When a customer makes a purchase from your ecommerce store, they’re giving you something incredibly valuable: their email address! Email list building helps you generate awareness, bring in steady revenue, and run flash sales to get rid of excess inventory and increase sales.
When it comes to customer retention and loyalty, collecting customers’ email addresses sets you up for success — but only if you know how to use them.
Note: When emailing customers, make sure that you’re conscious of GDPR, CAN-SPAM, and other email marketing regulations. When in doubt, consult your attorney.
Improving ecommerce customer retention with email marketing
Below we share how to leverage your customer email list to build brand loyalty and increase sales.
Why focus on customer retention for your online store?
Customer retention is vital to your ecommerce business’s success. Consider the following stats:
- It costs retailers 7x more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.
- The typical online store gets 43% of its revenue from repeat purchases.
- Returning customers spend 120% more annually than new customers.
- Repeat customers convert nearly twice as much as new customers.
Your business can’t afford not to focus on customer retention. Loyal customers will become an invaluable source of not only sales but word-of-mouth marketing, too. Here are four types of emails you can use to engage and retain existing customers.
1. Welcome email
In addition to the standard order confirmation email that customers receive after making a purchase, reach out to first-time customers with a welcome email after they place their first order. A warm welcome email is a great way to make your new customers feel appreciated and included in a new, exclusive group: your customers and brand loyalists.
Make sure that your welcome email includes a call-to-action, whether that’s an invitation to view your blog and read your company’s story or an exclusive promo code for their next purchase. This encourages your customers to continue engaging with your brand. The welcome email should add value by focus without being too pushy or sales-y; focus on building trust and credibility with your customer rather than just making another sale.
2. Exclusive promotion email
Another great way to make your customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club is by sending promotions via email. According to Adestra, customers rated discounts in email as the biggest influence on their purchase decisions. These promotions could range from free shipping to a percent discount or free gift with purchase.
[Related article: 5 Types of Promotions Ecommerce Stores Should Offer]
You can also send a reminder email before the deal ends. Use a subject line such as “12 hours left!” or “Almost gone!” to leverage the scarcity principle and spur customers into action. If you use an ecommerce marketing automation platform that lets you track open rates, you can send the reminder email to just the customers who opened your first email as a quick and easy way to segment.
Similarly, you can offer exclusive pre-order opportunities to existing customers via email. Create urgency by letting customers know that there are a limited number of products available for pre-order and that the campaign is only available for a limited amount of time. Never underestimate the power of a strategically positioned email to encourage some impulse buys!
3. Customer feedback email
Customer feedback emails can help customers engage with your brand while providing valuable feedback. After your customer has had some time to use your product, reach out and ask them to fill out a short survey about their order experience and the product itself. This also shows your customers that you value their input, which can increase brand loyalty and strengthen their relationship with your brand — ultimately leading to repeat purchases in the future.
If it’s financially feasible for your company, you can even offer a discount to customers in exchange for completing the survey, such as 10% off their next order or a $5 gift card. Even if you receive negative feedback, it’s still valuable input that can help you improve your products and your processes.
4. Win-back email
If a customer hasn’t shopped with you for a while, reach back out to them with a win-back email. Win-back emails are designed to bring lapsed customers back to your store to complete a purchase. Depending on your industry and customer trends, your customers might come back for a second purchase anywhere from 2 weeks to 90 days after their initial purchase. Study the buying behavior of your most loyal customers to get a feel for the typical timeline for your store.
Send an email to your customers after a time period has lapsed without an additional purchase. Include a subject line such as “We miss you!” and a discount such as free shipping or a percentage off their next purchase. This entices customers to re-engage with your brand and will bring you not only to the top of their inbox but top of mind, too. A great customer retention strategy!
Email marketing is a powerful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility — if you spam your customers with too many or irrelevant emails, it’s easy for them to unsubscribe from your email list. When used correctly with the right top-bar templates, however, email marketing and email tracking can help your ecommerce businesses retain customers and increase sales.
Working with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that offers a backend contact management system can help you leverage your customer email list. For example, ShipBob’s Contacts tab shows each customer’s name, email address, and location.
You can also see their order history on your store and gain additional insights, including where they’re located and their lifetime order value to date. This information can help you segment your email lists and make sure that the customer retention emails discussed above are as effective as possible.
Want to learn more about improving customer retention? Download our guide on How to Nail the Customer Experience.