Why & How to Power Up Email Marketing for Ecommerce Success

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Katie Elzer-Peters, The Garden of Words, LLC

Want to knock it out of the park this year with your Ecommerce website? If you do nothing else, power up your email marketing program. Why? Well, because a) email has a high ROI and b) you control your email list. You don’t control Facebook, Instagram, or other social media. So, spend your time and money on email marketing to get the most bang for your buck.

Email marketing is what is called “permission marketing,” a term coined by Seth Godin, one of my favorite marketing gurus, and probably one of the smartest marketing brains alive. With email, customers have given you PERMISSION to continue talking to them. They’ve stopped by your website, taken a look around, and said, by way of signing up, “Please, keep talking with me.” They have voluntarily opted to continue a conversation with you, but it is up to you to keep the conversation going.

The good news is that all you need to do to keep the conversation going and the sales coming is to email regularly. Here are my best tips for doing that.

5 Must-Have Components of Marketing Emails

Maybe you’re emailing regularly, but not seeing results. Check to make sure that each of your emails has these five components.

  1. Calls to action (CTAs) – You need to provide opportunities for customers to take action with phrases like Buy Now, Click Here, and Learn More with links to associated products.
  2. Unsubscribe links – These are handled by your email service provider and usually located in the footer of your email.
  3. Images – A large hero image at the top with the main CTA and smaller product or info images in the middle.
  4. Text  – Don’t make your whole email a series of images, especially images with words on them, because images with words don’t scale well in mobile. 
  5. Discount code or incentive – This step is optional but helps boost revenue from your email marketing program almost immediately.

Types of Marketing Emails

Now that you know what every email needs to have, let’s go through the types of marketing emails:

  • Promotional
  • Informative
  • Transactional

A well-balanced email marketing program will also include all three of these types of emails.

Promotional Emails

Promotional emails are what most people think of when they think about email marketing. They include standard campaigns, which is your editorial calendar. “Here’s what’s in this week, here’s your coupon of the week. But Browse and cart abandonment are HUGE opportunities to capture revenue.

There are three basic types of promotional email flows your email marketing program should incorporate:

Standard Campaigns – These are your regularly sent campaigns that are triggered to send to your entire email list.

Browse Abandonment – This email series is triggered by customers searching through to the product details page of a particular product, but not adding it to the cart or completing a purchase.

Browse abandonment email flows are only available with certain email service providers but may also be handled by your website content management system.

These flows are usually composed with a discount code included and be sure you over-saturate this email with the information. This email should be a quick “Hi there, you saw this product but didn’t buy it. May we entice you to go back and buy it?”

Cart Abandonment – This type of email is triggered by customers adding products to their carts but not completing their purchases. These flows typically include a greater discount than browse abandonment. Some email service providers offer these flows and most shopping carts offer them, but occasionally on the website, you will need a plugin to facilitate. Cart abandonment flows can be a huge source of revenue for your website, think $4-5 per recipient in comparison with maybe $.15 cents per recipient in regular email campaigns. The rules for composing these emails are similar to browse abandonment: not too much information, just a quick reminder and a friendly redirect back to their cart.

Informative Emails

Promotional emails will almost always drive greater revenue, but informative emails are just as important to the email program because they are part of the marketing conversation. They help keep customers engaged, give them the information that they want/need, and help them know what to expect from doing business with you.

Informative emails include:

  • When to plant, harvest, etc.
  • How curbside pickup works
  • Info about a new product or service
  • Welcome series for new subscribers

Welcome Series – This is a 2-3 email marketing for ecommerce series that will welcome new subscribers to your email list. You set this up once, and then you let it run. The immediate goal is to convert someone to spending money with you quickly. The fact of the matter is that someone who has spent money with you is more likely to keep spending money with you and the longer they go without spending money, the less likely they will. So you want to get them to buy – quickly and often a one-time welcome discount will make that conversion happen for you.

The second goal, but one that is also important, is to orient new customers. What’s it like to shop with you? Where can they get answers to questions? Where is the “e-commerce customer service” section of the website?

Transactional Emails

The last type of email is “Transactional emails.” These are usually set up through your shopping cart, but you can customize the content. These are also often missed opportunities for additional revenue and continuing the conversation. Here are the emails and what you can include in them.

  • Order received – We got it, we’re getting it ready
  • Order ready for pickup – These emails include Instructions for pickup and to do if you forgot to buy something, what to bring to pick up your products, and where to pick them up.
  • Order completed/ picked up –  These emails remind them to shop again, offer an incentive to come back again, ask them to follow you on social media, and request reviews.

Most businesses don’t bother to customize their transactional emails, which is a missed opportunity. A logo or a bit of copy (words) from you can go a long way toward reinforcing your brand messaging.

If you build your email program so that you consistently send all three types of emails, I guarantee you that you’ll increase your ecommerce bottom line in 2021.

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