Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools an online store has to win over customers.
It's an effective way to reach out to your customers and keep them engaged with your brand. But what if emails could also tell your brand's story, or win back customers who haven't visited your store in a while?
With automatic email sequences, you can make this happen.
A well-designed email sequence can help build customer relationships, drive more sales and show customers that you care about their buying journey. But what's great about email sequences is they actually work. Welcome email campaigns have a 50 to 60% open rate, and a mix of win-back campaigns and abandoned cart recovery can boost your store's bottom line.
Here are five email sequences you can use to grow your eCommerce 👇
1. Welcome email sequence
A welcome email sequence is a series of automated messages you send to new subscribers or customers to introduce your brand.
It's totally up to you what content to include. Some welcome email sequences say a quick hello and include a discount code straight off the bat, while others use this introduction as a way to talk about the brand's mission and values.
Welcome email sequences can:
📝 Set expectations: How often are you going to send subscribers an email? Will the content be fun and product-related, or focus on mission and values? Welcome emails help set the tone.
💵 Add value: Welcome emails are the perfect place to add value, like product tutorials or how-to guides, to help build trust with customers.
🤝 Start the relationship on the right foot: Think of these messages as a chance to make a great first impression. They can communicate your brand's values and mission as well as other important information like social media links and referral programs.
Done right, welcome email sequences are the perfect way to encourage customers to visit your website, follow you on social media and become a fan of your brand.
Here's an example of a winning welcome email sequence👇
Welcome email sequence example: Warby Parker
- Email #1: Welcome guide
- Email #2: Brand storytelling
- Email #3: Styling & tips
With a net worth of $1.75 billion and over 60 stores across the United States, designer eyewear brand Warby Parker is definitely doing something right in the marketing department.
A core part of the company's branding is its mix of chic designs and social and environmental impact. And it markets that story to its customers through its email marketing messages, particularly its welcome email sequence.
The first email in the sequence is sent immediately after a customer subscribes to Warby Parker's email list.
The brand is immediately recognizable and the email doubles as a super helpful welcome guide for new customers. It has links to Warby Parker's app download, information about its "buy a pair, give a pair" scheme and a breakdown of how its products are made.
Three days later, the second email in the welcome sequence arrives:
It's not a sales email—the only goal is to educate new customers about Warby Parker products and highlight its social mission. Once again, the email highlights the brand's "buy a pair, give a pair" initiative, which gifts a pair of glasses to people who need them. As Forbes says, customers want to buy from brands that give back, and initiatives like this are a perfect way to increase customer loyalty.
The final email in the welcome email sequence is sent a week after a customer buys something or subscribes. It's a different take on "styling", which mixes humor and animation to catch the customer's attention:
Although the illustrations are tongue and cheek, they work because they fit into Warby Parker's branding of being authentic yet fun. It's also the first time customers are encouraged to shop on Warby Parker's website in the sequence, which proves that the brand is interested in building relationships and not just making a quick sale.
❤️ What we love about this welcome email sequence by Warby Parker: Each email is authentically linked to the brand and its mission. It's a masterclass in inviting new customers to be a part of the brand journey and give them a chance to feel good about their products from a social and environmental standpoint. 10/10 way to win over customers for life!
2. Abandoned Cart Email Sequence
Abandoned cart email sequences are sent to customers who add items to their online shopping cart but don't complete the purchase.
The one and only goal of this sequence is to get the customer back to your checkout. Most abandoned cart email sequences will have a mix of:
🏃 Urgency: Limited stock reminders or one-time discounts can let the customer know the product is high in demand and if they sleep on buying the product—they'll miss out
💰 Personalization: Use any detail you can, from the customer's name to the items still in their cart, to remind them what they have left behind and encourage them to complete the purchase
⬆️ Upsell: Don't be afraid to include a cheeky product recommendation, like similar products or feature upgrades, to boost the order value of the customer's cart
A typical abandoned cart email sequence will include a couple of emails that are triggered to send to the customer shortly after they leave your checkout to strike when the iron is hot.
Here's an example of how ASOS uses this tactic in its email marketing 👇
Abandoned cart email sequence example: ASOS
- Email #1: Abandoned cart reminder
- Email #2: Personalized follow-up
- Email #3: Final reminder
ASOS' abandoned cart sequence is a great example of a bread-and-butter strategy to win back lost customers.
It consists of three emails which are triggered to send to customers who have added items to their cart but haven't completed the purchase.
The first email is sent an hour after a customer abandons their cart—and it gets straight to the point:
It has an in-your-face reminder at the top (don't forget about me!) and includes an image of the product and its price tag. The email also emphasizes that the item may sell out (snap me up before I'm gone) and ASOS also offers free returns (to minimize the risk of buying something they don't love).
The second email in the sequence is sent 24 hours later:
It's super similar to the first email in the sequence and sticks to the same goal: to get the customer back to the cart. Again, the customer is reminded of the products they left behind and the CTA underneath the product image will take them straight back to the checkout.
If the customer still doesn't head back to the checkout, a third and final email is sent with the cart items and a CTA.
❤️ What we love about this ASOS abandoned cart sequence: ASOS' sequence sticks to the basics. Each email has a punchy headline, product images and a direct link back to the customer's abandoned cart. No fluff, no fancy strategies—just a single focus to get the customer back to the checkout.
3. Win-Back Email Sequence
A win-back email sequence is a strategy that targets inactive customers to (hopefully) re-engage them and transform them into paying customers.
These sequences are sent to people on your email list who used to buy products from you but haven't for some time. We're talking about customers who usually purchase three or four items a year from you, yet they haven't done so in eight months. Although they clearly love what you sell, for some reason, they haven't been back lately.
This email sequence can help you win them back and:
🤝 Build back trust in your brand: Customers can leave for no reason, but sometimes it's because you've dropped the ball. You may have delivered a product late, or a product was out of stock on a special occasion. Win-back emails can build relationships back up and customers of why they shopped with you in the first place.
💰 Offer discounts and incentives: Who doesn't like a little reward or freebie? Win-back emails can include a one-off discount or reward to encourage a customer to buy something or sign back up for a subscription. After all, these customers have spent a reasonable amount of cash in your store already, so a 10% discount or small freebie is a small price to pay to get them back.
Let's take a look at how Birchbox wins back subscribers they've lost 👇
Win-back email sequence example: Birchbox
- Email #1: Re-introduction/offer
- Email #2: Final reminder + bonus
Birchbox runs a monthly subscription service that sends customers beauty products in the mail.
The company is worth around $45 million, but its most impressive metric may be its retention rate. Some estimates put the company's churn rate at less than 10%, indicating its strategy to keep customers is definitely working.
But Birchbox also puts a ton of work into winning back customers who have paused or canceled their subscriptions. Its win-back email sequence, which consists of a series of three emails, is sent out to customers who haven't renewed their subscription for a month or two. Check out this example of the first email in the sequence:
Short, sweet and to the point: Birchbox wants its customer back, and it's willing to make it worth their while. The email includes a reward (worth a specific amount) for signing back up and a CTA straight to the subscription page. It makes it as easy as possible for the customer to sign back up and gives them a pretty good reason to do just that.
The second email in the sequence is sent about six weeks later and has the same energy:
This one hits at the heartstrings. Birchbox tells the customer how much they appreciate them and offers them a bonus gift to come back. At the bottom of the email, Birchbox includes a 5-star review to remind the customer what they're missing out on if they don't sign back up!
❤️ What we love about this Birchbox win-back sequence: Birchbox's win-back email sequence is simple yet effective. It uses a mix of emotional copy and generous discounts/gifts to win the customer back that's aligned with its branding.
4. Upsell Email Sequence
An upsell email sequence is a cheeky way to boost a customer's average order value.
The emails usually include recommendations for products based on previous purchases. For example, a brand could suggest some cool socks or laces in an upsell email sequence if a customer just bought a new pair of sneakers.
Upsell email sequences are powerful because they can also help build customer relationships: Sending out product recommendations or add-ons that are useful to the customer shows them that your brand pays attention. They know you care and in return, start to trust you with future purchases.
Here's how Amazon uses upsell email sequences to increase revenue 👇
Upsell email sequence example: Amazon
Amazon's automated upsell email sequence is a masterclass in earning additional revenue from happy customers.
- Email #1: Confirmation of purchase
- Email #2: Product review + upsell suggestions
- Email #3: Frequently bought together email
The company uses these sequences to boost average order value and capitalize on sales by suggesting similar products the customer might like based on previous purchases. The first email is sent straight after a customer buys something and includes details like payment totals, order number and expected delivery date.
What's cool about Amazon's confirmation email is it also doubles as an upsell email. Toward the bottom of the message, a section suggests useful add-ons to their recent purchase:
The second email of the sequence lands after the order is delivered. It asks the customer to review their experience and the product they ordered. Again, this email also includes recommendations at the bottom to encourage upsells.
The final email is sent a couple of weeks and includes a bunch of "frequently bought together" suggestions based on the customer's original purchase:
❤️ What we love about this Amazon upsell email sequence: Amazon knows its customers inside out. Thanks to all of the data the brand collects on customers, its upsell sequences are filled with useful product recommendations that are consistent with previous purchases and price points. Plus, customer reviews are a great way to build trust and show the brand is listening to its customers. What's not to love?
5. Nurturing Email Sequence
Nurture email sequences are less about the sale and more about building trust with customers.
Statics show marketers use nurture campaigns to increase customer retention and engagement. A nurture email sequence can meet these goals and build credibility in your brand by:
🧑🤝🧑 Improving relationships: Nurture customers into lifetime fans of your brand using resources like product tutorials or how-to guides.
👩🏫 Educating customers: A lot of today's brands have goals beyond revenue, including environmental and social activism. Nurture email sequences can also get customers involved in a brand's activism goals and build a deeper connection.
A typical nurturing email sequence is triggered when a customer buys something from your store or signs up for a newsletter. It's this "action" from a customer that tells you… hey, I'm interested in your brand. Tell me more!
Here's a great example of a nurture email sequence by Patagonia 👇
Nurturing email sequence example: Patagonia
- Email #1: Welcome email
- Email #2: Patagonia's causes and customer invite
- Email #3: Stories about Patagonia's products + mission
American clothing company Patagonia uses nurture email sequences to build relationships with customers and talk about its investment in social and environmental causes.
Patagonia's nurture email sequence hammers home its brand motto: “We’re in the business to save our home planet”. The first email welcomes new customers to the Patagonia family and includes information about the brand's mission and products:
The second email in the sequence follows a similar theme to the first. It usually educates the customer about an initiative the brand is working on, like recycled fabrics or climate change. This email usually encourages the customer to get involved as well:
The third email of the nurturing sequence will concentrate on a story about how one of Patagonia's products is made. This example talks about how the brand turns waste like fishing nets into recycled hats, and what benefits there are for the environment:
This email even includes a video to give the customer a behind-the-scenes look at how it all happens!
❤️ What we love about this nurture email sequence by Patagonia: Patagonia uses nurture email sequences to get customers emotionally invested in the brand's mission. This emotional investment builds a connection that turns customers into lifetime fans and makes them feel like they're a big part of the brand's journey to heal the environment.
How to set up an eCommerce email sequence in Sendlane
eCommerce email sequences take a lot of work without the right tools.
The best way to set up an automated eCommerce sequence is to invest in an email marketing tool. With this, teams can build, automate and tweak various email sequences in their marketing strategy. Here's an example of a pre-built win-back email sequence in Sendlane:
The sequence has triggers to send an email after a specific waiting time, and it gives the brand three chances to win the customer back. Each email is customizable and a brand can add its own discounts or incentives to encourage the customer to visit its website again.
This sequence is an example of Sendlane's mission to make email marketing more effective for eCommerce brands. Each Sendlane account is loaded with 50+ eCommerce-tested pre-built funnels—all you need to do is fill each template with your content and Sendane will do the rest!
Want to add an automated email sequence like this to your marketing strategy? Sign up for Sendlane's free 14-day trial here!