Email Marketing in E-Commerce: Beginners 101
Email marketing is one of the most important disciplines in e-commerce. Online shops, that don’t use the email medium outside of order and shipping confirmation throw away a huge potential to gain new customers, bind existing customers, and increase their turnover. But even if you don’t use newsletters or other email campaigns yet – it’s never too late to discover the email channel. With our all-round overview, you’ll learn how to set up your email contact list and campaigns, and how to get maximum use out of them.
The Advantages of Email Marketing
Which sources does your shop draw its traffic from? Which channel gets you the most turnover? Shrinking range in social networks, rising click prices in AdWords, and the effects of Google algorithms tend to cause unpredictable visitor and revenue numbers. With an own email list, you’re mostly independent of Google and social media, while giving you another channel that generates revenue. A larger channel diversity lowers your risk and makes you more flexible in your marketing measures.
With the help of regularly sent out email, you’ll return to your customers’ minds on a regular basis, building a personal connection to them. Helpful or entertaining content will make you an expert to your clients, create an added value, as well as build trust – a decisive factor in the buying decision. You can also your email channel as a tool for customer communication and interaction: ask your clients for feedback, invite them to surveys, advertise giveaways, events, or campaigns. By informing the recipients about new products and sales, you can directly increase your turnover.
In contrast to other channels, email marketing gives you the option to address customers with personalized offers and content. With the help of A/B tests and regular evaluation of your campaigns, you’ll optimize the performance of your emails. Professional providers also have a variety of detailed statistics available.
In Advance: What do You Want Your Emails to Accomplish?
Although you have a general idea of how valuable the email channel can be for your business, and online shop, you should still think about your goals at the beginning. Do you want to bind existing and potential customers, build trust, present yourself as an expert on the topic? Or is the primary goal of your email campaigns to increase revenue by informing your customers about new products, and special offers? Maybe you want to provide a better experience to your customers, by giving them important information on a product after the purchase, or you use email as a tool to ask clients for their opinion or rating. By the way: you don’t need to decide on a single goal. Depending on the resources available to you, it can make sense to define one or two primary goals. This is especially helpful when you just started out with email marketing, and feel overwhelmed due to the variety of options this channel provides.
The strategy for your email marketing measures should always be the first step when it comes to setting up campaigns and planning resources to do so. For editorial content, for instance, you, or an editor in your team, needs to have enough time to create it on a regular basis. Even a personal introduction in every product newsletter means effort. It’s best to plan in advance how often, and in which form, you’d like to send out emails.
The First Steps: Create Your Email List
If you don’t send out newsletters or other campaigns yet, the first step is always the creation of a contact list. First, decide on a provider and a package. You can choose a free version for a limited amount of emails a month and limited features, and upgrade to a more professional version with more features later on. Compare the different providers and their offers, with your strategy in mind. For example, if you want to send out a series of welcome emails, you’ll generally only find that function in charged packages. Pay attention to the given options of template creation. If you don’t have the technological expertise and want to keep the design effort at a minimum, predefined templates, or editors, help you create a sign-up widget that is displayed optimally on all devices while considering your corporate design.
Once you’ve selected a provider and booked a package, it’s time to set up your first list. After giving it a meaningful name, you can create the sign-up widget. For a faster entry, there are ready-made templates that you can adjust to your brand with little effort. If you want to make sure that your design is displayed the way you imagined, send a test email to yourself, and test the way it is displayed on multiple devices.
How to Gain Your First Subscribers
What’s the point of an email list with the perfect template if there are no recipients to read your emails? There are plenty of strategies to advertise your newsletter or campaign and gain your first subscribers. To do so, use all available channels to communicate with your target group and customers.
Add a link to the signup page, and a short call to action that makes the benefits of your list clear, to your email signature in all business emails. Use social media channels to inform your fans and followers that they can sign up for your emails. Use the shop to generate sign ups. Ideally, visitors should find a way to sign up on every page. To do that, you could use the sidebar, the footer or header, or elements like layers and pop-ups.
This works best if you give the users a reason to sign up. A gift code as thanks for the sign up could be an effective incentive. Be creative, think about what could be an added value to your target group. Here are a few examples for inspiration purposes:
- A shop that sells cooking equipment, seasoning, or delicacies could offer the sign up for a cookbook.
- A shop for software could provide a library with tutorials, exclusively for subscribers.
- An online bookstore could provide a list of recommended books from each genre, or an eZine with author interviews, book presentations, and reports from events.
- A shop for outdoor equipment could have events with travel reports, exclusively for subscribers, or grant them free entry.
You should think about which information new subscribers should receive in advance. In a welcome series, for instance, you could introduce them to your business, and your shop, as well as inform them about following emails, share links to your media channels, and tell users about important documents or tutorials.
Combine Marketing and Transactional Emails
Generally, we differentiate between two types of emails. Marketing emails are sent out to all recipients, or certain segments of the list at a specific point in time: the regular newsletter, a notification about your summer sale, a business event, a special offer on certain days of the year (valentine’s day, Easter, Christmas, etc.), or new products of the season. In contrast to that, transactional emails are sent out depending on a user’s behavior, for example, due to cancelled shopping carts, a signup for the newsletter, after a purchase, the registration of a customer account, shipping of the product, or after a customer has looked at certain pages in your shop.
The goal of transactional emails is sending the right email to the right recipient at the right time, increasing customer loyalty and revenue. This includes order confirmations in which you provide a gift code for the next purchase, inform them about similar products, or ask recipients to recommend your shop. In any case, make sure to offer a true added value to the customer, so that your email is not perceived as a pure advertisement. Another option is to remind buyers of consumables that they might want to order the product again, after a certain amount of time. If a customer has filled the shopping cart but canceled the purchasing process afterward, you can send a friendly reminder, and ask him if he needs help or further information.
The combination of transactional and marketing emails allows for a homogeneous customer communication, as well as a consistent brand experience for recipients. Here, make sure that design, address, and content of all emails is well-matched. Customers should be able to tell you are the sender.
How to Make Use of Customization and Automation to Increase Efficiency
Addressing recipients personally, using the first and last name has become the standard for emails. However, customization can do even more. Using segements allows you to send custom content, depending on location, gender, or interest, to your recipients. Point customers towards the next store in their area, or relevant local events. Recommend fitting products from the men’s or ladies’ collection. The options of segmentation are as varied as the different branches and business models in e-commerce.
Automated workflows make it possible for you to contact recipients during every stage of the customer lifecycle. From the first contact via sign up, all the way to the newsletter, or the creation of a customer account for the first order, or loyalty offers for premium customers, there are plenty of touchpoints for you to step up the relationship with your customers, as well as increase revenue. By the way: predefined scenarios make setting up your campaigns and emails much easier. Ask your provider for predefined solutions.
Optimize Your Campaigns Via Evaluations and Tests
If you have defined goals for your email campaigns, it’s important to evaluate their performance on a regular basis. Data such as the amount of sign-outs, open, click, and response rates indicate, how effective the respective email was, giving you the opportunity to optimize your campaigns. With targeted tests, you can take the whole thing one step further, using something like an A/B test to compare two different subject lines.
But the evaluation can be even more precise: use special parameters to track what recipients do in your shop after clicking the link in your email: which pages do they visit, and do they buy anything? Based on these results, further optimize your campaign by further segmenting your list, sending out even more targeted, custom content.
While the first steps on your way to professional email marketing require strategic planning, they don’t require much technological expertise, thanks to ready-to-use scenarios and templates for your email campaigns. If you have neglected emails in your marketing measures so far, this article showed you how much potential you leave unused, and how easy it can be to create an email list and a first campaign. With comparatively low costs and effort, you can expand your constituency, as well as increase your revenue – at a high ROI.