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The 7 Essential Email Flows for Ecommerce

Published on Monday, May 15, 2023

One of the three pillars to a comprehensive email marketing strategy for ecommerce is email flows. In this post, we focus on the essential flows you should create as part of your email marketing strategy.


What is an Email Flow?

Your chosen email marketing platform may call it an automation, journey, workflow, drip, or flow. Whatever language is being used to describe it, an email flow is a series of emails that’s triggered based on a contact’s behaviors, characteristics, preferences, or information. Its purpose is to deliver a good customer experience, build deeper relationships, and ultimately grow store revenue.


Keep Reading: Guide to Ecommerce Email Marketing


Why Should I Set Up Email Flows for My Ecommerce Store?

Improves Experience

We’ve all experienced brands that don’t execute email flows well (no one wants to be bombarded with abandoned cart emails). But when your communication is timely, relevant, and answers questions about your brand, your customers delight in a valuable experience that sets you apart from your competition.

Builds Relationships

The best email marketing happens when your customers are happy to hear from you. Email flows can help establish relationships with your customers by giving them information that helps them make a decision on a purchase.

When you put the needs of your customers at the forefront of your email marketing strategy, you keep your messages from feeling like spam. Instead, they become an extension of how you serve your prospects and customers.

Revenue growth

Email marketing can contribute 20-30% of your total ecommerce revenue. Marketing campaigns make up the largest portion of that revenue, but email flows drive around 10% of your email revenue and prime your customers to receive marketing campaigns.

Email flows don’t just grow store revenue. They also positively impact your other key performance indicators like conversion rates, average order value (AOV), and lifetime value (LTV).


What are the 7 Essential Email Flows I Should Build for My Ecommerce Business?

#1 – Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are the most read emails you’ll ever send. They’re triggered when a contact joins your email list for the first time. This is your chance to set the tone for the type of experience a customer can expect from your ecommerce store.

Take advantage of the opportunity by delivering what you promised when a visitor subscribed to your list, showing them what you value as a brand, and tailoring your communication to their preferences.

#2 – Browse Abandonment Emails

A browse abandonment flow is triggered when a site visitor has viewed a product but takes no further action. At this stage, it’s unclear whether they intend to purchase that product. But they have expressed an interest by clicking into the product details page.

Browse abandonment emails aren’t about getting the purchase. They’re meant to help customers who are considering products. That makes them great opportunities to highlight product features, what sets your brand apart, and how other customers have benefited from choosing to buy from you.

#3 – Cart Abandonment Emails

A cart abandonment flow is triggered when a site visitor has viewed a product, added it to their cart, and started a checkout. This audience has expressed a clear signal that they’re almost ready to make a purchase.

The goal of these emails is to complete the purchase. That means overcoming obstacles and objections like unexpected costs (shipping, etc), unclear delivery and shipping times, or lack of payment options.

#4 – Thank You Emails

Once a customer has purchased from your brand, your job isn’t over. You need to deliver the type of experience that’ll incentivize them to return for a second purchase. That includes addressing possible buyer’s remorse, especially if you have a high AOV product.

The first place you can do this is through a thank you flow. This is exactly as it sounds, a flow to thank customers for their purchase and remind them of the features and benefits of your products.

#5 – Review Request Emails

Once the customer has received their order, you’ll want to know about their experience with your product. But asking for reviews and testimonials on a one-off basis is unscalable. Instead, you should create a review request flow to systematically request feedback after delivery.

#6 – Post-Purchase Cross-Sell and Upsell Emails

Email is the #1 channel that marketers use for retention and lifecycle marketing. Why? Because you can automate retention efforts through post-purchase cross-sell and upsell emails.

After the review request flow, you’ll want to set up a flow to create cross-sell and upsell opportunities. This flow should drive repeat customer rates, increase 60-day LTV for customers, and grow their product and brand knowledge.

#7 – Post-Purchase Winback Emails

If a customer has made it through the post-purchase cross-sell and upsell flow without placing a second order, all is not lost. You’ll want to install a winback flow, which is designed to bring lapsing customers back into the purchasing funnel through a series of emails.

The most important part of a winback series is understanding when a customer is likely to place a second order and when they become a lapsed customer. Once you’ve defined your customer lifecycle, you can use that information to design a post-purchase winback that incentivizes customers to return before they lapse and need to be reacquired.


Advanced Techniques for Email Flows

Email marketing isn’t a set-and-forget strategy. It takes attention to data, flow expansion, and optimization. So once you’ve set up your core email flows, use these advanced techniques to improve their performance.


Emails should be about delivering the best customer experience possible. The more segmented you can become with your flows, the better the experience will be for customers and prospects.

Depending on your vertical, you may want to segment your flows by:

  • Product Categories – Men’s and women’s apparel will have different benefits, features, and options. Use product categories to tailor abandonment flows, cross-sell and upsell flows, and winback flows.
  • Customer Types – Whether your customer is new or returning is a significant thing to consider. You likely want to have a welcome flow segmented for new and returning customers. The same goes for your thank you flow. The more customer data you can consider when building your flows, the better people will feel about the communication from your brand.
  • Calendar Date – If you’re an apparel company, you’ll want to create seasonal messages that trigger based on calendar date. The last thing you want to do is offer a winter coat in a welcome series when someone joins the list in the middle of summer. It’s important to consider behavioral data and what people will expect as they shop with your brand throughout the year when building flows.

A/B tests

The first thing you need people to do is open an email. But some messages will resonate better than others. When you have your flows set up, it’s time to begin testing subject lines and preview text to drive the highest possible open rate.

Once you’ve found a winner, begin testing email layouts, calls to action, and offers within the email. There’s no sense in testing these things if you aren’t getting email opens.

When you’re testing emails, only test one variable at a time and run the test long enough for you to make a meaningful conclusion.

Expand to SMS

People prefer different channels of communication. Let your customers decide whether you communicate with them through email or SMS by expanding your flows to include SMS messages.

When expanding to SMS, don’t treat it like email. It’s a more personal form of communication, and users are more likely to unsubscribe if it isn’t helpful to them. Cater your flows appropriately.


Next Steps for Your Email Marketing Strategy

Once you get your email flows set up, it’s time to focus on the two other pillars to an effective email marketing strategy: list growth and campaign sends.

If email isn’t contributing 20-30% of ecommerce revenue, it’s time to revisit your email marketing strategy. What results can LimeLight Marketing deliver? Check out our previous results for a DTC apparel company.

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LimeLight Marketing - Kyle Tapper
Kyle Tapper
Account Supervisor