Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to companies today. Emails are primarily sent at the start of a buyer's journey, but using lifecycle emails we can engage with customers on every single stage of their journey as a buyer. Therefore, lifecycle emails are defined as any emails sent to a customer relevant to what stage they are at in the customer lifecycle.
Lifecycle emails are usually sent in response to customer behaviour and are tailored to make sure the customer has the experience you want them to have.
Why do lifecycle emails matter?
- Provide timely feedback, information and/or assistance with purchasing.
- Engage customers and gather feedback to improve their browsing and purchasing experience.
- When done right, lifecycle emails focus on helping the customer, not direct marketing or an inconvenience to the customer.
- They make sure every customer has an optimal experience on your website.
- Emails have the highest conversion rates and average order value, especially compared to social media (and also compared to search engines).
- Emails offer scalable personalization. They build relationships with customers.
- Allow the use of segmentation and behavioural triggers to improve customer relationships. Example: If a person buys an apple at your store, you know they like fruit and can then suggest they buy an orange later.
- Allow you to send more information on previous purchases to create another engagement point. Example: A person buys a watch. Two days later you send them a digital "quick start" guide to the watch they purchased.
- Gives you an opportunity to get feedback and reviews on products you stock and therefore improve the information provided to future customers.
- It encourages customer loyalty and repeat sales, especially for niche stores.
Which emails should I start with?
Abandonment Recovery Emails
Recovery emails are super important to allow you to find snags in your customer journey. Use them to find out what went wrong while the customer was browsing your website and why they didn't complete the checkout process. The snag could be something you as the seller can quickly fix. Issues with the shipping fee? Offer free shipping. Issues with the actual checkout process? Send steps to follow or offer to place an order from the admin side.
The average recovery rate for these emails is 15%. If your sales total N$100 000 a year you can easily make N$15 000 extra by simply making use of abandonment recovery emails!
- Focus these emails on the customer journey first and then try to offer to help (free shipping, discount coupon, etc.)
- Send this email an hour after the actual abandonment event and then be sure to follow up again a few hours later.
By sending a proper welcome email thanking customers for signing up and/or joining your mailing list you immediately start building a relationship. Think of the feeling you get at a physical store when a salesperson properly greets you and makes you feel at home - This feeling should be the aim of any welcome email. A great welcome email will set the tone for any subsequent emails and will also improve their chances of being read.
As welcome emails have high transaction rates (getting customers to do what you want them to do) it is encouraged to establish in them what you want the customer to do next. Want them to sign up for a newsletter? Mention it in the welcome email!
- Don't be too pushy in these emails. Establishing trust is key.
- Try not to send subsequent emails (order confirmation, account information, etc.) too close to the welcome email.
- As this email sets the tone, make sure you know which tone you would like to convey to your customers before crafting your welcome email.
Order Confirmation Emails
Order confirmation emails are opened nine out of ten times as customers naturally want to see if everything is alright after they've spent money. Because of this high open rate these emails are great for up- or cross-selling, requesting feedback and also putting customer's minds at ease by providing them with delivery information.
At this stage of the customer lifecycle the customer has already bought something, so they are far more receptive to do something else and it feels natural to them. Ask them to complete their online profile, sign up for a newsletter, etc.
Feedback Request Emails
These emails serve a double purpose - They show your customer that you care about their opinion, and to gather data and improve your customer journey for future customers. The data received from customer feedback is super valuable and can be used on your website or other marketing emails to entice other customers to buy from you or to buy a specific product.
- Be sure to act on feedback received from customers. If the customer did not enjoy a certain aspect of the customer journey, change it and then let them know that their feedback inspired a change.
It is crucial for any store to re-engage with inactive customers to try and get them to buy again. There are many ways to use win-back emails to your advantage, but again relevance is key. If a customer previously bought a cell phone, a great re-engagement would be to offer them new accessories specific to the phone they bought. In other cases where a subscription might have been cancelled, you can ask a customer to provide feedback on why a cancellation was made and even offer a discount on future purchases.
When done right the re-engagement on these types of emails can be as high as 10%. Again this can mean making an extra N$10 000 a year if your yearly sales total N$100 000.
- Be sure to track these emails and prune customers from the win-back email list if emails remain unopened or are not responded to.
What else can I send to boost sales?
There are many more examples of how emails can be used to engage customers and boost sales. Here are two good ones:
- VIP Reward Emails - Thank repeat and/or high-volume customers and offer more products/services or request feedback. Encourage their loyalty with premium memberships, discount coupons, etc. It is also important to inform customers when they've almost reached the VIP level and in-turn encourage them to spend more.
- Replenishment Emails - Track previous purchases and offer replenishment of consumables based on an estimated date of depletion. Think coffee beans, toner, paper, bandwidth, etc.
Clearly lifecycle emails carry massive value and it is crucial that any type of online business taps into this opportunity to improve sales.
Lifecycle emails are about empathy - Sellers need to care about their customer journey. Customers feeling disconnected will not visit or buy from you again. Also, the more touch points you have the more likely your subsequent emails will be read and acted on.