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    Email Marketing for Ecommerce: Basics, Benefits, and Building a Strategy

    Email Marketing for Ecommerce: Basics, Benefits, and Building a Strategy

    Trying to keep up with emerging marketing trends is tricky. Getting in front of the right people at the right time? Trickier still.

    On social media, you hope your posts will shine through the abyss of busy feeds, while paid ad campaigns can quickly rack up costs.

    So what’s the solution? Email marketing for ecommerce lets you land directly in shoppers’ inboxes with unique messaging made just for them. Here’s a breakdown of what it is, why it’s the ideal marketing tactic for ecommerce brands, and how you can get started. 

    What Is Email Marketing for Ecommerce?

    Email marketing for ecommerce is the process of sending targeted and personalized emails to potential and existing customers to encourage them to make purchases, develop brand loyalty, and foster long-term relationships.

    There are two main types of emails that ecommerce brands send:

    • Transactional: These include functional emails like order confirmations, delivery notifications, thank you emails, and review requests.
    • Promotional: These include newsletters, personalized product recommendations, abandoned cart emails, and emails that are sent with the purpose of selling something.

    When planning your email marketing strategy, make sure you account for both these types of emails and ensure the messages they convey weave together seamlessly. 

    Benefits of Email Marketing for Ecommerce

    Aside from landing directly in your customers’ (and prospective customers’) inboxes, email marketing for ecommerce has plenty of benefits.

    These benefits of email marketing for ecommerce include:

    • Building brand awareness: Showing up consistently in prospects’ inboxes will help you stay front-of-mind. If someone isn’t ready to buy then and there, you’ll be among the first brands they turn to when they are.
    • Nurturing customer relationships: Turn one-time buyers into loyal fans with personalized recommendations, exclusive rewards and discounts, and other goodies.
    • Increasing sales and return on investment (ROI): Unlock more sales with well-timed emails or purchase reminders for product replenishment. According to email marketing software Litmus, email drives an ROI of $36 for every dollar spent compared to about $2.80 per dollar spent from social media per Agency Analytics.
    • Collecting customer feedback: Learn what your customers love with automated feedback request messages, which you can use to improve your offerings and marketing efforts moving forward.
    • Owning your audience: Relying on social media puts you at the mercy of algorithm changes. Email marketing doesn’t come with this risk. Instead, you can land directly in prospects’ inboxes every single time.
    • Sending personalized content: Create unique journeys for each customer with automated, personalized emails that are based on their previous shopping behavior, interests, and demographic information.

    How To Establish an Email Marketing Strategy for Ecommerce

    The great thing about email marketing is that once it’s set up with automated triggers in place, it works on autopilot while you work on other parts of the business. Check out some guidance on what types of triggers to set up below.

    Choose an Email Marketing Tool

    First things first, you need a platform to run your email marketing from.
    Choose a tool that has the features you need now, but that also has the ability to grow with you. Look for ones that offer segmentation, tagging, automated sequences, and triggered emails.

    Collect Email Addresses

    As well as collecting email addresses from people when they make a purchase, think about other ways you can build your email list.

    Ways to build your email list can include:

    • Offering a discount code in exchange for an email address;
    • Sharing a freebie for an email address; or
    • Running surveys and collecting email addresses.

    Whatever method you use, there should be something in it for the customer. Remember: They’re giving you access to their sacred inbox, so they should get something from it too.

    email marketing for ecommerce example from flaus showing a pop-up coupon

    Image Source: Flaus

    Segment Customers

    Most email marketing tools will have the option of grouping together similar customers based on their purchasing behavior, interests, and other data points.

    Here are some ways you can segment your list:

    • Demographic information: Group together shoppers in similar geographic locations, life stages, or age groups. For example, you can group together new parents, people who live in Chicago, or students, and send emails that speak to each of these characteristics.
    • Psychographic information: Group together shoppers based on their interests, challenges, hopes, and dreams. For example, you can group together shoppers who like yoga.
    • Purchasing history: Group together shoppers based on how and what they’ve bought from you in the past. For example, you can group together people who found you via Instagram or group together people who buy from you at least once a month.

    Segmenting shoppers in this way means you can send highly relevant emails that are tailored to their specific needs.

    For example, if you sell recipe kits, you might have one audience segment of busy parents, and one made up of students looking for cheap, quick meal ideas. 

    Build Automated Sequences

    Once you’ve segmented your audience, you can start to map out automated sequences for different scenarios. For example, you can create a post-purchase sequence, a replenishment reminder sequence, or a series of emails that go out when a customer takes a specific action.

    Here are some sample sequences you can set up:

    • Abandoned cart sequences for people who have left an item in their cart for a specific period of time.
    • Product recommendation emails for people who have shown an interest in a specific product line.
    • Upsell and cross-sell emails when someone buys a certain product.
    • Re-engagement sequences for people who haven’t engaged with your emails in a while.
    • Loyalty program emails for people who have bought from you three or more times.
    • Back-in-stock sales sequences for people who have shown interest in an out-of-stock product.

    alala email marketing for ecommerce example screenshot showing a discount for a return shopper

    Image Source: Alala

    A re-engagement email from Alala encourages subscribers to check out new product arrivals.

    Personalize Emails

    The more you learn about your customers, the easier it will be to send personalized emails. This shift is why segmentation is so important.

    Use the data you have to understand what customers might want and when so you can send well-timed emails exactly when they need them the most. Research by Drip found that personalized emails have an average open rate of 18.8%, which is 5.7% higher than non-personalized emails.

    For example, you can send discounts to customers on their birthday, send a reminder to customers who usually buy a product at a certain time of the year, or use their previous purchasing behavior to recommend products they might like.

    jetson health email marketing for ecommerce example screenshot showing a $10 off birthday treat

    Image Source: Jetson Health

    Jetson sends customers $10 off on their birthday. 

    Split-Test Your Email Campaigns

    Creating a high-performing email marketing strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes some trial and error — the more you send, the more information you have to improve your campaigns moving forward.

    It’s a good idea to split-test (or A/B test) your campaigns to see what messaging, subject lines, and copy resonate the best with your customers. Most email marketing tools will have this as a built-in feature.

    Create a Welcome Email Series

    A welcome email series is an automated sequence of about three to five emails sent to new email subscribers. You can introduce your brand, forge a deeper connection with possible customers, and generate sales. According to Invesp CRO, welcome emails generate 4x more opens and 5x more click-throughs than regular email marketing campaigns.

    When writing out your welcome series, think about including these essential points:

    • An introduction to your brand to remind people why they signed up;
    • Your brand personality to forge an early connection;
    • Links to relevant resources and products to keep subscribers engaged; and
    • Personalization based on how a subscriber found you or if they’ve already bought from you.

    Your welcome series will often be the first point of contact a potential customer has with you, so make it count. 

    screenshot of wildwonder email marketing for ecommerce example showing a welcome greeting

    Image Source: Wild Wonder

    This welcome email from Wild Wonder introduces the brand and includes a personal note from the company’s founder to instantly create a human connection. 

    Make the Most of Email Marketing for Ecommerce

    Email marketing for ecommerce is a popular way for brands to connect with shoppers and build long-lasting relationships. When you show up regularly in your customers’ inboxes, you stay front-of-mind and can deliver personalized messages based on their unique wants and needs. 

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    Written by: Lizzie Davey

    Lizzie Davey (she/her) is a freelance writer and content strategist for ecommerce software brands. Her specialty is combining customer research with actionable copy to create pieces that people actually want to read. Over the past 10 years, she's worked with top industry brands to bring their vision to life and build...

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