How To Crush Email Marketing for Ecommerce

Email Marketing for Ecommerce

In ecommerce, you can either spend all your time and energy selling to one-time customers, or you can invest your time and energy into establishing and nurturing relationships that drive brand loyalty and repeat purchases.

*Hint: running out of inventory is a sure-fire way to ruin relationships, so make sure you have a system in palce for managing inventory.

Most ecommerce business owners prefer the latter option, so the question is, what can you do to transform one-time customers into lifelong brand loyal customers who buy from you over and over again?

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do it is with email. Despite the popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and others, email remains one of the best tools you can use to effectively communicate messages, engage with your customers and would-be customers, and drive more sales.

Want to make sure you’re crushing email marketing for your ecommerce business? Here are the first six steps you should take:

Step 1: Identify Your Goals

Before you get too far into testing tools, creating opt-in forms, and putting together your email marketing strategy, it’s important to first think about your goals. You should ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve by investing in email marketing. For example, you might want to:

  • Improve communication with customers
  • Send better transactional emails
  • Drive more traffic to your product pages
  • Encourage past customers to buy again
  • Encourage would-be customers to buy for the first time
  • Get more feedback about your products from happy or unhappy customers
  • Sell more products

If you’re like most ecommerce business owners, you’ll likely be thinking about more than one goal from this list—and that’s great! In order to drive success, you need to have a few goals you can be working toward. That being said, it’s best to focus on 1-3 primary goals first when developing an initial email marketing strategy. In addition, the best goals are ones where progress can be easily tracked.

In other words, you should try to focus on setting goals that track specific numerical metrics, such as number of sales, amount of monthly traffic, number of reviews, etc. Without specific key performance indicators, or KPIs, in place, it’s nearly impossible to identify what tactics are working, and what parts of your email marketing strategy are worth scaling up.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: 13 Business Goals You Can Achieve Through Email Marketing from Convince & Convert

Step 2: Choose the Right Tools

The next step in building an effective email marketing strategy for your ecommerce business involves testing and using tools that can ultimately help you automate processes and make your efforts more scalable over time. Here are some tools worth exploring:

Email Marketing Platforms:

The email marketing automation tool you end up deciding to use will ultimately depend on your budget and the specific features you’re looking for.

Other Worthwhile Email Tools:

  • WiseStamp for creating better email signatures
  • Litmus for testing your emails across multiple browsers and devices
  • Dripfor sending educational-focused email drips
  • SumoMefor capturing emails on your product pages and website as a whole
  • ClicktoTweetfor including links pre-written tweets in your emails to subscribers

Step 3: Make it Easy for People to Join Your List

In order for email marketing to work, you need to be actively collecting email addresses from the people who land on your website. At one point it might have been enough to simply include one opt-in form at the footer of your website, but these days if you want to connect with the right leads, you need to include opt-in forms in a variety of places throughout your website, such as:

  • Within blog posts as content upgrade offers (learn more about content upgrades here)
  • In blog sidebars and footers
  • On active product pages
  • On sold out product pages
  • In pop-ups and welcome mat screens that appear whenever a new visitor lands on a page within your website

The important thing to note here is that your goal isn’t to overwhelm or inundate visitors with pop-up forms—instead, your goal is to simply make it easy for people to join your list to learn more about your company, get product updates, receive special offers, etc. To make sure you’re not driving the wrong behavior with your forms (i.e. increasing bounce rates, decreasing clicks and conversions, etc.), use tools like SumoMe and Optimizely to test the placement and frequency of your forms. In addition, use Google Analytics to track website metrics.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Why You Should Be Using Popups on Your Online Store from Shopify

Step 4: Share Enticing Offers

Once you have a steady stream of new email subscribers coming in, your next step it to start nurturing them and moving them closer to the sale. One of the easiest and most effective ways to start doing it right away is by sharing enticing offers with your list. There are a number of offers you can create and send to your list using one of the email marketing automation software tools mentioned above. Examples of offers include:

  • Coupons for new subscribers
  • Free shipping for returning customers
  • Promo codes for people who abandoned their shopping cart before purchasing
  • Special campaigns for seasonal time periods like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year’s, or any other holiday that aligns with your specific business.
  • Refer-a-friend discount

Sometimes all someone needs to move from would-be customer to first-time buyer is a little motivation. The purpose of time-sensitive specials and exclusive promos and campaigns sent as emails is to drive subscribers to act now instead of later.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: 14 Ways to Use Offers, Coupons, Discounts and Deals to Drive Revenue and Customer Loyalty from Shopify

Step 5: Test, Optimize, and Analyze Everything

At the end of the day, you can’t make improvements to your campaigns and overall strategy if you’re not testing, optimizing, and identifying opportunities. To be a successful email marketer, you need to be willing to spend time and money on tools that allow you to test everything in your emails—from subject lines and delivery timing, to email length, body structure, images, links, call-to-actions, offers, and anything else you can think. The purpose of testing and optimizing your email campaigns is to ultimately zero in on the best and most effective tactics as fast as possible in order to drive more traffic and conversions in less time.

Examples of tests you can run:

  • Test how often you email your subscribers each week
  • Test the discounts you share with subscribers
  • Test plain-text emails vs. photo-heavy emails
  • Test adding more offers and CTA’s in your transactional emails (order confirmation, shipping confirmation, thank you emails, etc.)
  • Test the size, color, shape, and placement of CTA buttons that appear in your emails

Remember: testing is only half the job—the other half is to track, measure, and analyze results in order to make informed decisions about which tactics to focus on and which tests to run in the future.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: 55 A/B Testing Best Practices Every Marketer Should Know from AcquireConvert

Bonus: Show Them That You Care

The best way to be successful when it comes to email marketing is to show your subscribers that you actually care about them. It’s a big deal to give a company your email address—don’t make people regret their decision. When in doubt, always focus on providing value to people. Help them understand who you are, why you do what you do, and how your products can make their lives better. Finally, don’t come across like a robot—be real with people.

William Harris William Harris is leading content at Sellbrite and is also the Founder & Growth Marketer of Elumynt, LLC., VP of Marketing and Growth for a top 700 online retailer and former head of Marketing for When I Work, a VC backed SaaS company. William is also a contributor to leading publications like The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Sellbrite and a speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, search engine optimization, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding. Follow William on Twitter (@WmHarris101), LinkedIn, and Google+.

39 Comments

  • Avatar

    Simcha Lazarus@WiseStamp

    July 27, 2016, 1:21 am

    You’ve got some great email marketing tips here!
    And thanks for the WiseStamp mention 😉

  • Avatar

    Simcha Lazarus@WiseStamp

    July 27, 2016, 1:21 am

    You’ve got some great email marketing tips here!
    And thanks for the WiseStamp mention 😉

  • Avatar

    Simcha Lazarus@WiseStamp

    July 27, 2016, 1:21 am

    You’ve got some great email marketing tips here!
    And thanks for the WiseStamp mention 😉

  • Avatar

    Pam

    July 29, 2016, 11:26 am

    Good tips, but as a solution provider with Constant Contact, I’m disappointed to see that they were not mentioned in the available email marketing platforms. . .

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      July 29, 2016, 8:13 pm

      Great call, Pam. I completely forgot about them. I haven’t used them for ecommerce, but I’d love to know how they’ve worked out for you.

      • Avatar

        Pam

        July 30, 2016, 9:39 am

        Hi William, I run a small ballroom dance business (in addition to now doing small biz marketing) and CTCT email has helped me nearly triple my class attendance since ’09. I started with 3 couples; now average 6-10 couples for any given class, (and that’s just teaching part-time) so I’m hooked 🙂

        • William Harris

          William Harris

          August 2, 2016, 3:16 pm

          Wow – that’s fantastic growth. I can see why you’re hooked 🙂

  • Avatar

    Pam

    July 29, 2016, 11:26 am

    Good tips, but as a solution provider with Constant Contact, I’m disappointed to see that they were not mentioned in the available email marketing platforms. . .

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      July 29, 2016, 8:13 pm

      Great call, Pam. I completely forgot about them. I haven’t used them for ecommerce, but I’d love to know how they’ve worked out for you.

      • Avatar

        Pam

        July 30, 2016, 9:39 am

        Hi William, I run a small ballroom dance business (in addition to now doing small biz marketing) and CTCT email has helped me nearly triple my class attendance since ’09. I started with 3 couples; now average 6-10 couples for any given class, (and that’s just teaching part-time) so I’m hooked 🙂

        • William Harris

          William Harris

          August 2, 2016, 3:16 pm

          Wow – that’s fantastic growth. I can see why you’re hooked 🙂

  • Avatar

    Pam

    July 29, 2016, 11:26 am

    Good tips, but as a solution provider with Constant Contact, I’m disappointed to see that they were not mentioned in the available email marketing platforms. . .

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      July 29, 2016, 8:13 pm

      Great call, Pam. I completely forgot about them. I haven’t used them for ecommerce, but I’d love to know how they’ve worked out for you.

      • Avatar

        Pam

        July 30, 2016, 9:39 am

        Hi William, I run a small ballroom dance business (in addition to now doing small biz marketing) and CTCT email has helped me nearly triple my class attendance since ’09. I started with 3 couples; now average 6-10 couples for any given class, (and that’s just teaching part-time) so I’m hooked 🙂

        • William Harris

          William Harris

          August 2, 2016, 3:16 pm

          Wow – that’s fantastic growth. I can see why you’re hooked 🙂

  • Avatar

    Arvind Krishnan

    August 1, 2016, 9:43 pm

    Fantastic advice. The only thing I’d consider adding to this list is making sure your email campaigns are optimized for mobile. Given that the vast majority of emails are now being opened on a mobile device, it is critically important in making sure you don’t turn that audience off with a sub-optimal experience. The Litmus pointer is a great one, in that context

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      August 2, 2016, 3:17 pm

      Absolutely agree with you, Arvind! Mobile is #1 for email now, and if your email sucks on mobile, your results are going to reflect that.

  • Avatar

    Arvind Krishnan

    August 1, 2016, 9:43 pm

    Fantastic advice. The only thing I’d consider adding to this list is making sure your email campaigns are optimized for mobile. Given that the vast majority of emails are now being opened on a mobile device, it is critically important in making sure you don’t turn that audience off with a sub-optimal experience. The Litmus pointer is a great one, in that context

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      August 2, 2016, 3:17 pm

      Absolutely agree with you, Arvind! Mobile is #1 for email now, and if your email sucks on mobile, your results are going to reflect that.

  • Avatar

    Arvind Krishnan

    August 1, 2016, 9:43 pm

    Fantastic advice. The only thing I’d consider adding to this list is making sure your email campaigns are optimized for mobile. Given that the vast majority of emails are now being opened on a mobile device, it is critically important in making sure you don’t turn that audience off with a sub-optimal experience. The Litmus pointer is a great one, in that context

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      August 2, 2016, 3:17 pm

      Absolutely agree with you, Arvind! Mobile is #1 for email now, and if your email sucks on mobile, your results are going to reflect that.

  • Avatar

    Melissa

    August 17, 2016, 3:22 am

    Great tips! Another worthy of attention tool is GetResponse for marketing automation.

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      August 26, 2016, 8:04 pm

      So many great tools – so little time 🙁

  • Avatar

    Melissa

    August 17, 2016, 3:22 am

    Great tips! Another worthy of attention tool is GetResponse for marketing automation.

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      August 26, 2016, 8:04 pm

      So many great tools – so little time 🙁

  • Avatar

    Melissa

    August 17, 2016, 3:22 am

    Great tips! Another worthy of attention tool is GetResponse for marketing automation.

    • William Harris

      William Harris

      August 26, 2016, 8:04 pm

      So many great tools – so little time 🙁

  • Avatar

    giselahausmann

    August 23, 2016, 5:27 pm

    “In order for email marketing to work…” you need great #content so people will forward your email. People follow their friends’ recommendations

  • Avatar

    giselahausmann

    August 23, 2016, 5:27 pm

    “In order for email marketing to work…” you need great #content so people will forward your email. People follow their friends’ recommendations

  • Avatar

    giselahausmann

    August 23, 2016, 5:27 pm

    “In order for email marketing to work…” you need great #content so people will forward your email. People follow their friends’ recommendations

  • Avatar

    Phillips Hayden

    October 22, 2016, 3:46 am

    This is a great blog post William. The post gives great tips and tricks to carry a successful email marketing campaign for an e-commerce business. It will prove to be really helpful for our marketing team as we are too involved in e-commerce business. However, I feel sending personalized email to the customer is the secret spice that leads to a successful email marketing campaign for an e-commerce company. Well, it acts as a perk. Apart from that, I would also like to mention we have indulged ourselves in using a hybrid email marketing solution called EasySendy Pro that has further helped us in achieving our goals. This tool is not mentioned in your list as it is comparatively new, however gaining popularity very fast. Hybrid email marketing solution is considered to be the future of email marketing as it leads to a better email deliverability rate to the inbox, open rate and click through rate. Therefore, you add this tool to your list as well.

  • Avatar

    Phillips Hayden

    October 22, 2016, 3:46 am

    This is a great blog post William. The post gives great tips and tricks to carry a successful email marketing campaign for an e-commerce business. It will prove to be really helpful for our marketing team as we are too involved in e-commerce business. However, I feel sending personalized email to the customer is the secret spice that leads to a successful email marketing campaign for an e-commerce company. Well, it acts as a perk. Apart from that, I would also like to mention we have indulged ourselves in using a hybrid email marketing solution called EasySendy Pro that has further helped us in achieving our goals. This tool is not mentioned in your list as it is comparatively new, however gaining popularity very fast. Hybrid email marketing solution is considered to be the future of email marketing as it leads to a better email deliverability rate to the inbox, open rate and click through rate. Therefore, you add this tool to your list as well.

  • Avatar

    Phillips Hayden

    October 22, 2016, 3:46 am

    This is a great blog post William. The post gives great tips and tricks to carry a successful email marketing campaign for an e-commerce business. It will prove to be really helpful for our marketing team as we are too involved in e-commerce business. However, I feel sending personalized email to the customer is the secret spice that leads to a successful email marketing campaign for an e-commerce company. Well, it acts as a perk. Apart from that, I would also like to mention we have indulged ourselves in using a hybrid email marketing solution called EasySendy Pro that has further helped us in achieving our goals. This tool is not mentioned in your list as it is comparatively new, however gaining popularity very fast. Hybrid email marketing solution is considered to be the future of email marketing as it leads to a better email deliverability rate to the inbox, open rate and click through rate. Therefore, you add this tool to your list as well.

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