Baseline Automations: The 6 Email Marketing Automations That Every e-Commerce Store Needs!
Once you learn to align the six main email automation perfectly to the customer’s journey, you can get the most out of your email marketing in revenue generation.
Some of the most common questions regarding email automation for eCommerce businesses is, ‘Heyy, where do I start? How do I bring my ideas to life? What automation should I be running and prioritizing?’. So, this blog is going to be all about that.
But before answering these questions, I want to take you guys back to the basics and discuss all the things that impact a customer’s journey, and then see how automation fits in the picture and adds value to the business.
What Are Email Automations & Why Are They Important?
It is a tool that allows you to send out relevant emails to someone based on their behavior or a specific trigger. For example, adding an item to the cart and not checking out might trigger an abandoned cart sequence.
Similarly, you may sign up for a newsletter that can trigger welcome sequence automation. And after you make your first purchase, it may trigger the win-back automation to have you back in the door. All these automations will be based on how your audience behaves, which can, in turn, allows you to control the actions they make.
So, it’s crucial to understand what behaviors you want your audience to opt-in for, what actions you want them to take, and, most importantly, how to build a system that lets you harness those behaviors and gives you some helpful touch-points along that customer journey.
6 Email Automations You Need
For our e-commerce clients, we like to start with six foundational automation. And these are:
- The welcome flow
- The abandoned cart flow
- A post-purchase flow
- A win-back flow
- A browse abandonment flow
- And lastly, a thank you flow
So all of these give us different angles through which we can approach our audience and different ways to communicate the different values we will be offering.
For most e-commerce businesses, this six automation are the ones that fit well into whatever it is they are already doing and ideally align with their customer journey so they can have the most impact possible.
And here at MKTG Rhythm, we look at this from the RACE framework, using the reach, activate, convert, and engage stages of that customer journey.
The reach stage is that first touch point. This may be seeing an Instagram ad where they’re like, ‘oh my gosh, I need that. I don’t know, I’ve never seen this before, but I suddenly need it.’ Or they might be realizing, Hey, I have a problem. How do I solve it? This makes them google it (this is where your organic search comes in), and that’s where your paid ads can play a role.
But once they make it to your site, you’ll need to start working to activate and engage them and to keep them researching on your site, understanding, if they’re problem aware, how do you get them to solution aware and then to product aware and then gradually nurturing them along this journey to eventually where they can convert.
And once they’ve reached the convert stage, they know the product they want and need, and they’ll hopefully make their first purchase. Suppose you’ve been a great guide during this journey and helped them make an informed decision by providing all the relevant information. In that case, an email will help you take this relationship and the trust you’ve built to a whole new level – turn them into repeat purchasers!
All this automation will fit nicely across these 4 stages, providing us with much connection along that customer journey so that we’re not dependent on ads or social media platforms to get them back to our store.
Let’s see how we can deepen our relationship with our audience with each of these automation, starting with;
The first and most major automation you, as a marketer, should think about is the welcome sequence. This automation sets the whole tone of your business in the customer’s mind. Especially if you’re a new business and are still in the growth stage, you need to be very careful with this automation.
It is important how you set the tone of your business in this automation, how effective you are in getting them onto your site, making them signup for your emails, and then finally, how you nurture them to lead them to that first purchase.
However, in some cases, they may not purchase as most people are not ready to act right then and there. For instance, some may be coming from Google shopping, which means they may be product aware just looking for the best deals so that they may convert earlier. But if you’re introducing somebody to your brand, the welcome sequence plays a large role in introducing who you are and what you do.
What’s crucial here is that instead of going on and on only about your business and asking for their support, you mainly need to show them how you will support them, i.e., how you will celebrate them and provide them with what they need. And that’s where this plays an important role in creating a great customer by giving them value in advance.
Now, before sending the welcome sequence, you can segment your audience using the data probably from the signup forms so if you can understand a few things about your audience, for example, if they’re gift givers, a parent, a grandparent or whether they are heavy coffee drinkers, lighter coffee drinkers, or decaf drinkers.
All these insights into your audience can help you understand how to communicate with them. Especially communicating with them contextually can be a very valuable experience, such as sending them personalized messages or recommendations. For example, if they’re a grandparent, you’re not going to need as much content around cleaning and caring for children’s clothing, but if they’re a parent, they may find content like these helpful.
So that’s how segmenting can change how you communicate with different audiences. We typically suggest sending five to ten emails depending on the segment you’re sending to and setting this up over a seven or ten-day window.
Think about your customer buying cycle. The longer and larger the investment is, the longer that buying cycle will be. So we like to offer a few different ranges based on what their needs are going to be.
You may start by introducing the business and how you have some credibility based on what you do and how you do it. But make sure to avoid getting too heavy-handed on introducing your business and your products only at this stage.
First, you might want to warm them up by showing them that you’re experts in your fields and giving them something of value to make them feel that your brand is the right choice. And when you have built that trusty relationship with them, you can slowly move on to product recommendations, specifically personalized recommendations.
This makes them feel seen and heard, which is powerful. You can do several things here, such as offering a discount, so they make the first purchase. So you will send a few consistent messages, give them some exclusivity, give them some urgency with a discount, and then offer something else to escalate that offer to see them convert.
So basically, the welcome sequence is all about creating unique engagement, and it is all about bringing the audience to your brand’s doorstep through this engagement and personalized messages so that the audience feels like they are getting what they need. They find value in your brand, leading them to make the first purchase.
- Abandoned Cart Flow
The abandoned cart sequence helps you help the customers push that purchase button that they have been holding back from pushing, maybe because they were distracted, confused, or had some questions.
In other words, you try to bring them back into your store to complete their transaction. Customers like these have a high intent of purchasing because they have already started a checkout, so all you need to do is hold their hand and give them what they need to complete it.
We suggest you send many emails and do something different than the same mundane emails for everyone. As we did in the welcome sequence, we can segment our audience here too.
You can segment your audience based on how many times they have purchased; for example, you have zero-time purchasers and multiple-time purchasers or repeat customers. The automation you’ll send to either segment will be different.
For repeat customers, your abandoned cart email would be more content-oriented than incentive-oriented because they already have experienced your product. They would not need the offer to buy; they need a little push over that door to get them back in the store.
However, for first-time purchasers, you’ll have to put in a little more effort and attention to lead them to that conversion stage. You will have to sacrifice your profit margins by giving them the incentive to purchase, for example, by giving discount offers.
So this is how you will segment based on repeat and first-time purchasers. Besides this, you can also segment your audience based on what’s in their cart and how long it’s been there. For this, you ask them if they have any queries or concerns regarding the products they’re considering buying.
First, you have to have five to seven first customer service touch-points along that abandoned cart journey. For example, starting with sending them an email about the cart, asking them if they need any help, and then following up with an offer like some discount after 24 or 48 hours.
On the other hand, if you’re offering content, make sure it is valuable. This is where we can play our hits with content that was successful in the past. Ensure you earn their trust and your brand’s credibility through your content. It’s an effective way to use that content as a Trojan horse to get customers into the store and convert them on that purchase.
Though your email’s content is important, how your email looks are crucial too. You can have fun designing your emails with plain text or HTML emails.
HTML emails are heavily designed with logos, graphics, and images; basically, they are the kind of emails you’d expect from a brand. But also you can add some plain text emails or hybrid template emails. These are plain text emails with some features of HTML emails But are generally content-focused.
So you can vary your emails using both designs and have fun with making new templates according to new themes, for example, holiday theme templates for Black Friday Cyber Monday emails. These emails also allow you to break the pattern of sending the same mundane brand emails every time and can be amusing for the audience.
These hybrid emails also bring a human touch to e-commerce marketing as it allows good communication with your customers. I always joke with our clients that we’re not here to outscale Amazon but to out-human them. If you understand this, you can understand the importance of making your emails sound and look more human, which can be a big differentiator for our business and that plays well for us in the long term.
To sum it up, abandoned cart sequence is one of the highest revenue-generating email automations tool you can use to bring people back into the store. In this sequence, you can also introduce cart recovery automation later, but it is important that you set your foundational automation well before introducing new sequences within.
- Post Purchase Flow
Depending on the business, the post-purchase sequence can also be the second highest revenue generator for the business instead of the abandoned cart sequence. It is the email you’re going to send to the audience after they have made their purchase to keep them engaged.
So to make a clear map of things, we know that through the welcome flow, we took an individual from the reach stage through the activate stage to the conversion point. In the abandoned cart, we brought them from the activate stage to the conversion stage, but now in the post-purchase sequence, we want to keep them engaged even after making the first purchase. This is done to keep them in this cycle and to keep bringing them back to the conversion stage as repeat purchasers.
The post-purchase sequence is about helping customers find value in your product by sending them follow-up emails. The follow-up emails could consist of information about the product they bought from you. Tips and tricks regarding that product and steps on how to use it. It ensures that the customers know how to use it and get the most out of your product.
For example, if you’re a coffee brand, you can send content on ‘How to grind beans’ or ‘How to extract the coffee.’ Or you can send them different informative pieces on the different types of coffee and how they’re only good for a certain time, or send them the recipe for cold brew coffee in summer when your business is a bit slow.
The ultimate goal here is to keep them hooked to your brand and enrich their experience of your product, so they return and shop from you. And once they fit into that engagement phase well, they become repeat purchasers and loyal customers.
Once this happens, you may send them campaign emails, too, sending a cadence of solid campaign emails with content baked into it, keeping them engaged and hooked to your brand and returning to your store.
- Browse Abandoned Flow
This sequence follows the same path as the abandoned cart sequence, but the customer intent is slightly lower here. This is where they’ve viewed your site and gone through your products but haven’t started adding stuff to the cart or started a checkout process. So it would be a bit more work to nudge them to make a purchase. But if you do everything right, they may find it irresistible not to buy.
While they’re viewing products, you can follow up with them and ask them if they have any questions or ask them yourself if they have purchased from us before or not. This will help you segment them and choose how you treat them as first-time purchasers or repeat customers, as we discussed earlier.
Moreover, you can treat them differently if they’re viewing a subscription product. Especially if they have purchased from you in the past, you can send them heavy-handed content by speaking highly of the subscription product. You can back that content up with social proof through reviews and testimonials, building the product’s credibility and your brand.
So if someone is viewing that product, your browse abandoned sequence will nudge them to take action as they will have all the social proof and feel confident about it. However, the number of emails to be sent depends on the business, but ideally, two to three well-built emails for this phase can give you desired results.
- Win-Back Flow
This is when a customer has purchased one or more but hasn’t returned to the store for a long time, where even your post-purchase emails haven’t been able to get them back in, so you design win-back automation to try and bring them back.
For this, it is, again, important to understand your customer and to know the use case behind your customer. For example, as we used an example earlier, whether your customer is a parent, grandparent, or gift giver. Here we know that a parent will purchase children’s clothing more frequently than a grandparent or gift giver. So you’re going to be a bit more aggressive with the number of emails in following up with a parent.
Through this automation, you will communicate with them over time and find ways to pull them back in. For example, you may offer incentives, though you want to offer only a few incentives first; you should do the most to bring people from laps back to repeat.
So you can offer 10% off, 15% off, or even 20% off, but try not to sacrifice that margin too early. Your priority should be to keep them from getting to that lap stage, but if they do, try to bring them back in through different means.
- Thank You Flow
Now the last sequence that we have is the thank you sequence, which may seem warm and fuzzy, but this one is a strong performer for the business. It usually fits along the post-purchase sequence, but you can vary things depending on the times the customer has bought from you.
For example, the automation sent to the first-time purchaser would vary from the one sent to the fifth-time purchaser. For instance, the first time they purchase, they may get a thank you from a team member with plain text email, but for the fifth time purchaser, the thank you note may be sent by the CEO or the founder of the business, enhancing their experience.
So as they become a better and better customer, you’ll give them different information and a different experience, and they’ll start feeling more ingrained with the brand. As we refer to this automation as digital salespersons, this will give them a holistic and human experience throughout the customer journey.
And if you effectively do that, it gives you a lot more power as a business because this will run for you in the background all the time. You can run tests and experiment with different things simultaneously and can do a lot of different things by understanding what data you have and how you can we leverage it. So you can get on your toes and have the power to make great decisions and optimize your customer’s experience.
To conclude, the six email automation tools play a large role in how you engage with the customers at each stage of that customer journey. If you do everything as discussed, you can start generating good revenue through that ( about 10-20% of e-commerce revenue)
Through this automation, you’re bringing lapse customers back in, engaging the first-time purchasers, and then trying to turn them into repeat purchasers touching that entire customer life cycle. And once we can start to optimize from there, we can start to build up so much from there depending on the business and the use cases behind it.
With that, you can start experimenting with what automation you can add. Like your website, this needs to be a living and breathing entity. Things will run for you in the background, but you’ll have to keep updating and changing them.
As for us, at MKTG Rhythm, we like to use Klaviyo for many of our e-commerce clients. It is our go-to tool which makes things a lot easier for us. So you should focus on what you’re marketing instead of the nuts and bolts of just making it work.
Along with everything, you should also have an eye on open rates too. And mostly, these six automations have high open rates and high levels of deliverability. This is a good indicator to the Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook gods that you are a reputable sender and will help improve your sender reputation overall.
So, all in all, these are the six email marketing tools we recommend. If you can get these up and running, it pays for itself, and you’ll have a lot more latitude to try more things, and you’ll see a quick impact in revenue fast.
If you have any questions regarding this topic, let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to give feedback!