Email marketing is an easy, inexpensive tool that can provide ecommerce entrepreneurs with weekly engagement, increased brand awareness, surges in website traffic, and a significant return on investment.
When tested, email marketing performs better than other channels including social media, SEO marketing, and content distribution. Why? Because it is an advertising approach that can be customized to engage readers and build solid relationships for better customer acquisition.
Research shows that email marketing techniques can bring small and medium businesses up to a 3,600% ROI. In this post, you will learn why you need email marketing, what it is and get ideas how to use it.
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What is Ecommerce Email Marketing?
Email marketing for ecommerce businesses can take many different forms, but at its core, it involves using email to send promotional messages to potential and existing customers. These messages can include things like special offers, new product announcements, or other types of content that will interest your target audience.
One of the great things about email marketing is that it can be used to target specific segments of your customer base, which makes it an ideal tool for building relationships with customers.
For example, you can use it to:
- Welcome new customers and introduce them to your brand
- Build loyalty and repeat business by providing valuable content and exclusive offers
- Reengage lapsed customers and encourage them to come back
- Upsell existing customers on new products or services
- Cross-sell complementary products to existing customers
- Remind customers to leave product reviews after purchasing
- Remind users of the products left in their cart
In the customer acquisition game, email marketing can be a powerful secret weapon.
Importance of Email Marketing for Ecommerce
When developing a new ecommerce brand, or trying to scale a struggling one, there usually isn't a ton of capital to be spent on marketing. You have to be able to get the most bang for your buck and invest in proven strategies that will have the highest ROI.
- By staying top of mind: If people are subscribed to your email list, they are interested in what you have to say. You can use this to your advantage by regularly sending them valuable content, whether it's an informative blog post or a special coupon code.
- By being personal: Email provides a direct line of communication to your customers. You can use this to build personal relationships by addressing them by name, sending them hand-picked recommendations, or even just wishing them a happy birthday.
- By providing value: The best way to keep people subscribed to your email list is by providing them with value. This could be in the form of helpful information, exclusive deals, or access to new products before anyone else.
Without it, you'll be forced to rely on more expensive channels like paid advertising or hope that someone stumbles across your brand organically.
Email Marketing Platforms
First, you will need to choose one of the many email marketing platforms available to host your contacts and automate the emails sent. Some popular platforms are:
- MailChimp (from $0/month-$299/month)
- Constant Contact (free 60 day trial, from $9.99/month-$449/month)
- Vertical Response (free 60-day trial, from $11/month-$16/month)
- Convert Kit (free 60-day trial, from $0/month-$29/month)
- Get Response (free 30-day trial, from $0/month-$119/month)
Building an Email List
After you have selected and registered for one of the email marketing platforms listed above, you will need a solid list to send emails to each week.
Your website needs clear and well-placed opt-in forms (newsletter sign-up boxes) to start gathering users. The best way to entice these users to input their email is to offer a free trial or small discount on their first purchase:
From the example above, if the website visitor is interested in the products at Kate Spade Saturday, this visitor would be more than happy to enter their email for 15% off. You can then send this subscriber weekly new products, more discounts, etc., to prompt future purchases.
Many of the services like MailChimp have an easy way to design and implement opt-in forms into your website that connect right to the platform.
Other methods to build an email list include:
- Sign-up forms within your blogs, emails sent, and social media.
- Offer an incentive for existing subscribers to refer a friend.
- Send a card with every product shipped detailing the list-only deals.
- Add a QR code to the opt-in form on your print materials.
- Host a giveaway for a product. To enter, users have to register with their email.
Crafting an Effective Email
Email is the most popular method of business communication with billions of emails sent and received daily, so you have to continuously stand out to result in opens and sales.
Getting someone to open a marketing email isn’t easy. You’ll have to work hard to stand out in a sea of promotional material - but there is hope if you follow these tips.
- Avoid gimmicky words such as “free” or typing in all CAPS. You want your email to land in the reader’s inbox, not their spam folder.
- Customize each email to include the customer’s name, location, etc.
- Keep it short - a maximum of 50 characters is enough.
- Be as direct and truthful as possible about what is inside the email.
Reason for Email
Whether it is a discount, news, or special offer, you will want to ensure the reason for your company sending the email is easy to comprehend and explained early in the email. Graphics and other visually appealing components keep the visitor engaged.
Now that the reader understands what is being offered, they need a clear way to take part with a button or link. Call-to-actions are always more effective when placed early in the email instead of at the very bottom.
Ecommerce Email Marketing Best Practices
The field of email marketing is always evolving, with new techniques emerging to get readers to open your content. But there are a handful of things that you can always count on to produce results.
1. The welcome email
The first step in a journey toward a lasting relationship. It should be sent as soon as someone subscribes to your list, and it should do three things:
- Thank the reader for subscribing
- Introduce them to your brand
- Set expectations for what they can expect from you going forward
A great welcome email will set the tone for all future interactions, so make sure it’s friendly, helpful, and informative.
The best ecommerce email marketing campaigns always include a call-to-action or CTA. This is what you want your reader to do after they finish reading your email (and it should be something other than deleting it).
Your CTA could be anything from visiting your website to making a purchase, but it should always be clear and easy to understand. A good way to make sure your CTA is effective is to use actionable language like “shop now,” “learn more,” or “sign up today.”
3. Personalize it
Personalization is one of the most effective ways to improve your ecommerce email marketing. People are more likely to engage with content that feels like it was written just for them, so including a person’s name in the subject line or using the information you know about them (like their purchase history) can be very effective.
Just be sure not to overdo it – with consumers caring more about data privacy than ever before, too much personalization can come across as eerie.
4. Discount emails for loyal customers
Your repeat customers are the lifeblood of any ecommerce business. They are a steady stream of revenue and often become your best marketing tool, passing on referrals to friends and family.
One way to keep them coming back for more is to send out periodic discount emails. This could be in the form of a percentage off their next purchase, free shipping on orders over a certain amount, or even a coupon code they can use at any time.
Make sure your discounts are generous enough to entice customers without eating into your profits too much and include an expiration date to create a sense of urgency.
5. Anniversary emails
Anniversary emails are an excellent way to show your customers that you remember and appreciate them. You can send out an email on the anniversary of their first purchase, or any other significant event.
Include a coupon code or discount to encourage them to buy again, and make sure to include personalized details like their name and how long they’ve been shopping with you.
6. Upcoming discounts
If you have an upcoming sale or special event, email marketing is a great way to let your customers know. This could include flash sales, seasonal discounts, or any other promotional offers you’re running.
Be sure to include all the relevant details like dates, times, and discount amounts so customers can take advantage of your offer. It can be tricky to balance being early enough for them to take advantage of the sale but not too soon that they forget about it. If in doubt, err on the side of earlier rather than later.
Email marketing can also be a great way to upsell your customers. If they’ve just made a purchase, you can reach out with other products or services that would complement what they just bought.
For example, if someone buys a new computer, you could offer them an extended warranty or insurance plan. Or if they buy a new piece of furniture, you could suggest add-ons like throw pillows or protection plans.
Just be sure not to come across as too pushy – no one likes to be sold to, so focus on how the upsell would benefit the customer rather than on making the sale itself.
8. Abandoned cart emails
Nearly seven of every ten carts are abandoned without being completed, which amounts to a lot of lost revenue for ecommerce businesses.
Abandoned cart emails are a great way to recover some of that lost revenue. These emails are sent automatically when someone adds items to their cart but doesn’t complete the purchase.
A well-crafted abandoned cart email can be highly effective, with some businesses seeing recovery rates as high as 20%. So if you’re not already using this technique, it’s worth considering.
9. Back-in-stock emails
If a customer has searched for a product but was unable to find it in stock, you can reach out to them with a back-in-stock email when the product is available again.
This is a great way to stay top of mind with customers and build relationships with people who may not have made a purchase yet.
And since these emails are triggered automatically, they don’t require any extra work on your part once they’re set up.
10. Automate everything
Any ecommerce entrepreneur worth their salt knows that automation is key to scaling a business. And email marketing is the perfect place to start.
There are several ways you can automate the process, from setting up automatic welcome emails for new subscribers to sending out automated follow-ups after someone makes a purchase.
Not only will automating your email marketing save you time, but it can also help you increase sales and customer loyalty in the long run.
Optimizing an Ecommerce Campaign
Email marketing can be a powerful tool for ecommerce businesses, but only if it’s done right. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your campaigns:
- Send emails during standard business hours for an immediate opening.
- Consider sending something other than promotional emails - whether it is industry news, valuable information, or just saying hello.
- Don’t let months go by without sending new content.
- Send customers pre-written emails in intervals starting from the sign-up day, one week later, three weeks later, etc.
- Don’t forget shopping cart abandonment, order confirmation & shipping, thank you for signing up, and customer feedback emails.
- Keep the design consistent through emails and websites to establish a brand.
- Consider the users viewing the email on mobile devices when designing.
Ecommerce Email Examples
Ready to see some great ecommerce marketing in action? Here are three examples of different emails you could send.
1. A weekly newsletter
The Athletic, a leading online sports publication that relies on monthly recurring revenue (MRR), sends out a “Weekly Digest” that is based on the customer’s reading tendencies. If you are a fan of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers, it will show you stories that might be of interest.
It is personal, valuable, and uncluttered – the perfect example of an email that will get opened and clicked regularly.
2. Discount offers
Kobo, Rakuten’s e-reader, has regular discounts available for customers that have purchased in the past. They use sleek graphics and product images to show off the discounts, as well as a countdown timer to create a sense of urgency.
3. New product announcement
Great Lakes Brewery nails these announcements with catchy subject lines like “Pumpkin Up Your Long Weekend”. The email itself is short and to the point, with a photo of the product and a link to buy it. All you need to do is remind people that they love your product and give them a way to get it.
Tracking Email Analytics
Tracking your email campaign results can provide insight into what you are doing wrong, what you can change, and the most effective strategies used to duplicate. There are six main elements you should be tracking.
- Open percentages: The number of subscribers that have taken the time to open your email. If this is low, you can then try changing your subject line.
- List growth: The rate at which your subscriber list is growing. Try to set goals for your e-commerce business such as 10 new subscribers a day.
- Bounce percentages: How many emails never make it to the subscriber's inbox because of spam filters, inactive subscriber addresses, or some kind of technical error.
- Click-through rate: Subscribers who clicked a link or call-to-action that led to your website.
- Conversion: The rate of subscribers who not only clicked a link in your email but also completed the action related to the link. Campaigns that have high conversion rates can provide information on creating similar campaigns in the future.
- Opt-out rate: Readers who unsubscribe from the list as a result of an email. This can tell you that you are either sending too many emails or the wrong kind.
All of the services listed above will be able to help you capture and analyze this data. In fact, Mailchimp offers an AI-assisted tool that can optimize content based on specific insights.
There is no question that email marketing is one of the most effective tools in your ecommerce arsenal. By following the best practices listed above, you can create high-converting campaigns that will increase brand awareness and website traffic while providing a significant return on investment.
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Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, your next goal should be marketing your content on social media. Read more about our 17 tips to boost social media marketing to drive more traffic to your ecommerce site!