Dos and Don’ts of eCommerce Email Marketing

The Dos and Don'ts of eCommerce Email Marketing

By Polly Flinch
July 11, 2019

Every Year There’s a New Barrage of Articles Stating That Email Is Worn out or Tired, a Dying, Endangered Medium That’s on the Outs. but Recent Statistics Tell a Different Story:

  • Email is 40x more effective at acquiring a new customer than Facebook or Twitter. (McKinsey)
  • Email subscribers are 3-9x more likely to share your content via social media than visitors from other sources. (QuickSprout)
  • A message is 5x more likely to be seen in email than on Facebook. (Radicati)
  • 4.24% of visitors from email marketing buy something as compared to 2.49% of visitors from search engines and .59% from social media. (Monetate)
  • Average expected ROI is $32 for every $1 spent on email marketing. (Oberlo)

By the end of 2019 we are expected to see 2.9 billion email users (more than one-third of the global population). According to Radicati, we’re averaging 117.1 billion consumer emails sent/received per day, meaning every email user receives ~40 promotional emails a day. That’s 280 emails a week, 1,120 a month, or 13,440 a year. And remember, this number doesn’t include business or friends and family communications.

So while email is not going anywhere anytime soon, the job of the email marketer is getting harder as competition for space in inboxes grows and attention spans shrink. Here are eight dos and don’ts to help you stay top of mind (and at the top of the inbox) for your customers.

Email Marketing eCommerce Dos

Preview Your Email in Different Inboxes and Across Devices

81% of email users regularly check emails via smartphone. According to Adobe, smartphones are the most common device for checking email especially for younger individuals (less than 35 years old) and females. While this stat doesn’t mean people have given up their laptops, desktops, and tablets for email, it should make you think twice about ignoring how your emails look on mobile devices. As consumers continue to turn to smartphones and other hand-held devices for instant access and connectivity, it’s important that you’re presenting your consumers with a seamless email experience across all of their devices. (Note: the average number of connected devices per consumer is 3.64).

A lot of email marketing platforms have preview capability built-in (WhatCounts does). However, if your email marketing platform is lacking this crucial functionality, check out companies like Email on Acid that allow you to preview your messages across different platforms and devices. If you’re looking for some design tips and tricks, check out our Email Template Best Practices Guide.

Test, Test, and Test Some More

Testing is the cornerstone of smart eCommerce marketing, or any marketing for that matter. Testing gives you the information you need to figure out what resonates with your audience. A/B testing everything from subject lines, content, and CTA colors is key to creating highly engaging emails. Here at WhatCounts, we’ve seen clients triple their click-rates across the board by continually A/B testing subject lines until they found the perfect message.

Pro tip: if you decide to A/B test (hint: you should), make sure you track the changes you make and the impact, otherwise it can be easy to forget what you were testing and what you should test next. Also, while it may be tempting to change everything at once, only test one variable at a time to ensure you’re getting clean, accurate results.

Track Your Progress

Before you start enacting changes to your email marketing program, make sure you take stock of your current open, click, and conversion rates. You’ll want to have a baseline to compare key metrics over time. As you gather this data, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you seeing higher conversions? Why?
  • Are you seeing higher opens? Why?
  • Are you seeing higher clicks? Why
  • What patterns are you noticing?
  • Are there certain types of subject lines that are garnering the most engagement? Specific content?

Simply putting your results and hypotheses in an excel document is a great way to quickly collect and review this information on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You will then have a nice repository of to help you craft messaging moving forward.

Include Unsubscribe and Manage Your Preferences Options

First and foremost, it’s the law. The CAN-SPAM Act, signed into law in 2003, established rules for commercial email. It gives the recipient the right to have you stop emailing them and spells out penalties for violation of the act (you can learn more here.) As you’re probably aware, if you sell internationally, you also need to keep an eye out for GDPR, the data protection regulation passed by the European Union that went into effect on May 25, 2018. As of this date, any EU citizen has to actively opt-in to marketing campaigns. EU citizens also have the right to request access to the data you keep on them and ask you to delete them from your database. Learn more about GDPR compliance here.

Secondly, adding a “manage your preferences” option keeps your customers happy by letting them tell you how often they want to be contacted. Including this option allows the customer to be in control and select the number of touchpoints they want in a given time period, as well as the types of content they wish to receive. Make sure that you’re including a link to the “manage your preferences” page on your unsubscribe page. While on this topic, if you don’t have a branded unsubscribe page, it’s probably time to get one (we can help). Check out these 9 effective unsubscribe pages and give us a call if you want our team to help you design one. While this might seem counterintuitive, giving your customers and subscribers this level of control might just be the thing that keeps you from being kicked out of the inbox for good.

Ecommerce Email Marketing Don’ts

Send the Same Message to Every Person

If you’re still sending every customer the same message, it’s time to start segmenting your customer list. Be diligent in who you’re sending email promotions to and you’ll start to reap the benefits of higher engagement and conversions. Customer segmentation and personalization dramatically increase email engagement. In fact, a report by Experian found that personalized promotional mailings have 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings.

An Email A Day…May Keep Your Customers Away

Aligned with our first “don’t,” emailing a customer more than once a day or even daily is overkill. Let’s remember, on average, consumers are receiving around 40 promotional emails a day. If you send an email every day of the week (7 emails) or two emails daily (14 emails) you’re going to quickly become an eyesore. Yes, there are some very large retailers who break this rule and get away with it, but as a general rule of thumb, try to keep it to 2-3 emails per week. During high traffic times, like the holidays, a higher volume is more acceptable. If you’re struggling to keep all the moving parts in order, try creating an eCommerce email marketing calendar and map out the number of touches each segment will receive in a given month. This document can be a living, breathing, evolving document that you can adjust as the need arises.

Only Rely on Linked Images

Images, GIFs, and video in emails are great—people love them and they make your emails pop. However, not every reader enables images in their email. If you’re only linking images, you’re going to miss out on wowing people who have “display images” turned off in their email settings. Here’s the good news, there’s an easy solution. For each image, GIF, or video, make sure you have some text that’s hyperlinked to the same page on your site. It may seem like a small thing, but this tiny fix can help boost clicks and conversions.

Get Caught in the Spam Filters

As spam filters become smarter and evolve, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure your email is not getting tagged as spam. A quick and dirty tip, avoid using trigger words in your subject lines. Things like “FREE,” “Buy Now,” “4U,” or “Urgent” will usually throw a flag. Check out the list and other tips on how to avoid spam filters here.

While there are many ways to impact your eCommerce email marketing performance, these 8 dos and don’ts will help you rule the inbox in 2019. If you’re looking for assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of email marketing experts, we’re just an email or phone call away.

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