Marketing

Email Marketing Best Practices For Ecommerce Stores

Learn how to make sure your company's news gets to your customers inbox in a way that makes them want to read.

Ana Paula Souza

January 23 2018 · 7 min read

Often seen as mainstream and old-fashioned, email marketing is still a very powerful tool to connect with your customers and generate more sales for ecommerce stores.

As the internet and marketing practices have evolved over the past decade, so has email marketing. Email marketing has developed in complexity and now offers innovative features to keep up with technological advancements and requirements of the online shopping era.

Here are some examples of how you can use this online marketing strategy starting today:

  • Send emails to segmented audiences depending on their characteristics and interests;
  • Craft specific messages for customers that are celebrating their birthday or those that have just abandoned their shopping carts;
  • Keep customers engaged with your brand in all stages of the purchasing process;
  • Offer special promotions for subscribers (like a loyalty program)
  • And much more!

And, if you are someone that needs data and evidence to believe in something, listen to this! According to eMarketer, in 2016 email marketing had a median return on investment four times higher than other online formats, including social media and paid searches.

So, don’t let your business miss this opportunity, read the following tips to discover the best email marketing practices for ecommerce.

Choose your email purpose

What are the main reasons to send an email to your customers?

The top three reasons are to:

  • offer them a service
  • stay connected to your audience
  • promote your products and sell.

By answering this question, you will also be able to understand and give your customers the appropriate message without overlapping strategies and writing styles.

So, let’s get to know the main types of emails:

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are the emails that ask for a direct action from users, normally sent by automated systems. Examples are address confirmations or responses to support requests. They are likely to generate much more engagement than any other type of mail. Therefore, when sending a transactional email, you must be straight to the point, offering the information needed and all the means (links, forms, etc.) to allow the receiver to successfully accomplish an immediate task.

Even though this is not their primary objective, transactional emails can also be a great opportunity to connect with a customer and sell more. For instance, when you are sending an order confirmation, a shipping notice, or a simple receipt, you could add some suggestions of similar products that your customer could be interested in, or offer a special bonus for their next purchase.

Relational emails

Getting in touch with your customers through email is also a great way to develop a connection and to remind them about your brand on a regular basis. Emails that have the goal of creating this type of engagement are called relational emails.

When writing one of these, remember to sustain the tone of a “real person” so that the reader won’t mistake this email as an automatic response.

Here are some excellent examples of relational emails:

  • Welcome email: Is there a new subscriber for your online store? Send them an email expressing gratitude and introducing your brand.
  • Surveys: You can also use surveys as a way to receive feedback and insights for your business. Don’t forget, you could also drive sales with this type of email by offering a special discount as a thank you gesture. In addition, doing this shows your subscribers your effort to continuously improve the products and services you offer them.
  • Referral requests: It is a practical, logical idea to promote your business through a satisfied client’s opinion.
  • Newsletters: You can also use surveys as a way to receive feedback and insights for your business. Don’t forget, you could also drive sales with this type of email by offering a special discount as a thank you gesture. In addition, doing this shows your subscribers your effort to continuously improve the products and services you offer them.

Promotional emails

It is a fact that 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a direct result of email marketing messages, according to the Direct Marketing Association, so it would not be smart for your business to ignore this kind of strategy.

Promotional emails can simply show something valuable for your customers, that could eventually convince them to buy it. This can also be a new product release, an event announcement, or clearance sales, among other incentives.

Email Marketing Best Practices

Besides thinking about the purpose of the email marketing strategy you will develop, you must be aware of the details that can make all the difference for your plan to succeed.

There are two ways to send emails with an email service provider:

  • Sending them manually to the entire list or a part of it (relational emails and promotions).
  • Previously scheduling emails, so they will be automatically sent as the audience engages with trigger specific actions on your website (most often used for transactional emails).

Having a good email service is essential to fulfil the needs of your ecommerce and avoid delivery issues.

Mailing lists

Yes, sending emails to your audience is an excellent idea! Nevertheless, it does not mean you should send them indiscriminately.

Creating mailing lists is simple and will help you reach your subscribers in a more efficient way, allowing you to send content that truly matters to the right audience and lowering unsubscribe rates.

You can split your audience following different criteria, depending on your products/services, the ideal email frequency and the goals you have traced for your ecommerce shop. Many companies have categories according to their customers habits: the discount-driven ones, the regulars, the loyal ones, and so on. But, you can create your own categories in case you believe your audience could be managed another way.

International Subscribers

For cross-border ecommerce stores, categorize your subscribers according to the countries they are from or the languages they speak, and translate the emails you are sending to them so they can understand and feel like they are part of your brand.

Your Sender Name

This item concerns the “from” section of your customer’s inbox, therefore it must be simple to recognize. Be careful about trying to be too fancy and innovative, as people can either get confused or become suspicious about an email coming from someone that they do not know or remember. A safe move is to opt for simply using the name of your brand or a seller.

The Subject Line

This is a fundamental key to succeed in any email marketing campaign, as people receive tons of emails everyday and do not have the time to open and read all of them. The subject line must grab the attention of your subscribers and make them curious enough to click through.

Successful subject lines normally have at least one of the following catchy aspects:

  • Curiosity

Curiosity in a subject line can be useful, as it makes people feel compelled to open the email to discover the rest of your message. Of course, there are times that it is definitely better to be direct and describe the exact benefits your customers will get from opening the email. However, there are also many occasions in which we believe some mystery can be appealing, such as:

“We tried this new product and this is how it was”
“Mind blowing offers, you better not click! We tried to warn you.”

Be aware that too much suspense can also ruin a email marketing campaign, as people may believe it is spam. So, use this tactic sparsely.

  • Urgency

You can use it when you want to push for a quick answer from your subscribers, such as when you use special offers with an expiration date or to promote a specific activity for them.

The language should encourage people to act (or click) fast, without begging or seeming bossy. So be creative and have fun!

We also recommend that you to use this component carefully, as too many urgent emails can create the impression you are desperate for customers or that your actions are actually not that urgent, and make the public disinterested instead.

Two good examples of subject lines with urgency would be:

“Hurry up! The timer’s going off on your cart!” or “Uh-oh, our offer is expiring soon”.

  • Personalization

Here, we are not just talking about your customer’s names within the subject line, but about demonstrating that you care and know who they are and what would make them want to engage.

Together with internal website traffic data and other page metrics, you are able to identify trending product categories and to offer these products to customers at the perfect moment to drive even higher sales.

Here is an example of an ecommerce store that sells toys for kids and decides to send an email marketing campaign on a Friday afternoon because the forecast predicts 100% chance of rain for the upcoming week. Their smart personalized solution was to send a campaign with tips on how to entertain kids during the upcoming week:

“Rainy days ahead? Here are some fun indoor games to play with kids”

Also, avoiding common expressions and overused words is another tip to stand out from other email marketing competitors.

  • No-Reply Emails

We know sometimes no-reply email accounts can be useful to avoid auto-replies, for example. However, it is a bad idea in email marketing, as it may look like you do not want to interact with your customers and hear what they have to say.

Online customers want you to be available for them and care about what they think. Therefore, avoid using no-reply emails and always give more alternatives so they can easily get in touch to you.

Enter the game!

Finally, it is also important to make tests, using different keywords and other types of appeals. There are some online tools that can help you with this tasks, but as a dedicated ecommerce owner - you can use your own experiences and market knowledge to create successful email marketing campaigns.

Sign-up for our newsletter.

Get the most relevant info about ecommerce sent to your inbox.