Data drives everything in marketing today. In email marketing, what is successful for a retailer might not work for a law firm – and their individual data will dictate what works best for each organization. However, the emphasis on data doesn’t mean that there aren’t best practices that are generally embraced by marketers. Here are 13 email marketing best practices that every brand should consider as they develop their campaigns:
1. Know your audience. Do you know the target audience for each email you send? Content should always be targeted to as specific of a reader as you can identify. Everything from how old they are to where they live to if they have children to what they like to read and much more. This information matters. If you haven’t already, build out marketing personas so this customer information is always at hand.
2. Have a plan. Knowing your audience leads to having a plan on how to reach them. Build out a marketing calendar and synchronize your emails with your marketing campaigns. Connect the dots between emails, landing pages, calls to action and events.
3. Utilize subscription management. Give your readers what they want through subscription management. Subscription management allows email subscribers to choose which emails they receive from an organization by allowing them to opt in to some types of messages while opting out of receiving others. It could reduce the size of your marketing list, but that list is gold – instead of a bag of rocks mixed with a few pieces of gold. Wouldn’t you rather cultivate more gold and less ordinary rocks?
4. Don’t use purchased lists. Never. Ever. EVER purchase lists. I know, those companies that try to sell you the lists claim those readers would love to hear from you, have opted in…to something…and will bring you leads. Not only is this rarely, if ever true, but those lists can land you in hot water with communication and privacy laws. If they have not specifically asked to be added to your list by signing up in some way, they should not be on your list.
5. Use clean lists. Clean up your lists regularly – at least annually, if not more often. One way to do this is to ask your subscribers to reconfirm their subscription selections (which is also a good time to introduce a new subscription option). Another way is to review your data. Look at who doesn’t open your emails, hard bounces and soft bounces to determine who needs to be removed or updated.
6. Be consistent. Use consistent branding so your recipients don’t need to guess who an email is from. Align your email branding with your website, landing pages, social media, etc. This gives a more professional and polished appearance and helps build familiarity with your organization’s branding.
7. View your email from different perspectives. Different email clients render messages in different ways, especially on mobile. Send test emails to different devices and email clients. For example, check to see how your email looks in Outlook when sent to your work email address and view it on your phone in a personal email account like Gmail.
9. Don’t bury your CTA. Put your main message and call to action (CTA) in the top third of your emails so it is easily seen. Repeat the CTA up to three times if your email is longer.
10. Utilize personalization. With email personalization, you’re only limited by the information that’s available in your Dynamics 365/CRM instance. From names to geographic location to birthdays and more, add personalization to make your emails feel customized for your recipients.
11. Create a sense of urgency. Include an incentive in the subject line and create some urgency – this is proven to increase open rates. Instead of saying, “Check out our big sale” try “Hurry! Our big sale ends today.”
12. Keep subject lines short. Keep your subject line between 30 and 50 characters, including spaces. Anything greater than that length will be cut off in many email clients, especially on mobile.
13. Plan your timing carefully. “What is the best time to send emails?” It’s a question we get often, and ultimately the answer is, “It depends.” The best practice here is to dig into your data and personas to uncover what works best for your brand.
You probably get tons of ecommerce emails every day. They flood your inbox and sometimes overcrowd it until you go on a rampage of deleting hundreds of them at a time. You may open some of them or all of them or none of them. If you are on the ecommerce email marketing side of the road, you will need to create emails that captivate consumers and convince them to make a purchase.
With so many emails coming and going from potential customers’ inboxes how do you stand out from the crowd? We are going to let you in on some secret ecommerce email marketing strategies and tips that will increase your ROI and grow your business!
Why use ecommerce email marketing for your business?
Email marketing is the second most effective marketing channel after search engine marketing. It’s a way of directly marketing to your potential customers that is much easier and more effective than the traditional marketing alternative – aka sending mailers.
What comes to mind when you think about ecommerce email marketing? Gaining leads, closing sales and retaining customers are probably a few goals you have in mind. All of this can be accomplished with email!
Here are our top strategies that will bring in customers and keep them coming back for more. You may have heard of some or all of these, but we are going to tell you how to best apply them to your ecommerce business.
You only have one chance to get subscribers to open your emails and that begins and ends with your subject line. You want subscribers to click so they can enjoy your amazing content! Strike a balance between catchy and salesy. Would you open an email with the subject line that says “20% off”? What about this email from Pottery Barn?
Not only have they made their discount seem exclusive they have also included relative content.
Another way to increase your open rates is to create a sense of urgency with your subject lines, Make your offers time sensitive. Subscribers will feel pressured to get the deal before it’s gone! Use phrases like “hours left” “hurry up” or “last chance” in your sale subject lines so that customers will feel like they have to act quickly. This subject line from 1800PetMeds gives a sense of urgency as well as some added mystery. The user doesn’t know exactly what the email is going to be about or what offer they will receive.
Subject lines should grab a subscribers attention and stand out from other emails in their inbox. If you are not excited about your subject line, change it. It should make you curious about what’s inside. If you’re not sure how to write one check out our email subject line best practices and hacks to boost open rates.
When a customer lands on your website for the first time you need to have a popup or some way to get them to voluntarily give you their email address. Blue Bottle Coffee puts theirs at the top of their webpage before their content. This way users aren’t bothered by a popup when they are mid scroll and it’s the first thing a users sees when they land on their homepage!
Once you have their email, funnel them in to a welcome automation. There are three main components. Say hi, offer a coupon and provide value. Tell your new subscribers why they should continue to want to receive emails from your company.
Below is Blue Bottle’s first email in their welcome series. This email is simple and adds value by telling the subscriber a little bit about the company and what they believe in. They also let you know that you can sign up for a free trial to make sure you like it before you commit. Their call to action is big, bold and visible. It’s clear what they want you to do next, buy a coffee subscription.
Dividing your audience into groups can help increase your email open rates, build better relationships with your customers and put the right products in front of the right people. List segmentation allows you to control who sees what. You will be able to send emails to people who have already made a purchase and people who haven’t. Or even people who have purchased a specific product on your site. You can also segment by which landing page subscribers use to give you their information. Breaking up your audience into groups allows you to easily target the right people.
For example, let’s say you have two products – rollerblades and skateboards. Your email list is segmented by each category. You can easily send other products and quality content to people who are interested in skateboarding. This is an example of segmentation on a very basic level. It can be as complex as you want it to be. But the more segmented your audience is the higher your open and click through rates could be. This also means more sales if you correctly market your products.
With ecommerce email marketing you need to be writing copy that converts and engages your subscribers. After all you are trying to sell your products. Use power words in your emails like “Best-selling” “Sensational” or “New and Improved”. Substitute these words for boring copy and watch your click through rates soar. By using these words you are making your products more appealing.
When people read a subject line that says “10 ecommerce email marketing statistics” vs “10 jaw dropping ecommerce email marketing statistics” which one do you think they will click? By adding one adjective it changes the vibe of the subject dramatically. You can always run an A/B split test to see how power words can influence your open and click through rates.
Don’t just tell subscribers about your product. Tell them how they will feel when they use or wear your product. How will it benefit them and make their lives easier? Wording your copy like this can have a huge impact on people.
Instead of saying “Buy this new pair of sunglasses” sell subscribers on the feeling they will get when wearing your sunglasses like this – “You will look cool, smart and feel empowered when wearing our new and improved shades.” See the difference it makes?
Something else to be aware of with wording is what you call your email subscribers. If you call them something other than subscribers like VIPs this can make them feel like you are talking to them individually and adds the element of exclusivity.
Priceline has great wording in their welcome email. They offer a coupon and tell you that by just getting one of their emails you can save money. They also call subscribers “email insiders” and make them feel like they are a part of an exclusive club.
Appeal to your audience
Who is your audience? Are they younger, older or somewhere in between? What words resonate with them? It is so important in ecommerce email marketing to appeal to your audience and use lingo that makes sense to them. If you as a business owner are using words that they understand, your audience will feel closer to you and be more inclined to buy.
Macy’s sent an email with the subject line “No FOMO here.” Imagine if they had sent this to people who didn’t know what FOMO is (in case you are one of them FOMO=Fear of missing out). Clearly their target audience is the younger generation who are constantly abbreviating and coming up with new words and phrases.
When you use a subject line that resonates with your audience, then your subscribers will be more inclined to open it. After all you’re speaking their language!
When you personalize your emails you make customers feel special. And it can be a great way to grab their attention. What can you personalize in ecommerce email marketing?
Personalization doesn’t have to be all about using customer’s names. It can start with your subject line and copy. And go well beyond that to making product recommendations or showing customers their nearest store location.
Williams Sonoma is a company that sells kitchenware. Their email starts off with the subject line “10 Things You Didn’t Know Your KitchenAid Could Do”. The customer is already hooked wanting to know what else their new KitchenAid mixer can do. The email involves coupons, a video about things your KitchenAid can do along with some special offer discounts!
One of the best components of this email is that they personalize it by including a section of products the customer might like as well as their nearest brick and mortar store location. This is convenient for the customer in case they want to go to the store to check out the products in person. It’s also nice to see products that you are interested in. It feels like the company knows you on a personal level.
There’s a fine line between too much personalization and too little. If you’re concerned you aren’t striking that balance let our email marketing experts know!
Retargeting with abandoned cart emails
In ecommerce email marketing abandoned cart emails are a must because the average cart abandonment rate is an alarming 74%! This can be a huge loss for your business. But don’t worry. If someone is shopping on your site and navigates away or gets distracted and does not make a purchase, you can still convince them to buy your products.
If you are not sold on using abandoned cart emails think about it like this. A customer is shopping on your website and decided that they are interested enough in an item to add it to their cart. The hard part is over. They’re already so close to converting! Using retargeting will remind them that at one point they really liked that item. It’s a sign that they should go back and make a purchase.
When structuring your abandoned cart emails make sure you don’t come off as demanding. Abandoned cart emails are a friendly nudge to get the customer to come back. Include photos of the products that are in the customer’s cart as well as a strong call to action. You can even offer a discount to get them to make a purchase.
This abandoned cart email from Casper checks all the boxes. There’s a strong intro that reads “Come back to bed” as well as a photo of the product that has been abandoned. And they included a call to action button to continue shopping. They have also included a review to further convince the customer that they should make a purchase.
Order Confirmation and Delivery Automations
If you are shipping a product to your customers then confirmation and delivery automations are essential to your ecommerce email marketing strategy. These emails keep customers updated on the status of their order and provide details of what they purchased. Sending these types of automations can help build trust with your customers and keep them worry free about their orders. These two emails give the customer a receipt for their order as well as let them know that their package has shipped!
You can also use these emails to promote other products the customer might like. When sending the final email in your delivery sequence, offer additional products that are similar to the product your customer has just purchased. Don’t pass up the opportunity to get a sale!
Remember, transparency builds trust so make sure that you are transparent every step of the way. If there is an issue with their order, let customers know and they will be more likely to shop with you in the future.
Of course you want people to buy your product so you will probably want to offer discounts to your loyal subscribers. 63% of subscribers open emails that contain discounts. While this is a large percentage you will need to be careful here. Not every email should include a discount.
Coupons are like a special occasion for customers. You must give them enough to keep coming back but not too many or they will come to expect a coupon every single time they receive an email. They may even stop opening your emails if they know each one contains a discount.
Even if you have the funds to give every subscriber a weekly discount code, you shouldn’t. Imagine getting a coupon every day from the same company. Do you need to buy something every day? Probably not. It gets old quick.
Instead of sending a coupon every day, create a “special discount just for you” email. This will keep your customers engaged and excited when they receive a coupon from your business! In between quality content Backcountry lets their subscribers know about sales and discounts that they are eligible for.
Pro Tip:Focus on creating good content in between sending out coupons to your customers. Not only does this keep your subscribers engaged but it can also increase your rankings in Google search. You want your subscribers to choose your business over and over again so produce content that they actually want to read. This email from the Kitchen gives readers a snippet of what this article is about and encourages them to continue onto their site to read more. By clicking through to their website you help them with their SEO. The more time you spend reading this article the higher search engines will rank it.
Use a double opt in
Maybe you received subscribers emails through a purchase they made, an app (if you have one) or for whatever reason they didn’t explicitly subscribe to sign up to receive newsletter or promotion emails from you. Make sure your subscribers actually want to subscribe. This can be done with what’s called a double opt in. It gives users two chances to agree to receiving emails from you so that you can make sure they actually want to be on your email list.
Why should you care so much?
If you email people who don’t want to be emailed, they could mark you as spam. Not only does this cause you to lose subscribers it can also hurt your deliverability. When someone marks you as spam it sends a signal to your email server. The next time you send an email you could have issues with it being delivered.
Want to make sure you avoid this? Make it easy to unsubscribe from your emails. Don’t hide your unsubscribe button. If users can easily unsubscribe they will be less likely to mark you as spam.
You should also be growing your email list organically. This means absolutely no list buying. You want your emails to be sent to interested subscribers who will actually open and click through.
Vivino is an app that emailed its users to double check and ask them if they would like to subscribe to their emails. They give a short synopsis of what their company will do for subscribers and what kind of emails they can expect. They can easily confirm their subscription with one click! If you use a double opt in method make sure that it is easy for people to subscribe. You could even offer a yes or no option.
If you are selling a product, high quality photos are key in driving subscribers to make a purchase! Visual content marketing can say things that words might not be able to. It’s a way to show your customers instead of telling them.
You want to highlight your products with visually appealing and scenic photos. Pottery Barn has beautiful lifestyle photos of their products that help subscribers to imagine what their home could look like if they shop there. In this email they tell customers to design their dream bedroom.
Now, imagine if you just had the text that is over the photo and no photo. You wouldn’t be able to imagine your new bedroom. Instead they have included a photo of a bedroom complete with paintings, lamps, plants and more to show customers their products.
Ask for reviews
Feedback is one of the most valuable components in ecommerce email marketing. Since 92% of consumers read online reviews and make judgements from them, it’s crucial that your business has online reviews. Receiving product reviews can also help you update or redesign your product or process if needed. Learn how to ask for reviews. Tell subscribers that their opinion is valued and it’s important for your business to grow.
Make it easy for people to give you a review. Either put the review directly in your email or link to an online review site. If it’s too difficult to figure out, your subscribers won’t do it! This email from Pet Ninja has the review directly in the email. The review is quick and simple complete with a star rating. They give the subscriber space to write something if they wish but it’s not required.
Ecommerce email marketing should not be all about selling your product. It’s about building trust and relationships with your customers. Leverage emails to get reviews, improve your SEO and show your customers what your brand is all about. Crafting the perfect email for your business, segmenting your lists, and making sure your copy resonates with your audience can take time off of your hands. Spend time focusing on building your business while our professionals at DUBUB Marketing Agency handle all of your ecommerce email marketing. We are skilled in building automations, newsletters, and campaigns that build trust and convert! Contact us now to get started.
Do you have more ecommerce email marketing ideas that we didn’t cover? We’d love to hear them! Share them with us in the comments below.