The Anatomy of a Perfect Lifecycle Email



Everything has a lifecycle. A beginning, a middle, and an end. Your customers are no different.

And if you can speak to them with messages that match their particular place on that spectrum, you’re ahead of the curve in the eCommerce game.

As a savvy business owner, you already know that sending the same email to everyone on your list is at best a waste of time, and at worst is actively damaging your customer relationships. It’s little more than spam.

It’s fiercely competitive out there, so anything you can do to better your customer experience and earn more sales is not only worth the time, but a modern business necessity.

That’s where lifecycle email marketing becomes so valuable. Lifecycle emails include a number of categories and types based on individual needs.

If you want increased conversions and better engagement, you have to get the right message to the right person at the RIGHT TIME.

Lifecycle emails are data-driven and consider the stage of the buyer’s journey – prospect, first-time buyer, repeat customer, lapsed, and so on – to send triggered and ultra-relevant messages at exactly the right time.

But what’s the “right time”? That all depends on their individual behavior. What are they doing or not doing? Cart abandonment, frequent purchases, frequent visits without buying anything, opening and clicking all marketing materials, subscribed but unengaged, bought once…

Focus on their actions (or lack thereof) and build from there. Decide what to send, when to send it, and then send it at that moment. That’s customer lifecycle email marketing in a nutshell.

Lifecycle Emails: Getting Started

The average customer can be categorized in a wide variety of ways, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to group and segment them.

Consider your sales funnel, from top to bottom. What stages and levels do new leads pass through en route to becoming a paying customer? What steps must they complete? A typical eCommerce funnel might look like this:

  1. View a product page
  2. Add the product to the cart
  3. Begin checkout procedure
  4. Complete checkout procedure
  5. Offer feedback and/or leave a product review
  6. Return to purchase again

At each stage, you could reach out with a timely and relevant lifecycle email to gently push them to the next level.

Viewing a particular product multiple times without adding it to the cart? Send a message with a video tutorial, or similar products across a price range, or customer testimonials.

Added to the cart without initiating the checkout procedure? Time to hit them with a cart abandonment email campaign to remind them why they added it in the first place.

Didn’t complete checkout? Connect with an offer to assist or a special incentive to complete (discount, free shipping).

Purchased? Check back with a post-purchase email asking for a review, relevant resources to get the most out of their item, recommendations for accessories, and a special offer to get them back to your portal.

Lifecycle email marketing = right message + right time.

Your Customers

You might break your customers into something simple like prospects, customers, and advocates. You might label those groups something different like attract, sell, and amaze, or entering, active, and declining, or even new, existing, and lapsed. It doesn’t really matter so long as you divide them somehow.


Types of Lifecycle Emails

Based on the segment they find themselves in, there are a number of different lifecycle emails you could send to gently nudge them along that curve (or circle, or whatever). Let’s examine a straightforward early-mid-late lifecycle:

The Early Stage

This is all about education, attracting, and convincing. They’ve visited your site and provided their email. They’ve shown some interest.

  • A warm and friendly welcome email after they subscribe or sign up.
  • Education email campaigns introduce your product line, benefits, uses, features, and real-world users
  • A browse abandonment email if they’ve shown purchase intent by viewing the same product more than once, multiple products in a category, or similar site searches. Focus on categories over products at this point.
  • Onboarding emails might include welcome, getting started, activation, nudge, and upsell

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  • A cart abandonment email is a tremendously effective way to reclaim potentially lost revenue sitting in their cart


The Middle Stage

The mid-level is for customers. First-time, repeat, frequent, loyal, and more. They’ve bought into you and what you’re selling. Keep them happy. Add some value. Appreciate them.


  • First-time buyer emails could include a thank you, relevant resources, and offers of support
  • Cross-sell (accessories) or upsell (higher priced items in the same category) emails should be part of any eCommerce email campaign
  • Loyalty or birthday messages show that you appreciate them and see them as individuals and not just revenue
  • New product or feature alerts keep them informed and keep you on their mind
  • Feedback requests, surveys, polls about the products, your service, and their experience. Consumers want to know their opinions matter.


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  • Wishlist abandonment emails remind customers of items sitting unpurchased. Send a quick note when stock is low or you’re running a sale on something on their list. Generate interest and urgency.
  • Referral and other reward programs can reinvigorate most customers.
  • VIP appreciation emails identify and thank your very best and most loyal repeat customers. Offer exclusive discounts, promos, sales, and access. According to the Pareto principle, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customer base.

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The Late Stage

These customers have been around a while, and they might be a lost cause. But that shouldn’t stop you from making one-last pitch to get them back.

  • Win-back email campaigns remind consumers what they loved about you in the beginning, while introducing new products and possibly offering an incentive to return to the fold.
  • Replenishment emails offer timely reminders to reorder consumable products based on order gap analysis and predictive data science.

Lifecycle email automation – like that possible with SmartMail – ensures you never miss the optimum moment to send the most relevant message.

Lifecycle Email Best Practices

Don’t over segment at first. Start big, use data to whittle them down.
Experiment with non-discount type incentives (consultation, free shipping, exclusive or early access, etc).

Create urgency with limited-time offers and windows.

Timeliness, relevancy, and personalization are paramount.

Focus on one goal at a time: what do you want or need them to do at this stage of their lifecycle?

Put the customer’s needs first. It’s about them. Not you. And not the sale, either.

Lifecycle Email Subject Lines

We don’t need to spend any time reviewing the importance of a strong subject line. It’s crucial.

  1. Thanks for Subscribing, [Name]
  2. Thanks for Subscribing to [Brand]
  3. X Reasons to Try/Buy/Download [Blank]
  4. Here’s Your Weekly/Monthly Newsletter/Report
  5. Invite Your Friends to Try [Brand or Product]
  6. Come Back & See What You’ve Been Missing
  7. How Would You Rate [Brand or Product]?
  8. You’re Almost at the Next Reward Level!
  9. Welcome to [Brand], [Name]
  10. Need More [Product]?
  11. Kudos/Congrats to You!
  12. New Feature/Product Alert
  13. We Thought You Might Like This
  14. You’re the Best
  15. Where Have You Been, [Name]?
  16. We Want to Get to Know You Better
  17. Don’t Miss Out
  18. What Else Can We Do For You?
  19. Loyal Customers Like You Deserve a Gift
  20. If You Liked [Product A], You’ll Love [Product B]
  21. We Miss You
  22. You’re Invited
  23. Exclusive Access/Discount/Incentive Just For You

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Lifecycle Email Stats

But is it all worth it? Absolutely.

  • Welcome emails are read 42% more often than other promotional emails (source)
  • Your top 10% of customers – your heroes – spend 3x as much per order than your bottom 90%, and your top 1% – your superheroes – spend 5x as much than the bottom 90% (source)
  • A loyal customer is typically worth 10x their first purchase (source)
  • For every 1% of customers who become repeat shoppers, revenue will increase by about 10% (source)
  • Over two-thirds – 68% – of customers leave a company because they believe you are indifferent to them (source)
  • A repeat customer refers 50% more people than a one-time shopper (source)

Lifecycle email marketing is about recognizing what they need at each stage, and giving it to them. It’s finding the one goal, and nudging them towards it. It’s about acquisition and retention and appreciation.

Contact SmartMail today, and we’ll help define your lifecycle marketing blueprint.



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