In this article, I’ll share some of the top WooCommerce email marketing tips for small (and large) businesses.
Email marketing is one of the most important marketing channels for a WooCommerce business. It plays a vital role at various stages of the customer lifecycle, including new user acquisition (welcome emails), user engagement (seasonal sales), and customer re-engagement (such as customer-specific discounts, referral discounts, etc).
Here’s a rundown of what you can expect from this article:
- For each email marketing tip, I’ve highlighted its background, benefits, and importance, and at which stage of the customer lifecycle you should be using it. This will help you make the most out of each tip.
- For our readers who are new to WooCommerce email marketing, I’ve included a primer on eCommerce customer lifecycles and segmentation.
To our seasoned readers who are familiar with the customer lifecycles, you can skip the next two sections and jump straight to the tips.
For folks who are new to our site, or to WooCommerce email marketing, let’s dive right in.
Table of contents
- eCommerce Customer Lifecycles: TOFU, MOFU & BOFU
- WooCommerce Email Marketing Segmentation
- WooCommerce Email Marketing Strategies to Improve Conversions
- 1) Incentivised Lead Generation “Welcome” Emails
- 2) eCommerce Engagement Emails
- 3) Post-Purchase eCommerce Engagement Emails
- Wrapping Up
- Recommended Reading
eCommerce customer lifecycles: TOFU, MOFU & BOFU
There are three stages in the journey of a customer on your eCommerce website – TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU. Collectively, these three stages form the customer lifecycle, which looks like an inverted pyramid.
Top of the funnel (TOFU)
People who are unaware of your brand/product/service are considered to be at the top of the funnel. This includes those visiting your online store for the first time.
As a marketer, you’ll need to use incentivized lead generation techniques to win the email address of these unknown visitors. Your newsletter signup form must convey why the visitor should share their email address with you.
A common incentive used to convert a visitor to a lead, is a discount code. If the visitor signs up for your eCommerce store’s newsletter, they will receive a welcome email containing the discount code.
Once you generate a lead from a website visitor, it becomes easier to convert that lead into a paying customer.
Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
People who have expressed interest in your store, but have not made a purchase, are said to be at the MOFU stage. People at this stage of the funnel are the most likely to convert (i.e. make a purchase). We’ll discuss several engagement email marketing strategies later in this article.
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
People who have made at least one purchase from your eCommerce site are said to be in the BOFU stage.
With eCommerce, the game does not end when you’ve sold a product. The packaging, shipping, delivery, and the quality of the product itself, adds up to the entire shopping experience. Only if a customer is happy with the purchase, do they then become a loyal customer.
Loyal customers are likely to make repeat purchases and refer new people to your eCommerce site. Undoubtedly, your loyal customers are your most profitable and important segment, and we’ll discuss various post-purchase retention strategies for this segment.
WooCommerce email marketing segmentation
Segmentation is an integral part of email marketing (or eCommerce) in general.
Also known as customer segments, audience definition/lists, or email list, a segment is essentially a list of people who match certain criteria. Marketeers use segments to target people with personalized communication, via channels such as email marketing, push notifications, and more.
Common segments in eCommerce include:
- Window shoppers: People who have visited your site more than once, or have spent more than 60-90 seconds on your site.
- Leads: People who have subscribed to your store’s newsletter, but have not made a purchase.
- Cart abandoners: People who have added a product to their cart, but did not make a purchase.
- Abandoned purchases: People who have started the checkout process, but did not complete the purchase. This could be a variety of reasons including a poor checkout flow experience or insufficient payment methods.
- Loyal users: People who are happy with your WooCommerce store and are likely to purchase again and/or refer new customers.
- Big spenders: People who have contributed to a significant portion of your eCommerce store’s revenue. These users have the highest customer lifetime value (LTV) and are likely to make purchases in the future.
- Bargain hunters: People who shop exclusively during sales and use coupon codes in most of their purchases.
And the list goes on. The degree of precision used in defining a segment plays a vital role in the performance of that segment. To learn more, check out our beginner’s guide on email marketing segmentation and how to set it up using MailPoet.
WooCommerce email marketing strategies to improve conversions
Now that you’ve had a primer on customer segments and lifecycles, let’s discuss some of the most useful WooCommerce email marketing strategies that you can use in each stage of the customer journey.
1) Incentivised lead generation “Welcome” emails
Welcome emails are one of the most popular forms of lead generation at the TOFU stage. At this stage, the goal is to win the visitors’ email.
1.1 Welcome email with discount coupon
One of the best ways to incentivize visitors to sign up for your newsletter is to offer a discount code in the signup form. A 5-10% discount in exchange for an email address is a pretty good reason for a visitor to sign up for your newsletter.
In the screenshot above, Made.com, a premium furniture/lifestyle brand displayed the signup form (also known as lead generation box) as a slide-in from the bottom left corner, after I spent ~20 seconds on the product page.
The incentive – Made will give me a 10 GBP discount if I sign up for their newsletter.
That’s the welcome email from Made.com containing the discount code, along with their popular products.
Similarly, OnePlus displayed the newsletter signup form as a pop-up, as soon as I landed on the website. The incentive – 20% discount on accessories if I sign up for their newsletter.
You can use various techniques to present the signup form – such as a slide-in or as a pop-up – after the visitor has spent more than 30 seconds on your site.
You can also use advanced lead generation software such as OptinMonster, and show a newsletter subscription box to the user just as they are about to close the browser tab/window.
You can now make pop-up forms in MailPoet, or directly integrate MailPoet with your existing email opt-in plugin. MailPoet directly integrates with most of the popular free and premium email marketing plugins including Gravity Forms and OptinMonster.
If you’re not sure where to start, MailPoet offers pre-built welcome email templates that you can use to kickstart your WooCommerce email marketing journey.
1.2 Welcome email with latest offers
If you do not want to offer a discount code to your new visitors, you can use the latest offers/FOMO (fear of missing out) technique to generate leads. Examples include: “Be the first to know our latest offers” or “Don’t miss out on our next sale” emails.
Admittedly, these won’t perform as well as a discount-oriented welcome email, but nonetheless, it’s a good technique to generate leads.
In the screenshot above, Nike displays a “Latest news/offers” lead generation box right when I was about to close the browser tab.
Here’s the welcome email I received from Nike.
2) eCommerce engagement emails
The following WooCommerce email marketing strategies are used to engage visitors in the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) stage. Eligible customer segments include Window Shoppers, Leads, Cart Abandoners, and more.
2.1 Fear of missing out (FOMO) emails
When a visitor signs up for your newsletter in exchange for a coupon code but does not make a purchase, it’s time to engage that visitor with a FOMO email.
Consider the welcome email from OnePlus that contained a 20% off coupon. If I don’t use the coupon before it expires, OnePlus could send me a reminder email that reads something like: “Your 20% off coupon expires in 3 days!”
Such emails remind the visitor of why they signed up in the first place and encourages them to make a purchase.
2.1.1 Flash sale emails
Other examples of FOMO emails include Flash Sales and Stock Clearance sales.
For instance, take a look at the email from Comply (a premium ear tips manufacturer) that includes two incentives:
- A time-sensitive offer that lasts for only 6 hours, inciting FOMO.
- A buy-one-get-one-free offer inciting, to some extent, the loss aversion bias.
The reader’s mind goes – If I purchase one in the next six hours (or by January 24 if they read the footer) then I’d get half off on the second tip. If you regularly use ear tips and own more than one pair of earphones, this would be a good deal for you.
2.1.2 Stock clearance sale emails
Stock clearance emails work great for bargain hunters and often result in conversions.
This stock clearance sale email from Nike offers 30% off on select products. It also mentions that the products are available in “limited quantity”, which incites FOMO in the reader’s mind. The two elements – discount and limited quantity – together incentivizes the user to make a purchase, or at the very least, click the Shop button.
2.2 Abandoned cart emails
7 out of 10 eCommerce users end up abandoning their cart, leading to $18 billion in lost revenue each year. The email open rate for abandoned cart emails is 43.21% in 2019, with a conversion rate of 18%.
To put it in perspective, if you had 1000 visitors to your eCommerce site, 777 of them would abandon their cart. If you targeted the cart abandoners with abandoned cart emails, 355 of them would open the email, out of which, 63 of them would complete the purchase.
In other words, a simple abandoned cart email would increase your conversion rate by 6.3% – which is huge in eCommerce!
Here’s an example of an abandoned cart email from a leading eCommerce site in India.
If you have the email address of a visitor who has abandoned their cart, you can send them an abandonment cart email, gently reminding them to finish their purchase. You can also use FOMO techniques such as “limited quantities available”.
Furthermore, for users with a high cart value, you can send them an additional discount coupon, further incentivizing them to complete the purchase.
MailPoet has the ability to send automatic abandoned cart emails in WooCommerce, which you can implement in just a few clicks. To make the most out of your WooCommerce email marketing efforts, make sure to read our best practices guide on cart abandonment emails.
2.3 Product/category viewed emails
Emails personalized to the product/category viewed are specific to people in the MOFU stage and are based on their site activity (also known as site behavior) and are typically used to move visitors further down the marketing funnel.
For instance, if a user has spent more than 15 minutes on your site, having viewed a particular brand’s product or a specific category, you could send them an engagement email with an incentive. The incentive can vary depending on the cart value:
- If the ticket size (or cart value) is high but the margin is low, incentives could include free shipping or a limited stock message that induces FOMO.
- If the ticket size and/or margin is high, then the incentive could include a discount coupon.
Having received the email, the visitor might be motivated to continue their search and maybe make a purchase.
For example, in the screenshot above, Amazon sends an automated email recommending laptops, based on my browsing behavior. They’ve made sure to highlight the discounts on each laptop, which motivates me to continue my search, and hopefully make a purchase.
2.4 Promotional & seasonal sale emails
Promotional emails sent during festive seasons such as Easter are known to boost your annual revenues. They can be used across the entire customer funnel – including TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU.
Segmenting users based on their past website behavior and/or purchases can yield better email open rates and conversions. You can also add additional incentives such as free shipping above a certain minimum cart value, discount coupon on specific categories, etc., to improve your conversion rate.
In the screenshot above, Crello (a graphic design platform) sends an Easter sale email with a 50% discount coupon and a limited time offer – two pretty good incentives to upgrade for a user.
You can use MailPoet’s ready-made promotional email templates and/or the drag-and-drop email builder, to personalize your WooCommerce promotional emails.
3) Post-purchase eCommerce engagement emails
Post-purchase emails are vital to your WooCommerce email marketing efforts and are applicable at the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) stage.
The following section explores basic post-purchase emails such as transactional, first-purchase, feedback and upsell emails.
I’m also going to cover some slightly more advanced email marketing tactics (such as retention and reactivation), that are used to win back dormant users or win new customers.
3.1 Transactional emails
Transactional emails keep your customers up to date on the status of their order, including updates on shipping, delivery, order delays (if any), and payment/refund issues.
Following is a list of the typical post-purchase emails that most eCommerce companies should implement:
- New Order – Notifies the customer that their order has been successfully placed.
- Cancelled Order – Notifies the customer that their order has been cancelled and that any refunds will be processed shortly.
- Order On-Hold – Notifies the customer when the order status is changed to “On-Hold”. You (the WooCommerce store admin) can change the order status to “On-Hold” when you experience setbacks such as delivery delays, inventory issues.
- Order Processing – Notifies the customer when the order status is changed to “Order Processing”. You can send this email once the order has been shipped.
- Order Completed – Notifies the customer when an order has been successfully completed.
- Order Refunded – Notifies the customer when an order is refunded, typically sent after an order cancellation.
- Customer Invoice – Sent to the customer containing order information.
MailPoet has the ability to customize the default WooCommerce email templates, giving you the ability to match the design of your transactional emails to that of your brand. In the screenshot above, we are using MailPoet to customize the Completed order email template in WooCommerce.
3.2 First-purchase emails
This is one of the very first emails that you send to a new customer after they have made their first purchase. The objective can be brand reinforcement or to drive additional sales.
In the screenshot above, Zulily, a kids fashion eCommerce store sends a combined thank you & referral email right after the first purchase. Zulily incentivizes you to refer your friends in exchange for store credit.
Here are a few common types of first-purchase emails:
- “Thank you for shopping with us” emails reinforce your brand in your customer’s mind
- “You may also like” product recommendation emails can drive additional revenue
- “Refer a friend and earn” can also win you new customers.
We’ve discussed each of these types of email – at length – in the following sections.
You can use MailPoet to send automated first purchase emails in WooCommerce. And if you’d like to read more about best practices for this type of WooCommerce follow-up email, check out our dedicated guide.
3.3 Feedback / NPS survey emails
A good eCommerce store will always listen to their customers. One of the ways to do that is by gathering feedback. Once an order is successfully delivered, you could send a Shopping Experience and/or Product Quality Feedback email to your customers, coupled with a discount coupon as an incentive.
You could also include an Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to gauge your customer satisfaction rating:
- People who respond with an NPS score of 9 or above can be added to your list of loyal customers.
- For people responding negatively, it would be in your best interest to understand what went wrong, and prevent it from happening to future customers.
For instance, in the screenshot above, Rapha, a sportswear/lifestyle brand, sends a survey email to its customers, incentivised with a 20% discount coupon on their next order.
3.4 Upsell emails
Upsell emails are based on product recommendations. For instance, if you buy a razor from Harry’s (a shaving/grooming brand), they send you an upsell email featuring their shaving gel and moisturizer.
Automatic product recommendation engines (such as Dynamic Yields) can be technically difficult to set up and/or prohibitively expensive for small eCommerce businesses.
If you use WooCommerce to run your eCommerce store, then you could easily send product recommendation emails using MailPoet. Simply use MailPoet’s built-in email type “Purchased In This Category” to send automatic upsell emails in WooCommerce.
3.5 Product replenishment emails
Product replenishment emails are a classic example of re-engagement emails, sent by eCommerce companies to their customers who have purchased a consumable product (such as edibles, bath/body care, pet food, baby necessities, etc.), and are about to run out of said product.
In order to send effective product replenishment emails, you’ll first need to study the repeat purchase behavior of your BOFU customers.
The goal is to get on the top of the customer’s mind right around the time when they’re about to run out of the product. This makes timing a crucial part of product replenishment emails:
- If you send an email too early, i.e. before the product has been half consumed, then you might bug the user, causing them to unsubscribe.
- If you send it too late, i.e. after the product is over, then the consumer might have already ordered another one or even switched to a different brand.
- The timing should be such that the email is sent when the consumer is just about to run out of the product.
For instance, if you sell gourmet spices that last for about 45 days under normal consumption patterns, then you might want to send the replenishment email on the 35th day.
You can use MailPoet’s built-in “Purchased This Product” email type to send automatic product replenishment emails in WooCommerce.
3.6 Referral emails
Referral emails are reserved for your most loyal customers at the BOFU stage. When done right, referral marketing can win you new customers, while retaining/delighting existing ones.
What makes it especially attractive, is the fact that the people referred by your loyal customers are most likely to make a purchase from your eCommerce store, as they already have the trust and quality factors verified from their friend.
There are various referral marketing strategies that you can use for your store, the most common one being a monetary reward.
Take a look at the email from Zoomin – an online photo delivery service. I order from Zoomin throughout the year and hence fit the profile of a loyal customer at the BOFU stage. Zoomin sends a referral email wherein I can win cash based on the number of users I refer.
3.7 Re-engaging old customers
There’s an entire section of marketing called “remarketing” that is dedicated to re-engaging your past customers – i.e. people who have purchased from you in the past, and have now become inactive or have unsubscribed from your service.
However, since remarketing is out of scope for this article, we’ve included some in-depth guides in our recommended reading section. For now, to get a general idea of the topic, let’s take a look at some examples of re-engagement / remarketing emails from SaaS/digital product companies. These companies generally offer a discounted price to try and convert inactive or free/trial user customers to paying ones.
I had signed up for The New Yorker newsletter, and a couple weeks ago, but hadn’t really visited their website much. Take a look at the re-engagement email they sent me that offers a 12-week subscription at $1/week. It’s a good deal, and reinforces the freedom from commitment by using the phrase “Cancel anytime.”
Similarly, this is an email from Grammarly, trying to get me to upgrade to their paid annual subscription, the incentive being a limited-time 50% discount.
WooCommerce is an excellent tool for setting up a new eCommerce store. The email marketing tips discussed in this article can be used as a good starting point for getting new customers, engaging existing ones, and improving the overall conversion rate for your eCommerce site.
WooCommerce email marketing strategies grouped by customer segment
Not all strategies discussed above might work for you. While there are certain strategies that you must implement, the others can be taken up as you learn about your customer behavior.
Here’s a handy table of all the WooCommerce email marketing tips discussed in the article:
|Email type||Priority||Customer segment||Difficulty of implementation|
|Welcome emails with discounts or latest offers||Must have||TOFU||Easy|
|Flash sale emails||Good to have||All||Easy|
|Stock clearance emails||Good to have||All||Easy|
|Abandoned cart emails||Must have||MOFU, BOFU||Easy|
|Product/Category viewed emails||Good to have||All||Hard|
|Promotional emails (seasonal sales, etc)||Must have||All||Easy|
|Emails to re-engage dormant/lost customers||Must have||BOFU||Hard|
|Transactional emails||Must have||BOFU||Easy|
|First-purchase emails||Must have||BOFU||Easy|
|Feedback/ NPS survey emails||Must have||BOFU||Easy|
|Upsell emails||Good to have||BOFU||Hard|
|Product replenishment emails||Good to have||BOFU||Hard|
|Referral emails||Good to have||BOFU||Medium|
While plugins like MailPoet can handle transactional WooCommerce emails at scale, you might want to invest in an audience engagement tool such as CleverTap or Mixpanel to get the most out of your customer data.
These tools will help you the right segment, analyze customer behavior, and send targeted messages to the right user at the right time.
While email is the dominant medium to get transactions, channels like push notifications and in-app messages are vital for an eCommerce app.
Here are some recommended reading articles to get the most out of your WooCommerce email marketing efforts:
- A Complete Guide to Email for WooCommerce
- 10 Excellent Free and Premium WordPress Email Marketing Plugins – MailPoet
- 50 eCommerce Segmentation Recipes You Can Start Using Today – Dynamic Yield
- Ecommerce Retargeting 101: How to Drive Sales with Paid Ads – Veeqo
- Retention Marketing: How 5 top eCommerce brands are crushing it – Barilliance
- Ecommerce Retention Marketing – Metrilo