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Sugatan Ecommerce Email Marketing: Generate 40%+ Of Your Revenue

Irakli Zviadadze | Content Marketer | Sugatan.io 

December 15, 2020

Ecommerce Email Marketing: Generate 40%+ Of Your Revenue

Email marketing is like a goldmine. The health of your eCommerce business is determined by the health of your email marketing.

In a world where CPMs go up every month and you’re getting lower ROAS and higher CPA – email is king.

When you’re competing for Facebook ads, there’s always going to be someone who can outspend your budget.

But with email marketing, you’re growing your loyal community and tribe.

The average ROI for each $1 you spend on email marketing is around $42-$44.

So, if you’re ready to start profiting with email marketing in your eCommerce business and generate 40%+ of your total revenue, this guide’s for you.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

Ready? Let’s get started with leveling up your email marketing.

How to Take Advantage of Email Marketing in your eCommerce Business And Stop Relying on Facebook

Facebook and Instagram traffic isn’t getting any cheaper.

If anything, CPMs go up every month…

Which is bad news for eCommerce businesses that use Facebook as their only traffic source…

Unless you’re at the top of your niche, there’s always going to be someone who can outspend you and pay more for better quality traffic to their website. 

Even IF your product is exactly the same, with better margins.

How’s that?

Because they focus on LTV – lifetime value.

The first sale is the most difficult and expensive.

But after the first sale, you can advertise to the same audience (who already trusts you) relatively cheaper.

Because of your targeting (so, you don’t need much money finding audiences, settings, etc.) and you have their email.

Sending an email doesn’t cost much. It’s around $0.05 per email (if that) and the best part is you can have 80% of email marketing automated (more on this below).

At the end of the day, email marketing is all about building relationships.

If you keep that in mind, you can develop and optimize other parts of your business around this. 

You’ll be able to:

  • Create better promotions that sell more of your product/service.
  • Nurture and develop your email subscribers, which will further their lifetime value and boost your long-term sales from emails (if they don’t buy now, they might later).
  • Segment your email subscribers more effectively, which will also help you generate sales and grow your loyal customers.
  • And more.

We managed to generate up to $300K from email marketing in a few days during Black Week. And that’s just from 5-7 emails only using clever segments and offers. Check out our full article on eCommerce Black Friday for more info on how to use email marketing for promotion.

Not every visitor to your eCommerce website will be ready to buy from you straight away. And that’s fine.

So, before you even begin with using email marketing, you should have a proper email collection strategy on your site.

By offering your customers a discount on their next purchase, you can start collecting emails which you’ll cash in on later.

They get a discount code and you get a purchase (or even better, multiple) down the road. Win-win

email-optin

You can also use:

  • Pop-up offers.
  • Email signup forms.
  • Lead magnets (e.g. free e-book emailed to customers’ inbox).
  • Exit-intent pop-ups (many different plugins for this).
  • And more.

We’ll share some eCommerce email marketing examples and templates below. 

But for now, let’s analyze what the perfect email looks down top to bottom to give you a general idea of how to structure your emails.

The Perfect eCommerce Email Breakdown: What to Include in Your Emails Top to Bottom

So, what goes in an email anyway?

Top to bottom, the email sections you can customize include:

  • The “from” name
  • Subject line
  • Preheader
  • Content – This includes the design, images, copy, etc.
  • Mobile compatibility

Working on your email design and content should be one of your main concerns in your email marketing strategy.

An unengaging email subject line won’t entice your customers to click and poorly designed emails will reduce your clickthrough-rate.

So, here’s how to optimize your emails starting from the top fold:

The “from” name

When you send bulk marketing emails, your email “from” name (display name, or your email sender name) tells your recipients who sent the message.

And this is more important than you might think.

You need to choose an email name that will be most recognizable to your subscribers and stick with it.

There are 2 ways you can do this:

  • You can use your personal name.

email-from-name

  • You can use your brand name.

from-brand-email

In most cases, it’s better to use the company name rather than an individual’s name, unless that person IS the brand. If you have a good reason to use a person’s name and it’s not a brand, you can follow it with a comma, and then mention the organization you’re from.

If you’re still unsure, of course, you can A/B test this rather easily and you might learn that small changes make big differences.

9Clouds did something similar and found that “Dave at Your Dealership” had a higher average open rate as well as click-through-rate than just “Dave Dealer”.

Version A (“Dave Dealer”)

  • Average open rate: 22.8%
  • Average clickthrough-rate: 11.7%

Version B (“Dave at Your Dealership”)

  • Average open rate: 23.13%
  • Average clickthrough-rate: 14.3%

Small detail – but a noticeable improvement of up to 2.6% for an email’s CTR.

On that note, make sure you avoid using a no-reply address.

For example, we use info@sugatan.io instead of noreply@sugatan.io for our own email subscribers. 

Replies are a valuable source of feedback and a chance to connect. 

Make sure your subscribers can reply to your newsletter and it’ll actually reach someone on the other end of the line. This will also make you look more approachable and trustworthy.

Subject line

Your email subject line, just like the headline when you’re writing copy, is one of the most important parts of your email marketing and it will have the biggest impact on your email marketing results.

On average, more people read the headline than the full-body copy.

To quote Ogilvy: When you have written your headline (email subject line in this case), you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

With that said, here are a few factors that make a great email subject line.

Length

The ideal email subject line length is a hot topic.

According to Campaign Monitor, 41 characters or 7 words seem to be the sweet spot for most emails.

As you craft your email subject lines though, you should always keep in mind when and how your subscribers will be reading them.

If the majority of them prefer to read from their phone, you’ll want to use generally shorter subject lines.

Additionally, you should keep your CTA or important info at the beginning of your subject line where it’s more likely to be seen.

For example:

  • 25% Off your next purchase using this discount code!

Is going to be much more effective than:

  • Use this discount code to get 25% off for your next purchase!

Makes sense, right?

English speakers read left to right – optimize for that and make sure they see the benefit upfront.

Emojis

Emojis in email subject lines is another topic of debate.

One thing that’s for certain though is that they can be a great way to stand out. 

Especially if you can set them up with some sort of a clever pun or a joke.

email-emoji-subject-line

Capitalization

This is something you’ll have to experiment with to see how your subscribers react.

Or, you can sign up for your competitors’ newsletters, and then, do the opposite of what they’re doing with their email capitalization to stand out!

There are four basic types of capitalization:

  • Get 20% off with this discount code (sentence case)
  • Get 20% Off With This Discount Code (title case, also known as Camelcase, and this is what most people use).
  • GET 20% OFF WITH THIS DISCOUNT CODE (all uppercase, never use this).
  • get 20% off with this discount code (all lowercase)

Sentence case is the most popular one.

Meanwhile, some marketers claim that using all lowercase capitalization have lead to increased open rates due to it coming across as more casual and personal.

Personalize

Including your subscriber’s name in your subject line is one of the most impactful words you can add to your subject line.

This is also simple but effective, because most people are going to read something if it includes their name!

By using a dynamic personalization tag (something like {first_name}, you’ll help your emails stand out and drive increased opens and click-through-rates.

Of course, this is assuming you’re collecting first names

When people sign up for your newsletter (or give their email address through your lead magnet) – are you collecting their names too?

Another simple but powerful personalization method in your subject lines is based on behavior and segmentation.

You can usually personalize this based on an individual’s website page views or search terms, or some other behavior.

email-personalized-behavior

Avoid the email spam filter

Every email that ends up in the spam filter is a missed opportunity.

Yesware did some research on this and found the following list of email spam trigger words:

email-spam-words

Sounds obvious – but these words set off red flags not only for your subscribers but also their email’s spam filter.

In short – your email subject is important.

And as a rule of thumb, you should always test your emails before you send them.

This is pretty simple to do as well.

All you have to do is send one version of your email subject line to audience A, and a different email subject line to audience B.

Whichever email subject line gets the most opens is then sent to the rest of your email list.

Now, let’s continue down the perfect email template.

Preheader

The email preheader text is the text that appears next to the subject line.

This is the preview text that people see after they’ve read the subject line and it plays an important role in whether they’ll open the email or not.

Think of this as the continuation of your subject line. So, you can see why this is just as important.

Use this to dial up the curiosity and emotion already associated with your subject line.

You can also use it to strengthen your hook or clickbait.

Here’s a good example of an email that gets the preheader text right:

email-text-pre-header

And here’s one that’s not as successful:

email-unoptimized

This is valuable real estate, don’t let it go to waste.

You can add preheat text to an email by adding it through your email software or by manually adding a hidden div style to your HTML code (the former is obviously easier).

If you don’t add it (what most companies do), email clients may pull in the text for you based on the contents of the email. Sometimes, as you can see above, auto-generated preheaders are not reliable.

Using Klaviyo, you can add preview text like so:

klaviyo-preview-text-emails

Your email preheader text should be between 40-130 characters long

This range makes sure your preview text appears on both desktop and mobile emails.

But what should you put in your preheader text?

As a rule of thumb, you should:

  1. Add a CTA.
  2. Don’t repeat the subject line.
  3. Make your subject line and preheader text work together.
  4. Use the preheader text to build curiosity.
  5. Place the important text (words) in the beginning.

Content 

This is another important section.

Here, we’ll cover the email design, layout, and all the visual content inside.

Now, a lot of the content that goes within your emails will depend on your specific email campaigns and flow – which we’ll cover below.

Let’s start with the design first:

Email marketing design

There’s a lot that goes into email designs.

But let’s take a look at some of the main components here.

Email layout

Your email layout is the backbone of your design and this will determine the flow of your content and the order in which your subscribers will digest information. 

A boring block of text is easy to ignore. While a fun, flashy infographic with flowing text that literally guides your eye to the bottom of the email is much more engaging.

Email layouts are typically broken up into few horizontal layers – so, there’s a lot of room to experiment in that space.

An arrow-like graphic really captures the subscriber’s attention and pulls the gaze down to eye-catching product details or discounts.

email-layout-design

Pro tip: Most emails are opened on mobile. Make sure your layouts look just as good on a phone.

Here are some more individual email layout pieces you should keep in mind:

  • Top bar CTA – Having a “Shop now!” CTA bar at the top of your email can be a great and quick way to let your subscribers know what the email is right away. If they’re so convinced by the subject line, they might not even need any more convincing and click on the top bar immediately.
  • Big, bold hero section – Imagine your email layout like a landing page. It should feature a ‘hero section’ that shows the email’s main benefits (e.g. new product launch, 50% off limited time, etc.) and provides another CTA.
  • Product grid (or single product in an action shot) – Can be a great way to show off multiple products, depending on your email. You can also show your product photos, names, and sales prices here.
  • (Optional) Link to individual products – Another thing a product grid allows you to do is to feature all the individual products. People are more likely to click on a specific image they’re interested in this way.

Color

As with any creative project, color plays an important role here.

Here, you’ll want to capture attention and create a deep sense of familiarity with your brand.

Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%, so, it’s important you don’t hold back here. They also make your emails much more engaging and memorable.

Meanwhile, if there are too many colors, it’s going to be hard to concentrate on the specific content.

vip-access-email

If you’re going to use contrasting colors, make sure it’s so that they’re highlighting a specific feature, benefit, or CTA.

For example – the above email has a black and white banner highlighting FOMO and a CTA.

Negative space

Negative space can be a powerful email tool to play around with.

For smoother content consumption and experience, spread out your images and text. 

Include a healthy amount of white space between your headers, characters, and blocks of text – allowing the brain to easily scan and break down information.

negative-space

Similarly, as with using contrasting colors to highlight specific parts of your email, you can use negative space to give your whole email layout a more stripped down look.

Email typography

It’s amazing how much of a difference your text typography can make to your emails.

Brands typically have set fonts. But this doesn’t mean you’re locked within those fonts only.

Sometimes, there’s room for improvisation, depending on special occasions or email campaigns.

typography-email

When Jack Daniels was introducing a new product to their resellers, they did so with this fun email campaign. Here, they used the font from their bottle to create a compelling typographic style. They also used the same serif typeface for the smaller body text – keeping the total unique fonts at just 2.

With that said, try to limit yourself to 2-3 fonts and colors per email at most. Typography should complement your copy and design, not overwhelm it.

Animations/Creatives

Obviously, animation grabs more attention than static images.

But this doesn’t mean they’ll improve your open rates or conversions.

Rather, they add to the engagement, fun value, and creativity of your emails.

Movement attracts attention. And since you can’t include videos, GIFs still remain a novelty.

email-gif

Whether it’s just a sprinkle or a 2-frame GIF, there’s a lot of room here for gorgeous eye candy.

Just make sure you compress your GIFs and they don’t take up the email size or loading speed too much.

Using GIFs in your emails, you can also:

  • Create a sense of urgency, intrigue, and FOMO.
  • Display different product launches or categories.
  • Highlight product launches and other information.

Though, the thing that will truly help you stand out in your subscribers’ inbox is your brand style.

You need to be clever and different. Use your creativity not only in your content but also in your email forms and style.

Many eCommerce companies create their welcome emails in a similar design style as their landing page.

Here, you need to think about your:

  • Email newsletter templates to go with your brand guidelines.
  • Brand voice guidelines and copy tone
  • Design traits.
  • CTA hierarchy and language – All call-to-actions shouldn’t have equal weight. To differentiate your CTAs, you can use different colored buttons, different language, and so on.
  • Frequently used content – Email headers, footers, navigation bars, guarantees, disclaimers, taglines, descriptions, CTA, icons, bullet points, and anything else you want to be standardized.

Looking for more email marketing examples and templates for your eCommerce business?

Check out Really Good Emails, filter by eCommerce, and start swiping email templates that you can use as inspiration for your brand!

ecommerce-email-samples

Now, equally important to your email marketing design is the copy.

So, let’s discuss how to boost your email clickthrough-rates, conversions, and start generating 40%+ of your eCommerce revenue with emails:

Copywriting

There’s a lot to cover when it comes to email copywriting in eCommerce…

Not sure where to begin?

Check out our copy mining method in this article. It’s written for Facebook ads in mind, but the copy mining part also applies to email (as well as general copywriting). 

Then, before writing emails, you should ask yourself the following 4 questions:

  • What stage of awareness is my reader in?
  • Which part of the lifecycle is my reader in?
  • How many emails do I need to get a ‘yes’ from them? (How many emails are in this sequence?)
  • What’s the one specific goal of each email?

As with the design, you should keep your copy simple and straight to the point. Avoid being too clever or cutesy.

A lot of the best email copywriting actually comes down to timing and the behavioral nature of your emails.

Unfortunately, there is no single magic bullet that will 10x your copywriting. Or a single best time to send your emails so that they convert.

That means you can’t copy someone else’s approach to timing emails either.

You should really invest some time into this and think about who are your customers and when do they like to read emails?

Usually, you can figure this out by looking at historical data or your customer demographics.

Most emails are read within hours of being sent. 

Think about what your subscribers are doing in the few hours after sending your email.

If it’s an email that requires action – will they have the time for it? Will they be in the mood to buy?

As you could have guessed, a lot of this comes down to testing.

You can also look into eCommerce email marketing templates, and examples – depending on your niche.

But if you want to actually improve your skills as an eCommerce email copywriter and you don’t know what to write about, here’s what you can do:

Step #1 – Get on as many lists as you can

If you want to know what’s working right now and see how eCommerce companies are using emails to make money, you need to get on as many lists as possible.

Create a burner email or a separate email label in your inbox. Look up your competitors and big companies in your niche. And subscribe to their newsletter.

emails-newsletters

If you see an email they’re running over and over again – chances are that promo is a winner and you can add it to your swipe folder.

Look into successful healthcare, skincare, and in general beauty brands, and see how they’re writing their emails. Also check out Really Good Emails (as mentioned above) for inspiration.

There’s a lot you can learn and deconstruct from emails in that niche.

Step #2 – Take advantage of abandonment cart sequences

To piggyback from the first step, you can also go through the product pages of those sites, and add them to your cart without entering your payment info.

In most cases, they’ll add you to their cart abandonment sequence and follow up a few times. And once that sequence is complete, they’ll continue sending you other types of emails.

With this, you’ll be able to study their emails, copy, flow campaigns, and more.

Step #3 – Study swipes from affiliate product pages

What are affiliate pages?

They’re websites product owners put together in order to provide valuable information and resources for people who want to promote their products.

And some of those valuable resources can be helpful for your email swipes and copy.

You can use ClickBank to get an idea of what your competitors and other businesses are doing, go into their respective affiliate pages, and look for their email swipes.

And Milled.com to browse sample emails for sales, coupons, discount codes, and more from thousands of retailers and eCommerce brands.

Then, once you get on their list, you’ll have several high-converting emails you can use as inspiration.

To take it a step further, you can also use tools like Alexa or SpyFu to spy on their ads and note the language they use.

Now, before we wrap up the perfect eCommerce email breakdown, there’s one more thing you need to know about. 

And that’s:

Mobile compatibility

Most people shop and purchase on their phones in the eCommerce world.

They’re going to be checking your emails through phones as well.

So, in addition to making sure your website is mobile-friendly, you should make sure your emails are as well.

Here are a few pointers and sections to optimize your emails for mobile:

  • Image size, design, layout, and text  -According to CampaignMonitor, on average, people spend up to 51 seconds reading a newsletter after opening it. Given the short span, it makes sense to use visuals and compelling images to deliver your message. However, when using images, you’ll also need to preview what they’ll look like on a smaller screen.
  • Button size – The worst thing you can do is include a tiny CTA button for phone users that they can hardly click on. Instead, bigger, well-contrasted CTA buttons make it easier to increase your click-through rate.
  • Shorter subject lines – Most desktop clients display up to 80 characters of the subject line. With mobile devices, it cuts off at around 30. Keep that in mind the next time you’re writing an email. And always make sure you preview it first by sending the email to yourself first before your whole newsletter sees it.
  • Preheader text – The same applies to your preheader text. Although the size of this varies depending on the device size and screen orientation, around 40-50 characters should work well
  • Mobile-friendly landing pages – Alright, your emails look great for mobiles. But what about your landing page? Getting someone to click on your email is the first half of the process. You normally want them to proceed and make a purchase. To do that, you need to ensure the page they land on is ALSO optimized for mobile.

You can also check out some of the Campaign Monitor email templates that are mobile ready and use them as inspiration.

Finally, one last thing you can do with mobile-compatibility in your emails is to optimize for the scroll.

What does that mean?

Imagine someone opens your email on a phone.

You need to get them all the way to the bottom – where your CTA is located.

So, the only goal of your first sentence is to make the reader want to read the second sentence. The second sentence should lead to the third, and so on.

Here’s a great example of that in email copywriting from Stefan Georgi’s newsletter:

flowing-text-email-copy

Can you see what he’s doing?

As a copywriter, you can use bold text, ask questions, use italics, to arouse curiosity and keep the reader’s eyeballs naturally flowing through your text.

Keep that in mind next time you’re writing a text email.

PS – here’s the article he’s talking about in the email: Livestream Shopping Is Here to Stay. Here’s How to Nail the Art of Making Sales Entertaining

Now that we’re finally done with the eCommerce email breakdown, we can finally move on to the next topic.

Next thing you need to do is set up your email marketing calendar.

eCommerce Email Marketing Content Calendar, Strategy Process, and Ideation

Having a clear email marketing calendar is the best way to organize your production and tasks.

When creating an email planning calendar, you’ll need to define:

  • Delivery date and time – day and exact time to schedule.
  • Email type  – newsletter, content update, something else. Before you begin planning your campaign, you need to decide what topics and content your emails will cover. Depending on the email type, the goal of the campaign will be obvious as well.
  • Email topic – Blog post, product promotion, sales, educational content, something else.
  • Email subject  – self-explanatory.
  • Email tone – e.g. persuasive, educational, friendly, funny, serious, etc.
  • Email list – segment or target customers (e.g. VIP customers) or the customer persona for this email.
  • Email owner – Person responsible for the email and/or sub-tasks.
  • Status -If it’s new, in progress, or completed.
  • Scheduled  – If it’s scheduled.

Then, you will also need to track your email marketing results. Here, to determine an email’s success, we look at:

  • Total emails sent – How many email addresses did you send your email to?
  • Total emails delivered – Of the email addresses you sent your email to, how many actually landed in an inbox?
  • Total emails opened – Of the email addresses you sent your email to, how many were opened?
  • Total clicks – How many unique individuals clicked a link in your email?
  • Deliverability – Automatically calculates Total Emails Delivered / Total Emails Sent.
  • Open rate – Automatically calculates Total Emails Opened / Total Emails Delivered.
  • Clickthrough rate – Automatically calculates the percent of recipients who clicked through from your email out of total emails opened.
  • Revenue generated – What was the exact number of revenue generated from this email

Now, you can set up your email planning template in Google Sheets and a simple, straightforward content calendar in Asana – depending on your project requirements.

But we found that using Asana as our email content calendar works better for us, as emails usually have sub-tasks (e.g. for copy, design, etc.).

Depending on your team size or email marketing department size, you can follow this approach or create a Google Sheet template (or both) for your team instead.

Here’s an example:

asana-email-content

This is an in-built Kanban-style framework approach to email marketing – built entirely within Asana. Because we use Asana for other task management, this is just added convenience for setting up emails.

As you can see, different email campaigns and ideas are spread across different dates on this board. Campaigns include: content (blog posts), recipes, educational content, surveys, sales announcements, and more.

Under each task there, there are usually 1-3 subtasks, depending on the workload and what’s needed (usually design). 

When looking for ideas for your email content (applies to blog posts as well), look into Facebook groups and Reddit communities to see what’s trending that you can apply to your emails. You can also find great copywriting insights on how your target audience speaks in their natural language.

Check out our State of eCommerce 2020 insights for more info on community-building and how you can use community groups to your advantage.

If you have your own Facebook group, that’s even better as you can ask your customers questions directly.

If not though, you can just look up community groups related to your niche.

Just search for your niche related keywords on Facebook and filter for groups. You’ll find a lot of ideas and specific pain points within these groups. 

Once you join the groups, use the search feature to look up keywords related to what you’re investigating. This is for skincare:

facebook-group-skincare

There, you’ll find all sorts of gems:

  • Explanations – The exact language your target audience uses, their pain points, competitor reviews, what they look for in a product, and more.
  • Benefits – What the customers are actually looking for in a product.
  • Usage – Note down the language your target market uses when describing how they use the product. 
  • Themes – What’s trending, motivational factors, value themes, and more.
  • Word-for-word quotes – Sometimes you’ll come across gold nuggets that sound more natural than anything you might have come up with.

The same applies to Reddit.

Simply Google “Reddit” + “keyword or topic” and you’ll find a niche community centered around it.

reddit-skincare-community

There, you’ll also find people naturally posting their ideas, rants, product questions, and so much more.

When you’re just starting out, consider filtering by all-time highest-rated posts or checking out the Wiki.

reddit-posts

There, you’ll get a sense of the community and what kind of community-driven content they enjoy best – usually success stories, skincare routines, personal change and self-care, memes, and more, in this case.

Usually, the real gold is in the comments. 

And finally, if you’re looking for specific topics, you can also use the search feature.

reddit-search-bar

Everything here is potential content ideas for your emails. 

Make sure you do your research.

eCommerce email marketing strategy ideation and testing

When running email campaigns, everything will depend on your project, customers, and a lot of testing.

So, when we’re coming up with an email strategy to approach our customers during we first choose how many times per week we’re going to be emailing them.

If it’s 3 times per week, we then take the best days for sending emails which get the best open rate. The best email average rate differs from industry, niche, and country. 

You can research the best average click and read rates for your email campaigns depending on your niche and use that as a starting point. For eCommerce, the average open rate is 15.68% and the average clickthrough-rate is 2.01%. And the best days according to research are Thursdays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. But you’ll have to experiment and see what works for your audience best, as it’s very likely you’ll get different results.

Now, back on topic.

Once we’ve determined those 3 days per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as an example), we need to plan out different interests and email plans for those days. 

Because we have different customers with different interests, we want to engage with each of those different interests. So, we can do something like:

  • Mondays – Emails promoting our product (usually one specific product), giving more info about it, features, benefits, and so on. This will be the more sales-y email.
  • Wednesdays – We give some more information and content about the product or the lifestyle behind it. Depending on the product, we might send recipes, blog posts, articles, or other tips that the subscribers might enjoy reading about, without feeling the obligation to buy the product. 
  • Fridays – Finally, the focus here will be on engagement. Here, we put something funny, interesting, or entertaining. Ideally, something lifestyle-related for the customers to associate the brand with. It can be something as general as content about how to chill on the perfect Friday evening, how to relax and unwind, weekend tips, etc. The goal here is to get the customer excited about Friday emails because they know they’d be getting something entertaining.

Obviously, you should be consistent with your emails and content.

Try to keep them authentic and natural. And if possible, align your emails with events happening at that time in the world.

For example, one of the many skincare trends for 2020 was DIY beauty and self-care. 

You can write a whole blog post about that, mention how your products tie into that trend, give practical tips for your subscribers, and more. Also keep in mind any special occasions coming up like Halloween, mother’s day, Christmas, and so on.

On the other hand, if there’s a global pandemic and your customers are tired of receiving emails about how tough the times are right now, you might want to focus on something else.

The 9 Must-Have eCommerce Email Marketing flows – You Should Be Running These Flows At All Times

A lot of your email marketing success will depend on your email flows.

So, this step is important.

In it, we’re going to cover some of the most important email marketing flows and campaigns within eCommerce.

Starting with:

Welcome sequence

This is your first impression.

Your welcome sequence is the group of emails that are sent to your subscribers when they’ve just opted into your list.

First, understand that new subscribers are genuinely interested in your business and your goal here is to try to help them understand who you are and let them get to know you.

First impressions are important.

Here, you can target your new subscribers with different kinds of email content. Such as:

  • The first email that welcomes them to your brand and lets them know what to expect.
  • Educates them about your niche or product solution (depending on the awareness stage they’re in. In the beginning, they’re probably not very aware. So, you might want to focus your emails top-to-bottom according to the marketing funnel).
  • Why your product might be the right solution for them.
  • Social proof and reviews to show your product is legit.
  • FOMO and scarcity. You can give them a 24-hour 10% discount to encourage action.
  • More educational content

Finally, if they still haven’t placed an order since the beginning of your entire welcome flow or haven’t shown any interest, you can cut the flow for them. 

Here’s an example of educational email content we did for a protein coffee product – using an infographic email to educate the subscribers on 6 amazing facts about the product.

educational-email-infographic

Subject Line: 6 Facts You Really Need to Know 

Emails opened: 4016 

Total Clicks: 246 

Open Rate: 22.71% 

Clickthrough Rate: 6.13%

Let’s face it – a protein coffee isn’t exactly a product many people know about.

And even if they have heard of it and they’re subscribed to the newsletter – they might not know a lot about the product.

The purpose of the above email was to educate the readers in a fun, engaging infographic.

Looking for email breakdowns? Check out how we scaled the above-mentioned protein coffee 0-7 figures here: eCommerce Growth Saga: Scaling an eCom 0-7 Figures – Part 2

As a cherry on top, you can have an exit-intent pop-up on your website working together with your Welcome sequence.

This is activated when your customer is about to exit your website from their browser.

By giving them a chance to leave you their email, you’ve got a chance to win them back. Once they enter the email, you immediately add them to your automated welcome email sequence.

Cart abandonment email sequence flow to win back lost sales

This is another low hanging fruit.

If you don’t have this email campaign set up, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

But this begs the question – why do people abandon their carts?

Common reasons include:

  • Distractions.
  • They forgot.
  • Comparison shopping.
  • Didn’t feel like buying yet.

Obviously, you can’t do anything about that. So, don’t worry about those people.

However, here are the top reasons behind cart abandonment that you CAN solve:

  • Extra costs are too high – Can you reduce shipping costs? Consider using cheaper packaging or changing mail carriers. 
  • Forced to create an account – Many sites offer the option to create an account but they can still go through the checkout process as a guest.
  • Long checkout process – Is the checkout process too complex? Find steps you can combine or cut completely.
  • Can’t see total costs – People hate hidden costs. You should display updated cart totals at every step of the checkout process
  • Didn’t trust the website – Easy way to fix this is to provide security credentials with a badge. Fly them high and proud.
  • Website error or crashes – Sometimes, crashes are beyond your control. But there’s no excuse for you not to test your website across different devices and browsers.
  • Slow delivery – Customers expect a quick turn-around. COVID delays are normal though, just let them know.
  • Lack of payment options – Some people only use PayPal. Others prefer getting their credit card. Easy solution – offer both as an option.

To find out why people are leaving your checkout process, you can look into:

  • Google Analytics.
  • Research and know your customers’ expectations of similar products (competitors) and purchasing pathings.
  • Surveys. Ask directly through an email survey about your checkout low and their purchase intent to discover their pain points.
  • Heat maps and click maps.

Check out this article on abandoned cart emails for sample emails that do this well.

Browse abandonment sequence

Most people who land on your website won’t make a purchase straightaway.

The mindset of a browse abandoner is that they’re on your site, “window shopping” from their mobile or desktop, and searching for what they want to buy. 

Your job is to help them discover the right product and nudge them towards the checkout page.

In this email flow, you dynamically insert products they previously looked at on your website.

You can segment these further into:

  • Homepage abandonment.
  • Category abandonment.
  • Product page abandonment.
  • Site search abandonment.

email-abandonment-browse

Common subject lines with a high open-rate for this email flow include:

  • Did you see something you like?
  • We saw you checking us out
  • Recommended just for you
  • Searching for (search term)?
  • Couldn’t find what you were looking for?
  • Our latest products in (category title)
  • Hurry, this item is nearly sold out

You get the point.

The more specific you are with these – the better.

Product replenishment sequence

Got a product that runs out of stock every 1-2 months?

You can have product replenishment sequences set up to alert your customers that:

  • Your product is running out.
  • Your product is back in stock and they can buy now before it runs out again.
  • They might need to restock your product after a few weeks (e.g monthly Dollar Shave Club subscription).

This email sequence can be extremely effective but not many shops send them. And as a result, they miss out on easy repeat sales from customers who simply forgot when it’s time to restock.

They have the highest click-to-open ratio than any other email sequence as well.

email-replenishment-rates

Because they’re timely and relevant.

This comes down to knowing your customer and product.

For example, most people probably re-stock up on coffee after every 30 days. So, when it comes to buying more coffee, a timely replenishment email can remind them to buy from you rather than another store.

Check out more examples, tips, and info on replenishment emails here.

Post-purchase follow-up and customer feedback or review emails

Customer feedback is critical for eCommerce stores. A great review can make or break a product’s success and it’s helpful for SEO as well.

Great post-purchase emails usually include the following elements:

  • A request for a review outright to make it easy for customers to leave one.A few products at the bottom banner of your email that are similar to the ones your customer purchased or products that would go well with them.
  • A simple ‘thank you for purchasing’.
  • Information about product care, usage, FAQ, etc.

Re-engagement or goodbye email

Most eCommerce businesses have audience members who became disinterested and haven’t been opening your emails for a while now.

All hope isn’t lost yet, however.

Using well-compromised re-engagement sequence emails can help win back customers that are on the verge of churning.

This is your chance to re-engage them and get them back on your site and purchase.

To incentivize them to come back, you can offer a handy discount or even a freebie – if you can afford it.

Either that, or you cut ties with them and scrub your inactive email lists.

Your open rate and click-through rates can shoot right up if you clean your emails every now and then.

goodbye-email

To scrub your inactive email list, you can use Kickbox.com

Flash sales and FOMO email campaigns

You shouldn’t be blasting your email lists with FOMO and sales emails too often, as it won’t feel authentic.

But when you do dial it in, the results can be extremely powerful.

So, let’s take a look at another example.

Flash sale emails need to be simple, straight to the point, and understandable at a glance.

To hype up your flash sale emails, you can really highlight FOMO – depending if your sale is only for one day or a few.

If it’s for a few days, you can even split up your scarcity emails into different categories, such as:

  • Email #1: The announcement.
  • Email #2: The reminder.
  • Email #3: The last chance.

email-marketing-flash-sale

Simple, but effective. Check out the rest of the emails and other tactics we’ve used to drive revenue with this product here: eCommerce Growth Saga: Scaling an eCom 0-7 Figures – Part 1

Thank you, birthday, and other just-because emails

Finally, if you want to show your customers that you care, here are some extra just-because emails you can use.

  • Birthday email – Remembering your customer’s birthday makes you seem like a star. A little something special on a birthday (free discount, coupon, etc.) fosters customer loyalty like no other.
  • Thank you email – Sometimes we don’t say ‘thank you’ enough. Once in a while, you can write to your customers from the heart and thank them for helping you make what you do possible. No discounts, upsells, or anything – just a simple ‘thank you’ and an update on your behind-the-scenes.
  • Refer-a-friend – Up to 70% of customers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. With numbers like that, it makes sense why some eCommerce businesses invest in good referral programs. Your customer doesn’t have to be an influencer to provide a referral to their friends or family. Just remember to throw in a good incentive for them.

10+ Other eCommerce and email Hacks to Boost Your Sales in 2021

Now, as important as your emails are, you also need a strong, optimized website and other marketing strategies to drive sales.

So, here are some quick, extra hacks you can apply on top of your email marketing strategy – either for your website, or in conjunction with your emails.

1. Change your offer mid-way the email funnel

Imagine you get a new newsletter subscriber.

But after 3-4 emails, they’re not buying anything from you.

What do you do? It’s unlikely they’ll buy anything if you just continue with the flow, right?

Instead, you can simply change your offer.

Obviously, this works better if you have many different product categories. 

So, for example, if you’re promoting your skincare products in your emails, you can switch things up and sell shampoo instead.

2. Use quizzes on your website

There are 2 things your eCommerce quizzes should achieve:

  1. Make your customer believe they’ll get a custom solution to their unique problem.
  2. Has to include social proof, before/afters, and some statistical data to convince the customer your solution works.

You can then prompt the customer to enter their email on the site to receive the solution (easy lead magnet) or direct them to a product instead (conversion focused).

3. Optimize your website for sales

Whenever someone lands on your website from your emails, the website should be optimized for conversions and sales.

You should focus on:

  • Your site speed.
  • Quality of your photos on the site.
  • Before and afters (you can include these on your product pages).
  • Mobile-first.
  • Product descriptions and reviews.
  • Use A/B testing tools if you have quite a bit of data (10K+ traffic).
  • Payment options.
  • And more.

4. Use storytelling

Storytelling is one of your strongest weapons as a marketer.

Use it wisely.

  1. Focus on how people feel about using your products.
  2. Sell the idea of what your product does.
  3. Show customers you care and that you’ve spent significant time to solve their problems.

Check out some more eCommerce storytelling tips here.

5. Use advertorials

  1. Create a sales page you’ll be using many times in the future.
  2. Write a high in volume SEO-focused blog article.
  3. If possible, rewrite your articles so that they’re very short (e.g. “5 Reasons not to…”
  4. Add them on top of your sales page.

Here’s a great example of a short blog post about 5 makeup tips which smoothly then is followed by a sales page.

If you’re ranking with a few blog posts high in SEO, you can also interlink them where relevant to your separate sales page.

You can also combine this strategy with your emails…

6. Run emails to your top blog posts

Instead of pushing for a “Buy now!” CTA in your emails, you can capture your subscribers’ attention in your emails and redirect them to an educational, and entertaining blog post.

  • Email teaser.
  • Blog post.
  • Checkout page.

Here’s an example email we launched that directed to a blog post where subscribers could learn more:

email-campaign-blog-post

Subject Line: “Shocking! I Thought My Scales Were BROKEN” 

Emails opened: 2732 

Total Clicks: 249 

Open Rate: 18.77% 

Clickthrough Rate: 9.11%

This is as curiosity-driven as it gets – starting from the email subject line.

So, once we captured our subscribers’ attention with this email, the blog post takes it from there.

Here’s what was covered in the blog post:

  • Intro – Starts with a curiosity-driven hook something like: “How DOES she get to do all that AND stay skinny? (note the story-telling elements and language that resonates with this audience).
  • The Vicious Cycle of Emotional Binge Eating – Also familiar and engaging language while highlighting customers’ pain points.
  • What If ‘Cheat Meals’ Helped You Eat LESS? – Interested and intrigued. Sounds too good to be true? Read on to find out…
  • Italian Researchers Prove This Makes Women Eat ‘Whey’ Less – Educational, research-driven, so it must be real. 
  • Why You Automatically Win by Starting Your Day With This Protein Coffee – Introduces the product (solution) and leads up to the main CTA.

And that’s how you take your subscribers from your email, to your blog, to your checkout page.

7. Run giveaway campaigns combined with influencer marketing

The rules are simple:

Create prizes around your products and announce your giveaway campaigns.

To participate, customers can either:

  • Tag their friends.
  • Follow your page.
  • Comment and share the post.
  • Join your email list.

If the prizes are high, we ask them to do a bit more, like send a photo, share our photos or participate in some kind of contest.

Then, you can also partner up with influencers to give you a shout out during the contest to increase your reach even further.

Check out our influencer marketing process for a more detailed explanation on how to do this and other eCommerce hacks to use here.

8. Run a hidden discount survey campaign

There are no better ways to learn about your customers than asking them directly.

With this campaign, the goal is to survey your customers and at the end of the survey, give them a discount.

Just make sure you don’t tell them they’ll be getting a discount before they fill out the survey – this will give you the wrong data.

To extract valuable information, here are some sample questions you can ask in your surveys:

  1. When it comes to (fill in the blank), what’s the single biggest challenge you’ve been struggling with? (be as detailed as possible)
  2. Which of the products have you bought?
  3. What was the MAIN reason why you chose our brand over others?
  4. What doubts and hesitations did you have before making the purchase?
  5. How can we make your shopping experience better? (website, emails, etc.)
  6. Are there any other brands you were considering before choosing our brand?
  7. If we came up with new products, which products would you buy?
  8. Overall how satisfied are you with the shopping experience from 1 to 10?
  9. Would you like to get a X% off your next purchase? (no brainer, everyone will say yes).

Our preferred platform for this is Typeform.

Check out other lessons we learned in 2020 generating $40MM+ for eCommerce brands and what else to focus on here.

9. Keep your message consistent

Whether it’s your emails or other communication channels, you need to keep your message consistent.

You may not be able to notice it immediately, but over time, if you don’t keep it consistent, people will start getting confused. 

If you want to develop a strong relationship with your customers, you need them to remember your stories.

This usually boils down to your branding and writing tone across all of your channels.

And that brings us to one last thing we’re going to cover in this guide.

10. Use SMS marketing as an extra revenue source

There are quite a few email marketing campaigns in eCommerce to retain your customers (winning them back, ‘thank you’ campaigns, etc.), but there’s a lot more you can do.

Educational campaigns, funny emails, “weekend” emails, product launches, and so much more.

Don’t forget to apply these marketing strategies to your SMS marketing too!

sms-campaign-sales

Here’s what you need to know about using the art of SMS to generate revenue:

eCommerce SMS Marketing Strategies to Drive Sales in 2021

SMS marketing can make for a near-perfect engagement score in eCommerce. That’s because people are more attached to their phones now more than ever.

On average, customers read up to 98% of text messages and by the end of the day, 32% of them respond to messages.

Millennials always have their phones with them and check them 80+ times a day and people open texts faster than emails.

Other rewards for using SMS marketing in eCommerce include:

  • Higher ROI with spend.
  • Being able to reach your target audience on mobile devices.
  • Reach a wider demographic and deliver your messages faster.
  • Strengthening overall customer engagement.
  • Being able to integrate SMS marketing with your other types of marketing (this is important).

Fortunately, there’s a lot of similarities with email marketing here that you need to keep in mind when sending SMS messages, such as:

  1. You should only contact subscribers who agreed to receive your SMS messages. In SMS, with a lower character count to deliver your message, this can become trickier. Octopush had put together a guide with the best practices to ask for consent through SMS. Comprising general compliance to the European GDPR.
  2. Set expectations, let customers know what they’re going to be receiving, and start small.  Use personalization and contacts lists like: VIP customer list, new customers list, lost-contact list, location-based lists, prospect activation list.
  3. Determine when and why you will message your customers.
  4. Build your list list and focus on increasing your opt-ins (through post-purchases, emails, sneaky 15% off in exchange for their numbers, so on). Try to make it as convenient as possible for them to opt-in. For many eCommerce sites, it makes sense to have a one-click opt-in button on landing pages or blog posts that generate 80%+ of your mobile traffic.
  5. Your brand and writing tone. Try to keep it even more engaging and casual than your emails. Like it’s an SMS coming from a friend. Check out some eCommerce SMS templates and examples here.

As for SMS strategies, you can even copy some of the same automation flows as with emails like abandoned cart, loyalty offers, promotional codes, shipping notifications, and more.

sms-automation-messages

Though SMS and email might share a lot of similarities, you should still treat them as entirely different channels with a different language. Talk to your customers like you would text your friends with SMS marketing – otherwise, if they see it as email #2, they’ll eventually opt-out.

Don’t overuse the channel.

As a rule of thumb, don’t send more than 2-3 marketing SMS to a customer in a week.

According to research, once businesses go over 10-15 SMS messages per month, their unsubscription rate starts to sharply increase. By 202 SMS messages, marketers reported unsubscribe rates of up to 60%.

For our eCommerce SMS marketing strategies, we use Attentive as the platform is super convenient. Their customer support is awesome and helps us with everything. Check out some of their top eCommerce SMS marketing templates and examples for 2020 here.

As a rule of thumb, we try to have the same approach with SMS marketing as with emails.

Same campaigns and flows that we’re sending from Klaviyo, we send a “mobile-friendly” version of them from Attentive as well. This makes everything more organized and convenient for us.

For our Black Friday SMS marketing campaign, we asked people to message us to receive an extra 5% on top of our Black Week deal. We received 451 messages out of which 41 people bought our products. Check out our eCommerce Black Friday guide to see how we generated over $6,000+ in SMS marketing (and other channels to focus on).

Conclusion

Hope you found this guide on eCommerce email marketing useful!

A lot of email marketing comes down to experimenting and testing.

So, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Move fast. Break things and double down on what works.

Now, if you’re looking for other eCommerce content and other marketing lessons we’re learning – be sure to join our private Facebook group where we’re sharing our latest success stories and challenges.

Back to you – Anything we missed about email marketing that you want to know? Any other eCommerce marketing strategies you want us to cover?

Let us know in the group or in the comments.

See you soon!

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1 Comment

  1. Dj Ticto

    Very interesting and packed with value!

    Reply

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