Pursuing That First Purchase: Converting Subscribers to Buyers


Tami Urban, Marketing Strategist

Author Bio

Tami brings years of hands-on experience driving revenue for her clients as an email marketing strategist. This experience includes working with hundreds of B2B and B2C clients in a range of industries. She guides her clients to see success in their email and social marketing efforts as well as working with her clients on split testing, creative optimization, segmentation, engagement and overall best practices. For fun, you can find Tami cooking, enjoying a good bottle of wine, or checking out a show at the local theater.

Many of your subscribers may have never actually purchased from you. Typically, about 60-70% of your email subscribers are non-purchasers. Given such a large population and opportunity for revenue, you should really invest some time in attempting to convert these prospects to customers. Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Understand your buying cycle

Review your past order history to determine the average time between sign-up and first purchase. Then, aim to shorten this timeframe and automate the process. If the average time between sign-up and first purchase is 45 days, you may want to trigger an automated email to non-purchasers on day 36 in an attempt to encourage a purchase and decrease the time to purchase by 20%.

Step 2: Calculate a revenue goal to justify the cost

To justify the cost of setting up these automated messages, determine your estimated revenue goal. Take your average conversion rate for marketing messages and multiply that by the number of subscribers who have never purchased. This will give you an idea of the estimated number of transactions. For example, if my average conversion rate from sends is 4% and I have 30,000 subscribers who have never purchased, then there are approximately 1,200 missed opportunities for transactions. Next, multiply the transactions by your average order value to get an estimated revenue goal. If the average order value is $40, then the estimated revenue goal is $48,000.

Step 3: Identify opportunities for conversion

The Welcome Message

The first email targeting prospective purchasers is usually a welcome message, often containing an offer or incentive. If subscribers did not purchase from the original welcome message, what can you do to increase the chance of conversion? Try a remail with a new subject line for anyone who did not open the message. In addition, send a reminder to those who opened and/or clicked but did not convert. This could be a simple email about the offer that is going to expire, encouraging them to take advantage of it today. The ideal sending time for this message is day 36, assuming again that the average time between sign-up and first purchase is 45 days.

A Never Purchased Series

Create a series of messages for those who have subscribed but haven’t purchased within 45 days. Explain that you’d like to reward them on their first purchase and provide a special offer. Send the second message of the series with an even better offer to those prospects who still haven’t purchased by the 60-day mark. The offer may include a larger discount percentage, free shipping, free gift w/purchase, etc. Save the best offer for last with the third message at 90 days. Create a sense of urgency around the redemption date for these incentives.

The following are great examples of a never purchased message:


One Response to “Pursuing That First Purchase: Converting Subscribers to Buyers”

  1. Avatar

    Love the idea of setting up an automation for this campaign. Very clever. Must give this a try. 🙂



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