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5 Tips to use email to improve the customer experience

email customer experience
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Ecommerce success in 2021 is about far more than just throwing up a few ads. You need to give each and every customer a relevant, personalized email experience with email in order to stand out. Of course, this is easier said than done, but there are a few great strategies that you can start using right away in order to boost your signups, engagement, and sales.

One of the most simple (yet powerful) ways to improve customer experience is email marketing. Effective email marketing provides the opportunity for ecommerce brands to both deliver a quality customer experience with email and reap the sky-high ROI that this lucrative marketing channel has become known for.

In this post, we’ll present five, easily implementable tips so you can do exactly that.

1. Send the perfect introduction

Welcome emails are one of the most underestimated yet lucrative ways to reach out to your audience. In fact, Welcome Series email automations consistently rank at the very top for conversion rates, boasting a staggering 52.92% in our latest ecommerce statistics report

You might think the hard work is done since they’ve just subscribed to your email list. But this is where you actually have their full attention and highest interest in your brand. Now is your best opportunity to secure that first purchase, or at least tell them what steps you’d like them to take next.

Put simply, the welcome email automation is the perfect opportunity to start the relationship off strong from day one.

They’re a great chance to:

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

Personalized email 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 by product interest, the content they’ve downloaded, pages they’ve visited, and where they are on the customer journey

Omnsend has found that welcome emails are most effective in a series of three, allowing you to get your messages and offers across. Sending a series of emails performs better than a single email in terms of order rate, as well as brand awareness-raising. 

All in all, welcome emails should be:

  • Timely: Immediacy is key and can be helped with the addition of automated messages to your strategy.
  • Simple: Tell your subscribers exactly what action you want them to take next using clear, eye-catching calls-to-action. Limit your CTAs to one per message/campaign in order to keep things focused and avoid confusing your audience. 
  • Engaging: Starting with a visually attractive and easily-digested subject line that entices the user to open your mail. Because if your mails aren’t getting noticed in a busy inbox, everything else you do is for nothing. 
  • Transparent: While most subscribers will appreciate your welcome emails, some will prefer to keep their contact with you to a minimum. In this case, make it easy to unsubscribe from your emails if they wish. 
  • Legitimate: If you’ve offered something in return for their email address, make sure you make it clear how they can receive what you promised.

2. Celebrate subscribers’ personal events

The most common example of this is sending a personalized email to customers on their birthday.

Birthday emails usually include a special offer, discount or free gift, or an invitation to visit the store. This is a great strategy to show your customers you appreciate them, and offering them discounts to your store ultimately encourages them to make a purchase from you.

Omnisend found that automated birthday messages generated the highest click rates of any automation, scoring a seriously impressive 24.41%. Clearly, any business not utilizing them is missing out on some serious engagement and ultimately, sales.

Here’s an example of a simple birthday email from TopShop:

Sending a timely, relevant SMS to supplement your emails has become a popular and effective marketing strategy. This is due to the impressive open rates of text messages and the added sense of urgency that they bring. Consider adding SMS marketing for ecommerce to your campaigns and automated workflows and watch how your sales and engagement grows. 

In all, your birthday emails should be:

  • Well-designed with celebratory, cheerful graphics
  • Short, sweet, and to the point
  • Personalized with not only a first name but also recommendations based on their browsing data
  • Crystal clear with only one obvious call-to-action
  • Generous and well worth your customer’s time and attention. A cheap offer can end up having the opposite effect and make the whole gesture seem tacky and pointless.

Beyond birthdays, other events that you can celebrate are the customer’s anniversary from when they first signed up to your store, or from when they made their first purchase. Twitter offers a good example of this, sending out campaign emails to users on their “Twitterversary.”

3. Recognize your VIPs

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

Because let’s face it, acquiring new customers is always more difficult and expensive than retaining your existing ones. Not only that, but 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.

So, it’s up to you to find out who your most loyal customers are and which customers buy from you frequently.

When you have a list together of your VIP 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 priority entry to your Black Friday sales, for example, or even just giving out discount codes to create sales specifically for VIPs. ASOS has some fantastic VIP customer email examples, including sending their premier customers both bespoke discount codes and early access to sales:

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 (if you have one) or in a pop-up 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 have done this brilliantly with their high-energy pop up stores:

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Send a personal thank you

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

Mention recent purchases, or any unique data 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 just for them. 

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

Automated thank you emails are also a great option if your VIP list is just too large to reach out to personally, just make sure you use an attractive and professional thank-you email template.

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 a 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. An email marketing 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.

Email customer 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 email marketing 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 email marketing 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 email marketing survey is optimized for mobile – most email marketing software provides mobile-ready templates.

Taco Bell does a great job with this:

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 while delivering a great email experience. There are several great ways that 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.

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

Just be sure to not send discounts 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:

Scratch cards can help you improve click rates by 2-3 times. And the more people you can get clicking through, the more potential email marketing 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:

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

Over time, email automation has become the biggest (and most cost-effective) opportunity for businesses to excel with their customer experience with email and have a huge impact on sales. Not only that, but customers have embraced the opt-in nature of email marketing to make it the most comfortable and trusted marketing channel for them.

Sure, you can still have a killer, advanced omnichannel strategy and all the fancy new marketing ideas. But just remember that email automation is probably the most powerful weapon in your armory, so use it wisely. 

Feel free to use the customer experience email marketing tips in this post to take your customer experience with email to the next level – and watch your engagement, customer loyalty and sales soar!

About the Author:

Guest post written by Matt Warren, Founder & CEO of Veeqo– a platform that handles inventory, orders and shipping for omnichannel retail brands, allowing them to grow quickly while guaranteeing customers the epic experience they deserve.

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