Why email marketers should start thinking beyond the inbox

McKenzie Gregory


As an email marketer, it’s easy to get caught up in everything you see happening inside the inbox: opens, clicks, opt-outs, etc.

But even though your subscribers spend a ton of time there (a whopping 6.3 hours a day, according to one study), they also spend a pretty significant part of their lives outside the inbox. That’s why collecting data about their behavior in other places – your website or brick-and-mortar store, for instance – should be a central part of your email strategy.

Your subscribers expect you to send timely, relevant email that’s aligned with their interests and preferences. Using that outside-the-inbox data is how you can deliver it, so here are a few ideas to get you started.


1. Has a subscriber been browsing your website? Deliver recommendations based on products they’ve viewed.

According to Hubspot, 96% of first-time visitors aren't ready to buy when they land on your website. That’s a daunting number, for sure, but here’s the good news: Even though they might not be ready to buy now, there’s a good chance they WILL be ready to buy somewhere down the road.

If you can capture their info with a compelling signup form, welcome them, and thank them every time they complete a new action, then you can keep nudging them closer and closer to conversion.



For example, I received this timely email about cold brew coffee after perusing the cold brew section of the Starbucks website. Did I end up eventually buying cold brew coffee? You betcha.



2. Did they abandon their shopping cart? Follow up with free shipping or a discount.

Salesforce found that while the average revenue for promotional emails is $0.02 and welcome emails $0.18, the average revenue for abandoned cart emails is $5.64. That’s huge.

Here’s even more data to chew on:

According to BigCommerce, decreasing abandonment rate should be a high priority for online store owners, since this cohort of users have demonstrated interest — and abandonment is often between 60 and 80%.

According to SaleCycle, nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead to purchases back on site.

• 44 percent of cart abandoners do so because of shipping costs, according to Forrester. If offered free shipping, those consumers would complete their purchase.

According to Marketing Sherpa, contacts re-engaged through abandoned cart emails spend 55 percent more than the abandoned-cart total when they return to websites.

Cart abandonment emails aren’t magic. You’ll need to integrate your e-commerce platform with your email marketing to make it happen. And then, “Abracadabra!” More sales.


68.63% of online shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is completed



3. Did someone perform an action? Fire off an email that says thanks and offers some helpful next steps.

You’d be surprised how many marketers skip this crucial part of the nurturing process. Any time a subscriber performs an action (making a purchase, leaving a review, attending an event, etc.), be sure to thank them for it. It helps build customer loyalty and encourage repeat conversions.

And this doesn’t just apply to B2C marketing: If you’re a B2B brand and someone downloads a piece of your content, fire off an email like this one from Uberflip. I love this follow-up because it’s essentially offering product recommendations – a fantastic example of B2B marketers adopting B2C strategies. It’s transparent. It isn't sneaky. And most importantly, it shows that they’re actively paying attention to what I’m interested in.




Are you tracking customer behavior outside the inbox to help inform what they see inside? Share away in the comments!



About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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