Being in the online business today can be a blessing and a curse:
- With 5 billion people using the web to browse products/services, there are plenty of opportunities to grow your business.
- But when over half the world’s population is online, this influx brings fierce competition a.k.a. over 24 million eCommerce sites. Your business is a mere needle in a haystack.
How do you rise above all that noise?
You build a stellar email marketing strategy—one of the key online strategies that provides a $42 return for every dollar you spend.
So yeah, email is pretty awesome.
To reap those financial benefits, you need to stay centered on strategy. That’s why we’re bringing you this comprehensive guide to crafting an eCommerce email marketing strategy—from start to finish.
We first cover crucial questions to help you gain a holistic understanding of the impact email marketing can have for your eCommerce business. Then, we get into the nuts and bolts of creating a successful email marketing strategy.
Table of contents
What Makes Email Beneficial for eCommerce?
Though email is used across a wide variety of industries, for you folks in eCommerce, email is especially essential for the following reasons:
- Nurture leads: According to research, 59% of consumers believe marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. Email gives you an additional channel to talk with your target market. By employing strategic email tactics such as lead scoring, segmentation, and workflow automation, you can increase customer touchpoints and move your leads closer to a conversion.
- Improve customer loyalty: Eighty percent of business leaders believe email marketing improves customer retention. When it costs six to seven times as much to win a new customer compared to keeping an existing one, email marketing is worth the investment.
- Cost-effective: If you think investing in highly-personalized experiences is expensive, think again. As we noted earlier, email marketing has a 4,200% ROI. And with its penchant for boosting retention, this can increase your revenue by 25% to 95%.
- Automation opportunities: Sending out emails can be a tedious and stressful task—but only if you don’t have the right automation tools. Business leaders report the biggest benefit of marketing automation is saving time.
What Are the 3 Types of Marketing Emails?
There are numerous types of emails out there, but in the eCommerce world, emails usually fall into one of these three categories:
1. Transactional Emails
Transactional emails are messages that get sent during the checkout process or actions pertaining to purchases.
- Order confirmations
- Shipping updates on recent orders
- Review request
2. Promotional Emails
Promotional emails raise awareness about a specific deal or offerings around special occasions.
- Black Friday discount notifications
- Holiday gift guide email
- Summer savings message
- Price drops
3. Lifecycle Emails
Triggered emails based on:
- Contact’s activity
- Where the contact is in the buyer’s journey/marketing funnel
- Cart abandonment notification for users who haven’t yet made a purchase
- Welcome messages for those who made their first purchase or signed up for a newsletter
- Anniversary notes to customers who have been loyal shoppers
How Can Email Marketing Increase Sales?
When more than 306 billion emails are sent and received every day, you have to do emails right. Otherwise, they might just be an “annoying” or “spammy” message that heads straight to the trash folder.
So how do you use your email platform to boost sales? Successful email marketing for eCommerce focuses on hitting two areas: personalization and automation.
Eighty-percent of consumers are more likely to convert from a brand that offers personalized experiences. Not to mention, personalization has gone up since 2019.
While 38% of retail, eCommerce, and consumer goods businesses personalized emails based on past purchases, in 2020, that number jumped to 60%.
The purpose of email marketing is to connect with leads and generate conversions. Achieving this involves understanding who you’re actually talking to.
Here are three main components involved in personalizing emails:
1. Email series: Good email marketing entails crafting a series of messages based on user/contact activity.
- If someone abandons their cart, you can send out a nudge reminding them of the valuable products/services that are still hanging out in their cart.
- If a lead visited a specific product page, you can send out a blog post that discusses specific features of that product.
2. Segmentation: Segmentation splits up your contact list into groups. These groups are organized based on the traits and/or buying habits of your contacts.
Segmenting your contact lists allows you to send out personalized messages to the right people at the right time. Research shows segmented email campaigns can produce up to a 760% increase in email revenue.
3. Customer journey: Personalization can’t happen without understanding consumer experience. You need to understand your customer journey—a visual roadmap of a customer’s experience with your business.
The intent of the customer journey is to understand the needs, pain points, and motivations of potential customers. Knowing this gives you the groundwork to elevate your consumer experience.
Personalization sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, not if you have a good marketing automation (MA) platform.
Marketing automation leans on software to streamline all of your lead-nurturing efforts, including emails. Pairing your email marketing efforts with an MA platform, like Hubspot, is a fruitful partnership—MA helps businesses generate 451% more qualified leads.
With MA, you won’t have to deal with sorting through data and transporting your email database. An MA platform will do all of that for you. Instead, you can spend more time creating highly personalized and targeted campaigns.
Case Study: Redmond Life
Let’s see these two areas in action with eCommerce retail company, Redmond Life.
To bolster their email marketing efforts, Redmond Life:
- Created personalized email series such as a welcome series for new customers, automated messaging for browse abandonment, and a win-back strategy to target former shoppers with new products
- Leveraged marketing automation to trigger those messages based on a lead’s activity
By concocting an email strategy with personalization and automation, Redmond Life earned over 25,000 form submissions and generated $318,000 in revenue.
An eCommerce Email Marketing Strategy from Start to Finish
Here’s your guide to creating an eCommerce email marketing strategy from start to finish. This six-step guide walks you through all the pivotal areas (in order) to ensure you’re injecting your strategy with careful thought and intention.
If you run into any questions along the way, reach out to our email marketing team for further guidance.
1. Map Out Your Marketing Funnel
Solidifying your marketing funnel will give your email strategy the right foundation it needs to succeed.
- Your marketing funnel outlines your customer journey, from when someone learns about your brand to when they make a purchase or conversion.
- Understanding what motivates your audience to move closer to a conversion lays the groundwork for crafting the right messages to send via email.
There are five stages to the marketing funnel:
Stage 1: Awareness
This stage is all about bolstering brand awareness to get people to know you exist. Prospective customers are strangers to your business; this is your chance to educate them on what your business does.
Stage 2: Interest
People in this stage want to learn more about your products or services. What can it achieve for them? How will your business solve their pain points? The goal in this interest stage is to build trust.
Stage 3: Desire / Consideration
Your prospective customer is actually interested in your business at this stage. Thumbs up. This desire/consideration stage is all about continuously nurturing your leads until they convert.
Keep in mind, that this stage is not about pushing your prospective customers. Rather, it’s about providing resources that naturally align with their needs. Good marketing is centered on care and authenticity.
Stage 4: Action
Action is where your target market believes your brand is the one for them. Your prospects officially convert and become a customer.
Stage 5: Loyalty
The work doesn’t stop when you acquire a customer. As we noted earlier, customer retention can provide up to a 95% increase in revenue.
The loyalty stage is all about engaging with customers and encouraging them to continuously purchase your products/services.
For more details, read this comprehensive guide to the marketing funnel.
2. Plan Your Campaigns with Unique Marketing Tactics and Content
For the purposes of streamlining your email content with the customer journey, you need to plan content for each email marketing funnel stage. The messages should encourage your contacts to take a specific action that will:
- Build trust
- Nurture leads
- Increase customer value
- Move contacts further down the funnel
Below, we’ve listed the five marketing funnel stages with examples of marketing tactics and content ideas. Use these ideas to guide your email funnel strategy.
Stage 1: Awareness
- Retargeting and CRO strategies to encourage site visitors to sign up for emails
Stage 2: Interest
- Links to educational blog posts or product pages
- Welcome series that explains to visitors what to expect by being on your email list
Stage 3: Desire / Consideration
- Product wishlist notifications
- Abandoned cart email series
- Seasonal product offers
- Limited time discount offers
Stage 4: Action
- Confirmation/receipt email
- Shipping updates
Stage 5: Loyalty
- Birthday gift/offer
- Review requests
- “Refer a friend” discount offer
3. Segment Your Audience
Compared to non-segmented campaigns, segmented campaigns receive:
- 14.37% more opens
- 64.78% more clicks
With the help of a marketing automation platform, there are various segmentation models you can use to organize your contacts. We’ve listed five common models below.
Refer to your marketing funnel/customer journey and your email goals to identify the right model(s) for your business.
If you’re feeling stuck, contact a Hubspot Gold Partner today to ensure you’ve got the best MA resources to drive your email campaigns.
Email Engagement History
For example, CBD eCommerce company Hemplucid segmented their contacts into groups like:
- First-time customers
- Highly engaged/most-likely-to-purchase
This segmentation model helped Hemplucid increase their open rate by 38% and revenue by 144%.
Position in Marketing Funnel
Another great way to segment your contact is by where they stand in the marketing funnel. The people in the awareness or interest stage will receive different messages than those in the action or loyalty stage.
Data such as the following can reveal a lot about one’s needs and interests:
You can gather this information during a sign-up process.
By organizing contacts based on their past purchases, you can send out email recommendations for similar products that might pair well with their previous purchase. Or, if the product needs refilling (say, a face wash or shampoo), you can send out a nudge.
Keeping track of website behavior via tools such as Crazy Egg, BeamPulse, and VWO can provide insight into a visitor’s interest.
Based on the specific page a visitor was exploring, your team can send out targeted emails that entail information about that specific product or service.
4. Build Your Audience/Email List
So you’ve all your ducks in a row. Great. Now, it’s time to keep your email list growing. Remember, there is no end to the marketing journey. You have to add fresh contacts to your list to continue generating growth.
There are multiple creative ways to build your email list.
Give visitors the opportunity to sign up for your email newsletters. You can have a dedicated “sign-up” landing page and/or have sidebars on certain pages.
If you have a blog, make sure your articles have a CTA somewhere encouraging people to sign up for your email list.
Surveys and quizzes are an engaging way to interact with your leads and have them share their information.
For example, site visitors can take a quiz and provide their email address in exchange for their quiz results.
Here are a few survey/quiz tools that can do some of the heavy lifting:
Account Creation during Checkout
Give customers the option to sign up for an account when they’re checking out. This will involve providing an email address, which you can then use to send out applicable messages and keep the conversation going.
Read more about the creative ways to grow your email list.
5. Optimize for Mobile Devices
Over 90% of the global internet population uses mobile devices to go online, yet one in five email campaigns are not optimized for mobile devices.
We can all do better.
Think about it:
- In this digital age, when there’s an influx of information and apps, people are consuming information on the go.
- Considering you have about three seconds to capture the attention of your audience, you have to do things right on mobile.
Here are a few tips to optimize emails for mobile:
Watch Your Subject Line Length
Stick to no more than 30 characters for subject lines. Copy gets truncated on mobile platforms so it’s important to keep the text short and sweet.
Keep Your Copy Short
The same goes for the body of your email. Trim any unnecessary phrases or words, and break up the copy with white space. Keep the message concise.
Put Your CTAs Front and Center
For on-the-go readers, you have to get to the point quickly and tell them the action you want them to take upfront.
Put your CTA button near the top of your email, leaving some whitespace around it.
6. Track Results
Data is everything. The three areas below allow you to track your email campaign results and gain data-driven insights.
A/B testing, or split testing, compares one variable (e.g. subject line, button copy, etc.) between two or more emails. The goal is to discover what elements particularly resonate the most with your email recipients and bring in the best results.
Brands that employ A/B testing in emails generate an ROI of 48:1.
An email marketing platform like Hubspot should have built-in A/B testing features available for you to use.
Set up the proper dashboards in your marketing automation platform to ensure you’ve got the right bird-eye view of your marketing and sales efforts. Read about the three reporting dashboards every business needs.
Your MA platform will track metrics such as open rate, CTR (click-through rate), and unsubscribe rate. These metrics are pivotal to making the right adjustments and bolstering results.
For the full rundown on email analytics, we’ve got this handy guide on the success rate of email marketing. It comes with benchmarks across the industry, so you can see where your business stands among your competitors.
7. Optimize Emails Based on Data
Good marketing entails using data to optimize your campaigns. It’s the only way you’ll boost your bottom line.
Make sure you’re checking in on your email performance daily. What areas went well? What didn’t go so well? Use these to find ways to bolster the quality and performance of your emails.
For example, if your:
- Open rate is lacking, you may want to optimize your subject lines
- Click rate is low, you may want to finetune your email copy
- Unsubscribe rate is high, you may want to switch up the content you’re sharing with something more in line with your contact group
Check out these 10 email marketing tips for guiding tips.
Boost Your Email Strategy This Year with Big Leap
We all could use a boost. If you’d like additional insights on how to bolster your eCommerce email strategy, the Big Leap team has got you covered.
Our email marketing and marketing automation teams (yep, we’ve got both) will take on the heavy lifting and offer strategic guidance to help you craft a winning game plan. Contact us today to see if we’re the right fit for your business.
In the meantime, get filled in on additional eCommerce marketing strategies: