These days, consumers are inundated with marketing emails. Every business you interact with wants your email address, and every one of them is doing their best to make sure that their email will be one of the lucky few that recipients actually open. With all the competition, it’s more and more difficult to make an impact.
However, email marketing is still an extremely powerful tool for ecommerce sellers. In a 2016 survey, 81 percent of US retailers said that email marketing was an important component of their customer acquisition strategies, and 80 percent said it was critical for customer retention. But with the average person receiving 88 emails each day, you need to do something special if you want your clients’ emails to be opened and engaged with.
We’ve put together a collection of six great email marketing campaign ideas that can help take your marketing efforts to the next level (if you're working with a client who is a subscription-based business, learn more about subscription based email marketing here). In addition to being effective strategies for increasing your client’s ROI, these campaigns represent great opportunities to upsell or expand your service offerings to your clients. Moving beyond standard newsletter marketing will ultimately help your clients get more value from their ecommerce stores, while demonstrating your value as a marketer and helping you build long-term client relationships.
You might also like: Build a Winning Email Marketing Strategy to Acquire and Retain Customers.
1. “How to use your new purchase” emails
A huge missed opportunity for many online retailers is the gap between customers placing an order and actually receiving what they’ve bought. The perfect time to build hype for the product is when someone is waiting for an anticipated purchase to arrive. A well-timed email here can make the customer feel good about their purchase decision, and increase the chances of them having a positive experience with the product when it arrives.
"The perfect time to build hype for the product is when someone is waiting for an anticipated purchase to arrive."
At a marketing conference I attended last year, one of the speakers talked about purchasing a high-end espresso machine, and receiving an email from the company suggesting he clear a space on the kitchen counter for it ahead of time. He cleared the space, and got more excited about his new espresso machine every time he walked through his kitchen.
This exact approach won’t work for every company — the kind of email you’ll send here depends on the kind of product and the kind of company you’re representing. The key is to get the customer to take some kind of action or consume some specialized content that is designed to reinforce the good feelings they have about their purchase.
Subject: Congratulations on your purchase of a straight razor!
First, I’d like to thank you for purchasing a straight razor from FancyShavingTime.com. You’re becoming an elite member of a community devoted to the finer things in life. We can’t wait for you to shave with your razor for the first time, and we hope you’re as excited as we are!
Now, since many of our customers are purchasing their very first straight razor, we’ve put together a guide for the proper usage and care of your razor. You can watch the video on our website, but here are a few of the most important highlights:
- Don’t store your razor in the bathroom. The humidity is bad for it, and will reduce its effective lifespan. Traditionally, sock drawers have been a common home for straight razors.
- Be careful to only put the razor away dry. It’s a good practice to wipe the blade dry, then apply a small amount of oil to keep it in good condition.
- Be very careful not to bang or tap the razor on the edge of your sink or on fixtures, or you’ll dull or nick the edge. The less frequently you need to sharpen your razor, the longer it will last.
With proper care, your new straight razor will last a lifetime. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. Congratulations again!
This technique can be especially effective with more expensive or complex purchases. A single email before the product arrives can help reduce customer frustration and eliminate customer service issues, by setting customers up to succeed when they finally get their hands on their purchases.
2. Abandoned cart emails
Shopify apps make it easy to identify and contact customers who have initiated a purchase but then abandoned their carts before finishing the transaction. As a marketer, abandoned cart emails can be an extremely effective way to reconnect with consumers and remind them of why they were interested in buying from your client in the first place.
Abandoned cart emails are an especially good opportunity to lean heavily on the brand voice. This kind of marketing messaging represents a kind of “Hail Mary” pass as your last chance to capture potential customers before they disappear. These emails should really capture the spirit of the brand because if you can get the recipient to feel a connection with the company you’re representing, they’ll be much more likely to come back and complete the purchase.
Subject: Did you forget something?
I couldn’t help but notice that you added an item to your shopping cart here at GeekyGameStore.com, but then left before completing the transaction. I feel like I rolled a critical failure on my customer service check!
I get it. You’re a busy person, and things come up! Or maybe you were wearing your Ring of Resistance to Great Deals on Gaming Accessories, and decided you didn’t want to buy what you had in your cart after all.
But either way, I wanted you to know that I’ve saved the item in your cart for you, just in case you were intending to come back. You can access it by clicking here.
See you around the gaming table!
There are many effective ways to write abandoned cart emails, and the best option in any particular case will depend on what kind of brand you’re representing. Some brands will work well with funny or irreverent messaging, while it may be more appropriate for others to be more serious. Whatever messaging you decide on, though, remember that your goal is to make a strong impact on the recipients so you can bring them back.
3. VIP outreach emails
There are few things that people enjoy more than being told that they’re special. If you reach out to your clients’ best customers, tell them that they’re the best customers, and offer them special deals as a reward — most will be flattered. And more importantly, they’ll be much more likely to pay attention than if you just sent them an email about a sale.
Personally, I fall for this one every time. If I get an email with a subject line saying something like “Thanks,” I’m way more likely to open it. Then, if I see I’m being rewarded for being a loyal customer with some kind of special discount, I’m almost definitely going to go out of my way to take advantage of that. Contrast that with the dozens of emails offering deals of the week that I get every day, that I never even open.
Subject: You’re the best!
I was just going through our records and discovered that over the past year, you’ve spent more in our store than 80% of our customers.
I want to thank you so much for sticking with us! Customers like you are the reason we’re in business. In order to show my appreciation for your loyalty over the last year, I’d like to offer you a 30% discount on any pet food item in our store. Just enter the coupon code VIP2017 at checkout!
Thanks again, and here’s to another year together!
This strategy requires that you track your clients’ analytics, but this is something you should be doing anyway. Letting customers know that you value their business can have a huge payoff — I’m definitely not the only person who’s a sucker for this approach.
4. Emails to reconnect with lapsed customers
The flip side of VIP outreach is trying to reconnect with former loyal customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while. Reaching out to customers with a special offer that says, “Hey, we missed you,” is a great way to get their attention. It’s also a great way to remind former customers of why they once spent so much money with your client.
Just like the VIP outreach emails, you want to include some kind of very special offer when you’re trying to reconnect with lapsed customers. It’s likely that many of the people in this category have been receiving your regular marketing emails and are ignoring them. If you want these people to start making purchases again, you need to make it worth their time.
Subject: Haven’t seen you in a while
It’s been a long time since you’ve made a purchase at Johnny’s Mixed Nut Emporium. I hope it wasn’t something we did. I want you to know how much we valued your business, and I’d like to extend a special offer to you. If you’d like to come back, we can offer you a box of our Premium Mix for 30% off.
This discount isn’t available to the general public. I’m only extending this offer to you because you were such a valuable customer for so long, and I want to make sure that you understand how much we miss you.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or any concerns about the service you’ve received in the past.
Thanks for being our customer,
Remember, this person likely stopped buying from your client for a reason, even if it was just price-related. A gentle, conciliatory approach is often best when reaching out to people in this category.
5. Influencer outreach emails
Here’s a tip that isn’t about reaching out to customers directly — instead, this strategy is about connecting with an influencer (someone with a large online audience) who hopefully will be willing to be an evangelist for your product.
It’s important to keep in mind that the internet is full of people talking about “the power of influencer marketing,” and anyone who has any kind of audience is regularly getting dozens of emails from marketers asking them to check out one product or another. If you’re hoping to piggyback on an influencer’s audience, you won’t find much success with a generic approach.
A popular genre of comedy on Twitter is journalists and other public figures posting screenshots of wildly inappropriate marketing emails. One of my faves was a Google employee posting an automated marketing message from an “SEO expert” that said something along the lines of, “I’ve identified several SEO problems with your website, google.com, that is keeping it from ranking as well as it could.”
You don’t want your clients to be mocked this way, so be careful about who you’re sending emails to and what you’re saying to them.
Subject: Want to see a better fidget spinner?
I’m a big fan of your YouTube channel — your latest video about the new Taylor Swift single cracked me up!
I noticed you’ve been tweeting a lot for the last few days about fidget spinners. I thought you might be interested in the new Fidgetless Spinner that some friends of mine are working on. It’s a self-spinning fidget spinner that frees your hands up to flip bottles, dab, or do anything else. I’d be happy to send you one to check out!
Let me know if you’re interested, and thanks for all the great YouTube content.
The key to actually succeeding when reaching out to influencers is to write a custom email for each person you want to contact. Make it obvious you actually know who they are and what they do, and make sure you have a good rationale for why you’re sending them this email.
Have they expressed interest in companies like your client in the past? Do you know they already use a similar but inferior product? Be human, and don’t be their fifth form email today with a [first.name] personalization tag still visible in the copy.
You might also like: How to Build an Abandoned Cart Email Sequence.
6. Re-engagement campaigns
For email marketing campaigns, average open rates range between about 15 percent and 25 percent. That means that, at best, 75 percent of your subscriber lists are ignoring any given email. Re-engagement campaigns are designed to connect with these subscribers who are on your lists but who rarely, or never, engage with what you send them.
If your clients have a large number of subscribers in their email lists, a re-engagement campaign offers a chance to tap into this potentially huge audience. Even managing to connect with 5 percent of your unengaged subscribers can represent a very significant increase in the return on your email campaigns.
Subject: Where have you been?
We’ve noticed that you haven’t been around much recently. We get it — sometimes we all feel like we need some distance.
But since you’ve been away, you probably haven’t seen all the cool new stuff we’ve been up to lately! If you have a few minutes, come check out the site and see what we’ve done with the place. And while you’re there, take a look through the store, because we’ve added a $10 credit to your account that you can spend however you like.
If you have any feedback about the changes to our website or our products, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m always happy to hear from long-time subscribers like you!
If they’ve been ignoring your emails for a long time, it will take something special to get them to notice you now, and the subject line is especially important. This is a time when you need to be bold with your copy — and since these are people who aren’t interacting with your marketing attempts anyway, you have very little to lose.
Connect with customers
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to connect with consumers, but you need to do something to stand out above all the marketing noise that most people receive. The best way to do this is by using the data you’ve collected about your clients’ customers to create offers that actually appeal to them.
The email ideas listed in this post can have a huge impact on the return your clients are getting from their ecommerce stores, and driving ecommerce sales with your email campaigns is a great way to prove the value of your work. A little creative thinking combined with a strong email list is sometimes all you need to make a big difference.