How Often Should You Send Automated Emails to Win a Sale

When we talk about lead generation, we’re often talking about B2B companies. However, many modern B2C companies use lead generation and automated email campaigns to drive massive sales.

The key to making these automated email campaigns work is to send them at just the right frequency. You want to show up in the inbox often enough that your brand stays top-of-mind, but you don’t want to be seen as intrusive and annoying.

Today let’s take a look at how the bra and underwear brand ThirdLove is driving 347% YOY sales. For them, that was the equivalent of $160 million in 2018, and they did it using data-driven marketing, including perfectly timed out email campaigns.

Lead Generation for an E-Commerce Business

It may sound counterintuitive for an e-commerce business to use lead generation as a sales tactic. Shouldn’t an online store, like ThirdLove, be trying to get people to buy right away? Especially for a clothing staple such as a bra?

It’s a good question with an interesting answer.

ThirdLove differentiates itself from other bra brands by being obsessed with delivering a good fit. The company found that 50% of women are in-between bra sizes, so it invented half sizes to better serve the market.

They started selling their bras at the $68 price point. This is slightly higher than the average price point of a bra from Victoria’s Secret and much higher than bras sold at Target or Walmart in the $15 to $30 range.

Screenshot of bra prices on Victoria's Secret website

The question became, how do you convince women that they should spend a premium for a bra from a brand they never heard of because “half sizes” would offer a better fit? If a 35-year-old woman has been wearing her same bra size for the last 20 years she is likely to not see a reason to switch to a half size now.

To really convince her she would need to try the bra on to feel the difference, but without a retail location, how could ThirdLove accomplish this?

The founder of ThirdLove thought to launch a “try before you buy” campaign! She decided the company would allow women to order bras and wear them, free of charge, for 30 days.

If the customers agreed that the bra was more comfortable and a better fit than their existing bras, the credit card they put on file would be charged and they would keep the ThirdLove bra. If they did not like the bra, they could send it back and wouldn’t be charged a cent.

To help ThirdLove send the right bra to the customer, they created a quiz that would help the customer choose a bra that fits well.

Screenshot of ThirdLove Quiz on website

Upon answering all the questions in the quiz, ThirdLove asks the consumer to share their email address to view the results/bra recommendations.

ThirdLove screenshot showing the screen where they collect email addresses

Immediately upon entering an email address, ThirdLove starts sending out automated emails.

Let’s take a close look at how frequently they are sending these emails to earn the sale!

Automated Email Frequency

Immediately upon submission of your email, ThirdLove sends out a message that shares “Your Fit Finder Results.”

Screenshot of FitFinder Results email

If you don’t place an order after receiving the initial email, they send another email two days later.

Screenshot of ThirdLove's second email

And if you still don’t purchase, they send a third email two days after that.

Screenshot of third email from ThirdLove

During the first month after you submit your email address, they send follow up emails every day or every couple of days as a reminder to place an order.

Screenshot of email frequency

In fact, this frequency remains high through the first few months after filling out the survey. During the first month I received 11 emails, and during the second month, I received 12 emails, which comes out to roughly one email every other day.

screenshot of second month of emails from ThirdLove

The third month I received fewer emails: 9 in total for the entire month. This amounts to about one email every three days.

Screenshot of Month 3 emails

screenshot of month 3 emails continued

In the fourth month, I received 15 emails, so about one every other day again.

Screenshot of 15 emails in month 4

In the fifth month, I received 12 emails which is just about one every other day.

Screenshot of emails in the fifth month

After this, the email frequency decreased dramatically as I must have hit the end of their email automation series.

In the six month I received just two emails that look like they were sent out to their entire email database as they do not reference the Fit Finder or anything else specific to first-time purchasers.

Screenshot of sixth month emails

After that I started receiving just a couple of emails per month.

The (Amazing) Results Show Persistence Pays Off 

What does the above study of email frequency tell us about a company making $160 million per year? Be persistent and be prepared to put in some time developing emails if you want to be super successful.

In the first six months after I gave ThirdLove my contact information, they emailed me 61 times to encourage me to purchase. Their emails were an excellent mix of:

  • Informational emails
  • Testimonials and reviews
  • Sales and promotions
  • Corporate good emails
  • New product alerts

While it may look like I never went on to purchase a ThirdLove bra, I actually did under a different email address! (As a marketer I was just curious to see what their email automation campaign looked like and wanted to let it run through on the email inbox you see above.)

I’m definitely not the only person these emails work on. Over 750,000 women have participated in the “Try Before You Buy” option, and of those 750K over 70% or 525,000 have gone on to purchase at least one bra from ThirdLove!

Thinking About Your Email Campaign

When it comes to email automation, it’s common for brands to assume that a long drip campaign is only necessary for brands with a highly expensive product or service. Traditionally that’s been true because the sales cycle for an expensive product is longer, and marketers want to drip out emails throughout the entire sales cycle.

However, ThirdLove is showing us that a long drip campaign can also be used to convince consumers to buy a product that costs less than $100. There’s no reason to stop sending emails as long as you see that consumers are opening them, and not directing them to their spam box.

How long is your automated email campaign? How many emails does it include? What would happen if you started sending more emails?

Unlike an ad campaign, the cost to send additional emails to your leads is minimal and there is very little downside. If you want to bump up your sales this year, consider putting together a hearty email drip campaign like ThirdLove.

You don’t need to start with 61 emails over the course of 6 months. If you’re currently only sending 1 email per month, you could increase that to 4 emails per month (1 per week), and keep on building out your campaign from there.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your email campaigns!

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