Why is Email Marketing Critical for Ecommerce?

Email marketing is a powerful tool in the ecommerce industry. Not only does it allow businesses to maintain direct communication with their customers, but it also delivers one of the highest ROI among all digital marketing strategies1. In an era where ecommerce marketing dynamics are ever-evolving, email remains steadfast and effective.

For instance, consider the role of abandoned cart emails. These are automated messages sent to users who’ve added items to their carts but didn’t complete the purchase. Brands like Adidas and Nike have recaptured significant revenue by crafting compelling abandoned cart emails.

Email marketing, often regarded as the cornerstone of digital marketing, has solidified its importance in the realm of ecommerce over the years. Let’s look at the various facets that demonstrate its criticality:

  • Direct Communication with Customers: Unlike the transient nature of social media posts or ads that get lost in the noise, emails land directly in the customer’s inbox. It’s a personal space where brands can hold one-on-one conversations with their customers.
    • Example: An online store selling handcrafted jewelry might use email marketing to share the story behind a particular piece, creating a personal connection and narrative that resonates with the customer.
  • Higher Conversion Rates: The very nature of email — personalized, targeted, and direct — often leads to higher conversion rates compared to other marketing channels. Studies have shown that the probability of selling to an existing customer (which email marketing often targets) is 60-70%, while it’s only 5-20% for a new prospect1.
    • Example: Brands like Sephora frequently send targeted emails based on a user’s purchase and browsing history, leading to repeat purchases.
  • Affordability and ROI: With minimal costs involved in sending out mass emails, especially when compared to high-cost advertising campaigns, the ROI for email marketing is exceptionally favorable. For every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses can expect an average return of $422.
    • Example: Dollar Shave Club, an online razor blade retailer, has grown tremendously thanks to its low-cost yet effective email campaigns that combine humor, promotions, and engagement.
  • Nurturing Leads: Not every visitor to your online store will make a purchase instantly. Email marketing offers a mechanism to nurture these potential leads, gradually guiding them down the sales funnel.
    • Example: Online courses platform Coursera uses email marketing to remind users of courses they browsed but didn’t enroll in, often enticing them with discounts or added benefits.

What are the Different Types of Email Marketing Campaigns for Ecommerce?

In the dynamic world of ecommerce, businesses have at their disposal a plethora of email marketing campaigns tailored to different stages of the customer journey:

  1. Welcome Series: Upon subscribing or registering, the welcome series is a brand’s opportunity to make a lasting first impression.
    • Example: Airbnb sends a welcome series that not only introduces the platform but also offers travel credits for the user’s first booking.
  2. Abandoned Cart Reminders: Targeting users who’ve shown intent but not converted, these emails act as gentle nudges, sometimes coupled with offers or discounts to seal the deal.
    • Example: Fashion brand Mango sends aesthetically pleasing reminders showcasing the items left in the cart, often with a time-sensitive discount code to encourage completion of the purchase.
  3. Product Recommendations: By harnessing data analytics, businesses can make bespoke product suggestions, elevating the user experience and cross-selling effectively.
    • Example: Spotify, though primarily a music platform, has mastered this by sending emails to users suggesting playlists, new releases, or albums based on their listening history.
  4. Post-Purchase Follow-ups: These can range from a simple thank you message to upselling related products or even garnering reviews.
    • Example: Best Buy often sends post-purchase emails showcasing accessories or complementary products to the item a user just purchased.
  5. Newsletters: Regularly scheduled, these emails are a mix of content marketing, product showcases, and brand storytelling.
    • Example: Tech giant Apple’s newsletters don’t just promote products; they tell a story, making readers feel a part of the brand’s journey.
  6. Special Offers & Flash Sales: Time-sensitive in nature, these emails create a sense of urgency, driving quick conversions.
    • Example: Cosmetic brand NYX frequently hosts flash sales exclusive to their email subscribers, generating a spike in sales and ensuring their subscribers feel valued.

How Can You Segment Your Email List for Better Targeting?

Segmenting your email list means breaking it down into smaller, more specific groups based on certain criteria. Proper segmentation ensures that your emails are more relevant to the recipients, leading to increased engagement and conversions. Here’s a breakdown of effective ways to segment your email list and examples of each:

  1. Demographics: Simple yet effective. Segmenting by age, gender, or location can make your campaigns more relevant.
    • Example: A fashion ecommerce store might send winter coat advertisements to subscribers in colder regions, while showcasing summer dresses to those in warmer climates.
  2. Purchase History: Tailor your emails based on what customers have previously bought.
    • Example: Amazon is renowned for its “customers who bought this item also bought” feature. They frequently send emails to users suggesting products related to their recent purchases.
  3. Email Engagement: How subscribers interact with your emails can be a gold mine for segmentation.
    • Example: A bookstore might send its most engaged subscribers (those who frequently open emails and click on links) exclusive early access to sales or author interviews.
  4. Browsing Behavior: Even if a site visitor didn’t make a purchase, their browsing behavior provides valuable insights.
    • Example: ASOS might notice a user frequently browsing ‘vegan leather bags’ and then target them with emails showcasing new arrivals in that category.
  5. Cart Abandonment: Users who added products to their cart but didn’t check out represent potential revenue.
    • Example: Samsung might send an email reminder to a user who abandoned a cart with a new phone, sweetening the deal with a limited-time discount code.
  6. Customer Loyalty: Reward your most loyal customers with exclusive offers or content.
    • Example: Starbucks often sends its Gold members early access to new products or special discounts as a loyalty reward.

FAQs on Email Marketing for Ecommerce Growth

  1. Why are my ecommerce emails going to the spam folder?Answer: Emails might land in spam due to various reasons: they might be flagged by spam filters due to certain trigger words, you might have low engagement rates, or perhaps you’re sending emails too frequently. Ensuring you’re following best email practices and using a reputable email service provider can help alleviate this issue.
  2. How often should I send emails to my subscribers?Answer: The frequency of emails varies based on the industry and your specific audience. It’s crucial to find a balance; while you want to stay top-of-mind, you don’t want to overwhelm and risk unsubscribes. Monitor engagement metrics to fine-tune your approach.
  3. Is it worth investing in professional email design?Answer: Absolutely. Professional and responsive email design not only improves user experience but also conveys brand professionalism. Considering that most people now read emails on mobile, ensuring your design looks great across devices is crucial.Example: Brands like Apple ensure their email designs are not just responsive but also reflective of their brand aesthetics, leading to a cohesive brand image across platforms.
  4. What’s a good open rate for ecommerce emails?Answer: Open rates can vary based on industry, but for ecommerce, a rate between 15% – 25% is generally considered good. Always aim to improve by A/B testing subject lines, sending times, and personalization.
  5. How can I encourage more people to subscribe to my email list?Answer: Offer value. This could be in the form of exclusive discounts, early access to sales, or valuable content. Making the sign-up process simple and quick, and assuring users of their data’s privacy can also boost subscription rates.Example: Ecommerce platforms like Shopify offer easy-to-integrate tools that allow pop-ups or banners promoting email sign-ups, often coupled with an immediate discount code as an incentive.

Remember, the beauty of email marketing, especially for ecommerce, lies in its adaptability. It’s a tool that allows for constant testing, iteration, and improvement. Listening to your audience and tailoring your strategy accordingly can lead to exponential growth.

While email lets you communicate directly with your customers, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest enable you to reach a broader audience, engage with followers, and even facilitate sales directly. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into leveraging social media marketing for ecommerce success.

Looking for more insights? Explore the rest of our extensive ecommerce guide to ensure you’re on the right track to success.

Resources & Further Reading:

  1. Probability of Selling to Customers
  2. Email Marketing ROI
  3. Abandoned Cart Email Image
  4. Segmentation Graphics
  5. Mobile Responsive Email Design
Roger Lopez
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