5 Killer Email Marketing Strategies to Increase Ecommerce Sales

January 25, 2016 | Customer Acquisition, ECommerce, Email Marketing, Marketing Strategies

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools ecommerce businesses have when looking to both nurture leads and drive ecommerce sales.

Why include email marketing in your strategy?

  • Cheap – email marketing is relatively cost effective
  • Rapport – helps foster strong, lifetime-long relationships with your clients through frequent communication

Email marketing has to be done right, however, if you want to reap the rewards. Done incorrectly, email campaigns can isolate users, annoy them, and get you sent right into the dark abyss of the spam folder.

In this post you’ll discover:

  • Why email marketing matters for ecommerce sales
  • 5 killer email marketing strategies for ecommerce businesses
  • Important metrics you want to be watching

1. Email Marketing for Ecommerce: What You Need to Know

Email marketing often involves mass campaigns sent out to your audience (or segments of it) from your email list. Different email lists can include potential leads, warm leads, and current clients who have already purchased and are at varying stages of the sales funnel.

While some see email marketing as old-fashioned and less valuable than social media, they shouldn’t; email is nearly 40% better at helping a business acquire new customers than Facebook and Twitter.

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Why Ecommerce Businesses Need to Use Email Marketing

All ecommerce businesses (and even purely brick-and-mortar businesses) should be using email marketing as part of their marketing strategy. Being able to send a steady stream of message that are relevant to your audience can help foster relationships, keep you in the forefront of their minds, alert them to events like new products or sales, and help you drive sales.

All of these results are good, and with email marketing yielding an average 43,000% ROI, there’s no reason not to invest.

Email campaigns are particularly important for ecommerce businesses, who often lack the face-to-face interaction and rapport building other types of businesses will have. In fact, companies using email campaigns to nurture leads are able to generate 50% more sales ready leads—and a 33% lower cost.

[Tweet “Email marketing yields an average 43,000% ROI, there’s no reason not to invest”]

How Email Marketing Fits Into Your Overall Strategy

Use your email marketing list and emails to work with campaigns you’re running on social media by prompting your clients to follow you on Facebook.

Sync up your email campaigns to work with your blog; your blog can increase your readers, and you can continue to send your email list back to your blog post by sending them links to best performing content.

Craft a well-timed email and send it to the right audience to trigger a large number of sales, or any other type of desired action.

2. 5 Killer Email Marketing Strategies for Ecommerce Sales

Deciding to run email marketing campaigns focusing on ecommerce sales is a great start, but sending out a slew of emails to your list isn’t enough to cut it.

Email campaigns thrive when they’re strategically crafted and used according to specific focuses.

A. Using Series Strategically

We’re all familiar with email marketing campaigns that let us know about new products or promotions, but we also are used to “series” campaigns. Series campaigns are email messages that are triggered by a user’s action on your site, and are specific multi-email campaigns sent to the user based on those actions.

Each individual email within a campaign should have a specific call to action that you’re focusing on.

Series campaigns all ecommerce businesses should be using:

  • Welcome Series. Any time a customer signs up for your newsletter or to follow your blog—or they make an account— you want to send them a few welcoming emails.
    The first can thank them, give them a chance to confirm their subscription, and reiterate the benefits. The second could thank them again and prompt them to take another step in the buying process, whether that’s signing up for something else or creating or upgrading an account. The third could be a prompt to buy, such as a 10% off welcome coupon.
  • Abandoned Cart Series. This series is triggered when a user adds one or more items to their cart, but doesn’t checkout; you know they’re interested, but haven’t converted. The purpose of this is to prompt them to complete that purchase by reminding them that their items are waiting for them.

    Sephora sends abandoned cart owners a “Friendly reminder.”

  • Follow Up Series. Follow up with customers after a sale. After a sale is made, the first email in the series should be the order confirmation. The second should be the shipping. The third should be the follow up, where you can prompt users to leave a review. You can also offer discounts for future purchases.

    Part of Adore Me’s follow up campaign offers the chance to win an iPad if you leave reviews, which can help increase sales with other customers.

  • We Miss You Series. If a customer hasn’t engaged with your site in a while, remind them that you’re there. Encouraging the customer to come back with coupons, free shipping, or some other benefit can be a great way to get them back to your site, engaging, and purchasing.

Series campaigns shouldn’t make your entire marketing strategy, but they should be part of it; being able to send a relevant message directly to a user based on their actions and stage in the digital marketing funnel can be highly effective—even if you’re just thanking them for signing up for your email list.

B. Creating a Strong Email

Even the best targeted and most well timed emails won’t do a lot of good if they aren’t well crafted. A well-organized, well-formatted, well-tested email is the only way you’ll see success from your campaigns.

  • A strong subject line and preheader (what users preview before opening the email) is important. Keep in mind that you only have 3-4 seconds to grab a reader’s attention before you lose them—this is where you’ll capture them. Subject lines should be 50 characters or less.

    TurboTax has a strong subject line and preheater by promising something great: your biggest refund yet. Who would say no to that? They also display their CTA clearly, early, and in a contrasting color to grab attention.

  • Have a message that’s mobile responsive. 64% of decision makers read emails on a mobile device and 71.2% will delete your email immediately if it doesn’t load correctly, so your email should be mobile friendly and send users to a mobile friendly site or landing page where they can convert.
  • Display your call to action early, at the top of the message.
  • Personalize your emails as much as possible, such as by using a reader’s name.
  • Keep your layout clean and easy to navigate; too much clutter and a user will click away.

In addition to creating a well organized email, you’ll want to test different parts of your campaigns. You should always test your copy, subject line, and CTA to see what your audience responds to best.

C. Writing the Email

Writing copy can be tricky; there’s a reason many small and large businesses hire experienced copywriters to do it for them. With the right strategies, however you can write killer copy yourself.

  • Act like you’re talking to one person instead of an entire list of nameless faces. Make your emails feel as personal as possible.
  • Offer value. Be useful. Don’t just email them when you want a sale; email them when you have something you can offer them, too.

    Hulu offers value by emailing users updates to their Queue, as well as letting them know what’s expiring soon so they won’t miss it. This is a great way to get engagement on their site (and make money from the ads) but to do so in a customer-focused way.

  • Use numbers. Numbers—specifically in digit form (ie, 4 vs. four)—jump at and grab your attention, both in subject lines and in text. It can also make your offer, promise, or statement feel more grounded and real.
  • Capture their interest, but keep in mind that you don’t need to be cute, punny, clever, or use fancy words in your copy or subject lines. Keeping it simple but interesting is enough—and more effective.
  • Keep it brief. No one wants to open an email and find a novel. The briefer it is, the better—and the more your CTA will stand out.
  • Use the word you.

D. Audience Segmentation

Most email campaigns are often better suited to smaller segments within your whole audience.

By segmenting your audience and sending them messages, you can hit interested users with highly targeted messages that are relevant to them. This increases the likelihood of conversions.

Sending users the content that’s most valuable and relevant to them decreases your odds of getting sent to the spam folder.

Types of audience segmentation:

  • Age
  • Location (hyper-local businesses or geo-targeted promotions)
  • Past purchases
  • Purchase Interests
  • Buying Frequency
  • Stage in the buying cycle
  • Customers who do or don’t review/refer
  • Site usage (power users, etc.)

Ex. If you were a sports equipment shop, target a user who had previously bought your custom-made bike helmet and send them an email promoting your elbow or knee pads. This would be more effective than targeting your entire audience, which includes customers who only play tennis or only do yoga.

Segmenting based on interest and other demographics helps you connect with your audience on a more personal level, increasing emails performance and customer loyalty.

E. Adopting Different Campaigns like the Pros

It’s difficult coming new, exciting ideas. Take inspiration from the best.

  • Coschedule’s “We Miss You” campaign. After users neglect utilizing coschedule for a certain amount of time, an extremely personable and customized email is sent to the user asking why they haven’t been using the service, asking if issues or glitches caused it. Though simple in design and format, it feels genuine, and is a great way to encourage readers to engage with the site in a way that doesn’t feel intrusive (like “why do you hate me?” might).

    This email from ecommerce is simple but effective. It’s a great example of a “We Miss You” campaign.

  • Info.gram’s “Getting Started” series. After users sign up, what feels like an incredibly personal email will be sent to new users, even informing users that there will be 4 emails with valuable information to get you started. These emails are straight forward, offer value, and are a great way to get users to engage with your site and service.
  • Wilson’s Leather incentives to grow your email list. Continuing to keep your email list growing matters. By offering an incentive that prompts users to sign up for your email list or create an account, you’ll gain access to the contact information of warm and interested customers.

    Offering an incentive for new users to sign up for your email list keeps your email list growing.

3. Measurements & Metrics

When running any marketing campaign, evaluate how each individual campaign is performing.

To measure email marketing campaigns for ecommerce sales, there are a few specific metrics you want to watch for.

  • Bounce Rate. This is the percentage of emails that couldn’t be delivered to the recipient. If you have a high bounce rate, you’ll want to take another look at your email list for some potential problems. Sometimes, there’s only a temporary problem with a valid address, like a full inbox—this is called a soft bounce. These aren’t a problem.
    Hard bounces, however, are more problematic—they can be email addresses that are now closed or were fake to begin with. Remove the hard bounces immediately so you don’t get rated as spam mail by internet service providers.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR). This metric is the percentage of your audience who clicked on one or more links from your email. Some marketers measure based on dividing unique reader clicks by total clicks; others divide by total clicks (including multiples from one reader). The CTR will let you know how responsive your audience to your email, and if it’s doing its job of getting users to the next step of the buying process.
  • Conversion Rate. When you’re looking to drive sales with email marketing, the conversion rates is an immediate metric you’ll want to watch. This will tell you what percentage of readers who clicked a link also converted. Conversion doesn’t have to mean sale; if the CTA in your email was to sign up to learn more, for example, it counts as a conversion when that action is completed.
  • Revenue Per Email Sent. This will give you the ROI for a specific email campaign; it can be found by dividing the total revenue from the total numbers of emails that were sent. Knowing the value of each email can help you by not only comparing it to others and seeing what performs best, but giving you another metric to evaluate success.
  • List Growth Rate. This metric will let you know how quickly your email list is growing in subscribers. An important part of any thriving email marketing program is a continually growing email list. As we’ve already mentioned, sometimes people switch email lists or unsubscribe; a growing email list combats this.

Many mail services like MailChimp offer email analytics that will provide you with this all this information (or at least the original numbers you need to calculate these metrics) and more; many offer pretty instanteous updates.

Knowing how your campaigns are measuring up and how your audience is responding will give you a clear idea of how well you are delivering your messages, and how to keep your audience engaged.

4. Key Takeaways

Email marketing can offer massive ROIs and can quickly drive sales; it can be even more effective, in many ways, than social media marketing (which shouldn’t be discounted, for the record).

Understanding how your email campaigns fit in with your total marketing strategies (such as with blog posts, promotions, or social media campaigns) can help you create campaigns that allow for integration across multiple platforms and strategies, strengthening your overall marketing campaign. Particularly once you’re utilizing our 5 email marketing strategies for ecommerce businesses to drive sales, the success, ROI, and results can be massive.

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James Dickerson

Founder of CrushCampaigns

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