birthday wouldn’t be known outside of family and close friends. Although social media notifications have changed this, birthday emails still stand out in comparison with generic promotional communications. It shows customers that you, as a brand, are thoughtful enough to acknowledge their birthday.

It’s a win for your branding – Customer experience has never been more important. It’s no longer enough to offer your customer great prices or products; you also need to make them feel special. According to Walker, customer experience is set to become the biggest brand differentiator in 2020. If you can associate your brand with great service standards, you can place yourself in a league above your competitors.

It might seem logical to send your email on your customer’s actual birthday. But if the goal is for your customer to redeem their reward, you definitely need to widen this window. Half the fun of birthdays is the build-up and getting excited about receiving gifts. If you apply this mentality to your email flow, it is the lead-up to a birthday, rather than the day of, which carries a higher chance of conversion.

Here is a great example from clothing retailer ASOS:

ASOS

ASOS send their email two weeks in advance of the actual birthday, which gives their customer multiple opportunities to redeem. The copy is snappy and to the point; it explains the discount in bold font and ASOS manages to sneakily add a joke about ‘birthday suits’. They also have a large Call To Action (CTA) with the words ‘LETS DO IT’ in upper case. It's no-nonsense and on brand, which will appeal to their customer base.

3. Abandoned cart series

Any eCommerce merchant knows that abandoned carts are par for the course in online retail. Consumers can browse your product range with little investment, knowing they can simply close their browser and come back later. According to Annex Cloud, the global cart abandonment rate sits at 75.52% – and this is rising. Now, that is a LOT of sales you are missing out on!

Of course, some of this is unavoidable in this channel. Someone in physical retail can’t ‘save’ items in a shopping cart for future reference, or compare prices from competing brands so easily. In many cases, the intention to buy simply isn’t there.

However, email does hold the key to converting those customers who just need a little extra push. According to Invesp, 41% of abandoned carts are due to customers “not being ready” to purchase, and 24% because customers want to save items for future reference. So, you have a pretty big audience here for whom a well-targeted email sequence can make all the difference.

A strong abandoned cart email flow contains the below:

  • Engaging copy

  • Includes images/details of the items in the cart

  • Contains your key branding elements

  • Has a clear CTA

  • Provides an incentive

The real trick here is timing. Automated email flows are triggered when a customer takes a certain action. In the case of abandoned carts, it’s usually when they put something in their cart or closes their browser. But sending an email too soon is likely to annoy them. Too late, and the desire may have gone stale.

Men’s lifestyle brand Huckberry designed their abandoned cart flow to capture the mindset of their customer. Their first email gives their customer a summary of the items in their cart, and creates urgency by saying that the items could sell out if not purchased soon:

Huckaberry

Their second email gives their customer a stronger incentive, offering them free shipping for their items if they use the designated code. The cost of shipping is one of the biggest sticking points for customers, with 60% saying that it’s the reason they abandon their cart. By removing this obstacle, you dramatically increase the odds of conversion.

Huckaberry

4. Seasonal email flows

Seasonal or holiday email marketing campaigns based around major shopping events are a great way to remind your customers of your brand offerings. Because ‘seasonal’ often indicates ‘scarcity’ or ‘urgency’, you have a lot of emotion to play off in your email flow. In major retail events, the rules are also a little different from the rest of the year. You don’t have to guess your customer’s buying intentions, but there is also intense competition with other retailers. Everyone wants their slice of holiday traffic, so a strong email flow is vital.

You need to keep in mind what your customer wants most during any gift-giving holiday. Namely, that they want it to be as hassle-free and convenient as possible to buy great gifts. If you can do a lot of their thinking for them in your email communications, your offerings will be a lot more tempting!

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Adidas

Adidas keeps the tail-end of their Thanksgiving email flow on-brand by using athletic-themed copy, challenging customers to “bring more game” to their holiday shopping. To aid this, they give their customers a 30% off incentive to keep sales high in the post-Black Friday phase. Their CTA buttons also helps to redirect customers to different product selections for greater convenience, rather than using a generic ‘shop now’ button.

Adidas2

But rather than just doing a regular holiday sale, Adidas also offers customers specialist product ideas, which are more likely to fit their needs at this time of year. Customized shoes are an unusual and thoughtful gift idea that customers are unlikely to find elsewhere, which helps Adidas impart real value on their customer.

Adidas

One of the best examples of an innovative holiday email flow belongs to Dollar Shave Club. They play off the fact that Father’s Day isn’t as well-known as other events, and so one that people are most likely to forget about. Their e-gift cards, therefore, offer the perfect last-minute buy. Through sending this email a few days before Father’s Day, they can capitalize on when a customer might be frantically searching for a gift.

Final words

Targeted email campaigns allow your brand to form touchpoints with your customer at crucial times in the buying cycle. When consumers are being bombarded by email communications from competing brands, endless product emails simply become white noise. You need to give your customer a reason to pay attention to your offerings. By using email flows like those listed above, you stand a much higher chance of standing out from the crowd!