Email lessons from ecommerce: Repeat purchases

57% of email subscribers spend between 10 and 60 minutes a week looking through marketing emails. 69% of purchases by US adults are influenced by email marketing. Consumers use coupons or discounts that are emailed to them. Email is 40 times more effective than social media in acquiring customers.

The message is clear: when it comes to ecommerce sales and repeat purchases, email marketing is hugely influential.

We’ve been working with ecommerce clients for the last 12 months, and the needs, wants and preferences of B2C email marketers are very different to those in the B2B world.

Here are the four key things we’ve learned.

1. Make it regular.

In B2C ecommerce, the more frequent the emails, the better.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what “regular” means, however: for different types of business, it could be monthly, fortnightly, weekly or even daily.

In the US in 2015, a survey by MarketingSherpa showed that 91% of people do want to receive promo emails, with “at least monthly” and “at least weekly” being the most popular choices.

In our experience with ecommerce brands, subscribers want to receive product emails - galleries of products that will give them inspiration for their next purchase, alongside competitions, offers and insights. While monthly emails are optimal for some of our B2B customers, we have tested both fortnightly and weekly options for our B2C brands - with weekly coming out on top for effectiveness.

Every industry, company and subscriber is different, though. While you may still be testing to understand your optimal frequency level, it’s worth telling subscribers roughly how many emails to expect and how often, so they can make an informed choice to sign up.

2. Combine three types of content.

While frequency is important, so is the message: there’s no point sending out weekly emails if you’re repeating yourself.

Our experience has led us to create three different types of mailer for our ecommerce clients, and the combination of all three has been hugely effective.

Transactional mailers, such as product showcases and sales mailers, highlight our clients’ key offerings to their customers - a popular choice for B2B and B2C campaigns alike.

A regular monthly or weekly newsletter gives you the chance to share updates with your customers and prospects, making them feel like part of a community which receives all the  important updates, offers and news.

The third mailer type is automation - automatic emails triggered by an event such as cart abandonment, or by a specific date, such as birthday emails. We find that sending an email two weeks before the customer’s birthday with a discount code or freebie keeps it separate from the numerous “on-the-day” emails that they’re likely to receive, and makes them feel special.

The value in sending these three mailer types is in driving repeat purchases - but in order to do so, your recipients need to want these emails. Email opt in is vital (especially with GDPR on the horizon), and personalised mailers based on previous behaviours and purchases can improve the response. Which brings us on to relevance...

3. Keep it relevant.

What makes ecommerce email subscribers open, click, and buy? Relevance.

Relevance is sending the right email at the right time - not just sending a blanket email to your entire subscriber list because it’s Wednesday, or because you have news. It’ll improve the customer experience - which is key to repeat purchase.

Understand your audience: their preferences, their purchase history, their place in the sale cycle, the previous interactions they’ve had with you, the time of year, whether there are special calendar dates (either generally, or special to them) coming up that will help you to tailor your message, your timing and your approach.

For an ecommerce email to be truly relevant, you’ll need to segment your database and choose your strategy accordingly: daily emails sent to a database member who requested monthly communication will not be relevant, and nor will sending promotions for formalwear to a customer whose last purchases have been workwear items.

4. Focus on reporting.

There’s no denying that click throughs and open rates are important, but with ecommerce email campaigns, it’s far more useful to have a view of the purchase cycle in its entirety. This means not treating your CRM and your email database as two separate entities - instead, combine the two for the maximum possible insight. Consider asking a few extra questions at sign-up - age, location, gender, interests - to make segmentation even easier, and to use your CRM to capture a wealth of data.

Analytics can help you to understand who’s buying off the back of email communication, what they’re buying - and therefore how you can target them.  Past searches, abandoned carts and purchase behaviour all add insight for further campaigns and sales promotions. Following the sale from start through to finish will ensure that your email campaigns are properly focused - and therefore that repeat purchases will be more likely.

Retail email marketing is very different from B2B campaigns. Email is a huge driver of success: keep it regular, relevant and reported - with the right content. It may seem like far more effort than the odd tweet or Facebook post, but it’ll be worth it for the results.

Looking for a fully managed email marketing service? Find out more about what Winbox can do.