Your Guide to Ecommerce Email Workflow Automation
If you sell a product or service online, email marketing is as critical to your business today as it ever was. Email is still the preferred method of communication for most consumers.
Not Facebook, not chatbots, not carrier pigeons. Which is great news for you and your business, because effective e-commerce email marketing can and should rely on marketing automation workflows. Email workflows are triggered by customer behavior and can run without your constant supervision. Because let’s be honest, you already have enough to do.
Whether you choose to setup email workflows in a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, an email marketing platform like MailChimp, or right from an e-commerce site like Shopify, here are the emails you should be sending.
Shopping Cart Email Workflows
Let’s start with the basics. Every e-commerce business needs a shopping cart workflow. The exact series of emails will depend on your business, but at the very least you should thank customers, set their expectations, and give them a chance to share feedback.
Thank you email
They may be the two most powerful words in any language, and if you’re not saying them to every customer, at every transaction, you’re missing out. Thank you emails have great response rates. People open them because they want that confirmation. A well-crafted thank-you email should contain a minimum of the following:
- Validate the customer’s decision to make a purchase.
- Set expectations for what happens next.
- Welcome them into your brand’s tribe.
Don’t stop there. Since you’re almost guaranteed a good open rate, thank you emails are a great place to start building a relationship through value. Share your best content, invite them to subscribe to your newsletter, or give them an incentive to share their purchase with their social network.
Delivery notification email
It only takes a heartbeat for the excitement of a new purchase to morph into anxiety over delivery. When will the amazing new thing I ordered arrive? Ease your customers’ minds my setting up a delivery schedule workflow that lets them know when the item ships and the estimated delivery date. Back up that promise by sending an additional email after the delivery date confirming that the item was received.
If you run e-commerce for your service-based business, you can still send delivery emails. For example, if Fitness Fiona offers in-home personal training sessions through her website, a great “delivery schedule” email for her customers might include an “Add to Calendar” function. This workflow would also include a reminder follow-up a few days before the session, with easy options to contact Fiona should they need to reschedule.
Review or service email
Even though data shows that reviews are incredibly important to consumers when making a decision, many don’t leave a review even when their experience was pleasant. So, how do you get more reviews?
You ask for them! According to a study from BrightLocal, 71 percent of consumers will leave a review if asked. Review emails need to feel personal and should focus on how their reviews help future customers find the product they’re currently enjoying.
Here’s an idea: What if you didn’t ask for a review? What if instead, you first asked for actual feedback for you and your team?
Send this email from a leadership email address. Imagine if the CEO or VP of Sales from a company you’d just done business with personally wrote you and asked for feedback? Email marketing platforms make that possible, without those busy folks having to actually lift a finger.
Make it clear in the email what you are asking for and why. How does your team use feedback? Then, make it easy for customers to share their thoughts. Give them an easy “Reply To” email address or a text box form. In addition, let them pick a star or number rating in the email. If you drive them to a form page, give them the rating system there.
Why ask for a rating if it’s not on Google? Here’s where email marketing automation gets really smart. Positive reviews — 4 or better — can trigger a secondary email that thanks the user for their praise and then asks them to share their experience.
Feedback emails, when done right, offer you first-hand data of your customers’ experience before it hits social media or Google. Get the jump on solving a poor experience before it goes public, and give happy customers an extra jolt of warm fuzzies by letting them know you are listening. Feedback emails also contain powerful first-hand social proof content you can share in your marketing.
Keep in touch
The transaction is only the beginning. Build a loyal base of brand evangelists by keeping customers engaged with you between purchases. The simplest way to keep their attention? Email!
If you offer a loyalty rewards program, an email inviting new customers into this club is the perfect way to wrap up your Shopping Cart workflow. Don’t have a loyalty campaign yet (why?), you can still keep customers engaged through content marketing.
Emails not delivering everything possible? Check out these 11 email marketing issues, and 41 ways to fix them.
Abandoned Cart Workflow
You were thiiiiiiis close to a sale, but something happened. Maybe the customer found a better deal, or became impatient with your checkout process, or was abducted by aliens. You’ll never know for sure, and you’ll never reclaim that sale unless you reach out.
A study from Statistia reported that 24% of customers abandon their cart because the website crashed, and 21% bailed because the transaction took too long. That’s a lot of untapped sales revenue you can recapture through email marketing.
- An abandoned cart workflow should:
Remind the customer that there is a purchase pending.
- Incentivize them to take that last step.
- Finally, give them a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) urgency.
Shopping cart reminder email
Did you forget something? That’s the message you want to send to customers in this stage of the workflow. It’s also a very popular subject line for this stage. You may opt for a more direct message: You left Pooch Perfect Shampoo in your cart. Ready to buy?
Another option is to remind them why the purchase is important. Stinky, itchy puppy? Complete your purchase of Pooch Perfect Shampoo.
If the gentle reminder didn’t work, you can up the ante with an incentive. The same report from Statistia cited that 32% of online transactions are abandoned due to price. Sweeten the deal by offering an exclusive savings promo code through email.
The FOMO messaging email
The coupon expires in 24 hours. Your cart will be cleared. This item is popular and almost sold out! Give the customer a sense of what will be lost if they don’t complete the purchase.
Loyal Customer Email Workflows
Are you taking your best customers for granted? If you’re not thanking them with a loyalty campaign workflow, you might as well be. Give your brand evangelists even more to praise by rewarding their business with friendly messaging and exclusive deals.
The first step toward increasing the warm fuzzies in your loyal audience is to acknowledge their loyalty. This is a special just-for-them “thank you” email that thanks them for their business and sets their expectations on the perks of the loyalty club.
Special incentive emails
Whether it’s a sneak peek at the new line-up, early access to a sale, or members-only promo code, your loyal audience deserves special treatment whenever you can offer it.
Your feedback emails
This group more than any other deserves to be heard. Welcome them to the virtual boardroom to discuss your product, marketing, venue, and more by sending short surveys and open-ended discussion emails they can reply to.
Don’t ever, EVER spam your loyalty workflow list. These people are email marketing gold. Treat them like the celebrities they are. That means no blast promotions, no meaningless fluff, and no pushy sales messages.
Reminder Email Workflows
If your business model includes a recurring purchase or service, you should absolutely add a Reminder Workflow to your email marketing.
Great reminder emails rely on data and smart marketing automation. If you’re a skincare company and you know one bottle of your all-natural vitamin C cleanser, C You on the Bright Side, lasts about 60 days, you can create a workflow list that sends a reminder 45 days from the last purchase. If you’re a wellness spa, you may want to remind your customers that it’s almost time to book their monthly massages.
Reminder emails are great for family entertainment businesses, too. Birthdays and group events can make up as much as a third of an FEC’s business, and guess what? Those events tend to be annual! FEC reminder emails should rely heavily on smart content and personalization. Remember how much fun little Sheila had at her Bowling Bash Birthday last year? We think she’ll love our new Arcade Game Master package even more! (We think that because we used purchase-data to see that your party bought double the arcade cards for every child.)
Even B2B businesses can capitalize on reminder emails. It’s time to renew your contract, to run your quarterly cybersecurity penetration testing, to refill the snack bar choices.
So far, we’ve talked about how much value you can deliver with well-planned email workflows. But, what happens when a happy, engaged customer suddenly stops responding?
Email deliverability—how many of your emails land in your customers’ inboxes—is affected by a lot of things, and one of them is the performance of your last email. So, it’s important to keep your list happy and engaged and say good-bye to the folks who stop opening and clicking.
A check-in email
Your first email in this workflow isn’t accusing your customer of moving on. You’re just checking in. We see you haven’t opened an email in a while. Sometimes all it takes is that little nudge to remind someone of all the fun they’re missing in your well-written messages.
Ask for feedback
Maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you. A transaction went wonky, a customer service issue slipped through the cracks, or you just send too many emails. Give them a chance to clear the air by asking them directly for feedback. This email should look like it’s sent from a real member of your team, and that member should handle the follow-up.
When it’s time to say goodbye
Sometimes, a customer just falls out of love. It’s not fun, but it’s a reality. When it’s time to say goodbye, let them know there are no hard feelings, you have appreciated all their business, and they are always welcome back. Ending your email marketing relationship with a customer doesn’t mean they’re no longer valuable to your brand. They may still give positive referrals, or choose to come back at a later date. Don’t give them a reason not to by sending a snarky or passive aggressive “goodbye” email.
Workflows are only the beginning.
Workflows are only the blueprints of email marketing awesomeness. Frequency, personalization, imagery, and creative copywriting are all necessary additions to achieve true email marketing greatness.