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How to Use Email Automation to Boost eCommerce Conversions

by Today's Eggspert

It’s not every day that marketers use the words “email” and “CRO” in the same sentence.

After all, most email marketing strategies for eCommerce are mainly focused on sending newsletters, promotional emails, transactional emails, and maybe even cart abandonment messages.

If you’re really savvy, you might even be sending post-purchase emails to leverage the traffic you already converted in the hopes that those shoppers will come back to buy more.

But here’s the thing:

When you focus your email marketing efforts solely on the end of your sales funnel, you’re actually neglecting the majority of your site traffic. That’s traffic that you can leverage to increase conversions for your online store.

And considering that email is consistently found to be one of the highest converting marketing channels, (not to mention the deliverer of a stellar ROI), it almost seems crazy to not be using email to reach more shoppers earlier on in the funnel, and therefore, convert even more sales.

Email is a great tool for engaging with and converting shoppers into buyers, so how can you use this powerful channel to truly leverage the most site traffic and increase conversions on your eCommerce site?

In this article, I’m going to reveal why email is an integral part of any successful CRO strategy and how you can use email automation to reach up to 15x more site visitors and boost conversions, significantly.

Using Site Data to Power Higher Converting Marketing Strategies

The thing about eCommerce is:

Most site traffic does not convert.

All of that traffic you worked so hard to drive to your online store with SEO, social media, PPC, whatever…

It’s not converting. And you probably already know this…after all, you are here on the CrazyEgg blog.

Enter Conversion Rate Optimization. CRO is key to truly getting the most out of your site traffic, and when you get it right, it can be like magic.

With so many tools and solutions available for optimizing your business for conversions, it’s important to turn to your data when devising the right CRO strategy.

Here’s an example of an eCommerce site’s analytics:

ecommerce analytics

As you can see, nearly 90% of this site’s traffic browsed the store but did not add any items to a cart. This scenario is very common for eCommerce merchants, big and small.

If the common behavior of online shoppers is to have a look around without completing a purchase, then clearly even on-site CRO tools are not enough to truly leverage site traffic and boost conversions.

This is where email comes in.

You can use email automation to engage with the shoppers who leave your site after browsing. When you look at the data, the strategy is pretty clear.

The secret to using email to convert more site traffic is in sending automated campaigns to those shoppers who dropped off earlier on in your funnel.

These email campaigns are what we call Browse Abandonment Emails.

They’re campaigns that you can use to bring back larger amounts of shoppers who expressed high levels of purchase intent. Here’s how browse abandonment emails work.

Browse Abandonment Email Campaigns Yield More Conversions

What is browse abandonment?

ecommerce traffic

Again, looking at the data, around 30% of site traffic hits a category page, and 20% views actual products.

And then they leave.

Similar to cart abandonment emails, browse abandonment campaigns are sent to the shoppers who dropped off your site before reaching the cart page or completing a purchase, helping you recoup site traffic you may have otherwise lost.

When sending browse abandonment emails to window shoppers, you can segment your shoppers into different groups based on where they dropped off in the funnel so that each shopper receives an email that’s relevant to him or her.

For example:

  • If a shopper left after visiting your homepage, you can send a Homepage Browse Campaign that thanks the shopper for stopping by and suggests some site-wide top sellers.
  • If a shopper viewed a category but never went on to check out individual products, you can send a Category Browse Campaign that invites the shopper back to the category he viewed, recommending specific products within that category.
  • If a shopper viewed specific products on your site yet never added any to their cart, you can send a Product Browse Campaign inviting her back to check out the product she viewed once more and suggest related products to spark interest, as well.

Because these campaigns are so highly personalized and relevant to each individual shopper, their performance is impressive. Take a look:

email marketing performance

In this case, browse campaigns converted 7x higher than all other channels and campaigns, including the site’s newsletter.

ecommerce email analytics

Here, they outperformed all other channels 6 to 1.

What makes these automated emails so effective?

  1. Browse abandonment emails reach the majority of your site traffic – a much larger pool of shoppers than cart abandonment, post-purchase, and transactional emails.
  2. Because they are so highly personalized, they can be more effective at converting than generic messages like newsletters and promotional emails.

After all, 81% of shoppers report that they are highly likely to purchase from a site after receiving personalized emails, so it’s no surprise that these behaviorally-triggered automated campaigns convert so well.

Here are 3 automated emails you can use to target browse abandonment and convert more of your window shoppers into paying customers.

Automated Email Campaign #1: Homepage Browse Abandonment

ecommerce email example

Homepage browse emails are a great way to engage with shoppers who landed on your homepage but never went on to explore your site further. Invite them back with product recommendations that showcase your site-wide top sellers.

  • Average open rate: 22%
  • Average CTR: 16%
  • Average revenue per email sent: $0.61
  • *Metrics based on Smartmail.io findings

Automated Email Campaign #2: Category Browse Abandonment

ecommerce email template

You can send category browse emails to the shoppers who expressed interest in a category, brand or department on your site but did not proceed to view any individual products.

Peak the interest of these shoppers by displaying product recommendations that are related to the category they viewed and additional options that include site-wide top sellers.

  • Average open rate: 42%
  • Average CTR: 27%
  • Average revenue per mail sent: $1.71
  • *Metrics based on Smartmail.io findings

Automated Email Campaign #3: Product Browse Abandonment

ecommerce email 2

Product browse emails are very similar to cart abandonment emails in that you can use them to engage with abandoning shoppers who expressed a high level of purchase intent. The kicker here is that there are a lot more of your shoppers looking at products than those who click “add to cart” so your conversion potential here is much greater.

Invite these “warm leads” back to your site by displaying the product they viewed plus related product recommendations.

  • Average open rate: 52%
  • Average CTR: 26%
  • Average revenue per mail sent: $3.42
  • *Metrics based on Smartmail.io findings

Most Merchants Don’t Use Email as Part of Conversion Rate Optimization (Even Though They Should)

You may be wondering if these automated email campaigns are so great at increasing conversions then how come we don’t hear more about them?

Why is no one talking about using a data-driven approach to boosting conversion rates through email automation?

The thing is that large retailers like Amazon have been using email automation strategies like these to personalize their email content, expand their reach to engage with more shoppers, and in turn, increase conversion rates.

When you’ve got large dev and marketing teams, and even bigger budgets at your disposal, personalization and data-driven email automation is a piece of cake.

But now, in 2017, the marketing scope is changing for smaller and mid-sized businesses with more and more sophisticated email automation tools available for eCommerce sites of all types and sizes.

Email Marketing Automation Solutions for Various eCommerce Platforms

Enterprise solutions like Listrak offer various automated email campaigns that span the shopping funnel. SmartMail is an affordable and similar solution (Disclosure: The author of the post is the CEO of SmartMail).

Whether you’re using Shopify, Magento, Magento Enterprise, Volusion, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Oracle, Demandware, Yahoo, OsCommerce, or a custom-built cart, you can usually implement both SmartMail and Listrak with Google Tag Manager and the help of their teams.

And just to be thorough, here are some email automation solutions for various eCommerce platforms:

While your eCommerce cart provider may have email automation tools built-in to their offering, make sure they allow you segment your traffic into the different types of browse abandoners so that you can send these personalized emails to your shoppers.

Also, it’s important to remember that part of what makes these personalized emails so effective is the highly personalized product recommendations. Don’t settle for generic, site-wide recommendations only. Use a tool that will allow you use the various algorithms necessary to generate product recommendations that are personalized to each and every shopper on your site.

Use this checklist to start sending these 3 campaigns to the shoppers on your site:

  • Create various user segments that identify the 3 behavioral events: homepage abandonment, category page abandonment, product page abandonment
  • Set suppression logic rules that filter out shoppers who purchased or performed various activities on your site so that browse abandoners will only receive one, single relevant email
  • Dynamically populate each campaign with personalized recommendations (see recommendations above for each campaign)
  • Dynamically populate campaigns with product information (when relevant)
  • You can setup a sequence of emails with spread-out messages to keep your site in the front of your shoppers’ minds
  • Be sure to optimize your email templates for all devices, stacking product recommendations one on top of the other for mobile

Boost Your Conversion Rate With Email Automation in 2017

With more automated personalization tools for email available to eCommerce businesses, you can now send highly-targeted, behaviorally triggered browse abandonment email campaigns to your shoppers, no matter how big or small your business might be.

This year, optimize your business for higher conversions by using the most effective marketing channel to leverage more of your site traffic, and reap the rewards all year long.

About the Author: Daniel Kohn is the CEO and co-founder of SmartMail.io, a company that helps eCommerce stores and online retailers increase sales, average order value, and lifetime customer value through email. Download SmartMail’s 4 highest converting email templates to help jumpstart your eCommerce email marketing program.

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  1. Duncan Pattinson says:
    March 12, 2017 at 7:16 am

    These ideas to increase conversion from potential customers is superb. Customers to Clients managing each stage of the customer journey.

    • Daniel Kohn says:
      March 14, 2017 at 4:23 am

      Thanks, Duncan! That’s what it’s all about, right? 🙂

  2. Ray Lucchesi says:
    March 4, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    At the top of the funnel, how do you obtain the shoppers email address to later send browse abandonment emails?

    • Daniel Kohn says:
      March 14, 2017 at 4:22 am

      Hi Ray, We’ve seen on-site popups and overlays capture over 150% more email addresses for merchants, so that’s definitely a great place to start in addition to the shoppers who will be registered/logged in at the time of their browsing.

    • Andy says:
      March 14, 2017 at 9:22 am

      I guess there are only a few options. Either they’re returning customers that automatically login or you need to implement barriers (email login to browse) or you try to collect their email address with an opt-in offer (maybe with a popup triggered by exit intent)

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