How Allbirds Could Surprise and Delight New Customers with Triggered Email and Give Their Revenue Wings

Mike Arsenault
July 20, 2021
minute read

This is our first edition of #pushingemailfwd (you can ask any questions about this post on Twitter).

Here’s how it works: Our team finds a new, compelling B2C brand and we buy something from them. If we love the product and the brand doesn’t send us triggered lifecycle emails, we design a program for them from scratch.

For our first challenge, we chose to throw down for AllBirds. These guys are building a wildly popular footwear brand using wool that is sustainably sourced from New Zealand. And they are some of the most comfortable slip-ons we’ve ever worn. It’s rare that a product experience is so good on the first run that one feels compelled to reorder within a few days of delivery. In our case, this happened once a significant other tried them on and requested a pair of her own.

This observation surfaced an opportunity to use automation to facilitate a similar moment for other AllBirds first-time purchasers. Just imagine how a 5% increase in new customer repurchase would impact their business.

real pair of allbirds

And buying a pair for a spouse or significant other isn’t the only scenario where this kind of thinking is effective. Shoes wear out and need to be replaced, new styles and colors are launched, and understanding these reorder patterns for your business will uncover opportunities to automate future buying behavior.

Second, third, and fourth orders are drastically less expensive to acquire than the first, and repeat purchases will be the profit center for any growing eCommerce business.

Here’s the thing. When we purchased from AllBirds, all we received were transactional emails about the order. We were sent a receipt, an order ship notification, and a delivery notification when the shoes arrived.

Email 1

allbirds receipt transactional email

Email 2

allbirds order shipped notification email 2

Email 3

allbirds delivery notification email 3

While transactional emails are hugely important—we love animated sheep as much as the next email team—the lack of more robust lifecycle triggers inspired us to focus on optimizing the first purchase experience for AllBirds.

Wonderful things can happen when new customers are exposed to the right messaging in close proximity to their first purchase. Such as:

  • They opt into “passive subscription” of your content on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
  • They publicly share the fact that they have just made a purchase (driving more word of mouth)
  • They leave a positive review that builds trust with future customers
  • And of course, they might even purchase again

The triggered email program we designed for AllBirds addresses three of the most important moments in a new customer’s journey:

  1. A new customer completes their first purchase
  2. A new customer has not come back to make a second purchase (And have passed a threshold where the shoes would normally need to be replaced. We would do a latency analysis to determine when this occurs).
  3. A new visitor abandons a cart prior to completing their first purchase

Trigger #1: New customer completes first purchase

Think about how exciting it can be to purchase from a new brand for the first time. New customers are ultra-receptive to messaging in the days and weeks surrounding their first order. A well-executed welcome series capitalizes on this.

A great welcome series will:

  • Introduce new customers to the brand story
  • Reinforce the customer’s purchase decision
  • Provide care related information like washing instructions or cleaning tips
  • Reaffirm return policies and guarantees
  • Encourage product reviews or testimonials
  • Provide incentive to make a second purchase
  • Encourage customers to opt-into passive subscription to brand updates via other channels. This point is hugely important as more retailers are already creating engaging content on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
new welcome series email 1
new welcome series email 2
new welcome series email 3

Trigger #2: One-time customer takes too long to repurchase

As stated earlier, repeat purchases will be the profit center for any growing eCommerce business.

If AllBirds knew that on average it took 125 days for a new customer to make that important second purchase, any customer that did not make another purchase within that time period would be showing signs of ‘defection’, ie. it would appear they are leaving the brand and never going to buy from them again.

Armed with this information, we are able to employ aggressive offers to ‘win back’ these customers, because there’s a good chance they won’t ever buy from us again. In this case, it’s an economic win to drive a second purchase even if you have to give away a bit of margin.

Here are the basics of executing a win-back:

  • Dig into purchase data to determine how long customers in important segments take to make their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc, purchase
  • Save your most aggressive offer for customers that appear to have forgotten about you or who are shopping elsewhere
new allbirds win back email campaign

Trigger #3: New visitor abandons cart

In order to win a second order, AllBirds has to convert the first. This cart abandonment series is designed to do exactly that. Here are the key tenants of a successful cart abandonment series:

  • Send the first email < 30 minutes after the first cart is abandoned
  • Use a friendly customer service tone
  • For first-time customers, incorporate a time-sensitive expiring offers to build urgency
  • Regenerate cart sessions across devices to increase conversions
  • Use humor if the opportunity presents itself, but don’t overdo it if it’s not part of your brand’s tone
  • Run control group tests to measure the true lift of including an offer vs. not including one
new allbirds abandoned cart email 1
new allbirds abandoned cart email 2
new allbirds abandoned cart email 3

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Mike Arsenault

Founder & CEO

For the last 10 years, Mike has worked with brands like Moosejaw, Hydroflask, Peak Design, Triumph, Hearst & Guthy Renker to provide the strategy & technology with which they use email to drive revenue growth. He's also the Founder of Rejoiner, a SaaS marketing platform built for ecommerce businesses.

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