4 Types of Ecommerce Emails to Send to Millennials

/ ecommerce / 10 min read
Jake Rheude

Table of Contents

The Millennial is treated like a mysterious beast, lurking in the eCommerce woods and making purchases, demanding you leave tribute in fancy packages or with monthly deliveries in order to receive its purchase boon. However, they’re skittish beasts and one bad email marketing attempt may send them further into cover, never to return.

Or, so the story goes.

Reality may be a little more mundane, but the story does highlight a very important aspect of eCommerce; people could avoid your brand or abandon carts on your website for all kinds of reasons, large and small. So, you’ve got to be at the top of your game, especially with email. There’s always a risk, but plenty of reward if you’re sending out the right eCommerce emails.

1. The Post-Sale Email

Immediately after your system verifies a purchase, your customer should receive an email. This confirmation email should be easy to generate from your eCommerce platform and automatically fill in the blanks of the person, purchased items, shipping information, etc.

It’s a wonderful way to touch base and ensure there aren’t any concerns about a purchase. However, it can quickly go off the rails.

Don’t: The long-form sales letter

There’s always an argument about whether or not long-form sales letters work. We’ve seen some do well in the past, followed by a push to short copy, only for the pendulum to swing back and forth between the two.

We’re not saying never use them, but we are saying never use them here.

The post-purchase email is designed to be a “thank you” note that confirms information. Think of it like getting a receipt from an in-store purchase. The service rep thanks you, puts the receipt in the bag, and you go on your merry way. Sure, they may add in a flyer or coupon or something else, but it is a little bonus.

If, however, after your sale the clerk demanded you fill out a long form to use your new purchase, or wanted to talk for 20 minutes and followed you out to the car, it could be off-putting. In that case, you might walk a bit faster and close the door as quickly as you can.

In the digital world, you might go back to the website and cancel a purchase.

Do: Short, sweet, and personal

The best thing you can do is keep this email short and sweet. Thank the person, by name!

You want to re-connect and get the relationship personal, because these emails can boost how they perceive you and further engagement. Plus, they’re 8x more likely to be opened and 6x more likely to generate revenue, compared to all other email types.

Taking the opportunity is up to you, depending on the style of your brand and your customers. Sometimes, truly simple takes the cake.

If you’re going to add more, always provide the customer with a receipt of the fill list of items, costs, shipping, taxes, and anything else that was charged.

Whenever possible, include a note about shipping itself. If your system automatically generates orders and assigns tracking details, share those with a note about how long it usually takes for the information to go live. If you do that at the time of shipment, tell the customer when to expect your next email with delivery information.

Be informative, helpful, and gracious.

2. The Big Announcement

Every ecommerce store needs to announce new products, sales, clearance, promotions, and much more in their ecommerce email marketing. Getting it right can lead to a lot of new sales and repeat customers. Getting it wrong can get your marketing emails sent to the trash or even risk blocks and unsubscribes. Here’s one reason that might happen and how to avoid it.

Don’t: The Instagram feed

Here’s an interesting note that you might not have realized that’ll apply to lots of your emails: open rates are becoming unreliable.

Why? Because more and more people, especially your younger audience, are using email services that prevent images from loading. Some do it to have a lighter email that loads faster, while other don’t like being tracked.

And now here’s what the means for your ecommerce content: if you’re sending pure visual emails to announce new products or updates, but keeping it strictly visual, a chunk of your audience might not see anything. They’ll get the broken image link and then have to decide if they want to look at what you offer.

If your ecommerce brand doesn’t have a great reputation with that specific person, or they aren’t necessarily in the mood for what you offer, it’s a quick delete. You’ve added a major barrier.

So, avoid creating a set of pure images that makes your audience have to click to see what you’re offering. It’ll feel like spam and may make them more inclined to unsubscribe than check out your latest announcement.

Do: Include copy to reach more

You want to catch someone’s eye no matter what. That means mixing in visuals with text so that every single person can see something. Relying on too many visuals will push content off the page or remove it altogether, making us unlikely to check you out anymore.

However, you can keep visuals in — the best ratio differs based on products and brand awareness. The three essential best practices are:

  • Ensuring that your CTAs get repeated, so people know that clicking leads to a deal or seeing new products.
  • Embedding images in the body and testing them (avoid anything that gets converted to an attachment)
  • And using image alt-tags — coded text that is visible when the images aren’t or can’t be displayed.

And, you don’t have to add a lot of image alt-tags! Instead of giving every image one, focus on being strategic and design with the whitespace in mind. Create to catch attention. And tracking what products, images, or text people click on may help you understand what items can be kitted together for better sales.

Here’s a strong example from the Life is Good brand that uses image details to show us three different sales in the otherwise blank space (all of this text is invisible when you load images from the email):

3. The Early Follow-Up

Don’t: Push the up-sell or ask favors before products arrive

It’s tempting to get people back into your sales funnel and email marketing campaigns are a straightforward way to push them. Unfortunately, pushing isn’t going to work out for a lot of companies, especially if these messages flood inboxes for products arrive on porches.

What’s perhaps most important to understand for pushing and upselling ahead of product delivery is that you’re ignoring the context of the delivery and the customer experience. By ignoring that, the customer is going to feel like this is a bad form letter and that you don’t have an interest in them specifically. That harms trust, can sour the experience, and may increase the likelihood that they’ll leave a critical review.

Here’s an email from Indestructible that we’ll highlight for a couple of reasons.

First, the email acknowledges that an order has happened (good), but it was sent long before the product arrived (bad). It arrived after a Facebook survey request, so it is one of multiple requests to perform an action before the customer has the product. It gets a little worse because the favor is to review the shows.

And here’s where it can get frustrating, especially for your tech-savvy customers (like Millennials and Gen Z): the email specifically requests positive reviews of the product AND ties a future discount to a 5-star review.

There’s nothing to review yet, so now they’ve made it appear as if all of the 5-star reviews are fake — and that’s pure poison to Millennials. Unfortunately, they use such reviews in other marketing and emails. So, all the pushing has threatened any trust the company was previous able to build.

Do: Be helpful to build excitement

For your new buyers, don’t hit them with an immediate up-sell. Your brand is likely new to them and you’re still building that foundation of trust. Instead, be helpful.

In the thank-you email that you send after a purchase, include a story, video, or other content that shows people using the products this individual purchased. Early follow-ups should then highlight special ways to use or care for what you sell.

Focus on elements that may be tricky for someone new to your product. It could be a 30-second video to show how to set something up or get started online. Keeping with our shoe focus, for instance, you might want to demonstrate how to protect and clean suede shoes properly.

This content is designed to improve how someone uses and enjoys your product. It can also give them ideas of what to do when your products arrive. You’re building excitement without asking for anything else. Improving the first experience is one of the best investments you can make into getting that repeat purchase.

4. The Cart Abandonment

Alright, let’s dive into some of the most important stats for your ecommerce business, concerning when people choose not to buy (at least not initially).

From this great Moosend roundup, we learn:

  • 69% of ecommerce carts are abandoned, on average
  • However, 45% of cart abandonment emails are opened and 21% are clicked on
  • 50% of the users who clicked on a cart-abandon email end up purchasing

And a side note from us fulfillment folks, it’s important to know that around 60% of cart abandonment is due to shipping costs, delays, or other reasons. So, plan for these concerns when setting up your ecommerce website.

So, the big takeaway is that cart abandonment is going to happen, but if you can get people engage enough to open your email and click through, you’ve got a great chance of recapturing those sales. You don’t have to face massive lost revenue.

The trick is creating an email that makes people want to click and avoiding ones that kill engagement.

Don’t: Get angry or impersonal

How much do you want to buy from someone who is annoying or has a bad attitude?

If that’s the case, why would a customer buy from you if you’re a grump? One of the worst things you can do in a cart abandonment email is to come off as entitled or angry that someone dares not buy from you. We’ve seen it in the past and companies with the more famous examples either aren’t around anymore or have learned their lesson.

Personality plays a crucial role in how well people engage with you and why they would want to buy from you. Being angry or aggressive won’t win you sales, it’ll send people to your competitors. You want to remind someone why they were buying from you, instead of reminding them why you stopped.

At the other end of the spectrum is losing the feeling altogether. Impersonal emails don’t excite or engage. If you’re not showing people what they put in their cart, encouraging them to buy, or reconnecting, they’re going to feel as blah as your email.

Here’s an older example from Sephora (and a good note: their current ones are much, much better!)

It feels flat and isn’t that engaging. You could easily glance at this email and not realize what it is for or not remember why you wanted the product.

Do: Keep it light and like you

Cart abandonment happens for all kinds of reasons, and you can never quite guess what it is before you ask. So, instead of making a lot of guesses or trying to explain everything away, narrow the focus on one aspect of your sale and what the customer needs to do to finish.

Short emails get your point across and keep the reader’s attention the entire time, without big risks for turning someone off when you want their money. Light makes it feel like the purchase is enjoyable, and you’ll have plenty of a chance to let your brand voice shine.

Here’s a great Dote example that’s floating around the Web.

There’s a little bit of fun that feels like the Dote brand elsewhere, and it reminds the customer that the order is saved with a one-click way to see it. Plus, visual cues in the email look like the checkout page, making the reader more inclined if they click through.

It’s a strong piece with a clear message that focuses on reminding you about the cart. There’s not a lot of extra requirements, concerns, or copy. It’s short, a little fun, and makes you want to get back to their site.

They’re also good guidelines to get you started thinking on retargeting campaigns.

Wrapping Up

We’re continually told that Millennials need a lot of extra handholding, time, precaution, and other efforts in our marketing. Thankfully, that’s not proving very true anymore, especially in eCommerce email marketing. Most of today’s best practices are built with Millennials in mind. They’re one of the largest spending groups and do 60% of their buying online.

So, instead of trying to figure out how to appeal to millions of people all at once, work on your specific audience. Build for the people who like you and the ones you want to impress. Create content you would want and send emails you’d find helpful or relevant.

There’s no secret sauce to win over a Millennial, well beyond just doing generally good marketing and making a connection.

About the author
Jake Rheude
Knoxwille, TN
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development.

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