eCommerce Marketers have a ton of tools in their toolkit to get more customers, but none are as effective as email marketing.
We all know the statistics. 4.3 billion people now have an email account, and 69% of marketers use email to distribute content. Email marketing is a huge piece of the puzzle for eCommerce vendors—its average ROI is $36 for every $1 spent, and 80% of markets rely on it for customer retention.
So how do you choose the right email marketing software to take advantage of it all? With so many options, different features, pricing plans and integrations to consider, it’s not easy.
In this blog post, we will break down how to choose the right email marketing software and what to look for during your search.
Let’s get started 👇
1. Map out what you want from an email marketing tool
Before buying an email marketing tool, marketers need to figure out what they want it to do.
Email marketing tools are like cars—some are basic but affordable and reliable, while others are more expensive and come with loads of features. It’s essential to figure out early in your search what functionality and features you need in an email marketing tool to suit your team’s needs.
Ultimately, marketers use email marketing software to grow subscriber lists and increase conversions. This happens by sending out emails with 👇
Offers and discounts
If you want to send exclusive offers, discounts and promotions to customers and drive more business, email marketing software can do it automatically.
Once email marketing sequences are set up, you can send customers discount codes and alert them to upcoming sales. These sequences are also great for winning back customers. You can send a targeted email campaign to customers who haven't made a recent purchase and include a discount code or promotion to sweeten the deal.
Make customers feel like VIPs with exclusive offers and loyalty programs.
Loyalty programs are a rare marketing tool that customers actually want in on. A study involving almost 20,000 consumers found 75% of them would switch brands for a better loyalty program. And once they’re on the email list, these campaigns pay off—customers who connect emotionally with a brand have an average annual spend of $699 compared to the $275 occasional customers drop.
Nike has one of the most recognizable email loyalty programs on the planet. It offers customers exclusive pre-sale for product launches, birthday discounts and free delivery on every single order.
Nike’s exclusive releases for VIP customers are sent out over email.
The brand even offers coaching and training tips over email to boost customer loyalty. And Nike CEO John Donahoe says the brand’s marketing strategy centres around customer engagement, as “ engaged customers buy more.”
Newsletters and surveys
Welcome new customers and hear what they have to say with automated newsletters and feedback surveys.
Newsletter emails share regular news and promote products to your audience. But these types of emails have changed in recent years into a space where brands can share their mission for social and environmental causes.
Check out this example from Patagonia:
Rather than promote a new product or send a discount coupon, Patagonia’s newsletter is focused on a core part of its brand—environmental protection. The newsletter links to an op-ed on the brand’s website, which discusses its mission to recycle clothing, lower waste and cut CO2 emissions during production.
This newsletter is a great example of fusing marketing and building trust with customers, as studies show 69% of Patagonia customers look out for where their products come from and 67% believe in protecting the environment.
Email marketing software can also send automated messages to customers who have added items to their shopping cart but have not completed the purchase.
These emails are a perfect tool to remind customers of all the goodies they left behind in your store and encourage them to return and finish their purchase. We love this abandoned cart email by Kate Spade:
Not only does it put the product the customer abandoned front and centre, but it also reminds them of the perks of returning to the store: free shipping and returns.
Creating a new product isn’t the hard part—marketing and selling it is.
According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, over 30,000 new products are launched every year. The problem is 95% fail. Email can help you beat the odds with pre-launch sequences and updates to get customers excited.
Nobody brand beats the odds like Apple. Just check out this new product announcement email:
Another new iPhone? Yup.
But Apple convinces customers to regularly upgrade their phones by adding simple features like a better camera or coloured device. Its product launch emails are fluff-free and stick to the basics. Stunning images to capture the customer’s attention, essential product information and pricing. Every email is a masterclass in getting a product announcement right.
2. Decide which email marketing features are a must
Now that you know why email marketing software is important, let’s dig into some ways your eCommerce store can use it.
Most email marketing tools come with a bunch of core features like drip emails, automation sequences and customer personalization. In a nutshell, you can create campaigns that are segmented to customers based on their likes, dislikes and previous buying behavior. And once the campaigns are set up, the software will send out emails automatically.
Here are some essential features to look out for 👇
Automation takes email campaigns like product launches and welcomes messages and puts them on autopilot. Using segmentation, tags and personalization, automation can send customers emails about products they actually want to hear about.
For example, Sendlane has multiple pre-packed email automation sequences like welcome emails and win-back sequences.
All you have to do is fill in the templates with your content, and hit send.
Customization and personalization 🔧
No two eCommerce companies are the same. So, why would you want your main marketing tool to have generic automations and templates?
The most effective email marketing software allows you to customize sequences and content to grab your audience’s attention.
Check out this example template of a custom email that’s been personalized to the customer’s location:
Subject: Escape the Winter chill with our new coats
Hey [First Name],
Tired of shivering through the winter? We’ve got your back.
With thick insulation and a waterproof exterior, our new coats (made from recycled bottles!) will keep you warm and dry no matter how low the temperature drops in [Customer’s Location].
[Insert an image of the product]
Don't miss out—use code [code] at checkout for an extra 10% off your purchase.
[Your Brand Name]
Each of the bolded sections represents a tag. Email marketing software will automatically fill these fields using existing customer data to ensure every message is hyper-personalized to the customer’s needs. Pretty cool, huh?
Easy to use 👩💻
Pick a software that’s easy to use and doesn’t need an IT degree so your marketing team can hit the ground running.
An easy-to-use interface will minimize the learning curve and make it easier for your team to quickly create and send email sequences, manage lists and track campaign results.
Another bonus with avoiding a complex tool is that it saves your team (and your company) a ton of time in training and onboarding. Ecommerce teams with limited resources must be able to use their email marketing software to its full potential without spending weeks (or months) learning how to create and send simple campaigns—don’t overlook this point.
Multivariate A/B testing 📊
A/B testing helps you see what emails are hitting the mark with customers.
It can test out different subject lines, designs, send times and call-to-action buttons and then track what performs best with your audience. With some email marketing software, you can test out various elements at once and then view the results at the end of a campaign.
For example, Sendlane’s Multivariate Testing lets you test multiple elements like different audiences, send times and design to see what works best:
Once the campaign is over, metrics like open rates and link clicks are tracked to see which email variation worked best. Sendlane then picks the winning combo so you can use it in future email campaigns!
Third-party integrations 🔌
Finally, look at what third-party integrations an email marketing software has to make sure it’ll sync up with your existing tech stack.
Third-party integrations allow you to connect your online store and any other tools you use, like CRMs, so your email marketing platform can use existing customer data. For example, an integration with eCommerce platforms like Shopify or Magento can easily import and segment customer data and use purchase history and buying behaviors to personalize your email campaigns.
3. Look at what email marketing software is available for your needs and budget
Not all email marketing software is made the same.
Some tools like Mailchimp are more general and would suit any type of D2C business, from brick-and-mortar stores to large online corporations. Others, like Sendlane, are geared towards eCommerce vendors and have super-specific tools and features to help drive revenue and build customer trust.
Let’s take a closer look at the best email marketing software on the market👇
Sendlane is an email and SMS marketing software built specifically for online vendors and eCommerce stores.
It comes packed with features. Users get basic email automations and 50+ Pre-Built Funnels out of the box so they can start sending campaigns to customers straight away. Each campaign can be customized using triggers, tags and Multivariable Segmentation to target every audience and product launch.
An example of a Sendlane prebuilt automation that can be customized using triggers and wait times
To win customers back and boost revenue, browse abandonment, back-in-stock notifications and post-purchase nurture campaigns can be added to any existing email sequence.
It has multi-store capabilities, so vendors with more than one store can track what’s happening and have all of the data at their fingertips. And thanks to Sendlane’s dashboard, it’s easy to see what’s working and what’s not. Each campaign is tracked and split based on activity, revenue and open rates to keep metrics and KPIs simple.
Sendlane's best features:
- 50+ Pre-built email and SMS funnels to save time and money creating a campaign
- Customizable and professionally designed email templates
- Access to every feature Sendlane offers (no matter what plan you sign up for!)
- Multivariate testing and advanced data analytics to keep track of every campaign
- Customer support available 24/7/365 - even on holidays - in 30 seconds or less
Mailchimp is a simple email marketing software with everything an eCommerce store needs to connect with customers. Packed with features like campaign scheduling, A/B test copy and reporting, Mailchimp can automate segmented campaigns and send targeted messages to an audience based on purchase history, browsing behavior and location.
Mailchimp’s best features:
- Automated abandoned cart email, product reviews and post-purchase campaigns
- Tons of integrations with eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento and BigCommerce
- Simple analytics tracking like open rates, click-through rates and revenue
Klaviyo is an email marketing platform that’s also geared towards eCommerce vendors that focuses on customer retention.
It can launch automated email campaigns, target audience segments and track performance of email campaigns by revenue and open rates. It pulls customer data in real-time from your eCommerce platform to help you understand what your customers want to keep them coming back.
Klaviyo best features:
- Extensive template library to help get your first campaign off the ground
- Advanced segmentation makes the most of customer data like past purchase history and browsing behavior
- 300+ pre-built integrations including eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, Big Commerce and Magento
From our list (or your own research), create a shortlist of software that matches your needs and budget. It’s always a good idea to cross-reference your final choices with other marketers using reviews or testimonials. Sites like G2 or Capterra allow you to compare features and read reviews from other eCommerce marketers about each tool’s pros and cons.
4. Take advantage of email marketing software free trials
Most email marketing software will offer a free trial so you can take it for a test drive and see if it’s a good fit.
Visit the website of each email marketing software on your list and sign up for the free trial. Most tools, including Sendlane, won’t ask for payment details or a credit card, so it’s completely risk-free.
Our advice is to create a test email list (just add your marketing team or other employees, not customers!) and add information like birthdays, full names and any other personal information. This will help you test the tool’s personalization and customization features.
Once it's all set up, write a test email and add images, tags and any other elements you would use in a real-life campaign to see how it looks. Then, hit send to see the software’s deliverability to email servers like Gmail and Outlook and if it's compatible with mobile devices.
5. Make a decision and buy your chosen software.
It’s crunch time. You’ve done your research—now it’s time to pick your software.
With the right knowledge and a little testing, you can find the perfect platform to suit your growing eCommerce business. Think long and hard about what features will work best for your customer base and your technical abilities.
A tool that offers automation, segmentation and personalization is a no-brainer when it comes to eCommerce, so choose a software that’s built for online vendors. Sendlane comes packed with all these features—and a lot more. With multivariate testing, pre-built email funnels and 24/7 support, there’s a reason over 1700 companies now trust Sendlane with customer emails.
Want to see how you can save 40% on your email & SMS bill?? Request a demo & speak to a Sendlane expert today!!