If you’re in the business of ecommerce marketing, chances are that email is probably quite a big deal for you. And that’s little surprise given figures like those in Econsultancy’s 2014 Email Marketing Census which reveal that, on average, companies are attributing 23 per cent of their total sales to their email marketing channel.
So we know that email has the potential to drive a shed load of sales. We also know that most ecommerce brands out there have the essentials covered, such as basic segmentation of their lists, optimising their emails for mobile devices, and using really basic personalisation (such as including a customer’s first name in an email, for instance).
If you’re an online retailer it’s likely you’ll be making use of email marketing staples such as newsletters, post purchase transactional emails and sales notifications. And while these are doubtless getting you results, there are some types of marketing email that are frequently overlooked by retailers, but which present a great opportunity for customer engagement. Here are some examples.
1) Cart abandonment emails
If someone has added an item to their shopping basket on your site, it’s likely that at one point or another they were interested in that product. They’ve shown intent to buy. And if, for whatever reason, they didn’t go through with the purchase and left your site, this needn’t be the nail in the coffin when it comes to sealing the deal and making the sale.
Research suggests that you have around an hour to re-engage a cart abandoner before the lead goes cold. There are a whole load of basket abandonment apps and add-ons to your email marketing software that you can use, and when you consider the following stats from SaleCycle, there really is little reason not to make full use of basket abandonment emails:
- Over an eighth (13.3%) of cart abandonment emails are clicked.
- The average order value (AOV) of purchases from basket abandonment emails is 19% higher than the site average.
- Nearly half (46%) of all cart abandonment emails are opened.
- Over a third (35%) of clicks lead to a purchase back on site.
2) Feedback request emails
Nobody can dispute the power of peer review in influencing purchase decisions, and many online retailers are turning to social validation techniques such as displaying customer reviews on product pages to drive conversions.
The trouble is that collecting customer reviews can be a tricky affair - after all, once you’ve received a purchase, it’s incredibly easy to forget to go back and review it. Sending a well-timed email requesting a customer review can be a great way of jogging customers’ memories (indeed, pottery manufacturer Emma Bridgewater found that setting up a post-interaction email system resulted in heaps more reviews, which drove a 39 per cent increase in conversion - impressive stuff).
As always, the process of asking for a customer review should be as frictionless as possible. Below is a great example from Amazon Marketplace that lets you rate the product you bought within the email itself.
The nature of the product that is being purchased should determine the length of time you leave before asking for a review (for example, a customer can review a poster within a day of receiving it, but the process might be longer for a book or CD).
3) Replenishment emails
Encouraging repeat purchases is critical to increasing the lifetime value of your customers. A lot of products that we buy (especially when it comes to food, healthcare and cosmetics) will eventually run out: use the product lifecycle to your advantage and get emailing your customers to remind them to re-purchase at the optimum moment when their stocks are dwindling.
The easiest way of doing this is to dive into your data to spot repeat purchasers of the same product - you’ll eventually be able to make assumptions about the their rate of consumption and hone your email marketing to suit. For further information on how Ometria did this for Big Cup Little Cup (a project which got us shortlisted for the BT Retail Week Tech Awards), see our paper here. And below is another example from contact lense company Feel Good.
Everybody makes mistakes now and again. But from a customer service perspective, it can sometimes be tempting to try and cover up a problem instead of drawing attention to it by making a public apology.
Obviously every situation requires a different communications strategy, but sending an email out to customers affected by a technical or human error can be a good way of placating them and keeping them on-side - even if they were unaware of it in the first place. And when it comes to saying sorry, make sure that your email a) apologises for any inconvenience caused and b) lets the customer know exactly where they stand (for example, that they haven’t been charged for the mistake) and what they should expect next. Below are two good examples from Ben Sherman and Amazon Marketplace.
5) Post-purchase suggestion emails
Post-purchase transactional emails provide a great opportunity to cross-sell based on customer preference. Use your analytics to find out which items are commonly bought in conjunction with a particular product. These guys will be prime fodder for inclusion in a triggered ‘if you loved [x], you might also be interested in [y]’ email. Again, Amazon is king when it comes to these sorts of emails; below being a great example.
This might strike you as an unusual one. But the importance of telling a ‘brand story’ is something that marketing and branding experts don’t seem to stop banging on about at the moment. And not without reason; in a world where people have so many touch points with your brand online, and where buying a product is often seen as buying into an image or lifestyle, it’s important that your branding is consistent and appealing.
Although this applies less to well-known High Street brands, it’s important for start ups and challenger brands to stand out from the crowd; an ‘our story’ spin on the traditional welcome email can be a great way of achieving this. Check out the great example from Nasty Gal below.
7) Goods back in stock
Creating a sense of urgency has time and time again proven to be an effective way of compelling people to act and, as Daniel Kahneman points out, "We are driven more strongly to avoid losses than to achieve gains."
A clever way of employing this in email marketing is to remind people that they have lost out on a product the first time (by it going out of stock), but then present them with a second chance to get their mitts on it.
Below are two good examples (note: it really works - I bought the shoes after receiving the email from Linzi!)