You may have heard that email marketing is dying (or that it is already dead). That’s far from the truth—email marketing is still a powerful sales-driving eCommerce tool. In fact, for every dollar spent on email marketing, brands average a $42 return on investment (and even higher for consumer goods and eCommerce brands).

"For every dollar spent on email marketing, brands average a $42 return on investment."

Email marketing growth is climbing, with expectations that nearly 350 billion emails will be sent every day by 2022. Perhaps this is because consumers are highly connected to email, making it an ideal channel for brands to reach their audience. The potential reach is high, with Adobe’s study on email usage showing that 52% of users are checking their personal email every few hours and 92% of all users check their inbox every day.

One of the most integral parts of an email marketing program is email automation, which allows retailers to reach customers at the right time with the right message. This article will introduce you to some of the core email automation workflows brands should be investing in right away (if they aren’t already) and provide helpful guidelines for getting started.

Keep reading to learn more about how email automation can elevate your eCommerce email marketing efforts.

Benefits of Automating Emails

There are significant benefits to email automation that create a positive impact on your productivity, profitability, and customer retention. However, it can be difficult for retailers to determine which types of email automation will have the greatest potential to improve their marketing efforts. To help get started, we’ve compiled a few benefits of email automation to make it easier to choose which will work best for your customers.

Foster Relationships With Customers

There are countless choices available to consumers today. For brands to stand out among the crowd, consumers expect to be treated to an experience in addition to top-quality products and services. In fact, the 2018 State of Marketing Report by Salesforce found over 80% of customers now say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

"80% of customers now say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services."

Automated emails create an opportunity for retailers to deliver a personalized experience for subscribers beginning the moment they opt-in to receive information. Like most relationships, brands can get to know their subscribers better over time and foster a relationship built on trust and shared interests. Getting to know subscribers can start small with an introductory offer for filling out their account profile, which helps retailers gather more information about the person behind the email address. Over time, brands can continue to learn about subscribers who engage with emails, such as optimal email send times, thumb-stopping calls to action, and product interests.

Nurture Prospective Customers

Automated email can be a highly effective way of nurturing prospective customers into making a purchase. You may have heard of “drip campaigns” before, which are a series of automated emails a series of emails are sent to the contact using timely and relevant offers to where the subscriber is within the purchase funnel. During a drip campaign, a series of emails are sent to the customer using timely and relevant offers connected to where the subscriber is within the purchase funnel. Salesforce has reported personalization results in higher customer acquisition rates, finding that 84% of marketing leaders say personalization majorly or moderately improves their customer acquisition.

Drip campaigns are effective in helping retailers stay top of mind with their audience, educate subscribers about their brand, and invite engagement through personalized offers or thumb-stopping promotions. According to MarTech, the top achieving brands executing drip campaigns have realized 80% higher open rates over single send emails and have acquired sales at 33% lower costs.

"Top achieving brands executing drip campaigns have realized 80% higher open rates over single send emails and have acquired sales at 33% lower costs."

Encourage Repeat Purchases

Automated emails extend the lifetime value of customers, which in turn boosts the profitability of your online storefront. Stitch Labs has found that return customers account for over 22% of annual revenue for most online retailers and only typically account for 11% of their customer base, demonstrating how critical customer loyalty is to a brand’s success.

Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels to maintain loyalty and extend the lifetime value of your customers. Since it can cost 7x more to acquire a new customer versus retain an existing one, finding unique ways to engage with your customers as they continue their journey with your brand can help ensure you maintain high retention rates. This can be accomplished through touchpoints such as shipping notifications, personalized product recommendations, VIP offers, and birthday promotions to help customers feel valued and encourage eventual brand evangelism.

"It can cost 7x more to acquire a new customer versus retaining an existing one."

Email Workflow Examples Every eCommerce Retailer Should Be Sending

Welcome Workflows

Customers across all industries have come to expect a welcome email as part of their online shopping experience. This automation is the first touchpoint you have with your prospective customer, arguably making it the most important automation in your email program. On average, welcome automation tends to have much higher interaction and click-through rates than regular newsletter campaigns.

Pulp & Press email on phones with lemons and avocado on a table

How To Use Welcome Workflows
Welcome and onboarding automation typically range from 1 to 4 emails in length and set the expectation for your entire email program. Inject your brand’s personality and tell your brand’s story to captivate the interest of new subscribers and use strong calls to action throughout. Discount codes are a great way to incentivize email sign-up and will drive immediate sales for new customers.

Abandoned Cart Workflows

Cart abandonments are a common occurrence in the world of eCommerce—on average, a staggering 69.57% of carts are abandoned. Abandoned cart workflows serve as a friendly reminder of the products a potential customer added to their cart but failed to complete the checkout process. This can be due to a variety of factors—they may have been “window” shopping, comparing prices, saving items for later, or getting distracted.

Phone with GP Bikes email beside motorcycle helmet

Since the action of adding something to a cart means your prospective customer was entertaining the idea of purchasing, a gentle nudge may be all they need to complete the transaction. Well-crafted abandoned cart emails can drive significant conversions—the average eCommerce platform can gain merchants a recovery rate of up to 30%.

How To Use Abandoned Cart Workflows
Abandoned cart emails can range from 1 to 3 emails and 1 to 72 hours after a cart was abandoned. These emails act as a reminder of what the prospective customer had in their cart—the language should convey a sense of urgency and the CTA should be compelling. The second and third emails may also include a special offer or incentive, such as free shipping or 10% off.

Placed order notifications

Comparably, browse abandonment automation can also be triggered to shoppers who simply viewed a particular product as a way to lure them back to the website. Since these shoppers only browsed a product, as opposed to adding it to their cart, these emails should act as a lighter touchpoint and feature related products or categories.

Post-Purchase Workflow

One of the top benefits of automated emails is repeat purchases, which is exactly what post-purchase automations accomplish. This type of workflow nurtures customers immediately after they make a purchase and continues to nurture them until they make their next purchase. The result is loyal, repeat customers who are highly engaged.

According to Klaviyo, post-purchase emails see a 217% higher open rate, over 500% higher click rate, and 90% higher revenue per recipient than average email campaigns.

West Coast Kids email on tablet

How To Use Post-Purchase Workflows
The initial email in a post-purchase series should thank the customer for their purchase, showing them that you appreciate their business. Subsequent emails can request product reviews or feedback on their experience, product care or FAQ, a discount for their next purchase, referrals, or product recommendations.

This type of workflow can be further personalized and segmented based on overall engagement attributes (email opens or clicks) and transactional behaviour (number of purchases or time range between purchases).

Some Email Service Providers such as Klaivyo use predictive analytics and machine learning to calculate a customer’s expected date of next purchase. This data can then be used to trigger a post-purchase email right before they are anticipated to make another purchase.

VIP Customer Workflows

VIP customers have the best lifetime value potential of any other customer type according to Klaviyo. VIP customers take many different forms, from the biggest spenders to the most number of purchases and more. It’s imperative to understand VIP customers in greater detail in order to maximize their brand experience to its fullest potential, leading to coveted brand referrals and social proof from evangelists.

Lulu's sale email on tablet

How To Use VIP Workflows
VIP email automations start with understanding the customers in this segment. Begin by evaluating your customer base and choosing the key performance indicators of a VIP customer, such as high email open rates, purchase history, and average order value. From there, you can begin targeting personalized emails to provide your VIP customers with exclusive email campaigns.

This type of email automation can include early access offers, special discounts, and curated product recommendations based on purchase behaviours. For brands looking to take their VIP workflow to a deeper level, consider a referral program offering gifts or incentives to VIPs who share your products and services with their audience. If you’re looking to integrate rewards for your customers, is a popular platform for brands to create a reward program for their brand advocates.

Next Steps for Setting Up Email Workflows

Email automation enables you to create a more memorable and engaging experience for your customers, both before and after the sale. Once these essential automations are up and running, expand your program by adding other automations for each lifecycle stage in your customer journey. Don’t forget to measure and optimize by A/B testing messaging, design, subject lines, and time delay!

If you are not automating email marketing for your eCommerce platform then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to boost conversions, visibility, and growth.

Need help expanding or optimizing your email program? Contact Northern today to learn how our email marketing services can create a strategy that drives more sales and growth for your brand.