Ecommerce Email Marketing Best Practices 2018

Ecommerce email marketing best practices 2018

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Ecommerce email marketing best practices 2018

Are you following best practice with your ecommerce email marketing?

Successful ecommerce businesses set themselves apart from the competition with effective email marketing.

In this article I will talk you through ecommerce email marketing best practices in the new world of email marketing.

One of the most important parts of running a successful ecommerce business is the ability to build an email list.

Your list of contacts is unique and sets you apart from your competition. It allows you to build meaningful and valuable relationships with your contacts.

It is the tool that you can use to increase your customer lifetime value and through which you can see the direction of your business growth.

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Here is what I’ll be covering in this article and some handy links to take you straight there!

GDPR and Ecommerce

There is no doubt as to whether GDPR has affected businesses. You’ve seen and read enough about it and felt enough of its effects by now.

GDPR isn’t going anywhere though. We need to work with it and not against the requirements for compliance.

When it comes to email marketing, you need to pay attention to how you are collecting and using your customer and prospect data. It’s all likely to be personal data that you’re dealing with after all.

There are various grounds for processing data. You can read more about them here.

The main point for me to stress here is that you have to be compliant with GDPR. The fines are potentially disastrous in size and just as importantly the damage to your brand if there was any breach of the regulations would be just as bad, if not worse.

Get a copy of “GDPR: The Next Steps”

Next Steps to GDPR

Ecommerce Email Marketing Strategies

Following the right strategy is crucial for marketing success in every niche and industry.

When it comes to email marketing, strategies become much more complex. There are a number of things that you need to prepare, but before I show you what they are, we need to start with the basics.

Email accounts as the biggest source of traffic to eCommerce sites after organic (SocialMediaToday)


Setting ecommerce email marketing goals & objectives

You probably won’t have read a single post written by me that doesn’t mention goal setting.

It’s vital to marketing success. You need a foundation to build any good marketing strategy and goals & objectives are that foundation.

I always recommend using the SMART approach to planning because it can be done quickly and is also easy to remember!

Getting to know your customers

So, you’re now armed with the goals & objectives that you have set for your ecommerce email marketing. You’re already ahead of a lot of your competition.

Most ecommerce businesses don’t have goals – apart from “make as much money as possible”. They just donlt have toime to get organised!

Now you need to think about your customers and prospects.

Looking at your existing customers, can you see different groups starting to appear?

  • Customers with high average order values (AOV)
  • Customers who are grouped geographically
  • Customers who only buy certain brands, or certain types of product
  • Customers who are interested in certain topics
  • Repeat and regular customers

You get the idea! I could be here all day coming up suggestions.

These individual groups of customers are very important to your success with email marketing for your ecommerce store.

Marketers call them Segments, and in some cases Buyer Personas.

These are great tools to start building more understanding of what your customers are interested in and what it takes to get them to make a purchase.

Customer audience segments and buyer personas are almost the same thing. #emailmarketing #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

This is only the start of getting to know your customers though.

You can also take these individual groups of customers and look at their engagement with your brand, the activities and behaviours that they show.

Using this information you can plot the journeys that each group go through from cold lead to repeat customer. This process is called customer journey mapping.

Find out how to create a customer journey map here:

Your ecommerce platform also houses a wealth of information that can help you to pin down your buyer personas/segments and your customer jounrney maps for each of them.

Automate your email marketing, or not?

Now we’re moving into slightly more advanced email marketing strategy.

Are there any parts of your customer journeys that could be automated?

Your ecommerce software will already send automated transactional emails for you. This is a good start, but if you could automate your new customer journeys you could save time for you to do what you’re best at!

You use marketing automation workflows to lead your prospects and customers down your chosen customer journeys to purchase.

Use #MarketingAutomation flows to lead contacts to conversion rather than following them around waiting for it to happen. #marketingtips #digitalmarketing #emailmarketing Click To Tweet

As each individual shows a certain behaviour, updates a piece of crucial information, or makes a purchase, the workflow will decide what happens next based on the flow that you have created.

This takes all of that work out of your hands! You just have to set it up and then your contacts will start to make their way through the workflows.

You can create automation workflows for any journeys that you need. They can also contain as many, or as few steps as you choose.

The main ones include:

  • Welcome email series to new subscribers or new customers
  • Abandoned cart or abandoned browser series
  • Birthday or anniversary series
  • Customer nurture series, including recommended product suggestions

You can automate the full customer journey if you want to. It would take some time to create though!

The only thing stepping in your way with marketing automation is finding a marketing automation tool that is easy to use, but powerful enough to make your life easy.

Wired Plus have that ecommerce marketing automation solution for you.

There is one massive benefit of marketing automation that I’ve not mentioned yet and it’s often overlooked.

Marketing Automation flows work for you and your customers 24 hours per day. 365 and 1/4 days per year!

This puts your ecommerce business on autopilot and means that you can run your business 24 hours a day without having to do all that work!

Now that’s a benefit that stands you head and shoulders above your competition and that you can take to the bank!

Putting your strategy together

Which ecommerce, email, and marketing automation solutions are you currently using? Do they play nice toegther and give you access to all of your data in one, easy to use place?

If you don’t have all 3, you could be missing out on sales!

Hosting your ecommerce store is great, but if you don’t have an email marketing platform that includes marketing automation, you are likely to be either not doing email marketing at all, or you’ll be spending a massive amount of time doing it!

Using the information that you have at your fingertips gives you the insights that you need to improve all of your marketing activity, not just your email marketing.

To make the most of #ecommerce email marketing you need your ecommerce platform to integrate with your email marketing and marketing automation software. #integratedmarketing #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet

Where does your information sit? Can you access it? Can you analyse it and then do something with it?

These are all questions that you need to be able to answer.

Getting hold of an email marketing platform that includes marketing automation doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.

You may need to consider integrating your ecommerce platform with your email marketing software so that the data flows easily between the 2. This makes it easy for you to see what is happening with each customer and prospect without having to download and uplaod excel spreadsheets!

You’ve now worked out your goals, your segments and personas, their individual buyer journeys, and have considered automating your email marketing and integrating your systems.

Wow! That’s a lot in a short amount of time!

Now let’s look at the tactics that are part of succesful ecommerce email marketing campaigns.

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Ecommerce Email Marketing Tactics

I’ll keep this section short and sweet because we’ve already covered email marketing tactics in other articles and blog posts on the Wired Plus Hub.

No matter which strategies and tactics you decide to use, never loser sight of the fact that your contacts  are the most important part of your business and their experience with your marketing messaging needs to build your brand and not destroy it.

Personalisation (Read more)

This chart explains why personalising your email marketing messaging and the content of your emails improves the results that you get – in the form of conversions.

Email Marketing Conversion rate graph

Increasing relevance and building relationships means more conversions

Moving away from the “shotgun approach”, or as some people call it, the “batch and blast” approach to using insights and data to decide what you send next increases your conversion rates.

Personalising email campaigns is much more than just including a person’s name in the subject line and as a hello!

Personalisation everything from subject line to content and through to email design is what will set you apart as a serious ecommerce business.

Dynamic content (Read more)

If you’ve not come across this term before don’t worry!

Dynamic content is the content that you see in an email that has been delivered specifically for you.

Amazon’s recommended products emails are great examples of this. Here is one for you to reference:

Amazon recommended product email

Amazon use dynamic content blocks in all of their email marketing campaigns

This is just one of the hundreds (possibly even thousands) of email templates that Amazon uses. It’s a basic looking email, but holds a couple of secrets!

The first piece of copy explains why the contact received the email and how the product had been recommended. In this case it was a kindle book recommendation, based on a very recent purchase, previous purchases, and recent website activity. (The contact had already looked at the page that held this book, but hadn’t purchased, or added it to their list.)

That’s secret number 1. Even though this is a very basic email campaign, they have automated it and based the recommended product on information that they know about this individual contact.

Amazon probably sent millions of these emails that day across the globe, but because they are offering recommendations based on specific rules and data insights, they can be sure that each and every email sent was as relevant as it could be for the contacts that receive it.

In other words, they didn’t just sent a bulk email out to all of their contacts recommending this one product! The block that it sits in pulls different products through based on rules that they have set. One email template, millions of personalised emails sent!

80% of consumers like it when they receive retail emails that recommend products to them based on previous purchases

So, onto secret number 2…. Have you spotted it yet?

Probably not! Only the individual contact would also recognise that the “All new Echo…” element is also based on previous purchase history and  a less recent purchase. The contact had just been looking at the new echo because they clicked on a link in a recent email that they received from Amazon.

I know, because it was an email sent to me personally!

Amazon hold so much data about every one of their users and contacts that they can’t fail to deliver the most relevant email content in every email campaign, just by using dyanmic content and a bit of planning when they created their email designs.

This is the thing about dynamic contenht blocks in email marketing platforms. You can create a set of email templates that can be used over and over again, and which contain relevant and fresh content on every single send.

Right time, right people, right contact (Read more)

Industry leading ecommerce email marketing boils down to this phrase:

Deliver the RIGHT CONTENT, to the RIGHT PEOPLE, at the RIGHT TIME and in the RIGHT FORMAT

Straight forward isn’t it?

Think about your own inbox – work, or personal.

How many companies and brands and still sending you emails?

How many have you opened? How many have you then clicked on?

I would hazard a guess that you are getting hundreds of emails per day, but you only open a few of those. Of the ones you open, you probably only click on a coupe (if that!).

How many emails do you receive per day that are delivered at the perfect time for you, with the most relevant content for you at that exact moment? There are very few companies who are getting this right yet! #email #emailmarketing Click To Tweet

For the companies who can get this right, the world will be their oyster! People are inundated every day with tens of thousands of marketing and sales messages.

They can now use ad blockers online to turn  some of that noise down. They record ther favourite TV programs and fast forward through any ads. They don’t click on banner advertising. The won’r reply to text messages because it’s too personal.

Email content that is delivered at the perfect moment for that individual gets results that other channels can;t compete with, in a way that isn’t too intrusive on the contact.

If you get this right, your emails will stand out in the inbox and your results will go through the roof.

It just takes a bit of thought about your contacts, their activity, their bahviours online and with your emails, and a bit of data crunmching to tell you who needs what, when , and in what format!

Email Design (Read more)

Getting the look and feel of your email campaigns is vital for their success. Your customers need to recognise and trust your brand and that is so much easier when you send professional, engaging emails to them.

Email design is a topic all to itself, so click on the link above to learn more!

Here are some quick tips for ecommerce email design:

  • Keep the messaging short and concise.
    Don’t go over the top in your email content. Give the contact just enough information to spike their interest and to get them to click through from your email. Leave the job of selling the products to your ecommerce site. People can’t buy in an email – you need your website to do that!
  • Use high quality images of your products.
    Your emails need to showcase your products in the best light, so high quality images of them are vital. Bear in mind though that “high quality” and “high resolution” are different terms.HIgh resolution images such as the ones that you use on your website have massive files sizes. They aren’t suitable for email campaigns because of this. Emails over 100-120kb in size are likely to trigger SPAM filters. Best practice for email images is to create them in the exact size for the email design and then make sure that they are clear, but as low a resolution as possible.
  • Personalise the content
    Sending one email campaign to every single one of your contacts is bad practice. Unless youa re sending a change to policies, or something like that. You have created your buyer personas and segments so that you can move away from this approach. Offering personalised content could be as easy as sending recommended product emails whose content is based on previous purchases, or interest shown by looking at click through data and time spent on key webpages. (You might need some extra contact activity analytics software to see that type of information).
  • Grab attention
    Make sure that your calls to action stand out and that the reason for a contact to click them is clear. Contacts need you to tell them what to do when it comes to email marketing. Don’t assume that they know what they have to do!  Your email designs also need to grab attention and highlight the product, as well as the reason why they will love (and want to buy) that product too.

Mobile Devices (Read more)

Before we move into this section, an important statistic:

In 2017 almost 59% of ecommerce sales occurred via mobile (eMarketer)

This shows that user behaviour is going to dicatate how ecommerce businesses work. If over half of ecommerce sales happen on mobile devices, ecommerce businesses are going to have to ensure that their websites, emails and everything else that they do online considers mobile users.

This means that as a minimum websites need to be responsive, if not deisgned for mobile first.

It also means that email design needs to consider mobile users first too. If the majority of your customers turn to their mobile device first, then you need to be sure that your emails work perfectly on mobile devices.

Mobile users want fast websites, perfectly rendered emails, and don;t want to use all of their data in viewing either.

Images need to be compressed and optimised, email CTAs need to be well spaced and big enough to click!

There are a lot of considerations for mobile email design. Read the post linked next to the subtitle above to learn more.

And another statistic on email marketing:

71% of mobile purchases are influenced by emails from the retailer (Adobe)

Types of Ecommerce Email Marketing Campaign

Having a strategy and knowing how you are going to approach your ecommerce email marketing has got you to this stage.

You’ve got a full grasp on your audiences, you’ve got a strategy and your tactics are on point.

This post wouldn’t be complete without giving you a list of the types of ecommerce email that are out there along with some examples to get your creative juices going!

Abandoned cart and browser emails and abandoned cart series

These are the ecommerce marketers weapon of choice when driving sales conversions!

You may be using them already. If not, you are leaving money on the table for your competition to easily pick up.

Here is an example of an abandoned browser email from Adidas:

Adidas abandoned cart email marketing campaign

Adidas approach their abandoned cart emails with a sense of humour

They have approached their abandoned cart email with a touch of humour. It’s a nice ice breaker and a reminder to the contact that they haven’t finished that purchase yet.

Adidas haven’t tried to overdo it with the email. They have stuck to the product that the contact was looking at and nothing else. If they had tried to offer a lower, or higher priced product it wouldn’t have been relevent.

They have included reviews and testimonials about this specific product to add some social proof to the messaging. This is a powerful driver for ecommerce marketing – the fear of missing out, or someone having something before you!

All the reasons to go back and make the purchase are included and the CTA couldn’t be any clearer.

Try this for yourself with your own products. It will work for anything, not just fashion and sportswear.

Upsell and cross sell emails

These email campaigns work best when they are personalised based on the products that your contact already has. You need to be able to tie all of your contact’s purchase history, web visit data, activities and behaviours together from your ecommerce solution, your database, and your email marketing reports to get this right.

Here is a great upsell email example from the Dollar Shave Club:

Dollar Shave Club upsell email campaign

Dollar Shave Club use regular upsell emails as part ot their ecommerce email marketing strategy

Dollar Shave Club operate on a subscription model basis. This gives them the chance every month to send this type of email to their subscribers.

First of all they include the existing package that the user will be receiving this month. They then include suggested “add ons” for that user, all of which compliment the products that the user already has on order.

This content is pulled into the email design dynamically, so will be tailored to every individual contact. You can also see this content being pulled through in the account section at the bottom of the email.

It’s a very clever use of ecommerce email marketing that is personalised, relevant and timely.

Do you remember the “Right message, to the right contact, at the right time” quote above?

This is it in email design form!

Promotional offer emails

Now these are the ecommerce emails that the majority of ecommerce businesses use.

They highlight new products, sales, new offers or discounts and a host of other promotional messages.

Here is an example of a discount promotion email from Pretty Little Thing:

Pretty Little Thing Discount Email campaign

This stand out design supports the brand whilst highlighting the generous discount on offer.

The images stand out and colour scheme can’t help but grab your attention!

They have used one of their brand advocates (Kourtney Kardashian)  as social proof in the email imagery, whilst also promoting that range of products.

The messaging couldn;t be any clearer! The discount is highlighted in glittery text (as an image) and the CTAs tell the contact exactly what happens if they click on them.

This example goes to show that you don’t need to be the world’s greatest copywriter to create great email design!

Customer loyalty and re-engagement emails

This type of ecommerce email campaign is used for nurturing and re-establishing relationships with your contacts. You could use them for birthdays, anniversary of product purchase, as win back emails, or to remind a contact they they might need to buy another product again.

Here is a great example from American Airlines:

American Airlines Reactivation and Reengagement email campaign

American Airlines have personlised this campaign to highlight the loss to the customer of not re-engaging

The design of the email is clear and concise. American Airlines aren’t trying to do too much with the email.

It has been designed as a re-engagement/re-activation email that will be sent to users who haven’t used the airline for some time.

The messaging is clear – use the airline again before the deadline, or lose your airmiles!

The benefits of using the airmiles and also the different ways that they can be collected are highlighted to prompt the contact to book that next flight.


Back to contents

Ecommerce email marketing can make or break an ecommerce business. It’s the only channel that you can use to build and nurture relationships with your customers that doesn’t intrude into their personal lives so far that you push them away. Social media is an example of a channel that can become too intrusive.

Following these ecommerce email marketing best practices, you can be assured that your email marketing will get you the results that will grow your business.

It’s not exhaustive. Each individual ecommerce business has it’s unique requirements when it comes to email.

If you want more advice on ecommerce email marketing and your own business, contact us! We love sharing our knowledge and expertise and answering questions that you might have.

And one last statistic before you go:

The total average eCommerce spend per customer, over the course of the year is estimated to be £1,600 in the UK (Smart Insights)

Ecommerce email marketing is well worth your time – that’s a lot of money to leave on the table…

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