6 Steps for a Killer Email Marketing Strategy for Online Businesses
Despite rumors to the contrary, email marketing is alive and well in the digital age. Email marketing is particularly suited for ecommerce entrepreneurs. Much of your communication with your customers occurs via email, so sending marketing campaigns via email is a natural fit.
Simple and flexible email marketing tools are recommended, so every email campaign can look different. There aren’t any golden rules, but there are certain best practices that you should take into consideration. Feel free to follow these 6 steps when planning your next email campaign:
Make a Plan
What are the most important goals for your email campaign: um, maybe driving sales? Or bringing people to your website? Sharing content? With a clear goal in mind, it’s easier to design a campaign that can help you achieve it.
Make sure you know exactly who you’ll be emailing, as this affects everything from the content of your newsletter to your communication tone and style. And even more basic: are you B2B or a B2C? B2B email campaigns tend to be sources of information and informative content, where B2C are more likely to contain discounts and awesome photos of people using your products.
No matter your target group, you should have a very clear purpose in mind when designing your next campaign. Set specific, measurable goals. This will help focus your campaign and allow you to objectively measure how successful it is.
Build Contact List
Building a contact list is one of the most important parts of a successful email campaign. Sending emails with great content won’t help you very much if they’re not being delivered to people who are likely to find them interesting.
How to Build a Contact List:
- Place registration form on your company’s homepage
- Checkbox during the checkout process on your ecommerce shop
- Special offers via exit-intent popups – “sign up for my newsletter and receive 10% discount”
- A registration form on your Facebook page
Hint: I’d highly recommend against buying email lists. You don’t know how good the lists are, and there are strict laws against unwanted commercial contact. Be safe, and trust your own list.
Segment Your Contacts
As an ecommerce entrepreneur, this won’t be difficult: the best way to organize and segment your contacts is by integrating your ecommerce platform with an email marketing software solution via a plug-in or other interface. This will automatically synchronize your contacts, including their basic information as well as purchase history and other identifying traits.
Once you’ve imported your contacts, it’s time to start segmenting them. You should create groups based on shared traits – age, location, gender, purchase history – that will enable you to send more relevant content to your contacts. I strongly recommend creating Dynamic Groups, which automatically update themselves to include contacts with certain traits. You’ll save yourself a lot of manual effort.
Design Awesome Newsletters
Subject. What does the email subject have to do with designing a good newsletter? Everything, actually. It’s the first thing that your contacts will see in their inbox, and it goes a long way in determining whether your email gets opened at all. Relevance is more important than length. Let your contacts know exactly why they should open your email.
Design. Email marketing software offers you a lot of design options that aren’t available in your email client. This lets you design the perfect newsletter, one that matches your online shop design.
- Above the fold. Your most important content should be at the very top of the newsletter. There’s no guarantee that your contacts will scroll down in the email, so make sure that they see what you want them to.
- Personalization. Personalized greetings generate more clicks, and personalized product offers and content can be extremely effective.
- Responsive Design. Responsive design templates ensure that your newsletters display on both desktop and mobile devices. With more than half of all emails being opened on mobile, this isn’t an option – it’s a requirement.
- Images. Include images, but not too many. Too many images can be picked up by spam filters.
- White space. Use a lot of white space. A cramped design doesn’t work on your website, and it won’t work in your email campaign.
Email marketing software offers powerful automation tools. Automated campaigns accomplish two things: they save you time by sending campaigns independently; and they increase your campaign’s relevance by helping you send the right email to the right person at the right time.
The two most commonly used types of automation campaigns are:
Lifecycle campaigns are based on personalized traits. You can set up automatic birthday wishes, holiday greetings, or after their first purchase. You can also set up retention campaigns, where automatically generated emails are sent to customers who have been inactive for certain periods of time (e.g. after 3 days, after 2 weeks, after 1 month)
Send campaigns based on your contacts’ behavior. Examples of trigger campaigns can include people who’ve registered for your newsletter but haven’t bought anything from you; customers who buy a certain type of product; or any other event that can be tracked and uploaded into your email marketing software.
Analyze your Data
Email campaigns offer a ton of data that can be analyzed and used to measure the success of your campaign. The KPI’s include:
- Delivery Rate. How many of your email arrived successfully in your contacts’ inboxes.
- Open rate. The number of people who open the email.
- Click rate. The number of people who click within the email.
- Click through Rate (CTR). The number of people who click within an email as a percentage of the number of opens.
- Unsubscribe rate. The number of people who click on the Unsubscribe button.
- Conversion rate. This can be adjusted by you, and can include purchases and/or downloads.
Beyond the KPI’s, there are a number of other data points that you can analyze:
Cluster Analysis allows you to view the KPI’s sorted by identifying traits. For example, you can look at the open rates for females, or for people who opened your last email.
Clickmaps allow you to see exactly where within your email people clicked. This helps you figure out what kind of content is most interesting for your contacts.
A/B tests allow you to send different versions of a newsletter to test which performs better and geolocating displays exactly where your contacts are opening your emails.
I hope you’ve found these materials helpful. Good luck, and happy emailing!
Feature image curtsey of