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3 Ways to Increase E-Commerce Sales with Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to grow your business, but a lot of e-commerce brands shy away from email in favor of tactics like social media and paid search ads.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all excellent channels for promoting your brand and getting more customers, but it’s not an ‘either/or’ scenario. The most effective marketing strategies use a variety of tactics, from social media to SEO to email marketing.

What makes email so unique is that you actually own your subscriber list. On channels like Facebook, you have to pay each time you want to reach your audience. With email, you control exactly who you’re marketing to—and it’s completely free.

Need proof that email marketing is a must-have?

Here are three statistics that just might knock your socks off.

Email has an ROI of 3800%.
That means for every $1 you put into email marketing, you’re getting a $38 return. (Source: DMA)

Email is the #1 driver of customer acquisition and retention.
A whopping 80% of retailers agree that email brings home the bacon. (Source: eMarketer)

60% of consumers prefer to hear from brands via email.
If you’re not doubling down on email marketing, you’re essentially ignoring 60% of your audience. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

The verdict is clear: Email marketing works.

But how does it fit into your content marketing strategy?

Content marketing + email — a match made in heaven

40% of consumers want branded emails to be more informative and less promotional, an Adobe survey found.

Sounds like a job for content!

Your customers don’t want to get twice-weekly emails promoting your products. Instead, they want to read something entertaining and informative, like an email newsletter.

Email marketing powered by content can do a lot for your business. It can:

  • Keep your brand top-of-mind by making regular appearances in your subscribers’ inboxes.
  • Turn casual subscribers into loyal readers, and loyal readers into customers.
  • Increase your website traffic, which can improve your domain authority and give you a nice boost in Google search.
  • Bring more repeat visitors to your website.
  • Help you sell more stuff!

With that in mind, how can you use email marketing powered by content to drive high-quality website traffic and grow your e-commerce company? Let us count the ways…

1. Create a winning welcome email.

You only get one shot at a first impression, and your welcome email is it.

A lot of brands send a generic “Thanks for subscribing!” email when someone first signs up for their email list—but that’s a huge missed opportunity.

“Customers don’t sign up for email—they sign up for your brand.”
– Bob Frady, CEO at HazardHub

And you know better than anyone that your brand is not generic. Use your welcome email as a chance to start your relationship with subscribers off right. Not to mention, welcome emails drive an average of 5x more purchases than typical emails!

One way to do this is to showcase your top content and products right off the bat. Our customer Visit Utah does this incredibly well, as you can see in this welcome email.

Visit Utah email marketing campaign

Visit Utah drives new email subscribers directly
to featured content on their website.

If you’re an online retailer, your welcome email might feature your most popular blog posts and your top-selling products. That way, you’re giving subscribers interesting content and promoting your products. It’s the best of both worlds.

2. Build an entertaining email newsletter.

Now that you’ve got your welcome email set up, what happens next? Let’s look at how to approach your email newsletter, whether you’re a complete beginner or you’ve been around the block a few times.

First, let’s squash the idea that an email newsletter has to follow a certain format. Think of your newsletter as a mini online magazine that you put out on a regular basis. It’s not just about announcing new products or company news. In fact, your newsletter should be more about your customers than it is about you.

The best newsletters tell stories people want to read. After all, that’s what effective content marketing is all about: building your brand and your customer relationships instead of going for the hard sell right away.

Our customer Campman does this really well. Every week, Campman subscribers are treated to a new themed email that speaks to their interests. Campman’s blog content is paired with product offers to create a compelling story customers and prospects want to read.

Campman email gif

And to add even more value for their subscribers, Campman’s team includes mini beer and music reviews in each email. It’s the perfect combination of storytelling, selling, and brand authenticity that consumers crave.

And clearly, it works. Campman used content marketing and their email newsletter to double site traffic and increase email revenue by 10X in just one year! Learn more here.

3. Segment your email list.

Once you’ve found your rhythm, you can start segmenting your list—in other words, slicing and dicing it into different subgroups, or segments.

Segmentation is what turns good click-through rates into great click-through rates, and small purchases into big ones. Seriously—we’re talking 11% higher open rates and twice as many clicks as emails sent to your entire database!

When it comes to content distribution, there are a million and one ways you can segment your lists. Here are a few of our favorites.

    • Segment by engagement. Create a list of your most engaged readers and email them twice as often as you email other subscribers. That way, you’re giving your most enthusiastic fans what they want (and getting more repeat visitors on your website) without blasting the rest of your database with too many emails.
    • Segment by purchase history. Send emails to your subscribers based on their purchase activity. For example, let’s say you sell kitchenware and baking supplies in your online store. You might have a list dedicated to customers who have purchased a breadmaker. In this case, you can send them curated content, like bread recipes, and product emails about your other bread baking supplies.
    • Segment by content consumption. You can also send personalized content and product emails based on the articles a subscriber has read on your website. Back to the kitchenware example above—you might add everyone who’s read articles about baking bread to that same list, even if they haven’t made a purchase with you yet.
    • Segment by demographics. If you collect demographic information from your audience, you can use these to send super personalized emails. For example, a clothing retailer can send one email to women and another email to men. Or, a shoe brand might promote sandals to people in warmer regions and snow boots to folks in cold climates.

With an email marketing tool like Mailchimp, you can even let subscribers tell you what content they want to receive. It doesn’t get much more personal than that.

Mailchimp subscription preferences

A few more email marketing pro tips

Now that you have everything you need to launch an email marketing program powered by content, here are a few ways to take your email marketing to the next level.

1. A/B test your emails.

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is when you test two variations of the same email to see which one is more effective. All good email marketing tools can help you automate this. A/B testing is great for understanding what your audience responds best to so you can optimize your emails in the future. You can A/B test anything from your subject lines to the images in your email. Mailchimp has a great article on the topic that you can read here.

2. Don’t overload your audience’s inbox.

Just because a subscriber is in five different segments of your email list doesn’t necessarily mean they should be getting five emails per week. You’ll need to find the frequency that works for you, but limiting each subscriber to two emails per week is a good rule of thumb.

3. Test different templates and designs.

Remember how we said newsletters don’t have to look or feel like traditional newsletters? This goes for the content inside and the way you lay it out. Experiment with different templates, from plain text emails (believe it or not, they work!) to image-heavy designs and see what your audience responds best to. You’ll probably find that some templates work well for selling your products, while other templates drive more engaged readers to your content.

Ready, set, launch

With email marketing, you can build and grow an owned audience at virtually no cost. All it takes is the right content to power your emails so you’re keeping your subscribers around, not just promoting your brand.

For a crash course in content creation, distribution, and measurement, sign up for our email series, Content Marketing for Growing Brands. You’ll receive 6 lessons on content marketing right to your inbox, including email marketing tips we couldn’t fit in this blog post. Get started now.

Feature image provided by Oleg Laptev

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