TL;DR - Too Long Didn’t Read
In this article we cover several important aspects of ecommerce email automation. With that in mind, here are some quick links to get you to the parts that are relevant for you;
- Email Segmentation
- Email Automation Flows
- Holistic Marketing with Email Automation
- Q&A with Phil Greenwood from Klaviyo
Ecommerce Email Automations
Email marketing has been around since the invention of email! That being said, email marketing sometimes gets branded with the stigma of being ineffective and old-hat. This is due to a couple of historic common practises that were potentially damaging.
It was industry standard to blanket email all your contacts with the same message. Companies would send this out to prospect lists and people who hadn’t signed up to their marketing. Coupled with the fact that most of the emails were heavily focussed on sales and discounts, it was no wonder that email marketing fell out of favour.
Because almost every ecommerce store was sending out blanket emails, it would be hard for a brand to cut through the noise. This made for an oversaturated marketing channel and brands would eventually move to investing elsewhere.
Thankfully, with the introduction of inbox filtering and GDPR, email marketing has had to adapt. Explicit consent and making unsubscribing easier, means that the customer has the power to choose what they recieve. This has led to a natural evolution of centering email marketing around the customer, not the product.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how automated email campaigns can help improve your brand community and ultimately your revenue. We’ll also hear from Klaviyo to get their insights on email automation.
The success of email marketing campaigns lies heavily on the relevance of the content. If your content isn’t relevant, you’ll get low open and click through rates. This will inevitably lead to unsubscriptions and you’ll lose out on conversions.
Segmentation allows you to split your email contacts up based on who they are, their activity and even use AI to predict properties about someone. Using segmentations that are specific to your brand will help you tailor content for those users. It will also give you some useful insights into your audience.
Too many brands assume that the customer journey stops after they’ve completed a purchase. By nurturing the relationship post purchase, you’ll increase the customer experience and help improve the brand loyalty of that customer.
VIP vs Non-VIP
As a customer that has spent money with a brand on a recurring basis and stuck with them, it’s always nice to be appreciated. Creating a VIPs list, will let you send out pre-launch products to them before normal customers, send them some discount codes and let them know they’re appreciated.
If a VIP user hasn’t purchased anything recently and it looks like they’re ditching the brand, you can send them loyalty points or discounts. This will help maintain and lower your churn rate.
Understanding what motivates your customers to purchase can be invaluable to an ecommerce store. If you know that a specific group of your customers will only buy if there is a sale on, then you can tailor content for them.
By changing the content to this segment to be more focussed around the content and the customer rather than the product or the price, you’ll instill brand loyalty. This will slowly help move these sales shoppers away from the discount addiction they have.
On the other hand, if you have a sale coming up, you could target this segment first. Letting them know about a sale and creating a countdown will motivate the users to purchase as soon as the sale is live.
Measuring brand ambassadors can be difficult, but is definitely worth rewarding. Create a dynamic segment that includes users that have read all the latest emails, signed up to your loyalty program, followed you on social media platforms and created UGC. These are the brand ambassadors that will spread the news about your ecommerce store.
Sending this segment content-based articles, blog posts and updates, and asking them to share it, will help improve your brand awareness.
It’s common knowledge that it’s much easier and more affordable to resell to an existing customer than it is to get a new one. Creating a segment for one-time customers will help you give the right attention to convert them for a second or third time.
Creating a non-engaged segment will allow you to carefully send the right content out. If a user isn’t engaging at all with your emails, it may be worth sending them only important emails. This can help them re-engage with the site and dynamically remove them from this segment. If a user is in the non-engaged segment for a long period of time, it may be worth removing them completely.
Adding custom properties will let you segment even further, making your emails even more relevant. Perhaps you have different types of content that you’re going to be sending out. Asking which types of content the user is interested in will help you choose which email marketing campaigns to send out.
Common practise in ecommerce is creating custom properties about the types of products your audience is interested in. It’s important that you give the users regular options to update their preferences. This keeps the emails relevant.
Automated Ecommerce Flows
Of course the first automated flow you should focus on is the welcome flow. This will help introduce the brand in a drip campaign. Often used initially to showcase your USPs and encourage other brand interactions such as loyalty programs or social media. Focus away from sales, unless you’ve offered a discount in return for signing up.
Within Shopify there is an abandoned cart function and while it works great, if you’re after a full email integration, you may want to move it to the email marketing platform. An abandoned cart email can often lead to driving conversion rates and make a huge difference to your overall revenue.
Similar to an abandoned cart, when a subscriber is browsing the site and leaves before adding anything to the cart, a reminder email with the products they were viewing gets sent. Again, this can be a very powerful tool to help remind subscribers what they’re missing out on. By experimenting with the delay timing of the emails you can optimise the delivery.
Out of Stock
Klaviyo has a custom integration feature that allows you to create a sign up box when a product is out of stock. This can help improve the growth of your email list and also give some indication on the popularity of products.
Once the product is back in stock, Klaviyo will automatically email the out-of-stock subscribers. You can create a split flow to send these emails to your VIPs a couple of hours before the rest of your subscribers.
Creating customised upsell emails will help increase the average order value and provide relevant information to the customer. By creating an upsell list of products that are related to the ones the customer has purchased, you can easily create a dynamic block or full email flow.
If you’ve collected birthday details from a customer you should be sending happy birthday emails to them. This will help improve brand loyalty and grow a community around your brand. Splitting this metric with the VIP metric can help you change the content of the birthday email. Perhaps you want to offer discounts to VIPs but not to non-VIPs.
Holistic Marketing & Integrations
Segmenting and automating your marketing emails will improve your engagement and conversion rates. But if you integrate your email marketing holistically with the rest of your marketing efforts, you can improve it even further.
Klaviyo has a number of helpful integrations available to move your email marketing into a holistic approach.
Klaviyo has an integration with Facebook ads. You can import specific lists, such as your VIP, to create look-a-like audiences. This can massively streamline your advertising budgets and target the right customer.
By integrating your review program with Klaviyo, you can encourage more customers to write reviews. But you can also dynamically pull in reviews into email campaigns and automated flows, creating a unique USPs and conversion driver.
If you have a loyalty program running, integrating it in with your Klaviyo account will help you segment better. You’ll also be able to offer extra reward points for high engagement, creating more loyalty around your brand.
Sending the right information and the right time is important. If a customer has a support ticket open with your helpdesk, then they’re not likely going to want to engage with your email marketing. By integrating your helpdesk with your email marketing, you’re able to stop any promotional emails going out to anyone with an open ticket.
Onsite personalisation is very powerful and if you're using a 3rd party personalisation platform to dynamically serve content onsite then you should also look to integrate it with Klaviyo. Some personalisation platforms work 2 ways with Klaviyo, often importing the Klaviyo segments to serve better content onsite. Or using the personalisation platform to serve better dynamic content within Klaviyo.
If you’re using a 3rd party payment provider, such as ReCharge, then you’ll definitely want to integrate it in with Klaviyo. This can help you segment your users based on the length of their subscription and can help drive better retention rates.
Our holistic approach to ecommerce allows us to optimise marketing channels such as email, to work better for you and your customers. Speak to one of our email marketing experts today to find out how we can help automate your email to success.
Q&A with Phil Greenwood - Klaviyo
What do you think is the single most valuable thing a merchant can do with automated email marketing?
It’s important to remember that emails shouldn’t just be transactional, they should be personalized, and seek to strengthen your relationships with your customers.
The best bit? You can do this at scale through email automation—providing you’ve got data to back up what you’re doing.
Therefore, the single most valuable thing you can do is your customer and data homework.
By this, I mean focusing on buyer personas (who your customers are) and customer journeys (how your customers buy from you).
Really get to know your customers and how they engage with your business. Ask yourself questions like:
- How often do customers visit your website?
- What’s your average lifetime value?
- How many customers browse but don’t buy?
- Do demographics influence certain buying behavior?
- How do discounts impact what a customer does?
- Are your customers buying gifts or something for themselves?
I could go on. My point is: know your customers. Understand what makes them tick and use this data to inform your email automation strategy.
Segmentation is key to understanding your different audience types and tailoring content specific to those; what are some “outside-of-the-box” segmentations that you’ve seen work well?
Beyond some of the more traditional ways to segment your audience—such as by product interest, email type, and customer demographics—we’ve found the following to be some of the highest performing segmented campaigns:
- Order frequency + value: Emails to customers who have placed at least two orders, and have spent a certain amount in the past 365 days can result in an average $112.19 RPR.
- Win-backs: Sending emails to customers who are on a follow-up email list but who haven’t placed an order in the past 30 days could see you bring in $79.73 on average.
Each of these segments targets less than five percent of the full email list because they’re so specific—but their specificity is why they work so well.
On average, highly segmented emails generate more than three times the revenue per recipient than unsegmented lists. And they result in half the number of unsubscribes too.
Worst and best examples of automated email marketing?
I doubt it’s a surprise that some of the best examples of automated email marketing I’ve seen are highly personalized ones. This goes beyond just knowing customers’ names, though.
I know of lots of brands that have created quizzes on their websites, which not only help their customers choose what products to buy, but they give brands invaluable insights about their customers, which can be used for highly targeted marketing that’s automated and backed up by data.
Other great examples are when a company’s branding is consistent across every email—right down to subject lines and unsubscribe text—from the welcome email to promotional emails to order and shipping confirmations.
This is one of the simplest ways to make your automated emails feel cohesive while hammering home what your brand is all about, and why your subscribers should stick around to hear more.
As for the worst examples, it’s time for a harsh but fair analysis here.
I’ve seen cases where a brand has started off well with a vibrant and on-brand welcome series, but then the order and shipping confirmations have been lifeless and not indicative of the brand at all.
This is a real shame because consistent branding at every touchpoint is essential for long-term customer loyalty. Not to mention customers need to be able to remember what brand they bought from so they’ll be top of mind next time.
But even worse is when all the emails are lifeless and uninspiring—and the strategy underpinning them doesn’t work cohesively, either.
I’ve seen instances where a welcome email has never been sent, for example. This is a real missed opportunity as welcome emails receive 86 percent higher click-through rates and 83 percent higher revenue per recipient than your average email campaign. In terms of profitability, welcome emails are second only to abandoned cart emails.
Also, if you’re going to cross-sell or upsell to me; make sure it’s something I’m actually going to want. If I’ve bought a washing machine, for example, then I’m not going to want to buy another one of those for five to ten years. Detergent or fabric softener, on the other hand, I’m going to need pretty quickly.
Ultimately, your cross-sell and upsell strategies need to be supported by data, otherwise, they’ll flop—and you would have wasted a lot of time setting up automated emails that just aren’t going to deliver you the return on investment and loyalty that they should.
What would you say to brands reading this that think email automation won’t work for them?
To be frank, the proof is in the data. Automated emails have the power to outperform campaign emails across the board.
Think 165 percent higher open rates, 1558 percent higher conversion rates, and 1361 percent higher revenues per recipient on average.
That’s pretty amazing for emails that go out by themselves. Just imagine what you would spend all that extra cash on!
If you’re unsure where to start, create just one automated welcome email to introduce your brand and showcase your bestsellers.
Check its open rates, click-through rates, and revenue per recipient afterward—and we’d be very surprised if you don’t agree the return on investment is worth it.
What are some interesting omnichannel set ups you’ve seen work well with Klaviyo?
There are so many ways that Klaviyo can help drive your omnichannel efforts, but here are a few of the most interesting ones I’ve seen.
First, if you want to blur the line between offline and online, have you thought about using email to drive in-store sales?
For example, you could create segments based on postcodes and how far these are from each of your physical stores, and then use emails to drive your customers in-store—perhaps with a discount, or you can even use this setup to facilitate Buy Online Pickup In-Store or Click & Collect.
Another great example is when brands use personalization tools such as Nosto to create highly-personalized segments, campaigns, and automated email flows in Klaviyo off the back of the targeted landing pages Nosto helps you achieve.
A crucial part of omnichannel success is consistent messaging across your platforms but this also needs to be tailored to where a customer’s at in their unique journey. That’s tough to do at scale but integrations like this make it easy and highly effective.
What does the future of email marketing and automation look like?
A few key themes come to mind on the future of email marketing and automation:
- Advanced, but non-invasive (or creepy) personalization driven by hyper-sophisticated segmentation;
- Automated marketing that’s driven by customer preferences and behavior to help build relationships;
- And ease of access to robust customer data to help you build these two things.
Let’s break these down...
Ten years ago, advanced personalization meant using a customer’s first name in an email’s subject line or introduction.
This type of personalization is now a common practice for brands and is seen as predictable by savvy consumers.
In the fast-paced modern ecommerce world, advanced personalization straddles a very fine line between thoughtful or subtle (even subliminal) and creepy.
The future of personalization that we’re striving towards and educating brands on is so subtle that a consumer may not even realize it’s happening, yet the marketing message feels as though it was created specifically for that one person.
This type of personalization can only be accomplished by gaining access to and using robust customer data.
A favorite example of mine comes from one of our jewelry brands who is doing something pretty sophisticated.
Imagine that you sold every piece of jewelry in your line in both gold and silver. Most people I’ve met have a preference for gold or silver. Knowing that, would it make sense that the marketing you receive would only showcase your metal preference?
This jewelry brand establishes the metal preferences of their customers and curates their marketing experience to ONLY show the customer products within that group of metals.
As for personalization, they not only focus on the email copy and imagery, but even the button and font colors reflect the customer’s jewelry preferences.
Similar to personalization, the future of automation is entirely based on understanding and reacting to consumers’ behaviors at a much deeper level than simply knowing what products someone did or did not add to their cart.
The future lies in predicting what a customer will or won’t do—and sharing helpful content to guide them along their journey.
As such, we should see predictive analytics used more in the future to anticipate things like when a customer will next need to buy a product, or if they’re at risk of never reordering again.
It’s your job to gently remind customers in advance of their expected order dates, or when they’ve forgotten to reorder, and to send carefully crafted win-back emails if you’re at risk of losing that customer’s business altogether.
The good news? This can all be automated, making your job ten times easier!
Access to data:
Finally, accessing and using customer data is what will drive both personalization and automation in the future.
For too long, brands like you have had to decide between advanced functionality or ease of use when using marketing platforms—despite the fact that you actually need both. You need power and functionality to scale and achieve great results, while needing to create amazing customer experiences in minutes and without having to hire large teams to do so.
Instead, by choosing systems like Klaviyo that enable you to capture customer data through owned marketing channels like email, you can take control of your relationships with customers to connect with them on a deeper, more meaningful level—ultimately turning them into brand advocates.
To us, this is the future of automated email marketing. Your customers crave exceptional experiences, so platforms like Klaviyo store their data in thousands of different formats so you can access it quickly and perform powerful marketing with it.
What’s in store for the future of Klaviyo?
Two of the biggest shopping days of the year (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) are on the horizon, so we’ll be busy ramping up and supporting our 40,000 clients with their plans.
I know, it’s odd to think we need to start turning our heads to Christmas and the holiday season whilst it’s 30 degrees outside, but despite such a tough start to the year, we’re expecting this year’s BFCM weekend to be the biggest one yet—and it’s time for brands to prepare!
The pandemic has been such a challenging time for many businesses, and with it, we’ve seen dramatic changes across the industry. Consumers who have never bought online are now doing so, for example.
We’ve basically seen the entire ecommerce industry dragged forward a couple of years in terms of market maturity. This larger addressable market coupled with the possibility of consumers still having limited access to stores, and perhaps the risk of a second wave, means that BFCM sales are likely to surpass last year’s and possibly even next year’s too.
To ride this wave, we’re advising businesses to start building their email lists now and really focus on this over the next few months and beyond. Start by adding forms to your website to capture relevant customer information and put the foundations in place to welcome these newly acquired leads—such as through an automated welcome series.
Cost per mille (CPM) and cost per acquisition (CPA) are actually at an all-time low on social media right now, so you could use this time to acquire email addresses rather than driving sales. Customers have told us that they’re spending between $1-5 to acquire an email address at the moment, whereas a product acquisition costs as much as $5-9.
If money is tight, use this time to build up your database, create a community, and nurture them. By building these relationships now, they are more likely to convert and buy later on—just in time for Black Friday!
About Phil Greenwood, Partner Manager, EMEA
Phil Greenwood is Klaviyo’s Partner Manager, based in London, UK. Since joining Klaviyo in 2018, Phil has worked with hundreds of digital marketing agencies and e-commerce professionals to leverage Klaviyo’s platform.
Klaviyo is the world’s leading owned marketing platform known for accelerating revenue for online businesses using the channels they own like email, web and mobile. Enabling brands to leverage these owned marketing channels, Klaviyo makes it easy to store, access, analyze and use transactional and behavioral data to power highly-targeted customer and prospect communications. And unlike other marketing platforms, Klaviyo doesn’t force companies to compromise between advanced functionality or ease of use - so companies of all sizes are able to maximize their sales quickly. That’s why over 40,000 innovative companies like Heist, Skinnydip London and Hummingbird Bakery sell more with Klaviyo.