With an average return on investment (ROI) of nearly 4000%, email marketing is an important strategy for any business, brick and mortar and eCommerce alike. Retailer consensus says that it’s miles ahead of the next best marketing ROI – social media. Plus, it’s green and sends instantly. Part of its remarkable effectiveness is due to its versatility in reach. Email marketing campaigns can come in a variety of forms, structured in different ways, and reach carefully segmented niche audiences. Which means it isn’t necessarily easy. Gathering a list of emails and blasting them with your pitch won’t cut it anymore. At best, you’ll annoy potential customers and, with new anti-spam laws, at worst, get slapped with some hefty fines (especially with the new GDPR guidelines in the European Union). So what goes into a perfectly crafted marketing email? And what makes a smart overall strategy? We’ll cover a few of the basic email marketing tips for retail businesses that can result in much bigger sales.
To put it simply, give your customers ample opportunity to give you their email. There are probably more opportunities for this than you may imagine. Whether you have an eCommerce or brick and mortar store, you should use your retail point of sale to assist in collecting and storing your customer data. Without being too exhaustive, let’s look at a few:
- Use business cards. Remember the old business card prize drawing? They didn’t just want your name. They wanted your business, phone number, email, etc. This is an easy way to collect basic data on each customer. And one that can be done online as easily as in person.
- Ask over the phone. For each customer that you deal with over the phone, always ask if they’d like to share their email address.
- Collect from your blog. Prompt sign up forms for your blog readers. If they enjoy your blog, they’ll probably like your eCommerce store as well.
- Encourage social media users. Stay active on multiple social media channels and include links to your sign up page to your posts and comments.
- Create email-only deals. Add a level of exclusivity to your products while also getting customers to register with their email addresses.
- Require it to complete a purchase. Most eCommerce businesses ask customers to register before finalizing their purchase. Be careful not to make it too tedious so you don’t discourage the actual purchase.
There are PLENTY of other ways of drumming up a list. Find ways that fit your business. Just don’t get too pushy or burdensome.
It’s important to target your customers with information that you know they will be interested in. A bored audience will never lead to conversions. In this sense, you must write each email for a segmented group of your total customer base. MailChimp found that segmented email campaigns resulted in nearly 15% more emails being opened and 55% more getting clicks.
There are a number of tools that any eCommerce business can use to get useful data on each customer. Customer relationship management (CRM) helps organize customer contact information, track every interaction between your business and the customer, identify purchase history and integrate with social media accounts. Advanced CRM programs can be incredibly powerful tools for directing the scope of each campaign, taking massive amounts of data and organizing it into digestible, actionable insight.
Without narrowing your audience, your emails are also more likely to get caught in spam filters. Many countries have passed strict spam laws over the last few decades, which are best to follow. In addition, while not having the power to fine you, Google has nonetheless cracked down on spammers with its new “Promotions” and “Social” tabs. Emails it deems too “salesy” are automatically filtered into one of these inboxes, significantly lowering the rate of opened messages. Here’s a useful guide to avoiding Google’s email marketing dungeon.
Just think about all the emails you delete without opening (or ignore and leave unread for eternity, if you’re one of those people). We’re all pretty busy these days and we certainly don’t have time to read emails that don’t really grab our attention.
And that’s exactly what a subject line MUST do in any good marketing email. Attracting attention can come in different forms – make a promise, offer a surprising claim, use strong vocabulary. Try out lists and numbers, make people feel like they’re missing out on something, change the reader’s expectations. For instance, don’t write “10 Email Marketing Tools.” Instead, add some urgency: “10 Tricks to Email Marketing That You’ve Never Heard Of,” or, “10 Ways That You’re Destroying Your Email Marketing.” These are much more difficult to quickly delete. Make it catchy or funny if that fits with your brand.
Do the same with your eCommerce pitch. Make sure people know what you’re selling and make even more sure that their lives will be better with it. Easy enough to do in 6 to 10 words, right? As many copywriting experts sum it up, follow the 4 U’s when crafting the perfect title: Useful, Ultra-Specific, Unique, and Urgent.
So you’ve gotten a customer to actually open the email! Congratulations, you targeted your audience well and you’ve written a hell of a title. Now comes making the sale. For eCommerce businesses, this is your chance to get a little more personal. You don’t have the luxury of in-person interaction so it’s important to use other forms of communication as an opportunity to let them know you’re a real person. There’s a lot that goes into the content of the email so let’s break this down.
- Address the recipient by name. This adds a level of intimacy and makes you sound more trustworthy. Opening the email with their name is sure to grab even the most humble reader’s attention. Be careful, however, not to get creepy about it. In light of some fun data leaks, maybe stay away from revealing just how much you might know about them.
- Be informal. Write fast and make it casual and conversational. Develop a natural voice and don’t think of it as strictly a marketing email. Edit heavily and cut any information that is not completely relevant.
- Use “You.” In addition to using their name to open, continue to address them as a person throughout the email. It helps your email seem less automated and mass-sent. Don’t mention your “subscribers” or “customers.” Mention the individual.
- Be useful. Don’t simply send emails that are selling something. Be an advocate for your customers. Know what they care about and what might be helpful for them. Ultimately, of course, you’re trying to make a sale. But it’s better to not make this obvious. Plus, passion and care go a long way – a potential customer can tell if you’re being genuine.
- Don’t waste anybody’s time. Only send emails that are valuable. Again, value can come in different forms, but don’t use filler copy or send unnecessary emails to fill some quota. Use short paragraphs and bullet points.
- Give appropriate info. Tell the reader about your eCommerce business when it’s timely. Don’t ever ask for anything before you reveal exactly who you are.
- Show what will be missed. Highlight potential benefits by also discussing what the customer will be without if they don’t make the purchase. Make them wonder how they’ve lived without your product so far.
- Tell stories. Whether it’s yours or something you heard or read, including a story is helpful. It adds desirability and makes the idea of owning your product more relatable.
- Add a deadline. Like your title, a sense of urgency in the body of the email is helpful. It prevents idle carts and second thoughts.
- Make a clear call to action. Offer plenty of places to click that will bring your customer to your desired landing or product page. Calls to action are critical and the window in which customers make a decision to click is usually just a few seconds. Make it effortless to follow through once they’ve told themselves yes.
- Keep white space. Make the body of the email clean and manageable. A cluttered email will easily overwhelm and lower your click rates.
Your email marketing can come from different directions. Each is valuable and every business should mix up their approach often. Some of these can also be easily automated without sounding robotic.
- Promotional. Take advantage of new product launches, storewide sales, holidays, seasons, or special events. Just like a brick and mortar runs sales, your eCommerce store should do the same. And email marketing is one of the most effective means of letting your customers know.
- Reward loyal customers. Your most loyal customers deserve a reward from time to time. Use any opportunity to thank them and offer free product or personalized discounts. Sending small gifts can go a long way. Loyal customers will be even more likely to tell their friends about you.
- Win back lapsed customers. If you notice that an old customer hasn’t been active on your eCommerce site, send them a friendly reminder that you’re still out there and are thinking of them. It’s easy to forget that you really need a certain product. Make these customers feel what they’re missing.
- Send abandoned cart reminders. This is arguably the most lucrative form of email marketing. Abandoned cart emails result in 15% more revenue. Similar to the lapsed customers, those who have left an idle cart on your site just need a friendly reminder that they still want your product.
- Upsell and cross-sell. Like Amazon’s brilliant “similar item” strategy, follow up purchases or browsed products with offers for discounts or bundled deals that are too tempting to pass up. These emails should generally be automated and sent out quickly, while the item purchased or viewed is still on the customer’s mind.
- Offer referral and review rewards. Online reviews are becoming increasingly valuable and word of mouth referrals results in an incredibly high rate of conversion. Plus, both are free advertising for your retail store. Pay it back to your customer with a small present or gift card.
- Use your transactional emails wisely. Any email sent in response to customer action should also be used as a possible sales platform. Don’t get too aggressive with this, but take the opportunity to include links to your store or reminders of promotions.
Clearly, there’s a lot that goes into each email you send potential customers. And you want to make it count. But how do you know what the best strategy for your eCommerce store really is? Well, at this point, you probably don’t. That’s why trial and error is essential. With every targeted campaign that you run, analyze the data afterward to see its rate of success. In addition, A/B split testing reveals what works and what doesn’t. This simply means you send out 2 or 3 different emails to similar audiences and measure which was the most successful. Compare different times of the day or days of the week an email was sent. Try out different subject lines or titles. It will help guide you when crafting future emails. Once you find your recipe for success, the process will become a whole lot easier.