Email marketing can provide a great return for your ecommerce business, so it’s important to stay updated with the latest trends.
It’s also a core component of any inbound marketing strategy, and as such, it can provide an amazing backbone for content marketing and SEO.
In essence, you can attract people to your website – visitors or customers – and get them to sign up for your email list. Once there, depending on your data collection and actionability, you can run workflows and personalized messaging to get them to take more desired actions (e.g. buying products).
However, many companies are doing email in a sort of “spray and pray” way. This has resulted in a ton of noise, and therefore it’s quite hard to break through and get your message noticed by your subscribers.
Most users receive more emails than they can read, so companies need to provide relevant, personalized content in order to stand out from the competition.
While you won’t be able to make major changes overnight, optimizing your email marketing practices isn’t as difficult as it might seem. These tips will help you develop more effective strategies and increase your email marketing ROI.
How to Optimize Your Email Open Rate
First thing’s first: if you want your emails to drive click, or preferably, revenue, your reader has to open the email first. Therefore, getting their attention immediately should always be a top priority for ecommerce marketers.
A few small adjustments can make a big difference in your open rate.
Picking the Perfect Subject Line
The subject line is the first thing your readers see, so every message should include a subject that catches their eye and interests them in the rest of the email. Effective subject lines immediately communicate a unique value and make the reader want to learn more.
One of the best ways I’ve found to improve your open rates is by creating urgency in each email’s subject line. Let your readers know that you’re offering an exclusive or limited-time discount they can’t afford to ignore. Most users check their email on a smartphone, so the subject line should be short enough to read on any device.
One caveat though is that open rates can increase while click through or purchase conversion rates decrease – this is a bad sign.
While you want to grab attention and get the reader to open your email, you don’t want to be needlessly hyperbolic, click-baity, or craft an irrelevant or misleading subject line. Trust erodes quite easily, and some of the most promising email marketing programs have slid to a halt due to marketers over-optimizing their open rates at the expense of their trust and down funnel metrics.
When it doubt, always try to optimize for the macro-conversions. Sure, most people would click on an email that said “free beer,” but they’d be disappointed when they learned later that there was no free beer to be had.
Keeping Your Content to the Point
Just as a long or vague subject line can turn your readers off, they’ll lose interest if you include irrelevant or uninteresting copy. Everything in your emails should be there to increase open and conversion rates, so delete anything that isn’t directly related to the message’s value.
Obviously it depends on your audience and you should always do the research to align your messaging with their expectations, but there does seem to be data backing up the effectiveness of more concise subject lines.
Aligning Your Visuals for a Better CTR
Click-through rate is another one of the most important metrics for ecommerce vendors. It’s really the second step in the email marketing funnel (third if you count deliverability).
You can increase it by using visual content to draw each reader to the call to action. Large buttons that clearly display the offer will let your reader know why they should click through to your website.
Of course, test different things. I’ve heard anecdotes from companies that get the highest click through rates with plain text emails, and some that have very elaborate design. Again, it all depends on your audience. One thing that isn’t good normally, though, is visually distracting design.
Segmenting Your Contact Lists Like a Boss
Audience segmentation is one of the top trends in email marketing, and it’s easier than ever with email automation software.
Effectively segmenting your readers allows you to provide a constant stream of relevant content that’s designed for a specific subset of your audience.
Otherwise, it’s suboptimal to send the same message to everyone on your list. Here are a few tips on segmenting your ecommerce email marketing audiences.
Creating Marketing Personas Around Your Typical Customers
Rather than marketing to a generic reader, start developing personas representing your most common customers.
Think about their needs and build campaigns that respond to their most common pain points.
More importantly, map the content on your website as well as any marketing touchpoints to particular actions taken by a specific persona. For example, you can create different lead magnets that cater towards different audience goals (e.g. “12 tips for better sleep” vs “the ultimate guide to sleep supplements”). This way you can segment based on actual behaviors and add them to different contact lists (more on that in a bit).
Marketing personas are also extremely helpful for building more personalized segments. Rather than trying to think of a reason to send each email, start with something your target audience will respond to and work backwards to build a message around that idea.
Segmenting Based on Profile Data
Most email marketing tools allow you to segment using a wide range of customer information. This could be anything from their age and birthday to their location and gender. These are great starting points for any business new to audience segmentation, though only if you’ve got some indication that these traits matter when it comes to the messages you’re sending.
You can usually backtrack and find segments in your email marketing platform reports or in Google Analytics. If it seems like one segment responds more favorable, test it and make sure. You can read more about data for bloggers here.
Segmenting Based on Campaign Behavior
Campaign behavior is commonly used for audience segmentation, and it’s easy to see why.
If a customer bought something during your last holiday promotion, for example, they’re more likely than the average reader to be interested in your upcoming Christmas sale.
Segmenting Based on Shopping Behavior
Similarly, you can segment your audience based on their purchase history to make additional sales after an initial conversion. If you offer a few different kinds of products, make sure to retarget users with clear shopping patterns.
This is one of the most obvious forms of segmentation, and it’s one of my favorites because it directly relates to sales (the reason we’re doing all of this email marketing). We can sometimes get carried away with segmentation and personalization and start targeting messages on irrelevant characteristics.
Shopping behavior is a crucial segmentation criterion.
Layering Segments for Better Targeting
You can get great results with segments based on a single piece of data, but you’ll go even further by combining segments for even more personalized targeting.
Experiment with different combinations based on your customer personae to see what resonates with each subset of your audience.
Again, always track it back to behavioral patterns you can represent with data. One problem on the opposite end of the spectrum is having too many segments and targeting rules, which always create complexity, and not being able to target an actual ROI to them.
Marketing Automation: How to Shave Hours Off Your Week
Automation is a key element in any successful email marketing campaign, enabling you to get more done without taking the time to send each message manually.
If you’re new to marketing automation, start with these simple yet effective workflows.
A sequence of welcome emails introduces new users to your brand and acts as a starting point for the customer journey. It’s also a wildly easy thing to set up in any marketing tool, so it should be table stakes for your automation.
Let them know what sets you apart from the competition and why they should keep coming back. You can also offer exclusive welcome discounts to drive email subscriptions and increase sales.
Cart abandonment workflows target users who added something to their cart on your web store but didn’t finish the purchase. They lead to the highest order rate of any workflow and should be one of your first automation strategies.
Send at least two emails reminding customers of what they put in their cart and displaying similar products.
This is one of the biggest pieces of low hanging fruit when it comes to optimizing your website for conversion in general. If you’re not doing cart abandonment emails, definitely test it out.
Most users expect to receive a confirmation email after each order, so it’s important to set up this automation as soon as possible. This gives them a record of the transaction along with any shipping information. You can even consider offering a discount on their next purchase.
Again, this is one of those no-brainer emails to set up if you haven’t done so already.
In addition to these classic workflows, there’s also a range of other workflows your users won’t expect. They show readers that you care about customer relationships and are committed to providing a great shopping experience.
Post-purchase follow-up emails are used to check for customer satisfaction and bring them back for another purchase. You can also create promotion workflows to connect with users who clicked through on promotional emails or looked at discounted products. Finally, consider asking for each user’s birthday or anniversary to provide a limited-time discount via a personalized workflow.
Getting the Most Out of Email Marketing Automation
Email automation is a great tool on its own, but you can achieve even better results by implementing a few advanced strategies. The first way to improve your approach to automation is by adding other channels to your workflows.
Once you’re comfortable with omnichannel marketing, you can let each customer choose the best channel for them. Rather than providing every order confirmation via email, for example, give users the option to select another channel or opt out entirely. Customers should always be able to opt out of notifications they’re not interested in.
Email is the foundation of many strong ecommerce marketing campaigns, and it’s important to do everything you can to engage with readers and improve your email marketing statistics. These tips will help you streamline your current practices and make the right changes to help your brand succeed.