5 Tips for Email Marketing for eCommerce: How to Grow Your List and Make More Sales

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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In the last two decades, there has been an explosion of new digital channels, but, above the buzz of these emerging technologies, email marketing has consistently stood out and even outperformed social media marketing, television, and paid search in driving sales and customer engagement. Don’t believe it? How about this statistic? Email marketing was reported to account for approximately 23% of online sales.

eCommerce sites like conventional brick and mortar stores rely on repeat customers. Having an extensive email list is one way to ensure that casual website visitors keep coming back and become paying customers.

The statistics clearly show that, without an effective email marketing campaign, your eCommerce business is dead in the water. Many eCommerce websites are quite aware of the statistics and what the implications are to their business, but they have failed to master the art of building a list that can increase their sales.

Email Marketing Stats

You don’t have to make massive changes to your website or change your marketing strategy entirely, but these few tips will certainly help you build a more extensive list and make more conversions.

Email marketing tip 1

Content Is King

This internet cliché is true for every website owner, but it perhaps means a lot more to eCommerce store owners. It means that you need much more than just products on your website if you want visitors to become loyal to your brand and increase your ROI.

Work on Your First Impression – Your interface must be exciting, your pictures must be crisp, and your content must be engaging. The first impression people get of your site can make them unconsciously partial (or un-partial) to your site. Investing in a great interface can suggest high value to visitors and will increase the chances of their signing up for your email list when you present the chance.

Create Knowledgeable Posts – This should go without saying, but your content should be relevant to your customers. If you sell kitchen supplies, a recipe blog post or DIY blog posts on how to use certain equipment will engage your target audience a lot better than a blog post on the top 10 cutest puppies. Your content should suggest to customers that they have entered an environment that cares about them and wants them to get the best experience. They will be more likely to commit to your brand and drop an email in your sign-up sheet.

Add Email Capture to Your Posts – My asking you to add an email capture to your homepage and inner pages is a no-brainer, even if they yield a small percentage of subscribers.

MailChimp is still a very notable and reliable resource for email capture and for managing and building your list. It offers amazing benefits, including its user-friendliness and its automated capture-and-build capacities which make it really easy to get data and customize your emails and messages. It offers a free basic plan for people with fewer than 2000 subscribers, which is great news for newbies in the eCommerce industry.

Making sure that your posts offer serious knowledge is one step. In addition to that, you can incorporate your email capture at the end of the post with an offer for them to receive more content related to what they just read. This way, you make an elite group of the subscribers to your online store. Below is a sample from the KISSmetrics blog:

derek halpern website screenshot

You can embed a MailChimp list signup form on any page of your website including blog posts, and you can customize the form to support your brand or combine it with special offers to attract new subscribers and boost engagement.

To use MailChimp to achieve this:

  • Use the Form Builder to create your signup form.
  • After you have created your signup form in the Form Builder, you can choose a form option, customize settings, and generate the form code to add to your site. The Form Builder offers four options designs for the sign-up forms:
  • Classic

subscribe email option 1

  • Super Slim

subscribe email option 2

  • Horizontal

subscribe email option 3

  • Naked


subscribe email option 4

With this variety, you can find the best design that suits your website and edit the wording using your list settings on the form builder (Navigate to the lists, go to the drop-down, and select “settings”).

  • The form code is generated, and then it can be copied and pasted into your website’s HTML where you want the form to appear.
  • Remember to use your list settings in the form builder enable reCAPTCHA to eradicate fake signups.

Email marketing tip 2

Develop a Great Pop-Up Strategy

This has become quite common in recent years, but many websites are still not doing it right. About 98% of your website visitors will usually not use the sign-up sheets on your website. This reality has increased the use of pop-up sign-up sheets. However, there are some considerations to doing it right.

Timing – Pop-ups that show up immediately or about a minute after the visitor comes on your website are not very effective because the visitor has not yet had a chance to see what you are offering. It is often safer to have pop-ups come up when visitors open inner web pages. This way, you can be more confident that they are at least interested in what you are selling.

If your first pop-up sign-up form did not work, then exit-intent pop-ups might do the trick. Make room for the usual customer hesitancy—give them a chance to get at ease with your online store and, when visitors are about to leave your site, trigger a sign-up form instantly.

Wording – The wording of your pop-ups can also help reduce the perceived rudeness of pop-ups. One website’s pop-up started this way:

“You don’t like pop-ups? Ahh, shoot! Well, since we have your attention already …

It worked on me.

Exit-intent pop-ups often start with a phrase like “One last thing before you leave …”

Pop-ups, by their very nature, come up uninvited, so the key is to word your message in such a way that it relaxes the minds of customers and doesn’t make them feel harried. GQ magazine has been listed as one of the websites with a great pop-up strategy for this reason. The image below shows exactly why they have had so much success.

gq daily email signup

Create Some Urgency in Your Pop-Ups – Most pop-ups which see responses are pop-ups that produce some urgency like a “Limited Offer” on a product discount or a time-bound offer for coupons, percentage-off offers, or a contest or some other type of promotion that excites the prospect.

Momentum is one resource that can help you create an urgency countdown timer on your pop-ups. The image below shows a sample of an urgency timer created using Momentum.

fuel website discounts

Placement – Where and how you place your pop-ups can also contribute to increasing conversions or consequently increasing your bounce rate. Many websites use lightbox pop-ups. These pop-ups dim the rest of the website and become prominent on the screen. This is effective in enhancing visibility.

It could work reasonably well if your message and offer are enticing, engaging, motivating, or funny enough to keep it from irritating visitors. Otherwise, it could be considered intrusive and increase your bounce rate. A good sample of a lightbox pop-up with reasonably engaging wording is seen in this image:

light box pop up screenshot

However, you could also use side pop-ups, which, as the name suggests, are displayed on the side of the screen, thus allowing the user to continue accessing the rest of the page. This method garners a reasonable amount of visibility while not appearing intrusive.

Email marketing tip 3

Make Your Brand More Social

Social media is a good place to get unassuming customers to join your list. The reason is simple: People are more relaxed on a place like Facebook than they are when they visit a website. Most people have to put their game-face on when visiting a website; they come in skeptical, with the intention of checking you out. However, building an interest in your brand on social media may work better.

Organize Contests – Resources like Shortstack, Rafflecopter, and Facebook’s own Contest for Pages make it easy to create social contests, giveaways, and landing pages your customers will love. This often works on social media because people will more willingly give their details on trusted sites. These contests give you the data of everyone who participated, and not just the winners.

Once you create a contest, you can make it available as a mobile app, promote it via a landing page on your site, and embed it in your blog. All campaigns are mobile- and device-friendly. Here is an example of a Facebook competition created by Shortstack:

facebook mobile devices

Create a Relatable Personality – Generally, your brand presence on social media should correspond to the interests of your target audience. Sharing blog posts on social media, and even sharing your brand’s view on trending issues, can go a long way.

People want to feel the personality of your brand, so, beyond posts about your services, an eCommerce site which deals in fashion products can share an article on “5 Items on Display at This Year’s Emmys and How You Can Wear Them.” The article could revolve around fashion accessories that your store currently has on sale.  

Social Media Email Capture

You could also add an encouragement to sign up, in some of your posts on social media. You can achieve this simply by using a link at the end of your posts or, better still, you can collect emails with Twitter lead generation cards that you pin to your profile, or efficiently gather contact information with a Facebook lead ad. This usually works on posts that offer certain giveaways or perks.

Email marketing tip 4

Use Videos

Video AnimationNeedless to say, surfing the net for value is getting harder, with the information overload that many users have to endure. Using videos suggest a level of investment in value, and it easily stands out. An on-site video with a topic like “How to Shop Like a Pro on XYZ Stores.com” that shows how to save on purchases or get special discounts will likely get more clicks than a text post with the same aim.

Your videos should always end with an invitation to drop the viewer’s details with a promise of some premium feature or discount that you offer. You could also use animated videos, as they work well for general and eCommerce-type businesses and are viewed widely because they are easy to use and a little flexible in illustrations.

The investment in video marketing is not as significant as it might seem at first. VideoScribe works really well for sketch-style videos and goes for $25/month. PowToon is free to use and delivers great quality for pro-style animation. Loopster (free) and Wevideo (free to start) are also great third-party resources.

Email marketing tip 5

Build an Amazing Mailing Strategy

Most of these strategies, once applied properly, may get you more names and a longer list, but making more sales is not always proportional to capturing more emails. Your email marketing strategies come into play at this point.

Get a Professional Copywriter/Email Writer – You need a pro on your team, or your email marketing strategy may be weak, to say the least. The people on your list need to be treated like real people; therefore, you need personalized and directed messages to each group.

Divide Your Customer Base into Groups – There is a lifecycle to customers, and how you market to them depends on what stage they are at any given time. There are new customers, cart abandonment customers, one-time purchasers, and multiple purchasers.

The success of your email marketing campaign lies in your ability to send appealing emails that speak to the visitors based on their previous interactions with your website. Your emails could be split into:

  • New subscriber welcome series –  These emails welcome subscribers to the community.
  • A new customer welcome series –  These emails are congratulatory in nature, encouraging more purchases by congratulating customers on completing their first purchases.
  • Cart abandonment emails –  These emails are very important because customers who have disengaged after adding items to their carts usually have a genuine interest. These emails should aim at renewing that interest or keeping it until they can fund the venture.
  • Cross-selling emails: These emails are aimed at people who have completed a purchase. It offers another item that complements or is closely related to the earlier purchase. For instance, it offers red shoes to someone who had earlier bought a red handbag.
  • VIP emails: Studies have shown that general commerce and eCommerce sites make 80% of their revenue from 20% of their customer base; this 20% of your most consistent customers are your VIP customers (you can set the benchmark for consistency). These emails are usually offers, discounts, updates, and anything that makes them feel treasured and happy with your brand.
  • Replenishment emails: These emails are sent to existing customers who purchase goods that are exhaustible, like cosmetics, diapers etc. These emails are aimed at encouraging repeat buying from your site to replenish their stashes.
  • Win back emails: These emails throw out all kinds of “premium offers” at lapsed customers to get them to return to purchasing.

Your copywriter should be focused on creating customized, appealing, and engaging email content for each category of customers, depending on where they are in the lifecycle. Email marketing may involve a lot of actions and considerations, but the good news is that the internet is full of great advice and resources that can help you with minimal effort and at minimal costs.

These tips are a great way to start making significant progress in building your list and making sales.

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