11 proven email marketing methods and the 6 most common mistakes you should avoid
Email marketing is the most powerful tool that online marketing professionals can get their hands on. Still, ecommerce stores hardly ever apply it and even those using it, frequently use it improperly.
Statistics and studies provide clear data:
- According to the British Direct Marketing Association (DMA), every single pound or dollar spent on email marketing brings back another 38. This represents a huge ROI.
- Based on other data, the ROI can even be 44.25 times as much as the investment was.
- The number of customers brought in by email has quadrupled over the last four years, and today it is the second most effective channel with its 7%, following traffic arriving from the search engines.
- Furthermore, according to one third of the American consumers, email has the most influence on their purchasing habits.
- Even the lifetime value of the new customers brought in by email is 12% higher than the average.
Based on the ROI data alone, it can be stated: those who do not use email marketing in the online marketing of their online shop, deliberately give up on income. However, a lot of people do not apply it because they do not know how to get started with it.
We are going to help you with that now: we will share all the best practices and common mistakes so that you can immediately start increasing the income of your estore with the help of emails.
According to DMA, on average, £1 spent on email marketing produces £38. Click To Tweet
Who should you send emails to?
First, you will need a database.
A good list has several criteria, the most important one is the following: it should preferably be as big, as up-to-date and as clear as possible.
The first is somewhat in contrast with the latter two, but we will clarify that shortly.
In an up-to-date database there are no addresses that are already dead, bounced back emails or email addresses that lead to the spam folder. If you send a considerable number of letters to such addresses, even the service provider will notice it sooner or later.
A clear list is also important: unsubscription is a normal phenomenon, according to industrial benchmarks, a rate of around 1.3-0.5% is completely acceptable. Those who unsubscribe from a couple of your emails were not your target audience anyway – provided that you send out quality letters – and there is no use in wasting time and money on making an offer to them.
Wise online shop operators build their own lists: they place register forms on their pages, they ask their followers as well to register, they ask for email addresses both on their welcome and landing pages, they collect leads even at events, they use marketing baits and so on.
And they continuously update and manage the lists as well: they clean them from the data of those who have unsubscribed, from the inactive addresses, from those who the message simply does not get to.
What should you measure? Bounce back rate, open rate, click through rate, target conversion
We cannot tell you right now which indicators are the most important for you. On the other hand, we can tell you what you should pay attention to in general when running an email marketing campaign.
Bounce back rate: Cleaning the list is also important so that you can decrease this rate, otherwise service providers can put you on black list for being a spammer. Open rate: You can find the answers to these questions if you monitor the open rate and actively test the different solutions as well. Click-through rate: This shows how efficiently you direct the attention of the users, how good CTAs you use in the letter and how attractive your offer is. If the click-through rate is high, it means that you not only send out well-segmented, relevant offers but you also lead the recipient to the click smartly. Target conversion: If you make the offer that the user clicked on in the letter, if they get a consistent experience and you give them the opportunity for the immediate, simple conversion, this rate will most probably be high. This is important because this is what makes you money.
Bounce back rate:
Cleaning the list is also important so that you can decrease this rate, otherwise service providers can put you on black list for being a spammer.
You can find the answers to these questions if you monitor the open rate and actively test the different solutions as well.
This shows how efficiently you direct the attention of the users, how good CTAs you use in the letter and how attractive your offer is. If the click-through rate is high, it means that you not only send out well-segmented, relevant offers but you also lead the recipient to the click smartly.
If you make the offer that the user clicked on in the letter, if they get a consistent experience and you give them the opportunity for the immediate, simple conversion, this rate will most probably be high. This is important because this is what makes you money.
What types of emails should you send out?
There are a great deal of various marketing email types, which ecommerce stores can successfully use as well – provided that they know their possibilities.
Let us see then what types you should use:
The most basic type, and also the most frequent one, of course. Its aim is to let your target audience know about what’s new. The other types are many times incorrectly referred to also as newsletters, even though this type has a well-defined purpose: to provide information.
Besides, it is useful as well because you can incorporate almost anything in it. The basis of it may be information like what kind of new offers, product lines appeared in the shop, what sort of seasonal sales you have introduced, what happened to the company, what new functions you have presented, and so on.
Making newsletters is also quite simple, you do not have to pay attention even to having any special design (many people send it out as simple text, which can be extremely effective if it comes with a well-written copy), it is enough to produce a template in advance that is in line with the image of the brand. You can then paste any sorts of news in that later and send it out to your list.
At the same time, newsletters also have disadvantages. First of all, they do not focus the attention of the user to a single offer. Another email type is used for that purpose.
2. Dedicated emails
The only purpose of dedicated emails is to focus the attention of the reader to one specific thing.
This may be a product or service, but it can even be a survey or an upcoming event.
These letters usually contain a single well-emphasized CTA that clearly stands out from its surroundings.
Its design is also less complicated:
If the basic appearance is in line with the corporate image, it is unnecessary to deal with anything else, as the aim is not to distract but to direct attention with a certain focus.
3. Welcome emails
The first email that those who have newly registered to your online shop receive: an excellent opportunity for not letting go of their hands but to introduce them to the mysteries of the brand.
You cannot only make offers here (relevant products if they have already purchased), but you can also show them where else they can find you, how they can use your website, what functions or discounts are there that they might not yet know about.
4. Lead nurturing emails
These are emails that help you keep your previous customers active.
You can send various types of content in segmented emails, for instance you can educate your customers about a given product type.
With the help of personalization you can send out automated emails that will distribute the most relevant pieces of content for everyone, that will have the greatest chance of being useful for customers.
You can keep them active with that: you can persuade them to consume and to share your new content, while keeping the brand alive in their minds.
5. Emails for special events
Anniversaries, birthdays or various holidays for that matter provide wonderful opportunities for you to approach your customers, but at the same time they involve great risks.
Since at such events everyone tries to make special offers: inboxes are inundated by emails every Christmas, however, most of these emails are letters of the simple “the same to everyone” type, which are not even opened and are practically considered as spam.
Therefore you need to be special.
Need to draw attention to your letter. Do not highlight the discounts in the subject field, do not display how superb product you are offering. Try to show what advantages that product has for the customers:
- that they can finally surprise grandma with a special gift,
- that they can provide an opportunity for the kids to have an experience of a lifetime,
- or maybe that they can celebrate their birthday this year like never before.
How to apply these marketing methods in practice?
Of course you have a free hand with the main types, and you can do otherwise if you have a good idea: all this may serve as guidance at best, since you yourself will experience in the long run what your unique audience likes.
Which are the emails that bring you high open rates and click-through rates? Which ones draw only a few registrations and which ones boost sales remarkably?
You have to monitor all these in the long run and fine-tune your ecommerce email marketing campaign accordingly.
In the following we will give you some specific tips for how to do that.
Specific campaign ideas that you can send out straight away
1. New product announcement email
Sending regular updates on new stocks of products is an outstanding method for reactivating your already existing customers.
Of course you need to do this, too, in a way so that it always makes the best offer: if you have a list that is segmented at least up to a basic extent, based on the previous purchases you should define who may be interested the most in certain products, and you should edit the emails in a way that they see only the offers interesting for them.
You should also send out photos of your new products, because you can raise attention more, and thus be able to reach more click-throughs. But also pay attention to where you direct the visitors.
If, for instance, you present three products in an email and a CTA link belongs to each of them, then those three should not take the user to the main page of the estore but rather to specific product pages.
Otherwise the users will feel that you betrayed them and they will not only bounce off the page (since you give them work by having to find the offers interesting for them), but they will not go the product page or return at all either.
2. Asking for your customers’ opinion
There are two reasons why you should ask for the opinion of your customers from time to time.
- The first is that you gain a great deal of useful information by that: you can judge from a questionnaire that can be completed within a minute, how good, relevant and valuable the customers think your campaigns, products and pages are. If the users can say what they do not like and you even pay attention to that, it will be very much appreciated.
(You may even create different pieces of content out of this: you can publish the results of the survey and inform the users what kinds of changes you are planning in the online shop in order to improve the user experience.)
- The second is that you can strengthen the social proof like that: you can ask the users to rate the already ordered products, and if you are selling quality products, these ratings will most likely be good and will serve as proof, as sales promotion for the hesitating customers (and they will help in search engine optimization as well).
On the other hand, you should make sure to offer some sort of incentive: let’s say a one-time discount offer in exchange for the rating. This way you can also reactivate your previous customers at once.
3. Birthday email
You can easily automate birthday emails by using the data of your registered users. You can make them personal and not just inundate the clients with best wishes: you can encourage them to purchase as well.
If you offer some sort of little presents in such cases, an individual discount on the occasion of the birthday.
The customer can buy a product with a percentage discount figure equal to their age), that may well increase your traffic if applied together with efficient cross-sell methods. Furthermore, it will also make your brand more likeable if you do it well. Almost everyone sends out birthday emails, but there is nothing personal or nice in most of such automated letters.
The customer can buy a product with a percentage discount figure equal to their age), that may well increase your traffic if applied together with efficient cross-sell methods.
Furthermore, it will also make your brand more likeable if you do it well. Almost everyone sends out birthday emails, but there is nothing personal or nice in most of such automated letters.
Therefore you should make sure to
- Write the text nicely, it should not seem that it is only a system message wishing happy birthday or that you just want to sell something to the celebrated person.
- Use nice images, visual solutions that will have positive effect on your client.
- The CTA catches the eye and it is encouraging, “Click to get your free cake” for example is a good solution.
4. Product follow-up email
How long is the lifetime of your products? Half a year or ten years?
Do you reach out to your customers so that they buy again from you after the lifetime of the product is over?
It is very much possible that the customers completely forget about you after several years if the lifetime of the purchased product is quite long. However, if you monitor who buys when and what, and you send out automated letters based on that, you can win them back.
A good example:
Let’s say you are selling mattresses planned for a period of 5 years. After 5 years the system will notice that the lifetime of the product is over. In this case you can send out a letter in which you offer that if the client changes to a better, newer model right then, they can exceptionally do that with a discount of 10%.
5. Guidance for the newcomers
Most people choose between two things when it comes to dealing with the newly registered ones.
- They do nothing.
- They send out a tough sales letter.
These are both wrong solutions: not making use of the potential is just as unfortunate as trying shoving your products off the throat of the new lead right away.
Something that you can benefit from instead: if you provide them an opportunity to choose what they want to do themselves.
You can present their various opportunities in the email:
- where they can find the products,
- where they can read the blog,
- where they can find videos,
- where they can follow you in the social media, etc.
6. Encouragement of cart abandoners
We have already discussed how you can avoid cart abandonment on your site, but this time we will also describe how you can do that with the help of emails.
If you see that somebody, who has already given their address to you earlier added one or more products to the cart but have not bought them, wait 24 hours. If they do not return, remind them in email that their products are still in the cart. This a simple reminder.
Wait another 24 hours after that and then send another email if there is no conversion in the meantime: you are already handling excuses in that. Ask them why they have not purchased, write down the most common reasons in the letter and handle them already right there.
Finally, send a third letter in which you offer a discount – but wait three days with that. If possible, lead the customer back to you without offering a discount, but do not wait more with this offer because it is then that they still remember you and their reason why the made the purchase.
The most common mistakes in email marketing
What is the worst you can do with a list? That you do not use it. The second worst is that you start using it inappropriately, as this can shortly make it worthless to you.
The most common mistakes usually stem from inexperience: the ecommerce company would like to run a good email campaign but there is not enough knowledge and experience in the company in that respect. For this reason we will now go through some of the mistakes so that you can avoid them.
Lack of consistency
When you send out emails make it obvious that it arrived from you. Confirm that not only in words but also with visual elements – remind the users that they received the email because they registered with you.
If you ask for click-through, the email and the landing page should be similar: you have to represent that both in text and in appearance, because if you lead the potential clients to a page with a totally different message and visuals, you will play their trust.
You do not use segmentation
It is definitely worth segmenting the sent out letters in some way: at least according to the source of the email addresses. If someone registered on the blog, they did that during the purchase or they downloaded the bait product, you can immediately have an idea about what sorts of content and offers will capture their attention better.
You do not measure
Always monitor the indicators and analyse in the long run how certain solutions work. If the only change you make is that the sender of your consequent email will be different or you will write the subject line in a different style, and either of that will significantly change the results, you have immediately gained remarkably valuable data.
You are not being specific enough
When you send out an offer, what do you request from the potential customers? What kind of CTA do you use? Always write down precisely where they will arrive after the click and what will happen, what you will offer them. Do not only show them the door, tell them where they will find themselves if they open it.
You do not pay enough attention to the text
A good sales text is able to sell a product or service even by itself, without graphic solutions. Of course it is usually an advantage in case of an online shop if you attach an image to the offer, however, you have to put great emphasis on the copy as well: you have to apply principles of persuasion that may beat hesitation and encourage buying.
All you want to do is sell
Do not send offers only because this way you can easily be on the same page with all the other ecommerce stores that use email to promote sales. The goal is that those on your list do not simply receive but also look forward to your letters.
To be able to reach this goal, you have to provide them with valuable content as well and you have to approach them with offers that are actually interesting only for them due to segmentation. Take advantage of the non-sales type content, because you can more easily tie them to your brand like that: recommend your blog, your videos, your social channels to them in email.
Nobody is capable of launching the perfect campaign, especially for the first time: for that you have to have a long-term knowledge of your audience and of the appropriate techniques.
You do not need to fear that you will spoil your chances with a single email.
You cannot do such a thing and if you work hard, analyse the data and run the campaign persistently, you will learn how to handle the problems.
Therefore the most important thing you have to do:
send out your first letters today and monitor how they work – then start brainstorming how you can make them even better. The guideline above will help you with that.
Dániel has been writing, copywriting, editing and generating ideas for more than 15 years. Regardless of whether it’s an online or offline challenge, he always strives to deliver the most relevant message to the designated target audience in the most appropriate form. Furthermore, he follows this principle as a father, a hobby photographer and songwriter.