We outline 7 different data-driven email marketing strategies to help you drive sales from your brand.
The best email marketing includes a mix of “set it and forget it” automations and a more personalized, hands-on approach. We previously revealed the 10 essential emails fundamental to your ecommerce brand. Now, we want to help you dive deeper with data-driven flows that offer even higher ROIs for your business.
Here’s a step-by-step look at crafting an advanced email marketing strategy.
The only thing better than a new first-time customer is a first-time customer who turns into a loyal, high-value customer. If you can identify these customers early in their experience with your ecommerce brand, you can mold them into your best customers.
You could nurture all your new customers the same way. But focusing on your high-potential customers has several benefits, including minimizing extraneous emails and limiting unsubscribes (as well as spam complaints). Plus, it means you’re investing the most time and effort into pursuing customers who are more likely to provide the highest ROI for your brand.
To identify high-potential customers, do an analysis of your existing customer base. Note the patterns they have in common, such as key demographics and what products they purchased in their first order. Then, look for new customers that match those same trends and focus your nurture series on them. To save time and effort gathering and analyzing data about your audience, we recommend using a tool like Apteo.
Nurturing new customers is a balancing act between introducing your brand, highlighting the benefits of your products, and incentivizing sales. Aim to create a longer flow of 8-10 emails in a sequence that spans 2-3 months. Within these emails, include a mix of educational material, user-generated content, product benefits, and discounts. Keep things light and don’t focus too much on selling for the best results.
If you have a subscription-based business, or if you sell products that can be purchased multiple times by the same consumer, repurchase emails are a crucial part of your marketing strategy. These emails remind customers who may have forgotten to reorder a product (or incentivize them to reorder even if they weren’t already considering it).
To identify customers who are overdue for a repeat purchase, you’ll need to dive into your current customer data. Look for customers who have purchased a specific product a certain length of time ago. We suggest using a data science tool that identifies customer segments, or a good forecasting tool that can predict which customers are likely overdue for a repeat purchase.
Repurchase email flows are fairly straightforward and easy to automate. Just create a flow of two emails which remind the customer to reorder the product they previously purchased. In the first, mention that the customer may be running out of their purchase. If they don’t reorder from that email, send a second a week or two later with an additional reminder and a small discount.
Improve customer retention and increase their lifetime order value with carefully crafted cross-sell campaigns.
You can approach cross-sell flows as a manual or automatic strategy. To manually create the optimal cross-sell, you’ll start by finding customers who bought a specific product. Then, you’ll determine what other products are most often purchased by the same customer. Using this information, you can create cross-sell campaigns targeted towards customers who purchased the first product.
With the right tools, you can also automate this process. Marketing automation platforms like Klaviyo provide built-in product recommendation blocks. Or, you can use an A.I. tool to gather customer data and dynamically insert the best product recommendations.
For manual cross-sell campaigns, identify the customers who bought a specific product. Then, send those customers an email highlighting the associated product you want to cross-sell. As an added incentive to purchase, you may choose to offer a small discount as well.
If you have access to a tool that allows you to generate automatic cross-sells, you won’t need to plan and create these individual product cross-sell flows. Just add product placeholders to your emails and let the system populate those blocks with the top recommended products for each customer. Automatic cross-sells are a great time-saver for ecommerce brands, and a great way to drive additional sales.
Once you shift your focus from building relationships with your new and existing customers, you’ll begin incentivizing various segments of your existing audience to make a purchase. A great place to start is with your big spenders (aka whales).
It’s not hard to identify your big spenders. They’re the small portion of your audience that spend disproportionately large amounts of money on your products. Just sort your email list by total lifetime spend and target the top 10-20% of your list.
If you have access to a forecasting tool, you can also use it to predict your customers’ lifetime spend. That will let you include customers likely to become big spenders in the future with similar offers.
To incentivize big spenders, provide special offers geared towards encouraging them to spend more money. For example, you might offer free shipping or special $1 add-on products if the customer reaches a certain minimum spending amount. When reaching out to your big spenders, focus on one-off campaigns sent on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Alternatively, you can set them up as flows of 2-3 emails, but only sending follow-ups to customers who don’t open the first email.
Some customers are more inclined to buy multiple items at once. By highlighting the right combination of products together, you can incentivize them to buy bundles that increase their average order value.
Dive into your historical customer data to identify bundle-worthy products. Then, segment your audience to determine which of your customers are “bundle seekers” - most likely to buy multiple products together. By selling these products to this audience segment, you can drive higher sales.
One-off campaigns and multi-email flows are both effective strategies to incentivize bundle seekers. Focus on highlighting product combinations that are most likely to drive sales based on each customer’s previous purchases. If you create a flow, discount ladders are often effective strategies. But remember not to overdo it on the sales - you want these campaigns to drive higher AOVs.
It’s probably the #1 reason people sign up for your email list - the promise of a discount. While there are better levers to pull to drive sales than to simply lower your prices, a certain segment of customers will rely on discounts to make a purchase.
Fine-tuning your targeting is the most important when sending out a discount. To maximize your revenue, you want to exclude customers who are likely to make a full-price purchase. Don’t just blast a discount to your entire list!
If you don’t already have a segmentation tool that identifies these customers for you, you can figure out who to target using this process. First, identify customers who have made at least three orders, and calculate what percent of those orders used a discount. Then, compare that discount percentage to each customer’s discount percentage. Your true “discount seekers” will have a significantly higher than average discount percentage (+80%).
Discount flows should emphasize proper segmentation (as discussed above), urgency (limited-time offers), and personalization (highlighting products or features the individual customer is likely to want). Discount flows should also be used more sparingly in your strategy. Shoot for one-off campaigns every 1-2 months.
When a customer disappears, you lose potential revenue. So, it’s important to be able to identify your at-risk customers and re-engage them with a targeted email campaign.
It’s important to make sure you only send win-back campaigns to customers who are truly at-risk or dormant. (You don’t want to offer your best discount to customers who would have paid full price for your product.)
Most brands create win-back campaigns by identifying customers who haven’t opened an email or made a purchase within the past 180 days. However, for more accurate audience segmentation, we recommend a tool like Apteo which can analyze individual customer behavior and determine which customers are likely to disappear based on their individual purchasing patterns.
Win-back campaigns generally include multiple emails, each with an increasing discount to help incentivize the customer’s return. In your first email, you might highlight some new products added since the customer’s last purchase, along with a CTA for them to take a look at your new merchandise. If they don’t make a purchase after the first email, send a second a few days later that includes a small discount. If that discount doesn’t grab them, you may want to get more aggressive in your third attempt. Send your best discount with a message letting customers know you’re providing your best and final offer. Some brands even use this email to let customers know they will be removed from the mailing list if they don’t make a purchase or respond to the email.
The biggest difference between basic email campaigns and these advanced flows is their reliance on customer data. Connecting the right customers to the right products at the right time (and boosting your sales when you do it) requires your brand to build a marketing strategy based on facts, not guess work. While these advanced flows require more time and effort to incorporate into your strategy, they also offer much higher ROIs for your business.
If you’re looking for more ways to create the most comprehensive, effective marketing strategy for your ecommerce business, check out our No-Brainer Marketing Ebook. It includes tips on email, SMS, paid social, and paid search marketing. And if you're interested in learning more about implementing data-driven campaigns, feel free to book a call with us.
Shanif Dhanani is the co-founder & CEO of Apteo. Prior to Apteo, Shanif was a data scientist and software engineer at Twitter, and prior to that he was the lead engineer and head of analytics at TapCommerce, a NYC-based ad tech startup acquired by Twitter. He has a passion for all things data and analytics, loves adventure traveling, and generally loves living in New York City.