Retention

5 Ways To Use Email To Create An Epic Customer Experience9 min read

Ecommerce success in 2019 is about more than just throwing up a few ads. You need to give each and every customer an amazing experience in order to stand out.

Yet according to Bain & Company research:

  • 80% of CEOs believe they deliver excellent service;
  • while only 8% of customers actually agree.

So how do you close that gap?

One of the most simple (yet powerful) ways is to send better emails. Providing an opportunity for ecommerce brands to both deliver a quality customer experience and reap a high ROI.

In this post, we’ll show you five ways to do exactly that.

1) Send the perfect introduction

Welcome emails are one of the most underestimated kinds of communication.

You might think the hard work is done since they’ve just subscribed to your email list. But you actually have their full attention – and the opportunity to secure that first purchase or tell them what steps you want them to take next.

With a much higher open rate than other marketing emails (typically between 50-60%), the welcome email is the perfect opportunity to start the relationship off strong from day one.

They’re a chance to:

  • Show off what your brand is all about – values and reason for existing.
  • Make people feel part of an exclusive community.
  • Connect people with relevant, popular products.

Personalization is key to making your subscribers feel welcome – and we mean taking this way beyond simply adding their first name.

Use your sign up form to collect extra data about your subscribers. Or use the welcome email itself to gather more information about what kind of content and/or products they’d be interested in.

For example, collecting data about where your subscribers are located can ensure that you send your emails to them at the most optimum time. Other ways you can segment your subscriber lists are product interest, the content they’ve downloaded, and pages they’ve visited and where they are on the customer’s journey.

All in all, welcome emails should be:

  • Timely – immediacy is key.
  • Simple – tell your subscribers what action you want them to take next, but not alongside other calls-to-action.
  • Clear and engaging with the subject line.
  • Easy to unsubscribe.
  • Legitimate – if you’ve offered something in return for their email address, make sure you make it clear how to get what you promised.

2) Celebrate subscribers’ personal events

The most common example of this is sending an email to customers on their birthday.
Birthday emails usually include a special offer, discount or free gift, or an invitation to visit the store. These are a great opportunity to show your customers you appreciate them, and offering them discounts to your store ultimately encourages them to make a purchase from you.

Experian found that birthday emails generate 342% more revenue per email than general promotional emails – so any business not utilizing them is missing out on some serious sales.

Here’s an example of a simple one from TopShop:
email marketing
Birthday emails can be sent on the day itself, or as a series leading up to it. And you can even incorporate it into your social commerce strategy by sending out messages on Facebook Messenger or SMS.

Birthday emails should be:

  • Well designed with cheerful graphics.
  • Short and sweet.
  • Personalized.
  • Clear with one obvious call-to-action.
  • Generous – a cheap offer can end up having the opposite effect and make the whole gesture worthless.

Another event that can be celebrated is the customer’s anniversary from when they first signed up to your store or made their first purchase.
Twitter is a good example of this, sending out emails to users on their “Twitterversary”:

twitter anniversary

3) Recognize your VIPs

Your most loyal customers are significantly more likely to buy from you again compared to new prospects.

In fact, it’s been shown that acquiring new customers costs five times more than retaining current customers. And it’s 16 times more expensive to build long term relationships with new customers than it is to retain the loyalty of an existing customer.

Find out who your most loyal customers are, and which customers buy from you frequently.

When you have a list together of your most valuable customers, you can use a segmentation tool to separate them from your other customers and send them specialized campaigns.

Some ways you can reward these segmented customers are to:

Create an early access program for your segmented customers

Giving your VIPs early access to something can be a great way to make them truly feel like VIPs.

This could be early access to new product launches or sales – like a first look at Black Friday sales. Or even just giving out discount codes to create sales specifically for VIPs.

ASOS do a great job of this, sending their premier customers both bespoke discount codes and early access to sales:

ASOS VIP Rewards

Invite loyal customers to an exclusive event

Exclusive in-person events are a fantastic way to build a stronger rapport with your VIP customers.

Set something up in-store or in a popup shop that you specifically only send invites via your segmented VIP email list.

You could even create an exclusive charity event that supports the local community. Not only does it look great for your brand, but customers can be encouraged to invite along friends or family members – meaning a whole new potential audience for you.

Gymshark has done this brilliantly with their high-energy popup stores:

Have your customers sign up to the events and include the details of their friends and family. Or, use email forms in-store to capture new email addresses.

Send a personal thank you

If you’ve segmented your best customers down to a fairly small number, sending personally written (non-automated) emails is a feasible way to make a really big impression.

Mention recent purchases, or any unique date you’ve collected about them in the email. Do whatever you can to make it ultra-personalized and obvious that the message is coming from a real person writing a bespoke email.

You could even take this further by personally inviting a great customer into a special VIP or advocacy marketing program.

Feature your top customers

Another way to celebrate your best customers is to feature a “customer of the week/month” inside your emails.

These emails can be sent to your entire email list as an example of loyalty – encouraging your other customers to get involved. This kind of user-generated content also reinforces the sense of your brand’s community.

4) Send out customer satisfaction surveys

Customer satisfaction emails are an important and valuable way to get some insight into your organization. A survey will help you better understand what your customers want and need – in turn providing a far better experience for your customers.

As mentioned before, it costs far more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one – so finding out what would cause customers to shop elsewhere is vital.

It also shows you’re willing to listen to customers, and that you care about your brand.

Customer satisfaction surveys should be to the point and kept as short as possible. The longer the survey, the less chance you’ll have of customers hanging around to complete it. You can even go one step further and start the survey within the email itself to quicken the process.

Try to make the content engaging, and offer an incentive for them to complete the survey if possible (usually a discount or voucher).

Customer satisfaction emails should:

  • Have an engaging subject line (e.g. “do this, earn $10” as opposed to “can you fill out a survey?”).
  • Explain the nature of the survey – ideally so that it takes the customer less than 15 seconds to understand the email.
  • Describe any incentives front and center.
  • Create a sense of urgency and include a deadline.
  • Ensure the survey is optimized for mobile.

Taco Bell does a great job with this:

Taco Bell customer satisfaction

5) Treat your customers

It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to treat all of your customers – they’ll appreciate a special offer at any time of the year. And it’s pretty easy to insert unique discount codes and send them to your customers.

Not only do customers appreciate a good deal, but it can work in your favor if you’re in need of a sales boost during a quiet period.

Making a simple discount as fun and engaging as possible will increase engagement and click-through rates. There are several fun ways you can go about doing this:

Straight up discount code

There’s always room for a standard discount code in your emails. And it’s a great way to encourage good customers back to your site to shop again.

Omnisend discount code

It’s worth considering setting up an automation where a customer is gifted a discount code after ordering a certain amount.

Just be sure to not send out too regularly or your customers will come to expect them – effectively putting a discount on all your sales.

The scratch card

Scratch cards are a great way to add a bit more excitement and interactivity to a discount code email.

Subscribers just click to scratch off the top layer as they would with a real-life scratch card. This then unveils a prize – like free shipping, a discount or a bonus gift:

Omnisend scratch card

Scratch cards can help you improve click rates by 2-3 times. And the more people you can get clicking through, the more potential sales you’re going to make.

The Gift Box

A similarly great way to improve engagement with these types of emails is to use a Gift Box.

So subscribers will click to open their gift, rather than just seeing a straight-up discount code:

Omnisend gift box

It’s a great way to get more of them coming out of the email and onto your site. Again, increasing the number of site visits and, in turn, the likelihood of a sale being made.

Final thoughts

Email is much more powerful than sending out weekly newsletters and hoping they eventually convince subscribers to make a purchase.

It’s one of the biggest (and most cost-effective) opportunities for businesses to excel with their customer experience. Something that can have a huge impact on sales.

You can have a killer, advanced omnichannel strategy and all the fancy new marketing ideas. But email is still one of the most powerful weapons in your armory.

So use the ideas in this post to take your customer experience to the next level – and watch your engagement, customer loyalty and sales soar.

This article was originally published by our friends at Omnisend.

About the author

Steve Hutt

I'm obsessed with entrepreneurship, commerce, and Shopify. If you have the desire to implement what's working today for direct-to-consumer brands on Shopify, I'm excited you're here! Get the Shopify help you need. This industry blog and podcast is my digital brain where my guests and I share cutting-edge marketing strategy, must-have Shopify apps, and marketing platforms that will help you build and scale lifetime customer loyalty. To do this, I'm part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus and host of the eCommerce Fastlane Podcast.