How to grow your online sales with email automation

Email marketing automation can help online sellers drive conversions and repeat business.

While most businesses make use of email marketing, it can be a) time-consuming and b) tricky to get right.


Email marketing automation refers to the process of sending out automated emails to new and existing customers. This can enable you to vastly increase your level of communication with customers, while saving a significant amount of time. What’s more, by sending out automated, personalized emails directed at the right customers at the right time, you can increase email campaign revenue by as much as 760%, according to Campaign Monitor.


So, whether you’re looking into upgrading your email marketing strategy, want to automate more of your online business processes, or want to increase email campaign revenue and click-through rates to your website, here are four key types of automated emails to consider sending to your customers.



1. The welcome email

The welcome email should be a core part of any email marketing strategy. Not only is a welcome email a positive message for a merchant to send and a customer to receive, but also a message that customers have grown to expect. An automated email to welcome new subscribers can be sent after a new customer creates a profile on your site, signs up to your newsletter, enters their email address into a lead capture form, or makes a new purchase. These events are called “triggers” and can be easily set up using most email marketing software.


A welcome email doesn’t have to be an essay, and you don’t have to tell the customer everything about your business and offerings at once. Simple, personal, and to the point is the way to go. Use the customer’s first name, thank them for signing up to your website or newsletter, and let me know that you are easily reachable if they have any questions, queries or concerns.


The welcome email should not be used for aggressive marketing but rather to build an relationship with the customer. The welcome email is typically a good place to make customers aware of any rewards program you may have in place, and establish expectations of who you are and how they can expect to hear from you in the future. It’s also a good place to remind customers to add you to their address book/give instructions for making sure that your emails land in their main inbox as opposed to their Updates or Promotions tab (if they are using Gmail).


This type of soft selling and relationship-building will encourage the customer to click through to your website and start browsing and engaging with your brand, even if they don’t purchase anything straight away.



2. The cart abandonment email

There are a number of reasons why customers may place items into their cart, only to logout and not complete the transaction. They might be too busy, might not have enough money available at the time, or want to think about the purchase overnight before making a final decision. While you don’t have full control as the merchant over customers completing purchases, you can send them a reminder after a certain period of time has passed to keep the purchase fresh in their mind.


A gentle reminder can be just the nudge a customer needs to finally check out. But the emphasis needs to remain on the word, ‘gentle’. Your email needs to look clean and uncluttered, and shouldn’t be too pushy. This is not to say that you can’t add color, images, a bold heading, and a catchy phrase, but keep the message clear. Subject lines such as “a quick reminder”, “did you leave something behind?”, or “don’t forget!” are simple and easy ways to remind the customer that items are waiting for them in their cart.


This can be followed up by a gentle incentive to proceed to checkout. You can offer a small discount on the product, making the purchase sound more appealing, or you can create a sense of urgency by letting the customer know that stocks are running out and there is a limited amount of time left to make the purchase. You can even include a short but positive review of the product by someone who has recently bought it. Finally, end the email off with a call to action, so that if the customer decides to go ahead, there is an obvious button in front of them to click that will send them straight to their cart.


Cart abandonment emails can typically be automated using most e-commerce hosting software (like Shopify or BigCommerce) and set to trigger for all customer accounts with active shopping carts who have not checked out after a specified period of time.



3. The post-purchase email

On the surface, a post-purchase email may seem unnecessary as the transaction has been completed, but this is actually a fantastic opportunity further personalization, upselling, and building customer loyalty.


The post-purchase email should accomplish four main tasks:


  • Thanking your customers for their business (continuing the positive associations they have with your brand).
  • Letting your customers know when they might expect their items to be delivered, and keeping them in the loop.
  • Providing any relevant information about how to use or take care of the product(s) they have purchased.
  • Subtly encouraging customers to buy again from you in the future. Many online shops encourage customer loyalty and repeat purchases by providing a modest discount (“10% off your next order” or something similar) for first-time buyers.


While you have their attention, use this to your advantage. Ask them for a brief review of the product, and make it easy for them to do so with a quick link to the review page. You can even recommend a few products related to the product they’ve just purchased that might spark their interest, such as a cover for a newly purchased camera, for example. Lastly, you can include tips on how to take of, clean or make the most out of their new purchase. This personalizes the email even further, allowing you to gather important information about your client’s view on your product and giving you the chance to upsell.


As a seller, you can also consider splitting up the above content by sending multiple post-purchase emails as part of an automated series. Use your webshop/e-commerce hosting software to send an automated post-purchase email that thanks customers for their purchase and informs them about when they can expect delivery. This can simply trigger when the shop records that somebody has made a purchase.


Then, send another separate email using your email marketing platform, where you can thank the customer again, ask for a review, provide suggestions for other products, and offer a discount code for their next purchase. This automated email can also be triggered when a customer makes a purchase (most e-commerce software integrates easily with Mailchimp and other common email marketing platforms).



4. The re-engagement email

While new customers may get numerous emails from you about their recent interactions with your brand, it can be easy to forget about your existing customers. Keep current customers in the loop with emails that keep their interest and engagement with your brand ongoing. Increasing the lifetime value of an existing customer is just as important (if not more so) as gaining new business, and there are numerous ways to do so.


A weekly/monthly newsletter, for example, is a great way to keep customers up-to-date with product recommendations, interesting blog articles, updates from your community, and other valuable content. You can go even further and send personalized emails to customers with specific discounts, product recommendations based on their most common purchases, and specials specific to their reward level.


It’s also a good idea to regularly review your email list and identify which users are not engaging with your content. Develop an automated series which attempts to re-engage these users with new content and incentives to come back into the fold. Use your email marketing platform to build different segments of customers based on who has opened your emails within a defined range of time. Using these segments, you can set one type of automated email to send customers who regularly engage with your content, and a separate automation for those who haven’t opened anything in a while.



Getting started with email automation

From welcoming new customers and reminding existing customers about their shopping carts, to thanking them for their purchases and keeping them interested, automated emails will help you direct relevant and personal messages to the right customers at the right time, driving engagement with your brand and hopefully increasing sales. And while this may sound like a lot of content, once you create it and set the necessary triggers, your automated emails will allow you to deliver personalized messages to targeted customer segments without having to take any additional action apart from monitoring performance and making the occasional tweak.


According to LeadSpace, more than 80% of companies rely on some form of email marketing automation. And while you cannot ensure that every newsletter signup or welcome email will result in a sale, automating even a handful of key email sequences will help you increase the potential value of your email list while building closer relationships with your customers and saving a significant amount of time.


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