An eCommerce Website’s Guide to Email Marketing

by | Oct 23, 2015 | Marketing Strategy

An eCommerce site that’s missing a good email marketing strategy is like a smartphone without apps. So I am going to take you through the principles of developing an email program that helps you deliver the sort of customer experience that delights.

In this article, we will take you through the concept of developing an “Email Marketing Strategy” and why it’s remarkably effective at delivering an experience that will generate loyalty, repeat business and above all build a first impression that will delight your customers.

Why Your eCommerce Site Needs An Email Marketing Strategy

Not everyone likes receiving unwanted emails, but sometimes it’s expected e.g. when you have just purchased a product or service online.

When you are presented with an opportunity to communicate, email is the most direct and personal way of communicating.

Whether your subscribers are on the move, or at home browsing the web, email marketing can practically pay for itself.

According to a report published by the Direct Marketing Association,  for every £1 spent on email campaigns you can expect a £38 average Return On Investment (ROI).   

That’s £38 return for every £1 spent on email campaigns!  The statistics also indicate that the performance of email based approaches has increased significantly over the past year, and this trend is expected to continue for another year.

The Building Blocks

Everything relies on content and how you tailor it to suit your target audiences needs.

We’ve all been subjected to a few time-wasting newsletters in our lives or even received those troublesome spam emails every once in a while.

Planning a Lean Strategy

It is essential to define what you are trying to communicate based on certain touchpoints. It can range from welcoming emails after a new sign up to your newsletter, to a triggered email on the back of a transaction.

The key component of planning is to define your touchpoint strategy, knowing exactly when you want to communicate to your customers.

One you have defined when you are going to communicate, the next step is to establish what you are going to say in your message. The brand voice and style of communication should be consistent with the image you want to portray. 

Because “Brand Voice” is an expression of the people behind the brand, it sets you apart from the rest, it helps build trust and it can be used to influence and persuade.

Content-wise, it’s all about keeping in line with your brand and knowing your audience. If you are selling watches, go for a classy and elegant look. If you are selling clothing, go for something flashy that grabs attention.   Understanding how to use Visual marketing and when to use it, play an important role.

Email Delivery Tools

There are plenty of email delivery tools you can use, some of them are free:

MailChimp’s Forever Free plan is great if you have less than 2,000 contacts. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month completely free.

VerticalResponse’s Free plan enables you to send up to 4,000 emails per month and store up to 1,000 contacts.

Benchmark Email’s Free for Life plan allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per month.

While others ask for a fee (e.g. ConstantContact). The difference between “free” and “paid” solutions is all in the features they offer.

For example Hubspot’s email platform can offer a range of additional features that help with growing your subscriber list, integrates with lead generation functions and delivers Marketing Automation so you can setup the email process’s to trigger emails based on a set of user actions.

Make sure your email marketing plan covers every one of the 6 core components (“Why”, “Where”, “When”, “How”, “What” and “Who”).  If a responder has provided you with their email address its only ethical and professional to send something that is relevant, customer-centric and engaging. 

Long gone are the days when we could send what we liked and get away with it. Strangely most companies only react to changing their approach when email unsubscribe rates start to rise noticeable, so remember engage, delight, personalise and above all “Be Relevant”.

If you are new to the concept of email marketing but understand its benefits for retail businesses, the best approach would be to ask for the guidance from a professional marketing agency. They will address issues you may not be aware and ensure you comply with latest guidelines.

Getting Clever with Email

Every business aims to deliver a successful email plan, however, there are a number of tried and tested techniques that can help you ensure your email strategy is optimised. You can, for example, send personalised emails but you need the data to support, its no good if your data set is patchy.  

Providing great content is not always enough and we have some ideas on how you can improve your marketing plan beyond the basics with some of these techniques.

Email Subject Line Tips

Bear in mind that nowadays roughly 40% of emails are opened on mobile devices and most of the wording will be cut off by the screen so people won’t read more than 20 – 30 characters when going through their emails.

Personalising a subject line with the recipient’s first or last name will increase the chances of your emails being open. However, personalisation means nothing if your data is inaccurate. Something no business wants is to have a title like this: “Michael, check out this great offers” to someone named George.

Testing has proven that using unnecessary punctuation marks (e.g. “!!Confidential!! Please read immediately!”), all caps, certain words and expressions (e.g. “Last Chance”, “Re:”, “Fwd:”, “FREE!”, “Buy Now”) negatively affect your email open rates as people find them pushy and annoying. That is if your emails somehow get past the spam filter. If you ever feel insecure about your emails, you can always use subject line testers like to verify the efficiency of your subject lines.

Navigating Past Spam Filters

Spam filters are little robots that score each email to identify and make an automatic decision on whether or not to send your emails to the “junk” folder.

Testing has proven that using unnecessary punctuation marks (e.g. “!Please read immediately!”), all caps, certain words and expressions (e.g. “Last Chance”,  “Must Buy”) negatively affect your email open rates as people find them pushy and annoying. That is if your emails somehow get past the spam filter.

Most email solutions providers have tools, such as “Inbox Inspector”, that thoroughly scan your emails appearance and content-related spam triggers.

Here are a few common mistakes that will surely trigger your ISP’s spam filters:

  • Phrases such as “Click Here”, “Must Buy”, “FREE!”
  • Overuse of exclamation marks (“!!Confidential!! Open in private!!!”)
  • Using all caps in subject lines, which people associate with shouting
  • An HTML that has numerous images but little text

Harness The Power Of Lifecycle Marketing

Simple email campaigns do not differentiate between the various types of customers and visitors a business has. Lifecycle marketing is a marketing principle where your subscribers list can be segmented into different categories that provide an excellent starting point for your email marketing plan.

The objective of lifecycle marketing is to help nurture consumers through a pipeline to build a framework that supports business growth.

Gaining Trust

Good email marketing strategy helps build a relationship with your targeted audience. Get personal, tailor content to your subscribers’ needs and not only will you get results but you will also gain brand ambassadors both online and offline. 

Email is a powerful tool, waiting for those with an eye for opportunities to make good use of it.

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