4 of the Most Important Email Workflows for Retailers

email workflows

Automated emails sent by e-commerce brands accounted for 29% of all email marketing sales in 2020. However, according to Omnisend’s 2020 email marketing statistics report, these emails accounted for less than 2% of the total email sent. Talk about effective!

The reason automated lifecycle messages are so effective at generating sales is that they are based on consumers’ actions, such as when a shopper abandons a shopping cart. Behavior-based automation makes these messages both timely and relevant for the subscriber. This explains why they convert 359% better than standard promotional messages.

Ecommerce businesses looking to increase their email marketing sales without increasing their workload should look no further than setting up proven, high-performing automated workflows. 

The top benefits of email automation include:

  • They save time: Can you imagine manually creating and sending emails every time someone signs up to your subscriber list or abandons their cart? Automated email workflows need only to be set up once.
  • They’re relevant: Automated emails are behavior-based, making them relevant and delivered at the right time.
  • Increased sales: Automated emails continue to generate revenue all day, every day. Conversion rates are 359% higher than regular promotional emails.
  • Personalized customer experiences: Because they are triggered by customers’ actions, email automation workflows work seamlessly to deliver a consistent shopper experience, from initial sign-up to post-purchase messaging.

4 Essential Email Automation Workflows for Retailers

email automation rates

There are countless types of email automation ecommerce businesses can implement. It’s knowing where to start that’s essential for maximizing sales.

These four proven automated workflows should be considered essential building blocks to an effective, revenue-generating email marketing program.

1. Welcome Series

welcome series
Source: Omnisend

Consistently topping the charts on click, open, and conversion rates, the welcome series is a must-have for any ecommerce store. With a conversion rate of 52% in 2020, welcome messaging has a proven ability to turn new email subscribers into purchasers. 

The benefits of a friendly and engaging welcome series become even more apparent during the crucial holiday shopping period—conversion rates climbed to a stunning 75% on Black Friday!

Marketers should be aiming for these numbers when creating their own welcome series. Here are two tips for achieving welcome series success:

Personalize it: Use your data to identify customer intent and customize your welcome messages accordingly. To do this, start collecting data at sign-up, where you can ask for things like gender and interests. You can also leverage customers’ browsing or email click data to provide relevant content and product recommendations.

People are more likely to purchase recommended products based on their browsing and purchase history. For a visitor checking out yoga pants, recommending top-rated yoga-related products like mats and blocks can be the secret weapon to influencing a purchase.

Identify essential messages and provide value: Think about what you really need to say to a new subscriber. This will help you decide how many emails you need to send to convey that messaging.

A typical email welcome series is between two and four emails. This gives you the scope to build trust and differentiate from your competition, such as by sharing your brand story or focusing on the quality of your products.

2. Browse and Product Abandonment

Both browse and product abandonment messages are automatically sent to store visitors who viewed certain products and categories but never placed items in their shopping cart—online window shoppers, if you will. 

With open rates over 30% and conversion rates over 17%, these highly-relevant messages are piquing the interest of consumers. Think about it: you are sending messages to consumers based on products that you know they are interested in. This comes at just a fraction of the price of costly paid retargeting campaigns on places like Google and Facebook.

Here are three ways to optimize your browse and product abandonment messages:

  • Use recommendations: Personalized product recommendations lead to a 26% increase in conversions. Your browse and product abandonment emails are the perfect place for these. 

    Present attractive images of the products customers were browsing earlier along with similar items, such as in different sizes and colors, to entice them back to your store. 
  • Keep it simple: This is the time for a friendly nudge, not a full-on sales pitch. People who just browsed your store can be quickly turned off by a promotional barrage upon leaving. 

    Keep your messages short and sweet and let your images do the talking. Two emails is a good starting point here. Send the first one after 30-60 minutes and the second after 24 hours. 
  • Optimize for the holidays: Conversion rates for these automation workflows rise sharply over the holiday period. So, don’t be afraid to raise your browse and product abandonment series to between two to six emails. 

    People are generally more tolerant of promotional messages at this time, and the increased competition means that it’s essential to keep your brand fresh in customers’ minds.

3. Cart Abandonment

cart abandonment email
Source: Omnisend

Automated cart abandonment targets shoppers who have placed items in their shopping carts but failed to complete their order. Because the messages target individuals with a high intention to buy, cart abandonment emails are commonly among the top-performing of all automated workflows. 

Cart abandonment regularly reaches conversion rates greater than 30%. Recovering even a small percentage of these lost sales makes a huge difference to your bottom line. 

To achieve this level of performance with your abandoned cart workflows, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Number of emails and timing: Don’t rely on a single email. Brands commonly rely on a series of three emails—but don’t be scared to send more. 

    Timing these emails will vary based on the products you sell, but most often you’ll want to send the first message within one hour after abandonment. Test the timing of your follow-up messages, such as 12-hours and 48-hours after abandonment.
  • Make it easy to complete the purchase: Make sure you have a clear and concise call to action. This should take the customer straight back to the cart, ready to checkout with all details in place. 

    Include attractive visuals in your email, with the abandoned product as the centerpiece. If possible, add personalized product recommendations for other options, such as different styles, sizes, or colors.  
  • Use other channels like SMS: SMS is showing some incredibly promising numbers, with conversion rates rising rapidly alongside total sends by retailers. This shows its potential as a trusted marketing channel to complement email. 

    Use these short, time-sensitive messaging that skips the inbox to get in front of customers’ eyes. Consider swapping out (or adding to) one of your emails with a text message to take advantage of SMS’s high read rate.

4. Post-purchase

post-purchase email
Source: Omnisend

The customer purchase experience doesn’t end once the checkout is complete—it continues. Post-purchase automation goes beyond order and shipping confirmation messages. Many are designed to enhance the customer experience and increase the customer lifetime value (CLTV). And they work! 

The open, click, and conversion rates of post-purchase messages are all greater than those of promotional email messages, making them a powerful retention marketing tool that increases CLTV.

Here are five ways to improve your post-purchase email marketing:

  • Say thank you: Sending a message simply saying, “thank you” can go a long way to making customers feel appreciated, and thus more likely to come back. You can even incentivize them to make a second purchase, although not necessary.
  • Customer service and product care: Sending a message reinforcing your customer service policies, such as hassle-free returns, or a product care/how-to email is a great way to show you care about their experience with your brand.
  • Provide recommendations: Again, use your personalized product recommendations to cross-sell. This gives the customer some great ideas for their next purchase.
  • Loyalty: If you have a loyalty program, offer an easy way to sign up for it or inform the customer about their reward balance and how points can be redeemed.
  • Feedback/reviews: User-generated content serves as valuable social proof. Ask for product reviews or socially-shared photos of the customer using the product. These can help you build trust with potential customers and provide additional marketing materials.

Wrap up

If you didn’t know it already, you surely do now—email automation is essential for any serious ecommerce business looking to increase sales. The good news for brands is that ecommerce has been democratized. 

Marketing automation is no longer reserved only for more established brands with large pocketbooks. This means smaller brands can effectively compete with larger, more established ones.   

Because these automations are easy to set up and are lucrative, marketers who aren’t using these workflows will continue to find themselves left further behind. Go ahead, give them a try, and watch your sales increase.

Author’s Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a marketing strategist & Director of Content at Omnisend and has nearly 15 years of experience in email, mobile, and social media marketing. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience consulting retailers, including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients, and providing an in-depth analysis of their marketing programs. He is a frequent speaker, writer, and respected voice in the marketing and retail industry, has been retained as an expert witness for trial, and is an award-winning podcast host.

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