Convert First-Time Buyers with Email Segmentation Strategies

overhead view of blond woman typing on laptop surrounded by camera, phone, cherries to represent using email segmentation strategies to activate 1st-time buyers

Sending smartly segmented emails across the entire customer lifecycle is a surefire way to ensure you’re sending marketing messages to the right folks at the right time, maintaining your sending reputation, and ultimately driving sales.

Segmenting campaigns based on attributes such as engagement, location, and past purchases is a great start.

Where the rubber meets the road is in advanced segmentation of autoresponders – or as we call them at Klaviyo, flows. Let’s take a look at how you can segment your autoresponder series throughout a core part of the customer journey: activation!

Understanding the customer lifecycle

For ecommerce shop owners, understanding the customer lifecycle can be tricky depending on your industry as well as the types of products you sell.

The buyer journey isn’t quite as simple as 1. acquire and 2. convert.

customer lifecycle

Throughout each phase of the customer lifecycle, the quality of your communication will ultimately determine if a customer stays or goes. To be successful, you need to:

  • Map your existing flows against the customer lifecycle, and fill in any gaps if there are key lifecycle stages you’re neglecting
  • Ensure your email content speaks accurately to the mindset and motivation of your primary buyer personas at each stage of the customer journey
  • Use the power of segmentation in flows to create more 1:1 journeys for customers that should receive tailored messaging based on past activity or behavior

With these three points in mind, there are many ways you can level up your flows using best-practice segmentation strategies. In this post, we’ll be focusing on moving leads from “Awareness/Interest” and toward “Desire/Action” with compelling automated sequences.

Converting leads with advanced automation

The Welcome Series

Someone signing up for your list is kind of a big deal. In world where there are entire businesses built around helping people bulk unsubscribe, someone choosing to signup for your marketing list isn’t nothing. In your first email, you want to thank someone and put your best foot forward. But what should you say? The right message will depend on how familiar this subscriber already is with your brand.

Advanced Tip #1: Segment your Welcome Series based on whether a new subscriber is already a customer.

For new subscribers that have purchased from you before, these folks are very likely already fans. They might be subscribing to take advantage of a promotion, because they want to stay in the loop with product launches, or because you’re known for offering great content. Think about what is driving these existing customers to all of a sudden subscribe to your list, and make sure your first Welcome Series email speaks directly to that motivation!

For those that subscribe and have never purchased, they are likely much newer to your company. Two things become important: re-affirm their decision by making it clear why your brand is great, and incentive them to make their first purchase. Consider what makes your existing customers love you, and use that to shape your messaging. You could focus on your brand story, feature an eye-catching photo of your best selling product, and/or consider offering a discount off the subscriber’s first purchase.

Personal care company Ursa Major segments their Welcome Series subscribers in this way. Their welcome email strategy is working:

Ursa Major’s first email targeting new subscribers performs
14x better than the average welcome email. 

Advanced Tip #2. Segment your Welcome Series based on acquisition source to send a more relevant message based on how someone subscribed.

Split your sequence based on signup method, and create parallel paths for each source. You may only need to customize the first welcome email, and then you can bring these different paths back together for the remainder of your new subscriber on-boarding sequence.

Marine Layer has a unique Welcome Series setup based on how new subscribers are acquired. They have one for in-store and another for online. For those that visit in-store, the primary goal of their first welcome email is to introduce the shopper to their website and draw them into their online world. For those that subscribe directly from their website, the goal is to get them to convert as quickly as possible — Marine Layer offers 10% a next purchase for new subscribers that opt-in online:

Cart Abandonment

Alright, either your marketing strategy is off the charts, your products are speaking for themselves, or all of the above. Someone has initiated the checkout process and is so close to making a purchase. With well-documented stats pointing to the fact that between 60-80% of carts get abandoned, a shopper getting to the checkout stage may not mean a home run. If that shopper does navigate away and leave their cart behind, what next? Automated Abandoned Cart Reminders are nothing new, but using advanced segmentation to take a more personal approach can yield above-average results.

Advanced Tip #3: Segment your Abandoned Cart sequence to separate high value and low value abandoned carts.

In a world where consumers are always hunting for the best deal, and coupon codes are not hard to find in most product categories, as a business you may be struggling with the best way to structure incentives. For Abandoned Cart Reminders, consider splitting out your flow based on the value of a cart, and providing compelling messaging (but no coupon) for those with low value carts. For those that left higher value carts behind, you can provide a discount knowing the ROI will likely make it worth your while.

Pro styling tools company, Sam Villa segments their abandoned carts by the order value as well as if the purchase is being made by a professional or a consumer. They offer free shipping for customers in the US who spend over $50:

Browse Abandonment

When it comes to Browse Abandonment, you need to consider what content and timing is going to catch the eye of someone who was essentially just window shopping. If you have certain products that are true best sellers, it may make sense to develop content targeting those that browse these in-demand items. For other less prominent products, focusing too much on the item someone browsed could be the wrong approach — instead, you may want to simply feature your best sellers and provide social proof around your brand.

Advanced Tip #4: Segment your Browse Abandonment flow based on what someone last viewed.

Pick 3-4 top best sellers that you want to build out a tailored content series for. Split your flow to create unique parallel paths for those that view these top products. If you don’t want to get that granular, consider taking this approach on the category level.

Taylor Stitch segments their Browse Abandonment series by their top 4 product categories. For those that view an alternative category, they get more general content about the company’s most in-demand lower cost items. Here is an example of an email tailored to those that browsed any item in the category Men’s T-Shirts:

Next Steps for Customer Lifecycle Segmentation

We hope the above examples inspire new ways you can level-up your automated flows that help convert those just starting their journey with your brand into loyal first-time buyers.

If you’re ready to take your email marketing strategy down a more targeted and segmented path, check out these additional resources:

  1. How segmentation and automation drive email marketing success
  2. Your Game Plan to Dominate Email Automation



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