What Makes a Good Retail Email Programme?

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It can be easy for a retailer to generate revenue from their email marketing program without a huge amount of effort, and many marketers fail to see the numerous opportunities which can improve results further. Therefore, I have put together a list of the key campaigns which should be included in your retail email program:


This isn’t just as simple as sending an email as soon as a customer registers, but a suite of scheduled emails which educate the customer about your products and services. These should be in bite-sized chunks so each message can be easily digested.

Cart Recovery

A no-brainer for retailers. With most sites seeing more customers abandon their baskets than complete them, there is a huge opportunity to use email to reclaim some of these customers and turn these lost opportunities into sales.In fact the opportunity is so big, you can expect it to start equating between 3-5% of your online sales – what other simple initiative can offer this level of instant uplift?

Order Confirmations

No doubt you already send these, and you have probably migrated to HTML versions nowadays. With order confirmations receiving a very high open rate, why not start the dialogue for the next purchase at this stage? A simple ‘Recommendations for your next purchase’ section can help the customer to register your brand in their sub-conscious for their next purchase.

The other area of improvement is in the copy. So often these emails simply perform a basic legal record of the transaction and are a long way from being aligned with the usual copy and tone of your brand. Think of this email as being part of the whole customer experience and refresh the copy accordingly.

Next Purchase Emails

How many of your customers have only purchased once from you online? If you are a typical online retailer this is likely to be in the region of 70-80%, leaving a massive missed opportunity. And no doubt after the first purchase we just add them to the same pot as all other customers when we email right?

Instead, introduce an email with a targeted incentive to re-visit and make the 2nd purchase, sent at the period where a typical customer would make their 2nd purchase. For some retailers this could be quick for everyday items, for others it might be several weeks or a few months if it is more of a considered infrequent purchase.

To maximise the impact of this email you should personalise it based upon the customer’s first purchase – this will stand out more if you do. Ideally use recommendations again which will resonate more with a customer, and drive urgency with a ‘Shop Today’ or ‘By Sunday’ style deadline to ensure the customer is incentivised to act now.

Getting the 2nd purchase is key, as this establishes habit forming, and hopefully a customer for life.


Returning to the idea that 70-80% of customers have only purchased once, the same figure is usually true of customers who have not purchased in the last year. These customers are essentially lost unless you can get them back – and if you do stimulate them to purchase then they are far more likely to continue making purchases from you.

Email can support this with a targeted campaign to those that have not ordered in a set period of time with a unique discount code, perhaps higher than you offer in standard promotions. You can afford to do this as it is a controlled audience – and if you calculate your cost of acquiring a new customer, then a higher discount makes perfect sense.


If you sell things that sell through – whether it be contact lenses, ink cartridges or other consumables then email makes perfect sense to remind customers to re-order with you, rather than risk them going back to Google to search when the time to re-order arrives.

Personalised Recommendations

We have talked here a lot about introducing new emails in the customer lifecycle. But the best email programmes also change the on-going email newsletters to drive more relevance through ensuring there is always something of interest in the email for each individual customer, and not simply sending everybody exactly the same.

There are different approaches depending on the nature of your business – for some simply segmenting your database into a handful of groups is enough, say by gender. For others, a more statistical method is required where personalised recommendations need calculating for each individual.

For more information on how to craft the perfect retail email programme, get in touch today and speak to one of our experts.