The eCommerce Marketing Podcast walks you through everything that goes into ecommerce marketing — from inbound marketing to paid advertising to conversions. Learn the strategies top marketing experts use to grow their businesses.
Marketing Strategies Revealed in this Episode:
Robert: Welcome to the eCommerce Marketing Podcast. Today’s guest is John McIntyre. He is an eCommerce email marketing expert. Today, we’re going to be talking about the seven automated email campaigns every eCommerce business needs. Welcome to the eCommerce Marketing Podcast John, how are you doing.
John: I’m doing good Robert. How are you man?
Robert: I’m doing well. Thanks for coming to the show and for asking. Before we get into the seven automated email marketing campaigns every eCommerce business needs, can you give us a brief background of how you got into email marketing, what you’re currently doing, and what’s your business and how people can find you?
John: Sure. I am the founder of an agency called ReEngager, which we help online retailers and eCommerce stores increase their revenue and sales by about 30% with email marketing. It’s been a long winding journey of being—I was living in the Philippines for a year. I was a marketing director for a resort out there. That lead to some copywriting and getting more involved in marketing, which culminated in me working all the way up to launching this agency early this year, which is going really well.
Now, we’re just growing it from here right now. We’ve got a few clients onboard. We’re managing all of their inner marketing from top to bottom, sending out automated campaigns, the manual promotions, looking after optimizations, all that sort of stuff. Yes, just having a lot of fun. It’s been email marketing for three or four years now. I don’t know how deep you want to go into the story, but, yeah.
Robert: Okay, yeah, that sounds great and congratulations on your business. As I mentioned, we’ll be talking about automated email marketing campaigns. What are the kind of results that an eCommerce business expects when they implement the strategy we’ll be talking about today?
John: The typical store, so we found that it just varies from store to store, from market to market, all of that. The truest answer is that it depends. What I can say is that typically, any eCommerce store, when they implement a full scale email marketing program which means everything from not just a cart abandonment sequence and not just one email either, because a lot of companies just do the bare minimum.
We’re talking do it properly and do as many campaigns as possible and that are relevant, and then also have manual campaigns that are going out where not only are you running regular promotions, you’re actually segmenting the data base, running targeted promotions, and actually optimizing and testing things over time.
If a company does all of that, you’re looking at anywhere from 10% to 15% up to 30%, I’ve seen as high as 40% of increased revenue for a store. That means that if a store is doing $1 million, they can increase their sales by $400,000 by implementing what we’re talking about. Then at the lower end, of course, it’s going to be down at 10% or 15%.
Where this gets interesting is a small eCommerce store is, let’s say it’s $1 million, it’s a relatively small store. $100,000 in additional revenue from sending out some of these campaigns is like, that’s $100,000 that you didn’t have. Not only that, it’s also the profit margin on that new revenue is actually higher than it’s going to be in other things, because you get a lot of fix expenses that don’t go up when you implement the email marketing program.
Robert: Okay. Like you mentioned, with the whole email marketing strategy there’s a lot of things that go into it, but today we are only touching on the automated email campaigns that businesses need to set up, and you said the seven must campaigns that every store need to set up. What are those seven?
John: Do you want to do it one by one, or do you want me to go through them, start off talking about like, here’s the seven, and then go in one by one?
Robert: Probably the best thing is you can just give an overview of the seven, and then we’ll go one by one and just explain a little bit more about it.
John: Okay, cool. Number one is a campaign that everyone is probably familiar with is the cart abandonment or abandonment carts email series. Number two is your—I’m just going through, make sure I get all these in order, the list right here. Number two is a welcome email. You’ve really got to be—a welcome email or a welcome campaign. It begins with the stat if you want to set on why that’s important and why it’s valuable. There are some interesting studies there.
Next come the email nurture series, which is where we’re going to talk about nurturing those leads. Instead of just sending promotions like a lot of companies do, most companies do, but you are actually nurturing customers, nurturing prospects before they’ve even bought anything, we can get into that. New customer email series, so obviously the new customers. Repeat customers, because they’re different than new customers, we’ll explain why in a second.
eCommerce email receipts, so this is transactional emails. They’re fascinating because they get more opens and more clicks than any other emails in the ecosystem, but most companies don’t even touch that. We’re going to talk about that.
Then number seven is the re-engagement email series. Over time people are going to stop opening emails. They’re going to stop clicking, stop responding, and stop buying. We can use emails and triggers to have a campaign that goes out to people who, say, haven’t and email in sixty days. That’s your re-engagement email series.
Robert: Okay. Thanks for the overview of the seven email. Now if you can just dive into each, and then if you can just tell us how and why it’s important for us to set up each series.
John: Sure. The first one, cart abandonment. It’s interesting. This is probably the most lowest hanging fruit for a store. When I talk about lowest hanging, the average store is going to recover anywhere from 5% to 15% of their lost orders with an abandonment cart series. Here’s the crazy thing, two in three people are going to abandon their shopping carts. If you’re doing $1 million in sales, you’ve got $2 million in abandoned sales. People that have added something to the cart but haven’t gone on the checkout and processed it.
What we can do is send them a series of—ideally it’s three emails, you can send more, but ideally you’re doing at least three emails that educate them, overcome some of the objections. Like I said, what we’re talking about here is 5% to 15% lift in that lost revenue. You’re looking at big numbers. If you’re losing $100,000 we’re talking about adding $5-$10,000, $15,000 every single month for as long as you run the campaign. It adds up very quickly.
Email one, the way we do it, is email one is a reminder. You’re simply saying, you’re not giving them a discount, you’re not doing anything hardcore sales, you’re just saying “Hey look, we noticed that you visited, added so and so to the cart, but you’ve forgot about it.” You might have a picture of a sad cat or a sad dog, like a cute image. We do that sometimes. It gets people’s attention, basically, just a reminder.
Email two is an objection handling email. This is where you think strategically about why someone isn’t buying in the first place. Is it the price? Is it that you haven’t explained the products properly? Is it maybe they need to see stories from other customers? This is going to take some research and some thinking to figure out why people aren’t buying and you can use email two to overcome that objection. This might be a video, it might be a story, it might be some trust sales, maybe explaining the product.
Email number three is that we’re you’re going to throw out the discounts. The discounts work, but you don’t want to be the company that just throws them out at the slightest chance, the slightest occurrence of the customer bailing. It makes you sound like a needy shopkeeper who’s chasing customers down the streets going “Discounts, discounts.”
Robert: Okay. With the cart abandonment email, how do you get that email? Email addresses? Did they just fill out something before they left?
John: Yes, so there’s a few ways to do it. It depends on how the checkout is set up. Some checkouts will have step one is put your name and email address, and then you have to click next to go to the step two page where you do the payment. The easy is just to split the email address page and the payment page into two separate pages so you can collect that.
The advance way to do it is to run, I think it’s Ajax. Basically, you can set the webpage up, you talk to your programmer about this, developer, so that when someone puts their cursor in the first name box and they applied in Sally, and then they get to the surname and like Jones, Sally Jones. They click Tab again, press Tab again on the keyboard, maybe they use their mouse.
The cursor goes down to email, they type in their email, [email protected], and then when the cursor moves away from that box, all they have to do is when they click outside that box, they click into the next box which might be their address, for example, we can run a script without them even clicking next, without them changing anything on the page. As soon as that cursor leaves the box it will record the email address that’s inside it. That’s the advance way to do it.
Robert: Okay. The next series to start off is the welcome email series.
John: The next email is the welcome email series. Here’s what interesting. 74.4% of consumers expect a welcome email when they subscribe, plus subscribers who receive a welcome email show about 33% more long term engagement with that brand. The crazy thing is that welcome emails usually see three times the transactions in revenue per email over regular promotional email.
Most companies aren’t doing email at all. The ones that are, are usually doing promotional emails. What we’re talking about here is a welcome email is going to really do three times the transactions and three times the revenue per email on that. It’s an extremely valuable email for them to send out. This is when someone visits the website, they’re browsing around, looking for stuff. Oh what that’s, it’s pop-up. Then it says “We’re giving you 10% off if you sign up to our list, the database.” It’s usually a discount. There’s other ways to get people in your list.
Once they are on, you send them the welcome email. The welcome email is pretty simple. Obviously, you’re going to welcome them to the family. You’re going to begin what we call a brand indoctrination process. This is where you can throw in a couple sentences that explain the brand message.
Now, this is going to depend from market to market. If you’re in a commoditized market where everyone is selling the same thing and whoever can price it the lowest, this isn’t as important. If you’re selling fashion, men’s t-shirt, and you have a brand, this is when you start creating, indoctrinating people into that brand, explaining to them why you’re different, creating some of that story.
You obviously give them the incentive, the 10% off or 15%, whatever you offered them. You want to set expectations for what’s happening next in terms of the emails you’re going to send them. Also, encourage subscribers to connect with you on other channels. That’s saying “Like us on Facebook,” et cetera. However, don’t make this sole focus of the email. You really want to push people to the store not to your Facebook page.
Robert: Okay. With this email, what would the sole focus be?
John: The focus is going to be welcome. There are some examples, you can go to Google and you’ll find a whole bunch of examples if you just start searching for welcome email eCommerce examples. You can check it out at http://ReEngager.com. The main idea is that you’re going to have and email—that’s a whole another topic of what a good email look like.
Basically you’re going to have an email, your logo is at the top, you’ve got a menu of your main categories below that, and then you’ve got something that says something like “Welcome,” for example, you say “Welcome to the family,” and then you a sentence about the brand. For example, let grab an—we’ll use Huckberry.
Here’s what they say “How Huckberry works. Each week we partner with leading urban and outdoor brands to bring you a curated selection of apparel and gear at member’s only prices. Sales begin on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and typically last seven days, after which our site will refresh with new brands.
“In addition to unique products, you’ll also find original content in our journal, links to interesting stories, inane videos, and fresh beats that are circulating around our warehouse. Take epic sax man for instance.”
What’s going on here is first of all, you’ve got what? The title, you’ve got welcome. Obviously, it’s a welcome email. Then it says as subtitle “Emerging brands, inspiring stories, members-only prices.” You’ve got emerging brands telling you what you’re doing since they are emerging. Inspiring stories, if you’ve got a story aspect. Members-only prices, gives you that exclusive vibe of getting on the mailing list. You see how that’s setting the stage and explaining to them why they’re on their and the value they’re going to get.
John: Then when we come down to How Huckberry Works, it starts to explain a little bit more. It sets the expectations by telling them when they’re going to be receiving emails, when the sales are, and also explains a little bit more about what they’re going to be receiving like the music. Then there’s often, in this email, it’s good, you’ve got In The Shop, and then there’s some links to different categories on the website, so yeah.
Robert: How long is a typical set up for some of these email series? It doesn’t sound like it takes that much effort other than the thinking part and the planning part.
John: As far as the execution goes, like how long some of these emails are, they’re very simple. That part of it is easy. The hard part is getting it right.
Robert: Okay. It takes a lot of testing to get it right.
John: It’s partly testing and it’s partly just understand—you got to understand the marketing, so you got to have someone doing it just really switched on with their marketing. You’re just getting to the heart of marketing. You’re understanding what’s the brand. What makes us different? What value are we bringing to the marketplace?
A lot of people can’t describe that, and if they can describe it they have no idea how to put it into words that shoppers understand. The hardest part is translating whatever is in the heads of the CEO and the founders and all that stuff, and making that in a way—it’s just a marketing person’s job.
John: It depends how good they are really.
Robert: You’ve already welcomed the user to the family. The next emails they should be getting should be the email nurture series. That the third automated email that you say that all businesses need to set up is the email nurture series.
John: Correct, yeah, correct. The email nurture series is obviously it’s exactly what it sounds lie, we’re going to nurture people which more or less means just treating them like people instead of treating them as dollars. We’re going to start building a relationship with them and not just blasting them with office.
What’s interesting is that when brands nurture subscribers, they get 50% more sales-ready customers. Nurtured subscribers make 47% larger purchases. It’s a valuable thing to be doing, but most companies don’t do it because it’s like “Why are we going to send them a blog post? Why are we going to just write about this content? Why can’t we just sell more stuff?”
The interesting thing, what we have at ReEngager, this is a rule from another guy. It’s called the 3-47-50 rule. It’s not an exactly rule, but it’s a nice little rule of thumb. 3% of visitors are ready to buy right now. 47% of your visitors aren’t ready to buy now but they’ll probably buy some time in the future. 50% will just never buy at all.
What we’ve got here is most companies focus on the 3% and they just launch their promotions to the list to the occasional person who’s interested. What’s—
Robert: Then they leave out the 47%
John: They leave out the 47%, yeah, and they often don’t treat them properly.
John: If you’re just blasting someone with offers, it doesn’t leave a good taste in their mouth. What smart brands are doing is creating this nurture campaigns where instead of just blasting with sales offers and promotions, they’re creating content and personality in doing things that build a relationship with people and really set them apart. I think part of the challenge is that a lot of companies don’t understand how to do this yet. It’s also, a lot of companies are just uncomfortable with doing it.
Robert: What are some of examples email nurture series or nurture emails a company should set up?
John: Well, for example, one example I had in a blog post I read recently was Leesa Sleep. They’re a mattress company. They won the Shopify Build A Business Competition. Now, at first glance, it’s like mattresses. Who wants to read about mattresses? If you buy a mattress, you buy once. You’re not buying in ten years. We can only really sell the mattresses. We can’t write content about mattresses. It’s boring.
Here’s what’s interesting. I would love to know what are the dangers of sleeping on a bad mattress over ten years and how does it affect my back and posture and digestive system. I’m interested in how is the old bloated mattress industry, how was it cheating consumers. Apparently they have a really inefficient distribution model, with all the different warehouses and stores, all that.
That creates basically doubles the price of mattresses per consumer, which I think most consumers, as long as you could write it in an interesting way, most consumers will be fascinated by that stuff. The size of good pillows, to me, a pillow is a pillow, but if someone could explain to me in simple terms why it’s important to have the right type of pillow, that would be interesting. Why the thread count of your sheet matters?
Spotify Playlist did a perfect for sleeping. You could say there like “Here’s our five favorite Spotify Playlists for sleeping.” Simple as that. The five best alarm clocks for waking up, or five crazy alarm clocks. That’s going to be pretty interesting. That’s going to be something I’d read even if I don’t need an alarm clock.
It seems like “Well, people aren’t going to buy off this, so what’s the point?” The point is that if I was getting emails like this, I’d be reading them and I’d be getting interested in the sense of I’d be thinking about the brand. I’d be reading their content. I might even click over to their site and click around, even if I’m not looking for a mattress. What happens is then Leesa Sleep, the company, starts to become a bigger, occupy a bigger slot in my brain.
If at any point in the future, I want to get a mattress, I’d probably going to go with Leesa Sleep. If at any point a friend of mine says they need a mattress, I’m probably going to tell them to go to Leesa Sleep. We can do that with anything, any topic if you want. There’s no limits to really how much content you can come up with.
Robert: Yes. When you set up successful email nurture series, and like you said, the brand is always presenting itself in front of the customer, the customer trust the brand, eventually they will convert and become a customer if they fall in that 47% of the subscribers. When they do, that’s when you recommend to set up the next email series, which is the new customer email series.
John: Exactly, yes. Now, we’re moving into obviously the customer stage of things, the new customer. Now, the difference is the new customer and the repeat customer campaigns, they’re very similar, but they just require a slightly different approach, which is why we put them in different things.
A couple things first, is its actually ten times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell something to an existing customer. This is one of the stats that you pull out in trying to talk about why you should go and market to your existing customers, but a lot of companies, they’re always focused on getting more and more new customers.
Now, email marketing is a great tool for communicating with the customers that you already have, so you can obviously get them to buy more, so ten times more expensive. Now, repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers as well. Not only is it more expensive to get new customers than old ones, than repeat, yeah, old one, repeat customers spend more. The 5% increase in customer retention increases the company’s profitability by 75%.
As far as how it happens, we got email one, the welcome email, which is similar to the other welcome email, but obviously this one is for customers. You want to welcome them into the tribe, perform some more brand indoctrination and explain what’s next. It’s things like, how long will it take for the order to leave the warehouse, how many days will it take to arrive, what’s the return policy. It’s going to depend on your situation. You can also inject some personality in there. There are some companies that do this. You can also suggest related products, do it naturally or ideally with a link to what some bought, otherwise you’ll come across as a little bit pushy.
Now, three days later. You send another email that says “Is everything okay?” This is just checking it. Here’s the thing. I think most customers, because I’ve had this experience, most customers are used to being ignored by companies. If you’re the company that goes, ask “Hey, is everything okay? Did you get the product?” If the product is meant to be there.
If it hasn’t, just go “I just wanted to make sure that your order went through all right. If there’s anything we can do to help, please reach out, please jut hit reply and tell us.” That’s the other thing. Don’t use a no-reply email to send your emails from. Use something like [email protected], so people can just hit reply, and get in touch if they need something.
Email three, a couple of day the product should’ve arrived just doesn’t “Did you product arrive?” As simple as that. Email four, three days later, request a product review, pretty simple. four days later, this is when you want to send them some sort of related time sensitive promotions. You might give a 20% off at similar product. You want to have a timeline on it. That’s only available for twenty-four hours. There’s going to software that you can use to set this up, so it all works fine. Then one day after that, you send another email that just follows up on that time sensitive promotion and reminds them of the time left.
Now, just because they’re sort of the same thing, let’s look at the repeat customer, number five. The difference between the repeat customer campaign and the new customer is you’re going to spend less time indoctrinating, like less time welcoming them in and making sure they’re feeling comfortable, and gets the products quicker.
This time we’re going, welcome email, product review and check in, related product offer, and then follow up on your related product offer. It’s a little bit shorter, a little bit faster. That’s the main difference.
Robert: Can you combine both four and five, or you still want to treat them separately?
John: You could, but you’re going to get better results if you split them up, because then you can start to optimize for different—you can start saying things to new customers, that you wouldn’t say to repeat customers and vice receipts.
Robert: Okay. For the sixth email series, it’s the eCommerce email receipts. You have to explain that because I don’t think, when you mentioned it during the overview, you said it’s different. What’s different about the eCommerce email receipts?
John: I said it was different, what do you mean?
Robert: When we went through the overview and you listed out the seven email series, when you mentioned eCommerce email receipts, I don’t remember the right word, whether you said it was different, but when you mentioned as you listed it, it stood out for some reason in my mind. What is the eCommerce email receipts?
John: Okay, so eCommerce email receipts, that’s transactional. Transactional emails, this is when you go buy a product, you’re going to get a shipping confirmation, and a payment confirmation. The idea here is that they actually—the good thing about them is when you send other emails like your welcome emails, your promotional emails, people know they’re commercial. You’re trying to make money off them.
When it comes to transactional emails or eCommerce email receipts, shipping and order confirmations, these are emails that most people—everyone opens them, because they’re not there to promote, they’re basically someone’s order details, that might have their password, it’s the receipt, they might want to save that just in case something happens, so everyone opens them.
John: Well, not everyone. They get an average open rate of 79%, whereas the eCommerce average in other emails are 17.9%, so huge difference. The thing is, no one really optimizes them. The big companies do, because they’re more on the ball with this. The basic idea is to think these emails get some premium attention in your email marketing portfolio, you really want to make sure that you’re optimizing them and putting in stuff about the brand, stuff about related product offers, different things like that. There are lots of different things that you can do with it. You can play around with it. That’s the main thing.
John: Take it to develop, see it’s product recommendations, all the relevant information they need, transaction number, photos of products they just bought, who to contact if they have questions, all that stuff.
Robert: It sounds like they fall under the welcome email series because the customers are getting the confirmation emails, the receipt itself, so why is it treated separately as a series by itself if some of these emails actually fall under the welcome series?
John: Oh okay. The welcome email for a customer is not a receipt. There’s no order information in there. There might be some here’s how, here’s what’s going to happen. There is some overlap, I will admit. You’re going to probably explain a little bit about how the order is going to get delivers.
An eCommerce email receipt usually has, for example, a brand will go to anyone and it’s just going to say “Thanks for your order. Here’s your customer number, username, password, if you have one. It’s just the important information for your order, whereas the welcome email is going to say something like “Welcome to the family. Here’s more about the brand. Here’s what you can expect next from us,” all that sort of stuff.
Robert: Okay. We’ve gone through the six series, and at this point, the business is actually sending out a lot of emails to the subscribers and their customers. Some of those customers might tune out, but this last series is what’s supposed to keep them engaged and it’s the re-engagement email series. How does a business set this up? When do they need to be looking at how can they keep the customers engaged?
John: Okay, so last but not least, the re-engagement email series. This is one that most people don’t know about. This is where you say, if someone—you can set up a trigger. All this is based on triggers. You just say, you can find the trigger and depending on the software you’re using, you say “Show me anyone who hasn’t opened an email or clicked an email or bought anything in the last sixty days.”
Then you create any kind of campaign, you send those people any kind of email. The simplest thing to do is to create a four-email sequence. E-mail number one says “Hey, we’ve missed you.” Obviously, again you can bring out the cute cat or cute dog with a sad face, make some copy.
Email one is just a reminder “Hey, we’ve missed you, what’s going on? We haven’t seen you in a while.” That kind of thing. Email two, of you still haven’t hear back from them is a big discount. If you usually send 10%, make this one 20%, for example, make it 50%. Make it something big that’s going to be hard for people to resist.
Email number three, you’re going to remind them of the crazy, awesome offer that you just made them in the last email, and you’re going to kindly inform them that they will be deleted in 7 days if they don’t respond or make a purchase. They either have to make a purchase or they have to click a link to stay subscribed to the database.
Email number four, a few days later is going to say “You have been unsubscribed. If you’d like to resubscribe, click this link.” Also remind them of the offer. What you’re going to do there, is you’re going to get rid of subscribers who aren’t responding, who have just gone dark, and you’re going to reactivate a certain percentage.
Let’s see, MarketingSherpa, they’ve reactivated 8.33%. It’s about 80% of CNET’s database with a winback email, and then another, almost 9% with some other emails. Together, it’s about 16% got re-engaged, which means a lot when we’re talking millions of dollars.
Robert: We’ve covered a lot of email series, all seven. With the amount we have, we really can’t get into all the details, but John does have all these resources. Do you have a resource on your website at ReEngager that just talks them through all these emails and how to set them up?
John: Yeah, the best place they can do, is go to http://ReEngager.com Yeah, that will give them all sorts of information. There’s an ROI calculator there. There are some blog posts as well, whitepapers, which we’ll go into more detail, if they go there. You might have to link this up. You can go to http://ReEngager.com/7–templates and you’ll get a page where you can get a template for each different campaign that we talked about here.
It’s not the whole sequence but it’s one template for each campaign just to get you started with the email marketing. The other is to go to the other page, if you want more templates, is http://ReEngager.com/perfect–email–promotion. You might need a link to those in the show notes.
Robert: What are the best tools to use when you’re doing email marketing, not just for setting up these series, but just the whole email marketing strategy? If you want to set up a successful email marketing strategy for your business, what are some of the tools you need to be using?
John: Everyone should on Klaviyo. I think that’s really the only thing that people need. As far as just the actual email sending, Klaviyo, http://K–L–A–V–I–Y–O.com is the best software I’ve seen out there for most companies.
Robert: Okay. If people wanted to reach you, if they have questions, what’s the best way for them to contact you?
Robert: Okay. Any finals thoughts on what we’ve covered?
John: The main thing, the main takeaway, I tell everyone this, is that there’s nothing magical about this. It’s just most people just take their sweet ass time trying to get it together. The main this is make it a priority. This is money that most companies are missing out on. The companies I speak to usually feeling bad about leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions of dollars on the table, that’s what motivates them to pick up the phone and talk to me. You want to get this happening. It doesn’t mean you have to do it with me or do it with an agency. You can do it yourself, just make it a priority. I think that’s the parting words.
Robert: Okay. One last question. If there was one thing that any eCommerce business can do today to help that business grow, help them move the needle, what’s that one thing?
John: Cart abandonment, set up a cart abandonment campaign like we talked about here, hands down.
Robert: Okay John, thanks for being on the podcast.
John: No worries brother man, it’s been good.
The eCommerce Marketing Podcast walks you through everything that goes into ecommerce marketing — from inbound marketing to paid advertising to conversions. Learn the strategies top marketing experts use to grow their businesses.
Marketing Strategies Revealed in this Episode: