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Complete Guide to Email Marketing for ECommerce Businesses

Complete Guide to Email Marketing for ECommerce Businesses
by straydigital
Jan 06th 2020
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Email marketing may not be the latest in technology out there and it may be dated, but there is no denying that it works. Also, when you have an eCommerce business, it only stands to reason that you need email marketing to back it. The debate rages on as to which is the best form of marketing out there today. The truth is that you need them all, but email marketing has performed well for those in the eCommerce business.

Honestly, can you remember a time before email marketing? Businesses have been this form of advertising to obtain new customers, drive conversions, follow up on leads, and to promote new products for decades now. Now, that the world has moved into modern technology, there are many eCommerce businesses out there who rely on digital marketing for their bread and butter. Email continues to be one of the best marketing channels out there today. 

With the right software and a sound strategy, you can make email marketing work for your eCommerce business as well. In this article, you will find a few sound strategies to help you master eCommerce email marketing and make it work for you and your online business. So, without further ado, delve into the guide below on email marketing for eCommerce. You’ll find tips, tricks, and information galore in these words. 

What is ECommerce Email Marketing?

how an email works

As the name suggests, eCommerce email marketing is an effective marketing strategy that depends on emails to promote products and sales in an online store to potential and existing customers. Since emails are one of the most popular forms of communication online, it stands to reason that marketing this way would be effective, profitable, and affordable as well.  

This type of marketing can be as simple as shooting an email to a customer who left their cart abandoned in your online store, or it can also be as complex as stringing together multiple campaigns that work to greatly increase sales. The way that you use email marketing for your eCommerce business is up to you. The bottom line is that the nurturing emails you’re sending to your target audience are about fostering and building relationships and it works. 

Email Marketing is Key to ECommerce Success

First off, it’s important to note that email marketing is key to the success of your eCommerce business. The best part about this type of marketing is it can be used by any type of company with any type of product. It also works whether your company is small or large. There are quite a few benefits to email marketing for online businesses as well.

  • It can drive customers back to your store
  • Makes it easy to highlight new products and promotions
  • You can use buy now buttons and recommendation engines in your emails
  • Emails give you traffic before you rank in Google’s search engines
  • Helps you build strong relationships with your customers

The importance of email marketing can be summed up in three little words:

  • Acquire
  • Sell
  • Retain

While email marketing is key to success in an online business, it’s also important for you to check anti-spamming and other laws in your particular state about email marketing before you start building your campaigns, just to be on the safe side. 

Choosing the Right Email Marketing Automation Software

man using email software on computer

Now that you know what it is and how important email marketing is to the success of your eCommerce business, you need to start building up the tools. Your first step should be to get the right email marketing automation software. 

You want only the best software for your business. Any email marketing tool can send a basic newsletter, you want yours to be capable of doing more than that. So, while it may seem that they are all the same, in reality, they aren’t. There is specially designed email marketing software for eCommerce on the market, and if you do a little digging, the differences start to come out quite quickly. 

The type of software depends on what you want to do. In this blog, you can find the essentials every business needs for effective email marketing below. 

Essentials Needed from Your Email Marketing Software

There are nine essentials you should get from every email marketing software you choose. 

First, you want a super-powerful drop-and-drag email builder. This makes it simple for you to create a responsive email newsletter to share with your customers and potential customers as well. 

Next, you want to find customizable ready-made templates that make it easy for you to set your newsletter up and get it out there. 

You want your email software to be capable of giving you detailed statistics and reporting so that you can analyze and fix whatever might be wrong with your email and newsletters. 

Other essentials needed include the following:

  • Structured subscriber information
  • Advanced segmentation and personalization features
  • Deliverability that is fast and first-class
  • Industry knowledge
  • References
  • Customer support that is excellent and there whenever you need it

While these are the essentials you need from your email marketing software, you still need to know the basics of how to get started setting up your own campaigns. 

Tips for Getting Your Ecomm Business Started in Email Marketing

You can’t expect to see a return or an increase in customers to your store if you have no idea how to begin your email campaigns. Below, you can find a few tips to guide you in the right direction. 

Find a Reputable Email Service Provider

It’s impossible to get started without first finding a reputable email service provider. You, of course, want one that is high-quality, with good customer support, but also cost-effective at the same time. There are many out there to choose from, so try your hand first to see which is the best fit for your needs. Make sure to do your research to find one that has the best reviews, and fits your needs, whether it’s pricing or email templates. Once you find the right email provider, then you can start driving sales with your emails. 

Start Collecting Email Addresses

One of the biggest regrets most eCommerce store owners have is that they didn’t start collecting email addresses on their first official day of business. The best rule of thumb to follow with this is to start collecting those addresses before your site even opens for business. 

One important note at this point is that you need permission to follow up on leads and even permission to follow up with customers over time. This is why you need to be sure and have an “opt-in” button that your customers can press to make sure they hear from you. Don’t continue to send out email blasts and newsletters to customers who don’t “opt-in” or you could run into severe problems. 

There are quite a few ways that you can encourage customers and leads to “opt-in” to your emails and newsletters. A few of those ways will be discussed below. 

Set up Your Pre-Launch Page

Although you may make your money through paying customers, having a well-detailed list of potential customers that want to engage with your store and product runs a close second. Before you open your doors for the first time, figuratively speaking, you need to set up a pre-launch page. 

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated. It’s just a basic landing page that invites potential customers to put in their email addresses if they want to be kept in the loop about your upcoming products and promotions. 

The one thing you shouldn’t do is beg people to sign up. Instead, offer them strong incentives for being early birds, such as 20% off on opening day for example. Not only will this give you a leg up on collecting email addresses, but it will also give you potential customers something to look forward to. 

Collect Emails from Customers Accounts and Sales

While many customers find it beyond frustrating to sign up for an account in your store for just a single product or shopping experience, customer accounts are your best source of information. Customer accounts ask for email addresses and it’s those emails you want to start your campaign and build your email list. 

One way around this for you and the customer is to ask them to create an account after they have completed their first purchase. In many cases, according to what you’re using, creating an account is optional. In most of these cases, you can send customers direct invitations that prompt them to create an account after they have placed their order. In this way, a customer won’t decide to skip shopping with you just because they don’t want to create a customer account, but they do have the option later on. 

Scatter Opt-In Forms Across Your Site

Another way to encourage customers to sign up for your emails and newsletters is by scattering “opt-in” forms across the pages of your site. This makes sense if you think about it, as your customers will already be engaged with your site and more apt to “opt-in.” 

You do want to be careful, however, because too many can make your site’s design look bad and leave a bad impression with potential customers. A few of the best places to put up your “opt-in” forms are listed below. 

  • In your header, navigation, or footer
  • On your about us page
  • In a pop-up form
  • On your blog and in your resource pages

These are the best places to put your “opt-in” forms because they are discreet, not overwhelming, yet still noticeable. 

Use Lead Magnets to Accelerate Your Signups

It’s a big mistake to assume that the idea of getting your newsletter is enough of a reason for someone to sign up. That’s just not true, as there are thousands of newsletters out there at any given moment encouraging customers to subscribe. You probably already know that marketing is about the message you send, and “sign up for our weekly newsletter,” is not much of a message or much encouragement to do so. 

Instead, of just putting it out there and expecting customers to bite, try adding a little incentive to the mix to pique their interest and get them to put in those email addresses. A few of the approaches that have worked in the past are listed below. 

Exclusive Discounts and Deals 

While discounts and deals are a great way to get people to give you their email addresses, you also want to be careful that they don’t hurt your bottom line. The last thing you want is customers who are expecting deals every time they want to shop at your online store. You also don’t want to train your customers to always wait for deals, sales, and discounts, so be careful how often you do this as a marketing and collection tool. 

Host a Contest or Run a Sweepstakes

Use a giveaway or host sweepstakes to break the ice with potential customers, but don’t rely on them to get email addresses and sign-ups for very long. This leads to customers expecting these sorts of contests all the time, and it’s not workable for you to do so. 

Don’t Forget to Ask for Emails in Person

In this modern age of technology and the internet of things, it’s easy to stay behind that computer screen and forget that the customers you are dealing with are flesh and blood humans. If you have a brick and mortar location or even take orders from friends, get personal with it, and ask for those emails. Those people will soon tell other people about your store and before you know it, you’ll have more business than you can handle. While digital marketing and technology are great, there is still no substitute for good old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising.

Important: Always Send Emails Legally

It’s important to note at this point that email marketing is an example of what is known as “permission marketing.” What this means is that customers can “opt-in” and out of your emails whenever they want. In other words, your relationship with your customers and email need to not only be based on a marketing platform but a legal one as well. 

Neglecting the law in this matter could find you facing serious consequences, so make sure you read up on not only federal laws but the laws in your own state as well. It is also a good idea to talk to a reputable lawyer that specializes in this area as well and keep one on retainer if possible. 

Different Types of Email Marketing You Can Send

different types of email marketing campaigns for ecommerce

While email marketing is an effective way to drive sales and bring in customers for your business, sending emails that have no purpose, are irrelevant, or just plain unwelcome can be irritating to customers, and will quickly undo all the good you have done with gathering your email list. 

There are three types of emails that are okay to send out to your target audience. In this section of this blog, you can find them and a brief explanation of each. 

Promotional Emails 

This type of email is designed to inform your customers when you have a special event or promotion in the works. For example, if you’re having a Cyber Monday sale or an event to celebrate mothers on Mother’s Day, then you send out an email blast to your list to tell them and invite them to take advantage of the sales that will be going on during the promotion. Limited time only sales or end of summer sales and seasonal closeouts would fall into this category as well. 

Transactional Emails 

These are the emails that are sent after a customer places an order and are designed to be a receipt and to help them keep everything all in one place. This type of email is sort of a courtesy and a confirmation of an order that has been placed. 

Lifecycle Emails 

These emails are “triggered” emails that are sent according to where the customer stopped in the shopping process. For example, if a customer leaves the site with items in their cart, an email will be sent to remind them that they have items waiting. Also, known as a cart abandonment email, this will be sent after a certain amount of time has passed, with the customer not returning to complete their order. It’s like a gentle nudge in the right direction, in other words. 

Email Marketing Campaigns to Start from the Beginning

Now, that you have an education on everything pertaining to eCommerce email marketing, it’s time to talk about the email marketing campaigns you should put into place on your site from the beginning. These campaigns are designed to keep customer engagement high and you on top of what’s going on in your business. There are a few must-have campaigns that you should have in place. Read on below to find out what they are, and then make sure to implement them on your site as soon as you have everything set up and ready to go. 

Remember effective email marketing is about you and engaging the customer. If you have no idea what’s going on with each customer than engaging with them is impossible. This means that not only will your relationship with your customers suffer, but eventually, your business will suffer as well. 

Abandoned Cart Emails

These kinds of emails are used on customers who have logged onto your site, filled their cart, and then abandoned it and left the site instead. In other words, they abandoned their carts. It is said, that abandoned cart emails can help your store recover 15% of what would have otherwise been lost in revenue. 

There are two types of these emails. 

The first is an abandoned cart email, which usually goes out one day after customers leave their carts with items in them. It encourages customers to come back and finish their orders. 

The second email is called the abandoned cart series. This email is usually sent 3 to 5 days after the first email and in many cases, it will offer a discount on the items in the cart to get the customer to come back and complete their purchase. 

Upsell and Cross-Sell Emails 

These emails are sent to customers who have already purchased an item. The goal of this email is to get the customer to purchase additional items, which also increases the stores AOV. You can do this in three different ways. You can use any product follow-up, which is sent whenever a customer purchases a product, a category follow up, which promotes items from a specific category, and a receipt follow up, which has the highest conversion rate of the three. 

Promotional Offer Emails

What good is having a sale or promotion if you’re not going to advertise it? One of the best ways to advertise your promotion is through your eCommerce marketing emails. Whether you’ve launched a new product line or have a site-wide sale you want to promote, this is the type of email that you want to blast when needed. The conversion rates for these emails vary but are well worth the trouble to send. 

Reengagement and Customer Loyalty Emails 

Your business and your marketing are all about building a relationship with your customers. Reengagement and customer loyalty emails are designed to do just that. These emails focus on building up the bond you’ve already started with your customers and let them know that you’re thinking of them and appreciate their business at the same time. They can also help you bring back a customer that hasn’t shopped with you in quite some time. 

There are a few ways you can use these types of emails. These are life event emails, win back emails, and replenishment emails. Whichever you decide to use, make sure that they are warm and to the point as well. 

Now that you know the top campaigns that you need to set up for your site when it comes to your email marketing, it’s important to know how to send out those emails and what should be in them. In the next section of this blog, you can find a few tips for making sure you grasp the basics of your email and let your words and personality shine through. 

The Basics of Email Marketing Revealed

email campaigns being sent from laptop

If you’re going to be sending out emails to your target audience, then you want those emails to be engaging and to the point, yet crystal clear and warm at the same time. Below you can find a few tips for making sure your emails are just that. 

Use Subject Lines that Are Smart

The subject of your email is the first thing your customer will see, and it will normally determine whether they bother to open the email or not. The subject line needs to be perfect, concise, and crystal clear from the beginning. 

Keep in mind that customers who are on their mobiles can’t read a long subject line and are less apt to even if they could. Try to make sure you get all the pertinent information a short line of text. For example, if you have a new store that’s opening soon or an update, include that in the subject line. If you’re having a sale make that prominent in the subject line as well. Nothing will make a customer open an email faster than the idea of saving a little money. 

Broach a Variety of Topics

Broaching a variety of topics in your email is important as well. Every email you send should be more than about just advertising a sale. Cover a variety of topics by striving to focus on interesting topics that your customers will care about. This will help to drive sales more than anything else. A few things to consider covering in your emails, according to the time of year are included below. 

  • How-to features
  • Seasonal trends in your industry
  • Policy changes and company news
  • Items that are new to your stock or items that are back in stock

The more you vary the contents of your email, the more apt your subscribers will be to open each and every one and recommend you to others as well. 

Make Your Emails Personal 

It’s extremely important to make your emails as personal as you can. Start by always addressing the recipient of the email by name. No one wants to open an email, much less shop with someone who starts all their emails with “to whom it may concern,” or something just as formal. Also, when you simply address your email to “customer,” they feel undervalued as a consumer. 

In order to make your emails personal, you’re going to need to collect your customer’s first names when they make that first purchase. Make sure to call them by their first name in any email you send them for that extra special and personal touch. 

While this might not be possible when sending out abandoned cart emails, it should be used in every other email you send. 

Practice Restraint 

While it’s okay and even pretty amazing to follow up on people’s visits to your shop and try to entice to them to return, you don’t want to come off as aggressive or annoying. Trust that this is the fastest way to lose a customer. 

Use your personal judgment to determine how often and when you should send out emails. If you feel that you’re getting aggressive or annoying, then it’s time to pull back a bit and give the email blasts a rest. 

A good rule of thumb to follow is never sending more than one sale-oriented email a week, that way you’re not filling up your customers’ inboxes with emails that they will eventually stop reading. 

Keep Track, Know What’s Working and What Isn’t

It’s super-important to pay attention to what your customers respond to and what they don’t. After all, why would you want to continue sending out email after email to a customer that is ignoring it? If you see something isn’t working, then change up your email strategy. It might be time-consuming, but it’s not hard to do if you know how to do it. 

Other Tips for Making Your Emails Spectacular 

If you want to send out eye-popping emails that draw customers in, then follow the other tips below. 

Use Emojis in the Subject Line

While this might seem like something middle school girls do, studies show that adding emojis to your subject line garners you a 56% higher open rate than just having a snappy sentence in the subject line does. 

This is even more critical for those in the eCommerce line of work, as there are so many emails going out on an hourly basis. However, it is critical that you make the emoji relatable to the subject line and the message you’re trying to get across. Not just any emoji will do! 

Give Your Subjects Lines a Personal Touch

If at all possible, try making your email subject line all about the customer you’re emailing. While that can’t be done as easily with mass email blasts, it is possible for other emails with just a little bit of patience and time on your part. Emails that include the first name of the person receiving it tends to have a higher conversion rate than ones that don’t. That’s something to think about for sure. 

Always Send out a Welcome Email

Did you know that sending out a simple welcome email can bring you over 320% more revenue than you would have normally gotten? You do need to do this well for it to work, however. Use big, bold text, always include a call to action, make sure the design is great, and any images used are spectacular. You want to be pleasant with your welcome email, without being pushy. The last thing you want is for it to come off salesy, and like all you’re trying to do is get the customer into your shop to purchase something else. 

Use Video Thumbnails

Everyone knows how important video marketing is to a successful business. But did you know that it can help your email campaigns as well? The best way to do this is by using a clickable image that is simple to see, yet stunning in appearance. This gets your customer one click closer to a purchase, so why not use it? 

Celebrate the Seasons

There’s nothing like celebrating the seasons to bring an email alive. Most people love different seasons. Whether it’s the flowers of spring, the smells of fall, the activities of summer or the joy of the winter holidays, celebrating the seasons can be a strong call to action. Tie the seasons to your eCommerce email campaigns so that they feel closer to you and ready to come in and purchase what it is your advertising. Make sure to include plenty of crisp images of whatever season you’re celebrating in those emails for the best and most instant results. 

Educate Your Customers

There is something to be said about skipping the salesy talk and the constant advertisement for your products in a few of your emails. Instead, provide your customers with news and something educational related to your products, services, and even your company itself. Substantial and useful information is not only educational to your customers, but it can also guide them to their next purchase as well. 

For example, if you run a wedding boutique, why not put out a history of wedding gowns or even a well put together guide on flatware for the bride and groom. Educating your customers not only helps your business, but it helps them as well. It also makes them more apt to open your emails and remember you when they need a product that you sell. 

Turn New Customers into Repeat Customers

Every business has those customers that visit their store one time, buy something, then never return. This happens whether you’re running an online store or a brick and mortar shop. The best customers are the ones who come back again and again. However, if you don’t do something to make them want to return, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Do this by creating an email marketing campaign that not only draws in new customers, but repeat customers as well. 

Target Your Emails

If you’ve ever been in business before, then you’ve already heard of targeting your audience. The same goes for email marketing. You need to target your emails to specific people. For example, if you sell women’s clothes, why would you send an email blast out to someone who is a young teen parent? It’s important to know your target audience, and then make them feel special with every email you send. 

Avoid Sending Blast and Batch Newsletters

Newsletters are an opportunity to catch up on things in your company and get to know your subscribers. You don’t want to constantly send out blast and batch newsletters, however. People are most engaged by a product for the first 60 days after purchase, so try to send out a newsletter that is semi-targeted to them during that time. 

Try to be segmented with what you send out, meaning that you should know something about the person’s history and their likes and dislikes. You can get all of this from their customer accounts and purchase history. If you want to keep your customers opening, clicking, and purchasing your products, then you need to keep them engaged, and sending out a generic news blast and newsletter all the time isn’t going to do it. 

Automate What You can

Running an eCommerce business isn’t a piece of cake. Even if you’re not in a brick and mortar establishment, you are still going to be working all kinds of late hours to get it up and going. That’s why you should automate as much of your email marketing as you can. It may take a little bit of time to set up, but it’s well worth the trouble in the end. 

You’ll still need to keep an eye on things, but you won’t feel the need to spend time manually sitting down and sending out emails every day and that counts for a lot when you’re swamped. 

Ask for Help When its Needed

While doing things yourself is something most new business owners want to accomplish, if you still know very little about eCommerce email marketing, then it may be time to call in the professionals. There are plenty of companies out there that specialize in digital marketing and email marketing is right up their alley. Make sure you do the proper research, read the reviews, and choose only the best possible marketer out there to take care of the email marketing for your eCommerce site. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to digital marketing, there are many ways you can go when it comes to an eCommerce business. There’s everything from content marketing to pay-per-click and more. However, email marketing has stood the test of time for many decades now and is still going strong. There are those who debate that fact, but the reality remains that email marketing is here to stay, and if you’re looking for something affordable, then this is your mode of marketing for sure. 

This concludes our blog on everything you need to know about eCommerce email marketing. No matter what type of store you’re running, you’re going to need to market it if you want it to succeed. That means getting the word out there, whether it’s social media, word of mouth, or some other form of advertising. Email marketing is affordable, sending emails is something you do every day and it can be automated to boot. If you’re looking to find advertising that is affordable, simple to use, and still effective, then email marketing is the right choice for you. 


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