Task: to set up email automation from scratch, develop an email campaign strategy.
Industry: wholesale and retail online sale of balloons.
Region: USA/Canada.
Target audience: decorators, event organizers, and event agencies that buy balloons in bulk; individuals who buy balloons at retail for personal needs.
Increase aless with automated mailings
Increase sales through regular email campaigns
Reduce the number of abandoned carts.

In the B2B market, sales and upsells through email marketing have been and continue to be extremely effective. This trend is especially clear in North America, where users are willing to read emails and do it often. Therefore, when FIVE.MEDIA got the chance to set up SEO for a wholesale Canadian online balloon store, we were surprised: since 2016, the site has not used such a type of promotion as email marketing.

We decided to set up mailings of both triggered emails and regular thematic emails. Below we will describe what difficulties we encountered, how we fought them, and what results we achieved. Spoiler alert: we have a lot to be proud of.

Choosing the service for automation

Promoting a foreign site focused on the US and Canadian markets, we could not approach the choice of an automation platform at random. It is best to choose services that can be integrated with the most popular e-commerce platforms, are easy to set up, and provide a number of features to make life easier for the marketing specialist.

We decided to use the Omnisend: it is very easy to learn and it integrates with the client CMS – Magento. The team started the settings at the end of August 2021. The dev team spent a month on all the testing and verification of the service.

Setting up automation

The primary task for us was to set up trigger letters. Their goal is to “catch up” with registered users and persuade them to buy so that clients do not get lost. What we did:

A welcoming flow of letters to get acquainted with the site and the catalog (welcome flow),
Emails after viewing a product that did not end with a purchase (product abandonment),
Abandoned cart emails.

First of all, we focused on the welcome email flow. Initially, it consisted of 3 introductory emails, and the last one has a promotional code for a one-time discount – it is actively used by new users according to internal analytics. Due to low open rates and clicks, we shortened the chain by 2 emails. Here are the numbers we got for the first 2 months of the active welcome chain:

How to increase sales in B2B

August 17 – November 4

We saw much more satisfying results after launching automated emails after an abandoned product. Briefly: the trigger is launched on a registered user if he viewed a specific product, but did not buy it (did not add it to the cart).

For 2 months we managed to “catch up” with almost 500 people who were interested in buying. The financial return was incredibly surprising for both us and our client:

August 17 – November 4

We predicted that stimulation after cart abandonment would be the most effective of all trigger emails. The practice of world agencies shows that such letters provide a strong increase in orders. The site for the wholesale sale of balloons is no exception.

The chain includes 3 letters, each of them “closes the window of opportunity” for making a purchase. We warn the customer that the availability of the product is limited and the cart is about to expire. Here are the results of such a strategy from August 2021 to January 2022:

How to increase sales in B2B

August 17, 2021 – end of January 2022

Results of our automation strategy:

in 5 months, we returned 3,363 orders to the funnel with a total amount of more than CA$455K,
the average open rate reached 36.3% and clicks – 4.32%.

Newsletter strategy

Balloons are a popular and demanded product regardless of the season. Decorators and event arrangers regularly replenish their stocks of balloons to complete orders for party decorations on time. Of course, holidays and important dates are an excellent opportunity to warm up the target audience and earn a few hundred extra orders. We decided to take advantage of this when working on an email marketing strategy.

How we did segmentation:

Full integration with Omnisend allows you to keep the most accurate records of registrations and orders. Having all the cards in hand, we very quickly carried out the primary segmentation of users by date and frequency of purchases. So, at the first stages, we identified 3 segments:

active users who have made a purchase since February 2021,
active users who have placed an order since May 2021,
registered users who for some reason did not order anything.

This segmentation made it possible to single out “old” customers and focus on returning them to the store. At the same time, we wanted to check if it’s possible to “reanimate” inactive B2B users and whether they will react positively to thematic mailings.

The very first campaigns brought a positive result, but it was too early to grab the stars from the sky. Mailing lists, not dedicated to any event, quite well warmed up the interest of users in the assortment. These emails offered discounts or informed subscribers about stock sales, and here are the results:

w to increase sales in B2B and get additional

Do you wonder what that peak is at the end of the month? On September 28, the store celebrated its birthday, the anniversary of the very first order. We could not pass by such an event, so we launched a promotional email campaign, and it hit the bull’s-eye!

Remarkably, the promotion was limited in time, but the Omnisend campaign continued to bring in traffic and orders even after it ended. We can conclude that email marketing and regular campaigns in particular have an accumulative effect. A positive mailing result stretches over time and brings orders even after the end of the promotion, which can be seen in the graph below:

Birthday newsletter results

Let’s move on to the October mailing lists only. Speaking about the organization of parties, it is impossible not to mention the main autumn holiday – Halloween (as well as the Mexican Day of the Dead). This is one of the peak seasons for the sale of decoration balloons: they are bought by both professional decorators and event organizers, as well as ordinary families to decorate their home or office.

The purpose of the Halloween campaign was not only to sell seasonal goods, but also to draw attention to the store as a whole, to stir up those subscribers who are still reluctant to order. After all, on this day there is not a single apartment, office, cafe or hotel that would not be decorated with traditional Halloween attributes – balloons will always be needed! And it is also necessary to remind subscribers about the benefits of the store.

We came to the conclusion that we need to launch the campaign as early as possible. The first letter went to the entire loyal and active subscriber base at the beginning of the month (October 6). We informed the audience that throughout October, the site has discounts on all thematic products. The second letter was sent a few days before the end of the holiday season (October 27) – especially for those who missed the timely purchase of decoration balls, the store increased the discount on Halloween goods.

We demonstrate completed orders recorded in Analytics. Here 2 peaks correspond to 2 emails:

 How to increase sales in B2B

The result of both Halloween promotional letters

As for the analytics of Omnisend itself: the platform shows all recorded sales and clicks that were made from a particular campaign. Here is the full picture (all transitions and transactions recorded by the system):

How to increase sales in B2B

The results of first campaign of the month

How to increase sales in B2B

The first newsletter’s results in the New Year

What conclusions did we draw after 2 successful campaigns:

letters bring orders long after they are sent,
express campaigns with increased profit at the end of the season give three times more exhaust,
customers even buy goods without discounts and those that do not participate in promotions and are not presented in the mailing list,
better late than never: despite the fact that the email channel in the online store was absent in principle, its sudden connection immediately paid off.

Pitfalls and failures

Our email marketing case study would be incomplete without a failure. As it turned out, not all representatives of the store’s target audience, having openly subscribed to mailing lists, are friendly towards them. One of the segments that we needed to stimulate was registered subscribers who had not made a single purchase in six months. This segment is not as numerous as active buyers, but in percentage terms, the main metrics unpleasantly surprised us.

We first encountered sky-high spam complaints in September during a typical stock clearance campaign. Then the indicator reached 0.6%, from which we received a warning.

On the eve of Halloween, we offered inactive users to use an exclusive promotional code for free shipping on any order. This campaign to stimulate non-payers scored a nasty spam rate of 0.48% and only 1 customer used the promo code. For comparison: the indicator of all previous mailings to those who made orders was 0.02%.
How to increase sales in B2B

Our resume: focusing on a loyal audience brings more financial returns and does not carry the risk of account blocking.

Our results

Briefly about the key indicators:

For 4 months, we sent 280K letters as part of regular campaigns and 130K letters from automated mailing lists,
The average open rate of all mailings is 29%,
Average click rate – 3.4%,
For 4 months, 7017 orders were made through the mailing list service,
The average rate of additions to spam does not exceed 0.02%.

Important facts we noticed:

subscribers value brevity – long letters are not read to the end, the conversion rate is low,
the benefit is needed – after letters that do not provide benefits (promotions, discount codes), they are more likely to unsubscribe,
should focus on retaining loyal customers,
B2B customers in the North American region use email more than anyone else, and email newsletters are an important and necessary promotion channel.

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