I’m a big fan of email marketing when it’s done right. Generally, that means only sending emails to those who have subscribed, sharing engaging content (not just pushing for sales) and not bombarding people.
A few years back, email marketing had a bad rep and I shirked away from the practice. It was seen as pushy, intense and the emails often didn’t load properly. Now, email marketing has gotten smarter. As a result, open rates and click-through rates can be far higher than social media and search engine advertising. Additionally, if you’re doing it yourself it’s often free too.
Of course, the other thing it can be is time-consuming. However, if you’re hosting a store on a platform like WIX or Shopify that has built-in email marketing, and if you properly plan and set up your funnels, then it can become a simple and effective means of connecting with your customers.
Often, the most difficult part of email marketing is deciding what you want to tell your customers.
Here are my top email marketing ideas for online shops:
Order Confirmation and Shipping
Order confirmations and shipping information are usually sent out automatically. This email is essential so I recommend testing it now and then. Also, just because it’s automatic doesn’t mean it can’t be personalised. How much depends upon your app/plug-in or platform. Usually, you can at least edit the content to get your voice across.
Once somebody has made an order, their email should go into your contact list so you can keep in touch.
IMPORTANT - It’s always best to add a brief note to your forms to let anyone who is providing an email address know that you may send them the odd keeping-in-touch email.
A very good email to send after someone has made an online purchase is an upsell. This should include other products the buyer may be interested in. You might also include a special discount as a thank you for their first purchase, for new customers.
Whilst it’s tempting to include a whole host of other products, overload can be off-putting. Besides, the longer an email takes to load, the more likely it will be deleted before your products can even be displayed. When marketing emails land in an inbox there’s usually a very small window in which to win over the recipient. Many people scroll through emails with their finger hovering over the delete button so you’ll want a fast-loading email with a strapline or image that catches their attention immediately.
Reviews are so essential to your marketing and sales. You can have the most beautifully written content in all of your communications, but it’s what other people are saying about you that really matters. The best way to get reviews is to ask.
So, a few days after a customer should have received their purchase they should receive an email from you requesting feedback. Of course, you’ll want to express your thanks for their order and your hope that they are pleased with their item. Afterwhich, a link to somewhere they can leave a review is perfect.
Where you collect your reviews depends on your business. You might choose to use Google Business, Facebook or even LinkedIn. Usually, the source you get most of your website traffic from is best.
Reviews on your website are essential but you may find you need to do this manually. The good news is, there’s no reason why you can’t use a review you got on Facebook, by email or from any other source, on your website also. I update reviews on my website every few months and I make sure there is always a broad selection to cover all services I offer.
More than this though, reviews also make great content for highlighting in social media posts.
The Abandoned Cart email is a very effective one. We lead such busy lives and now we're able to shop as we go, using mobile phones, items often get put into a cart and we get interrupted before we complete the transaction. I often find I’ve placed items in a cart and then need to take a break because I’m not yet ready to make a decision.
To get the most out of Abandoned Cart emails you’ll want to ask users to log in before they add items to a cart. Most platforms have an Abandoned Cart email you can automate. If not, there is a plugin you can get to work with most sites.
I recommend sending your Abandoned Cart reminder a few hours after the bag has been left and then again a day later if the purchase has not been made.
IMPORTANT - accept rejection after two reminder emails. Too many Abandoned Cart reminder emails can come across as desperate.
The above emails can be sent to those who have made or almost made a purchase through your website. But what about those you haven’t won over yet? Or those you won over a while back and want to stay in touch with?
What you’ll need to decide before you start communicating with your subscribers is what kind of relationship you want with them.
Perhaps you have the kind of business where the same customer might shop regularly with you? In which case you’ll want to touch base often with new products and offers.
If you have a business where a customer is not likely to shop again, at least for some time, then you’ll want to focus on them sharing your content and helping to promote your brand to others.
Sometimes it’s a bit of both and sometimes a customer may not buy from you for themselves again but they might purchase items for gifts.
All of the above will affect the strategy you put in place for your email marketing. Particularly for newsletters.
Here are some ideas for email marketing newsletters:
Always best to begin with a 'hello' and thanks for subscribing'. Briefly introduce yourself as well as your business. Invite readers to view your story (with a link to where it is on your website). Then a recent news article link and a featured product or two will make this the perfect first contact.
It’s important to reward those who subscribe. Businesses can’t always do this with giveaways or offers, but there are other ways too (see storytelling). However, if you can offer a discount code or free shipping these are very enticing and often lead to sales.
Another great way to grow your business is to offer a discount code to those who share your website link with others. Or to offer a discount to their friends. Incorporating social media is a great way to do that and get your shop more visibility online.
IMPORTANT - keep the language upbeat and exciting but try not to be too pushy in your approach. If you need help getting the balance right it may be worth talking to a copywriter, like me (shoot me an email if you need help).
To really establish a relationship with subscribers, you must share your interests, values and your story. A blog is an excellent place on your website to talk about the wider aspects of your business that go beyond product and profit. If you’re doing that then your newsletters are a great way to promote your blog articles. They needn’t be long but they should be personal. Increasingly, consumers make choices that take into account as much who they want to buy from as what.
Obviously, you can’t keep regurgitating your approach and values. However, a good way of reinforcing this is spreading and commenting on relevant issues and news. Chances are that those who support your business will also consider this of interest.
For example, if you sell children’s books and are dedicated to children’s learning then you might share news around education. You might also let customers know about events that are relevant, such as local storytelling sessions or kid’s writing workshops. Beyond this, you may want to write content that will appeal to parents. This might include guides or quick tips on topics relevant to the age group of children who might read the books in your shop.
Once you start blogging the ideas will flow far more easily and it’s great content to share in your newsletter. You’re giving former customers and potential customers a reason to keep in touch will you beyond making purchases. Then, when they are seeking what you’re selling, they’ll be far more likely to turn to you.
If you’re a small business in need of help with blogging then please get in touch. I write SEO blog articles for a wide range of small businesses and can tailor content to feature in online newsletter emails.
‘We’re having a sale’ emails and new product emails are great but shouldn’t be sent out too often. Continuous sales are off-putting and there’s no need to update your customers with every single new product. Too many emails and they’ll start being deleted instantly. Customers may even unsubscribe.
Using lots of colour, larger fonts and concise messaging is the attention-grabbing style you need for these emails.
IMPORTANT - timing is very important. Your strike rate is never going to be as good on Monday morning when most people are trying to get in the ‘work zone.’
Do you have any more email marketing ideas? Please share them in the comments!