The ROI of email marketing channel is huge – for every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses obtain a return of ~ $44.25. According to predictions for 2016, this return is going to continue to grow, so it is a wise decision to start implementing email marketing into your business strategy if you haven’t done so already.
Before digging deeper into eCommerce email marketing, here is a list of fundamental things that you must already have.
An Email Service Provider
There are many tools available in the market. They send millions of emails on behalf of businesses every day. Here are the reasons why you need it:
- Email bounce rate. This is one of the most important metrics that you need to monitor to ensure you maintain a good reputation. This is dependent on your mailing list. Old and invalid emails that bounce should not be used anymore. Your email service provider takes care of these emails and helps you maintain a high bounce rate.
- Email deliverability. An email service provider has a greater deliverability rate in comparison to emails sent personally. This is one of the reasons why your email campaign will be more successful.
- Mobile readiness. 55% of all emails are opened on mobile devices, so a responsive design is crucial for your email marketing campaigns. Using responsive email templates that adapt to the subscriber’s screen size will ensure that your subscribers will see exactly what you want them to see.When you are looking for email marketing tools for your business, pay attention to the usability as well as capability to provide comprehensive sales reports through email campaigns. Usually, email service providers offer a free trial. Take advantage of it!
A Professional Email Address
Free domain email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, etc. are designed for personal use and not for commercial purposes. Email campaigns sent from these email services will not pass DMARC policy authentication and many of them will never reach their final destination. Read more about DMARC policy here.
The solution is to send email campaigns from your own domain, e.g. @myshop.com. This will clearly communicate who you are to both subscribers, as well as spam and DMARC authentication filters.
Learn how to create professional email addresses for Shopify retailers.
A Healthy List of Subscribers
A healthy list of contacts is crucial for your email marketing campaign. By “healthy”, I mean that your contacts are familiar to your brand, they have opted into your list recently (in the last 6 months), and they are still engaged with your brand. Why is this important? For the sake of good deliverability rates and your sender’s reputation. If not, the open and click rates of your campaigns will be disappointingly low and your conversion rate will be even worse. Moreover, the bounce rate will be so high that you may earn a negative “spammer” reputation.
Regarding SPAM: If your contact list consists of people who have subscribed to your newsletter, there is nothing you should worry about. Your subscribers have confirmed that they want to receive your emails, and that is definitely not spam. If they do not want to receive your emails anymore, they can always unsubscribe. This is one more thing that is only possible if you use an email service.
Updating your subscriber list is an endless task. It is constantly going stale because people tend to change their email addresses, change jobs, family names, lose interest, etc. A good way of maintaining your subscriber list was provided recently by Hubspot. They deleted 250K subscribers from their list for the sake of better deliverability rates.
Cheat Sheet For Email Marketing That Works
1. Plan the frequency of your email communication
Before initiating your email campaigns, think over your entire email communication strategy. Your customers already receive some kind of transactional emails from your brand, so you have to carefully plan your future attempts to contact them. Approaching your customers with no system at all can really end up being counterproductive.
Consider this – how many promotional newsletters would be best to send to your customers per month? What emails are they going to be? Are you going to send new collections or announcements about the sales only, a welcome email or series of them, cart recovery, reactivation emails, etc. Plan the entire chain of email communication with a customer.
To avoid having your customers lose interest, you should send a newsletter more than once per month. According to the Direct Marketing Association, most companies send promotional email campaigns 2-3 times per month. Too frequent newsletters, e.g. every day, might cause the unsubscribe rate to increase. However, for some businesses it works well. I would suggest starting with bi-weekly newsletters, plus occasional email campaigns.
The occasional email campaign means that you send extra emails due to a special occasion. For example, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, July 4th, or Valentine’s Day. These campaigns usually work better than periodic promotional emails. People tend to spend their money at holidays – so use those days smartly. Plan your campaign in advance. Here is a retail calendar for 2016; use it for your planning.
Consistent communication empowers you to build strong relationships with your audience. You make them feel like they are getting to know you better with each email.
2. Experiment With Subject Lines
The use of subject lines for promotional emails is one of the most controversial topics among email marketers. There are a lot of blog posts written about the ones that work best. The truth is that there is no unique formula for them and every brand has to find its own way to be noticed in the customer’s inbox.
However, here are few successful patterns worth following:
- Keep the subject line to under 50 characters;
- Try to be either funny / mysterious / generous;
- Include a time limit / or discount;
- Don’t use only CAPS in the subject line;
- Don’t use !!!!!! a lot of exclamation points!!!!!
- Always use a preheader (the line that recipients see just after the subject line)
The rest depends on luck.
3. Pay Attention to Visuals
- Your promotional emails are a part of your brand identity, so email design should correspond to your brand colors. Usually, email editors provide ready-made, smart-looking, and customizable newsletter design templates. They are a big help, especially for beginners.
- Keep your design simple.
- Do not use too much text – this is not the place for an essay with hundreds of words. Even if you have lots of great products for sale, feature only those that are relevant for your subscribers.
- Make it simple to skim. Group information with clear bold section headings, have easily digestible paragraphs, use bullet points, etc.
- Think about the best email fonts. If your font is too small, or too fancy, and if the contrast with the background is poor, your subscribers won’t be able to read your newsletter.
- Leave enough white / empty space. It improves the readability of the text and highlights other newsletter elements. Let your email elements be surrounded by whitespace.
- Pick relevant designs for the topic, good-quality pictures, etc. Trust me, they play a big part in helping you engage with your audience. Here I can’t refrain from sharing a blog post from the Shopify blog which describes how to easily design your visuals making them look trendy.
- And don’t forget to use your logo!
4. Create Interactive / Fancy Email Campaigns
To maintain your audience’s interest, use interactive email elements. These days technology allows you to send videos, animated GIFS, entertaining lottery tickets, etc. These elements are trending right now, because they bring spectacular results. For instance, email marketers claim that after embedding video into emails, the click rate increases by 55% and the conversion rate increases by 24%.
Email with a scratch card inside
Recently, I wrote a post about highly engaging promotional newsletters, including ideas, useful tips and tools to use.
5. Pay Extra Attention to Your Call to Action Button
People rarely read the entire content of an email. They tend to quickly skim the text and click on the big, bright button. Make sure that the most important part of the newsletter – your ‘Call To Action’ button – is clearly visible and that everyone can see it.
The second thing is that it should be short and contain action words, like “Shop”, “Buy”, etc. Personalize it by using words such as “yourself” and “me”. For example, “Show me”, “Let’s do this!”, “I want this!”.
6. Setup Automated Emails
Automated emails make all the difference between email marketing and eCommerce email marketing. They make money while you sleep! You set them up once and can sit back and enjoy watching your sales increase. Here are the top four emails that I strongly recommend you start sending:
- Send a welcome email or series of emails to your new subscribers.These emails earn 9x more money than promotional newsletters and they turn your subscribers into customers.74.4% of customers claim that they expect to receive a welcome email. Don’t let them down. Send them an email, show your appreciation for their interest in you, and offer a discount for their first purchase. See here for ideas for welcome emails.
- Send an abandoned cart email or series of emails.These highly personalized emails are sent automatically after your customer abandons their shopping cart. This email includes the items with images, prices and descriptions. The revenue from abandoned cart emails, on average, is $5.64. In comparison to promotional emails that earns only $0.02 per email. This automated workflow is invaluable!
See the examples of successful abandoned cart emails.
- Send a follow-up email after a purchase.These emails are great for inviting customers to connect on social media, for offering a discount for the next purchase, sending up-sell recommendations, etc. Be creative.
- Send a re-activation email or series of them.These emails are sent to customers that have not purchased from you for a while. How awesome it would be to re-engage with all of them! Reactivation emails usually use incentives, i.e. free shipping, personal discounts, etc. In most cases, the message in this email is: “We miss you, please come back.”
7. Track the Campaign Results
Monitoring what works and what doesn’t opens the gates to improvements and better rates.
- Open rate (ave. % in the market 16.92%)
- Click rate (ave. % in the market 2.61%)
- Sales $ (ave. revenue per promotional email $ 0.02)
- Bounce rate (ave. % in the market 0.27%)
- Unsubscribe rate (ave. % in the market 0.21%)
The Click Map enriches delivery reports with a visual view of the clicks on your newsletter. You easily can see what products, images, call to action buttons were clicked most.
Sales reports and click maps from each email campaign will let you learn fast and understand what works for your customers. Pay attention to reports when trying email marketing tools, not all of them allows you to monitor your orders and sales from each campaign.
The Bottom Line
This is a cheat sheet for eCommerce email marketing beginners. By exploring email marketing topics online, you will find endless lists of tips on how to improve your emails even more. Most of them will be worth following. Don’t rush and everything will come naturally.