Level Up: 3 Conversion Techniques to Increase Your Return On Ad Spend | Coronavirus Series

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Explore daily insights surrounding the coronavirus crisis or check out these additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.

Due to the current crisis, consumers are moving their spending online and shopping with brands they’ve never bought from before, according to recent research. And this trend doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.

While it’s certainly a confusing and complicated time for ecommerce brands, there’s also a huge opportunity. Now’s the time to take advantage of online traffic, focus on acquisition efforts, and get in front of shoppers’ eyes wherever and whenever you can. 

But wait, what happens to all this new traffic if you haven’t developed your owned marketing channels like your website, email marketing program, and SMS marketing strategy? If you’re not first optimizing these touchpoints, your advertising spend isn’t going to have the pay off you’re looking for.

Recently, I shared three ways you can optimize different marketing basics: on-site forms, a welcome series, and segmentation. But how can you level up those marketing strategies to create a truly exceptional experience for your current and potential customers?

In part two, find out how you can take each of these techniques and make them even more effective so that every cent you put towards paid advertising pays off.


1 | Pop up forms

No matter what you sell, you should have at least one form set up on your ecommerce website to collect basic information from your customers like their name and email address.

But you can get more inventive by setting up different forms on different pages. The key here is that the offer and call to action (CTA) on each form should reflect where someone is in the buyer journey. 

For example, the popup form on your homepage could ask customers for their email in exchange for 15 percent off their first purchase. This might be the first time they’ve ever heard of your brand, so nurturing them in a welcome series (as we’ll discuss in more depth below) can help them familiarize themselves with what you have to offer. Plus, it gives them an incentive to subscribe to your marketing and make a first purchase.

On the other hand, someone who has items in their cart has a higher intent to buy. You probably don’t want to offer them a discount, but maybe you do want to offer a bonus gift with purchase or free shipping to seal the deal.

You can also play around with the timing of your pop-ups depending on what page they’re on. Does it make sense to set the form so it pops up as soon as someone lands on a certain page, should you wait until a certain amount of time has passed, or should you trigger it to pop up once they’re about to exit?

For your homepage, it might make more sense to have the pop-up trigger automatically for new customers, whereas on the checkout page you might want to hold off on offering an incentive until it seems like the shopper might abandon their cart.

Don’t just keep the timing of your pop-ups the same for every form on every page—think critically about how shoppers interact with different content and what timing will be most effective to entice them to fill it out.

Additionally, consider what other form fields you want shoppers to enter. In part one, I discussed how asking about customers’ preferences can help with personalization. But have you considered offering customers different ways to receive marketing communications from your brand?

Asking shoppers for their phone number in your pop ups not only gives you another channel to communicate with them, but it also creates a better experience going forward since it allows subscribers to choose how and where they want to hear from you.


2 | Welcome series

Just like form pop-ups, you can get even more personalized in a welcome series that matches the interests, preferences, and behaviors of your customers. 

Instead of sending the same discount to everyone who signs up for your emails, you could get more granular and send a discount offer only to subscribers who opened each email in your welcome series since they’re most engaged (of course, if you do this, don’t promise a discount in your pop-up form). Alternatively, experiment with other ways to give highly-engaged subscribers special offers if they show a high interest in your brand upfront.

You could also send a different welcome series for each signup method on your website. For example, you could send your traditional welcome series to anyone who subscribes through your homepage or on any product pages, whereas someone who signs up on your blog may respond more to a content-based approach.

For blog subscribers, you might want to create a welcome series that consists of your most popular articles, videos, or other educational resources to help them learn more about the benefits of your products and the advantages of buying from your brand over another.

Another great way to understand what subscribers want to see from your brand? Ask them with email preferences. Some may only want to know about company and product updates, while others might want to receive your newsletter on a weekly basis.

While your emails should always have the option to unsubscribe and manage preferences, making a larger callout to manage preferences in your welcome series means that you can create more personalized experiences from the get-go.

But don’t limit preferences to only allowing subscribers to adjust the frequency and content of emails—consider using this as an opportunity to learn more about their interests as well.

Additionally, you could create a welcome series dedicated to temporary events or campaigns. 

In part one, I talked about creating a segment of customers who buy or subscribe during the coronavirus outbreak—perhaps your welcome series for this group uses messaging takes a more somber tone than the content in your normal automation and takes a moment to acknowledge the situation customers are currently facing. If you’re unsure how to effectively message your customers amid a crisis, I wrote a blog outlining different ways to communicate with empathy during the pandemic.

Alternatively, if you’re running a contest or giveaway and someone uses their email to enter, the emails they receive after should also differ from a normal welcome series. Thank them for entering the giveaway and make it clear that they’re receiving emails as part of the entry, but also use this as an opportunity to tell them a little more about your brand.

Also consider that these subscribers might not engage with your future emails the same after the contest is over. Make unsubscribe and preference management links prominent so that your deliverability rates aren’t affected if they decide to stop engaging.

In the case you do ask for subscribers’ phone numbers in your forms, keep in mind your welcome series over text messages will look a lot different than what you send over email, too—not to mention, it’ll be much briefer.

While you should almost always keep to a single CTA in your emails, it’s even more important to keep your messages and offers simple and to-the-point over text messages. 

Since texting is so much more personal than email, your SMS welcome series will likely consist of fewer messages than a traditional email welcome series. In fact, it’s probably best to keep your SMS welcome series to two or three messages maximum. 

If a subscriber gives both their email address and phone number, even better—experiment with your welcome series to send some messages over email and some over text. For example, maybe your first three messages would follow your traditional welcome series structure over email, but people who opt-in to text message marketing also receive a text message after with a bonus offer that people who only subscribe to email don’t receive. 

While this can be a highly effective strategy with new subscribers, make sure that you’re not over-communicating with them and messaging them over both channels at the same time.

Most importantly, don’t forget that your first text to a customer should always confirm their subscription. After that, you have free range to be as creative with your SMS welcome series as you want. 

Interested in other email automation where you can leverage text message marketing? Check out these SMS marketing tips and strategies that will help you build deeper relationships with your customers.


3 | Segmentation

In part one, I discussed some basic segments including shoppers who haven’t purchased, repeat purchasers, and VIP customers, as well as creating a segmentation strategy for the coronavirus crisis. But this just skims the surface of everything you can do with segmentation. 

For starters, you can get even more granular with each segment. 

Instead of just creating a segment of VIP customers who have made multiple purchases, you could further segment your lists into customers who have spent more than a certain dollar amount. This way, you can target higher-value products to these customers, whereas you might not want to bother sending the same products to someone who spends $30 every other month.

On the other end, you could also make a segment of customers who only buy when there’s a sale or promotion, similar to how Mt. Capra, a goat dairy farm, created a segment of “value shoppers” who’ve only ever bought with a coupon.

With this audience, you know you’ll have much better luck pushing discounted inventory or special deals on overstock. This is also a great audience to build out before large, sitewide sales you have planned like Cyber Weekend.


While it’s always a great strategy to target your most engaged subscribers in your email automations, there’s also a time and place for winbacks. These are customers who may have purchased but have since lapsed and not made another purchase.

Perhaps these customers have gone to a competitor, haven’t had a need for your products, or just forgot to order. But with a concentrated effort, you can influence them to come back and buy from your brand again. 

Winbacks are also a prime example of the importance of segmentation for different customers. While there are very few circumstances where you’d want to send out a discount code to loyal customers, you can use an incentive—similar to how you would with a new customer—to win back lapsed customers and encourage them to shop with you again. 

Additionally, when you have a segment dedicated specifically to these customers who haven’t engaged with you or bought from your brand for a certain amount of time, you can make the copy of your messaging more concentrated on winback efforts.

Again, make your unsubscribe and preferences management buttons clear in these emails as well. If a subscriber isn’t opening or clicking, or worse, if they mark you as spam in the future, it’s going to hurt your IP reputation and affect your ability to reach other subscribers.

Segmentation alongside paid advertising

Once you are using paid advertising channels, you can use this to your advantage in segmentation, as well. Build segments based on which advertising channel shoppers come in through and use their interests to market similar products and relevant offers. 

Perhaps you used an influencer to promote certain pieces of your clothing on your Instagram ads. If someone converted by coming to your website through this channel, you might want to put them into a segment of influenced subscribers. Whenever you work with an influencer in the future, you know this group will want to be the first to know.

This group also might be a primary target for content like social proof, reviews, and user-generated content (UGC) since they’re heavily influenced by opinions of other people and use customer feedback to make purchase decisions.

You can also use your segments to inform ad targeting using lookalike audiences to find users with similar interests and behaviors to your current customers. 

This highlights why it’s important to start building out segments, especially of active subscribers and loyal customers, before you start putting money towards paid channels like Facebook and Google. By using the customer data you already have, you can truly refine your targeting to make the most of your advertising budget.

The secret to ROAS

When thinking about the success of paid advertising efforts, you can usually define it by ROAS, or return on ad spend, which is calculated by taking the total revenue generated for a specific marketing channel divided by the total spend on that channel.

Your success with ROAS is usually attributed to a few things including the channels you choose, how you target your audiences, and what content you use. But often, marketers overlook one of the most important factors to successful paid advertising: what comes after the click.

When you communicate with shoppers through your owned marketing channels by leveraging strategies like pop up forms, which help build your lists, a welcome series, which develop brand awareness and affinity, and segmentation, which makes all your messaging more personalized and targeted, you’ll start to see those other acquisition efforts pay off even more.

Once you have three marketing basics down—and better yet, once you start experimenting with these strategies beyond the basics—you’ll be well on your way to make the most of incoming traffic and create authentic, lasting relationships with new customers. 

Looking for more information to help you adjust your marketing strategies as you navigate the coronavirus crisis? These resources may be helpful. 

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