Practical Ecommerce

4 Tactics to Produce Sales from Email Recipients

Emails to customers and prospects from ecommerce merchants can serve many purposes. Sometimes the emails contain much content, such as shopping tips or blog posts. Other times, they convey transactional information, such as order confirmations or abandoned shopping cart notifications.

And there’s always a need to send emails to simply drive conversions. When that is the objective, the email strategy is different from other uses. In this post, I’ll review four tactics to entice email recipients to purchase products and services.

Segment to Likely Buyers

There are likely many types of people in your email database. This includes folks who visited your site one time many years ago, as well as dedicated and loyal customers. It’s always a good idea to segment your list and send different emails at different frequencies, depending on the group.

To identify your best customers and those who are likely ready to purchase again soon, consider these data points.

  • First purchase date
  • Last purchase date
  • Average order size
  • Last opened email date
  • Last clicked email date
  • Number of orders or purchase volume

By isolating the top 20 percent or so of your file that appear at the top of these groups, you’ll identity those recipients who are most ready to purchase again. In addition, look at order patterns or dates. Depending on the products, some customers order at the same time every year. They may purchase again only at that interval.

Determine the Sequence

Once you have segmented your list, determine the email sequence. This should be carefully considered to maximize conversions. Because people live busy lives, your best customers may miss or skip over a single email. Thus, send a sequence of emails with the same or similar offers.

In my experience, a good sequence is a single offer with a set expiration date, deployed three to five times at roughly two to three days apart. Throughout the series, remove recipients (from receiving further emails in the sequence) who have converted.

Use Directive Subject Lines, Pre-headers

For an email marketer, the purpose of a subject line is to get recipients to open. But when the goal is to drive conversions, the subject line needs to do a little more.

Using a suggestion or a directive in the subject line can influence the behavior of the recipient, encouraging a conversion before the recipient opens the email. Here are examples.

  • “Purchase Today Only to Receive 20% Off”
  • “Book Your Trip Today before Spaces Fill.”

In addition, use the pre-header to extend the information conveyed in the subject line.

As you progress through the email series, change the subject lines and pre-headers to emphasize the offer and deadline. Here are two examples from Carter’s, a retailer of children’s apparel, and OshKosh B’Gosh, another kids’ clothing retailer.

Encouraging recipients to take action when a deadline is looming will help to increase conversions. Carter's did this with its subject line of "LAST DAY!" OshKosh B'Gosh used a subject line of "FINAL DAY: Buy 1 tee, get 2 FREE!"

Encouraging recipients to take action when a deadline is looming will help to increase conversions. Carter’s did this with its subject line of “LAST DAY!” OshKosh B’Gosh used a subject line of “FINAL DAY: Buy 1 tee, get 2 FREE!”

Create a Clear Conversion Path

Driving sales from email requires a clear conversion path with no distractions. Here’s a checklist of items to address.

  • Make emails easy to click from a phone or tablet.
  • Confirm that the offer or offer code is consistent on the email and the website.
  • If possible, automatically load the offer code into the recipient’s shopping cart from the initial email click.
  • Keep offer codes easy to read, clear, and memorable.
  • Eliminate popups, competing offers, and other distractions.
  • Set up a remarketing campaign for recipients that abandon their shopping carts.

In the example below from Carters, the offer of “20% Off” with the code of “FIRSTDAY” follows from the email message.

This is what recipients to a Carter's email see when they click. The offer of "20% Off" with the code of "FIRSTDAY" — in green background — follows from the email message.

This is what recipients to a Carter’s email see when they click. The offer of “20% Off” with the code of “FIRSTDAY” — in green background — follows from the email message.

Carter’s then repeats the offer and code in the shopping cart, below, by referencing that recipients need to have at least $40 in their cart to have the code activate. This is helpful so that the shopper does not have to go back and find the code in the email.

Carter's repeats the offer and code in the shopping cart: "EXTRA 20% OFF WITH $40+ WITH CODE FIRSTDAY."

Carter’s repeats the offer and code in the shopping cart: “EXTRA 20% OFF WITH $40+ WITH CODE FIRSTDAY.”

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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  1. Dustin August 17, 2017 Reply

    I dont know how much actual experience you have with doing this but this has been my experience. Your article talks about how to market to customers who have bought from you (like transnational email chains) and unless a customer opts in they hate being marketed to. So we have 160,000 plus customers to market to that have bought from us and this is what I have learned.

    1. Make your transnational emails (for example Order Tracking) still a transnational emails but still work in some sales calls and calls to action to your funnel.

    2. In an email give them something free to you but valuable to your customers (i.e. informational video that they are actually interested in). If your video happens to have links to additional products they can buy….

    3. Dont do the sales email approach (like this article talks about). We have tried this and given great discounts and never (and I mean never) had a single sale (sent out thousands of emails multiple times) and very little response back. Customers inbox’s are bombarded with emails like this every day and they are sick of it.

    Let me share a little secret that I accidentally stumbled into. So we were making a new product and I was unsure what color scheme would be best. Who would know better than our customers I thought? So I made up 3 images of the product in 3 different colors and emailed it to 50 of our customers and asked them which they liked best. What surprised me was that I had 47 out of 50 customers emailed me back! 3 of them later emailed me back and asked me some sales questions and in 24 hours I had 1200 dollars in sales! I did not even try and sell and ended up selling.

    Hope this helps, happy selling!

  2. contactHP August 18, 2017 Reply

    Great post and really helpful for me …thanku for sharing this article .