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The Ecommerce Marketing Blog

The #1 resource for small and growing ecommerce brands

Why Email Marketing Matters For Ecommerce Businesses: 7 Reasons To Start Sending Emails Today

By Rachel Waldmann
7 minute read

WhyEmailMarketingMatters-01As an ecommerce marketer (or marketer-in-training), you’re going to explore lots of different avenues to engage with your customer base. But guess what. Good, old-fashioned email is your golden ticket. Having a beautiful website means nothing if you don’t actually have visitors who at some point become customers. The truth is, despite the explosion of social media, email is still your customers’ preferred method of interacting with your brand. Give the people what they want.

TL;DR, email is the single most powerful tool you can leverage to grow your business.

This Holy Grail of marketing helps you reel in new customers with offers and updates. And then you can drive repeat sales by capturing their attention and strengthening relationships.

The best part is, even the smallest ecommerce brands can take advantage because you don’t have to be a professional writer or designer to create exceptional email campaigns. Most email tools like Privy’s have templates that make you look like a pro, without actually being one. And if you’re in need of some inspiration, look no further than the brands you already subscribe to!

For the sake of this post, we’ll cover how email impacts the three key growth multipliers for your business: your number of customers, frequency of purchase, and average order value (AOV).

1. Recover lost revenue with abandoned cart emails

Here’s a horrifying statistic: approximately 70% of shopping carts are abandoned (RIP ☠️). That’s a lot of money you’re kissing goodbye. You can grow both your customer base and your frequency of purchase by setting up abandoned cart emails, which are highly effective in encouraging shoppers to complete their purchase.

Here are some statistics I think you’ll like better: 45% of abandoned cart emails are opened, 21% are clicked, and 50% of those clicks lead to a recovered purchase. Use these tips and tricks to create convincing abandoned cart emails and maximize your chances of a sale.

Here’s an example of an abandoned cart email from Sunsoil:

2. Increase your AOV with upsells and cross-sells

The goal of upsell and cross-sell emails is to entice customers to buy additional products. The big-picture goal? To increase your average order value. For instance, in the email below from Wildly Good, they offer a basic buy 2 get 1 free deal on socks, in hopes that this sweet bargain will be too good for customers to pass up, potentially increasing their order value from the price of one pair of socks to two:

There are endless variations of this idea. Here are a few you’ve probably seen before:

  • Free shipping on orders $50 or more
  • Buy-one-get-one free, or BOGO deals
  • Buy X product, get Y add-on for free
  • $10 each, or 3 for $25

Generally, upsell and cross-sell emails are most effective when sent to subscribers who have already purchased from your store, so they’re familiar with your brand and are hopefully interested in another purchase. You can tip them off to other products they may like by sending segmented emails based on their previous purchases. One especially tactful way to do this is through your order follow up, or confirmation emails (which often achieve about a 70% open rate!).

3. Email helps you make the most of your marketing budget

Your email list is yours. You can export it and take it with you when you switch email providers.  You can contact your subscribers time after time, for no added cost. You can segment your list a million different ways to target different subscribers for different occasions. The ROI potential for email is limitless.

In fact, we’ve found that each email you collect is worth $15 (and the more you segment, the more ROI you’ll see).

This is one of the reasons email is estimated to be 40% more effective than paid social ads. Not only is it more cost-efficient, but email also has the advantage of not being influenced by third-party gatekeepers, who ultimately control who sees your ads and when. Your email marketing is within your control, and you can do it well on the cheap.

As you collect more information about your customers, maximize your investment by segmenting your email list, targeting the appropriate subscribers with the most relevant content.  Here are a few ways you may choose to segment your email list:

  • Average order value (ex: big spenders vs. bargain hunters)
  • Product interests (ex: men’s vs. women’s clothing, hot sauces vs. salad dressings, or baby vs. toddler toys)
  • Level of engagement (ex: repeat customers vs. serial window shoppers)
  • Geography (ex: local to your brand’s home base vs. in another country)

4. Email helps build what no amount of money can buy – a happy customer experience

Word of mouth is a powerful motivator for people making purchasing decisions, and you can use email as an opportunity to spread the word. Start by wowing your customers. They sing your praises, and voila! Their friends buy and you have grown your customer base.

One way you can achieve this is by incentivizing your customers to participate in a referral program. Have them refer a friend (aka another potential customer!) to get $15 off their next order, like this one from Hungryroot:

Order follow up emails are another key opportunity to knock your customers’ socks off with a great experience. These emails are not just expected; they’re anticipated. Use order confirmations to facilitate a seamless customer journey by answering your customers’ most important questions about their purchase, such as what they purchased, when it will ship, when they’ll receive their order, the total cost, or how they can contact you if they have any questions.

As mentioned before, this is also a prime opportunity for an upsell or cross-sell, since there’s a high likelihood that they will open the email and they’re already thinking about your brand. If you can, add a little extra incentive and thrill your customers with a discount or free shipping code for their next order.

Similarly, use shipping confirmations to get your customers excited about their purchase. You may encourage them to post a photo of their new item on social media and tag your account. They get to show off their new purchase, and you get some free advertising. My Social Book motivates customers to post their keepsake photo books on Instagram using the hashtag #MySocialBook, and then showcases all these happy customers on their website:

Check-in emails are another great way to see if your customers are satisfied with their purchase or have any questions. Asking for feedback is the best way to improve, and the simple act of asking for it lets your customers know that you appreciate them and you value their thoughts. One great example is this plain text email I received from Funky Chunky:

Ryan, “The Main Funky Guy,” genuinely thanked me for my purchase and offered to answer any questions. This email made me feel good that I decided to buy from their small business.

Finally, never pass up an opportunity to surprise and delight your customers by appearing with treats in their inbox. Life events, like birthdays, are a fantastic way to show that you’re human and you care. For example, Richer Poorer has a form field for birthday on their welcome popup, so their subscribers will experience some warm and fuzzies when they get this birthday discount on their special day:

5. Email helps you build a memorable brand

People buy from brands they know and remember. If you hear about a brand once without any sort of follow-up, you probably won’t think to visit their site down the road when you’re considering a new purchase. But each marketing email acts as a little reminder.

Every email is an opportunity to reinforce your brand voice, values, and aesthetic, so your business doesn’t lose its place in your customers’ consciousness. Of course, you want to be cognizant of how frequently you email each subscriber so as to not inundate them with messages, which is another reason why list segmentation is key – every email should have a clear purpose and value for the recipient. So when done right, these brand boosts will increase your frequency of purchases and propagate solid relationships with repeat customers.

6. Spread the word and rake in sales

Perhaps the most obvious purpose of email marketing is its usefulness in quickly disseminating important information to your entire subscriber base (or just a segment of it...hint, hint). Ensure your customers know when there are new product releases, discounts, or other exciting new happenings with your store. Perhaps some of these are exclusive to email subscribers, which incentivizes them to remain subscribed and get the VIP treatment.

Newsletters achieve two key growth multipliers for your business: expanding your customer base and increasing frequency of purchases.

7. Compete with the other players in your field

I know that it’s generally not a great policy to do something because everyone else is, but in the case of email marketing, it’s true. If your competition is sending out marketing emails, you need to do it too...but better.

Your customers (or potential customers) receive dozens of emails each day. When they’re considering a purchase, where are they going to shop? Your business, or your competition who’s making regular appearances in their inbox?

We’re here to help you get a seat at the head of the table. Make your emails stand out with open-worthy subject lines and powerful calls to action. If you can bolster this with a sweet deal, entertainment, or valuable education about your business, you can squash the competition.

Takeaway: If You’re Not Sending Emails, Start

Email marketing is an essential element of any ecommerce marketing strategy. You can make it work for you by segmenting your list, and hitting your subscribers from multiple angles to expand your customer base, increase frequency of purchase, and increase average order value.

Topics: Email Marketing

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