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Email can be seen as the ‘grandfather’ of digital marketing – but when Shopify merchants can generate (on average) 27% of total store revenue from email flows, this label may not tell the full story. As a Shopify agency specializing in Klaviyo email marketing, we’ve worked with a number of Shopify and Shopify Plus clients where email is at the core of their revenue growth strategy.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what email flows are, as well as looking at the best practices, hints, and tips for these flows.
What are email flows?
When thinking about email, it’s important to think about email in two categories:
- Campaigns – Sales focused emails that are sent to promote a particular product or sale.
- Automated flows – Automated emails based on user behavior and data.
While many of us will automatically think about campaigns when it comes to marketing, automated flows can provide the majority of revenue for some Shopify stores. For example, one of our high growth Shopify merchants generates close to 90% of their email revenue from flows alone.
When it comes to flows, we typically recommend the following to be used by Shopify merchants:
Abandoned Cart Flow
This flow is typically one of the first flows to be set up by a Shopify store because of the significant impact they tend to make on the revenue of a store. If a member of a mailing list adds to cart, and then abandons it, these flows are designed to recapture the potential purchase. The subscriber has already shown high interest in your products, therefore, these flows are highly targeted, timely, and have conversion rate 3x greater than other flows on average.
These flows are designed to re-engage customers who have been inactive for a period of time. They’re a critical part of the customer lifecycle and allow you to both win back purchasers from the past and regularly cleanse your subscribers.
When a person signs up to your mailing list, what’s the first thing you’re going to send them? Most of the time they’ll be sent a welcome email. With impressive conversion and open rates, a welcome series is a great way to start your engagement with new subscribers and reach them when they’re most interested.
Alongside your abandoned cart flows you could consider targeting people who have abandoned their browsing, which is a unique feature by Klaviyo. Sending an email flow to those who have left your store without purchasing could be a smart way to recapture some of those potential sales, especially when they have an average open rate of over 50%.
Post Purchase/Thank you flow
While Shopify allows you to send out automated transaction emails, using a flow to thank, request a review and encourage the next purchase is absolutely key. We’ll discuss this flow in more detail later in the article.
What are the best practices for these flows?
The key success factor of email flows is to ensure that data and understanding of your customer is used in the creation of your flows. This doesn’t just mean the design of emails – but timing, length, and number of emails all play a big part in maximizing the success of your email flows. If you’re a merchant that needs some support with this, a great place to start is with the Klaviyo Industry Benchmark guides. These can help you to understand how your email flows should be performing and benchmark against these.
From a best practice perspective and using our own insights, here are our recommendations for each of the core email flows you should be using for your Shopify store:
Abandoned Cart Flow
- Don’t default to discounts – Many stores opt to provide a discount in the first email of an abandoned cart. In our experience this leads to educating the customer to ‘expect’ a discount. While this can be great for short term sales, this type of discount is open for gamification. We recommend only providing discounts to in abandoned carts to those who have shown true intent to buy – i.e. revisiting the store multiple times and those who have signed up in the past 30 days.
- Don’t send more than 3 emails – A simple rule, but we find that A/B testing between 2 and 3 emails works better than 5-15 emails. More data can be found here.
- Don’t overload the email – There can be a tendency to deliver an abandoned cart email that provides the details of the abandoned cart product, product recommendations, and about us information. This can often lead to poor click rate and conversion, so sticking the product abandoned and its benefits are key.
- Use data – Using data from Klaviyo or your Email Service Provider (ESP) will help you to evaluate when it’s best to win back. For example, if customers tend to purchase once and then the second time in 30 days, sending a win-back on day 31 is a great way to win-back or cleanse your list.
- Allow subscribers to amend preferences – One of the most overlooked parts of email flows is understanding if the needs of your subscribers have changed. For example, if a subscriber signs up to a baby product store, buys $500 of products and then doesn’t buy again for 6 months, perhaps their needs have changed. By using an in email survey or preferences selector, this can help subscribers and you get the right emails to a customer to win them back – at the right time.
- Don’t be afraid to suppress – Most ESPs charge based on the number of subscribers. If you have email list members that do not interact with emails, you’re spending precious marketing dollars on a tool that isn’t needed. If your winback is complete and the customer doesn’t purchase, suppress or remove them for your list. This will aid your deliverability and ultimately help you improve the ROI of your ist.
- Tell a story, forget the product – Your initial welcome email is essentially the ‘first date’ with your potential customer. By telling them about your company and what you stand for, this helps them get to know you better. Attempting to hard sell in email 1 often leads to high unsubscribe rates.
- Focus on one call to action – While this is true for all emails, this is very important in the welcome flow. For example, in a typical welcome flow, this strategy can work well:
- Email 1 – Click to learn about the company
- Email 2 – Click to see the range of products we sell
- Email 3 – Click to shop a product we think you will like.
- Use it once, every 30 days – While browse abandonment is a fantastic way to drive a sale, it’s an easy way to increase unsubscribe rates. Imagine that a sales assistant in a store asked if you wanted to buy every product you touched? Rather than doing the email equivalent, use a browse abandonment every 30 days per subscriber. We found this a much better way to drive revenue from a Browse abandonment flow.
- Be careful with subject lines – There can be a temptation to use subject lines like ‘We saw you peeking’ or ‘Can we help you find the perfect XYZ’. The issue with these types of subject lines is that they often appear too invasive. We’ve found that positioning a browse abandonment email more as a sales email or ‘what’s new’ and including the browsed product is more of the ‘nudge’ that the customer needs to be converted to a sale.
Post Purchase/Thank you flow
- Brand your transaction emails – One of the biggest issues we see is not customizing the plain text transaction emails sent by Shopify. Klaviyo allows you to take the branding from your Klaviyo emails and use this for transactional emails, such as ‘Shipping confirmation’. By branding and timing these emails within your post-purchase flow, this leads to much more confidence from the customer.
- Think about timing carefully – If it takes 3-4 days for an order to be processed, and 4 days to deliver, sending a ‘We’re you happy with your purchase?’ email on day 5 is not going to work. If your shipping time varies across the US or internationally, why not set up a post-purchase flow based on location? By doing so, you’ll be able to make sure your timing is on point.
- Request reviews and integrate apps – A lot of Shopify merchants have fantastic review apps and loyalty programs, but often fail to integrate these into a post-purchase flow. By not including these, the opportunity for a future sale is reduced, so it’s a great idea to work these into your post-purchase email flow.
We hope this article sheds light on the power of email flows and explains that email does not always have to be about campaigns. By working closely with your ESP and agency of choice, we truly believe that email flows can be a significant revenue generator for any Shopify Business.