Practical Ecommerce

Don’t Forget Email Marketing; 13 Reasons

With all the focus on social media, it seems that email marketing is almost an afterthought for many companies. Email may not be trendy, but it’s cheap, easy to measure, and easy to target. It’s a good place to do testing, it keeps your brand visible, and at the end of the day it delivers results.

Why Email Marketing for Ecommerce Merchants?

Here are 13 reasons.

  • Click through rates are still higher than online advertising. That’s 3.1 percent average click through in the U.S., according to a 2012 study by Silverpop, an email service provider. If you build a list of 10,000, then you’ll likely have 1,500 people open your mail and around 300 click to your promotion.

  • Lists are easy to build. For online retailers, it’s easy to grow your email list by promoting it on your website and through your social media channels. Unsubscribe rates are typically low, so your list will almost always grow.

  • You can deliver effective content to your customers. Don’t just send email promotions. Talk about your industry, trends, new products, even what you did on your summer vacation. Use emails as a way to connect more personally with your customers. You have more space than you do on Facebook or Twitter — take advantage of it.

  • Lists are easily segmented for easy targeting. Subscribers can easily choose the lists they want to be on — by frequency, product or interest. Retailers can mine customer order histories to target specific products, with much success.

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Amazon is a pioneer in sophisticated email segmentation. This email contains only items that the recipient purchased or viewed at

Amazon is a pioneer in sophisticated email segmentation. This email contains only items that the recipient purchased or viewed at

  • Conversion rates are high. Most online retailers find a much higher conversion rate from email promotions than other forms of promotion.

  • A/B testing is easy. Split your list into segments and test different messaging and promotions on a subset. Then, use the one that was most effective for your campaign.

  • It’s inexpensive. Subscription rates on MailChimp, Constant Contact, and other providers are less than $150 per month for 25,000 subscribers or even more.

  • Email adapts well to mobile. People increasingly read email on their mobile devices. Even if you don’t have a mobile site, you can generate a mobile friendly email in many platforms.

  • Builds brand and loyalty. Emails are a good way to build your brand and engender customer loyalty. Offer subscribers a special benefit they won’t get anywhere else. Just keeping your business name in front of your customers periodically will help them remember you when it’s time to buy.

  • Templates are easy to build and customize. Need to feature three products this week instead of your usual five? Most email services offer flexible templates. Use a branded template of your own. You will still be able to change it in an HTML editor. Add seasonal flair by dropping in stock graphics or photos.

  • Emails can be sent easily and quickly. Drop in your messaging, choose your list and sent it out. It will generate traffic to your site. Don’t abuse your permissions, but occasionally an impulse email promotion when things are slow is a good thing. In my previous ecommerce business, we typically experienced order activity within 15 minutes of sending out an email to our customer list.

  • Easy to measure. You’ll see who clicked through, and how many times they visited. You can remarket only to people who opened and clicked. You can build a list of frequent clickers and market more aggressively to them, versus the ones who don’t click as often.

  • No conversation to monitor. If you post a message on Twitter, it’s best to monitor it to see how it’s responded to or retweeted. There no need for that on email — unless recipients email you back — which makes it a low maintenance promotional tool.

Integration With Other Platforms

The best way to use email is to integrate with other tools and platforms. For example, when you send an email, use Facebook and Twitter posts to direct people to a copy of it. Or, use Twitter to solicit email subscribers by offering a benefit to sign up. Because Twitter is a viral platform, the offer to subscribe may reach hundreds of people that haven’t heard of you.

Use Pinterest as a landing page for a newsletter communication. It’s a good place to show off your products and build community. Send your email subscribers there to join the conversation.

Use a Facebook Sweepstakes to collect new email subscribers. I ran a successful Wildfire Sweepstakes on Facebook some time back. In addition to the 3,500 or so new Facebook Likes we received, we netted about 2,500 new email subscribers, for a total of investment of about $700. The subscribers were fully opted in. So that investment more than paid for itself over the ensuing months.

Social media is becoming less trendy, but more engrained in our daily activities and way of doing business. Email has been that way for about 15 years now. Don’t forget about that.

Dale Traxler

Dale Traxler

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  1. Cody Sharp January 11, 2013 Reply

    This is a really great article. Love the specific click through information. I actually saw this article today as I was preparing to attend my company’s webinar about increasing click through rates in email. I don’t want to be the guy that advertises his stuff but the AMA will be hosting the webinar and thought it may be relevant to people interested. The webinar will not be specific to any email marketing software so regardless of what platform you use, you should be able to learn something.

    It starts today, on January 11th at 1 PM ET. Like I said, I’ll just link directly to the sign up on the AMA website. Hope that is ok.

  2. cord January 15, 2013 Reply

    Hi Dale,
    nice overview! In this context I would like to mention that email marketing with personalized customer life-cycle emails are most effective, but unfortunately not that easy to implement.

    For merchants running on OsCommerce, Zencart, LoadedCommerce, oscMax and other osc platforms there is the free addon "MailBeez" available, which hooks directly into the stores database to identify recipients. The free basic platform and free campaign modules for e.g. asking customers to write product reviews, winback inactive customers ans more make it easy for everyone to start with automatic aftersales marketing. the official website for the addon is

  3. Cristina Sierra January 15, 2013 Reply

    Timely – as I was just thinking, I need to update my email marketing to continue to drive traffic to my site. It does seem like the least expensive way to market to your target audience.

  4. MichèLe January 28, 2013 Reply

    Love it – it will help me in my marketing my email marketing to small businesses who are wondering if it is still worth it – these are all great points to add to my presentation! :) I’ll be sure to add this to my list of credits!!

  5. Ed Hallen March 18, 2013 Reply

    Dale – great article, and not a message that I’m hearing enough of. Email marketing works incredibly well for Ecommerce and is probably the best bang for the buck that exists.

    As the co-founder of an intelligent email marketing platform for ecommerce (Klaviyo), I’m continually amazed at how predictable the revenue from basic email marketing is.

    Abandoned carts, following up with customers who haven’t bought recently, sending special offers to people on the mailing list; each of these emails is almost a guaranteed revenue driver, and the impact on purchases can be directly measured.