Are you leveraging email flows and automations on your store?

When I audit ecommerce brands, one of the first things I look at is their email and SMS automation flows.

What I often find is that brands are barely using any flows or automations or, if they are, they’re not AB testing or tweaking and optimizing the flows for continual, iterative improvements.

While one of the great things about automated communication flows is that you can set and forget them, it’s still important to continually hone your message to evolve as your brand’s tone and voice develop.

I suspect, for those of you who have been running email flows for some time, if you go and check the content, you will be surprised to see it hasn’t been updated in a while! It’s a good idea to keep your message fresh.

Email and SMS automations are some of the simplest things ecommerce brands can implement that take very little effort and provide significant opportunities for growth.

If you have limited capacity to create the content and design assets to support email automations, start by keeping things simple. Try a series of automations that feel like you’re writing a one-on-one email directly to your customer. AB test the approach with more newsletter-style emails and see which works best.

Customer winback emails

For instance, if your brand has a solid repeat customer base, you might find that a plaintext “winback” email campaign can actually work better than a overly graphic-heavy newsletter. Regular customers can be more likely to respond to an email that feels like it’s from the owner or founder than just another email newsletter.

A few years go, I got a plain-text-looking email from the co-founder of Huckberry that started off like this:

Hey Galen, Andy, Huckberry co-founder here. I noticed that you purchased from us a while back but haven't shopped with us lately. That's perfectly normal, of course—I just wanted to check in and make sure we didn't drop the ball somewhere along the way.

I love this approach!

I knew it was a bulk email but, because I’m a fan of the brand, the sentiment was appreciated. It went on to provide ways to connect if they had, indeed, dropped the ball along with some friendly comments around what they’ve been working on and what products had recently dropped.

It was light and friendly and totally unsalesy—in a way that actually reminded me how much I loved the brand and that I hadn’t been to their site in a while.

Customer winback works extremely well with SMS, too—and is even easier to implement as you don’t have to come up with so many words.

Post-purchase check-in emails

Another super easy lift is a short, friendly email that sends, say, 14 days after the customer receives their order.

This could be plain-text-style, too. Something like “Hey {first_name}, just a quick check-in to see how you are getting on with your recent product. If anything isn‘t quite right, please let us know and we will fix it. If you’re loving the product, please tell your friends!”

This is a great chance to provide a link to your loyalty/referral program. And, if you don’t have a loyalty or referral program, well, that’s a topic for another time (although, psst, a loyalty program is another super easy, low-lift thing you can implement with almost no work that will dramatically improve your growth!).

You can run post-purchase check-in flows with SMS, too, of course.

Birthday gifts

This might require an integration with a loyalty program as you will need an easy way to request customers’ birthdays but birthday gift emails (or texts) are a great way to bring a little extra joy to your customers while also providing opportunities to reconnect. Offer a $10 voucher or something that feels like it has intrinsic value.

Product reviews

Reviews are one of the easiest things ecommerce brands can do to, A, provide authentic product validation and, B, build a relationship with customers.

Many brands are worried that soliciting reviews will lead to the potential for bad publicity. First of all, if your customers aren’t happy, you definitely want to hear from them directly about it—and reviews are a great way to handle that. If the review is bad but constructive, publish it anyway—your future potential customers will appreciate the authenticity of seeing a mix of 5-star and less-than-5-star reviews. If it’s off-base and not reflective of your great products and great work, you don’t have to publish it. Sometimes, customers are just grumpy.

For new brands with few sales, a good trick is to enable reviews from the get-go but don’t integrate with the website until you have collected a decent critical mass. This avoids a site filled with empty gray stars and no reviews. Collect them for a period of time—using them more as a feedback mechanism—and integrate and begin publishing once they’re enhancing your narrative and adding value to your brand.

Product back-in-stock emails

This is another easy win. If your products regularly come in and out of stock, rather than hiding them or taking them offline, use it as an opportunity to gather information from your customers and prospective customers. Getting email addresses of customers who want a product or variant that is not currently available is great information! Use it! It gives you a name and email address, which is always good, as well as a chance to “survey” your customers around what they’d like to see you bring back in stock.

Email automation platforms like Klaviyo make this easy to implement without needing an additional app.

Segment your lists!

This isn’t strictly related to leveraging flows and automations but it’s so important, it bears repeating. I don’t know how many brands I have worked with that simply blast their newsletters to their entire lists—week after week. This is a sure way to drive email fatigue and I suspect those of you who are doing this will have very stagnant—if not declining—subscriber numbers.

This is a topic for another article but make sure you are segmenting your lists. There are tons of easy ways you can do this even without a ton of specialty data but the more zero-party and first-party data you can collect, the better you can segment your lists to provide the information that’s most relevant to your customers.

What’s been your biggest struggle with email and SMS flows and automation?

If you’re not maximizing your email automation potential, I’d love to connect to find out how I might be able to help you get more out of your email and SMS automation—so you can stop leaving money on the table and build more sustainable growth.

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