E-commerce is highly competitive because of sheer numbers. One report states the number of e-commerce sites worldwide is already at 26.2 million in 2022, a 39% growth from 2021. That means more sites vying for attention to get a slice of the $4.9 trillion in e-commerce sales projected for the year.
With the cost of paid ads rising and effectiveness falling, many marketers are returning to an old reliable marketing tool: email. E-commerce email marketing can give small businesses an edge over companies with bigger marketing budgets.
Tech-forward marketers like to think that email is an obsolete strategy for marketing. However, the facts don’t support this belief. More people have email than social media accounts, and most check their email regularly. In terms of reaching a target audience, email is more reliable with better ROI than social media.
Your e-commerce business can use email marketing campaigns to great advantage. You can personalize your messages for people already interested in your brand, so you get better results with less effort. However, building an email list and creating a winning email marketing strategy takes time and hard work. In this guide, find out how to increase customer engagement and revenue with the e-commerce email marketing strategies.
Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy for promoting products and services to targeted customers through personalization. It allows you to connect with new and repeat customers on a granular level and in a practical yet affordable way.
The email has been around since 1965, although it wasn’t until 1989 that the first internet-based email service provider emerged. Nevertheless, the first email marketing blast was in 1978. Digital Equipment Corp’s marketing manager Gary Thuerk sent a promotional message to 400 recipients via ARPANET. It brought in $13 million in sales for the company, proving that email has always been an effective marketing tool.
Back in Thuerk’s day and now, email marketing can be as simple as sending an email to people on a list. It might introduce a new product to those who have purchased in the past or urge them to leave customer reviews. The email could also remind people about the items they added to a cart but didn’t check out.
Some marketers use email as a multi-part campaign to guide people through the customer journey down the sales funnel. There are multiple ways to use email to support your marketing goals, and marketing automation makes that so much easier.
However, before you get too excited about the possibilities of automation, remember to keep your eyes on the prize. The primary goal of email marketing is forging customer relationships and maximizing their lifetime value. Email can help you provide information and build trust with your customers, provided you are mindful about your messaging.
Customers tend to interact better with brands that seem to know them and their pain points, so personalization is critical. You must provide value in every email you send so they become loyal customers of your brand. When they see your emails, they are more likely to open and read them.
How do you know if your e-commerce email marketing strategy is working? The proof is in the data. You need to track key metrics for each of your campaigns, and these include:
Any one of these metrics can tell you if there’s something wrong (or right) with your campaign. But these will not give you the complete picture. Typically, marketers will track all these metrics to identify campaigns that are doing well and why and those that need improving and how.
Your e-commerce store can grow if you align email marketing campaign metrics with business goals. For example, if you use email to promote a new product, you want to reduce your bounce rate and increase your conversion rate. You can accomplish these improvements in any number of ways, including the following:
The concept of e-commerce email marketing is pretty straightforward, and so are the key metrics you should track. However, you might not be fully aware of the importance of email marketing for your online store.
Email typically has 174% more conversions than social media. E-commerce email marketing is effective because it makes customers feel you are talking directly to them.
You can segment your target audience to personalize your message and make them feel special. You can use email to show appreciation to loyal customers and motivate less active subscribers to engage more with your brand. As a result, you derive the following benefits:
As an e-commerce store owner, you will be glad to know that you can start right away with email marketing. You don’t need any complex setups or a team of experts to start sending marketing emails. All you need is a business email and a subscriber list.
Some email services even offer email templates and drag-and-drop editors to put a bit of pizzazz to your business emails. If you prefer using an email marketing platform, most have free versions, so you won’t have to spend anything to get started.
The return on investment (ROI) in e-commerce marketing is critical in decision-making. Still, it isn’t always easy to quantify. Email marketing is easier to quantify than most other marketing strategies.
You can see direct results from open rates, conversion rates, and other key metrics for each email marketing campaign. Compare that to social media ROI, which relies almost entirely on engagement and has no apparent monetary value.
Additionally, email marketing has consistently delivered the highest ROI compared to other strategies, with an average of $36 for every $1 spent. For retail in general, the ROI is $45.
The closest competitor to email marketing is search engine optimization (SEO) at $22 for every $1 spent. Social media ROI is a moving target, and some marketers question whether it has a positive ROI at all.
Email is peculiarly suited to personalization because you can segment your audience to send targeted messages. You can segment new subscribers in your email list according to demographics, such as the following:
You can also divvy them up according to their behavior. These could include:
When you do it correctly, segmenting your audience can increase the conversion rate significantly. You can generate as much as three times the revenue of sending an unsegmented email.
Suppose you send an email announcing senior citizen discounts for specific products to people over 60 on your list. In that case, more recipients are likely to click on the link and make a purchase. If you send the same message to everyone on the list, your conversion rate will plummet. Moreover, sending an irrelevant email might also increase your bounce and unsubscribe rate.
Segmenting your audience is much more difficult with SEO and organic social media posts, as you cannot control who sees your content. You have more control with paid social media, but because it is less direct than an email, fewer people will see your post and act on it. Paid posts are also more expensive than email.
Studies show that most (81%) small businesses rely on email as the primary channel for generating sales. The funny thing about email is that it works at any sales funnel stage. A welcome email to new customers can improve engagement, leading to early conversions. You can create more opportunities to persuade people to buy from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom.
For example, you can send separate emails to introduce the product and discuss its benefits. You can follow those up with social proof, FAQs, and exclusive promos, coupons, and discounts.
Email is an excellent medium to create brand awareness to a broad audience, provided you have access to a large and diverse email list. You can achieve that by increasing opt-ins through social media and SEO. Once you have a working list, email marketing can take it from there.
You can increase brand awareness by regularly sending relevant brand messages to the audience. You can ask them for feedback to improve your content, products, and services.
When subscribers appreciate the content they receive, they develop trust in the brand and are more likely to engage. Creating a solid relationship with your audience will help you generate a positive reputation for your brand.
Email marketing takes much less time and effort to execute once you have all your ducks in a row. Several email marketing service platforms allow email automation, so implementing your marketing campaign is more set-and-forget than anything else. Some email marketing software even capture new subscriber information and provide you with reports on key metrics.
Create and schedule messages to send automatically to segments of your audience at the optimal time. Automation can free up resources so you can focus on growing your business and interacting with customers.
One of the biggest frustrations of e-commerce stores is abandoned carts. Imagine all that work bringing a customer right up to the shopping cart, only to stop short of the actual purchase at checkout.
While figures may vary slightly, the average cart abandonment rate across industries is 69.57% on desktop. Mobile statistics are even worse at 85.65%. That means at least seven people out of 10 that added items to a cart will not complete the transaction.
A clever way to get back some of that lost revenue is to send cart abandonment emails automatically to remind customers about what they left behind. Sometimes a reminder is enough, but sometimes offering an incentive might be sensible. Sending abandoned cart emails can help you improve conversions by 20% to 50%.
Now that you know how vital e-commerce email marketing is, you might be wondering what types of emails you can send. Below are some of the most popular types of emails for your e-commerce store.
You should send welcome emails to customers who opt-in to your subscriber list and not just rely on a pop-up. The primary purpose is to introduce new subscribers to your brand. You want to get them excited about being a part of the community.
A welcome email should not merely acknowledge the opt-in action. The first message you send cements the relationship between your brand and your customer. Make sure it is love at first sight by giving them a positive experience. One way to do that is to incentivize them to engage by offering a one-time discount or freebie for their first purchase.
You can increase the lifetime value of your customers by inviting them to sign up for an exclusive membership program. The program will provide them with special deals, invitations to exclusive events, and early access to new products. You can require a minimum purchase for a customer to join the club, motivating them to reach the threshold. A reasonable barrier to entry can also increase the value of membership.
Getting people to subscribe is only the first step in the marketing journey. You might have caught their attention for a moment, but that does not mean you can rest on your laurels.
People sign up for various reasons, such as getting that 20% discount you offer to new subscribers. An email list with more than 60% inactive subscribers can seriously affect your brand’s reputation and SEO. For example, too many opt-outs and hard bounces could result in negative engagement. You could get caught in one if some inactive email addresses are spam traps.
Clean up your email list to remove non-existent email addresses and subscribers that have been inactive for more than 90 days. Identify genuine but inactive subscribers who have not visited your e-commerce site, made a purchase or opened an email from you for a while.
Shoot inactive subscribers a re-engagement email with too-good-to-miss offers such as a significant discount or a raffle. Up the ante by personalizing your email so that the customer feels important. Use phrases such as, “It’s been a while, are you okay?” to re-establish their relationship with your brand.
Everyone likes to be remembered on birthdays and anniversaries because it makes them feel special. If you have information about significant milestones in a subscriber’s life, make full use of it.
Send them personalized greetings with a special offer or discount based on their past behavior to motivate them to interact with your brand. Incentivizing them to engage can improve their overall experience and cultivate loyalty to your e-commerce store.
Promotional emails are the main drivers of conversion, but you need to be careful. Unlike welcome and other transactional emails that provide information, promotional emails are self-serving. You must ensure you provide value even if you encourage them to make a purchase or sign up for an offer.
An excellent strategy to keep people opening and reading your email is to provide solutions to their pain points. Creating promotional emails that don’t sound like sales pitches takes a bit of thought and attention, but it’s worth the effort.
Post-purchase email campaigns are crucial to laying a solid foundation for a customer relationship. Thanking them for their purchase is just polite. However, this is an excellent opportunity to connect.
Provide them tips on the best way to use the product or contact information if they have questions. You can quickly turn them into repeat and loyal customers if you send thoughtful post-purchase emails. Reaching out after sales guarantees you some positive vibes for your brand, especially for first-time buyers. When you ask them for customer reviews or feedback, they are more likely to respond in the way you hope.
Customer reviews are critical for e-commerce stores. With millions competing for the same slice of the retail pie, you need social proof to stand above the rest. Most people rely on customer reviews when deciding whether to buy a product or use a service.
In the ideal world, a review request email solicits the support of your existing customers through their feedback and testimonials. Of course, there is no guarantee that you will always get positive reviews. However, soliciting their feedback means you want to serve your customers better. Whatever you get from your review request is a good indication of your relationship with your customers.
You need an email campaign addressing abandoned carts for your store on any e-commerce platform. Online retailers lose as much as $18 billion in abandoned carts annually. Even if you recoup just 1%, you’re clawing back significant revenue from potential customers.
Additionally, abandoned cart emails show you pay attention to what’s happening on your site, and customers appreciate that. Craft messages that will get them to complete their transactions, especially around the holidays.
People love a bargain. Sending notifications to people who expressed an interest in a product that just got cheaper is sure to get their attention.
Your email should stress how your price compares with the competition. Put the fear of missing out (FOMO) to work by putting a time limit to the price drop that will get them moving. Make it exclusive to specific customers, and you further motivate them to add it to the shopping cart.
Product pages with out-of-stock items can be frustrating for customers. Many expect they can purchase anything they want when they want it. When you have products out of stock, you lose sales, and your existing customers might decide to buy from your competitor.
Back-in-stock emails can assuage a bit of that frustration and persuade customers to give you another bite of the apple. They also present an opportunity to engage directly with customers and keep them happy by giving them what they want. Throw in a convenience discount, and you practically have it made.
Pro Tip: “Remember to notify your consumers about forthcoming sales, holiday deals, and popular discount offers to entice them to visit your website and make a purchase.”
Why would you even need an email marketing strategy if sending an email is so easy? Well, the average person gets 100 emails daily, and they only open 20% to 40%. Your subscribers will unlikely open your email unless they know they can derive value from it.
You need to be mindful of your emails, so you need an email marketing strategy to achieve your goals. As an e-commerce business, your ultimate goal is to boost sales. Below are some strategies you can try:
Onboarding new subscribers with a welcome email is an excellent way to establish a foundation for your relationship. Your welcome email is their first communication experience with your brand. The goal is to get their attention and make a good impression.
However, the welcome email is just one part of onboarding. You will often send two or three emails to keep new subscribers engaged and nurture them as leads.
After welcoming them to the club, you can send a video with educational content. This could be a quick start guide to using the product or service. You might also want to include a welcome gift in the form of a discount for their first purchase.
Once you start sending out emails, you need to consistently touch base with the leads you generate and nurture them, so they become loyal customers. An excellent way to do that is to send lead nurturing emails to help them solve their problems.
You can give them useful information about the product, such as features and benefits. You can also email newsletters. If they are encountering issues, shoot them an email addressing those issues. A proactive approach to lead nurturing can lead to trust, which means repeat purchases.
Dividing your email list into groups is essential for personalization. Most subscriber lists include people with widely divergent interests and needs. Identifying their common traits can help you create engaging emails to increase conversions.
Email list segmentation is not rocket science, but it can boost your sales significantly. The trick is to collect as much data as possible through the sign-up form, email preferences, and user behavior. You can use this data to filter your subscribers and send them messages they will want to open and read.
You can count on some percentage of new subscribers in your email list that will fall inactive quickly after signing up. In most cases, you can write them off as a lost cause. However, inactive subscribers that engaged with your site in the past may just need a bit of a nudge.
Re-engaging emails might rekindle their interest in your brand, especially if you have a special offer. You might also ask them if they want to continue getting emails from you. That gives them the impression that you’re not desperate for their attention. Acting a bit coy tends to make you more attractive.
A clever strategy to encourage existing customers to buy more is to use cross-selling tactics. Show them what they might have missed the first time around. Based on previous purchases, you can send suggestions for complementary products.
For example, if they bought a shirt, you might show them what other people purchased with it. Amazon has that formula down pat with their “Frequently Bought Together” section. Translate that to an email and boost sales.
A sneaky way to get them coming back for more is to send an upselling email. Basically, you offer customers more expensive or advanced versions of what they bought.
For example, if a customer purchased a small bottle of cologne, you could offer them a bigger bottle at a discount or with free shipping. Make sure you highlight the savings to incentivize the client to go for the offer.
Creating and implementing e-commerce email marketing campaigns doesn’t have to be complicated. These best practices can help you create compelling emails.
Your customers access their emails on different devices, so ensure your email will display correctly using a responsive template. Your email should also be attractive to compel your subscribers to open them. Most email marketing platforms provide many options for eye-catching designs, so make use of them.
You can take considerable pains to create your email, but you only know if they are effective if you test them. A/B testing provides insights into what your subscribers like or need and what emails boost sales. Take the time to find out and make your email campaigns more effective.
You spend more money and effort acquiring new customers than retaining existing ones. Giving your loyal customers a little extra love is a practical move. Send them promos, discounts, and invites to exclusive events to make them feel special and keep them engaged. High customer retention doesn’t hurt your brand image, either.
Never miss an opportunity to give your customers good news. Let them know in advance about any sales, deals, and discounts you plan to offer so they can be ready to make a purchase.
Email automation makes it easier for you to respond promptly to users’ actions. You can establish triggers to send behavioral emails, so you don’t have to monitor everything. Behavioral emails are specific to each customer and may include order confirmation, shipment status, feedback requests, and cart abandonment messages.
Maximize the effectiveness of email marketing by hitting two birds with one stone with a referral program. Motivate your customers to refer a friend in every email you send with a discount or freebie to get new leads.
E-commerce email marketing is the most cost-effective and efficient way to boost sales and increase brand awareness. You can maximize your marketing budget with the right strategy.
However, effective email marketing campaigns depend heavily on building a subscriber list and customer information. Using social media can help you create both to implement your email marketing strategy, particularly on Instagram.
Visit the Archive blog for useful information on the best ways to use Instagram and other social networks to promote your e-commerce store on Shopify. While there, check out Archive App, a social listening and user-generated content (UGC) curation tool exclusive to Shopify e-commerce stores. You can use the insights and posts you collect to inform all your marketing campaigns, including emails.
Email is the most cost-effective among marketing channels, especially for e-commerce. Create an effective e-commerce email marketing strategy with the help of Archive!
E-commerce stores use email marketing to promote their products or services by engaging their subscribers. Emails can establish a store’s brand identity with existing and potential customers.
Customer retention is the key to growing an e-commerce business. Sending consistent and relevant emails to existing customers builds trust and loyalty, which spreads. Happy customers are most likely to become brand advocates, leading to more sales and customers.
The most effective way to use email marketing to increase e-commerce sales is to personalize the messages. People tend to interact more with a brand that demonstrates knowledge and empathy for its customer base.