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101. When to Refresh Your Automated eCommerce Emails

How do you know when your automated email flows need an update? It’s easy to set and forget things like your Welcome Email Series and your Cart Abandonment Series, but every now and then it pays to review your email marketing automations to see if they still fit with your business goals and continue to make you money on autopilot. 

Today we’re talking through some of the things you should consider when figuring out whether you need to update your automated emails.

What You’ll Learn

  • The key things you should consider before you update your automatic emails 
  • How to turn your objections into purchases—on autopilot! 
  • The key metrics you should know before you update your email flows 
  • The different automated eCommerce email flows and how to improve their performance 

Read the Full Episode Transcript

When was the last time you updated your automated emails? Automated emails are amazing because they can make you money on autopilot and but they are set-it-and-forget-it… ish

What you set up a year ago or even just 6 months ago, might not be perfectly fitting with your business today. Considering it’s still Q1 of the year, it feels like a good time to review our email marketing automations to see if they could use any updating. 

To help you figure that out, we’re going to talk through some of the things you should consider when figuring out if you need to update your automated emails. 

When you add new products to your assortment

Depending on how you set up your automations in the first place, you may have had a pretty heavy focus on certain collections or products based on what your business focus was at the time. If you worked with me you probably have dynamic blocks in those automated emails that show different content based on the products that someone purchased, like in your post-purchase email. 

Go back and look at what your emails are focused on selling and see if you need to add in new information about your products. 

For instance, a client I had worked with in the past had one main product that she was focusing on when we first set up her emails. Fast forward a year later and she had expanded her product line, so we went in and updated the emails to be less about that ONE product and included more about the rest of her range. 

From her welcome flow, to her abandonment emails, and even her post-purchase. There was so much additional content we could add so we refreshed them to ensure that they were still in line with what she had to offer. 

When your business goals change

Were there certain products you focused on that now aren’t as important, or maybe you used to market your business one way and now you’re marketing it a different way. 

Using the same client above as the example—her initial product was about self-expression and creativity. The addition of the new product line meant there was a heavier weight put on clean beauty. In fact, both were still a focus from a marketing perspective so we created a choose your own adventure type experience in her emails. 

When you have knowledge about your target market

Another thing that might be different since you initially set up your emails is that you know a lot more about your customers now. You’ve likely received more reviews, had more conversations on social media, and have more customer service inquiries. All of these conversations you’ve been having with your customers are telling you so much about why they do and don’t buy from you. 

Use customer feedback to create better converting emails

One of the biggest things that I see is not really knowing what to say or how to talk about products. The best way to talk about them is the way your customers talk about them. Look for the words they use when they refer to your products

  • What do they love about the product?
  • How does it make them feel? 
  • Why do they buy it?
  • What transformation has it made for them? 

Those are the messages you want to share inside your emails. The idea of email marketing, or any marketing for that matter, isn’t to sell your product. It’s to inspire people to buy your product. 

Our job as marketers is to figure out what makes people whip out their credit card and give them more of whatever that is! Those insights are right there in your product reviews, social media comments, and your customer service inquiries. 

Turn objections into purchases 

You know what else is hiding in there? The reason people don’t buy from you! Yep, their objections. 

One of my favorite tips for creating better converting emails is to overcome those objections before the customer has a chance to have them! 

This is especially true in your browse and checkout abandonment emails.  Answer those frequently asked objections—I mean questions

Sure, FAQs answer questions, but they also have the power to overcome objections, so be mindful of what you’re including in them. 

You can also share reviews that specifically overcome the most common objections that your customers have, and ultimately remove the uncertainty from their buying decision. 

When your customer experience has changed 

Have you added a rewards and referral program? Do you have a new returns process? Is there anything else important you want to make sure your customers know about when shopping with you?

When you’ve updated your branding or your email design skills have improved 

Another reason you might want to refresh your email automations is because you’ve either updated your branding or you’ve just gotten better with the email builder and your design capabilities. 

I would never tell you to compromise customer experience or your marketing messaging for design, but I get that visually appealing emails are on most of our wishlists. Maybe you initially created your emails with the built in template Klaviyo offers, you weren’t that great with design, or you just want to elevate the look of your emails to match your new brand aesthetic, whatever the case, that’s a perfectly good reason to refresh your emails. 

Now, let’s talk about the data…

Let’s assume none of the above actually apply to you. Or maybe they do but you’re just wondering if it should be a priority for you right now because you have so much else going on in your business. If either of those are true for you, then it really comes down to the data. 

I’m going to share some benchmarks that you can use to figure out if your automated emails are performing well or not. These are not hard and fast rules about email performance. They are guideposts to figure out how you’re doing in a general sense. 

Don’t obsess over reaching these numbers. Focus on being better than you were yesterday and make incremental improvements… nothing happens overnight. 

The two ways you can look at benchmarks specific to YOUR industry

Inside Klaviyo

They release monthly benchmarks where they compare you to a cohort of your peers. They use a lot of different factors to identify your peer group, one of which is the industry you set in your account settings. They also take into account your list size and sending habits, so they’re really trying to compare you to those who are at the same level as you.

Your industry benchmarks 

I do like to look at these in addition to your individual benchmarks because these are just averages across industries without any other bias like list size, sending habits, etc. Ultimately I think both are good to be aware of as long as you take them as they are… just benchmarks. See your email flow benchmarks by industry by each flow below.

Important metrics to know and understand

Open rate

This is the number of opens your email received divided by the number of emails delivered. Expressed in a percentage. In most cases, your open rate is an aggregate number which means if I open your email more than once, it will count all of those opens. 

Open rate is influenced by your subject line, the audience, and when they receive it

Click Rate 

This is the number of clicks your email received divided by the number of emails delivered. Click rate is influenced by the audience, the content inside the email, and the actual calls to actions or the words you use to tell them to do something. 

Conversion Rate 

The number or orders placed divided by the number of emails delivered. 

Conversion rate is influenced by relevance of the offer to the recipient, the experience they receive when they land on your website after clicking your email, and time of day can have an impact here as well. 

Revenue per recipient 

The total revenue divided by the number of emails delivered

This is of course directly related to the rest of the metrics, but ultimately it’s your site experience and ability to drive an increase in your AOV that is going to have the biggest impact here.

The different automated eCommerce email flows and how to improve their performance 

For each flow, I’m going to give you the open rate, click rate, conversion rate, and revenue per recipient and I’ll give some tips and tricks on how to improve your metrics for each specific flow.

The Welcome Flow

Overall Benchmarks

Open Rate: 46.49%
Click Rate: 6.88%
Conversion Rate: 2.03%
RPR: $2.49

Welcome Flow Email Benchmarks by Industry

eCommerce welcome flow email benchmarks by industry

How can you improve the performance of your welcome flow?

If you’re giving the customer their discount code on the success page of the sign up form, stop doing that. You want to train them to go look at your emails. 

Test the content inside your emails. Sometimes, the less content in this first email is better—a quick hello, here’s your discount, go shop. 

For other businesses, having a bit more about the business and the founder in this email works better. It honestly depends. I recommend you set up an A/B content test and let it run for 30-90 days, depending on how many people you have moving through them. 

Additionally, and this is true for all emails that have the goal of generating revenue, optimize your website to increase your average order value. The easiest way to do this is with a cross-sell app. If you don’t have a wide product assortment, try creating a digital product instead. 

The Abandoned Checkout Flow

Open Rate: 43.22%
Click Rate: 7.99%
Conversion Rate: 3.85%
RPR: $4.45

Abandoned Checkout Email Benchmarks by Industry

How can you improve the performance of your abandoned checkout flow?

One of the first things I would check on my abandoned checkout is the delay time of the first email. In my experience, one hour is the best, and you’ll want at least two follow-up emails. These won’t convert as well as the first one but are still powerful. 

Add a second return to cart button above the list of products. Especially if your customers tend to buy a lot of items in one transaction. Why make them scroll more than they have to? 

Testing your actual call to action text too. I find “return to cart” gets more clicks than “complete your purchase” probably because it feels like less of a commitment. 

Lastly, if you take no other advice from me today, is to add objection handling content into these emails. This could be in the form of FAQs or product reviews, maybe even an explainer video. Doesn’t really matter what the content is, the goal is to overcome whatever might be holding them back from making the purchase right now. 

The Browse Abandonment Flow

Overall Metrics

Open Rate: 44.68%
Click Rate: 6.66%
Conversion Rate: 1.05%
RPR: $1.18

Browse Abandonment Email Benchmarks by Industry

How can you improve the performance of your browse abandonment checkout flow?

Not all platforms have this, Klaviyo and Omnisend both do. Browse abandonment just means that someone visited a product page, they didn’t even necessarily add it to their cart. This is really early in the shopping process as compared to the abandoned checkout flow which means they actually hit the abandoned checkout button. 

On Klaviyo, the browse abandonment emails are related to ONE product, the first one they looked at before they triggered the browse abandonment flow. Now there are ways for you to adjust who actually qualifies for this, but for today’s conversation, I just want to make sure you realize how non-committal they are at this point in the journey with you. 

When I create a browse abandonment email, it’s a very gentle nudge back to what they were shopping for and show them some other recently viewed products too. 

If you have a smaller assortment or are a one-product store, you can go a little deeper with this email. For instance, I worked with a client that has a handbag brand. She has 5 or 6 main styles, so in her browse abandonment email, we went really deep into that ONE product. 

How you approach this is going to depend on your business, but as long as you approach it from the customer’s perspective you’ll be alright. 

The browse abandonment flow is also where you can throw in some objection handling content like product reviews and frequently asked questions. 

The Thank You Flow

Overall Metrics

Open Rate: 55.59%
Click Rate: 4.62%
Conversion Rate: .55%
Revenue Per Recipient: $.41

Thank You Email Benchmarks by Industry

How can you improve the performance of your thank you flow?

This email has a pretty low conversion rate and revenue per recipient, but that’s to be expected because this is really more about nurturing the relationship and making a great first impression vs. getting a sale.

However, they do generate some revenue, so how can you make better use of this HIGHLY opened email without losing the intention behind the email?

The thank you flow is a great place to cross-sell a NO BRAINER item. Now, if you’re already doing this on your site, kudos and you likely don’t have to do it here. But I know sometimes we hesitate to add apps to our stores and so email is a great backup option.

The trick is, you want it to be a no brainer for MOST purchasers. So what is the one thing that almost everyone would benefit from?

For instance, if you sold shoes then a leather shoe cleaner would be great. If you sell press on nails, you could offer them cuticle oil. You get the idea. 

Don’t confuse the “thank you” email with the “post-purchase education” email you’ve probably heard me talk about before. The thank you email generally comes from the founder, saying thank you for supporting the business. The post-purchase education email is in addition to this thank you email and has a lot more educational content in it to ensure your customer has a great experience with your product and will come back to leave you a positive review. 

When do your automations need a refresh? 

I recommend you take a peek at your automations every six months or so to see if now might be the time. 

Ultimately, you have to balance that with everything else going on in your biz and you have to prioritize. If you have any other big changes coming up that might affect them, I would wait until that is completed so you don’t have to do them AGAIN. 

Ideally update them by the end of Q2 so you can go into the last half of the year with them all ready to go. 

If you are thinking that you want to get them updated, but you need a little help. Let’s chat. Message me on Instagram and let’s see if it makes sense for us to work together. 

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Jessica Totillo Coster of eCommerce Badassery eating gelato on stairs in Rome Italy

Hey, I'm Jessica eCommerce & Email Marketing Strategist

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. Learning from the top experts in the digital marketing & eCommerce industry I love working with female entrepreneurs and teaching the secrets of 7-figure eCommerce businesses.

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