Digital Transformation

The 5 emails every DTC brand needs to win more customers

By Bryan Karas | Chief executive officer

June 20, 2022 | 6 min read

To maximize email marketing return on investment, direct-to-consumer brands need to master five kinds of foundational email campaigns, argues Playbook Media's Bryan Karas.

Email illustration

/ Adobe Stock

Growing data privacy concerns and subsequent responses by companies like Google, Meta and Apple are rendering email marketing more important than ever for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands.

With less data being collected and shared by advertising platforms, brands are increasingly recognizing the importance and value of first-party data. This realization is leading DTC brands to invest more energy into email marketing — a channel that allows them to drive sales by collecting and harnessing first-party data from subscribers.

Unfortunately, many brands simply check the box on email marketing without much thought on how to maximize returns from their efforts. One of the biggest mistakes DTC brands make when flipping on the email marketing switch is failing to taking the time to set up foundational emails that can help nurture prospective customers toward purchase.

Why foundational emails matter

Foundational emails are automated campaigns that are sent to a consumer when they meet specific behavior criteria, such as signing up to receive emails, abandoning the shopping cart or browsing certain product pages before leaving a company's website.

These emails nurture leads in the background, freeing marketers to focus on building and testing one-off campaigns based on seasonal promotions, holidays, new products, and other time-boxed opportunities.

Without foundational emails, DTC marketers risk missing out on revenue that they'd make were they communicating with customers at exactly the right moment in time.

Five foundational emails for maximizing returns

Research shows that return on investment (ROI) from emails can be as much as $42 for every dollar spent. And yet it’s been reported that only about 50% of all companies are currently automating their email campaigns.

If a brand don’t have any automated foundational email campaigns built yet, it could be leaving money on the table. Here are the first five campaigns marketers should create:

1. The welcome email

One of the most important foundational emails to have built and ready to send to consumers is the welcome email.

The open rate on these emails is high — really high. Campaign Monitor puts the open rate on welcome emails at about 50%. To put that in perspective, it’s about 80% more effective than a standard newsletter email campaign.

The ROI on these emails is also high. A well-executed welcome email can have five times more clicks than other emails and a 50% higher conversion rate than other email campaigns, according to marketing automation platform Omnisend.

Because most consumers expect to receive a welcome email when they opt-in to receive emails from a brand, not having one ready to instantly deliver to them is a missed opportunity.

When building a welcome email, let branding shine. Let subscribers know who the brand is, what makes its products different, what its products can do for them and why they should buy now.

2. The abandoned cart email

The abandoned cart email is another important foundational campaign that subscribers should be receiving from your brand. An abandoned cart email is sent to a visitor of a website who made it all the way to checkout but decided not to complete the purchase.

Abandoned cart emails can have open rates as high as 45%. Of the roughly 20% of subscribers who click on a link in an abandoned cart email, half end up going through with a purchase, according to marketing automation platform Moosend.

The goal with such emails is to reach potential customers when they are still interested in the brand or excited about the thought of owning a product.

When building abandoned cart emails, use customer reviews and other types of user-generated content to build trust with would-be buyers.

3. The browse abandonment email

The browse abandonment email can help brands interact with consumers who have viewed their products but aren’t yet sure if they actually want to buy.

When building browse abandonment emails, simplify shopping for the consumer by putting one or two products front and center that the consumer is likely to be attracted to based on a recent website visit — rather than showing them the entire catalog.

4. The recommended products email

The recommended products email is a foundational campaign that features a brand's best-selling and most-liked products to consumers.

To make these emails effective, send them to new subscribers who may not yet be familiar with the brand or products. Use bold brand colors and rich visuals that make your products pop. Consider including product reviews, links to unboxing videos and influencer content.

5. The personalized promo email

A final foundational email campaign that subscribers should be receiving from a brand is the personalized promo email. This email includes special coupon codes created based on what a brand knows about the recipient.

The most common example of this is the birthday email — a personalized email sent only to subscribers on their birthday that includes a special coupon code that they can use on their next purchase. These emails tend to have higher open, engagement and revenue rates than any other email campaigns.

When creating these emails, have fun and make the content all about the customer.

To maximize email marketing ROI, don't leave it all up to one-off campaigns. Be willing to put the time, energy and creativity into building the foundation.

Bryan Karas is chief executive officer at Playbook Media.

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