Email marketing is as old as the internet itself. It's been there from the beginning and it's not going anywhere any time soon. And for a good reason: it's effective and cheap.
We'll go over each key step of a successful email marketing strategy. That way, you can identify anything that may be missing from your process and integrate it to make your email marketing more effective.
Build (and Expand) Your Mailing List
The first step of any email marketing campaign is building and expanding a mailing list.
The most common way to let your audience opt-in to your mailing list is by setting up a pop-up form on your site. And you know this is true because you've seen it on almost every site you visit.
There are a couple of things that make your pop-up more or less effective, so let's look at them:
Depending on how your customers experience your site, you should set up your pop-up to... pop at the right time. If shoppers usually spend little time on your site, you probably want it to appear a few seconds in. If they tend to browse more, you can wait a bit longer (maybe 20 seconds).
The idea is that if you can wait long enough for them to have a clearer idea of what they're signing up for (the type of stuff they see on your site) and they're interested in it (they've browsed for a while, haven't they?) they're more likely to sign up.
Offering a coupon
A lot of sites offer a 10% discount for signing up. This is a good way to entice potential customers to opt-in.
This way, you know that a lot of the people who hit the subscribe button are really interested in making a purchase, as they've likely done so to get 10% off on whatever it is that they plan to buy.
And that's a good thing because if you make sure they have a good shopping experience (their order arrives as expected, within the timeline, you said it would and the product arrives undamaged, in good condition) and you have their email address, you've got a good chance of turning them into returning customers.
What good is a pop-up on a site no one's visiting? In order for your pop-up to work, you've got to drive traffic to your store and that means running ads. Something like Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads, Tiktok, etc. Try to reach your prospects where they're already at.
Design and Copy
You're almost done, you've got people coming in, they're looking around, the pop-up is showing up; the only remaining thing is to make sure it looks attractive and that you are communicating clearly what they're signing up for.
Once you've got that covered you should see your mailing list increase considerably. According to MailChimp’s guide "How to Build Your Email List", users have seen their list growth rate increase by an average of 50.8% after adding a pop-up form to their site.
Collect and Analyze Data
Alright, so you've got a list and you're sending emails. You've got to make sure you know what's happening to those emails. Are people opening your emails? Are they clicking on the button that you wanted them to click inside the email?
Unless you're sending out emails without the help of any sort of tool, whatever you're using should tell you that information. Be sure to use a tool that facilitates your email marketing efforts. There are many options out there: Hubspot, Mailchimp, Sendinblue, Getresponse, and drip among others. Be sure to check them out and choose what's best for you.
Once you're collecting data then you can think about making sense of it. So let's help you make sense of your data
How to Analyze Data
The easiest way to analyze data is by contrast. That means that data relating to a single campaign can only tell you so much because you have nothing to compare it to.
The way that things make sense to us is when we see them as relative to something else. Happens with color, happens with pitch, happens with everything.
But maybe you don't want to wait until you've run another campaign to have something to compare it to. So what can you do?
A great way to have contrast in your data is by doing A/B testing.
In case you don't know what A/B testing is, that's when you test two different emails and see which one does best. The trick is keeping the changes to a minimum so that you can clearly see what's making one email perform better than the other. If you change too many things, you can't know which one is responsible for better performance.
This way you can optimize your campaign while you are running it, adjusting for what the data is telling you.
What can you play with?
A/B testing is a great way to optimize your subject line so that you get more people to open your emails.
If you don't see much change between one subject line and another, try changing the preview text.
And once you've got them opening the emails you can do A/B testing on your Call to Action inside the email.
As you can see, little by little, you can change a lot through A/B testing. This is a very good way of optimizing your campaign on the go.
Divide and Conquer
So far we've been talking about sending out emails and tests and seeing what works best but there's another thing you should be doing to boost your numbers: segmentation.
Segmentation allows you to send different messages to different groups of people who have different interests. That's the best way to do any sort of marketing. Email marketing for eCommerce is no exception.
You need to understand which are the different groups that are interested in your products so that you can craft messages that are more relevant to each specific group.
How to Segment Your Audience
So now you want to segment your audience but aren't sure how to do it. Don't worry, we'll show you a few ways that usually yield pretty good results. That being said, you should also trust your instincts on this. Don't be afraid to try a segmentation method that you feel makes sense simply because you don't see it mentioned here or in the referenced material.
Age and gender are usually pretty good ways of segmenting an audience.
It doesn't stop there. If you know their birthday you can send an email congratulating them that day.
If you're international it would make sense to segment by language or location.
Old-timers & Newcomers
You're probably not going to send the same emails to potential customers who've just signed up and to long-time customers that have been with you for a while.
You can send emails to customers who've made purchases above X amount or for customers that purchased a specific product that tells you something about them - may be a product that suggests they'll be needing something else that you sell.
Another thing you can do is set up behavioral triggers so that emails get automatically sent when a customer does something, for example, abandoning a cart at checkout.
The difference between segmenting by behavior and setting up behavioral triggers is that when you're segmenting behaviorally, you decide when to send the email. When you set up behavioral triggers, it's the behavior that triggers sending the email.
If you’re interested in the topic of segmentation, be sure to check out Valcort’s “5 Ways To Segment Customers” which features a more general approach to segmentation instead of a mailing list-focused one.
Include Promotional Messaging On Transactional Emails
Transactional emails are, for example, those that get sent to confirm a customer that their order has been processed, shipped, or when they can expect it to be delivered.
Those are all excellent opportunities to include promotional content. And because it is common practice, it’s not something that customers will find bothersome or troubling in any way. We're all used to it.
There are a few things to keep in mind though.
Not All Transactional Emails Are Created Equal
Some transactional emails easily lend themselves to promotional stuff: order confirmation, shipping update, etc. However, if the email is about something more serious like a suspicious login, change of password, or something like that, you’re better off not including promotional messages.
The Right Amount Of Promotional Content
When including promotional messaging in your transactional emails, you have to make sure that the most relevant information for your customer is front and center. So don’t go overboard. According to SparkPost’s “How to Incorporate Marketing Messages into Your Transactional Emails”, somewhere around 90% relevant information to 10% promotional should keep you on the safe side.
A very common way to include promotional information on transactional emails is to take a page from Amazon’s playbook. Do you remember how they feature “Frequently Bought Together” products? That’s exactly what that is.
And it works like a charm, especially if you’ve got the data to pair up products that are truly frequently bought together instead of featuring products at random (we say this because it’s likely that you won’t have this information, at least not at the beginning, but you can still use the format to feature random products or products that you think go well together, regardless of your customer’s purchase practices).
If you’re not sending out review requests to your customers a few days after they’ve received their order, you should. It’s a great way to collect your own reviews, offer a coupon in return for their review, and feature some interesting products on the “Thank You Page” you show them once they’ve written a review. It’s the perfect moment to give them the coupon you promised and feature some content that might entice them to use it.
It’s a highly positive experience for users, and a profitable interaction for you, increasing your chances of turning a one-time customer into a returning one and getting a review in the process.
If you’d like to know more about review requests check out Opinew’s “The 10 Best Tips To Send Email And SMS Review Requests With Shopify”.
Tune in - Find the right frequency
Once you've got all this up and running, you'll need to figure out the right frequency with which to send emails to each group and tune in to that frequency.
There's no singular answer for what the best frequency is because there are a lot of things that factor in. A good rule of thumb is to be considerate of how often you'd like to receive these emails if you were on the other side of things.
Sending emails at a high frequency might cause some people to unsubscribe from your mailing list or tag you as spam, so do be mindful of this.
A weekly email + transactional emails are what a lot of sites and brands seem to be doing. But don't take my word for it you can see this by checking your own email.
Master the Art of Email Marketing (Practice Makes Perfect)
Considering you'll be doing all of these things, all that's left is to practice until you get better.
Enter a loop of trying things out, looking at data, comparing results, and making sense of that data to form a new hypothesis that you can test out in your next email campaign. Then do that again, and again, and again.
Getting better at this is a never-ending endeavor.
And that's what mastering the art really is. To be someone who's constantly trying things out and getting better at it. So have fun and get writing!