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
- Drip – for sending educational-focused email drips
- SumoMe – for capturing emails on your product pages and website as a whole
- ClicktoTweet – for 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.