Practical Ecommerce

Merchandising for Email Marketing

Featuring the correct mix of products in your marketing emails can create interest from subscribers, and drive revenue. Depending on the strategy, the products to feature in the emails will differ drastically.

In this post, I’ll explore four common ecommerce email strategies, and how to merchandise for each one.

Strategy: Increase Email Opens

To increase email engagement by your subscribers, feature new products, a mix of interesting products, and offers and discounts.

The first step is to use the subject line and pre-header to entice subscribers to open. New products, seasonality, or time-sensitive offers can help.

This email from Martha Stewart Living is timely since it was sent on a Monday with ideas for weeknight meals.

This email from Martha Stewart Living is timely since it was sent on a Monday with ideas for weeknight meals.

One day after Mother’s Day, PersonalizationMall.com and Personal Creations shifted their email focus to Father’s Day and graduations.

One day after Mother’s Day, PersonalizationMall.com and Personal Creations shifted their email focus to Father’s Day and graduations.

Strategy: Increase Clicks

Once a recipient opens an email, the next objective is to get him to click. In this strategy, the merchandising tactics can vary since it is difficult to know what most email readers will find engaging enough to click on.

To increase clicks, include a mix of products that are interesting and different from each other, and also include a compelling discount or price point.

Note the example below from Personal Creations, a retailer of unique gifts. The top portion of the email contains a strong discount: $10 off. The merchandise in the email focuses on Father’s Day, with different products for different fathers.

This email from PersonalCreations.com contains a $10 off offer. The merchandise focuses on Father’s Day, with different products for different fathers.

This email from PersonalCreations.com contains a $10 off offer. The merchandise focuses on Father’s Day, with different products for different fathers.

Gift-guide type merchandising works because you offer ideas of what a reader can purchase, which is helpful for undecided gift givers. The risk in sending holiday-specific emails is that a recipient is not looking to purchase a gift for that occasion. For those recipients, however, a strong offer — $10 off — can still get them to click.

Strategy: Drive Sales

Analyzing what recipients clicked in your past emails is a good first step in predicting what they will click in the future. Typically recipients click on the major buttons, or calls to action, or the logo. Offers for popular products typically receive a high percentage of clicks. So to drive conversations, include some of your best selling items.

Then, after a purchase, use the data about that buyer — the products and prices — to cross-sell with similar or complementary items. Using a triggered email follow-up after a purchase can greatly help.

Strategy: Sell Excess Inventory

Sometimes, unfortunately, merchants need to sell old or unpopular products. In these situations, offering heavy discounts on those products via email can prompt recipients. Including an add-to-cart button directly in the body of an email will allow an overstock item to be used as a “cart starter” — to get recipients in the checkout process, which will trigger abandonment emails if they do not complete their purchase.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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  1. Keith May 18, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the tips on making emails more engaging than just a product blast. Mixing it up with links to helpful information. Such as Martha Stewarts Thanksgiving tips & things like that. Or contests with various prizes, product give aways and coupons often get extra attention & clicks.

    Cart starters, that’s a good term & plan.

  2. Elizabeth Hollingsworth May 21, 2017 Reply

    Do you know if most shopping cart platforms offer an Add to Cart button that can be coded to identify the customer emailed with the offer?

  3. Christian Gatlin May 22, 2017 Reply

    Hey Carolyn,
    Thanks for posting such a detailed article.
    It’s imperative for marketers to know how to effectively reach their target audiences.

  4. Ilke Karabogali June 6, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the article Carolyn, nicely put :) It’s great to see that you have segmented email marketing according to the underlying strategy. For me the first thing that an eCommerce CRM manager should do while developing an email marketing roadmap is to write down the company’s email related objectives, its data sources, design capabilities and email delivery options. He/she may then shape up a coherent email marketing methodology. Luckily, meeting all the listed strategies is possible with the help of email personalization. According to a survey conducted by Jaywing among 250 UK marketing executives, email is the top personalization channel in the UK. We have recently had a chance to write on this topic if you want to have a look: http://www.perzonalization.com/email-is-the-top-personalization-channel/

  5. Renato Cuomo October 15, 2017 Reply

    Great! Very interesting post!! regards from Italy