To start, operate, and grow an eCommerce store takes time. A lot of time.
And putting in the effort to sell your stuff takes work. A lot of work.
eCommerce is great business, but the only way for it to become successful is through monetization.
While it’s important to deck your store’s display with deals – particularly during the holiday season – many businesses are worried about losing momentum when the season is over.
But there’s a bunch that’s not worried. This bunch includes businesses that use the most direct and personal tool of them all make sales.
The bunch that’s not sweating relies on email marketing.
Several eCommerce businesses have used this tactic to inform people about new arrivals, deals, and latest news about limited time offers. The strategy has been honed over the years to ensure customers take action.
Why email marketing over other marketing channels, you ask? Because according to industry reports and statistics:
- Email performs 40 times better than Twitter and Facebook when it comes to customer acquisition. (source)
- In 2014, email marketing was responsible for over 27 percent of holiday sales. (source)
- 59 percent of consumers revealed that marketing emails heavily influence their buying decisions. (source)
The stats are promising, but email marketing doesn’t work until you deliver what customers would like to see in their inbox.
According to a survey, over 70 percent of online shoppers were annoyed at receiving promotional junk in their inbox.
People are fed up with receiving promotional emails. For instance, this email from Macy’s is supposed to tell people about Father’s Day gift ideas.
But there’s a lot of noise in this one: several promos and links to women categories. Personalization and segmentation is also missing. Most consumers won’t be impressed with all the clutter.
Getting Email Marketing Right for Your eCommerce Business
Driving sales via email marketing was never a cake walk. But you can make this marketing tactic work for your business by tailoring your emails to your customer’s needs. Below are some measures you can take to stand out from the competition:
1. Personalize the Email
According to a study by MarketingSherpa, email personalization results in 750 percent higher CTR and greater revenue for an eCommerce site.
The first step to personalizing your email is to address your audience by their first name. If you don’t have this data, you can use a familiar tone when addressing recipients.
You can also personalize the subject line; personalized subject lines have been reported to have a 29 percent higher open rate and 41 percent higher click-through rate than non-personalized subject lines.
For example, look at these subject lines:
Shopify knows exactly what type of audience will be interesting in reading stories about their successful merchants. As a result, their motivational subject lines are a great fit.
Words like “winner”, “bonus”, “free”, and the likes should be avoided in the subject line.
You can also personalize the content within the email by segmenting your customers into distinct groups based on their previous behavior on your site, and the content can be tailored to each segment.
WorkingPerson.com personalizes emails with product recommendations based on consumers’ past behavior.
Using a mixture of hot combinations and product recommendations, the brand made over $420,000. Look at the opening and tone of the email – it’s all personalized.
2. Cart Abandonment Emails Are a Must
BI Intelligence estimates revealed that about $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned by online shoppers in shopping carts this year. But the good news is 63 percent of that is recoverable.
So rather than considering abandoned carts as lost sales, you can use email marketing to reduce cart abandonment. If you have automation software, it is possible to setup rules that detect when the person clicks checkout, but doesn’t arrive on the order confirmation page.
When an abandoned cart has been detected, you can send an email to the customer asking them why they didn’t proceed with the order.
Make sure to ask if they faced any problems, because abandoned cart emails are a tool for collecting customer objections (that can be addressed later).
Here’s an example of an abandoned cart email:
The eCommerce store lists items left in the cart so that the customer quickly recalls the transaction. They also place a clear call-to-action “Shop Now” to recover the lost sale as quickly as possible.
You may also offer some kind of incentive in the abandoned email to encourage customers to complete the transaction.
3. Send a Buying Guide
Customers face a crucial challenge when shopping online: they’re not sure of what to buy. This particularly happens during the holiday season when millions of people use Google to research “gift guide” and other similar keywords.
The marketing brief for such opportunities is straightforward: help customers make a decision, then promote action by using discounts and deals coupled with scarcity.
If you can send emails that help people make a decision, you’ll not only see an uptick in sales, but also establish reputation as a helpful brand. Your best customers will appreciate this.
Here’s a gift guide email sent by Diesel:
Apart from being educational, they’ve differentiated gift suggestions for each gender.
Maybe your customer stopped shopping from you because of better deals elsewhere. Or maybe you simply skipped their mind. Whatever the reason, remind them who you are by being educational for everyone.
4. Add Social Proof
eCommerce businesses can leverage social proof on their website as well as in their email marketing campaign. Showcasing how many people bought/use your product can increase sales significantly.
For instance, if you tell a prospective customer that 10,000 people have already bought a discounted item and there’s only 1 week left till the discount ends, it will trigger their fear of missing out and encourage them to check out the product.
The reason for positive action is simple: people trust other people. There’s no way around it. You can include social proof by:
- Displaying the “number” of customers who’ve made a purchase
- Displaying a few user-generated reviews
- Displaying a video testimonial or two
Here’s an example of numbers being used as social proof in an email:
When you have a significant number to boost, make sure to share it in emails. Subtly, of course.
5. Send Reminders
In some cases, eCommerce brands sell items that are perishable in nature, such as consumables and beauty products. A customer may forget to reorder a product that has a lifespan of 6 months, which is why a reminder email can increase sales.
The average time between sales depends on the items you sell, so analyze your sales data to get a picture of what an average looks like.
It is not necessary that people reorder the item, or reorder the exact same item, but a reminder email about their stock running out and new availability sends a very positive message, demonstrating that you care about their needs.
For instance, take a look at this product:
Printer cartridges have a short lifespan and need frequent replacements, so sending reminder emails a few weeks before the ink runs out on previous ones can increase sales.
In the holiday season, reminder emails can be related to wishlists. If some item was put in the wishlist by many people, and is about to run out of stock, you can let customers know there’s limited availability.
6. Reward Loyalty via Emails
Rewarding loyal customers can increase purchase frequency. When loyal customers receive rewards they’re more likely to buy again from your store instead of competing stores.
Simply segment your email lists by normal customers and loyal customers. Customers can be categorized as loyal depending on the amount they spent.
For instance, you can segment customers who spend 30 percent above average order value in reward emails. Then, you can offer early access to sales, special product bundles or discounts.
Rewards can be a free gift, or simply points for future purchases. You can prompt loyal customers to exchange points for upgraded services, merchandise and other benefits.
Or you can simply give a cash back for everything bought by loyal customers as done in the example above.
7. Optimize Transactional Emails
These emails allow you to increase sales by reaching parts of your audience that otherwise is impossible to reach.
Open rates for transactional emails are 10 times higher than open rates for bulk emails. The click rate of transactional emails is 17 percent which is far ahead of the 3 percent accounted for by bulk emails, revealed a report.
A cancellation email is one type of transactional email that works well to improve conversions. When a customer cancels an order, you can suggest them something different that might better suit their needs.
Ensure that your cancellation emails are also customer-service oriented and include questions that help you discover the reason behind order cancellation. You should also highlight your help pages, email addresses, office locations, and numbers prominently.
The content should be something like this. With gathered information, you can explore the cause of cancellation and then work towards reducing it. This is your gateway to making future sales.
Whenever you execute emails, keep customers top of mind. The more useful your emails are, the more value they will provide to customers. And providing value is the secret recipe to supercharging sales.
What are your thoughts? How do you use email marketing to drum up eCommerce sales? Feel free to leave comments.