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Lifecycle Email Marketing – Your eCommerce Store’s Secret Weapon

In this post you’ll learn about why most retailers are doing email wrong and leaving money on the table. You’ll also learn advanced strategies for both capturing new subscribers and following up with them after their first purchase. Email is the ROI gift that keeps on giving.

Let’s face an uncomfortable truth, most retailers are doing it wrong

Your opt-in is boring

That little nondescript box sitting in your footer long forgotten about. Sometimes, people decide to exchange their email address for a discount on their future purchase. Sometimes, they don’t.

It’s not all about you, yet

So many retailers use newsletter language that’s we focused, instead of you focused. Let’s face it, most people want to know what’s in it for them. While offering a discount right off the bat can work well, it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.

Account based marketing

Many retailers never make it this far. Maybe there’s an abandoned cart sequence setup that does recover some sales, and that’s great. I mean the stats show that over 69% of shoppers abandon their shopping cart (source: Statista), but 11.5% of shoppers decide to go back and finish their purchase due to receiving abandoned cart emails (source: Remarkety). But, the rabbit hole goes much deeper, as we’ll soon see.

Why you’re leaving revenue and profits on the table

Email marketing is a foundational building block of conversion rate optimization. And by that I mean making the most of your website visitors. Increasing your website’s effective so that more shoppers buy and your advertising costs go down. In addition to your email list being a digital asset you own, it can be really profitable.

Here’s an ROI example of email marketing vs. other digital marketing channels. According to a recent survey by Econsultancy, 68% of in house marketers ranked email marketing as a good or excellent return on investment.

Source: updated 2018 Econsultancy Email Marketing Industry Census

Not convinced yet? Checkout these 35 mind blowing email stats for 2018.

Here’s a taste:

Welcome emails generate 320% more revenue on a per email basis than other promo types.
Shoppers spend 138% more when buying from an email versus those who didn’t get offers.
Open rates for segmented emails are 14.32% higher than non-segmented campaigns.

Ok, now that I know it’s important how should I start?

A great way to start is by exploring your brand’s value proposition. Get your team together and do a whiteboarding, mind mapping or sticky note session.

Toss around questions like:

  • Why did our brand start in the first place?
  • What specific knowledge does our team possess that sets us apart?
  • Which products do we have exclusivity on?
  • What’s the one thing we do better than anyone else?

Then consider how you can transform your strong points into a digital asset that your shoppers will love getting and sharing. Your digital asset (aka. Lead magnet) could be a video, ebook, educational email sequence or anything you can easily deliver. Remember, even if your shopper doesn’t buy this visit, capturing their email gets them one step closer towards making a purchase next time.

Let’s talk about segments

Segments are just groups of shoppers that share similar characteristics. In analytics talk, that would be cohorts. Once you know something about a particular group of people, you can understand what makes them tick and how to make them feel special.

Product specific could be your first segment

Let’s take an outdoor retailer for example who sells backpacks and is very knowledge about their product line uses. An entire series could be created around this product type, for example here’s a few topic possibilities.

  • How to pack your backpack for even weight distribution
  • How to correctly fasten your pack straps
  • Accessory ideas for your pack exterior
  • Best sleeping pads that fit in your pack site

And the list goes on…
Not only can these topics be an email sequence, they could also be a lead magnet video, ebook or chart download.

So imagine picking out some of your best selling products and doing something similar. Do you feel your shoppers would find this valuable and be likely to come back again to buy more stuff?

VIP: Roll out the red carpet for this profitable segment

Let’s examine a VIP shopper. You’ve defined what that means for your store right? It could be someone who’s spent over $500 their last order, someone who’s purchased 6 times this month, or something else. Simply recognizing these VIP shoppers will encourage them to keep coming back and feel like they’ve been noticed.

How can you recognize them?

  • Send them a personal thank you and request their feedback on how you can improve.
  • Let them choose a low cost accessory that’s added free to their next order.
  • Send them a hand written note and gift card in the physical mail.

How do you get people to see your new content?

Now that’s a great question. Here’s a couple of advanced strategies to consider. Sure, you can do your basic pop up or footer newsletter signup box. You could even add a countdown timer to your pop up, but here’s two ways that will maximize your new subscriber count.

Landing page opt-in

Remember that digital asset you created? How about also making a landing page for it. This landing page could serve as a resource you can mention when doing your marketing. It’s also a place you can gather and add positive customer feedback on and make easily shareable. It’s a page you can add even more valuable resources to over time and a/b test to improve signups.

Blog post specific “content upgrade”

This strategy isn’t used as commonly in the retail space, but it’s effective. In the marketing world, this would be a downloadable asset that’s relevant to the specific blog topic being discussed, not a generic sitewide opt-in.

So let’s call our blog post topic: Measuring your email marketing effectiveness. A lead magnet could be “Learn 3 additional google analytics tricks to improve your email campaign tracking.”

Back to our backpack example, a specific retailer blog post could have a lead magnet about the 10 essentials your backpack needs to be complete.


Email can be one of your most lucrative marketing channels with the highest ROI and lowest cost of acquisition. It’s a great way to ‘capture’ browsers that haven’t yet purchased, but might soon. Owning and keeping your email list fresh will pay off for years to come. If a popular marketing channel goes away, you’ll still have your list. When you start segmenting your list, that’s when more personalized relationship building can take place, along with higher profits. If your email strategy is great from initial opt-in through post purchase sequences, you’re way ahead of your competitors.

About the author:
Jeff Bronson helps Outdoor Retailers increase profits over at Ecommerce Warriors through a 3-month conversion rate optimization program.