chapter 10

7 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Before going into these tips, it’s important that you’re using email marketing software that won’t hold you back.

Many of the tips in this post require integration between your shopping cart and email list, automation, and list segmentation. These are not ‘nice to haves’, but essentials for highly effective ecommerce marketing. The email marketing services suggested previously should provide the required features to apply most of the tips and strategies in this section.

Incentivize Customers to Review the Product They’ve Bought via Email

There are countless case studies highlighting the positive impact of product reviews. After running an email-based review promotion on 90,000 products, Argos found that products with reviews had a 10% higher conversion rate than those without.

Figleaves also noticed a similar improvement, reporting a 12.5% increase in conversion rate on products with reviews compared to those without. Interestingly, they also noticed an 83.9% increase in conversions on products with 20+ reviews.

While these numbers speak for themselves, gathering reviews is easier said than done. One of the best strategies to encourage them is to offer a competition-based incentive via email, similar to this brilliant example from Boden.

This strategy works best when set up as an automated personalized email that’s scheduled to go out to customers a few days after they receive their product.

You’ll want to experiment with the timing of this email, along with the prize offered, to get the maximum number of product reviews. This is where A/B testing becomes your best friend.

Use A/B Testing To Optimize Open & Click-Through Rates

If you’re not already convinced of the value of A/B testing your emails, consider that during his election, Barack Obama’s team found that one subject line generated $403,600 in donations, whereas another variation generated $2,540,866. Generally speaking, when we talk about email A/B testing, we’re referring to creating multiple variations of either the subject line or body content to identify which one has the highest engagement or conversion rate.

Keep in mind that you’re testing the impact of a single, isolated variable at a time. This way your experiments yield real insights you can act on in the future.  

In an ideal world, you would A/B test every email you sent out. In practice, this can be quite time-consuming, so you’ll need to figure out which emails would have the biggest impact on your bottom line if they had a higher engagement rate.

For ecommerce sites, an obvious example would be to experiment with different upsells and cross-sells in your transactional emails, as well as A/B testing any major retail holiday newsletter campaigns.

Set Up Cart Abandonment Emails To Identify Bugs & Improve Checkout Conversion Rate

Optimizing cart and checkout abandonment is typically one of the highest value areas to focus on when it comes to conversion rate optimization. After all, if someone has added an item to their cart, they’re an extremely well-qualified potential customer.

So, how can you use email marketing to reduce cart abandonment?

If you’re using software that enables automation, you can quite easily setup a rule that detects whether a person visits the cart or checkout page, but not your confirmation/thank you page.

When this criteria is met, an email can be sent to them (providing you have already gathered their email address) asking them why they didn’t complete their transaction.

You can see a great example of this in action on the Flaviar website. After signing up to their mailing list, if you add any item to your cart and don’t complete the purchase, you’ll soon receive an email like the one below.

This is not only a great way of crushing technical bugs, but when worded well, can also be a valuable way to collect customer objections, that you can then address earlier in the sales funnel.

Reward Your Most Loyal Customers

For most ecommerce websites, an 80/20 relationship exists between customers and total revenue. That is, a large proportion of revenue is typically driven by a relatively small number of loyal customers.

Howards Storage World found that by categorizing their customers into five categories based on engagement and loyalty, and targeting certain categories with gift card incentives, they were able to increase their short-term revenue by $250,000.

Their most loyal group of customers had a gift card redemption rate of 34%, representing $105,000 of the total revenue driven from this campaign.

Reactivate Your Dormant Customers

Interestingly, in the same study as above, the results from the semi-dormant portion of their customer base were even more impressive than their most loyal customers.

This group, who hadn’t shopped with Howards Storage World in over 12 months, represented a $108,000 increase in revenue ($3,000 more than the most loyal customers), and had an average spend 16% higher than the most loyal customers.

There are a few good lessons in that we can take away from this case study. The first is to segment your customers by loyalty and target them with campaigns that are relevant to their level of activeness.

The second lesson is that, somewhat surprisingly, it’s sometimes more profitable to focus on reactivating dormant customers than incentivizing loyal active ones.

If you want to take this one step further, you could automate this whole process using event-based triggers. For example, if a customer spends 25% above your average order value, you could add them to a sequence of ‘reward’ emails. Alternatively, if a customer hasn’t purchased anything within 12 months, you could create a ‘reactivation sequence’ to incentivize them to make another purchase.

Be Prepared For Product Seasonality and Retail Holidays With a Newsletter Calendar

Too often, marketers end up writing their Valentine’s Day campaign on February 13, and their Halloween campaign on October 30. Considering how much creative and commercial potential there is in these events, it’s important to have a system that ensures you’re always one step ahead of the competition.

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re never rushing to send a campaign out is to build a 12-month newsletter calendar that includes both retail holidays and events specific to your own business’ seasonality.

While many email marketing tools have a calendar feature built in, many opt for a free tool called Trello.

What makes Trello particularly useful is that different members can easily add suggestions and ideas for upcoming newsletter campaigns. On top of this, you can also set automatic reminders to ensure that you begin working on campaigns well in advance of their send dates.

Below is a screenshot of the editorial calendar used by Qosy.

Take Your Email Marketing Beyond the Inbox

Over the next few years, we’re likely to see a lot more ecommerce companies combining their email marketing campaigns with related social advertising.

In a study where a leading retailer in the US targeted 925,000 email subscribers with both its regular emails and coordinated Facebook ads found that subscribers who received both were 22% more likely to make purchases than those who only received emails.

The potential of what you could do with this strategy is mind-boggling. Imagine purchasing a product online to then find an advert on Facebook five minutes later with a popular upsell product. When they then visit their inbox, if they still haven’t bought the upsell you could send them an email with a discount on that specific upsell product.

Search and Re-apply

If you need ideas for email marketing campaigns and would like to gather some intelligence, create a separate Gmail account and subscribe to the email lists of all of your competitors and online stores in your niche.

They don’t need to be direct competitors, just websites that might share the same audience or customers as you. Alternatively, you can use MailCharts to track competitor emails. 

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11. Conclusion

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