The Shopify Email Marketing Guide Part 3: Campaigns to Drive Incremental Sales & Build Relationships With Your Audience

Welcome to part 3 of 4 in this Shopify email marketing strategy guide by Ryan Turner of The Email Funnels Agency.

Today we’ll be discussing sending campaigns and promotions to your customers and subscribers. After reading this piece you’ll have some great ideas around what to send, how often, and who should receive your emails.

And by the way, if you missed parts 1 or 2 of this guide you can find them at the links below:

The Shopify Email Marketing Guide Part 1: Results You Can Expect From Email & Why You Should Take It Seriously

The Shopify Email Marketing Guide Part 2: How to Build Your List & Implement The Core Ecommerce Email Automations For Additional Sales

Now let’s get to it with part 3 and discuss effective strategies for sending campaigns to your list.

But first…

You can’t send any campaigns if you don’t know who to send them to, so we’ll start there.

Choosing & Creating An Audience For Your Shopify Email Marketing Campaigns

A big mistake we commonly see Shopify stores making is sending emails to their entire list of customers and subscribers. Although this strategy seems like it should give you the best opportunity to make extra sales, it will hurt you in the long-run and you’ll end up losing money.

Why is this?

Because the major email tools such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail monitor the campaigns you’re sending as a brand, and how people interact with them. If they notice you’re continuously emailing people who are just not opening your messages – and seem to have no interest in what you’re saying – these popular email inbox providers will start to downgrade your reputation as a sender over time.

That’s how you eventually find your email promos going to the dreaded Spam folder, rather than (hopefully) the inbox, or at least the relevant Gmail tab.

With that in mind it is important to create what’s called an Engaged Segment of your master email list, and only send most of your email campaigns to these engaged people. This is highly important for your long term Shopify email marketing success.

In this context, if someone is to be classed ‘engaged’ then it usually means they have either:

  • Opened an email from you
  • Clicked an email from you
  • Or subscribed to your list

In the last XX number of days.

Generally, the number of days is going to be between 30-90, depending on how often you send emails and how aggressive you want to be. The longer the time frame you use, the more people will be in your engaged segment. A shorter time frame gives you fewer people, but they’re usually going to be the most engaged and most responsive ones.

Using this strategy to determine who receives our campaigns ensures that for the most part you’re only sending emails to people who want to hear from you, and you’re not annoying anyone in the eyes of Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and the other major email tools. This is what we want!

A good starting point for any brand emailing less than 3 times per week is to send your emails to anyone who has opened an email, clicked an email, or subscribed to your list in the last 90 days.

How To Find The Engaged People On Your List

If you read part 2 of this guide earlier in the series, you’ll know by now that I recommend Klaviyo as the best email marketing software for Shopify. It is what we use for all of our Ecommerce clients here at The Email Funnels Agency. Any good Ecommerce email marketing software will however allow you to make an engaged segment as explained above.

Essentially you’re just taking your master list, however that is named for you, and filtering out the people who you meet your engaged criteria into a separate bucket.

Here is what creating this 90 day engaged segment in Klaviyo looks like:

building campaigns in Klaviyo

For more on this very important topic, check out this helpful post.

So now we know NOT to just blindly send emails to everyone on our list, we can start to look at the different types of campaigns to use and when to use them.

The 4 Main Types Of Email Campaigns Shopify Stores Can Send

There are almost endless different types of content you can send your customers and subscribers. Most however fall in to one of the four primary categories below.

Before we look at them, I briefly want to touch on something that’s important to getting the best results from whatever email marketing schedule you decide to follow: balance

You need to have balance in the types of things you send people.

If you’re constantly emailing coupons, discounts, or other special offers, people will eventually become blind to them and your results will suffer. You’ll probably also have a more difficult time selling things at full price. Not good.

And if all you ever do is talk about how great your products are – by taking a constant sell sell sell approach with your email messaging, your list will be less likely to trust you and again become blind to your email campaigns over time.

With that in mind, try to regularly fit emails from these 4 categories into your schedule:

  • Sales and promotions
  • Education and trust building
  • Social proof and brand story
  • Product benefits, recommendations, and new releases

You can and will make sales from every one of those 4 approaches. Each one can still recommend products, ask for a sale and give people ample opportunity to buy from you, but just make sure there is balance in the types of emails you send.

Now let’s look at the different styles of campaigns you can use.

Sales & Promotional Emails, Including Holidays

These are going to be your biggest revenue drivers.

Examples include:

  • Holiday promos such as Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Black Friday and Christmas, etc.
  • Clearance sales, 20% off this weekend, buy-one-get-one, double loyalty points, etc.

Basically, any time the major focus of your email is a special offer, promotion, or discount.

Many brands like to run one big promotion per month on average. This could be for a relevant holiday, or another offer you decide to run over a particular weekend to build buzz and generate a healthy sales spike.

It goes without saying you should vary your strategies here, so customers don’t just know that if they wait until the end of the month you’ll be running *another* 20% off sitewide sale.

If your offer or promotion really is a good one – giving value over and above what you usually offer – then you can be fairly aggressive with your email schedule to drive maximum sales.

A common strategy is to use 3 emails sent over two days for an offer lasting 48 hours, although some brands will absolutely be more aggressive than this.

Email #1 goes out on day 1 when the promotion begins.

Email #2 goes out at the start of day 2.

Email #3 is a last chance reminder that the sale is ending, with 6 hours left to get the deal, for example.

As mentioned, getting more aggressive works too. You might want to add pre-launch emails letting people know something big is coming and send multiple reminders throughout the promotion – especially on the last day when the time is running out.

Segmenting off people who have opened the previous emails for this promotion but not yet purchased form one is an excellent strategy, too. Last chance reminders to this group typically perform super well!

Here’s an example of a last chance scarcity based email from Joybird. I’d expect this to have generated tens of thousands in additional revenue for them:

last chance email example

Educational & Trust Building Email Campaigns

This is a simple strategy that works GREAT, and has all kinds of benefits. Add these emails to your schedule and you’ll enjoy higher open rates, a more engaged email list, and more additional sales… likely far more extra sales than you’d expect from these non-promotional campaigns.

This strategy is simple to implement. Aim to do this 1-2 times per week.

  1. Research and create educational, helpful content your market is interested in
  2. Publish these articles or videos on your Shopify store blog
  3. Add in relevant product recommendations to the content
  4. Email your list to promote the content, including product recommendations in your email

Below is a long but perfect example from Annmarie Gianni. This email is positioned as a content piece, which promotes a helpful article they’ve written on their blog. The piece explains to users a list of 5 things to avoid in a skincare routine, and why.

People love to open and read things like this, and it is a way of staying in front of your audience and building trust without constantly selling them directly.

The bottom half of the email moves into talking about products and making an offer, and the blog post being promoted subtly sells products too. But the overall positioning and theme of the message itself is content and education.

Social Proof & Brand Story Emails

There is more to generating sales than just using price-based incentives and talking about your products. People want to know more and more about who you are, why you do what you do, what’s going on with your brand, and most importantly – what other customers have to say about you.

If you’re able to send a couple of emails per month showcasing your latest customer reviews, educating people on your brand, your values, and what’s going on in your world, then you’ll see good results. And if you have enough of them then highlighting customer reviews weekly is an excellent idea!

Here is a particularly good looking example of using product reviews as the focus of an email, by Violet Grey.

Product & Collection Focused Email Campaigns

So far we’ve looked at sales and promotions, educating and building trust, and selling using social proof. But sometimes you do want your products and their benefits to take the center stage. After all, your products are the reason people subscribed to you in the first place.

Make sure you leave room in your email schedule to tell your audience about what you’re selling, the specific benefits individual products have to offer, the problems they solve, and what’s trending right now.

If you do this right then your product-focused emails will be a consistent source of new revenue, without resorting to discounting.

There are a few different angles you can take with these emails:

  • Individual product-focused, honing in on exactly what one item has to offer
  • Highlighting new releases
  • Highlighting bestsellers, trending products, or recommending collections based on seasonality

Here’s a product-focused email example from one of my personal favorite brands, Buck Mason.

They highlight a few key features and benefits, then let their product photography do the rest of the talking.

product focussed email campaigns

How Often Should You Be Sending Emails?

This really does depend on you and your brand. Some stores make daily emails work, others choose once per week or less. Email as often as you can while making sure you’re only sending people things that are interesting, educational and that your ideal customer would actually want to read.

If you don’t have anything good to send people today, don’t send anything!

With that in mind, here at our Klaviyo email marketing agency we find 2-4 emails per week is a good sweet spot for most Ecommerce brands. This provides the balance of having a schedule you can actually commit to and stick to, while also driving a very healthy amount of incremental sales.

And remember, there are almost infinite variations of the 4 primary email categories I mentioned in this article. So think about how they could apply to your market, get creative, and decide how many emails you can realistically send each week.

And plan your campaigns out in advance, too. You’ll be glad you did.

That’s it for part 3 in this series.

Read the fourth and last part of the series here for some interesting strategies to boost your email marketing ROI.

Happy selling! 

This is a guest contribution from Ryan Turner. Ryan is an eCommerce email marketing expert and founder of The Email Funnels Agency. He helps eCommerce brands profitably grow sales, increase repeat purchase rates, and scale their businesses using the latest email marketing strategies designed specifically for online retailers.

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