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Ecommerce Email Marketing: 8 Strategies to Improve Performance

When it comes to scaling an eCommerce business, or any online business for that matter, experts will often tell you that email marketing is key to success.

Although many have been saying that email is dead for years, the reality is that as a channel for eCommerce businesses, email marketing is alive and well. As data from Emarsys suggests, over 80% of small-to-medium-sized businesses rely on email marketing as their main customer acquisition channel. What’s more, Campaign Monitor reports that:

The ROI for email marketing can be as high as 4400%. That’s $44 for every dollar spent on an email marketing campaign.

In terms of running an eCommerce store, email marketing can often mean the difference between profitability when it comes to customer acquisition. From lead nurturing, holiday promotions, and loyalty programs, email marketing applies to the entire ecommerce customer journey.

That said, with our recent integration with the widely used eCommerce email marketing platform Klavio we decided to reach out to industry experts on their top strategies to improve performance. These experts range from CEOs of eCommerce companies and agency owners that work with eCommerce businesses. 

Whether you own an eCommerce store or have clients in the industry, in this guide we’ll discuss strategies you can use to improve your email marketing performance.

8 Strategies to Maximize Ecommerce Email Marketing Results

Before we get into the strategies, it’s important to note that eCommerce entrepreneur Ezra Firestone estimates that 30-40% of revenue should still come from email. That being said, if you or your client's brand is below that level there’s room for growth. Hopefully, these tips from eCommerce experts and agency owners will help you improve your eCommerce results and achieve that benchmark.

Start With the Basics: Welcome Series, Abandon Cart, and Win-Back Emails

First things first, when it comes to eCommerce email marketing there’s often a lot of revenue you can uncover by simply covering the basics well. Even better, these sequences are typically automated, and while they should be reviewed and optimized often, they are still largely automated. 

In terms of getting your basics set up, this includes a welcome series that introduces your brand’s personality, abandon cart sequences, and customer loyalty emails.

Welcome Series

The first step to recognize about your automated emails is that prospects are all in different stages of the funnel and need to be treated differently in what you're offering them. As Optinmonster highlights, welcome emails have 86% higher open rates than other emails and can generate up to 320% more revenue than other promotional emails.

Since these emails are going to brand new prospects, you need to consider their readiness to buy and may want to focus on more brand-building at this stage. As Allen Greer from the Miami-based agency FUZE suggests:

One area we've been focusing on recently is Lifecycle Emails such as Welcome Series, Win-Back Series and Shopping Cart Abandonment. The concept is you hit customers with different emails depending on where they are in the sales cycle. Not all customers are equal in terms of their readiness to buy. You must nurture and cater to your customers to make them feel appreciated and special. 

Abandon Cart Emails

It’s often said that your abandon cart email sequence is the quickest way to increase revenue. With cart abandonment rates typically ranging from 60-80%, this email sequence is key to profitability and should constantly be tweaked and optimized. As Dawid Zimny at the London-based agile web agency Nerd Cow suggests:

One of the most efficient (re)marketing strategies for ecommerce are abandoned cart emails. Baymard Institute, an independent web research organisation, estimates that the average abandonment rate is 69.8%. What makes it so good is the one-off setup and targeting an audience at an advanced stage in the user journey. Compared to the cost of creating new marketing campaigns targeted at users in various stages of the journey, the "ready to buy" audience should give you a great return on investment. 

Win-Back Emails

Finally, when it comes to setting up the basics, Andrew Maff, Founder & CEO of the marketing agency for eCommerce sellers BlueTuskr suggests thinking outside of the box to increase conversions:

Always be thinking outside the box. Automated emails can be your best friend if you think outside of the basics like Welcome Series, Abandoned Cart, New Customer, etc. Try other triggers like when a customer hasn't shopped with you in a long time, or maybe when it's something they can order often, try a replenishment campaign. The more you can segment your audience and personalize your message, the more likely you'll see an increase in conversions.

Make Use of Personalization & Segmentation

Next up, nearly every eCommerce and email marketing expert will tell you that personalization matters. While the most basic forms of personalization include things like addressing people by their first name, personalization and segmentation tactics can get very sophisticated in email marketing. As Campaign Monitor writes, a few more advanced personalization techniques include changing the content of the email based on a subscriber's gender, location, age, and so on.

In addition to personalizing your message, Justin Smith, the CEO of the agency OuterBox suggests using tags and segmentation to target your subscribers:

My number one tip for eCommerce companies when it comes to email marketing is to maximize the use of segments and tags. While in theory most everyone agrees that creating more customized emails based on defined segments is better, in practice few companies really follow through. 

We see it all the time when working with new clients. We'll login to their email marketing platform only to find that every email they've ever distributed was sent to their entire subscriber list. If you really want to be successful with email marketing, you need to create ultra-specific segments. Period. 

In addition, Cas Paton, the founder and CEO of UK marketplace OnBuy.com suggests making use of personal shopping habits to craft a personalized experience:

Although adding first name personalisation to your emails is always a nice touch, delving deeper into your specific audience’s product likes and dislikes, as well as their personal shopping habits, can help you to create a compelling email campaign that they actually want to open. Ultimately, segmentation lets you build your email content around the shared characteristics of a specific audience to increase the likelihood of a successful email marketing campaign, often providing far more impressive results than a generic email. 

Learn to Use Customer Data to Increase Conversions

In line with using personalization and segmentation, learning how to use your customer data more effectively can increase conversions across the board. In terms of email marketing, the takeaway from Oleksii Danchenko, the CEO and co-founder of marketing automation platform eSputnik is to use this data in order to avoid sending the same bulk emails to your entire list:

As a marketing automation platform, we have over 10K eCommerce clients, local to international enterprises, with different budgets. 90% of them use more than one data collection method: preference updates, behavioral web tracking, geotracking, transactional data, email open rate and click rate analytics, web push and mob push analytics. This all generates massive data, and most active and engaged customers often have overfilled contact profiles.

The thing is many don’t know how to use all this data and end up sending the same bulk emails to the whole base. Marketers need to learn to build relevant segments with relevant conditions, making them flexible and responsive to fluctuating behavioral patterns of their audience.

Run Email Promotions Every 6-8 Weeks

Ezra Firestone also says that eCommerce stores should be running promotions frequently, specifically his suggestion is to run an email promotion every 6 weeks in order to hit the target of 30% to 40% of revenue coming from email. In order to not annoy your list with too many sales, an interesting promotional tactic comes from Jean H. Paldan, the founder & CEO of Rare Form New Media:

Instead of $10 off and standard coupons, change the language of the pitch to 'We've added $10 to your account'...same 10 dollar off coupon, but people are much more likely to click on it if they think that the money is already in their account. 

Have a Clear CTA & Run A/B Tests to Increase Conversions

Next up, since the vast majority of customers aren’t ready to buy during their first visit, email marketing can be thought of as a way to nurture leads through your conversion funnel. To that end, Michael Steele, CEO of Flywheel Digital suggests focusing on your CTA and leveraging A/B testing to optimize for conversions:

Traffic is only as valuable as your ability to convert, and email campaigns are a great opportunity to drive conversions for your business. The key ingredient behind effective email marketing is concentrating on the end-user. Make sure your message provides value for your readers,  while simultaneously having a clear CTA that is easy to navigate. Play around with different design principles to stand out and leverage A/B testing to find the optimal combination of variables. This is a best practice that our agency uses regularly, and is a method that has helped us nurture and convert high-value users for our clients.

Make Use of Post-Purchase Sequences

It’s widely known that your existing customers are often your best source of additional revenue, which is where post-purchase sequences come in. Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm new customers with sales emails, although building trust with new customers with a post-purchase sequence is a valuable way to increase customer retention and repeat purchases down the line. 

As the email marketing company Drip highlights, post-purchase emails are extremely effective with an average open rate of 42.51%, a click-through rate of 18.27%, and a conversion rate of 10.34%. What's more, since these emails typically contain important information about the order, they usually end up in a customer's primary inbox instead of the promotional tab.

Use Scoring to Provide Discounts to Loyal Customers

In line with building trust through a post-purchase sequence is the idea of automatically providing loyal customers with discounts and other rewards. As Madhav Goenka from the digital marketing agency FrazileMedia suggests, using a scoring system and email automation to reward customer loyalty can go a long way:

Most email marketing tools allow you to award points to your customers for every interaction that they have with your business (eg. page visits, add to carts, product purchases, etc). This helps you in identifying your loyal customers by looking at the number of points they have achieved. You can set up an automation to send them discount coupons whenever they reach a certain score. This will help you get repeat business from your existing customer base. 

Clean Your Email List Regularly

Finally, one aspect of email marketing that’s often overlooked is regularly cleaning your email list. Cleaning your list has a number of benefits including improving deliverability, open rate, and can ultimately help keep your emails out of the spam box. As Kelsey Duarte, an email marketing strategist at Coalition Technologies suggests:

The quality of your email list is far more important than the quantity. Maintaining a healthy list is important to maintain strong email deliverability. Sending to inactive or invalid email addresses is bad for your sender reputation and could land your emails in the spam folder. Regularly cleaning your list of unengaged subscribers and bounced email addresses will help keep your reputation squeaky clean, as well as only sending to subscribers who have opted- in to hear from you. Consider implementing double opt-in at sign-up or a sunset flow to help automate this process.

Summary: Ecommerce Email Marketing

While each of the strategies can improve your email marketing results, efficiently tracking email metrics and KPIs is crucial to improving performance over time. To that end, a dedicated email marketing report or dashboard can automate the process of data collection and data visualization, making it more efficient for marketers to extract insights into what's working and what needs improvement.

If you want to learn about which metrics you should be tracking to improve email marketing performance, check out our guide on 7 Email KPIs You Should be Tracking & Sharing With Clients.

Written by Peter Foy

Peter Foy is a content marketer with a focus on SaaS companies. Based in Montreal, QC, when he’s not writing or managing ad campaigns, he’s usually studying data science and machine learning.