How to Increase Lifetime Customer Value with Email

Gold bricks denoting how to Maximize lifetime customer value

When a customer reaches your store’s website from a Facebook ad, AdWords, or even an SEO-optimized blog post, you made an investment to bring them there. So how would it feel to spend a lot to get someone to your site — and then have them leave without a trace?

According to Brian Shanley, Director of Sales at Klaviyo, that scenario isn’t uncommon. In his conversations with companies that are looking to level up with their email marketing, he hears many versions of this story.

There’s another version he hears a lot, too: you’ve paid to bring customers to your site, you’ve successfully collected their email addresses…and then you stop.

If both of these scenarios sound uncomfortably familiar, you’re not alone.

“I just talked to a brand yesterday,” he says. “They have hundreds of thousands of emails, and they’re sitting on them, doing nothing. And that’s pretty common.”

Fortunately, both of these problems — collecting zero emails, and collecting emails and doing nothing with them — are easily solved. And it’s well worth the small amount of effort that’s required. Because once you’ve got those email addresses, Brian says, “you’re sitting on a gold mine.”

Here’s the simple process you can follow to make the most of your investment in acquisition and maximize customer value.

First, make it easy to sign up for emails

Not long ago, I had an experience that reminded me how easy it is for an ecommerce store to miss the chance to collect emails. I was visiting the website of an innovative candy company with beautiful packaging.

As soon as I reached the website, a popup asked for my email. I dismissed it so I could look around. After looking around the site, I decided I wanted to sign up to receive the company’s emails — and I couldn’t find a place to sign up.

With the popup box gone, there were no other options.

If you’re running an ecommerce store, make a commitment today: You’ll never, ever let this happen to one of your website visitors.

“Always have a static signup form that lives in the footer,” Brian says. “Always. One hundred percent.”

With a form on every page of your site, you can guarantee that a visitor will never be in the position of trying to hunt one down and eventually giving up and leaving.

“You’re spending money to get these people to your site,” Brian says. “It’s crucial that you’re doing a good job of collecting these contacts so you can market to them.”

You don’t have to stop with a form in the footer, either. Experiment with adding a popup form and other collection methods.

Of course, it’s not enough to have a list of emails. Once you have it, have to put it to good use.

Next, build out your three email automation pillars

It all starts with getting to know what Brian calls the “three pillars” of email marketing automation. These three automated email sequences are essential for an ecommerce store, and they all have something in common: they’re all triggered by customer behavior.

In other words, once you’ve got the emails and their triggers up and running, you don’t actually have to do anything else. The emails will send automatically.

“If you think about the automations you can put in place,” says Brian, “this is where you can really start to save time.”

Here are the three pillars:

Welcome series: Triggered when a site visitor signs up for your main email list

Abandoned carts: Triggered when a certain amount of time has gone by after a shopper has added items to a cart without making a purchase

Winbacks: Also known as re-engagement emails, these emails are triggered when a customer has gone a certain amount of time (typically 3 months to a year) without making a purchase

So if these pillars are so easy to set up, why do many stores skip one, two, or all three? Sometimes they just don’t realize how profitable they can be. In other cases, they feel hesitant about sending out multiple emails.

According to Brian, however, that hesitation can be a trap.

“These are people who have genuine interest in your company,” he says. In other words, they want to hear from you.

Don’t know what to send?

You owe it to your customers — and your bottom line — to get past that. Gather some good examples and get inspired so you can start telling your company’s story right from the start.

“Search for welcome sequence ideas,” Brian says. “Sign up for brands that you admire, see what they’re sending and craft your own message. That’s the first step.”

After you’ve got your own welcome series in place, it’s time to make sure that you have a compelling abandoned cart series up and running. Brian advises a series with a minimum of two reminders.

“If you really want to maximize lifetime customer value,” Brian says, “and you’re spending a certain amount of money to acquire each customer, make that return as high as possible. The way you’re going to do that isn’t to get them to buy once, but to be a repeat buyer.”

That’s where the third pillar, winback emails, come in.

“You want to be driving re-engagement re-orders, or winbacks, to get a buyer to come back and re-order from you business,” Brian says. “If what you’re selling is a replenishable product, you also can try to bring these people back to buy more of what they’ve already purchased and build their loyalty.”

But wait! There’s more…

If you’re not currently collecting email addresses or making use of the three pillars, putting other projects aside to focus on these might feel like taking a big leap. But don’t let that stop you.

“At the end of the day,” Brian asks, “what’s the downside? What are you risking?”

But if you need convincing, there’s another big bonus to all of this.

“Once you’ve collected these emails, you have a lot of powerful ways to reach the people who have actually expressed interest in your store,” Brian says.

With that list alone, you can set up precision targeting on Facebook. If you’re using software like Klaviyo, you can also use that list to send specially targeted emails when you have a sale or a new product to announce.

Because here’s the thing about sitting on a gold mine: It’s not the same as actually bringing in the revenue.

So make the time to ensure that you have signup forms on your website and that your three email pillars are live.

Most of all, don’t let fear of the unknown get in your way.

“Don’t overthink it,” says Brian. “You’re here to make money. That might mean you have to push your boundaries — and that’s how a lot of people end up succeeding.”


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