The inbox is a busy place. Our phones? All the more.
Fearing unsubscribes — or, worse, being marked as spam — ecommerce marketers default to a “reasonable” solution …
Send fewer emails. Send fewer texts. That couldn’t be more wrong.
The key to success is sending more and better messages.
Simple changes in your email marketing and SMS strategy mean more money in your pocket from subscribers you’ve already paid to acquire.
Let’s explore 25 email campaign examples all about why and how to send more …
- Why Establish a Regular Cadence for Email & SMS Campaigns?
- What Can You Send When You’re Short on Content Ideas?
- How Should You Flesh Out Your Campaign Calendar?
- When Should You Use Email Marketing vs SMS?
- Who’s Doing This Well in Ecommerce?
Why Establish a Regular Sending Cadence for Email & SMS Campaigns?
Infrequent messaging contributes to the risk of hitting spam traps, depending on the email service provider. It also limits subscribers’ opportunities to engage with your brand’s content.
In turn, this severely limits your ability to learn.
Despite being framed as “respecting” the subscriber, a less-is-more mindset ignores that a subscriber specifically completed an opt-in and consented to hear from you.
The best thing you can do is to deliver consistent, meaningful experiences.
Every brand faces a different reality, but to drive sales as well as support healthy list maintenance, you should send emails at least once weekly. SMS leaves more room for flexibility; a few sends per month should be the minimum.
SMS & Email List Deliverability
Ironically, fewer sends increase your odds of getting relegated to spam. Sudden sending after long gaps makes your domain activity look unusual. It’s a classic way to end up in a junk folder instead of the inbox.
This can be especially damaging during high-volume seasons. Having a steady baseline (and closely monitoring your deliverability year-round) heads off issues during important times.
Subscriber & Customer Engagement
Engagement and click-through rate increase when people expect to hear from you. Wait too long, and they’ll forget they even signed up.
The result? More unsubscribes or spam reports.
Consistency does more than build brand recognition, though. Extended gaps between your marketing campaigns leave opportunities for your competition to slide in.
Digital Marketing Metrics & Learnings
The more you send, the more data you collect. Test aggressively during lower pressure times in your calendar. Then apply those lessons to your seasonal ecommerce email marketing strategy.
None of this means you can’t send at too high a frequency. It does mean that the threshold sits much higher than many think.
What Can You Send When You’re Short on Content?
Often DTC marketers fall into the trap of only using bare-bones email templates of product photos and CTAs. First-purchase customers or new subscribers might need more details than existing customers. You have a better chance of converting them with an email that gives all the information needed for a purchase decision.
Choose the best designs through A/B testing. Many email marketing software support experimenting with elements like email subject lines.
UGC or Reviews
Look for photos your customers upload to social media. You’ll find authentic looking user-generated content (UGC) on platforms like Instagram.
Beyond social media, you can also check onsite reviews. Feature those photos or comments alongside the products included in your email and SMS campaigns.
This builds credibility for your ecommerce business. It also helps subscribers picture how those could fit into their own lifestyle and routine. The more variety here, the better!
Presenting alternate uses, especially for consumables, can inspire the customer to use products more frequently. This is an easy shortcut to decreasing the time it takes them to make a second purchase and increasing their LTV.
Pick a specific color to theme your email around, and showcase different products in a coordinating palette. A color-based campaign even works well for brands that only sell one product, but in different prints or patterns.
Picking one color to showcase helps ease potential shoppers and new subscribers through the decision-making process.
This can translate well to SMS as well. One example would be using a rotating GIF of products in a certain color palette
Surprise & Delight
This type of email campaign proves essential for converting new subscribers into loyal customers, plus improving your average open and conversion rates.
Most ecommerce brands focus on sending sales pitches. Or they only worry about “surprise and delight” with loyalty program members.
Variety cuts through the noise.
“Surprise and delight” can be as simple as an unexpected discount code or coupon, memes, poetry, a video. And it’s even better if you find a subtle way to recommend products as well.
In the Media
If your product is featured in a gift guide, spotted on a celebrity, or shown off by an influencer, you should definitely send emails about it.
Media mentions lend credibility to your products and create the impression of desirability. They can also show creative use cases, especially when it comes to gifting.
Behind the Scenes
Consumers in today’s landscape increasingly demand transparency from retailers around supply chain and production ethics. It’s incredibly effective to be open about your product development process, manufacturing, materials, ingredients, etc.
If you don’t have assets of your own, use stock photos showing key ingredients or materials used in your products. Include explainers on how and why they’re used to give potential customers peace of mind.
It’s much easier to feel connected to a brand when you understand how it operates.
Causes You Support
If your brand engages in any philanthropic activities or donations, email provides both an opportunity to highlight your contributions and to increase lifetime value among customers aligned with your mission.
Showing how a customer’s purchase impacts a worthy cause tells a compelling story. This improves the connection between them and your brand and makes them even more likely to come back and buy again.
Feature Employees’ Product Recommendations
Your employees are the true experts on your products — let subscribers benefit from their product recommendations.
A list of your team’s favorites, photos of products in use, or a deep dive by one member of your team about their referral picks can be informative. These types of email also encourage subscribers to feel more personally connected to your brand.
Still drawing a blank?
There’s no better place to start than with what you already have on hand If you’re coming up blank for new content. You can link to a blog post or YouTube video, or better yet, you can reimagine that content in a more digestible and actionable form suitable for email.
Take a blog post that’s seen great engagement and repurpose it into a short list of tips. Or identify the key points and tie them back to shoppable products.
Similarly, video content you’ve already produced can be converted into GIF format, and you can use the original video outline to help lay out the key points of your newly created email campaign.
Don’t forget about email automation
Your ecommerce email and SMS campaigns aren’t received in a vacuum. They arrive with all your other workflows and automations. Looking at the whole picture ensures a cohesive narrative that adds up to a great customer experience.
While the exact automations needed vary between businesses …
Here are five key types of automations every ecommerce brand should have in place.
1. Welcome Email & Sequence
The Welcome Series constitutes the most important communications your brand sends. This campaign sets the tone for your relationship with the subscriber, gets them up to speed about who you are, and represents an important factor in long-term retention.
You should use the Welcome series to deliver introductory incentives, introduce key products, and establish your voice.
2. Personalized Cart Abandonment Emails
The name of the game with an abandoned cart email is reducing friction to purchase. Whether it’s a website browse or shopping cart abandonment email, the customer hasn’t quite made it to placing an order.
These messages should focus on showcasing abandoned products. But they are also an opportunity to:
- Highlight other top product pages or categories
- Make new product recommendations
- Address concerns around service or ease of returns
- Alleviate price concerns with an incentive, like free shipping
3. Post-Purchase Triggered Emails
A post-purchase series generates excitement about a recent order. This goes beyond basic order confirmation emails or notifications. You can use these emails to get ahead of potential issues (especially when they stem from user error) and educate customers about products before they arrive.
This kind of marketing campaign also supplies a strategic space for recommending additional products and soliciting reviews. Be sure to calculate the timing to ensure these emails don’t arrive before the shipment.
4. Transactional Emails
Transactional emails are a necessary part of the customer journey. But too many brands miss out on a key opportunity by making these boring. Follow the 80:20 rule, whereby 20% or less of a transactional email emphasizes promotional content.
This type of email is one of the most-opened automations in any program. Ditch the generic email templates, and take advantage of this opportunity to build your brand and create repeat customers.
5. Upselling & Cross-Selling Promotional Emails
Many successful brands find it helpful to create dedicated automation campaigns for upselling and cross-selling. Doing so enables brands to trigger personalized email campaigns based on purchase behaviors.
Repeat customers frequently come back and repurchase items from the same categories that they have shopped before. That translates into a great opportunity to showcase other items in a previously-shopped category.
How Should You Flesh Out Your Campaign Calendar?
Planning your ecommerce email and SMS campaign calendar becomes easier after you have some basic framework in place.
Start by plotting the most inflexible dates.
Holidays and major ecommerce moments, such as shipping cutoffs, are a great place to begin because you don’t need to have a plan in order to identify them.
Once you see these on your calendar, filling in the blanks around them becomes easier.
Key Brand Moments
Next, focus on key dates specific to your brand:
- Product launch dates
- Sitewide sales
- Brand milestones
These dates aren’t typically flexible, so they help flesh out the structure of the month and reveal gaps to fill with more evergreen content.
Once you’ve got an idea of how the key moments throughout the month will be structured, you'll understand where else in the customer journey to slot in additional messaging to ensure a steady sending cadence.
Refer to the types of email templates above and have fun!
When Should You Use Email Marketing vs SMS?
Ecommerce brands frequently use SMS campaigns to send shortened versions of their email campaigns, often launching both at the exact same time.
However, the best retention marketing strategies are those that marry email and SMS to play to each channel's respective strengths.
Email serves best as a marketing channel for telling stories, showcasing photography, and sharing long-form explanations of features and benefits.
Automated campaigns also prove invaluable, with common ones including the abandoned cart email or win-back email outreach.
Alternatively, SMS provides the best way to send quick, urgent notifications about things like early access to sales, a VIP shopping period, shipping cutoffs, or an upcoming promo end.
Remember that there’s usually overlap between a brand’s email and SMS subscriber lists, so make sure the two channels are working in tandem throughout the customer journey instead of getting repetitive.
Who’s Doing This Well in Ecommerce? Even More Examples
1. Alala: Spotlight the Product
What Works: This example from Alala hits all the right notes for featuring a product or collection. A brief introduction, lots of model photography, a graphic calling out key features, and easy opportunities to shop similar or complementary products.
2. Boxed Water Is Better: Spotlight the Mission
What Works: Boxed Water is Better states a clear environmental issue in this campaign and introduces a partnership to tackle that issue. Product is prominently featured throughout but never in a way that feels exploitative or overly salesy.
3. Kin Euphorics: Spotlight Creative Use Cases
What Works: Kin Euphorics does a great job of featuring their product in a new light here. Showcasing alternate use cases, or pairings and recipes for consumable products, helps purchasers to use up their product faster. This speeds up the time before the next refill is needed, increasing LTV.
4. Get Joy: Spotlight Unique Reviews
What Works: Everyone thinks that they’re the exception to a typical use case. By addressing that head-on with reviews specifically around picky eating, this email by Get Joy overcomes that obstacle to put a purchase within reach.
5. climbOn: Spotlight Timely Solutions
What Works: climbOn presents a handful of products tied to specific problems, all of which relate to a seasonal theme. It’s timely and makes it clear exactly how the products will help the subscriber.
Even More! More SMS & Email Campaign Examples
Still need inspiration? Then check out these go-to resources my team and I use constantly:
Ultimately, your SMS and email marketing strategy is a key guidepost for the success of your brand. Challenging yourself to establish (and maintain) a regular sending cadence can be daunting, but it’s essential to the health and growth of your program.
The one thing to keep at the front of your mind and strategy?
Send more and better emails. More and better texts. Do not send less!
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Cassidy Monforte is the Retention Strategy Manager at Common Thread Collective. Based in Portland, Oregon, she has spent the last nine years exploring how to use owned channels, primarily email and SMS, to improve both subscriber experience and lifetime value. Cassidy can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn talking all things food, dogs, and ecommerce.