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5 E-Commerce Email Automation Tactics to Connect with Customers (and Boost Sales)

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

A big part of maximizing conversions is simply getting your products in front of shoppers at the right time. As the old adage goes, “you need to strike while the iron is hot.”

But this is often easier said than done in e-commerce. Modern digital shoppers often undergo a complex, convoluted journey that can involve multiple touchpoints (5.5 on average). Seldom do they simply visit your website, add an item to their shopping cart and check out. It’s just not that easy. 

To thrive as an e-commerce store owner, you must accept this fact and develop a strategy that effectively nurtures leads until they’re ready to buy. 

And in the case of existing customers, you must figure out how to maintain sustained engagement and encourage them to make repeat purchases.

One of the best ways to go about this is with e-commerce email automation. 

In this post, I’ll explain the fundamentals of how it works and why it’s beneficial. I’ll then highlight five specific strategies you can use to take your sales to the next level.

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What is Email Automation?

It’s “a set of processes and technologies used to send promotional/transactional emails automatically to customers,” explains MarTech Advisor. “It uses preconfigured business rules to trigger communication, helping you dramatically cut downtime and effort spent reaching a large audience.”

That way you can send personalized emails based on the behavior of individual shoppers and get relevant products or promotions in front of them at the perfect time. 

In turn, they’re more likely to engage with your brand, respond to your offerings and ultimately buy. 

The Benefits of Email Automation

For starters, e-commerce email automation helps align your messaging with the buyer’s journey.

“Companies who automate emails are 133 percent more likely to send messages that coincide with the purchase cycle of their customers.”

Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach and sending out mass emails, you’re getting highly relevant content to shoppers exactly when they’re most receptive. In turn, this tends to result in a higher open rate and higher click-through rate.

Research has even found that automated emails receive 119 percent more clicks than an email blast. 

And as you might imagine, this often translates into more conversions. More specifically, B2C marketers who use e-commerce marketing automation see conversions as high as 50 percent.

That’s off the charts! And although it takes some time to get everything set up, your campaign is largely on autopilot after that, which can help you accomplish more with less effort. 

So it’s clear that this technique has a ton of potential. 

As long as you follow the right formula and create an awesome experience for your subscribers, you can really rev up your email marketing campaign.

On that note, here are five e-commerce email automation strategies you can implement along with examples. 

1. A Welcome Message

As they say, “first impressions are lasting impressions,” and you certainly want to get started off on the right foot with new subscribers.

The best way to do that is with a warm welcome message they automatically receive immediately after signing up. 

Here’s an example from Top Shop, a British multinational fashion retailer. 

I went ahead and signed up for their newsletter.

After confirming that I wanted to be a subscriber, I received this welcome email.

It’s nothing over the top, but it’s a nice way to touch base and begin the connection forming process.

And when I click on the image link, I’m taken back to the ANCHOR & CREW website, where I have access to a 25 percent off promotion. 

This kills two birds with one stone because it creates goodwill between the brand and their subscribers. This can be just the motivation shoppers need to complete a purchase. 

Now I’m not saying that you have to go as big as 25 percent off to have an impact, but it goes to show that a perk like this can create some nice incentive. 

The bottom line is that an automated welcome email can set the stage for a strong relationship and is key to building rapport with subscribers. 

And when you consider that “subscribers that receive a welcome note show 33 percent more long-term brand engagement,” the impact is undeniable. 

Many people have even come to expect it, so it’s definitely a strategy you’ll want to work into your campaign. 

2. Subscriber Education Emails

Here’s the scenario. You have a new subscriber who has at least some level of interest in your e-commerce brand. They’ve spent some time browsing through your site and have engaged with your welcome message.

But they haven’t made a purchase.

You’re at a critical juncture where you need to do everything possible to build rapport and make a lasting connection. At the same time you want to subtly promote your products, let a subscriber know what differentiates you from your competitors and give them a reason to buy. 

You can often accomplish all of this in one fell swoop by sending an automated subscriber education email.

Premier mattress and sleep product company Casper did a great job at educating shoppers with this example featuring their signature dog bed.

It’s pretty straightforward, with a clean, minimalist feel to it. 

Casper explains that their engineering team spent more than a year performing in-depth sleep studies and thoroughly tested materials in top laboratories to come up with a perfect mattress for dogs. 

And when you click on the CTA toward the bottom, you’re taken to the product page where you can get the full details.

You learn that it’s designed in a way that caters to a dog’s natural behaviors, is machine washable and has been fully tested to ensure maximum quality.

You also learn that it’s made out of incredibly durable materials and can withstand dog scratching. 

There’s also a product specs section where you can find info on product size, construction, materials, shipping, and so on.

It’s incredibly informative and easy to digest. But it’s not information a shopper would necessarily know by simply looking at an image of the product.

However, using subscriber education as an email automation strategy quickly supplies them with important details and connects the dots. 

That’s why it’s such a great lead nurturing technique and one that can help increase conversions significantly. 

3. Behavior-Based Emails

I probably don’t need to tell you how vital personalization is to nearly all aspects of digital marketing these days. And email is certainly no exception. 

Research has found that personalized emails can generate up to six times more revenue than non-personalized emails.

So it only makes sense that you’ll want to implement personalization techniques every chance you get. Fortunately, e-commerce email automation is a fine facilitator for this. It’s just a matter of sending targeted emails based on the recent behavior of shoppers. 

Take Zalando, for instance. In one of their automated emails, they analyze a shopper’s browsing history and send them relevant product suggestions. 

Toward the top, they offer three products the shopper may be interested in, and they make it super easy to click-through to check the products out further. And toward the bottom, they also include some of their customers’ current favorites based on what’s selling the best. 

The North Face takes a slightly different approach with this email and gives subscribers a chance to revisit the products they looked at but didn’t buy.

And notice how they create a sense of urgency by saying that their products are made in small quantities, but it’s not too late to make a purchase.

They also throw in new arrivals and favorites, which should have broad appeal across the board. These are just a couple of ways you can work behavior-based messages into your email automation strategies.

Just be sure that you’re cognizant of timing and set your emails to be sent shortly after a shopper performs an action like exploring your site. Otherwise, they may forget about it if you wait too long. 

4. Abandoned Cart Emails

We’ve already written multiple posts about abandoned cart emails to recover lost sales. So I’m not going to drone on about it again here. If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest reading this post and this one

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this as being one of the top email automation strategies for the simple fact that it’s so effective. In fact, a three-month study involving over nine million abandoned cart emails found that it generated more than $60 million in sales. 

That’s pretty impressive. So why would you not want to use this tactic? There are a ton of brands that pull it off really well.

One example is Too Faced, which is “a serious makeup brand that knows how to have fun.” They have this clever email that talks about the product having “abandonment issues” and offers 20 percent off on the first order. 

Not only does this email make it super easy to purchase the product a shopper clearly expressed an interest in, but there’s also a strong incentive with the discount. 

They also include some witty copywriting, which I’m sure many of their shoppers appreciate. 

Another example is this one from cruelty-free brand Kat Von D Beauty.

It’s really straightforward and reminds shoppers that they left an item in their shopping cart and allows them to instantly go back to buy it. And to sweeten the deal, they include a coupon. 

Also, notice how both of these examples include a professional-looking image so subscribers can instantly tell which product the brands are referring to. 

This is critical for quickly grabbing their attention and getting them in the buying zone. 

5. Re-Engagement Emails

It’s common for a subscriber’s interest to wane over time. According to data, “an average email list decays by 25 percent every year, and 75 percent of email subscribers are inactive.”

That’s not ideal, and a lack of engagement can negate much of the progress you’ve made. Luckily, re-engagement emails can be a cure for these woes and help renew your connections.

There are two main approaches you can take. One is to reach out and let subscribers know what’s happening by highlighting new products, updates, etc.

That’s what cruelty-free makeup brand Fenty Beauty does with this email.

It lets subscribers know that Fenty Beauty has noticed they haven’t checked out their emails lately and gives them a quick overview of what’s been going on. 

It’s also smart that they make it easy for subscribers to adjust their update preferences and frequency toward the bottom. This is a good move because it should help eliminate a lot of friction and prevent relationships from turning sour. 

So if a subscriber still wants to remain subscribed but simply doesn’t want as many emails, they can do it with no problem. 

The other main approach is to offer some type of discount or promotion, like L’Oreal Paris does in this email.

Getting $15 off the next order can serve as a strong incentive to not merely re-engage but to buy right away. So if you’re trying to get back in the good graces of shoppers, this is a good way to go about it. 

And re-engagement emails can be surprisingly effective, with one study finding that 45 percent of recipients who received them opened them. Setting up automated emails to be sent after a certain period of inactivity should give your sales a nice boost. 

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Conclusion

The e-commerce buying journey comes with a lot of twists and turns. To win shoppers over, you need to use sound lead nurturing tactics for potential prospects and stay engaged with existing customers. 

Using the right e-commerce email automation strategies can be incredibly helpful for accomplishing this and should enable you to connect at various stages. 

The ones I mentioned here are some of the most effective and should be integral for building deeper relationships and boosting sales. 

Which of these strategies are you most interested in trying out?

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