SVP, Partnerships + GTM - One of the original founding members of the S&O team, Tony oversees strategic partner development and go-to-market planning for our Channel, Technology, and Agency partnerships.
There are very few aspects of your eCommerce business that can run on autopilot.
But there is one area in particular where automating may actually increase conversions and sales, while also boosting your brand engagement and customer loyalty.
Seriously, it’s true.
And I’m going to share the secret sauce with you today.
As it turns out, there are 8 automated emails that can help every eCommerce retailer:
- Capture customers who aren’t necessarily ready to buy yet
- Educate leads and turn them into customers
- Make a good first impression with new customers
- Capture feedback
- Drive sales
- Wake up dormant subscribers
We’ll go over all of this and more in today’s guide.
By the time you’re done, you’ll know how to set up automated emails that work while you sleep. And they’ll work so hard for you that you’ll quickly up your web stats in no time.
So the first area we’re going to tackle is capturing customers who are just about to make a purchase.
Use These Emails to Convert Customers on the Fence
Sometimes your potential buyer isn’t ready to buy yet. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
Use these two types of emails and you’ll keep interested customers in the loop. Eventually they’ll make a purchase and love your products so much you’ll acquire a lifelong consumer.
#1 Abandoned Cart Email
Abandoned cart emails are one of the simplest yet most effective ways to keep potentially interested customers engaged. And there’s research to back this up:
- 44% of abandoned cart emails are opened
- The CTR on these emails averages 11.6%
- The click to purchase is even better at a whopping 29.9%
In case you’ve never heard of the term, abandoned cart emails are automatically triggered anytime someone adds an item to their cart but never completes the sale.
They only take a few minutes to set up, but once you do, you’ll reduce cart abandonment rates by capturing customers who were on the fence and motivating them to convert.
Let’s take a look at this example:
This email above was sent out after I decided to check out how much the Pro version of Lumosity was. I added it to my cart, debated on the price, and decided now was not a good time to make the purchase.
But instead of calling it a lost cause, the marketing team at Lumosity knew better and immediately sent out this 35% off deal.
For eCommerce stores just starting out, an abandoned cart email is crucial. But if you’re looking to take things a step further, or if you’re looking to improve your abandoned cart email rates, consider adding this next email to your lineup as well.
#2 Abandoned Cart Reminder Email
Shooting off an abandoned cart email may get your recipient’s attention, but is it enough to capture the sale? In some cases, it may not be.
To combat this, consider creating a sense of urgency with your abandoned cart emails by giving each one a deadline (i.e., This offer expires in 24 hours).
You can really drive the point home by adding this time crunch to your original email, as well as sending a reminder email to give your potential buyer a friendly nudge that this offer won’t last forever. So if they’re interested, they’ll want to snag the discount before it’s gone.
Check out how the pros at Sumo do this:
Keep in mind, these two emails still may not be enough to convert your potential buyer from browser to customer. Luckily, this next set of emails can help solve that.
#3: Drip Sequence/Lead Nurture Series
Sometimes all it takes to convert potential buyers is a little more education. Maybe they need to understand the problem/solution better or maybe they’re just not sure how your product can help them.
Either way, by leading with education instead of promoting another sale or discount, you can ensure those issues and more are addressed without coming across as desperate.
The best way to do this is to create a 3–7 email series that’s automatically sent out to potential customers who have not yet made a purchase. The idea here is to use these emails to guide them into learning more about what you have to offer.
And they’ll do this on their own time.
That’s one of the great features about email sequences like these: Since they run on autopilot, they’ll capture your potential customer at their best time.
This also means your emails are hard at work even when you’re not.
Now, the exact length will depend on your brand and the product or service you’re offering. For high dollar items, a lengthier email sequence may be in order since your user will be contemplating a bigger decision.
Smaller items, on the other hand, may find success with a 2-3 email drip instead.
To make this work for your brand, think about the type of information your customer needs before they make a purchase.
In many cases, potential customers just need to know what your brand stands for and how it aligns with their goals. They also want to know how well your product or service helps solve their problem.
So your first email can explain more about your mission or your “why” behind your brand. Your second and/or third email should focus on helping your customer solve their problem.
As you teach your new subscribers more, you’ll be able to highlight how your brand, product, or service does that specifically.
There’s a delicate balance between educating your customers and showing them how you can help. These emails shouldn’t be too salesy though they should highlight your product/brand/service.
It’s also essential that you consider creating 2 drip sequences. To save time, you may be able to overlap the content and only need to make a few tweaks.
Wondering why you need 2 separate drips?
For one, you’re targeting two types of potential customers:
- Those who have already added an item to their cart
- Those who are just dipping their toes in the water that is learning more about your brand
Customers in the first category are a little further into your sales funnel than the second group. This means their content should be tailored as such.
Another reason for a second drip is your offer trigger.
You’ll want to use different triggers for different actions.
One sequence can trigger when a potential customer adds something to their cart and leaves it, while the second sequence can trigger when someone signs up for your email list.
Recipients in the first group may receive an abandoned cart reminder while those in the second may receive a special offer or incentive for staying in the loop.
You’ll want to start your relationship off on the right foot with these new subscribers. This next email will help you do that ASAP.
Welcome Your New Customers with an Irresistible Offer
Just because your potential new customer doesn’t begin their journey by adding something to their cart, doesn’t mean they don’t want a warm welcome and some attention.
Your Welcome email will take care of this so you don’t break a sweat.
#4 Welcome Email
Consider your eCommerce store as you would a brick-and-mortar location. When a potential customer comes in, you’d welcome them with a friendly greeting, right?
Your Welcome email is that initial greeting your customers need.
This important email sets the tone for your new budding relationship and helps drive home why your brand should be trusted.
Check out how that’s done in this next example email:
The first line says, We’re glad you’re with us in a warm, casual tone. It feels as if someone is speaking directly to you.
What could be more welcoming than that?
A sweet discount, that’s what!
So in addition to your welcome, Lumosity makes things enticing by giving a small gift (a discount) to newbie subscribers.
Now new customers have a taste of the brand and they feel special thanks to the exclusive discount. All of this just for signing up.
Lumosity isn’t the only brand that’s figured out this strategy works. You can see how this next brand uses it too:
Again, a casual and warm welcome greets you: Oh hey there! and Let’s be friends!
There’s also a small discount to encourage newbies to make their first purchase.
When you create an automated Welcome email like these examples, you’ll start converting browsers into customers on their own time.
Now that you understand how to capture potential customers, you’re ready to focus your attention on fostering a better relationship with your existing ones. By doing this, you’ll naturally increase sales and create loyal customers.
Capture Additional Business Anytime Someone Makes a Purchase
Automated emails are also ideal for:
- Sending receipts (and encouraging another purchase)
- Upsells and cross sells
- Providing feedback after a sale
That’s exactly what we’re going to check out with these next three examples.
#5 Send an E-Receipt and a Special Offer
Most of us don’t have the time to keep paper receipts organized in our digital world. After a few shopping trips, they become more of a mess and hassle than anything else.
But that doesn’t mean customers don’t want or need their receipts. In fact, it’s just the opposite. They want a better way to receive and organize them.
Enter: digital receipts.
On the surface, you’re giving your customer an easier way to manage what could otherwise be a pain.
For those who need to keep their receipts, all they have to do is click a button to send the receipt to an organized folder.
Savvy marketers maximize this step by adding a discount code to the receipt email.
Check out how that’s done in this GoDaddy example below:
In a bright yellow box (read: attention grabbing), you’ll see a 25% discount for any new products purchased.
This simple trigger nudges customers right to their next purchase and makes them feel as if this offer is exclusive, mostly because it is.
If you’re still unsure about adding this small upgrade, consider these powerful stats:
- Emails with receipts saw open rates 4x the average of normal emails
- Engagement with these emails is almost 9% (8.93%), or 3x what you’d normally find
- Receipt emails averaged a $0.25 increase in revenue for every one sent
Before you shrug off that last point, consider that it only takes less than a few minutes to set up your automation and add these discounts to your receipt emails, yet it can earn you an average of $25 for every 100 receipts sent.
If you’re not already sending digital receipts to your customers, that’s your first step to accomplish today.
But as an eCommerce owner, you’re probably already doing that so adding that small discount code may be the only thing you have to upgrade. Get on it as soon as you’re done reading this!
The next automated email on our list can also help you yield similar results.
Ask For Feedback & Sweeten the Deal
Getting people to fill out surveys is not always the easiest task. Fortunately, this can be remedied with a quick automated feedback email.
#6 Feedback Email
Feedback emails are super easy to create and automate, but getting customers to act on them is a lot trickier.
Take note of how the brand in our next example does it:
In the first paragraph, the company thanks their customer for their purchase before immediately asking for feedback.
To encourage people to take action, they sweetened the deal with a nice giveaway.
Right away you know that anyone who completes the survey will be automatically entered into a monthly drawing to win a free month’s supply of pet food.
This is a true win/win: The monthly drawing gives customers a sense of urgency to fill out the feedback; the team at Chewy then receives that much-needed feedback they’ve been looking for.
Adding a coupon to your feedback email will be a pleasant incentive to get your subscribers to act now.
Coupons are an instant gift a subscriber can either redeem now or save for later. Either way, it’s a great place to drive sales while gaining the helpful feedback your team needs.
The next email on my list will also help you increase sales.
Suggest Complementary Products
Upselling and cross selling are additional tactics your eCommerce store can’t afford to go without. The good news is you can use automated emails to cross these tasks off your neverending to-do list.
#7 Related Products
No one does this better than the online retail giant Amazon, so it only makes sense to check out how they’re doing things.
When you make a purchase on Amazon, you’ll receive a receipt email with a row of related items other customers purchased after purchasing the item you just bought:
This works well since it reduces the perceived risk in the customer’s eyes of trying something new. If others with my tastes are buying these, they must be good, right?
But this also works for another reason: It makes it seem as if customers are making the recommendations, not Amazon. This comes across like a friend who shares similar interests recommending their favorite products on social media.
You don’t need complex algorithms to nail this strategy.
Consider adding your most popular items or other complementary ones as suggestions. As your sales improve, you can play around with tailoring the items and fine tuning them further to boost your margins.
The last automated email on our list is one you should be routinely sending (even though most brands don’t bother). Don’t let this be a costly mistake your eCommerce store makes.
What to Do When Your Active Customers Turn Inactive
When most people think about cleaning up their email list, they assume it’s counterproductive.
After all, isn’t the point growing your subscriber list? Why would you spend time cutting it down?
The reason is simple: You only want engaged subscribers on your list.
Engaged subscribers are the ones who open your emails, read them, and then take action.
The problem is most email lists are filled with subscribers who become inactive, for whatever reason. These subscribers are the ones hurting your email stats and conversions.
Get into the habit of routinely cleaning up your email list. Our final automated email should help you clean house faster.
# 8 Awaken Dormant Subscribers
Send out a Dead Email List email to any subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in quite some time.
This email lets these subscribers know that you’ll be removing them from your email list if you don’t hear back from them soon.
Notice in the example below from Sumo that the tone is casual and fun. It gives the subscriber the chance to bail without any hard feelings:
Anyone who doesn’t want to remain on the list will be automatically removed from that point forward if they don’t take any action.
For subscribers who are still interested, it just takes one click of a button (or link, in this example’s case) to remain on the list, and more importantly, to be re-engaged.
By cleaning up your list, you’ll have a better idea of what’s working with your audience.
So send these emails out at least once a year. You can even set parameters to send them anytime someone reaches a 6-month mark of not opening your emails to stay on top of your subscribers.
Start Adding these 8 Automated Emails to Your To-Do List Today
Now that you know the secrets to using automated emails in your eCommerce business, it’s time to get to work.
Start with the easiest ones first (abandoned cart, feedback emails, dead list) and then tackle the rest (drip sequence, dormant subscribers, etc.) as your experience grows. Follow through with all eight and you’ll see an increase in your stats within a few weeks.
Even if you only use half of the emails on this list, you’ll still be in better shape than most.