The Email Marketing Bible for eCommerce Brands

The Email Marketing Bible for eCommerce Brands


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This email marketing guide for eCommerce brands will give you the strongest email setup you could possibly imagine. It includes a detailed guide of each building phase of the fundamentals you should go through (and how we approach work with our own clients) for long-term success and a complete customer journey over email as a channel.

This complete email marketing guide is the exact blueprint we follow with our own clients.

If you set up all of the following steps, you’ll not only have an amazing customer journey across email but you’ll also achieve the following objectives:

  • Enhanced ROAS from Facebook/Instagram
  • Qualitative research on autopilot
  • Unlimited content marketing assets on autopilot with UGC
  • At least 30% of your revenue from email marketing in your business (can fluctuate depending on ad spend)

This is because the way we approach email in our organisation isn’t siloed to sales - it’s structured in a way that compliments the omnichannel experience and strengthens the performance of other departments in the business.

Email can never become compartmentalised and operating in a silo if you want to maximise its potential as a channel. This guide will help you to maximise the success capabilities of multiple areas of the business which should be the end-goal for any marketer worth their salt.

Phase 1: The Fundamentals

Let’s assume we’re starting with a blank slate and nothing has been done on email to date.

In this circumstance, you’ll want to start with setting up behavioural automations triggered by events customers take on your website.

Prioritising this basic automation will ensure the long-term return on investment (ROI) is as close to guaranteed as possible.

This is because the more traffic that goes to your website, the more these events are triggered.

Events are actions people take on your website such as:

  • Subscribed to list
  • Started checkout
  • Viewed product
  • Placed order

The first few flows (email automation) you should focus on are:

  • Welcome Flow(s) based on data capture at pop-up (more on that later)
  • Abandoned Cart Flow
  • Post-Purchase Upsell
  • Fulfilled Order Flow
  • Browse Abandonment Flow
  • Customer Winback Flow

If you were to do nothing else on email except set these up, you would have a robust set-up that should start generating profitable revenue on autopilot while simultaneously building your email list on autopilot.

Let’s delve a little deeper into each flow and the purpose behind each one.

1: Welcome Flow(s)

A customer visits your website for the first time and their attention is captured by a pop-up that asks for their email address in return for an incentivised offer (i.e. 10% off their first purchase).

This flow will proactively build your email list by collecting new subscriber information and simultaneously incentivise people to make their first purchase from your store.

Here’s an example of how the pop-up will look to first-time visitors:

The customer then receives a series of emails designed to nurture them over the course of roughly 5-7 days (it can be longer or shorter) that follows a basic framework like this:

  • Deliver the coupon code to incentivise the first purchase
  • Share the brand story and values
  • Display best-selling products based on core categories
  • Leverage social proof to reaffirm commitment to customer service/quality of product

If you want to get more sophisticated (as we do with our clients), you should start to leverage data points in your pop-up to put customers on personalised journeys so they’re more relevant.

This has the dual effect of populating segments inside the account on autopilot and collecting invaluable zero-party data that can be sent back to Facebook for retargeting efficiency.

2: Abandoned Cart Flow

Roughly 70-80% of customers across eCommerce stores abandon their carts and never complete the checkout process. This is a painful amount of lost revenue you’re leaving on the table.

An abandoned cart flow is set up to send reminders to customers to complete the checkout and incentivise them to make the sale.

You can combine abandoned cart emails with SMS reminders as well if you collect consent at the checkout process to double-up your reminders on both channels.

I like to send the first reminder 30 minutes post-abandonment with SMS and then after 1 hour via email.

It is crucial to separate out new VS returning customers in your abandoned cart flow so that if you’re using discount incentives for new customers, you’re not also sending these to returning one’s too (as this will condition customers to simply abandon their carts every time they shop with you for a discount).

3: Post-Purchase Upsell

The post-purchase upsell/cross-sell has the ability to add 1-3% to your bottom line when executed correctly.

This sounds like a small amount, but over time it compounds to make a massive difference to most businesses YoY.

You simply pick a relevant offer that you believe will convert first-time buyers and set up an email automation to target them immediately post-purchase.

As an example: let’s say I buy a t-shirt and jeans from your store for $80. In the post-purchase upsell, you can follow up with “Don’t forget your briefs and socks for just $20 for the next 24 hours only - RRP: $40 for a $20 saving!”

The goal is to pick a highly profitable item/pairing that seems like a no-brainer for your customer to take you up on.

You can also keep this generic - i.e. spend another $50 and get $10 off for the next 24 hours. This also works well and can help claw back profits you’ve likely sunk into paid media channels to acquire these first-time buyers.

4: Fulfilled Order Flow (first-time buyers)

This is an extension of the post-purchase upsell, but the goal is to quickly move customers from the sense of buyers remorse to providing a strong onboarding experience where they are excited to receive the product and have a positive experience when using it.

Concepts to include in this flow:

  • Eliminate buyers remorse
  • Order delivery updates
  • Product education
  • Review request
  • Customer-support check-in
  • Migrate to social media

Providing a positive first experience when buying from your brand is crucial to ensuring a repeat purchase is made. Otherwise, you’re always going to have a retention bottleneck.

5: Browse Abandonment Flow

If somebody is on your list and returns to the website to view a product, they will trigger the Browse Abandonment Flow email(s) to try to pique their interest in order to shop again.

The Browse Abandonment Flow is a great revenue generator when set up correctly but Klaviyo’s default settings on this flow mean it has the potential to cause a negative customer experience.

Follow our Browse Abandonment tutorial to make sure you optimise this and it doesn’t saturate new customers with irrelevant emails from this flow:

6: Customer Winback Flow

The Customer Winback Flow is set up primarily for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands for customers who are about to churn.

The best way to set this flow up is to analyse your historical order data and see when customers tend to fall out of the purchase lifecycle.

Most consumable goods tend to be around the 60-90 day mark, so this tends to be the default flow settings for most brands who fall into this category.

If you sell more one-time purchases, this flow may be irrelevant to you but I still recommend setting it up to alleviate the pressure on sending out manual campaigns, as even for not frequently purchased items, customers can return to buy gifts for family and friends etc.

A note on setting up the winback flow: don’t go straight into a discount ladder. There is often no need to devalue your products after not hearing from a customer for a period of time.

First, remind them of the value proposition, and then try to initiate a two-way conversation from customer support.

Only if there is no response to these emails should you consider discounting.

Too many brands use discounting as the primary engagement strategy when in reality it should be the last resort.

Phase 1: Fundamentals Recap

Invest in setting up the core event-based email automation flows for your website to maximise ROI:

  1. Welcome Flow with pop-up
  2. Abandoned Cart Flow
  3. Post-Purchase Upsell
  4. Fulfilled Order Flow (first time)
  5. Browse Abandonment Flow
  6. Customer Winback Flow

Phase 2: Add More Firepower

Now that you have the cornerstone of email marketing set up, you should start to generate a significant increase in revenue. This is where things start to get fun.

At this stage of your business, you’ll want to start exploring additional avenues for not just revenue but also embrace some of the additional benefits email can provide to your other departments (primarily the paid media team and social media department).

In Phase 2, you’ll want to focus on implementing the following components:

  • Introduce email campaigns if list size justifies an ROI
  • Push segments back to Facebook for retargeting
  • Introduce data enrichment points to progressive profile customers
  • Add user-generated content flows to automate content creation for the social media team

Let’s expand on each component to amplify your email setup.

1: Introduce Email Campaigns

If you’ve been proactively building your email list and have a reasonable number of subscribers (anything over 500, depending on the size/stage of your business), it now makes sense to start introducing regular email campaigns to your database.

To begin with, keep it manageable: try to get into the habit of creating two (2) emails per month, and if it’s within your capabilities, increase this to once per week when you’re comfortable.

Unlike email automation, email campaigns can be arduous to keep on top of as each individual campaign requires a separate strategy and creative resource (it’s not “set and forget” as automation can be).

However, despite this, email campaigns are an incredibly powerful way to reach thousands - if not millions for big brands - of subscribers practically instantaneously.

This can skyrocket revenue and as the cost is limited to what you pay for your email service provider (ESP), it’s probably one of the most cost-efficient ways to communicate with your audience and highest ROI marketing activities you can invest in with your business.

If you’re wondering what type of content to start sending them, then check out our 6 creative ways to use email campaigns in this article.

2: Push Segments back to Facebook for Retargeting

It’s at this stage that you’ll want to add a layer of sophistication into your email setup and synergistically work with other departments cross-channel. As a starting point, pushing custom audiences back to Facebook is a huge area of opportunity.

Your goal as an email marketer should be to improve cross-channel collaboration to improve the overall profitability of the business.

Being creative based on zero & first-party data to send back to the Ads team is included in your role, unless you’re only working for your own self-interest and not the brand.

3: Introduce Data Enrichment Points

You’ll now be at a stage where you should start integrating qualitative research into your emails to help with ongoing optimisation efforts and also understanding your customers more deeply.

A few places you can start with this include:

  • Abandoned Cart: find out the reason somebody abandoned the sale (Price too high? Found an alternative? etc)
  • Post-Purchase: collate the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to predict future growth and customer advocacy level
  • Churn Risk: find out the reason customers have stopped buying from you

These insights can be collected by asking customers to fill out surveys within emails themself or where a single data point will suffice, you can simply ask them to click on a button within the email itself like so:

These link clicks and insights should be used to further segment your audience and create internal feedback loops for your front end dev and product marketing team.

4: Add UGC Flows to Automate Content Creation

Imagine having a repository of images flowing in from happy customers satisfied with your product.

Take it one step further: imagine an army of fans raving about your products and submitting thoughtful stories and experiences about your products that can be turned into blog posts across the website and create limitless assets for social media?

This is very achievable by setting up product-specific (or even generic) user-generated content flows like the following:

You should of course still have review request flows set up to complement these using software such as Okendo or which can integrate into Klaviyo or be sent natively through their platforms to collect more UGC on autopilot as well.

Phase 2: Firepower Recap

Let’s again revise our learnings from the second stage of our email marketing strategy.

  • Introduce email campaigns
  • Push segments back to Facebook for retargeting
  • Introduce data enrichment points to progressively profile customers
  • Add UGC flows to automate content creation

It’s time to move on to the final phase of our set-up for maximising success.

Phase 3: Optimisation & Experiential Flows

The final phase of a robust email marketing infrastructure is about aggressively optimising the work that has previously been set up with a scientific approach to further enhancing results.

Additionally, this is where you can bring in less direct revenue-focused flows and what we call “experiential” marketing flows at Magnet Monster that aims to generate Word of Mouth (WoM) advocacy. 

Because experiential email concepts can’t always be measured efficiently within the ESP, we tend to implement this as the last step for brands really looking to gain a cutting edge on their competition and who have the maturity to invest heavily in the customer experience as a key differentiating factor from others in their industry.

However, for those that put the required effort into this element, the results are immensely powerful. Because it’s difficult to achieve and requires a strategic, well-mapped out customer journey, not many companies have the capabilities or talent to execute experiential email flows, leaving a gaping void of competitors where you can really stand out.

Here’s what you should focus on in Phase 3:

  • Iterating on current email marketing set-up with aggressive testing to make incremental improvements
  • Leverage collected data to add experiential email flows that generate WoM marketing
  • Increase campaign frequency if deliverability is healthy and well received by customers
  • Develop Loyalty Program if applicable to business
  • Implement affiliate marketing/influencer recruitment system (highly advanced)

Let’s cover each in more detail.

1: Aggressively Test to Make Incremental Improvements

You should now be aggressively testing everything from headlines to creatives in order to make incremental improvements across your current email infrastructure, primarily focusing on the core automation flows that generate the majority of the revenue (abandoned cart & welcome flow being the main two).

Your goal should be to establish statistical significance on these A/B tests in order to move the needle across the established KPIs within the account.

Be sure to keep a log on the documented changes so you can refer back to learnings over time and be prudent to allow each test enough time to collect as much relevant data as possible to determine results.

2: Implement Experiential Email Flows

It’s now time to start adding in flows designed to enrich the customer experience in a way that can’t be directly attributed to revenue towards the email itself.

This includes some of the following flows:

  • Birthday Flow (where you deliver them gifts on their birthday for high LTV customers - yes, this can be done via email notifications collaborating with the CX team)
  • VIP Flow (rewarding customers for their loyalty/reaching a spending threshold or order frequency)
  • Brand Ambassador Flow

The goal with these flows is to increase WoM marketing by delighting customers with surprises based on the data you’ve collected on them so far throughout email.

You may want to send a customer some Starbucks vouchers on their birthday if you know they love coffee; maybe even send them a bottle of wine? You absolutely can collect this data providing you’re committed to using it.

Imagine somebody receiving a bottle of wine with a handwritten note from the CEO on their birthday - how powerful could this be for your brand?! Sometimes the best things can’t be measured.

To get started with Experiential Flows, watch this short video for some ideas:

3: Increase Campaign Frequency

If you’re generating traction from regular email campaigns at this point, now is the time to experiment with upping the frequency and seeing if there isn’t a substantial adverse drop-off in performance.

When upping the frequency of campaigns, you need to maintain a watchful eye over the ratio of subscribers to unsubscribes in your list.

This is critical as if you’re losing more subscribers than you’re acquiring, then over time your email performance will tail off and hit a point of diminishing returns.

You should also strategically employ Holdout Testing as well to analyse the effectiveness of your additional campaigns to make prudent economic decisions about whether it’s a worthy investment from a CLV perspective.

If you’re meeting the above criteria and the campaigns are clearly having a positive effect on revenue, then it’s safe to say the increased frequency is having a positive net effect.

However, always be prudent not to milk your list - I’ve seen on many occasions the damage a batch-and-blast approach to email can cause if not in the right email marketers hands.

4: Develop Loyalty Program

A Loyalty Program is the icing on the cake once all the fundamentals are in place.

There are a lot of software considerations here but I’ve always found Loyalty Lion’s integration with Klaviyo to be robust and their support is on point.

When you set up your Loyalty Program, you’ll want to integrate Email Flows such as:

  • Welcome to the Program
  • Referral Flow
  • Reward Available
  • Monthly Points Reminder
  • Birthday Reward
  • Tier achieved (if there are levels to the program explaining the benefits of each once a consumer 
  • Points Expiring

You can also use the loyalty program to encourage account registrations on site so that customers proactively start to log in and fill out their profiles, providing another source of quality data that can be used to personalise their experience.

A loyalty program can also be used in place of heavy discounting in campaigns while preserving margin as well. 

For example, you can set up double or even triple points rewards on certain days during email sends to incentivise people to spend a high Average Order Value (AOV) in return for future rewards (encouraging further repeat purchases).

Phase 3: Experiential Flows Recap

Once again, let’s recap our lessons we’ve learnt in this chapter.

  • Implement an aggressive testing matrix to drive incremental improvements across your existing email marketing infrastructure
  • Use data to personalise experiential flows (i.e. Birthday surprises)
  • Increase campaign frequency if deliverability is health and well received by customers
  • Develop Loyalty Program if applicable to business

Putting it all together: 14 Steps to Email Marketing Greatness

I’ve summarised each phase below into a 14-step process to create a truly awesome email marketing setup. 

Phase 1:

  1. Welcome Flow with pop-up
  2. Abandoned Cart Flow
  3. Post-Purchase Upsell
  4. Fulfilled Order Flow (first time)
  5. Browse Abandonment Flow
  6. Customer Winback Flow

Phase 2:

  1. Introduce email campaigns
  2. Push segments back to Facebook for retargeting
  3. Introduce data enrichment points to progressively profile customers
  4. Add UGC flows to automate content creation

Phase 3:

  1. Implement an aggressive testing matrix to drive incremental improvements across your existing email marketing infrastructure
  2. Use data to personalise experiential flows (i.e. Birthday surprises)
  3. Increase campaign frequency if deliverability is healthy
  4. Develop Loyalty Program if applicable to business

Of course, there are always additional flows and concepts which can fit in here and may be unique to your individual business, but these 14-steps are largely applicable to the overwhelming majority of brands and should still be followed to maximise results.

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