E-commerce e-mail marketing is the practice of using e-mail to generate sales for your store. It is about building relationships with your customers so that you increase sales through engagement and repeated engagement, also known as loyalty.
If you are an online retailer or manage an e-commerce store, the only way you’re going to survive and succeed is by putting in place an e-mail marketing strategy for e-commerce.
We’ve detailed our proven strategy for effective e-mail marketing below, and give a few important tips as we go along.
Why is an E-mail Marketing Strategy for E-commerce Important?
Claims that social media has caused the death of e-mail marketing are simply not true. The statistics prove otherwise. There are now over 102 trillion e-mails being sent every year.
That, combined with 99% of e-mail users checking their e-mail every day, gives you an enormous opportunity to reach potential customers.
Another statistic reveals that 58% of all users check their e-mail first, before social media or reading the news. Sometimes, they do so even before getting out of bed. That is a captive audience that you cannot afford to ignore.
Statistics also show that your e-mails reach some 85% of the people you send it to. The e-mail opening rate is over 22%, compared with just 0.58% for social media. Other surveys have shown that customers prefer e-mail for communicating with brands they know over any other method.
Your e-mail list is yours. You know who you’re sending your mail to. Your mailing list is a finite, target group of people, many of whom have opted-in to receive your mailings. Unlike social media advertising campaigns, the best e-commerce e-mails are not shots in the dark to a fairly random, nebulous target audience.
Aside from the advantages to be gained from repeat business, these are all compelling reasons to develop your own e-mail marketing strategy for e-commerce.
Best E-commerce E-mails
The best e-commerce e-mails are ones that you have linked to your online store or website that you’ve set up to generate automatically. Top-rated marketing automation platforms such as Hubspot, Sharpspring, Pardot, and Infusionsoft are among the ones we have already reviewed on our blog.
Choosing the right software is critical, but it can take time. You need to evaluate the options available based on capabilities, ease of use, customer service, business needs, and pricing. Once you have chosen a marketing automation platform, you will be amazed at how much easier implementing your e-mail marketing strategy for e-commerce becomes.
Many people think too narrowly about marketing e-mails. They have the mistaken idea that it is all about the cold-call hard sell. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The best e-commerce e-mails are staggered, and tailored to various situations, as summarised below.
Bain & Company, Inc. and Mainspring published the results of two surveys conducted roughly twenty years ago titled “The Value of Online Customer Loyalty and how you can capture it”. Don’t let the age of the survey fool you; human behavior doesn’t change much, and today’s results will not be different in any material way.
Strategically triggered e-mails following the “best e-commerce e-emails” idea increase customer loyalty. Loyal customers behave in ways that one-off customers do not. As the survey says, you’re not going to breakeven on one-time shoppers.
The survey found that repeat purchasers spend more and generate higher-value transactions. They refer more people and bring in more business; they will also buy more products from you. This bears out our tips on upselling and cross-selling later.
In other words, loyal customers drive the long-term profitability of your company.
Having an e-mail marketing strategy for e-commerce is, therefore, an integral part of your CRM (customer relationship management).
The welcome e-mail is also known as the first engagement e-mail. This is where you want to grab your customer’s attention: in the first e-mail that they receive from you after agreeing to receive e-mails from your company. Studies have shown that people are more likely to read a welcome e-mail than any other.
All you’re aiming to do here is make friendly contact with your prospective customer. You can suggest a few of your sites or products they might like to check out, but the main thrust of your message should be that you are there if they need you, nothing more.
Inviting customers to refer friends and family to a brand is a great source for free leads. Fully three-quarters of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. Getting your brand to invest time in setting up good referral programs certainly pays dividends.
You can ask for referrals on your thank you page, but you can also do it in your e-mail campaigns too. Asking for referrals is often combined with a free offer on one of your products. You spread goodwill with the customer and get the word-of-mouth referrals you need to grow your business.
Some businesses report that referrals generate their highest growth after implementing an e-mail marketing strategy for e-commerce. Leveraging your customer base this way makes excellent business sense.
Discounting is an effective e-mail marketing strategy for e-commerce, with some brands reporting conversion rates as high as 5.13% after discounting. Further, a 2014 VWO study found that 72% of millennials are susceptible to retargeting via discounts.
One study by VWO found that 72% of Millennial shoppers are open to retargeting via discounts.
With cart abandonment, 54% of shoppers are likely to purchase the product they initially abandoned if offer a discount and the opportunity to purchase it again.
Cart Abandon Email
Set up your automated marketing software to send an e-mail when a customer abandons their shopping cart. There might be many reasons for them doing so.
For instance, perhaps your online store has slowed down, or the customer has had problems registering their credit card. Or perhaps the customer simply got interrupted, and their store logon timed out.
Follow-up e-mails like this tell the customer that you care and can lead to future sales. Your customer might even write a referral as a result.
Thank you Email
Everyone likes to be thanked. Thank customers for registering on your site or with your online store. Thank them for every purchase.
Thank them with free offers if they make large purchases over a certain value.
The customer feel-good factor goes a long way to ensuring brand loyalty – and a better customer relationship in the future.
Tips and Tricks
One of the essential e-mails you need to send is the order confirmation e-mail. This can also be used to interest customers in other offerings.
Depending on personal data agreements, use e-mails gleaned from order confirmations to build your e-mail mailshot list.
Or use the confirmation e-mail to explain your delivery process, or returns policy. Such e-mails help to reassure the customer that you are not a one-dimensional company, but that you have substance and are here to stay. And you’ll be ready for them when they make their next order.
Confirmations of orders can also be used to upsell or cross-sell. Upselling is when you encourage a customer to buy another product with a greater order value, while cross-selling is when you suggest that the customer might be interested in buying similar products.
This has worked well for the world’s largest online stores. There’s no reason why it cannot work for you.
Spend most of your time focused on your subject line because it is said that on average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. Your chief aim here is to interrupt someone’s pattern, to think up something that makes them actually read what they are looking at.
While your From name, your design, time of day sent, and CTA (call to action) are all important, creating a compelling subject line is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. In other words, use the four seconds you have to capture someone’s attention wisely!
Because sender recognition is more important than you think, the best “From” name to use in an e-mail is the name of your company. Don’t use the first name of your marketing manager.
Worse still, never use “noreply.” How on earth do you expect your customers to get in touch if they cannot reply directly to your e-mail?
The old trick of personalizing an e-mail with someone’s name does not work anymore, because everybody started doing it. What works now is personalizing using your recipient’s city name.
Some companies send out birthday greetings with discount offers. Other companies offer vouchers when the company itself is celebrating a significant milestone. Both actions count as a type of personalization.
Most e-mail campaigns begin with high open rates and then decline over time. One way to reduce the incidence of this happening to make sure you do not re-use subject lines, and that your subject lines are not too similar.
Keep it fresh, interrupt someone’s pattern, and your e-mail marketing strategy for e-commerce will achieve a return on investment (ROI) beyond expectation.
Sustained activity directly related to your e-mail marketing strategy over time will consolidate your results and lead to steady year-on-year growth. This is particularly true if you combine your e-commerce e-mail strategy with a great SEO strategy.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, we would love to hear from you. Contact us here!