Alex Melone, Co-Founder and Chief Production Officer at CodeCrew, an Email Marketing firm dedicated to delivering data-driven results, delves into the pivotal role of strategy as the true differentiator in e-commerce success.
With an average ROI of $40 (£32) per $1 (£1) spent, email marketing is one of the most lucrative tactics for e-commerce out there. But getting that 4000% ROI is not as easy as it looks. The difference between failure and success? A strong, data-driven email marketing strategy.
Getting the Basics Right
Most struggling e-commerce businesses complain about a high unsubscribe rate and a low click-through rate. Usually, the solution comes down to four things: segmentation, regulations, automation, and personalisation.
Segmentation: This involves breaking your customer list into segments according to their profiles as opposed to sending all campaigns to everyone on your list.
Regulations: Servers are actively looking for any signs of spam in an email, so you must adhere to strict guidelines and opt-in policies.
Automation: These are automated emails triggered at various points in the customer’s buying journey, enhancing their brand experience.
Personalisation: Taking segmentation one step further, personalisation involves showcasing products and services based on the customer’s on-site behaviour and previous purchases.
While most Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Klaviyo, Mailchimp, and Salesforce have integrated features for the above, these features are of little use without the right expertise. To truly maximise your email campaign performance, you need to establish clear, achievable goals.
Setting Your Goals
While no two e-commerce businesses are exactly alike, most have the same goals for their email marketing campaigns:
- Minimise unsubscribe rates.
- Grow the existing list of contacts.
- Retain the existing list of contacts.
- Create email campaigns that will convert leads.
Once you’ve established your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), you’ll be able to see whether or not your new strategy is addressing the goals you set out. Plus, since you’re looking at real-time data, you won’t have to rely on guesswork.
You’ll also want to ensure that your email marketing strategy aligns with your overall brand strategy and what it is you want to achieve with your business. As email marketing is quite fluid, you can easily pivot your strategy when the business moves in a new direction.
The Game Plan
Once you’ve established your goals and you have a blueprint of what it is you want to achieve, it’s much easier to devise a specific strategy for each goal.
Minimise Unsubscribe Rates
Since customers actively subscribe to a business’s email list, it’s safe to assume that those on your list are interested in what you’re selling, so any problems with unsubscribe rates wouldn’t usually be attributed to spam issues. Instead, this means that your subscribers are likely receiving irrelevant content.
Luckily, this can be remedied with proper segmentation. By taking stock of your audience and dividing subscribers into segments based on behaviour and preferences, you can craft targeted campaigns that will cater to each target audience’s interests, ensuring that every subscriber only receives communication that is relevant to them – which they are far more likely to engage with.
Grow Your Existing List of Contacts
Organic list growth is key to any successful email marketing program, so be sure to make the process as seamless as possible for potential subscribers.
The best tool for this is having an overlay on your website that entices visitors to sign up. You should also consider offering a welcome discount for any new contacts, as this can increase sign-up rates.
You could also create online competitions where signing up is a requirement for entry, or build a referral program encouraging your existing customers to share the contact details of friends and family in exchange for a reward.
Retain Your Existing Contacts
When it comes to retention vs acquisition, retention wins every time as it’s far more affordable. In fact, studies have shown that acquiring new customers can cost up to seven times more than retaining the customers you already have – and the same can be said for email subscribers.
This is why it’s so important to build an email marketing program that is balanced, offering both value and product-focused content to ensure that subscribers aren’t receiving the same thing over and over. A good way to do this is by incorporating content pillars into your email marketing calendar to represent different categories such as promotions, informative content or holiday campaigns. Not only will this guide your content creation, it also makes it easy to see at a glance whether your email marketing campaigns are highlighting a wide enough range of topics.
Another aspect of email marketing that requires close attention and monitoring is cadence. Send too few emails and subscribers may forget you exist. Send too many and they are likely to opt out.
Create Email Campaigns That Will Convert Leads
None of the above matters if your customers aren’t making purchases – unless your goal is to simply improve brand visibility. But, if sales are at the top of your list, you’ll want to see a steady rise in click-through rates.
This is where A/B testing is worth its weight in diamonds. By testing the right verbiage, imagery, email length, send times, and more, you’ll be able to hone in on what your subscribers want and deliver your offering in a way that they are most likely to respond to.
Fair warning – this does take time and you can’t rely on your ESP to do the work for you. You’ll need to actively watch the data come in and adjust your campaigns accordingly.
This brings us to our last and most important point.
ESPs Are Just Tools
While an email service provider can be an impressive platform packed with useful features, it’s not a one-click solution to your email marketing needs. Just as a kitchen knife requires experienced hands to prepare a good meal, an ESP needs expert input and effective oversight to yield ROI.
An email marketing strategy based on data and experience is the blueprint you need to achieve your goals and ensure that your efforts are as successful as possible.