More customers. More sales.
It’s what all ecommerce businesses want, right?
Well, an effective email marketing strategy allows you to do both time and time again.
After all, email is proven to convert your on-site visitors into hungry contacts.
But where email marketing truly shines is through creating repeat customers.
Here’s some food for thought: it costs approximately five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one.
That’s right. Five times.
The good news? Your buyers are out there: it’s just a matter of using email marketing to make them more valuable.
With this step-by-step guide, we’re going to break down the proven strategies that ecommerce brands both big and small use to win over customers.
Oh, and you’ll also learn how to keep them coming back for more!
So let's dive right in.
1. Give your opt-ins a warm welcome
For new buyers, first impressions count.
Welcome emails have incredibly high open rates, representing a sort of make-or-break moment for your customers.
But if you’re worried about sending the right message, don’t panic! Getting off on the right foot is easier than you might think.
When in doubt, introduce yourself through a deal.
This welcome message from Magnolia is a brilliant example! It provides a warm welcome while also incentivizing that ever-so-important initial purchase with a 15% off coupon code.
Including a coupon code with your intro messages is a smart move to track the ROI from your welcome series.
Plus, these messages are also a great opportunity for you to learn a bit more about your list.
This welcome from Fossil is a good example, inviting new contacts to check out relevant deals while also learning what types of offers (his or hers) they might be interested in later on.
In short, provide your readers with a reason to check out your site and thank them for their valuable attention. Because no matter what you’re selling, your welcome series should feel like the handshake that starts off a friendly relationship!
Given how busy your contacts’ inboxes are these days, a warm, personal touch can make a big impression.
2. Carefully segment your customer list
Now, keep in mind that not all of opt-ins are created equal.
Think about it.
Not everyone should be treated like a brand new customer who knows nothing about you, especially your repeat customers.
Buyers crave that warm, fuzzy feeling of being recognized by brands. Especially in a day and age where personalization is so important, segmenting your email list can help you build a more loyal following.
But how should you segment your list?
One of the best ways to learn about your buyers and their preferences is by, well, just asking.
Quizzes and questionnaires can help you hone in on the exact types of content and deals to send to your opt-ins. This simple quiz from Bark Box is a perfect example of how to pick your buyers’ brains without interrupting them at all.
A quick quiz can be used to segment your email list by anything from budget, personal demographics or location.
Opt-In Sources and Tagging
Consider for a moment how many avenues your leads have to land on your storefront.
Landing pages. Facebook Ads. Google. Social media.
As such, the individual pieces of content they land on can clue you in on what sort of emails to send them.
What products are they interested in? What pieces of content are they clicking through? Do they want offers or more information?
By tagging your contacts, you automatically keep your traffic organized versus sending generic, one-size-fits-all emails.
Perhaps the most important of all, keeping track of your former customers is a must-do.
Part of creating a sense of loyalty is rewarding your past buyers and thanking them for their repeat business.
In order to make your list seem more exclusive, your former buyers should be in a totally different funnel versus those who are still on the fence. That way you can send engaging offer emails like this one:
The more you’re able to organize and segment your list, the easier it is to send emails that tick the right boxes for your customers.
3. Enticing deals, discounts and freebies on-site
Pop quiz: when’s the last time you bought something at full price online?
For better or worse, coupons have become a major expectation of modern shoppers.
Just take a look at your own inbox and see how many promos are begging for your attention.
Discounts are a crucial aspect of marketing psychology. They do double duty of making buyers feel good because they’re getting a bargain and also catch our eyes.
BOGO! 50% OFF! SALE!
We know exactly what these phrases signal at a glance, and they’re essential for ecommerce brands grabbing shoppers from the word “go.”
Take a look at pretty much any ecommerce giant and you’ll see that they’re running big-time, can’t-miss ads as soon as you land on their sites. Here’s a shining example from Old Navy that encourages an opt-in just seconds after a visit (YAAASSS!)
Simple but to the point, right?
Not only does this opt-in promote a discount, but also sets up contacts to know what sorts of offers to expect in the future.
Here’s another great example from Top Shop. Notice how the copy presents their email list as both a source for discounts and exclusive content.
Including discount popups on your landing pages is a smart move to encourage buyers to opt-in to your list before they make that first purchase.
Now, some marketers might have hang-ups about this because they don’t want to come off as desperate.
You might also be worried that coupons somehow devalue your products or have a negative impact on your bottom line.
Totally understandable! It mostly comes down to crafting copy that’s inviting versus "salesy".
Both Old Navy and Top Shop take a sort of playful, polite approach to their offers and marketers should do the same.
Also, consider that coupons are key to sowing the seeds of long-term business. Sure, an initial 20% off deal might mean less in your pocket now, but what if that person becomes a loyal customer for years to come?
Besides, pop ups aren’t the only way to push coupons and deals to your buyers. You can also implement a dedicated space for opt-ins to sign up and receive a discount. Here’s an example from Top Shop located on their footer, placed strategically below their lookbook:
“What If I’m Selling Digital Products?”
For ecommerce marketers focused on selling digital products like courses or ebooks, freebies are going to be your bread and butter.
Because unlike physical products that people can clearly see via photos and descriptions, there’s a bit more mystery surrounding a paid download.
People need previews to give them peace of mind so they know exactly that they’re getting. No surprises.
That’s why giving buyers a taste of what you have to offer through a lead magnet is going to be your best bet in terms of deals.
Some popular options include…
- Mini-ebooks or guides
- Case studies or “cheat sheets”
Providing something free in exchange for an opt-in has become totally common practice these days.
Check out this ebook download from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, who has scored well over 300,000 satisfied contacts through this bold opt-in:
Much like a traditional discount, this grabs your attention without fail.
“5,000 subscribers? For free? Sign me up!”
Deals, discounts and freebies are square one of building a more valuable ecommerce email list.
But what happens after you get those precious opt-ins?
4. Keep your list engaged with retention emails
Okay, remember everything we said earlier about how important deals and discounts are for landing pages?
Well, the same rules apply to your email list!
Retention emails are key to squeezing more sales out of your existing contacts.
The key is to be friendly about it, not spammy.
Regularly cooking up offers, discounts and announcements keeps you fresh in their minds and ultimately returning to your store.
Much like your welcome messages, framing your offers as “thank you’s” removes any sense of a sales pitch. Instead, your contacts remember exactly why they’re satisfied customers and are given a reason to buy again.
Time-sensitive offer emails are also a compelling way to score more clicks for your store. Acting as a sort of “now or never” moment, the occasional steep discount email is a great way to reactivate customers who you haven’t heard from in a while.
Of course, there’s the question of how often you should send retention emails to your customers.
The honest answer?
When in doubt, marketers should adopt a sort of “less is more” mentality. Sending too frequently is one of the biggest email mistakes that could label your store as a spammer.
Experimenting with frequency (once every two weeks versus once a month, for example) is a good starting point. You can always bet on holidays and new seasons to be fair times to ramp up your frequency a bit, though.
5. Use email retargeting to win over lost customers
Reality check: the majority of your visitors won’t convert the first time they land on your site.
Which is why the more you can encourage a return visit, the better.
In fact, buyers are 70% more likely to make a purchase when they return to your site through an email or an ad.
That’s where tools such as email retargeting come into play.
Through Sendlane, you can actually follow your on-site visitors from Point A to Point B to send messages to encourage them to take action on-site.
All you need is a cut-and-paste snippet of code and boom!
For example, let’s say someone sits on a product but ends up bouncing.
Or maybe your latest promo led someone to a special opt-in form and they didn’t fill it out.
With the help of retargeting, you get back into their inboxes to complete that ever-so-important action based on conditions you set.
The end result is a laser-targeted email to bring your visitors back on-site to convert and you don’t even have to lift a finger!
Whether it’s deals, product recommendations or a reminder to complete their purchase, sometimes people just need that extra push.
That’s why retargeting emails are so valuable, giving shoppers that sort of “Oh duh!” moment to finish their orders or fill out a form.
Oh, and retargeting has also become a staple of marketing on Facebook, too.
And while we obviously give email marketing the edge over social media, we have to give credit where credit is due!
Email marketing is integral to Facebook retargeting, which basically allows you to serve specific ads to your email list or former site visitors.
Like email retargeting, you can win those would-be sales back by turning your email list into a custom Facebook audience.
All you need to do is upload your exported email list and bam! You can start serving ads retargeting everyone from visitors who didn't convert to former customers who might need a steep discount to come back to your store.
The takeaway here? Remarketing has a staple of ecommerce as you can win more customers without having to constantly chase after them yourself.
6. Cart abandonment emails
In a world where a shocking three out of four shopping carts get abandoned, ecommerce businesses rely on retargeting to win over lost business.
Maybe someone’s order came out to more than they intended. Perhaps they simply dropped out of your site and forgot to complete their order.
With abandonment rates on the rise, brands are rolling out specific campaigns to win back would-be lost sales. Cart abandonment emails that win back buyers through discounts are becoming increasingly common these days.
But how well do these types of emails perform with shoppers?
Good question! Studies show that approximately half of cart abandonment emails are opened by recipients.
An offer such as free shipping or a coupon is a small price for brands to pay if the other option is losing that sale entirely.
Having these kinds of emails on autopilot through smart retargeting serves as an insurance policy for more sales. In short, your customers will never sleep on their carts and you don’t have to worry about following up yourself. It’s a win-win!
7. Figure out your most valuable emails
Email marketing is known for its sky-high ROI.
However, do you know exactly how much any given email is worth?
Because if you’re running an ecommerce business, every email counts.
Clicks and conversions translate directly into dollars and cents, meaning you need to know exactly which emails are working and which aren’t.
Through Sendlane features such as event tracking, there’s no more second-guessing if a campaign resulted in a positive ROI.
Like any other marketing pixel, Sendlane’s event tracking basically follows shoppers once they’ve taken action on-site or via email.
From form sign-ups to product sales, you can set up workflows to figure out which events and messages result in the most sales.
So let’s say you’re running a steep 50% off flash sale that you really want to push to your contacts in the span of 48 hours.
Within your email series promoting your deal, you can create an event to keep track of clicks from your campaign and which clicks resulted in actual conversions.
Through event tracking, you don’t have to play guessing games around your emails campaigns. You can see the direct connection between clicks and conversions, which in return results in sales!
Keeping a close eye on the financial returns of your emails means you can improve your campaigns and tie an actual dollar amount to your messages.
Doing so can teach you which offers result in more leads, making it easier to duplicate your success in the future.
Because once you know what works, you can roll it out time and time again.
And as we wrap up our list, the notion of “work smarter, not harder” is a great one to end on.
Through setting up your website and email campaigns effectively, you can score repeat customers without having to constantly fight for their attention.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
What does email mean to your eCommerce business?
Encouraging opt-ins. Keeping them up-to-date with offers. Rewarding your most loyal customers.
All expectations of modern buyers. All reasons why email is a staple of ecommerce.
After all, your email list is more than just a record of names and buyers: it’s the lifeblood of your business. Through automation and finely-crafted campaigns, you can maximize your earnings and keep your buyers happy without so much legwork.
And if you need help creating that sort of system for your business, we can help! If you haven’t already, give Sendlane a spin and get started to see exactly how we can help you grow via email.