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Social media affords many promotional opportunities, PPC drives a lot of traffic, and on-page SEO yields organic search rankings that keep on giving— but to this day, nothing bolsters an eCommerce strategy quite like email marketing. That’s exactly why yearly spending on email marketing in the US alone is expected to hit 350 million dollars by 2019.
But like any marketing medium, you won’t get much out of it if you don’t think it through and plan it out with specific goals in mind. Whether the intention is to build loyalty in new customers, keep old ones happy, promote new products or establish industry authority, you have to approach things carefully and analytically.
To that end, here’s how I recommend you go about devising a great email campaign that will truly back up your broader eCommerce efforts.
Thoroughly segment your targets
Data segmentation is essential for any business that has anything beyond a very niche user base, because just about any marketing email is going to have a different effect when received by an elderly man in Kentucky than when received by a young woman in California.
Before you do anything else, you need to carefully sift through your entire collection of email addresses for marketing, figuring out which messages and value propositions are likely to resound with which demographics.
Even though all major email marketing platforms have extensive options for creating and storing segments, it’s really something you should be doing for marketing in general, so try to think through all the different types of customer and come up with general personas.
The middle-aged father with a blue-collar job. The career woman with high income, but a lot of stress. The student with little spare money, but the potential to be a long-term customer. Identify every market that you want to reach, and plan emails that will cater to their needs, desires, aspirations and pain points.
Commit time and resources to the copy
The mean open rate of emails in the US was just 19.9% in 2017, meaning a large majority of emails are deleted without being opened or simply left to slide down the inbox and out of view. As you might think from that, it’s fairly important to give your campaign emails the best possible chance of being opened, and that comes down to the subject line.
Perfect the subject lines to the best of your ability (there are plenty of great resources for this online, and countless examples), and then view the internal copy of every email as a step-by-step path to a call to action (CTA), making sure each part maintains momentum.
The opening should reinforce the topic and allure of the subject line, then push the user’s attention to the promotional material of the main body, which should then lead naturally to an opportunity to take action (the whole point). What you should include in your copy will depend on your niche, but always keep things succinct and use the most powerful images you can.
Handily, you don’t have to start completely from scratch, because there are so many great examples of high-quality emails to be found and used for inspiration. Really Good Emails is the most widely used, and it’s fantastic for quickly reading up on how other businesses are nailing their marketing and customer service.
Figure out your best value propositions
As noted, marketing emails are about spurring action. If you entertain, inform and impress users in the process, that’s great, but all of that effort will be for nothing if you don’t get them to do what you’re ultimately looking for them to do (buy your products, most likely).
The cornerstones of your efforts to drive action will always be your value propositions. What you’re offering, how you’re offering it, and what you expect in return. Mess up your value propositions and no amount of strategy in other areas will save your campaign from disaster.
Start by reviewing the value propositions you already offer through your website and any other channels you frequent. Do you offer samples? Convenient product bundles? Bulk buys? And what incentives do you use? Discounts? Entry into prize draws? Are those the right choices for the personas you’re targeting?
If your current value propositions are underwhelming, make some changes. Keep assuming the perspective of the potential buyers and make your best effort to give them what they’re looking for. It isn’t always easy, but it’s something you can’t afford to get wrong.
Implement email automation
Email marketing is a long-term strategy, and quality is nothing without sustainability. Not many businesses have the resources to commit to manually targeting segments at just the right times, and those that do would much rather spend them on other tasks, because it’s far easier to make use of email automation.
Email automation systems allow you to set up various email types and configurations and define when and how they should be distributed automatically. The most common examples of this are welcome emails for new users or cart abandonment emails for prospective buyers who left eCommerce websites without purchasing items in their carts, but you can get far more granular with your segmentation to reach the right people at the right times.
Many online retailers build their eCommerce sites through simple web-store makers because that approach allows for easy automation through integrations or add-ons that can pull complex segmentation data directly from customer records, and that’s the simplest option for you if you use that kind of host. Otherwise, it’s worth doing some research on marketing automation in general: here are some tools to look into.
Keep testing and iterating
An email campaign isn’t set in stone once you’ve started it— it’s something you must develop on an ongoing basis. You need to keep improving upon what you’ve already done, seeing what isn’t working and changing it, seeing what is working and doing more of it.
Over time, you’ll be better able to relate your overall ecommerce performance to your various marketing channels, and feed that information back into your strategy, creating an iterative loop that will keep on raising the bar if you maintain your commitment.
Email marketing is probably the most potent tool you have at your disposal if used correctly, so align it with your general ecommerce plan to push for the maximum possible return on your investment. You won’t regret the effort.
Consulting with a trusted digital specialist can make this process easier for any business. Contact DMG+ThriveHive today to help you grow your business with a strategic digital approach.