Email Marketing

What to Include in Automated Emails, for Ecommerce

Business owners typically despise chain emails. We delete most “template” emails — such as pitching services — within seconds. When it comes to ecommerce, though, stock messages can help increase sales. Yes, properly formatted automated messages can do wonders for ecommerce businesses of all sizes.

When I talk about automation, I’m not referring to letting robots write content for you. I’m also not referring to email marketing, which is designed to bring visitors to the site. I’m talking about emails visitors may expect to receive while in the process of shopping, or soon after. These include the following.

  • Confirmation emails about account creations, especially if they need to be confirmed.
  • Notifications of coupons for performing a certain task, like signing up to receive emails.
  • Confirmations about specialty registries, such as bridal and wish lists.
  • Notifications from wait lists.
  • Confirmations about your receipt of online messages.
  • Saved cart messages.
  • Abandoned cart messages.
  • And many more, depending on your industry.

Of the list above, most ecommerce businesses focus on the abandoned cart email. Typically these will include a special coupon to entice the shopper to come back and complete the purchase. But other mailings should also inspire recent shoppers to either come back, or at least think about your company in the future.

Bonobos sends a simple cart abandonment email

Bonobos sends a simple cart abandonment email. Source: Really Good Emails.

When devising these messages, be sure to personalize the message and stay on topic. For example, an email notification about account creation should include the non-sensitive details of the customer’s account and links to appropriate sections. These messages should also be concise. A saved cart email should include each product’s name, primary image, price and quantity, but everything else (like description and other media) should be replaced by a details link.

Example of simple account creation email.

Example of simple account creation email.

The core components of automated, non-transactional emails are as follows.

  • Clear subject line. The recipient should immediately recognize what the email is about, and why he is receiving it.
Want to increase the open rate? In most industries, a personalized subject line increased open rates anywhere from 13 to 40 percent, according to Experian, a marketing and data firm.

Want to increase the open rate? In most industries, a personalized subject line increased open rates anywhere from 13 to 40 percent, according to Experian, a marketing and data firm.

  • Concise, personalized message. Each message type is sent for a specific reason. Stay on topic and use links when needing to provide lengthy details.
  • Marketing that suits the email. If you want to cross-sell or entice with a coupon, make sure the coupon is relevant to the message. For example, a bridal registry confirmation may include a coupon that’s applied only to items on the registry.
  • Timeliness. Some tasks, like account or wish list creation, should trigger the immediate sending of an email confirmation. Other types of messages, like those addressing cart abandonment, should be sent a few hours after occurrence. If automation is not an option, consider setting time aside regularly to send out certain types of emails, such as saved or abandoned carts.
  • Selling only when necessary. Not every email type should include product recommendations or coupons. In fact, flooding shoppers with coupons is a sure way to leave them waiting to purchase again until there is a discount available. Instead, focus on what matters most to the shopper in each message.

And then there’s the most difficult part of the email: the dialogue. The key is to write in simple terms, explaining things in as few words as necessary. Ask questions, such as “How can we help you find the right shoes to match that dress?” or “Is there something we missed?,” accompanied by a link to live chat or online form.

Or, simply, invite them to reply to the email. It’s the easiest way to get a response that’s often overlooked by companies that send messages from no-reply mailboxes. That, by the way, defeats the purpose of increasing sales via automated (yet personal) emails, right?


Pamela Hazelton
Pamela Hazelton
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