Top-Performing Email Marketing Strategies to Drive Engagement and Sales
by Ron Dod
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In today’s multifaceted, media-saturated world of information, there have never been more ways for brands to get their messages out to consumers. There’s television, social media, PPC advertising, radio, print publications and various other channels. However, among all of the potential methods that advertisers use, more than 85 percent of marketers claim that email marketing is one of the most effective modalities available.
As it stands, over 250 billion emails are sent per day. That figure is set to rise to 275 billion by 2019. Moreover, email marketing strategies can produce jaw-dropping results. As Campaign Monitor reports, email marketing earns a $44 ROI for every dollar spent. That same report notes that email generates 174 percent more conversions than social media.
With the advent of automated email marketing platforms, marketers can be tempted by letting their efforts go on autopilot, adopting a “set it and forget it” mindset. Doing so, however, is a terrible mistake as the more effort a company invests in its email marketing strategy, the more it is likely to get back in return.
eCommerce email marketing requires time, attention and dedication to be genuinely effective. To help you craft a robust plan of action for your campaign, we’ll explore four effective email marketing strategies for engendering consumer engagement and driving sales.
Ready to become an email marketing master? Read on.
Stay Out of Spam Folders
First things first: If your carefully crafted email lands in your audience’s spam folders, all your hard work will be in vain.
To begin, ensure that all of your email recipients have opted into your email subscriber list so that you remain in accordance with the regulations laid out by the CAN-SPAM Act.
Outside of this simple step, don’t use all caps or a series of exclamation marks in your subject lines. This screams spam and will likely never see the light of day. Moreover, emails with poor HTML formatting are also likely to be flagged. While it might pass through some filters, others might flag your email as unsolicited and send it straight to the junk folder.
If you want a more detailed and comprehensive understanding on how spam folders work, we highly recommend checking out this guide from MailChimp.
Personalization and Segmentation
When putting together an email marketing strategy, few tactics are as powerful as personalization and segmentation.
Personalizing and segmenting (a form of personalization that breaks lists into specific groups to send more relevant communications to certain subscribers) emails can provide retailers with greatly enhanced engagement rates and returns.
By merely beginning emails with “Hi [First Name]” as opposed to “Hello valued customer,” recipients are more likely to read a message. For example, by adding a personalized email subject line, eCommerce merchants can increase open rates by upwards of 50 percent.
However, email communications should be far more tailored than just using a customer’s name. This is where segmentation comes into play. By effectively employing a segmentation in an eCommerce brand’s email marketing strategy, retailers can increase revenue by over 750 percent.
By focusing on understanding what specific buyer groups are most interested in, merchants can produce highly personalized and effective emails that substantially increase email engagement and click-throughs. If retailers send out emails with tailored product lists, calls-to-action (CTAs) and messaging, they are far more likely to get consumers to convert.
Some of the different ways that merchants can segment their email lists include:
Specific demographic factors – such as gender, age, income, profession and other variables – can help to inform eCommerce buyer personas and guide messaging personalization.
For instance, during the back-to-school shopping season, merchants might want to send completely different messages and product types to a 43-year-old male school teacher and a 19-year-old female entering her first college semester. These two are bound to be interested in wildly different products and sales.
By tailoring messages in this way, brands can obtain far superior results to generic messaging sent to an entire audience.
This segmentation strategy is a massively influential factor in generating engagement and sales because emails that cater to a person’s interests are extraordinarily relevant and primed to grab their attention.
By crafting emails that include product recommendations from a shopper’s wish list, purchase history and/or recently viewed items, retailers can send out communications that are likely to generate a purchase – particularly if they include an incentive, such as a limited-time coupon or promotional code.
Open and Click-Through-Rates (CTR)
Separating your customers by their activity levels (i.e., engaged customers versus those who are inactive) can have a tremendous impact on your email campaign’s success.
When introducing new products to your store, it is wise to send these messages to the most active of your consumer base. Meanwhile, instead of sending emails about a new product to inactive customers, establish a re-engagement campaign to try and pull them back into the fray.
Customer Lifetime Value
There is an excellent chance that your store has customers who are worth significantly more in terms of their account’s lifetime value. This is natural and follows the Pareto principle – an axiom more colloquially known as the 80/20 rule.
It is wise to focus specific campaigns on your most valuable customers as they are the lifeblood of your brand. You might consider sending these shoppers special offers and other perks that encourage them to continue their desirable spending behaviors.
There are seemingly endless ways to segment and personalize email communications to obtain more significant levels of engagement and sales. Experiment with different audience types to see what produces the best results for your brand.
Split Test Everything
Split testing (or A/B testing) is an invaluable feature of today’s marketing technologies. Through split testing, eCommerce merchants can formulate and test different ideas on how to generate engagement and produce concrete answers on which email marketing strategies prove most useful.
When split testing various email elements, it is always wise to begin with subject lines; after all, if your subscribers don’t open your emails, then the other factors don’t matter so much.
When crafting email subject lines, merchants should aim to elicit an emotional response from recipients. Feelings of excitement, curiosity, or amusement tend to be great drivers for open rates. Since the point is testing which elements work most effectively, try crafting a few emotionally provocative subject lines to find one that is particularly effective.
Moreover, as mentioned before, personalized subject lines tend to increase open rates substantially. The easiest way to do this is by including the recipient’s name. Personalizing communications in this way makes it seem as if the email was written specifically for the receiver, which is great for building stronger relationships with customers.
Next, it’s time to move on to the actual messaging in the email campaign.
A slew of eCommerce merchants utilizes the same email template for sending out newsletters and other sorts of communications. While this is a fine time-saving strategy, testing against other models is necessary to verify which works best for your audience.
The downside to this, however, is that retailers can get careless in their campaigns, resulting in emails that all look the same. You’ll want your messages to look fresh to keep engagement high.
Pay particular attention to your email campaigns and A/B test it against other content to see what resonates most with consumers.
For promotional emails that include various products, merchants would be wise to test out different CTAs and other impactful elements. Instead of using “Buy Now,” try “Shop Our Selection,” “Learn More” or similarly less-aggressive terms. This way, you might lure in customers who would otherwise be turned off by more direct CTAs.
No matter which CTAs you elect, let the split testing results guide your messaging for future emails.
Ensure Mobile Optimization
Most merchants are aware that mobile is the future of everything online. While desktop devices will probably never fade entirely into obscurity, they are decreasing in usage. This trend is reflected by the fact that desktop sales have been steadily declining for years.
The bottom line here is that if your store’s email marketing strategy is not optimized for mobile devices, people will delete them.
Email is one of the most powerful channels available to merchants seeking to increase retail revenue. Utilizing the tips featured here, sellers can lay down the foundation for an effective email marketing strategy that continually engages customers and drives conversions.
However, like most marketing efforts, mastering email tactics is a process that requires persistence, diligence and constant data assessment.
By effectively segmenting your audiences, personalizing email communications, optimizing messages for mobile and continuing to test email components against one another, merchants can transform email into their most profitable sales channel.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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