Using email marketing to make the most of your e-commerce site
So you‘ve decided to take the plunge – you’ve set up your own e-commerce business and it looks great, now you just need some customers! In the outside world, you’d start with some passing trade and word of mouth, but in the digital world passing trade and footfall is harder to come by; the virtual high street for your customers to browse and window shop in is huge.
Word of mouth is very much your friend though, with over 7% of online transactions coming from email marketing campaigns – only the online search function has a higher conversion rate. No longer a ‘new’ technology, email has been around for over 20 years now, so there has been time to develop its marketing effectiveness. Email is more dynamic and responsive than it’s ever been before, with the ability to segment lists and send emails based on behaviour while visiting your site. The thought of creating HTML newsletters can sound a bit daunting, but with some good software and a bit of practice, you’ll be straight into it. Here are a few tips to help you feel at home with your email marketing.
1. Choose an email package that you’re happy using
A package that integrates with your e-commerce software is without doubt the best bet, as it will be able to automate many of your emails, thereby saving you a job. There are plenty of comparisons out there, so do your research and look around: most packages offer a month’s free trial, so you can try them out and see what you’re comfortable with. Most feature simple drag and drop design options, so you’ll be able to create professional looking emails and templates.
2. Use your software!
Setting up an email marketing campaign is an awful lot easier than it used to be, but it still takes time and planning. Write yourself a schedule for the year, including any new products that you would like to feature, special offers or promotions and so on. This doesn’t have to be set in stone – you do need to adapt and be flexible as events arise – but you should know roughly what you are going to need and get it done well ahead of time. Christmas Eve is no time to be drafting your Christmas newsletter!
3. Be aggressive about building your mailing list
Integrate your email software with your social media accounts, and the newsletters will be published there alongside appearing in inboxes. Have a prominent ‘sign up for our newsletter’ option on your website, and consider offering a percentage off a first order in return for signing up. Put a sign up box on your checkout system and make it an opt-out box, rather than opt-in.
4. Test your campaigns
Software packages will give you test functionality, and the A/B campaign is a good test for you to establish your customer base. Put simply, A/B testing means sending a broadly similar email to two consumer groups. However, you want to put a few variations in: varying the subject line but leaving the body content the same for example, or vice versa. Try two different layouts, put your articles in a different order. You should start to get a feel for which options are working best for you – do your customers prefer big, bold images, or a quirky and clever subject line? This will help you develop your house style, which brings us to the next point.
5. Set your style – and stick to it
Your potential customers get hundreds of emails a day, and the majority are left unopened or at best skimmed. Brand loyalty plays a big part in what does get opened and actioned, and if you use a different layout, font and writing style each time you send an email, you will lose any traction you might have gained through customer loyalty, as they simply won’t recognise you! Spend time early on developing your style – hopefully you will already have done this through the design of your ecommerce site and the decisions you have already made simply need to filter through to your email templates, so when an email pings into a customer’s inbox they will recognise you at once.
6. Personalise your emails
This is a good tip anyway, whatever the campaign, but particularly useful in after-market emails. A few days after dispatching an order, follow up with a customer email, personally addressed, expressing your hope that they are delighted with their new purchase. You could think about offering a discount code for a future purchase – make sure you leave a long enough expiry date on the coupon; if it was a significant purchase and you’re hoping for a repeat, you may want to leave time for a payday in between! In return for a discount code, this is a good time to ask for some feedback on the product they have recently purchased – research has recently shown that products with positive reviews regularly outsell those with none at all. This type of email is where using a package that integrates with your ecommerce software comes into its own.
7. Reward your customers
Everyone likes a bargain, and people love receiving presents. Use your email system to let your customers know that their custom means a lot to your business. You don’t want to bombard or hassle them, so don’t overdo it – this can lead to complacency and the assumption that there’ll be another email along in a bit with another offer. Loyal customers are worth keeping, some estimates suggest as much as 80% of total ecommerce revenue is from just 20% of a company’s customer base.
So there you have it – some tips to get you started with running successful email marketing campaigns to support your new online business. Good luck and get sending those emails!