When your ecommerce buyers run out of your fantastic products, they generally want more.

If your brand sells products that are “consumable” or need to be replaced on a regular basis, replenishment campaigns are your new best friend. These email marketing campaigns are the best way to encourage repeat purchases, while also being in tune to your shopper’s needs. If your customers bought this item from you in the past, they’ll be grateful to receive a reminder to restock before they run out.

Items that are considered consumable include things like:

1. Edible goods: food, K-cups, etc.

2. Office supplies

3. Cosmetics (which can either run out or expire)

4. Product accessories: air/water filters, cellphone cases, batteries, etc.

5. Apparel that needs replacement after extensive use (such as running shoes, which should be replaced after several hundred miles)

But what replenishment email subject lines get the best results for a brand looking to drive higher engagement? How can you make sure you have high open rates on these vital emails? And how can you improve your overall customer loyalty? We decided to explore a great example of a replenishment marketing campaign.

What are replenishment emails?

Replenishment email campaigns simply remind your customers to buy a product again after they’ve run out. This allows marketers to truly epitomize the “right message at the right time.” By reaching out with a reminder at exactly the time when a customer needs more of your product, you can drive better open rates and more engagement. Ideally, this type of email campaign will drive customer loyalty long-term, since your buyers will appreciate the reminder and ease of ordering.

A great example of a replenishment campaign

Instead of talking aout examples of great email campaigns, we wanted to look at a concrete example. We were particularly impressed with a replenishment email we received from PlasticPlace, a company that sells garbage bags and liners for trash cans in a variety of sizes. After creating an account with PlasticPlace and eventually purchasing a 100-bag pack of 40-gallon garbage bags, a month passed before we received the following email from PlasticPlace with the subject line “When would you like your 5%?”:

As you can see, PlasticPlace was offering email recipients 5% off our next purchase of garbage bags, with the condition that we specify when we wanted to activate our discount. Whether that was immediately, or 1, 2, or 3 months from the email’s delivery date, we could decide based on how quickly we were going through the trash bags we’d bought.

What we like about this campaign

PlasticPlace is doing a lot right with this replenishment email. First, they sent the triggered email approximately 1 month after we made our first purchase, so they’re paying attention to every customer’s purchase history. Not only were we likely to be at least partway through our trash bag purchase by this point, but we were also likely to have a sense of how quickly we were using up the product and how soon we’d need to replace it.

Second, by asking us when we wanted to activate the coupon on our second purchase, PlasticPlace recognized that different customers will go through the product at different rates. They don’t know, for example, if we’re a small office of twenty or a huge company of several hundred. In the same way that we’re also learning how soon we’ll need to replenish the product, they’re learning about our ordering frequency.

Finally, by providing a 5% discount off our second order, PlasticPlace essentially combined a replenishment campaign with a post-purchase thank you. They thanked us for our business in the body of the email, and told us to make sure we activated the coupon at a time that was right for us. The discount acted as an incentive for us to continue shopping with this brand, and the reminder to restock gave us a heads-up before we actually ran out of trash bags – making the email customer-centric from both an appreciation standpoint and a “friendly reminder” standpoint.

The key to effective replenishment campaigns is to remind your shoppers to stock up on their items before they run out, so your shopper will be sure to repurchase before it’s too late. PlasticPlace added huge value to our shopping experience by not only incentivizing our repeat purchase, but by seeking to learn exactly how frequently we’d need to replenish our trash bags (and thus learning more about us as a customer). Too many retailers assume that a shopper will simply come back once they’ve run out of their product and a need for replacement presents itself, but a good replenishment reminder – like this one! – prevents that “need” from creating a problem.

Sruthi Narayanan

Sruthi is the Marketing Associate at Zaius. When she’s not writing and editing marketing content, Sruthi spends her time volunteering for a Cambridge-based arts organization, singing in a post-collegiate a cappella group, and reading novels to her cat, Monty.

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