The 4 Email Automation Sequences Every E-commerce Brand Needs

Author: Cassi Lowe | Date: April 8, 2022 | Campaign Stage:

Email automation can be a deep and complicated topic. If you have a small e-commerce brand, or you're just starting out, it might feel overwhelming. However, you don't need to do everything at once. Use the 4 email types in this post as base to build on over time.

The Open Source Marketing (OSM) system includes 6 major campaign areas: Outreach, Target, Capture, Nurture, Close, and Continuity. By implementing these 4 email types, you will cover the last 3 of these 6. These areas are often overlooked, but they are arguably the most important. It's far more cost effective to retain a current customer than to win a new customer.

As you work through setting up each of these emails, remember to keep them simple and customer-focused.

1: Welcome Email

Send this email after someone subscribes to your email list, or makes their first purchase. 

This email is your chance to connect with your new subscriber (or customer) at an emotional level. Let the reader feel like they have joined your family. Tell them about your mission, vision, and why you started the business. This is an easy way to cover the Nurture area of the OSM system.

Keep in mind that no one wants to read a history lesson. Always tie your story back to the reader and why it's important to them. This can become a balancing act. You will want to share details about your business, but always imagine your reader asking, "what's in it for me?"

2: Abandoned Cart

Send this email when someone puts items in their cart but doesn't check out right away.

There are many reasons someone would put items in their cart, but not purchase them. Maybe they got distracted by a family member or co-worker. Maybe they are having second thoughts about making the purchase. Maybe their wifi cut out before they could finish. In any case, the outcome is the same - the sale didn't happen. This is where an "abandoned cart" email will help you recover a portion of those sales.

A simple email to the customer asking if they forgot something with a link back to their cart is sufficient. You can also test out offering a coupon to incentivize their purchase. The goal is to finish the Close portion of the OSM system.

3: After Purchase

Send this email after someone has made their first purchase, separately from their receipt.

Send this email to help customers feel good about their purchase. Even when someone buys something small, you don't want them to feel buyer's remorse. Here are a few ideas to include in this email:

  • Show your appreciation for their purchase
  • Ask for a referral to a friend
  • Ask them to share on social media
  • Share tips on how to use their new product
  • Give suggestions for other complementary products

4: Inactive Customer

Send this email to previous customers who haven't purchased recently.

As mentioned above, it's easier to sell to someone who has already bought from you than it is to acquire a new customer. Customers may forget about your store if you're not top of mind. It's also possible something happened during the buying process that caused them to not purchase from you again.

Use this email to address objections, request feedback, or incentivize another purchase. This feedback and data from repeat customers will help you improve your user experience for new customers, too. This email falls under the Continuity portion of the OSM system.

Most of the major e-commerce platforms have tools built in, or easily accessible, to handle all of these automated email types. Once you have these emails in place, you can start testing and adding on to them to improve over time.

Author Bio:
Cassi Lowe is a marketing strategy consultant based in Indianapolis, IN. She's the main curator for the Open Source Marketing Project. She has over 15 years of experience in the web design & marketing field.

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