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9 Email Marketing Tips for Ecommerce Merchants

Instagram Live Videos. SnapChat Geofences. Digital Assistant Optimization. Virtual Reality Ads. New platforms, devices and ad units are being released seemingly everyday. And while it can be exciting and oftentimes lucrative to jump on these innovative marketing methods, there is one source that’s been around for nearly 20 years, yet continues to be one of the most effective ways to engage customers and drive sales--email.

Email has an average 38:1 ROI, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Let me state that again another way, just to make sure it really sinks in--for every one dollar spent on email marketing, businesses receive $38 in revenue. Incredible! I don’t think there’s much more convincing I need to do. Email is huge. For all businesses. Especially ecommerce. And you need to be paying attention and optimizing email campaigns.

Here are 9 tips to help you improve your ecommerce email campaigns:

1. Re-Engage Abandoned Shopping Carts

Sixty-nine percent of shopping carts are abandoned. This can happen for any number of reasons--customers leave to go find a discount code, they do not see their preferred payment method, they’re not confident with the site’s security, they have a poor user experience, they get distracted, they plan to purchase from desktop or other device, and so on.

You can recover some of these lost purchases by sending a reminder to customers that left the shopping cart without making their purchase. This won’t address every reason the customer left, but it can serve as a great reminder for those distracted users or those who weren’t quite ready to make a purchase at the time. Offering a discount, reminding users of a sale, and creating urgency by showing limited qualities can further incentivize them to complete their purchase.

2. Ask for Product Reviews

A few days after the customer receives their shipment, send an email inquiring if they are satisfied with the order and asking for a review of all purchased products. This can help to bring customers back to your site for new and related purchases. It’s also a great way to increase sales from new customers, as reviews help to increase product sales.

Source: Econsultancy “Ecommerce Consumer Reviews: Why you need them and how to use them”

3. Test, Test, and Test Again

A/B or multivariate test your email campaigns just like you do with your website and landing pages. For emails, the single most important element to test is the subject line. It has the biggest impact on email performance, according to findings by Neil Patel. Other important elements are copy and creative, timing of emails and CTA.

Source: http://www.experian.com/assets/marketing-services/white-papers/ccm-email-study-2013.pdf

4. Reward Your Loyal Customers

The customers that purchase the most from you most often deserve to be rewarded. They’re the ones that are likely driving the bulk of your revenue. They’re also the ones that are likely recommending you to family and friends.

Send an email offering these loyal customers a little something special. Perhaps it’s a discount or free item with their next purchase. Maybe it’s discount they can share with others. Or it could be a pre-release or sneak peak at a new product launch. Whatever the reward is, make sure they know why they’re getting it and it’s delivered with a genuine and thoughtful message.

5. Reactivate Dormant Customers

Find those customers that haven’t purchased in 6 to 12 months (or whatever you would categorize as a dormant customer considering your sales cycle), and let them know how much you miss them with a discount or other incentive to get them back on your site for purchases. Make the messaging and offer personalized to their historical purchases (e.g., offer related products to their past purchase, or newer versions of the product they bought).

6. Leverage Order Communication Emails

Turn those dull order communication emails into creative cross- and up-selling tools. When you alert customers to their order status or provide shipping details, slip in some messages about related or recommended products, and upcoming sales or product launches. And personalizing these emails to the individual customer and their order will go a long way to improve cross-selling.

7. Celebrate Birthdays and Anniversaries

What better way to personalize your email campaigns than to wish your customers happy birthday or thank them for being a customer for X years, and give them a percent off discount or BOGO as a gift.

8. Pay Attention to Pre Header Text

The pre-header text is what displays after the subject line, before a user clicks to open an email. It’s an important piece in grabbing their attention and motivating them to click, and can be a great way to provide more information, additional CTAs or a payoff for the subject line. It’s especially important on mobile devices. With the short subject lines required for mobile devices (see below), the pre-header text give you a few extra characters to pique interest and drive home CTAs. Don’t waste the opportunity with a default “Is this email not displaying correctly? View email in browser” message!

West Elm and Dot & Bo pay close attention to their pre-header text.

9. Make it Mobile Friendly

More emails are opened on mobile devices than desktop. According to Litmus, 55% are opened on mobile. And Gmail users are particularly mobile-savvy, with 75% of users checking email via mobile devices.

When optimizing your emails for mobile devices, you need to consider a few things:

  1. Subject Line - make sure it’s not too long, and is actionable enough to grab the attention of on-the-go users
  2. Pre Header  - see above
  3. Copy - Make copy concise and scannable, with headers, shorts blocks of copy and/or bulleted lists.
  4. Images - Images don’t always display properly on all devices. Make sure images aren’t the main show, but rather support body text.
  5. CTAs - Clearly state what you want users to do, get to the point quickly and put CTAs near the top of emails.
  6. Tap Sizes - Leave enough room around links, buttons and other CTAs for clumsy thumbsies.

Email remains one of the most successful and lucrative marketing channels for ecommerce businesses. These nine tips can help you optimize your email campaigns to engage new customers, retain existing ones and drive more sales.