Online businesses seem to be the future these days. However, eCommerce is not Paradise.
Meaning that it’s pretty difficult to nail the game. Especially with all those eCommerce giants around you.
The graph above shows the retail eCommerce sales in the United States from 2017 to 2024. As you can see, the profit was $365.207.000 (yes, we’re talking about million dollars) in 2019 alone.
Oh, and mind you, this is only for retail. So, the actual profit eCommerce makes, is way, way larger.
Yet, it wouldn’t have been that way, had it not been for email marketing and marketing automation platforms, tools like a free subject line tester and lead-gen innovations, such as online forms and landing pages.
But what does that even mean? Does setting up an email campaign cut it? Will it lead to you doing it like Amazon?
Will it, eventually, help you ride the retail-pocalypse wave effectively and up your eCommerce game?
Well… Not really.
But I can tell you how to get to the eCommerce Hall of Fame, using email marketing!
You need a list
Actually, first of all, you need an eCommerce marketing strategy. But let’s assume you’ve already got that, and now you’re on a quest to complete your email marketing dreams.
So yeah, you need a list. But not just any kind of list of emails. You need a list that is clean, carefully curated and segmented down to a tee.
But let me take it from the top.
The first thing you should take into account would be the fact that you need to get people to sign up willingly.
This is not as difficult as it may sound, of course, provided you know what goals and KPIs you need to set.
For example, you may want to grow your sales at this point. Or maybe you need to capture some more leads.
Setting your goal in a precise manner is what can help you find out what kind of steps you need to follow down the line. Not to mention that this will be one of the basic parameters you’ll use, in order to segment.
So, let’s say that you need to generate some more leads. Perhaps you should consider a landing page or a pop-up that will be enticing enough to lead people to sign up.
Offering a lead magnet would help! Nothing too big, just a discount code or free shipping for the first purchase.
See that pop-up with the clever deal up there? Well, I saw that too and I was more than ready to pass up until I saw that I will be “saving up to 70%”. So, I said why not? I like Groupon anyway.
Now, here’s what I received when I signed up:
This made me into a fresh and happy lead. And it didn’t take long to make me a fresh and happy buyer. Especially with that “intro”-ish, informative feel this email has.
So, I signed up willingly, and this is the first thing you need to know about me.
Secondly, I moved on to a purchase.
But pushing, albeit gently, for a sale, won’t cut it. Especially when what you need is leads and not immediate sales.
So, what do you do in that case?
Well, there’s a whole lot of things you can give out for free. Style tips, if you’re a retail eCommerce brand. Free consultation if you’re an eCommerce that deals with B2B. Just pick and choose.
Free content in the forms of tips and tricks is a great way to get more leads and if it comes down to it, score a sale or two.
Now, you’ll need to take your list and see how it interacts with the emails you’ve been sending out from time to time.
What is the reason behind that? It's the fact that you may have, say, 1,000 subscribers, which is a great number. Now, how many of those are actually active?
How many of those open your emails and how many of those emails have bounced back?
You need none of that.
For starters, the more the bounces, the higher the possibility for your email address to be marked as spam. In the end, this will mean ESPs will blacklist you and you won't be able to send out a single thing.
You need to remember that every spam report, every unsubscriber, every complaint counts when it comes to your deliverability rates and, at the end, where your email ends up. We need nothing less than the inbox.
We need nothing less than perfect, right? Right.
So, keep a close eye on those that do interact with your list. They open your emails and then... What?
Do they interact? Do they click on the CTA buttons? Do they go through with purchases? Are they just looking around?
Take a deep dive into your data and see what treasures you can dig out.
This will help you come up with enticing offers and discounts. It will also show you who’s in need of some upsell and who’s in need of some re-activation.
It would be best if you’re using some AI tools. Why is that, you may ask.
First off, AI is not here to replace the creative mind of a data analyst, that goes without saying. However, it can trace micro-patterns and create segments that are very small (almost on a one-on-one basis). That way, you’ll be able to give hyper-personalized recommendations each time.
Also, using a machine means that you’ll be able to almost eliminate the possibility of human error. This will make your segmentation and personalization game nothing short of unbeatable.
But enough with your list, I think I’ve made my point here. Let’s move on now.
You Need Email Campaigns
I bet you’re laughing because this seems like a given to you. And yes, it is a given, sure. But… How?
Do you have an idea of what you need to do and how you need to do it? What kind of email campaigns do you need to send out? What kind of audiences would enjoy which campaign?
eCommerce needs emails to be as great and useful as a brick-and-mortar store’s dynamic display. That way, they'll get more sales and leads.
Okay, let’s see how you’re going to do it…
So, you’ve got your welcome emails, that are the first thing you ought to send to each and every new subscriber.
A welcome email is the first impression your brand will give. This means that if you seem nice, your prospects will be thinking of you as a brand that cares a lot.
So, if you create a welcome email that will be memorable, I bet your prospects will at least remember your brand’s name.
The open rates of a welcome email are pretty high if I say so myself. The reason behind this is the undoubted fact that your prospects are trained to expect them. So, you can’t possibly skip that.
Just let them know what your emails will entail and how simple it is to make a purchase down the line. You’ll be all set after that, seeing as you’ll come across as a brand that doesn’t have something to hide, that way.
Make sure you’re setting the tone straight, right off the bat. You’ll need to keep true to your brand’s tone throughout your email campaigns. This is what will attract the prospects that will be interested.
This tone needs to be original and speak the prospects’ language, without being boring.
If you’re offering a discount code for your first email, go for some interactive tactics. Generate a QR code and create a CTA that will be informing the recipients of what steps to follow. Urge them to scan it.
Make things look interactive, like a treasure hunt.
This will lead to a memorable experience and will make them remember your brand down the line.
Make them an offer they can't refuse
In other words, grab their attention right when you need it and lead them gently to their “Aha! Moment” and their next purchase.
This can happen in plenty of different ways, but none is surer to catch the eye than the incentive. For example:
And here’s this email’s subject line:
So, you’ve got a subject line that actually makes the prospect answer a question in their heads. Then, you’ve got an email that contains actionable verbs. They leave no room for extra questions: “Check”, “Get”, “Activate”. It just screams for the reader to take action.
Would you like another type of offer? Perhaps a carefully curated one? Maybe an exclusive one that would lead you to think that the brand in question loves you and only you?
This one here is what you need to be looking for.
Subscribers love feeling pampered and special. Make sure to deliver that feeling through those emails that will be, pretty much, asking them to buy.
Segment your list carefully and study your customer personas. That way, you'll find the prospect that needs free shipping or the one that needs a carefully curated offer.
Don't let them abandon you
A cart abandonment campaign is one that just needs to be a part of every email campaign you’re going to create.
The reason is pretty simple: Not creating a cart abandonment email is like leaving money on the table.
Cart abandonment happens for a zillion reasons. Just check it out:
So, the main reason would be the extra costs being too high. However, the second main reason is one that is not so obvious: The website’s sign-up process.
This graph shows you what needs to be done, in order to make cart abandonment into your best friend.
Again, a dive into your data would help, as well as creating a questionnaire and sharing it around your social media. The questionnaire tactic can give you a very clear image of what needs to be done. It’s a very versatile act, to begin with, as you can engage customers that way, simply by asking for some feedback.
Mind you, this shows exactly what your brand image needs to portray. A brand that is there to help make prospects into the best versions of themselves.
So, let’s assume that most of your prospects reply that the fees were too high. Here’s an example of what you could do, taken from my own inbox-because yeah, I’m one of those people:
I got a 10% off code and all and I did open the email when it came. I didn’t end up shopping the cart though, not gonna lie. After all, the reason I’d abandoned it had to do with how much I didn’t need the products.
But that’s another story.
And here’s another graph for the non-believers:
This just comes to show how cart abandonment emails work like a charm when it comes down to it. They’ve got the highest conversion rate, followed by the back-in-stock ones.
You can either send one cart abandonment email, or you can go ahead and create a series. This series can be sent during various time intervals and with as many parameters as you’d like.
One of the sequences I love is the following:
- Send a cart abandonment email to all those abandoners that made you sad
- Send a second one only to those non-openers
- Send a third-and final-one to those that didn’t open the second one
And then just stop. These numbers are a part of the example. Your data will reveal the actual numbers that show your prospects’ interaction with your brand.
Two Magic Words: Upsell and Cross-Sell
Okay, let’s just say that you’ve completed a purchase. Fantastic! And now… Now you wait, right?
Well, why not wait while looking at some products that will either upgrade your order or help your order be the best it can be.
Let me be a bit clearer: If you “want fries with that”, you get cross-sell. If you used to say “And supersize it, please”, you had upsell.
In both cases, what you were doing was giving McDonald’s the opportunity to make more out of less. Which is the whole point of upselling and cross-selling.
Let me give you another example: Amazon. Amazon’s “Frequently bought together” section is there for the exact same reason. To cross-sell products.
So, let’s see what’s what:
Those Dollar Shave Club fellas miss zero beats, do they? Once you complete your order, you’ll receive an email just like the one above. Just in case you need some hair styling products and didn’t think of it at the time of the order.
If you analyze this email, you’ll see one key thing. Profit is not the only thing to be increased by sending out an upsell or cross-sell campaign.
In this email above, I can clearly see a prospect go “Oh shoot, I do need some post-shave lotion, let me add that!” while reading it.
So, again, we’ve got a brand that cares. So, why would someone buy from any other brand? Email marketing as good as this increases customer loyalty. All by showing them that they know exactly what they need.
And it doesn’t take an expert to realize that increased customer loyalty pretty much leads to increased customer lifetime value.
This is why you need great cross-sell and upsell emails.
Refer a Friend
Again, let’s assume that you need more leads for your eCommerce business, apart from the sales you need to score. Referral marketing is the best way to get more leads without breaking a sweat.
Word-of-mouth marketing is as old as transactions themselves. This is why influencer marketing is so successful and why everyone wants to be a brand ambassador.
You can see above how important referral marketing is and how people actually listen to their friends, peers or people they know. They don't do the same for faceless ads around the web.
So, is it a wonder why more than most brands have some type of referral or affiliate program going on?
Now, let’s see how you can do it on an email campaign. Like so:
By incentivizing the process, you’ll surely get all the attention to yourself. You’re actually giving out a benefit and a savings option to those loyal to you (huge win!) and an added benefit that will prove to be the best welcome for your newbies.
Super-pro tip to miss zero conversion: Include an option for your prospects to be able to share your email with those they want to refer, through a messaging app.
Don’t wonder which one, just check out your data and the one that you can integrate into your email marketing efforts.
Win them back
Email marketing is not always easy and customers don’t remain customers for ever. In fact, around 60% of subscribers are inactive before they, ultimately, unsubscribe. Check out the stat below and see for yourself:
And you already know that it’s more cost-effective to bring back old customers and live off repeaters, than going all out to attract new ones. This is why win-back email campaigns exist.
Just make sure not to overdo it, as someone who ignores your messages, usually ignores them because they’re too darn frequent.
In my opinion, a win-back campaign may just be the hardest of them all. This is why I’ve got some step-by-step action for you.
First of all, you need to say “hello” to people. Re-introduce yourself. They’ve been inactive. So, you’ll need to treat them like they’re somewhat new.
It's not entirely impossible for them to have forgotten about you, after all.
Oh, and much like you’d do with your first-timers, offer something in return:
Maybe there is a very clear, very specific reason why your communication flopped. And maybe, just maybe, you need to know, in order to do it better the next time. So, ask for some feedback, either through your social media profile, or through your email campaigns.
And lastly, send one last email. Clarify how this one is the last one they’ll see and how they’ll get automatically unsubscribed if they fail to respond.
Just make yourself clear. Unsubscribe does not mean “banned for ever from receiving your emails”. They can always subscribe again if they want.
And Finally: Be Polite
A little kindness goes a long, long way when it comes to everything, including marketing of every kind.
As I mentioned before, people love the feeling of being appreciated. There is no better way to do it than sending out your thank you’s in an email campaign.
A thank you email campaign will make your customers feel pampered. This is a way to acknowledge how they’re the force that drives growth behind your eCommerce store. Not to mention your brand as a whole.
This way, you'll give the impression of a trustworthy brand, which can drive more than enough sales.
This is a thank you email meant to celebrate a milestone, but this is not the only time when you can send it out. Use it after a purchase, after a user subscribes… You can pretty much use it after every action.
This is what makes thank you emails so handy. They’re there to give the prospect the feeling that they’ve done a great job trusting your brand in any case.
And this little praise can definitely go a very long way. By thanking a customer or a prospect, you create a reason for them to communicate and interact with a brand. A brand run by humans, not endless lists of data. And today’s buyers are pretty aware and wary of that.
Let me give you some final tips before you go. You need actionable verbs for your CTAs. Some very clear and catchy headlines. And-and I cannot stress this enough-never take a step without consulting your data.
Data is the only sure way to predict the future of your email campaign. It’s also the only thing that can help you make sure that you’ve done the right thing and taken the right steps.
Always A/B test every single thing and never forget: The new model is not B2B or B2C. The new business model is Human To Human.