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How Shop Solar Achieved a 35% Revenue Increase From Email and Won Over Long Purchasing Cycles

How Shop Solar Achieved a 35% Revenue Increase From Email and Won Over Long Purchasing Cycles


When you’re selling a high-ticket technical product with a long buying cycle—it is difficult to time your promotions to when a customer is ready to convert.

Faced with this challenge, the Shop Solar team decided to experiment with a unique marketing strategy: revolving discounts. They created a bi-weekly rotation of promotions that complemented the unpredictable buying cycles of their customers. To keep customers updated with the latest promotions, they added Abra links in their emails that would auto-apply discounts throughout the shopping journey.

The results?

They saw a 35% increase in their email conversion rate, adding significant revenue to their business.

Shop Solar is one of the fastest-growing ecommerce stores for solar equipment, kits, and accessories, selling directly to homeowners and small businesses across the United States and Canada. Their journey started in 2019 when they found success bundling the parts and components needed to equip homes and RVs with solar panels.

As their customer base grew exponentially, Cody—the Head of Marketing—was tasked with brainstorming a promotion strategy that complemented the long buying cycle of their products.

How Revolving Discounts Won in a Long Buying Cycle

Selling in the solar industry meant that the team was selling a high-ticket technical product with a long buying cycle. Cody recalls,

“We would run seasonal promotions previously, a customer would find out about us, get ready to convert, and then the promotion was already ending.”

Due to the unpredictability of the cycles, the team needed a strategy to capture and convert sales at the end of a customer’s buying journey. After lots of trial and error, they devised a new strategy: revolving discounts. The premise was to run rotating site-wide discounts on a bi-weekly basis that would help to capture a sale whenever a customer was ready to bite.

How Revolving Discounts Won in a Long Buying Cycle

“With a bi-weekly cadence, the cyclical nature of the promotion worked well with the purchasing time lag. It would capture the sale at the end of their journey.”

To spread awareness of their revolving discounts, they also fired a recurring bi-weekly email newsletter loaded with Abra links. For Cody, email was the perfect channel to leverage Abra as it could seamlessly bring users from inbox to checkout.

“In our emails, we added buttons for our promotions that would drive customers directly to our shop. With Abra, we added a promotional popup message on the product and collection pages that their discount was applied. Then when customers were ready to checkout, we automatically injected the discounts at checkout so they no longer had to hunt for the right code on our website.”

Before adding Abra links, Shop Solar used discount codes that customers needed to copy and paste at checkout. With the older demographic they were targeting, customers would often forget codes or run into errors and flood their customer support team. Especially given the tight cadence of their promotions, this quickly became a nightmare.

“When our users had to copy and paste codes, they had to make sure the spelling was right. When it didn’t work, they would get frustrated and pick up the phone to call our team. With Abra, they just click the link in our email and shop as they normally would as the discount was automatically applied, and no extra thinking for them, which is really cool.”

Just from this simple addition, conversion rates and revenue from Shop Solar’s email shot up 35%. Considering that email as a channel drove 40% of their business, this had a significant impact. Better yet, over the three years of using the revolving promotion strategy, they made over $100 million in sales.

“I think the biggest thing was just increasing the click-through rate in the emails and increasing the rate of people that went from cart to checkout. And overall preventing issues like: where’s my code? Can you apply a code to my order? That didn’t happen as much when we implemented Abra, which was really solid.”

Learnings From Experimentation

Despite the success of the revolving discount, Cody picked up two core learnings that led him to iterate his strategy:

  1. Difficulty predicting advertising spend: the team was constantly throttling promotions up and down depending on the sales performance which made projections difficult.
  2. Brand equity: running site-wide revolving promotions instead of brand-specific discounts meant that their brand equity took a hit. This affected the long-term positioning of their business.

These takeaways inspired Cody to run less site-wide revolving promotions and focus more on discounting individual products and brands. The Shop Solar team went back to the drawing board and just recently launched a new flyer promotion strategy.

The Redirection: New Flyer Strategy

“Similar to your grocery store flyer, where one week you have turkey and ham on sale for Thanksgiving, and the next is spaghetti.”

Inspired by grocery flyers, the Shop Solar team launched a new promotion strategy that curates and features a selection of best-selling products, seasonal features, and new product launches. Despite just launching in the new year, this strategy has provided more consistency in their ad spend. Best of all, it deeply resonates with their older audience, enough that they’re exploring direct mail advertising.

On top of the weekly flyer, the team also organizes five large sale events throughout the year featuring site-wide discounts. They intend to leverage Abra in the email promotions again to ensure that coupon codes are automatically injected at checkout so they can offer exclusive discounts on specific brands to certain customers.

“For the big sales period, we’ll be using the Abra magic links and then we’ll figure out exactly how we wanna implement that once we start bucketing our customers.”

Overall the team is excited to take their learnings and run targeted promotions rather than fully rely on site-wide discounts.

Cody’s #1 Tip for Ecommerce Marketers

As Shop Solar started scaling quickly over the past year, they began implementing new projects and promotion styles more frequently. Cody shares:

“One of the biggest things we’ve learned as we started to implement new styles of promotion is that if it’s complicated for us to set up, it’s probably confusing for the customers. Abra made things simple for us because we had one set of codes, one system to execute, and one link to promote.”

So Cody’s biggest advice for ecommerce marketers: simplicity over complexity. A confusing promotion could be the reason your customers are turning away. Give Abra a try if you’re looking to simplify your promotion setup. Let’s work together to build a simple and robust promotion system that executes all your promotions effortlessly.

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