There’s so much more to email marketing than sending out a newsletter or a “10 percent off sale” announcement to your list once or twice a week.
Every single time you email your customers it’s a marketing opportunity—and there are different types of emails you may not be sending that could help you bring in quite a bit of extra revenue.
The five types of emails below are relatively simple to set up—and most are automated—but don’t be fooled by the simplicity. They’re all powerful tools to help your WooCommerce store start generating more revenue immediately. We recommend every store send these emails to maximize their email marketing revenue.
1. Abandoned cart recovery
Abandoned cart recovery emails are a series of emails sent to a customer who’s put items in their shopping cart but left the site without actually making the purchase. Does that really happen? It sure does. A lot. Roughly 70 percent of all carts are abandoned.
The reasons are varied. Recent studies have found some of the most common reasons are shipping charges and other unexpected costs, website problems including checkout issues, slow shipping, and trust issues with the site.
But… even though lots of people abandon carts, another study found about three quarters of them say they actually planned to return to finish the purchase. Most just don’t. But that means if you can track them down and remind them to come back, many of them will.
Here’s some quick math. At a 70 percent abandonment rate, if your store processes 150 orders a month, that means you’ll have about 500 abandoned carts that never make it to checkout. If your average order is $40, that’s $20,000 in lost revenue. If you could even recover 15 percent of those carts, that’d be an extra $3,000 for you every month.
And 15 percent is a very attainable recovery rate. At Jilt, we see an average of 12 percent for stores using out default cart recovery emails with no modification. Those that make a few tweaks to the off-the-shelf content, often get their recovery rate up to 15 or even 20 percent.
The first step in cart abandonment recovery is capturing an email address. You’ll have it if a customer is logged into their account, or if they entered it during the checkout process before they abandoned the cart. Jilt also has a powerful early email capture feature that prompts customers to enter their address as they add their item to the cart. That increases the number of carts that are recoverable and the amount of potential lost revenue stores can recoup.
From there, we recommend a three-email series for cart recovery. (Although, of course, every shop is different, so it’s smart to experiment to find what works best in terms of timing, content, and frequency.)
- The first email automatically goes out within one to two hours of the cart abandonment. Use that email to remind the customer what’s in their cart and include a strong call-to-action to get them to come back to the store and complete the checkout process. You should also link to your customer service options, in case the thing holding the customer back is a question or concern.
- The second email goes out roughly 24 to 30 hours after the abandonment. In this one, you remind them again of what’s in their cart. You can also potentially offer a discount as an incentive.
- The third and final email goes out at around the 48-hour mark. At that point, you’ll want to create a sense of urgency—their cart will be deleted or the products could sell out soon.
Here’s an example from Fab. They create a sense of urgency with the subject line (“Act fast if you want it”) and in the body of the email (“Limited quantities”). They include a nice picture of the product to remind the customer what they put in their cart. And they prominently feature customer service options in case the reason for abandonment related to a question or concern.
2. Win-back campaigns
Win-back campaigns are an attempt to turn lapsed or dormant customers into active ones again. Sadly, a study found approximately two-thirds of the email subscribers on an average list are inactive—so it’s beneficial to try to turn as many of them as possible back into active customers.
Win-back campaigns are a highly effective way to accomplish that mission. The same study found win-back emails had approximately a 12 percent open rate—that’s quite good, considering the open rate for those customers was previously right around zero percent. And 75 percent of those re-engaged subscribers went on to read at least one more email within three months.
To run a win-back campaign, first you’ll need to identify your inactive customers. At Jilt, our default is anyone who hasn’t made a purchase in 90 days.
Then you’ll need to craft an enticing win-back email series. Your content shouldn’t blame the customer for going inactive—instead, use statements like “We miss you” or “It’s been a while”—and a nice discount can act as a good incentive to get a customer to purchase again.
We recommend only sending two or three emails in a win-back sequence. Any more than that, and you could risk them becoming completely turned off to your business, or worse, reporting your emails as spam. So if your two or three emails don’t win them back, it’s probably time to purge them from your email list.
Here’s a win-back email sent by American Apparel. It’s simple, which means the call-to-action is clear; it says “We Miss You”; and it offers a 15 percent off discount as an incentive.
3. Order confirmation emails
When someone makes a purchase on your site, WooCommerce sends them an email confirming it. That transactional email is a vital piece of keeping your customer’s trust, but it’s also a chance to do a little strategic marketing as well. And it’s a good opportunity: Order confirmation emails have a phenomenal open rate—one study found the rate is four times higher than a standard broadcast email.
When you’re creating your order confirmation emails, first and foremost, you need to send the customer all of the key info about their purchase. Legally, under the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act, these and other transactional emails must have a “primary purpose [that] is transactional.”
Many companies, therefore, are stingy about the amount of marketing or selling they add to order confirmation emails. Some do just a small amount of selling at the bottom of the email, while others use it as a chance to ask the customer to do something besides make another purchase.
If you want to go the selling route, an order confirmation email is an opportunity to cross-sell related products to the one the customer just bought. And cross-sells work; your probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent, versus five to 20 percent probability for selling to a new customer.
If you don’t want to sell, your “ask” in the order confirmation email can be any number of other customer actions that can help your business. Ask them to refer your business or product to friends. Invite them to join a loyalty or rewards program. Ask them to follow you on social media. Or ask for feedback on their experience with your business so far.
Here’s an order confirmation email from Crate & Barrel. They keep all the order info up top and then, at the bottom, they try to cross-sell a small selection of related products. (If you’re putting up sconces, hey, you might just be in the mood for hanging pendant lights too.)
4. Thank you emails
Thank you emails are different than order confirmation emails. Instead of focusing on the nuts-and-bolts of the transaction, they attempt to establish a relationship and rapport with a customer.
Your thank you emails should be set up to trigger automatically after a purchase to make your customer feel more comfortable and excited about their purchase—and to begin the process of converting them into a repeat buyer. After all, about one in three customers will make a second order in their first year, so you might as well get started laying the groundwork for that right away.
Use your thank you email as a chance to show off your brand’s personality. For example, if you sell chocolates, your email could say something like, “Get hungry, your order is on the way.”
Thank you emails don’t have to sell—many stores use them to educate customers about how to get the most from the product they just ordered—but they do present a fantastic opportunity to inspire another purchase. While the person is at peak excitement having just ordered one product, it’s a great time to show off the other things they could buy.
For example, here’s a thank you email from Etsy that immediately offers a discount coupon to try to encourage the customer to come back and make another purchase.
5. Segmented broadcast emails
Broadcast emails include your most “traditional” marketing emails. Newsletters, sales announcements, product updates, new product announcements, company news, and general blasts to your list all fall under this category. When you segment them, it means you’re only sending to specific groups of your audience. That could mean, for example, sending an announcement about a sale on women’s clothes only to your female customers. Or sending a newsletter with your blog posts about dogs just to people who’ve bought your dog toys, but not to those who purchased cat toys.
Segmented campaigns are extremely lucrative. They drive a 760 percent increase in revenue, and in tests, segmented campaigns outperform un-segmented ones in every category: More opens, more clicks, lower bounce rate, fewer spam reports, and fewer unsubscribes.
There are four broad ways to segment your list:
- Geographics includes things like location, language, time, and date.
- Demographics include things like age, gender, income, and occupation.
- Psychographics include things like lifestyle, interests, and attitudes.
- Behavior includes things like purchase history and buyer stage.
Ideally, most of the broadcast emails you send will be segmented. Sure, an informational or content-rich newsletter could appeal to your entire list, but when it comes to specific promotions, the more you can segment, the better.
Here’s an example of segmenting from Brooks based on the local weather. Where it’s hot, they send the email on the left. Where it’s rainy, they send the email on the right.
There are many types of eCommerce marketing emails you can send to significantly drive up your revenue. Plus, in many cases, they’re sent automatically, so after you set them up, you won’t have to do any additional work to bring in that extra revenue.
The five types of emails we recommend are:
- Abandoned cart recovery, to help recover 15 to 20 percent or more of otherwise lost revenue.
- Win-back emails, to try to turn lapsed subscribers into active ones again.
- Order confirmation emails, to transform a necessary record of a transaction into a strategic sales opportunity.
- Thank you emails, to start the process of turning a one-time customer into a repeat customer.
- And segmented broadcast emails, to make your broadcasts more relevant and personal for subscribers.
Of course, there are lots of other types of emails you can and should also send. Those include feedback or review requests, replenishment reminders, shipping notifications, and so many more. Get started with the five mentioned in this piece, and expand your email marketing once you see results.
Max Rice is the co-founder and CEO of eCommerce email marketing platform Jilt. He started his career in eCommerce over a decade ago and writes regularly about running an online store on the Jilt blog.