Online shopping can sometimes feel like holding hands with a robot: it’s a machine that vaguely resembles a real-life experience, but it’s often cold to touch, impersonal and...robotic.
As online shopping continues to expand, retailers are scrambling to cultivate the perfect environment, looking to humanise the digital journey to make it a reactive and targeted experience.
How? By sending each customer emails that are relevant and reactive to their behaviour and the stage that they’re at in their customer journey with your brand, otherwise known as transactional (or ‘triggered’) emails.
Despite the not-very-sexy name, transactional emails generate an average 44.9% open rate (20.8% for other marketing emails), according to Experian’s latest email report, making them one of the most important channels for online retailers seeking to engage with customers.
So, how can you get them right? This blog post will explore some awesome examples of transactional and triggered emails throughout the customer lifecycle, complete with simple tips to help you bring the virtues of your best offline, in-store sales assistant, online.
Firstly, let’s highlight some of the different types of emails that you should consider sending throughout the customer lifecycle:
- Welcome emails (for new subscribers or account creators)
- Cart abandonment emails
- Order confirmation/shipping emails
- Feedback request emails
- Replenishment emails
- Lapsing customer reactivation emails
Subject line: Wise decision
First impressions count. Like a firm handshake (with a smile), a warm and friendly welcome lays the foundation for mutual respect.
Welcome emails can see more than three times the transactions and revenue per email over regular promotional emails, according to Experian, so it’s important your first contact with a new prospect sets the right tone.
A good welcome email should display product breadth, engage the user and give them a reason to start shopping. Topman’s ‘mysterious’ subject line immediately draws in the user and the message’s engaging visuals and welcome discount are enough to tempt anyone into the sales funnel. When constructing a welcome email, always try to:
Topman satisfies all of the above - with a clear CTA and a tempting promotional offer. The only improvement would be to integrate social into the message - perhaps an ‘As seen on Instagram’ tool, which is incredibly popular with fashionistas, both male and female.
Abandoned cart email
Every year, billions of pounds of shopping is left to rot in virtual shopping baskets around the globe - with research from SaleCycle suggesting that 75.6% of all online retail carts in 2015 were abandoned.
Imagine if you converted all those sales (you could probably afford that convertable).
Further research from SaleCycle suggests that email remarketing works, scoring an average 47% open rate and boosting revenue by 4.1%. So you see, it’s important to get things right!
A winning abandonment email will retarget the customer with the items left in their basket. A strong visual reminder of the abandoned product(s) will act as a cue to repurchase, tempting users back to the site - like a sausage dangling before a hungry dog.
Build in additional reasons to convert: from discounts, to product recommendations, to low-stock alerts, to incentivise repurchase.
Check out how NET-A-PORTER wooed us back with this abandonment effort. It retargets us with our forgotten, trendy red trousers and provides an additional six reasons to convert - highlighting its exclusive customer service credentials and its next day delivery options.
Taking into account that 64% of consumers consider transaction confirmations the most valuable messages in their inbox - it's essential you get them right and capitalise on this period of heightened engagement.
The goal: you want your confirmation to contain all of the essential information, be an extension of your company and brand image, and since receipt emails perform so well (and you’re more likely to generate additional revenue from existing customers) it makes perfect sense to encourage upsells and cross-sells.
Wool and the Gang's order confirmation is an EXCELLENT example of how to get things right.
The email injects personality into an otherwise info-heavy message, at the same time as upselling, linking to social and encouraging repurchasing.
The imagery (complete with doggies) is an extension of the company's quirky image and brings ‘just another order confirmation’ alive - with strong visuals and the promise of free stuff encouraging users to re-engage with their website.
However, many customers simply value having all the information they need in one central hub. Amazon is pretty much the king of straight-forward, no frills order confirmations; with estimated delivery dates, delivery address and products all under one roof (not forgetting a cheeky in-house cross sell).
A well-crafted order confirmation email can help you grow your list, generate additional revenue, capture customer feedback and improve your brand image.
|Don’t hesitate to imbed value-added content into your messaging, such as recommended add-ons (to drive sales) or educational guides to help customers get the most out of their new purchase.|
Customer reviews are amazingly valuable to online retailers for many reasons: they give useful feedback, they’re amazing social proof that can have a significant impact on conversions, and they’re great for SEO.
Collecting feedback can help drive customer satisfaction and reduce churn. Listening to your customers can help to identify disatisfied customers - and even advocates - which you can target with win back campaigns (conversely, you can use happy customers in furture marketing campaigns).
Domino’s feedback request was sent in a time-appropriate manner, one hour after delivery, capitalising upon an intense period of satisfaction - driving us back onto the web at a time when we were most engaged and happy to talk.
The clear CTA, complete with a tempting reward, is an excellent example of how to incentivise feedback.
Amazon's quick and easy purchase review is another great example of how to collect customer feedback. The user is prompted to review item(s) in less than a minute in a hassle free, one-click style.
This example from Clinique is a nice extension of the brand’s reactivation programme. The strong imagery grabs the user’s attention and the witty messaging is bound to resonate with most recipients.
The message clearly highlights the free delivery offered with purchases and uses the message to cross sell further items from Clinique's catalogue, with clear CTA’s and strong branding.
Ideally you can start your replenishment series with a simple reminder, but you might want to add a small discounted incentive into future messaging if customers aren’t converting. But don’t discount too soon! Try sending emails with different subject lines at different times before offering money off (and chipping away at your bottom line).
Lapsing customer reactivation email
It’s now clearly written into the ecommerce commandments that acquiring a new customer is more expensive than getting an already-acquired customer to repurchase - we get it. So, reactivating once-loyal customers is vital. But how can brands tempt online shoppers back to their baskets and onto the buy button?
Give lapsed customers a reason to repurchase. This win-back email from Sephora is packed full of reasons to spend. The near-perfect lapsed message from the beauty retail brand automatically engages the recipient with bold, personalised messaging (“We miss you Hannah”) which helps trigger a real, human response.
Research from Return Path showed that using the words “miss you” in a subject line achieved a 13% read rate, and messages with the words “come back” in their subject lines achieved a 12.7% read rate - proving how important it is to integrate key language into your transactional messaging.
Sephora employs an army of tools to encourage sales. The time-based, "exclusive" monetary incentive (‘$15 off’) to purchase is big, bold and powerful - and sits in prime position at the heart of this message.
Sephora is also pushing sales in-store, clearly highlighting how recipients can use the email to get money off at their nearest store, a great way of maximising sales opportunities.
Alongside delivery incentives (‘unlimited 2 day shipping’) and strong CTA’s , the personalised content really makes the user feel part of the beauty clique. Sephora’s lapsed email is a great example of not only offering incentives, but creating a real sense of customer value that will help to win back customer loyalty, and custom.
|You may want to create a stronger incentive for lapsing and lapsed ‘hero’ customers by offering non-monetary incentives like free P&P or gift wrapping.|
So there you have it - six great examples of triggered lifecycle-based email marketing at different stages in the customer journey. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below and we'll get back to you.