Email marketing is an indispensable tool for e-commerce businesses looking to drive sales and stay connected with customers.
Research shows that email converts better than social media and other channels, with email subscribers spending twice as much on average compared to non-subscribers. For e-commerce companies, well-planned email campaigns can have an immense impact on revenue and customer loyalty over time.
By sending targeted, personalized messages, brands can nurture relationships with subscribers at every stage of the customer journey. Read the rest of this post to discover effective e-commerce email marketing strategies that you can leverage in your business right away.
Building a High-Quality E-Commerce Email List
The foundation of any successful email marketing strategy is a clean, engaged email subscriber list.
For e-commerce businesses, taking the time to build a robust list of subscribers who want to hear from you is well worth the effort. An inaccurate or outdated list will simply bounce emails or have them marked as spam, wasting resources.
There are several effective tactics for collecting emails and growing your list over time in compliance with privacy laws.
Pop-up subscription forms on your website allow visitors to join your list with just a click. Offer an incentive like a discount code or free gift to encourage sign-ups. Just make sure pop-ups aren’t too intrusive or frequent.
Social media is another great place to promote your email list. Run contests and sweepstakes requiring an email address to enter. Also, add a link to your signup form in your social media bios.
As you build your list, organization, and segmentation are key.
Separate buyers from browsers, and loyal customers from first-timers. This allows you to send targeted, relevant emails tailored to each group. With the proper consent, you can also import customer email addresses from your CRM into your email service provider.
No matter how you grow your list, comply with privacy laws like GDPR and CASL. Be transparent about how subscriber data will be used and allow them to easily opt-out at any time. A clean, compliant email list ensures your messages reach the inboxes of engaged subscribers who want to hear from you.
Creating Compelling Product Emails
Product emails that showcase new arrivals, sales, or items a customer left in their cart are a proven way to generate interest and sales.
To craft persuasive product emails, excellent visuals and copy are key. Here are some helpful tips:
- Start with high-quality images of your products from multiple angles. This gives customers a detailed look without having to visit your site.
- Keep product descriptions succinct yet compelling. Focus on the most important features, benefits, and details like materials and sizing. Include clear calls to action like “Shop Now” with a link to the product page.
- When writing copy, think like your customer and emphasize the most appealing elements of the product. Tell a story and evoke emotions. For example, an outdoor brand could describe a new fleece jacket as “Just what you need for crisp morning hikes through the meadow as the leaves turn.”
Many brands excel at showcasing products in their emails. Fashion retailer, Madewell sends beautifully designed emails with artistic photos and punchy descriptions. Finish Line promotes new product drops with emails highlighting the latest sneaker features and technology. Here’s an example of one of their product emails:
Taking the time to make products shine in your emails will get subscribers excited to buy. Fortunately, top email marketing platforms like these offer powerful tools for creating superb product emails.
Abandoned Cart Email Sequences
One of the most powerful e-commerce email strategies focuses on customers who’ve added items to their online cart but haven’t yet completed the purchase. With abandoned cart emails, you can encourage these shoppers to come back and convert their browsing into sales.
First, set your abandoned cart emails to deploy automatically through your email service provider. Send the initial email 1-3 hours after items are left in the cart. Follow up with 2-3 more emails over the next week featuring the forgotten items.
In your emails, make sure to:
- Strike a balance between informative and urgent. Politely remind shoppers of the items they were interested in and that they’re still available.
- Share trust-building details like secure checkout and easy returns.
- Highlight scarcity with notes like “Only 2 left!” and feature relevant products they might also like.
- Always maintain an enthusiastic but not pushy tone.
With strategic follow-up emails, you can turn cart abandoners into buyers and recover lost revenue. Just make sure to include easy one-click unsubscribe options as well.
Product recommendations are a powerful email marketing personalization tool. Studies show that recommended products increase revenue by 10-30% for e-commerce businesses. The key is using customer data to display relevant products tailored to each subscriber’s preferences.
Start by tracking customer behavior on your website using analytics and pixels. Identify the types of products they view, add to cart, and purchase. Feed this data into a recommendation engine through your email platform to customize suggestions based on subscriber activity.
For example, customers who buy hiking equipment may appreciate an email showcasing new arrivals in outdoor apparel and gear. Take it further by segmenting hiking enthusiasts and swimmers to receive recommendations aligned with their interests.
Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” and “Inspired by Your Shopping Trends” emails demonstrate successful data-driven recommendations.
Similarly, Target’s cartwheel emails incorporate suggested products and deals matched to subscriber patterns.
Be sure to balance personalized and general content to avoid over-targeting. Dialed-in recommendations thrill customers and amplify email marketing ROI.
Flash Sales and Promotions
Email is the perfect medium for alerting subscribers to short-term sales and exclusive offers. Limited-time promotions can incentivize purchases from both existing and lapsed customers.
To maximize results, focus on creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity. Announce flash sales happening for “24 hours only!” and for email subscribers first. Use bold fonts, bright colors, and exciting language. Subject lines like “48 hours left for 50% off!” capture attention in crowded inboxes.
Promote tiered savings like getting 10% off up to 25% with increasing order values. Offer site-wide discounts and category-specific deals to cater to diverse interests. Automate promotional emails to deploy around major holidays, seasons, or events relevant to your products.
Follow the principles of scarcity and social proof in your copy. For example, “This hot deal ends at midnight, claim it before it’s gone!” and “Other shoppers have their carts loaded.” Test sending promotional emails on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, statistically the highest conversion days.
With the right promotional email strategy, you can boost traffic, sales, and brand enthusiasm. Just be sure to clearly state all offer terms and conditions to meet reader expectations.
Customer Retention Strategies
While promotions temporarily increase sales, excellent customer service and relationship-building lead to long-term business growth. Thoughtful post-purchase emails can boost retention and loyalty.
Send a personalized thank-you email to each customer following a purchase. Include their order details plus links to help with topics like returns or contacting support. Follow up a few weeks later to ask for a product review or feedback on their experience.
Set up post-purchase email sequences that provide value like style guides, product tutorials, or curated recommendations based on the initial purchase. Check-in every 2-3 months with subscribers about new arrivals relevant to them.
For apparel brands, consider a “refresh your wardrobe” email as seasons change. Remind customers why they originally loved your brand with “flashback” emails featuring their first purchases. Surprise loyal customers on their birthday or company anniversary.
Thriving e-commerce brands rely heavily on repeat customers. Email marketing gives you countless opportunities to connect beyond the initial sale and foster genuine relationships, boosting customer lifetime value.
Dynamic Content and Personalization
One of the most effective ways to boost email engagement is with dynamic content and personalization. This involves using customer data to tailor content in real time when each email is generated.
For example, you can include the recipient’s first name in subject lines and messages. Studies show that subject lines have a huge impact on whether or not people open emails.
Segment customers based on past purchases and interactions to recommend specific products in emails. Personalize promotional discounts and incentivize customers nearing or past their typical purchase cycle.
Leading e-commerce brands creatively leverage data for dynamic campaigns. Etsy promotes personalized product collections named “Your Monthly Etsy Favorites.” Based on browsing history, Crate and Barrel emails customers “Products You May Love.”
Beyond names and product suggestions, dynamic elements can include things like
- Localized store events;
- The customer’s last order date; and even
- Real-time weather updates.
Just ensure you have consent to track and leverage customer data. When done right, personalized dynamic content makes subscribers feel recognized and caters email to their needs.
Analytics and Performance Measurement
To refine your email approach, closely monitor performance and continuously optimize based on insights. Important metrics to track include open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, revenue per email and beyond.
Evaluate these metrics across different segments and campaigns. For example, compare open and conversion rates for promotional versus educational emails. See which subject lines, calls to action and products resonate best with each subscriber group.
Tools like Mailchimp and Klaviyo integrate with e-commerce platforms to track attributed revenue from email campaigns. Study these reports to calculate subscriber lifetime value. Factor in email costs like designers, copywriters and sending fees to determine true return on investment.
Set realistic email performance benchmarks based on your industry and audience. Test new approaches like send times, content formats and personalization against a control version. Iterate on what delivers the highest engagement and revenue. With regular evaluation and optimization, you can maximize the impact of your email marketing.
Cross-selling and Upselling
Email offers prime opportunities to encourage customers to spend more by cross-selling related products or upselling to higher-tier items.
For cross-selling, promote products that complement recent purchases. If someone buys baking ingredients, recommend related tools and pans in a follow-up email. For apparel, send outfit pairing ideas with tops, bottoms, and accessories that go together.
Upselling involves showcasing upgraded versions of products a customer viewed or purchased. If they bought a basic model, highlight the additional features and value offered by the premium version.
Product recommendation engines are invaluable for cross-selling and upselling emails. By analyzing behavior and transaction data, you can automatically surface relevant suggestions tailored to each subscriber’s demonstrated interests.
For example, J Crew’s “Forgot Something” cart emails recommend additional products to help complete a look, as in the image below:
Similarly, Home Depot promotes related products under “Frequently Purchased Together.” When done seamlessly, cross-selling and upselling emails provide a valued service to customers while boosting order values.
Compliance and Data Protection
As you optimize your email approach, always adhere to laws and customer expectations around data use. Here are some of the most important compliance and data protection considerations:
- Obtain clear consent to collect and use customer data, whether at signup or through checkbox permissions.
- Honor unsubscribe requests immediately and have easily accessible unsubscribe links in all emails.
- Only store customer data on secure servers and never sell or share it without permission.
- Be transparent about your use of tracking technologies like pixels in emails.
- Communicate how you use data to customize the shopping experience.
- Follow global regulations like GDPR for emails sent to international subscribers. Monitor and promptly report any potential data breaches. Conduct regular audits to ensure compliance across all campaigns, segments, and stored customer data.
While properly obtaining and safeguarding data takes work, it builds long-term trust with subscribers and protects your business reputation.
View compliance as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to ethics and security. When customers are confident their data is handled properly, they will more eagerly engage with your brand.
Email marketing remains an invaluable channel for e-commerce brands to nurture customer relationships and boost sales. By crafting targeted email campaigns that inform, delight, and motivate subscribers, stores can thrive both online and off.