A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Your Email Campaign

An e-commerce user’s lifecycle can be broken into various discrete stages. Identifying these stages can empower the marketer to target a user based on their current needs. This article breaks down the various stages in an e-commerce user’s lifecycle, and depicts some key performance indicators for each email campaign stage.

Many e-commerce marketers have been shifting away from the standard funnel model, and adopting a model that fits more with their customers’ actual decision process when making a purchase. Consumers are hungry, and there is a constant battle to provide quality content and win over prospects with targeted marketing campaigns.

At Retention Science we have identified the best way to target these users at different stages in the lifecycle, as seen below. Each of our stages are created to intelligently target your customers based on where they are in their lifecycle. Moreover, our Artificial Intelligence (AI) can predict a user’s current state and facilitate the right messaging. In this helpful guide, you will learn to identify the different cycles, and how to maximize acquisition and retention by targeting the right segments. Partnering with ReSci means we can automate all of it, and allows our AI to do the work for you!

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This is all about top of the funnel. In order for your brand to be considered, your customers need to know about you.  Focusing on targeted social campaigns, influencers and building brand awareness through PR firms, and inbound marketing efforts such as SEO, back-linking, and content marketing, are good strategies here.

You can also target your potential customers via look-a-like campaigns on Facebook. A powerful way to find the best possible leads is to use a segment that predictively identifies your High Value customers. Below you can see how easy it is to export High CLV and Future Lifetime Value Segments into a look-a-like audience for ads.

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ReSci removes all the guess work. With our proprietary predicted segments, your ad spend will continue to pay dividends by identifying and acquiring customers that have a high lifetime value.

Now that you are part of the initial consideration, it is time to get your users to quickly explore everything your brand has to offer.

Active Evaluation → Moment of Purchase
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Congratulations, you have unlocked the first step! You have acquired their contact information, and it is now time to move your prospect along their journey by helping them discover everything your brand has to offer. These stages should include anything from business value propositions to social proof through reviews. But what has been shown to work best is product recommendations that are highly personalized and curated for each individual user.

Post Purchase Experience → Loyalty Loop

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Next, let us add value and feed your users with content based on their personal interests, and how they interact with your website and emails. All sixteen stages below are focused on bringing maximum value to your customer’s email experience. If you can optimize product recommendations to be specific to each user, it will also decrease the time it takes for the user to purchase again. These stages are great for reactivating customers back into a purchase cycle. Lastly, if you can identify when users are At Risk of Churning or completely churned, you can reach out and entice them back with an incentive code that does not leave margin on the table. Keep in mind, incentive optimization are automatically done by Cortex.

Artificial Intelligence Stages

Below you will find the AI Marketer’s stages for each of the customer lifecycle flows. Look for the images to the right to understand what part of the customer loop the stage can relate to. Many of the stages have the ability to be active in multiple parts of the customer buying loop.


1.) New to Your Brand

New to Your Brand, Just signed up, No transactions yet

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Stage Description:

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This stage is designed to target new visitors to your website/app that have not made a purchase within the first two days of signing up. This should be considered a second touch point beyond the instant transactional message for users who did not convert immediately.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Focus on educational brand building by restating your value proposition
  • For users without much site activity, ReSci will leverage “Cold Start” recommendations, which focus on targeted top selling items
  • For users with site activity, ReSci can personalize messages based on items that users interacted with, and its corresponding similar items

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 5.87%
Open Rates: 26.48%
Click to Open: 21.45%
Email revenue share: ~12%


2.) New to Your Brand (High Intent)

New to your brand, High Intent to Buy, Just signed up, No transactions yet, Lead generated from a good source/demographics

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Stage Description:

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Not all users convert right away, some need to be nurtured more than others. Consider this message to be a third touch in the new user flow targeted to users who still have a high intent to purchase. Contributing factors to the placement of this stage include: demographics, site activity, length of site visit, and interaction with emails to this point.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • You may not need to include additional incentives in this stage, as these users are still likely to purchase
  • Leverage dynamic product recommendations to further personalize the experience
  • Focus on continued brand education, reiterate your value proposition and a clear CTA that drives users back to site

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 5.96%
Open Rates: 27.29%
Click to Open: 21.59%
Email revenue share: ~8%


3.) New to Your Brand (Low Intent)

New to your brand, Low Intent to Buy, Just signed up, No transactions, Lead generated from poor source/ demographics

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Stage Description:

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Not all users convert right away, some need to be nurtured more than others. Consider this message to be a third touch in the new user flow targeted to users who have low intent to purchase.  Contributing factors to the placement of this stage include: demographics, site activity, length of site visit, and interaction with emails to this point (or lack their of).

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • You can include a heavy discount to try to convert these users
  • Focus on continued brand education, reiterate your value proposition and a clear CTA that drives users back to site
  • Product recommendations can also be leveraged to personalize the experience by showing some top items

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 4.82%
Open Rates: 25.17%
Click to Open: 19.08%
Email revenue share: ~4%


4.) Search Abandonment

Users searching for specific items, High propensity to buy if correct item found

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Stage Description:

This stage allows marketers to personalize a touch based specifically on keywords that each user has searched on the website. Our proprietary semantic based recommendation scheme will show users products that closely match the terms they have searched for.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Use language that explicitly lets users know that you are listening to them, and want to show them products that match the item terms they are searching for
  • If search terms don’t have corresponding products, products will be populated with the closest possible matches to show them other items currently available in your catalog

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 4.58%
Open Rates: 30.37%
Click to Open: 15.93%
Email revenue share: ~1%


5.) Browse Abandonment

Users are browsing items, Showing propensity to buy if correct item found

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Stage Description:
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Browse Abandonment stage is designed as a way to target users who have been visiting your site and viewing products, but are not adding items to cart or making purchases. You can reach these users with a touch that shows them items they have browsed, along with similar items to the one featured. In the event that a user has browsed multiple items, ReSci will identify the item that has the highest probability of purchase, and feature that in the email.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Leverage messaging that let’s the user know that you’re aware of their site activity
  • The goal of this message is to personalize the user experience by showing them items they have recently interacted with, along with a few similar items they may have not yet seen
  • Drive these users back to the site where they can finish shopping and select items for purchase

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 7.58%
Open Rates: 38.52%
Click to Open: 19.48%
Email revenue share: ~15%


6.) Cart Abandonment

User’s about to make a purchase, Either forgot / changed mind

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Stage Description:

For users that have added an item to cart, but have not yet completed checkout. This stage tends to have high conversion rate, as adding an item to cart demonstrates the highest possible purchase intent without successfully checking out.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Make sure to leverage multiple dynamic recommendations in this email, as our item-similarity recommendations can lead to add-on purchases and increased basket size
  • It is not recommended to use incentives in this stage, as the user is already on the verge of purchase. No need to eat into your margins!
  • Make sure to enable a few template variations to maximize learnings for how to best receive responses/conversions from your users

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 8.29%
Open Rates: 39.17%
Click to Open: 20.81%
Email revenue share: ~18%


7.) Order Follow up

User just bought / purchased, Transactional email to cross sell, Users can be social media advocates

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Stage Description:

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These are users who have just placed an order. A follow up email can help increase brand loyalty and encourage cross selling. You can also leverage this stage as a touch point to encourage users to leave reviews, share on social media, or even make more purchases that complement or complete their experience.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Understand how long after a purchase a user may receive their item, and craft messaging inline with that timeframe
  • You can include incentives to encourage a second purchase in a short window
  • Use messaging that thanks users, but also tells them that their brand experience is far from over
  • Consider using segmentation on Needs Nurturing to further the post-purchase experience for users

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 6.44%
Open Rates: 45.12%
Click to Open: 13.83%
Email revenue share: ~4%


8.) Price Drop

Users who have shown affinity to an item that dropped in price, High incentive to buy since price is low for a few days, Helps sell more of the reduced price item

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Stage Description:

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When an item drops in price, we can send notification messages to users who have a predicted affinity towards an item that has been marked down. This will not blast to your entire audience, but rather intelligently target users that we predict to be interested in this particular item.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Use messaging that show the user has been identified as someone who would be interested in this item
  • Conduct an A/B test to see if users respond better to price being displayed/not displayed in these emails
  • Utilize this touch-point to inform users of additional items of interest (which might not necessarily be on sale) by adding item similarity recommendations below

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 5.76%
Open Rates: 22.67%
Click to Open: 25.79%
Email revenue share: ~5%


9.) New Arrivals

Users who have shown affinity to an item similar to the new item, Newly launched items get more traction right away

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Stage Description:

When a new item is introduced to your product catalog, we can send notification messages to users who have a predicted affinity towards the new item. This will not blast to your entire audience, but rather intelligently target users that we predict to be interested in this particular item.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Use messaging that shows the user has been identified as someone who would be interested in this item
  • Utilize this touch-point to inform users of additional items of interest (which might not necessarily be new) by adding item similarity recommendations below
  • Insert additional recommendation spots in order to maximize the touch with different options to pique user interest

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 6.50%
Open Rates: 29.31%
Click to Open: 20.82%
Email revenue share: ~4%


10.) Items Back in Stock

Users who have shown affinity to an item that just came back in stock, Reminder to buy the item that ran out of stock

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Stage Description:

When an items comes back in stock in your inventory, we can send notification messages to users who have a predicted affinity towards this item. This will not blast to your entire audience, but rather intelligently target users that we predict to be interested in this particular item.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Use messaging that shows the user has been identified as someone who would be interested in this item
  • Back in stock items tend to be popular, so reinforce urgency by alerting users that they can run out of stock again soon
  • Insert additional recommendation spots in order to maximize the touch with different options to pique user interest

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 11.47%
Open Rates: 36.85%
Click to Open: 25.28%
Email revenue share: ~3%


11.) Ready To Buy

Paying customers that are ready to buy from your business again, Likely to make their next purchase soon

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Stage Description:

This message targets past buyers that ReSci predicts are Ready to Buy, and our AI anticipates they will purchase again in the coming weeks. Think of this as your “Active Buyer” group, and users that should be spoken to slightly differently than your full list.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Do not include incentives in these messages, as these users are primed to buy without a discount
  • Since these users are active and engaged, leverage product recommendations to personalize the content of the email
  • These are often users that are purchasing from your Promotional Blasts. If you are attempting to maximize margins, withhold this population from any promotional newsletters that you distribute to

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 4.04%
Open Rates: 33.05%
Click to Open: 12.83%
Email revenue share: ~9%


12.) At Risk of Leaving

Paying customers who are at risk, Will possibly churn if no action is taken
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Stage Description:

This message targets past buyers that ReSci predicts are At-Risk, and are starting to show signs of disengagement. Think of this as a segment that needs some special attention, or they may churn. This is a great opportunity to reach this group before they ultimately separate from your brand, and are much more difficult to bring back.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Use an aggressive incentive to renew your relationship with these users
  • Messaging can show you are detecting signs that the user is not as engaged as they once were
  • Inform users of new features, benefits, or improvements that your brand has made, while also inserting dynamic product recommendations to personalize the experience

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 3.46%
Open Rates: 28.73%
Click to Open: 12.91%
Email revenue share: ~3%


13.) Churned from Your Business

Ceased being a customer, Not interacting with business, Will probably not make another purchase
Significant

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Stage Description:

This message targets past buyers that ReSci is predicting are Churned, and are unlikely to purchase from you again. This tends to make up the largest chunk of your list, so be creative in the way that you message them in attempt to win them back.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Use incentives to attempt to re-engage users
  • At minimum, have a clear CTA that might drive users back to your site so they are eligible for other stages
  • Use language like “We Miss You” or “Come Back” to let users know that you are aware that they have disengaged

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 2.99%
Open Rates: 24.34%
Click to Open: 12.8%
Email revenue share: ~2%


14.) Birthday

User’s birthday as a trigger

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Stage Description:

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If you collect user birthdate, you can send them a message on their birthday. Users tend to be interested in purchasing on their birthday, so you can utilize incentive codes to encourage purchase behavior.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Segment buyers/non-buyers so that you can deliver different incentives to these cohorts
  • Messaging should be simple and straight-forward, pointing out that it is their birthday, and there is an offer waiting for them to use

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 9.97%
Open Rates: 31.65%
Click to Open: 28.08%
Email revenue share: <1%


15.) Anniversary

User’s joined date as a trigger

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Stage Description:

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A message that will be triggered to users annually after they opted into email with your brand. This is a great way to use incentives to re-engage users and provide them with reasons to visit your site and keep them coming back.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Through intelligent segmentation, you can craft different types of messages for users depending on whether or not they are buyers/non-buyers.
  • Consider using a more aggressive incentive than you typically use in promotional messages as a way of rewarding the user for making it through another year with your brand
  • You can offer larger incentives to users that have been with your brand for longer, or to those who have a high historical spend. Be creative in the way that you reward your loyal brand enthusiasts

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 2.55%
Open Rates: 16.84%
Click to Open: 13.95%
Email revenue share: <1%


16.) Needs Nurturing

User’s who are completely disengaged and not even responding to churned emails, They need to be nurtured to get a next purchase

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Stage Description:

This stage acts as a catch-all for all disengaged users who are not really engaging or triggering any of the 15 above stages. The goal of this stage is to nurture a user to interact with your brand so that they qualify for another stage. By using segmentation for the templates contained within, you can utilize this as an extension of your Welcome or Follow-Up Flows, or just as a means to help push users through another buying cycle by providing them with information that excites and interests them.

Email Campaign Strategies:

  • Leverage content that is educational in nature and has a clear CTA that drives users back to site
  • If blog content is available, utilize some of your better articles to create messages that highlight the brand identity and promote engagement
  • Inserting Dynamic Product Recommendations work really well on this stage, as it provides more opportunities to grab the users interest and encourage email clicks and site visitation and exploration

Average Email KPIs:

Click Rates: 4.87%
Open Rates: 19.57%
Click to Open: 11.47%
Email revenue share: 5%


Do you have some innovative ideas or suggestions? Let us know at ds@retentionscience.com, as we’re always seeking good ideas to improve and complement our AI.

Our Marketing AI platform has learned to automate all these stages and personalize with precision from over 1B emails. You can get up and running on Cortex with little effort, in little time. This is true AI that can identify the correct stage of a user’s lifecycle (see Fig 1.2) and trigger the correct email with personalized content.

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Fig 1.2 Snapshot of Retention Science’s AI marketing platform (Cortex)

About The Authors

Vedant Dhandhania is a Machine Learning Engineer at Retention Science. He helps predict customer behavior using advanced machine learning algorithms. His passion lies at the intersection of Signal Processing and Deep Learning.

Jonathan Fox is a Client Success Manager at Retention Science. He brings 10+ years of digital marketing experience and has worked with enterprise level brands such as Warner Bros, Sony Online Entertainment and Beats By Dre. His focus lies in using data driven insights to power marketing campaigns that drive real results.

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