Marketing & Advertising

Email Conversion Guide, Part 2: Creating the Template

An ecommerce email template consists of multiple elements that impact clicks and purchases. This is the second installment of a 3-part series on factors that influence conversions from email marketing. “Part 1: Database Cleanup,” we published last month.

In this post, I’ll address the key conversion elements of an email template.

Ecommerce Email Templates

Reflect the goal. Arrange an email template around the end action you want the recipient to take. What’s the objective? I frequently encounter email templates that do not reflect the goal. This confuses the reader, resulting in fewer conversions.

Make the intended action easy for the user. Remove barriers that hinder conversions. Consider these tips:

  • Auto-load coupon or offer codes into a shopping cart via a click on the email.
  • Ensure offers are straightforward and obvious.
  • Minimize the copy and shopping options.

Apply responsive layouts. Responsive email templates automatically adjust based on the recipient’s device or email client. Nonresponsive layouts can make an email unreadable.

There are many free, open-source responsive template design tools. Moreover, email service providers typically provide templates for their customers.

Use relevant images. Large images are tempting, but they do not materially increase conversions in my experience.

  • Use images that represent your offer.
  • Images with people tend to convert better.
  • Make all images clickable.
  • A/B test images to optimize clicks.
  • Review heat-map reports to determine which images attract the most interest.

Emphasize value. To keep new subscribers opening your emails, every layout should include a clear value proposition, such as:

  • Free shipping.
  • Fast shipping.
  • Dollar- or percentage-off discounts.
  • Bonus reward points.
  • Unique or hard-to-find products.
  • How-to webinars or articles.

This email below from Famous Footwear delivers value from the offer (“BOGO 1/2 Off”) as well as from the rewards program (“Bonus Reward Cash”).

Screenshot of a marketing email from Famous Footwear.

This email from Famous Footwear delivers value from the offer (“BOGO 1/2 Off”) as well as from the rewards program (“Bonus Reward Cash”).

Reflect the segment. The highest-converting emails are personalized to the recipients based on behavior or demographics. The template and content should reflect that segment. Common email segments include:

  • Age or gender.
  • Geography.
  • Life stage.
  • Past purchases.

For example, the email below from America’s Test Kitchen targets a segment of one-person households. It would likely be ineffective for recipients in large families.

Screenshot of a marketing email from America's Test Kitchen

This email from America’s Test Kitchen targets one-person households.

Write a strong call-to-action. A call-to-action is the main button a recipient will click to respond to your offer. Sometimes an email conversion comes down to the CTA language. Minor tweaks in the text can have a big impact on response.

  • Keep the text short.
  • Action words tend to increase clicks. “Get the Discount” is better than “Buy Now.”
  • Entice curiosity.
  • Avoid words that require a commitment, such as “download” or “register.”
  • Use buttons large enough to tap with a finger on a phone.
  • Keep call-to-action buttons near the top.
  • Offer multiple calls-to-action.
  • A/B test calls-to-action for the most clicks.

Close the Loop

Shoppers tend to procrastinate. Reminder and last-chance notifications can greatly increase conversions. Also, send automated, triggered emails to shoppers who clicked on an email but abandoned the checkout process.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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