Email marketing is an excellent way to engage customers and increase both site traffic and sales. Not all email messages, however, are equally effective.
In 2012, 44 percent of promotional email recipients made at least one purchase based entirely on receiving an email marketing message from a merchant, according to Convince & Convert, a social media and content marketing firm.
While there are many things that ecommerce merchants might do to improve their email marketing’s effectiveness, here are seven ideas to consider.
1. Have a Singular Focus
Ecommerce marketers often send relatively frequent emails to the same customer list or segment. This is especially true during the holiday shopping season, from early October through the end of December. What’s more, the folks who regularly receive promotional emails, don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time reading those messages.
Given the frequency of emails and how busy recipients are, it can be effective to focus on a single call-to-action or a single category or item in each email.
As an example, a singularly focused email might mention a special sale on a particular category of products, but not necessarily show a recipient three different sale offers.
2. Aim at Specific Customers
Whenever possible, online retail marketers should target messages to customers. If you sell men’s and ladies’ clothing, as an example, you may want to send separate emails, targeting each category based on known customer preferences.
In data taken from nearly 11,000 segmented, promotional email campaigns, email service provider MailChimp found that aiming at specific list segments — specific customer preferences — improved open rates by 14 percent over average list performance and boosted clicks some 15 percent over average email click rates.
Segment targeting also reduced bounce rates, abuse report rates, and the number of recipients who chose to unsubscribe.
3. Write a Compelling Subject
Recently, Google added tabs to its popular Gmail email client. One of the default tabs has the title “Promotions,” and most email marketers have seen roughly a 1 percent drop in open rates from Gmail users seemingly as a result.
In response, marketers are doing a lot to convince customers to move promotional emails from the Gmail Promotions tab into the Primary tab. But in truth, these messages are promotions. So maybe a better strategy would be to focus on standing out, regardless of how a recipient’s email client has categorized the email message.
A strong subject line is now — and always has been — the way to make your email message stand out in a list. In fact, even before the advent of Gmail tabs, market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey reported that some 64 percent of promotional email recipients open email just because of the subject line.
Writing great subjects can be something of an art, but consider using A/B testing and measurement to determine which subject lines work best for your business.
4. Use Attractive Images and Graphics
Regardless of media, pictures are still important. They can also do a good job of conveying brand or product information.
Notice that leading online retailers — from Amazon and Walmart to the Gap and Zappos — all use large and attractive graphics in their email marketing campaigns. These are companies that spend a significant amount of time and money optimizing, and they all use great graphics.
5. Don’t Depend on Attractive Images and Graphics
Unfortunately, not every email recipient will see your attractive images and great graphics, since many users will block images at least initially.
Convince & Convert reported that optimizing your email messages so that recipients can still understand your offer even without images could increase return on investment by 9 percent or more.
One easy way to do this is to simply include good alt tag data with your email images.
6. Optimize for Mobile
Four in ten American adults read emails on a mobile device, according to Constant Contact, the email platform. This implies that if an ecommerce marketer is not optimizing email messages for mobile devices, 40 percent of potential customers — folks who may have been interested in an offer — might not read or interact with the message simply because it doesn’t work well on their device of choice.
To make emails more mobile friendly avoid using table layouts and inline styles that impact appearance. Also, consider segmenting email lists based on the type of device a user is likely to use.
7. Optimize Landing Pages
Remember that promotional email marketing doesn’t end with the email. It must send the interested recipient to a landing page to complete some action. Be certain that your landing page delivers what was promised.
Offer a clear path to conversion. If you were promoting a 30 percent off discount on hats, be certain your landing page shows hats that are 30 percent off and include clearly marked “Add to Cart” buttons or similar.
Optimize for the device, too. If you took the time to segment your list by device and create a special mobile-optimized email, make certain that the email links to a mobile optimized landing page.
Shoppers who purchase products as the result of a promotional email spend 138 percent more than other customers, according to Convince & Convert, so it makes sense to try and earn business with email marketing.