Lifecycle marketing helps inform and persuade customers through the entire buying journey, or lifecycle. Lifecycle marketing is primarily thought of as email and SMS, but can include any digital messaging that educates customers about products and eventually guides them to the point of sale. Lifecycle email marketing should see a 38:1 ROI, increasing the likelihood of purchase, retention, and customer lifetime value (CLTV). To make this happen, there are certain emails every marketer should be sending.
If you want a robust email marketing program, what kinds of emails should you be sending? The following is a comprehensive list of the types of emails you need in your arsenal. Sending this many emails for all of your customers, however, can be exhausting and costly, so the real benefit will come from automating much of the communication. For each type of marketing email, there is also an analysis of how best to automate that process without losing the personalization that makes your lifecycle program so effective.
1. Welcome Email
Welcome emails have a 42% higher read rate than an average business email. When you gain a new subscriber, that person should have a welcome email almost instantly. This is your chance to educate customers on your brand and offer incentives for easy conversion while you are already top of mind and brand sentiment is likely quite high. According to WordStream, 74% of consumers expect a welcome email as soon as they subscribe. New leads are most engaged in the first 48 hours of subscribing.
Can it be automated? Yes! This is the easiest email to get automated and there’s no excuse not to have it as such.
Pro Tip: While the customer is eager to engage with you, it can be a great time to get more information on the buyer for future personalization. Offer quick surveys for feedback forms to see where a customer is located, what products they’re interested in, etc.
2. Abandoned Cart
According to MarketingProfs, welcome emails and abandoned cart emails are the most effective for driving sales. Abandoned cart emails follow up with customers who are clearly interested in a specific product. When a customer adds something to their digital cart but then doesn’t actually checkout, this email follows up with them to see if they’re still interested. Save this data for everyone who doesn’t eventually convert, and then when the product goes on sale or is about to run out of stock, even if it’s months down the road, let those people know now is the best time to buy.
Can it be automated? Yes! You don’t want these emails going out immediately (that risks feeling creepy). Hawke recommends automating abandoned cart emails to go out 4-6 hours after the cart is abandoned, and then another one about 24 hours later.
Pro Tip: Add a human element. Automation is essential, but consider the reasons a customer may not convert. Perhaps they have questions about the product, they want to compare prices, and so on. Address these kinds of concerns with FAQs, live chat, fresh discounts, etc. in your abandoned cart automation to satisfy the buyer’s desire for human interaction.
3. New Product Announcement
Build anticipation and excitement around a new product with teaser and announcement emails. These are a great opportunity to educate prospective buyers about what the product is and what needs it will solve for.
Can it be automated? Not so much; product announcements are obviously going to only go out when there’s a new product to announce. What it can be, however, is segmented. Optimize these campaigns (and prevent spamming customers) by creating distribution lists for people who have looked at or purchased similar products. For example, if a customer only ever buys sandals from your shoe brand, they don’t necessarily need to be on every new product announcement, but they better be in the know for some new flip flops!
4. Event Invitation
Events are a great way to associate real human faces and expertise with your brand name. For many B2B companies, events will look like conferences and webinars. For direct-to-customer brands, this can include pop-up stores or booths at festivals. This is your chance to invite people to meet your brand in person.
Can it be automated? Invitations will be built out as events come up. If your brand consistently has events such as webinars, it may be wise to segment out the audience based on previous interests.
Pro Tip: Add a section to invite new followers. Below the registration CTA button, add a section along the lines of, “Was this event forwarded to you? Sign up here to never miss another opportunity from us!”
A newsletter is the perfect vehicle for many of the other functions on this list — event invitations, partner highlights, social media promotion, etc. — while still providing a functional service to customers and isn’t just advertising. A newsletter should be content based, with blogs and articles that inform or inspire customers. Each piece of content, however, should have a clear call-to-action(CTA). 31% of B2B marketers consider email newsletters the best way to nurture leads, 16% for D2C marketers, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
The way that newsletters are being used is changing though, as larger, unsegmented sends give way in popularity to more personalized, segmented emails that serve a similar function.
Can it be automated? No, this is a lifecycle email that likely won’t be automated. Automation is discouraged because you’ll want to personalize the newsletter for each group of users (customers, non-customers, VIPs, and loyal customers). Segmentation is now a best practice for newsletters, as each type of cutsomer, at each part in their buying journey, will be interested in different things.
Pro Tip: A newsletter can absolutely have multiple CTAs, as discussed above, but content with one CTA will always convert better than one with ten. Too many next steps will always scatter the effectiveness. Combat this with themed newsletters and content, that way even if the CTAs vary, the reader is still focused on the same concepts or ideas.
6. Partnership Campaign
Brands partner with other companies because the two businesses share similar goals, but operate in different capacities. Hawke Media is an ecommerce marketing group that partners with shipping experts, CRM software, and other brands that further enhance the efficiency of Hawkes services to its clients. Partnership emails are an opportunity to highlight a partner, show how the partnership benefits customers, and hopefully drive more business to both brands.
Can it be automated? Partnership emails are usually established on contracts struck up at key points in the partner relationship, which makes them hard to automate. However, this is an important email to segment, especially if your company has a lot of great partners.
Pro Tip: To prevent these emails from looking too salesy, incentivize readers as part of the partnership agreement. Example: “Mention Hawke Media on your free consultation call for an extra $500 off your first order.”
7. Seasonal Campaign
Email your contacts around certain holidays and seasons, particularly when your brand offers special promotions at that time, or it is a time of year where your brand has a particular authority. These can be content or sales based, or a mix of both, depending on your objectives, but they are supplemental to your usual newsletter and offer cadence.
Can it be automated? Seasonal promotions need the latest content, products, and price points, so they will be hard to automate entirely, but they can and should be segmented to only hit customers with the most relevant offers.
8. Purchase Confirmation
When a customer makes a purchase on your site, they need two pieces of information: a receipt and shipping info. If you don’t immediately have the tracking number, that can be a separate email or include a link to a page where customers can track their order as the information becomes available. The purchase confirmation email should at least include an estimated arrival time range. This email gives customers peace of mind and sets their expectations while they wait for their order.
Can it be automated? Yes! If you’re manually sending out purchase confirmation emails, you’re doing it wrong. These should be automated to go out the second the payment processes.
Pro Tip: Add your own brand voice to the purchase confirmation email. This can help you stand out in the industry, make customers excited to support the brand, and you get to maintain cohesive messaging throughout the customer journey. You can also include links to your social media platforms to increase buyer engagement.
9. Thank You Email
Think of this as your purchase confirmation email, but for everything that isn’t a purchase. When someone signs up for an event, joins a contact list, takes a survey, or provides any other kind of information to your brand, they should get a thank you.
Consider where you want to drive recent subscribers and buyers, pointing towards your blog, related products, and anywhere else you may want to push a recent customer.
Can it be automated? Yes! Just like the purchase confirmation, this can and should be automated.
Pro Tip: You can segment this based on the number of purchases or the average order value (AOV) of the customer
10. Re-engagement Email
If your audience is not engaged, give them an enticing opportunity to get involved again. Write a compelling subject line that frankly encourages opening the email. (Examples: Are You Still There? Open Now For a Last Chance Discount! etc.) If they don’t bite, remove them from your distribution list. It may seem counterintuitive to remove anyone when contact lists are basically currency in the ecommerce world, but there are plenty of reasons this is an essential practice. Higher engagement rates improves your sender reputation, which prevents being blacklisted by certain email services, it stops your emails from getting flagged as spam, boosts your engagement metrics, and improves the value and perception of your brand.
Can it be automated? Yes! The set numbers will vary based on your current engagement, unsubscribe rates, and email quantity, but set rules that these go out after a certain number of unopened or unengaged emails.
Pro Tip: A contact doesn’t have to be a paying customer to get a re-engagement email. You can make re-engagement emails for people who never made a purchase, people who made one purchase but never came back, and people who stopped engaging with emails.
11. Follow Us!
If customers are engaged with your email program, they would also probably engage with your social media presence. Sending an email dedicated to encouraging social follows is a great way to boost engagement on both email and social media without really asking for any information or money from the customer. This is a great way to build brand loyalty.
Can it be automated? You probably don’t want to send this kind of email more than once in the customer lifecycle unless there is a specific social campaign that you’re trying to draw eyeballs to. But yes, that one social promo email can be set for a set amount of time after the customer’s first engagement with the brand or first purchase.
12. Post-Purchase Drip
Sometimes you can add a discount code to get first time customers to come back
A drip campaign after purchase is essential to surprise and delight customers, especially for big purchases like vacations, high-value tickets, etc. Some ideas for this drip campaign can include:
- How to get the most out of your purchase
- Share pictures or testimonies about the product or service (specifically with campaign hashtags, etc.)
- Cross Sell: recommend a similar or another top selling product
- Refill Reminder: buy the same thing again
- Ask for reviews
- Push a loyalty program
Don’t get this mixed up with a confirmation email. This is uniquely designed to inspire brand loyalty and future conversions, often with content and a mix of both purchase and non-purchase CTAs.
Can it be automated? Yes! As with other post-purchase emails, these should go out at set times following a conversion.
Pro Tip: Post-purchase is a great time for community building. Encourage engagement amongst customers on your social channels, message boards, etc.
Each type of lifecycle email on this list serves a unique goal and metric. These are the emails every marketer should be sending, so if your company lacks any right now, or if you’re looking for expertise in segmenting your distribution list for maximum impact, contact Hawke Media for a free consultation, plus month-to-month, a la carte services.