Setting up the email campaigns for your eCommerce stores can feel overwhelming.
There are so many different types of campaigns and endless customization tools on offer.
So where do you start?
The truth is, leading brands often use relatively simple strategies - they just do them really, really well.
If you pick out an ecommerce brand that you’ve followed for a long time, take a big picture look at the emails you’ve received from them.
That’s exactly what I did for this article.
The ecom emails I subscribe to tend to be based around three core campaigns:
- The Welcome Email
- Transactional Emails
- Holiday Sales Emails
That’s all you need when you’re building out your email marketing strategy. You can add much more technical, behavior-based email campaigns in the future - but if you’re just getting started, these are the three to focus on.
I dove deep on Huckberry, a men’s outdoor brand I’ve been following for about six years. Their brand is pretty much built on email marketing - you can’t even access their store without opting into their email list.
And while the emails are packed with content and look fantastic….they’re actually pretty simple.
Let’s dig into their three basic campaigns:
CAMPAIGN #1: THE WELCOME EMAIL
Welcome emails are probably going to be the most read email you’ll ever send to your list. Open rates for welcome emails are typically around 50%, easily outperforming regular newsletter blasts.
It’s a chance to make a great first impression, introduce subscribers to different levels of engagement, and potentially make your first sale.
Huckberry is a brand that puts a lot into their welcome email, and they build it around these three goals:
- Set clear expectations
- Get readers excited about Huckberry’s brand
- Sell, sell, sell!
You can view the full version of Huckberry’s welcome email here. Since it’s so long, let’s break it down and look at each goal individually instead.
Welcome Email Goal #1: Set clear expectations
People crave consistency and transparency when it comes to the emails they sign up for.
In their welcome email, Huckberry tells its readers exactly what they’ll get in each email (gear drops, long reads, music, podcasts, and photography) and how often they’ll get it (3 times per week).
It doesn’t matter whether you plan to send one monthly discount email or daily narrative emails from the founder - just be clear about what you’re going to do and stick to it.
Welcome Email Goal #2: Get your readers excited about the brand
Welcome emails are like first impressions. It’s your chance to position your brand, highlight your strengths, and create a strong rapport with your audience.
It’s also one of the few chances to stand out in your readers’ inboxes.
That’s where Huckberry’s emails shine. Even though they mostly sell apparel, there’s no way you’re getting Huckberry mixed up with Gap or Old Navy.
Here’s how they do it:
- They highlight unique service features
- They highlight happy customers
- They consistently position themselves as a unique brand
- They do more than just sell
By the time you get through this welcome email, you should “get” Huckberry, trust them, and want to hear from them.
Welcome Email Goal #3: Sell
Huckberry publishes some great, entertaining content - but make no mistake about it, they’re an ecom store and they’re here to sell.
Their welcome email includes over 20 links to the homepage and to specific product pages.
Huckberry goes sales-heavy right out of the gate because welcome emails are a great place to sell.
New subscribers who receive this email likely haven’t completed a purchase yet, but they’ve shown interest by signing up. It’s a good idea to try and turn that positive feeling into a sale as soon as possible.
Since the welcome email is likely to be opened, it’s a great chance to turn a new subscriber into a customer. If you do it right, your welcome email is likely to be one of your highest-performing sales assets.
CAMPAIGN #2: TRANSACTIONAL EMAILS
Transactional emails can be anything from account info updates to shipping notifications. In this case, we’re going to look at an order confirmation email I received after purchasing a set of notebooks.
Order confirmation emails tend to be very simple - you get the details of your order, and that’s pretty much it. Most companies treat order confirmations like online receipts, and nothing more.
Smart brands do more with transactional emails like this though.
Huckberry, for example, uses their order confirmation emails to (1) offer great customer support (2) create repeat buyers. Here’s how:
Instead of just handing out a receipt, Huckberry adds two extra layers of good marketing.
First, they offer plenty of transparent customer service links and encourage communication. If there are issues with the order, you have all the links you need in one place, along with your receipt.
They’re big on creating a great customer experience, so this type of transparent service is very much on brand.
The second thing this email does is link you to six trending products. It’s a subtle-but-clever way to encourage a follow-up purchase, which is one of the most valuable actions an ecom store can take.
Repeat customers make up only 8% of ecommerce store visitors in the US but are responsible for 40% of revenue.
Returning buyers are cheaper, they spend more than new buyers, and the more times they buy, the more likely they are to buy again.
CAMPAIGN #3: SEASONAL / HOLIDAY EMAILS
Huckberry sends out a lot of emails. If you’re just getting started, you don’t have to be as prolific or sophisticated as they are, but you can borrow a lot of their big-picture approach.
In addition to their welcome email, transactional emails, and newsletter, Huckberry sends out holiday sales emails throughout the year.
They tend to follow a simple formula:
- Lead with the big offer / discount
- List several featured products (with great photos)
- Include holiday-specific guides
- Close with non-sales content, linking to their blog
Within the email, Huckberry will mix in product-specific links with general homepage links.
If you break these sales emails down, you’ll find that familiar pattern repeated throughout. It’s a little easier to see the underlying structure in
(you can see the original here)
(you can see the original here)
(you can see the original here)
If you’re stuck trying to come up with seasonal sales emails, just take a look at a calendar.
There’s at least one major holiday every month:
You don’t have to send emails for every holiday, but your brand probably has a few natural connections with specific holidays - so start with those. If you can distribute those across the four seasons, even better.
Here are a couple of examples you can use for your store:
Ready to Get Started?
Three basic campaigns - that’s all you need.
Take a look at the brands in your inbox for some inspiration. If you can gather multiple emails from a single brand, you’ll start to see patterns you can learn from. Keep it simple and pretty soon you’ll be sending out killer emails!