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What Emails Should You Send to Your Ecommerce Subscribers?

Enhance the subscriber experience (and increase your AOV, CLV, CTR) with these critical emails.
January 10, 2023

Sending the right emails at the right time is key to building a good relationship with your subscribers. Get this right by sending emails your subscribers want to receive, and they will thank you with deeper engagement, lower churn and higher LTV. 

In an episode of Subscription Ecommerce Live, we sat down with Nikki Elbaz, copywriter and email marketer behind emails for Shopify Plus, Resident Home, and Four Sigmatic, and the former Head of Email for Copyhackers Agency. 

In our session with Nikki, we discussed the key emails you should be sending your subscribers. These emails increase AOV, CLV, CTR, and more. 

Let’s walk through the 8 critical emails you should send your subscribers. 

1. Initial Order Confirmation

Naturally, you’ll need to confirm the first order as a subscription customer right after they complete the transaction. It should include all the typical transactional details you would send for any other order.

Welcoming your customer to their new subscription should occur in this email as well. It should not be the same welcome email you send to every customer. 

This welcome email should set expectations for the subscription, including how it works and why they’ll love it. It should be an email they want to save to refer back to later. Most importantly, you’ll want to make this email exciting. 

“Welcome emails are going to see high open rates, but you want to work a little harder because often these emails are boring,” Nikki says. “So if I get a welcome email, sometimes I’m just thinking, ‘Oh, it’s just an order confirmation with boring details,’ and I don’t realize it has so much amazing content inside. So just adding something like ‘Here’s what’s next’ or ‘How it works’ or something that teases what’s inside the email, and they can expect what’s inside and open if it’s relevant to them.”

"Welcome emails are going to see high open rates, but you want to work a little harder because often these emails are boring”

Example: this Birchbox welcome email explains how the program works, how to save your preferences to get customized boxes, and how to get more of your favorite products. They provide valuable information for a new subscriber.

2. Upcoming Order Notification

The upcoming order notification is a critical part of the subscription experience. They inform customers about order status, expected shipping data, and upcoming charges. Average open rates for these notifications are typically 60% or higher, so it’s essential to build these well. 

These messages should be super clear and light on text and images. Remember, the customer will receive this email for each shipment, so don’t ask them to read too much. 

Since most subscribers open these emails, they’re an excellent opportunity for you to offer 1-time and subscription upsells. Make your upsell pitch after you give them the shipment details, like this example from MUD\WTR. Notice how they’re upselling logical add-ons, such as creamer and sweetener, for what’s already in the subscriber’s next order.

This email is also a great time to give subscribers some control over their orders. Give them tools to send gifts to friends, swap for different variants, or delay their shipments (with some control over the interval). These options are great for reducing churn. 

However, this is considered a transactional email, so remember the legal guidelines in the U.S. stating it can’t have more than 20% promotional content. 

Pro tip: ARPU helps Recharge merchants drive revenue and increase retention with your upcoming charge emails. Subscribers can purchase 1-time and subscription add-ons, delay their shipments, swap variants, and even buy 1-time gifts for their friends through email without even logging into their account portal. 

3. Shipping Confirmation

The shipping confirmation is another crucial part of the subscription experience. It soothes subscriber anxiety by letting them know their product is on the way. 

A standard shipping confirmation should confirm the subscriber’s address and include a button or link to track their order. That seems simple, but don’t let this email be a dead end. 

“There's so much more that the brand can be doing,” Nikki says. “They can push to social, they can offer perks, or they could offer an upsell. Even sending them to the blog would be a better option than just nothing. Even getting them excited by talking about the product could be a great lead-in point. You want to be tapping into excitement or pushing them down the journey. Put something at the bottom of every single transactional email.” 

The shipping confirmation is another crucial part of the subscription experience. It soothes subscriber anxiety by letting them know their product is on the way. 

Reel does something unique at the bottom of their shipping confirmation emails. They encourage customers to use a specific hashtag for a chance to feature on Reel’s social media.

4. Delivery Confirmation

The delivery confirmation email notifies the customer that the order has arrived. 

That said, don’t use a subject line like “Your X has arrived.” The customer knows already, so they aren’t going to open this email. They’ll just delete it. 

Use this email to add value to their experience. Give them next steps, if any. For instance, if their subscription requires them to try on the product, tell them exactly what to do and how to send their feedback. Or, give them advice on how to get the most value out of their purchase.

Made In Cookware does this well. They acknowledge the delivery and then jump right into their guides for cookware care and cooking tips.

Alternatively, you can give them other options to engage with your brand, like following you on social media or leaving a product review. But don’t try to upsell in this email. It’s not the right time for that. Let them enjoy the product first. 

5. Nurture/Perks

All of the emails we’ve mentioned so far are “maintenance” style messages. They serve to ferry the subscriber through the process. But there’s a lot more you can do to keep subscribers engaged with the relationship. 

Sprinkle nurturing content throughout the journey that builds your connection with the subscriber. Give them lots of perks, advice, and entertainment just for subscribing. 

“Spoil them! Send them those gifts,” says Nikki. What kinds of gifts? That depends on your customer. Consider their problems and how you can solve them with email content. It might be advice, recommendations, or tips. 

For example, Bellroy offers their subscribers early access to upcoming promotions. It’s a great way for subscribers to buy products before they sell out.

6. Cancellation Confirmation

A cancellation confirmation is just what it sounds like: It acknowledges that the subscriber has canceled their subscription. But it’s also an opportunity to win them back. Why not try? You have nothing to lose. 

If you make your subject line too simple, this email is likely to get deleted before it’s ever opened. Use a subject line that implies there’s more in the email. Instead of saying, “Your subscription has been canceled,” tease what’s in the email.

What should you put in this email? Acknowledge why they might have canceled and offer solutions to fix it. Give them a link to reinstate their subscription.

Graze has a great cancellation email. It confirms the cancellation and gives them clickable links to come back. It also ends the email with a bit of value by reminding the subscriber of all the great recipes they come up with.

7. Feedback Request

A feedback request is your opportunity to learn why a subscriber canceled. Send this email a week after cancellation. Ask if you did something wrong and if there’s anything you can improve. 

Even though you may find it tempting to try, remember that this email is not the time to save the subscription. They’re already gone. Encourage them to share their thoughts, but don’t pressure them to re-subscribe. The purpose is to learn more so you can save future subscriptions. 

Encourage your subscribers to reply to the email with the cause of their cancellation or click on a survey. Remember that if you expect them to provide a lot of feedback, you may need to incentivize them for their response, perhaps with a coupon or free gift. 

Cometeer has a great feedback request. They don’t try to win the customer back. They simply ask for feedback and even offer an incentive for deeper participation.

8. Win-back Campaign

Win-back campaigns are attempts to convince past subscribers or paused subscribers to re-subscribe. You won’t convince everyone, but even 1% or 2% could represent a lot of revenue.

In your win-back campaigns, remind the recipient of the benefits of subscribing. Tell them about anything new you have going on. Give them some fear of missing out so they feel compelled to re-subscribe. 

Who Gives a Crap has a great win-back email. They explain how their subscribers have helped their mission and suggest other products that the churned subscriber can try.

Email You SHOULDN’T Send to Your Subscribers

Now that you understand what you should send, we want to make a point about what you shouldn't send.

Win-back campaigns are attempts to convince past subscribers or paused subscribers to re-subscribe. You won’t convince everyone, but even 1% or 2% could represent a lot of revenue.

Your subscribers are not your VIPs. Your VIPs are frequent customers. Ideally, your VIPs will turn into subscribers, but that isn’t always the case. It’s essential to consider your subscribers a separate group of customers. Don’t send both groups duplicate emails. 

Whereas VIP emails usually focus on perks, discounts, and fun, subscriber emails can get tedious because they are often just confirmations and updates. You must work harder to nurture your subscribers, so don’t send them the same emails as your VIPs. 

Once you design those 8 important emails, you’ll be on your way to producing a powerful subscriber experience. Make sure to check out our session with Nikki Elbaz for more information!

Ready to level up your upcoming charge notifications with ARPU? Check out our free 14-day trial.

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