“Email marketing is dying!”
That’s what many ecommerce professionals say.
But, it’s not dead yet. Rather, we should probably say that email marketing is changing and that it actually remains a powerful force in ecommerce. Unfortunately, email marketing is a tool that many businesses, especially start-ups and “solopreneurs” ignore as new, “trendier” channels come into focus.
It’s hard to blame anyone. When you hear that chat marketing can get you an open rate of 85% vs. 20% for email marketing and even outperform on click and conversion rates, it’s tough for someone who may be running their own business to prioritize a tried and true email strategy. Frankly, there isn’t enough time in the day for someone running their own show to take advantage of all the tools that are in the market that could support the growth of their business.
The fact remains that email marketing is still a powerful sales-driving ecommerce tool. An email statistics report by The Radicati Group indicated that at the start of 2019, there were over 3.9 billion (yes, billion) email users worldwide. And, despite how other tools and marketing channels have come into the market, email remains a core driver to everything a consumer does online - social logins, order placement/tracking from a store, communications with family and friends, etc.
So, while other strong tools have emerged in the marketplace that businesses should also consider utilizing, email may still have the greatest reach directly to consumers.
The challenge then becomes finding a way to mold email marketing into one’s strategy. Thankfully, there are a number of tools, which make email marketing more efficient and powerful.
For marketers just starting out, knowing where to start can seem a little daunting.
First, you have to pick an email service provider (ESP), of which there are many to choose from. For merchants that may be using Shopify - the leading ecommerce platform for growing businesses - many ESPs integrate directly with the platform.
Following Mailchimp’s recent announcement that it would be cutting off, its Shopify integration and potentially become a competitor to Shopify, Klaviyo has quickly emerged as one of the leading email providers because of its seamless integration with various Shopify-specific data points. This makes it easier for marketers to create highly-targeted user segments and automated messages that put content in front of users that they are more likely to engage with (and therefore purchase).
While there are many ways to build out an email marketing program, here are three key tactics that lay a foundation for success:
Over 77% of online retail orders were abandoned instead of purchased. Inevitably, no matter how sought-after or limited in quantity your products are, or how easy it may be to navigate through your site to complete a purchase, users will add something to their cart and leave without purchasing.
Maybe they decide they don’t want what they were looking for, they don’t have the money right now, they found something else from someone else, they forgot...there are endless reasons why.
Retailers have entire teams dedicated to conversion rate optimization (CRO), though this is generally for larger, more mature businesses. Imagine you have 100,000 visitors on your storefront with a 1% conversion rate and a $50 average order value (AOV). Just increasing your conversion rate by .1% would mean an additional 100 orders and $5,000 in revenue.
For retailers that do not have thousands of visitors from various channels on a monthly basis with thousands of transactions or even hundreds, a healthy starting place to capture lost revenue is with implementing Abandoned Cart Automation.
With ESPs like Klaviyo (but all others, as well), creating an automated series of messages that is automatically delivered at a set time interval to a customer who abandons their cart is quite a simple process.
On a high-level, create a message, instill a sense of urgency with your written copy, create a simple, straightforward call-to-action to drive a user back to a website to complete a purchase.
Review this helpful guide from Klaviyo about creating an abandoned cart flow.
Start a user’s experience with your email marketing by offering them an incentive to subscribe. Consider installing a pop-up on your site for a percentage off their first purchase (perhaps 10%). This helps to get a customer immediately engaged in your email program.
Do you have to give a discount? No, not necessarily.
A discount is an easy incentive to implement, but your incentive can also be content-related. A company that sells cookbooks, or has other recipe-related content may consider offering a free weekly newsletter with new recipes not found anywhere else. Or, a baseball equipment shop may offer free hitting tips to its new subscribers.
Regardless of what the inventive actually is, the goal is to have a user sign up and then receive an automated welcome message (or series of messages) that are immediately delivered on sign-up that they will have a high likelihood to open. The higher you keep your open rates on emails, and the more users engage once opening a message, the “healthier” your list will be and the stronger reputation your sending domain will have.
The above is a bit technical. Essentially if an email service provider like Google, Yahoo!, Hotmail, Outlook, etc. has a history of your company’s emails being opened and engaged with, the less likely your messages will end up in a user’s spam folder.
On the less technical side, offering an incentive to new users is a great way to spur sales. Using a tool like Justuno, which is a highly powerful conversion optimization platform with integrations to many eCommerce and email service providers, you can serve pop-ups, navigation bars and other content to incentivize user sign-ups or clicks to a particular sale.
The key in using the tool is having the capability to target content based on traits like the amount of time a user has spent on the site, what channel referred the visitor, pages viewed, if there is exit intent or a multitude of other options.
So, theoretically, if a user has signed up for your emails via a pop-up you can limit them from seeing that same pop-up in the future.
Once you have a user opted into your list, the next challenge is serving them relevant content at a comfortable send frequency. Consider segmenting by traits such as the below, among others:
The goal should be to serve user’s content that they may be most interested in. Related products to what they’ve purchased, a message received at a time similar to their past open history, dynamically updated products in a message related to what they have browsed historically, or certainly many other options.
Put more simply, you are never going to know exactly what a user wants, but the more you can tailor content to them based on past actions, the more likely they may be to convert.
In addition to incentivizing users to subscribe to a list by offering a discount, giving a product or experience away as part of a sweepstake can be extremely powerful.
Using a tool like Gleam you can easily create landing pages for sweepstakes that you can use to grow your email list. Gleam can be integrated with most all major email marketing platforms, so you can automatically import users who sign up to your list and to specific segments. Giveaways can be promoted on your site, through email, via a third party partner, on social and through paid advertising.
Pro tip: Create automated messages that are served to users that sign up for these giveaways and create content in that message that is specific to what a user signed up for.
Ben Zettler is an experienced digital marketing, ecommerce and social media expert focused on accelerating brand growth through tactical, analytics-based initiatives, dynamic website development, and aggressive social engagement strategies. He is the Director of Ecommerce & Digital Marketing for Steiner Sports, the leading producer of authentic hand-signed collectibles, and is a Digital Marketing & Ecommerce Consultant to brands and public figures, with a certification as a Shopify Expert. A born entrepreneur, Ben is the founder of Brooktide Sunglasses, a brand which he sold in 2018. Ben is a 2012 graduate of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland - College Park. He currently resides in New Jersey with his wife, Stacey.