Email Marketing Guide
As an ecommerce business owner it is highly likely that you view email marketing as a key tool for generating inquiries and sales. This is of course correct, however in reality most merchants do not maximise the potential of this channel, so in this post I want to discuss some email marketing best practices that WILL improve the success of your campaigns.
Building up an email list
Before any email marketing campaign can commence we are first going to need a list of contacts. For an unestablished business, getting a substantial number of people to hand over their email address can be a challenge in itself.
It is obvious that you have to offer something in return, but with the sheer inundation of spam emails that we are all used to receiving, you may need to be creative with your call to action.
A discount code is a popular way of persuading people, but unless you plan to regularly offer discounts then I would suggest offering something beyond this so that you retain permission after an offer has been redeemed.
What is strictly necessary is to state a clear purpose of what you plan to do with their email address once you receive it and what benefits they will gain from giving it to you.
The tone of your call to action should be helpful and friendly, and the copy should be conversational. This is especially important as a mitigation strategy to keep the visitor on side if you are using interrupt screens.
Creating an email strategy
Whilst the overall aim of email marketing is clearly to generate sales, going in with an approach which is overly sales focussed is a sure way to get delisted. Additionally, sending emails too regularly is also likely to result in being delisted, however the key point here is to let your reader know when they sign up how regularly they can expect to receive emails.
Whilst different businesses will have varying amounts or content and promotions that they can realistically send, a rough guide of 1 or 2 emails a week seems about the right level. It’s better to play it safe and avoid running the risk of spamming, considering that a significant aim of an email marketing strategy is to ensure that your businesses name is top of mind when the prospect is looking to purchase, which is significantly less likely if you are delisted.
A weekly newsletter is a good place to start your campaign and should get you in the mind set of providing informative and entertaining content to your prospective customers. In the next section we will come on to how you can maximise the impact of your promotion based emails.
Try and keep your “hard sell” emails relatively few and far between as if they are too regular they may damage the relationship you are attempting to build up with the recipient over time and they will lose their impact.
Optimizing your emails
Once you have devised your email strategy, to maximise the chances of the time you invest paying off you need to ensure that your emails are optimized.
Despite someone agreeing to sign up to your mailing list, as you probably know from your own experience, this is no guarantee that they will bother to open your emails. For this reason you will firstly need to persuade the recipient to open your email with a compelling subject line.
The initial aim is to make the subject line relevant to the recipients’ interests. If you are operating in quite a niche market then you can assume to some extent that general industry news will be of interest. If you are running an offer then you should try and tailor it to any previous purchase history.
Equally as important as being in tune with the recipients areas of interest is to be able to offer something of value. This value often comes in the form of providing concise and informative industry updates and entertaining / interesting content in one place.
Whatever the “value” proposition of your email is, be sure to communicate this clearly in the subject line, keeping the tone casual but making sure you use actionable language to create the impression that the reader will benefit most from the contents of your email by opening it now.
An important piece of advice is to try not to send your emails from a generic address such as “email@example.com”. These emails, unless requested almost always get ignored. Using a personal address e.g. “firstname.lastname@example.org” helps to build familiarity and trust.
Although it has been stated before, personalisation is crucial in terms of driving engagement so always use the recipients’ name and any other information that shows that you understand them (not in a creepy way!) is likely to buy more of the readers’ time.
When planning your email strategy you will hopefully have also made a rough content plan for your email campaign. What is important is how you present this content in your email.
Because no one has the time to digest a dense block of text, you should try and keep copy clear and concise with call to action buttons linking to the content rather than trying to include too much in the email itself. This has the added advantage of being able to measure click through rate which is important when you come to evaluate your strategy.
With regards to images in your email, we would always recommend this as it does make the whole email more visually appealing and professional. Be sure to send to yourself first to preview what these look like to make sure that they render properly.
Finally, it is courteous to always have a one click unsubscribe button!
Hopefully this guide has been a useful tool for any of you thinking of starting an email marketing campaign or looking to improve your existing strategy. In future posts I will cover additional aspects of email marketing in more detail.
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