Socialike Blog

Lead Nurturing For eCommerce Brands: Step by Step Guide

Are you wanting to grow your eCommerce brand? If so, mastering your lead nurturing is a must. Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with your leads throughout the buying process so they’re more inclined to buy from you, and eventually, become loyal customers.

You can probably recall a few instances yourself where you’ve received a lead nurturing email. Any email where you’ve received a warm welcome, personalized offer, or interesting insight from a brand are all examples of lead nurturing.

Although these emails are often short and sweet, their return on investment is anything but, and a nurtured relationship pays dividends when it comes to your bottom line. In fact, research suggests that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than those who buy immediately.

So, how do you nurture a lead? After all, eCommerce brands are faced with a few challenges more traditional brands don’t face. Sales cycles are short, with a single decision-maker who can compare brands with just a few clicks, so your brand needs to be able to stand out from the crowd quickly.

Despite these challenges, mastering eCommerce lead nurturing is possible. In this guide, we’ll step you through exactly how to create a lead nurturing campaign that’s tailored to these challenges, and keeps customers coming back once they’ve made their first purchase.

The eCommerce customer lifecycle

To master lead nurturing, it's important to understand the eCommerce lifecycle. The eCommerce customer lifecycle is the progression of steps a customer goes through when considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a brand or a product. The following basic lifecycle is a good starting point for defining the lifecycle.

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Importantly, the eCommerce customer lifecycle doesn’t end when someone makes their first purchase. Once you’ve converted a new customer, it’s up to you to ensure that they come back and buy again, and become loyal customers. This means that in many ways, your lead nurturing never stops. At every stage of the customer lifecycle, there is an opportunity to engage with leads and customers and improve your relationship with them.

The importance of understanding the customer lifecycle

We know that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than those who buy immediately, and this is because nurtured leads are more likely to be engaged with your brand and become loyal customers.

In eCommerce, how much a customer spends each time they make a purchase is known as your average order value (AOV), and how much they spend over their entire relationship with your brand is known as customer lifetime value (LTV). Both these figures are vital measures for eCommerce success. Because they consistently make repeat purchases, loyal customers ensure that you’re not constantly having to convince new people to buy from you to boost your bottom line. Loyal customers are also more likely to do some of your marketing for you and tell their friends and family just how much they love your product.

This is why understanding your customer lifecycle is an important part of the lead nurturing success. While getting new people through the door is important, it isn’t the only step in lead nurturing. If you’re able to also create loyal customers, you’re far more likely to have eCommerce growth success.

How to create a lead nurturing campaign in 5 steps

We now know that the right lead nurturing campaign can help grow your eCommerce brand and create loyal customers. Now, let’s take a look at the steps you need to go through to build a lead nurturing campaign that makes those loyal customers a reality.

Step 1: Understand your customer and target audience

Let’s face it, although running an eCommerce brand is a bunch of fun, at the end of the day, your main goal is to maximize profits. As mentioned, the simplest way to accomplish this goal isn’t to get more people through the door, but to increase customer LTV by nurturing happy, loyal customers.

Each stage of the customer lifecycle holds different opportunities for creating loyal customers. Understanding these opportunities is the first step to understanding what a good goal is for your lead nurturing campaign.

When prioritizing which goal to pursue and which segment to target with your lead nurturing campaign, take into consideration two factors:

  • The total opportunity associated with that segment
  • How difficult or easy it may be to accomplish the goal for that lifecycle stage (which is much more difficult to quantify, but should not be ignored)

To determine an opportunity in each lifecycle stage, you want to quantify what can be gained, from each segment. We often do this with customers by using a table such as the below:  

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Step 2: Define your campaign goal

Now that you know your target audience, you can develop your campaign goal. Each campaign goal is designed to move customers through different stages of the customer lifecycle. Based on your analysis, you may decide on a goal such as:

  • Move Potential Customers to First-Time Buyers
  • Move First-Time Buyers to Repeat Customers
  • Keep Repeat Customers active (i.e., turn Repeat Customers into Active Repeat Customers)
  • Move At-Risk Customers back to Repeat Customers
  • Win-back Idle Customers

STEP 3: Choose the right lead nurturing campaign to meet your goal

Once you’ve chosen your campaign goal, you’ll want to choose the campaign to match it. Luckily, there’s a campaign to match each goal. The chart below outlines the types of campaigns recommended to achieve each specific goal.

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STEP 4: Create Content for Your Lead Nurturing Campaign

Now, it’s crunch time. To run a successful lead nurturing campaign, you’ll want to ensure your campaign speaks to the needs of what stage your leads are in the customer lifecycle.

We’ve broken down each of the campaigns listed in the table above with what emails you’ll need to include for an effective campaign.

Welcome campaign  

If you’re wanting to turn potential buyers into first time customers, what better way to start the relationship out than with a warm welcome.

As the name suggests, a welcome campaign sends a welcome message to people who have recently subscribed to your mailing list, with the aim of turning them into customers using an incentive.

In the emails you should establish your brand's personality, using tone of voice, imagery, and story. However, avoid bombarding people with aggressive sales so early on in the relationship.

The basic welcome campaign consists of two main emails:

Email 1: Welcome + Incentive

Sent as soon as someone has signed up to your mailing list, this email should be short and sweet. It should welcome people to your mailing list and incentivize them to make a purchase with an offer or coupon code.

Email 2: Incentive Reminder

If people don’t make a purchase after the first email, this email is a reminder of the incentive or offer you made in your first email. Using urgency and scarcity in this message (e.g., “Your offer is about to expire”, “Hurry now to use your 10% discount!”) is highly recommended to drive the conversion.

Email 3-5: Optional Emails

As the above two emails are reasonably short, you can include extra emails in your campaign to familiarize people with your brand and further drive sales. Extra emails often included are:

  • Tell your brand story: An email that introduces your customer to your brand, and what makes you different from other brands that sell the same product.
  • Provide social proof: Tell the story of a happy customer, or share positive customer reviews.
  • Product benefits: Highlight the benefits of your product, what’s the main problem people are trying to solve when they buy your product?
  • Incentive expiration: A further reminder of the incentive mentioned in your welcome email, again using scarcity.
Abandoned cart campaign

According to Baymard Institute, 69.57% of online shopping carts are abandoned. Think about that. For every 100 potential customers, 70 of them will leave without purchasing.

An abandoned cart campaign aims to get shoppers to complete their purchases. To do this, all emails should include:

  • The abandoned item displayed as part of the message and subject line
  • Product image
  • A backlink URL directed to the abandoned-cart checkout

A good abandoned cart campaign consists of three emails:

Email 1: Cart reminder

We’ve all received these emails. Usually sent an hour after the cart has been abandoned, it’s a simple reminder that the shopper still has items in their cart. You may or may not include a slight discount.

Email 2: Cart Incentive

Sent the next day, include a discount or offer that’s slightly better than the one offered in the first email (if one was offered at all). Create a sense of urgency, emphasizing that the offer expires within one to three days.

Email 3: Cart Expiration

Sent three days after cart abandon, create a further sense of urgency for the shopper to complete their purchase by indicating their offer or purchase will be gone within 24 hours (e.g., “Your discount expires today” or “Hurry, {product name} is selling out fast”).

Post-Purchase Series (Order and Shipping Confirmation)

If your campaign is focused on moving first-time buyers to repeat buyers, a post-purchase series can be an underestimated lead nurturing opportunity. Because customers are expecting these emails, they’re far more likely to open and read them.

Post-purchase emails tend to be generic, so if you make an effort to stand out, customers will notice. Capitalize on their post-purchase high by including:

  • A discount to shop again.
  • The highlight of any shipping-specific value-points, such as always free shipping, free returns, etc.
  • Product recommendations personalized to the customer and their purchase history.
  • Product-specific educational information or resources to help your customer get the most out of their purchase.
New Customer Campaign

Alongside your post purchase sequence, a new customer welcome campaign also helps recent customers feel welcome to your brand. In fact, welcome emails can be vital in determining the likelihood that customers will open your subsequent emails, so it’s important to get the sequence right.

Because welcomes emails establish your brands personality at this crucial point in the customer lifecycle, the email campaign is longer, including five core emails:

Email 1: Confirmation Email

Sent one day after purchase.

Keep this email short, congratulate the customer on their first purchase and invite the recipient to engage with your brand on social media.

Email 2: Brand Story

Sent one week after purchase.

Your initial email was short, but this one allows you to expand a bit more on your brand and what makes you unique, giving the customer more information on your brand’s story and values.

Email 3: Helpful resources

Sent two weeks after purchase.

Now that customers know a bit about who your brand is, it’s time to walk the talk and establish yourself as a trusted advisor and source of information. This email might address common pain points you know your customers have by providing links to tutorials, blog posts, or industry insights to help them get the best use out of your products

Email 4: Product Review Request

Sent three weeks after purchase (or just after product delivery).

A post-purchase email is a great way to tell your most recent customers that their opinion matters, as well as get product reviews as social proof for future customers.

Email 5: Up/Cross-Sell

Sent one month after purchase.

Now that you have established a strong pattern of engagement with your new customer, you can take the opportunity to suggest some complementary or upgraded products. Of course, you should ensure that the selection of products is personalized, and reflects the products they've previously purchased from you.

Repeat Customer Campaign

If you’ve managed to turn new customers into repeat customers, you’ll want to ensure that this repeat isn’t a one-off, and that people actively buy again on a regular basis. The solution? A repeat customer campaign.

Because this customer segment is so vital to increasing customer LTV, we want them to feel valued and important to our brand. Again, this campaign should be personalized to your brand, but some emails commonly included are:

Email 1: Thank you email

This is the one must-have on this list. You’re thanking them not just for a single purchase, but for being a loyal customer and a champion of your brand.

Email 2: Referral/Loyalty/VIP Program Email

Loyal repeat customers don’t just boost customer LTV, they can help also boost customer AOV. Introducing a loyalty program for your customers can be a fantastic way to show them that you value them while giving them access to exclusive offers, content, and events that encourage them to purchase more.

Email 3: Replenishment/Reorder Email

One of the best ways to guarantee repeat purchases is to remind the customer that it’s time to buy again. Use customer data to measure the average length between orders, and send an email that reminds customers to repurchase around this time. If you want to boost sales further, a small discount can also be used to motivate customers.

Email 4: Birthday/Anniversary Email

An easy win for creating highly personalized content is to send birthday or anniversary emails to your customers. Send a celebratory email to your customers on the day with a small discount as a token of thanks.

Email 5: Exclusive Access Email

Give your most loyal customers a reason to stay by providing them with exclusive content, invites to VIP events, and early access to new products. They will love feeling like members of the elite group!

Re-Engagement Campaign

Sometimes, customers might have made a purchase recently enough to be considered active, but long enough ago that you’re at the risk of falling off their radar. A re-engagement sequence can pop your brand back on their radar and encourage them to buy again.

There are three key emails that you’ll want to include in your re-engagement sequence:

Email 1: Initial reach out

This email aims to get you back on the customer's radar, so ensure you remind the customer of their previous purchases so it doesn’t feel like your message is coming out of the blue. If you sell products that are replaceable and consumable (such as food or skincare), you’ll likely start this sequence with a replenishment email. However, for items that aren’t replaceable (such as clothing), you can send an up/cross-sell email that presents related products personalized for the customer.

Email 2: One month reach out

If your customer hasn’t bought again after one month, reach out again with another email. The aim of this email is to overcome buyer rejections, so if you have an understanding of what these commonly are, ensure they’re addressed in the email. However, the tone of the email shouldn’t be salesy. It should overcome the rejections by reminding the customer of what makes your brand unique, with recent updates and content, or even a small discount offer.

Email 3: Two month reach out

If another month passes and your customer still hasn’t repurchased, you’ll want to reach out to them one final time before they’re considered lost. Unlike your pervious email, the tone of this email should be heavily promotional. It should include offers and discounts that are personalized to them and based off their previous purchases with you.

Win-back Campaign

If a customer is considered lost, you can attempt to win them back with a win-back campaign. If the customer does not respond to these emails, you should consider removing them from your mailing list.

This sequence usually consists of four emails:

Email 1: The “miss you”

This email is like reaching out to an old friend and asking for a coffee date. Sent as soon as the customer is deemed lost, it’s friendly, warm, and contains a small discount. Simply, you’re checking in on the customer and letting them know that you’ve missed them.

Email 2: Personalized discount

Sent one week after the first email, provide the customer with a stronger incentive, such as a larger discount or offer, to catch their attention. Use customer data to personalize the content of the email based on their purchase history and previous offer interaction to get them motivated to buy again.

Email 3: Incentive expiration

Sent two-three weeks after your initial “miss you” email, this is your final attempt to get your customer over the line. Create a sense of urgency that the discount or offer you made previously is about to expire (usually within 24 hours).

Email 4: Unsubscribe notice

After one month, it might feel clear that the customer likely isn’t going to purchase again. This last email asks them to either confirm subscription or to unsubscribe. If the customer doesn’t respond, you should remove them from your email list, as to not annoy or bombard them with content they’re not engaging with.

STEP 5: Build your campaign

Once you’ve understood your target audience, defined your campaign goal and the right email sequence to go along with it, it’s now time to build out your email campaign.

Choosing your automation software

Because you want your campaign to flow seamlessly, you’ll want to use automation software to build it out. There’s a number of options to do this, however, for eCommerce we recommend Klaviyo.

Klaviyo’s ability to track your lead nurturing success in revenue, not clicks or opens makes it our platform of choice. Because, at the end of the day, boosting sales (and your bottom line), is the goal of your lead nurturing campaigns.

Planning your email logistics

Once you know what platform you’ll be using to build out your workflows, it’s time to get building. Here are a few key things you’ll also want to consider as you continue to build your lead nurturing campaign:

  • Email timing: This depends largely on the campaign you’re running, but you’ll want to think about how the emails in your campaign are spaced out.
  • Enrollment criteria: Decide on how customers are enrolled. This can sometimes be limited by the type of automation software you’re using but can include events such as subscribing to your email list, making a purchase within a certain period or failing to interact with your last 10 emails
  • Exclusion criteria: For example, to avoid over-emailing, it is a good idea to ensure customers are only enrolled in one campaign at a time (this also means customers don’t receive multiple discounts at once). You may also want to exclude certain customers if you know they’ve received similar emails in recent months, or if they’ve still got a valid discount they can use. 
Continued nurturing: the role of a promotional calendar

You may have noticed that once a contact has completed one of your campaigns unless they change lifecycle stages, you won't be able to continue nurturing them. That’s why it’s important to use promotional emails as part of your ongoing lead nurturing efforts.

Having a promotional calendar that can ensure that you’re still able to reach out and interact with customers on a regular basis. Often, your promotional calendar will coincide with times that customers or leads are more likely to have a reason to buy. Key promotional calendar dates may include:

  • Holiday Season
  • New Year
  • Back to School
  • Seasonal Sales (e.g Winter Clearance, Summer Frenzy Sale)

Conclusion

Lead nurturing campaigns are an important part of your eCommerce marketing strategy. When done right, a lead nurturing campaign helps you increase both AOV and customer LTV, which in turn increases the bottom line for your business.  

Hopefully, this guide gives you the tools you need to get started on building your lead nurturing campaign. However, if you’re wanting some extra help, feel free to reach out to Socialike. We’ve been around the block when it comes to designing the right eCommerce lead nurturing campaign and we can help you build a campaign that creates loyal customers.

Happy lead nurturing!

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