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4 Little-Known Ecommerce Email Campaigns You Can Steal to Grow Faster

4 Little-Known Ecommerce Email Campaigns You Can Steal to Grow Faster
Chances are, you’re doing some sort of email marketing for your ecommerce store.
Why? As Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner once wrote, “Email is the glue that binds everything together.”
That type of popularity, though, comes with a downside. It’s easy to get stuck sending the same old campaigns to the same old segments, hoping for the same old results.
If you want to grow faster, you’ll need to think outside the box and build growth into your ecommerce email campaigns.

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The Current State of Email Marketing in Ecommerce

According to MailChimp, the average ecommerce email open rate is 16.75% and the average ecommerce email click rate is 2.32% as of February 2017. Both numbers are somewhere in the middle compared to other industries, but edging closer to the “low” side.
IBM put the average a bit higher in their 2016 benchmark report. The average ecommerce email open rate in that report is 20.5%.
According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing generates 174% more conversions than social media does.
Unsurprisingly, email use on mobile is growing rapidly. According to the Campaign Monitor report, 21% opened emails on mobile in 2012. In 2016, just four years later, that number grew to 68%.
Let’s get to the fun part: money. Campaign Monitor claims email marketing generated $44 ROI for every dollar spent in 2016, compared to $38 in 2015.
On top of that, 320% more revenue is generated with automated emails vs. non-automated emails. 39% more automated journeys created in 2016 than in 2015.
All that to say that email marketing is still very much alive and well. Scratch that. It’s downright thriving, especially in the ecommerce industry.

The 3 Multipliers of Ecommerce Growth

Before diving into some email marketing campaigns you can try, let’s talk ecommerce growth. What goes into it? I’m sure a few things spring to mind right away:

  • Facebook ads.
  • Social media promotion.
  • Conversion rate optimization.
  • Product page copy.
  • Store UX.
  • Product catalog and inventory.
  • Pricing and promotions.

The list could go on, but you get the idea.
The point is that there’s a lot of different things to think about when it comes to ecommerce growth. And within each of those categories, there are dozens and dozens of different tactics to try.
How can you maximize every possible tactic to grow the fastest?
It becomes really overwhelming really fast.
That’s why I love the way Drew Sanocki of NerdMarketing.com breaks it down. According to Drew, there are three multipliers of ecommerce growth:

Average Order Value (AOV) x Frequency of Purchase x Number of Customers

Increasing these three multipliers is the only way your ecommerce store will grow, right? These are the factors that determine how much money you’re going to make from your ecommerce store. Everything else is secondary.
Notice none of these multipliers were on the list of growth factors that seemed oh-so-relatable above.
Here’s where it gets really cool. Remember how overwhelming improving every tactic, every category as much as possible felt? Drew suggests improving each of the three multipliers by a mere 30% in one year’s time.
Doable, right? Take a look at the math:

30 (AOV) x 4 (Frequency) x 100 (Customers) = $12,000
39 (AOV) x 5.2 (Frequency) x 130 (Customers) = $26,364

In the first formula, we have our baseline of $12,000. In the second formula, we simply increased the three multipliers by 30% and ended up with more than double the revenue.
Keep this concept in mind.

Ecommerce Emails and the Customer Lifecycle

Now, you have to start thinking about the customer lifecycle. Why? Because great email marketing is contextual, designed to spur just the right action at just the right time.
Here’s a customer lifecycle you’ll likely be familiar with, courtesy of Rejoiner:
Customer lifecycle

You’ll want to prepare email marketing campaigns that follow this lifecycle, as shown above.
However, you want to be smart about it. On the map above alone, there are nine email campaign categories. From first visit to last visit, there are a lot of email campaigns you could send.
Of course, you don’t want to send all of them (and send everyone running for the unsubscribe link)… just the most valuable ones.
At minimum, you should have one email campaign per stage of the lifecycle:

  1. New Customers: Something to encourage or welcome new, first-time customers.
  2. Existing: Something to encourage or reward repeat buyers.
  3. Lapsed: Something to win back customers who haven’t purchased in a while.

Right now, you might be noticing that each of these lifecycle stages corresponds with an ecommerce growth multiplier:

  1. New Customers: Number of Customers
  2. Existing: AOV.
  3. Lapsed: Frequency of Purchases

4 Ecommerce Email Campaigns to Try

You’re already familiar with many different types of email marketing campaigns, whether you realize it or not.
Tell us what you think email campaigns:
Tell us what you think email campaign

End of trial email campaigns:
End of trial email campaign

Abandoned cart email campaigns:
Abandoned cart email campaign

Instead of rehashing some of those more common campaigns, let’s focus on some little-known email campaigns that deliver a big impact and really target those three growth multipliers.

1. One-Two Punch

With a one-two punch email campaign, we’re after increased frequency of purchase. Why is this important? Because of acquisition costs.
Let’s say you’re using Facebook ads to drive customers to your store. Your customer acquisition cost is, say, $45. If you’re selling a product for $50, you make $5 on every order. But you have her email now, right?
Now you can send her an email and get her to make another purchase. The additional acquisition cost? The few cents it cost you to send the email. Boom! A much more profitable sale.
What if you could get her to buy a third or fourth or fifth or sixth product? Cha-ching. That’s why frequency of purchase matters.
The one-two punch campaign, popularized by Drew, thrives on this. First, you’ll want to start thinking about your products from your customer’s perspective.
Let’s say you sell video games. You might notice that, on average, a week after purchasing a video game console, 20% of customers purchase a second controller. Another 50% of customers don’t return at all.
In order to turn that 20% into 70%, you design a one-two punch campaign. Quite simply, when an order comes through for a video game console, an email campaign that showcases controllers triggers a week later.
This requires that you start looking at your customers and segmenting your ecommerce data in Google Analytics. Sure, some people will buy the controller when they buy the console, but there’s a sizable segment that doesn’t, which you can cash in on.
For Drew, this campaign increased retention by 10%, translating to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the span of a year.

I mean if it compounds over a year, at least for us at Design Public, that was hundreds of thousands of dollars in that one email campaign that literally took me a couple of hours to set up.

Warby Parker email campaign

For best results, consider this:

  • Start with your two or three top-selling products. Are there any complementary products associated with your top-selling products?
  • Discount ladders. In this scenario, all you did was highlight a complementary product. You could also try offering a discount on that complementary product. You could also try offering a discount ladder (5%, then 10% if they don’t bite, then 15% if they don’t bite, etc.)
  • This will look different for everyone. I can’t tell you what your top-selling products are or which products would be complementary to them or when to send the one-two punch campaign. This campaign will look different for everyone.

2. Bounce-Back

Bounce-back email campaigns, also popularized by Drew, are cross-sell campaigns. Cross-selling is essentially the concept that the best time to sell to someone is when they’re just about to buy something.
Cross-selling is part of the reason there are chocolate bars and pop at grocery checkouts. You’re already about to spend $150 on groceries, so you’re more likely to spend $10 on junk food.
Of course, there are many ways to cross-sell in ecommerce. Maybe you’re cross-selling on the product page or the cart. Maybe you’re cross-selling in the order confirmation email.
The bounce-back campaign is just another iteration of the same concept. Here’s how it works: when a first-time customer makes a purchase, they receive an automatic email promoting a limited-time only deep discount.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is! In fact, there are a number of Shopify apps that can help you with this. Or you can do it without the added tech, if that’s your thing.
When Drew first ran this campaign, generating $12,000 in incremental revenue in a month, he was dealing with an outdated tech stack. What’d he do? Well:

  • He created a sense of urgency by adding a clock icon to the email.
  • He used a “weird” coupon code to appear as though it was dynamic.
  • He used a separate, hidden product page for the deeply discounted product.

It was as easy as that, says Drew.

We went on to optimize this offer, to play with the subject lines, to play with the offer. And that’s where we got our million dollars in incremental revenue.

True Citrus email campaign

For best results, consider this:

  • High stock, high margin products only. If you’re going to offer this to every first-time customer, make sure you’re choosing a product you always have in stock. Also, make sure it’s a product with a large profit margin so it can withstand the deep discount.
  • The money is in the optimization. Cross-selling works, but how well it works for your store depends on the time you’re willing to spend optimizing. Test the placement of your cross-sell (on-site, email, both), the discount, the product, the urgency, etc.

Talia Wolf of GetUplift.co has some great advice on email optimization and testing…

“If you want to create emails that convert, whether sales emails, newsletter or even onboarding emails, you have to run meaningful tests that can help you optimize each email you send.

Before running your tests, a few things to consider:

1. Every test should have a goal – know what you’re going to test and why.
2. Try to steer away from testing more than two variants per email.
3. Determine the results of the test according to action (clicks) rather than open rate.
4. Try to have a minimum of 1500 people on each variable to get conclusive results.
5. Keep testing the same thing over and over. There aren’t any guarantees the same strategy will work over and over again just because it worked once.”

3. Win-Back

Win-back email campaigns come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re all designed to lure lapsed customers back to positive purchasing behavior.
Let’s say you’ve done a bit of digging and you know that customers tend to come back and make their second purchase after 45 days. If 45 days come and goes without a second purchase, you know it’s unlikely that customer will ever make a second purchase.
Or let’s say you’ve had an active customer who has purchased from you every 45 days or so for the last six months. Recently, he’s been MIA. No orders from the last 44 days.
This is where a win-back campaign goes to work.
An email would automatically be sent out after 45 days of no activity because you know, according to your store’s unique situation, that’s unusual for a healthy, active customer.
As Drew put it:

And it’s like hey, we miss you, here’s 10% off. Not rocket science. And super easy to set up.

So, what does that email look like? It could be anything, really. But Drew, who popularized the win-back concept as well, likes using discount ladders. We talked about them a bit earlier.
Essentially, at the 45 day mark, you might offer 5% off their next order. Then 10% when another 45 days goes by without activity. Of course, if the customer takes the bait, they are removed from the campaign.
Skillshare email campaign

For best results, consider this:

  • Test it! Don’t leave money on the table. Split test these emails to find out what the minimum amount you can offer without losing conversions is. Can you get away with 5% instead of 10%? 10% instead of 15%?
  • 90 days without activity? Outlook not so good. If someone goes three months without purchasing, the odds of them returning to purchase are not great. Though, this is definitely dependent upon your store and industry. Some stores simply have a long sales cycle. Just be aware that you will probably start experiencing diminishing returns at 90 days.

Tip: I learned the last three email campaigns from listening to Drew’s NerdMarketing.com Podcast. I highly recommend checking it out and subscribing for more ecommerce email marketing tips.

4. Tripwire

Let’s back things up a bit. If you’re fond of the power of email marketing, the tripwire campaign might be for you.
Popularized by the team at DigitalMarketer, the tripwire email campaign follows the purchase of an “irresistible, super low-ticket offer (usually between $1 and $20)” designed solely to turn visitors into buyers.
The idea is that once someone makes a purchase from you, big or small, the relationship changes. They’re no longer just a visitor, they’re a customer. Yes, even if they only gave you $3.
DigitalMarketer’s Ryan Deiss explains:

The goal of the Tripwire is to fundamentally change the relationship from prospect to customer. The conversion of a prospect to a customer, even for $1, is magical.

The trick is selling an irresistible product or service at cost or, perhaps, even at a loss. Remember, you’re not trying to generate revenue from the tripwire product, you’re just trying to change the relationship to encourage future purchases.
Now, if you have a list of non-buyers, go ahead and craft an email campaign designed to get them to buy the tripwire product. If not, consider promoting the tripwire product in your store (e.g. on exit or after an idle period).
Be sure you also have an email campaign for those who purchase the tripwire product. This campaign’s goal is, of course, to move the customer to the next purchase. You know, one that will actually make you money.
Just think of this tripwire process as part of your customer acquisition cost.
Thrive email campaign

For best results, consider this:

  • Do your research and test. Your tripwire product needs to be incredibly persuasive, almost irresistible. Do your research to make sure you’re choosing the right product, something your visitors will value. Test potential products to see which converts best.
  • Promote your top-selling products next. Once they’ve purchased the tripwire product, push them towards your top-selling products to capitalize on this new buyer-seller relationship as quickly as possible.

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