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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.