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How to Get Started with an Email Newsletter for Your Ecommerce Store

Why Every Ecommerce Store Needs to Do Email Marketing

It’s easier than ever to open an online store, but harder than ever to grow one. Every day, 500 new stores open on Shopify alone. Competition on Amazon continues to drive down prices. Facebook and Google control the vast majority of the digital advertising market. And as these channels become more flooded with competition, the costs for advertisers continues to rise.

No wonder email marketing is having a renaissance. Small business owners and marketers are (re)learning to love email marketing because it allows them to own their audience, personalize their customers’ experiences, and market to them for free.

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

Email has an ROI of 3800%.

Of course, it varies from business to business — but on average, emails net $38 for every $1 spent.
(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. And aside from transactional emails, an email newsletter is the most straightforward way to get your products and content in front of your audience — for free!

The 3 Questions You Need to Answer

So, that covers the “why” behind email marketing. Now, on to the other big questions: how, who, and what?

How will you send your email newseletter?

Which email marketing platform will you use? Both Mailchimp and Klaviyo are excellent solutions for small businesses. They’re both built to grow with you, offering free and paid versions depending on the capabilities you’re looking for and the size of your list.

For most ecommerce businesses, it’s worth upgrading to a paid package so you can take advantage of all the benefits your email marketing platform offers. Typically, that means features like advanced marketing automation, a bigger database, list segmentation, and more email templates.

Get a breakdown of Mailchimp vs. Klaviyo to decide which platform is right for you.

Who are you emailing?

Once you have your email marketing platform picked out, you’ll need a list of people to email. Your customer list is a great place to start, but don’t stop there.

You should offer a variety of sign-up opportunities on your website so you can continually generate more leads (potential customers) and grow your list. The easiest and most effective way to capture leads is with content-powered popups, which consistently convert between 5 and 20% of website visitors. With content-powered popups, you can capture site visitors’ email addresses and add them to your list, even if they don’t make a purchase. Then, you can use email to continue marketing to them for free.

What should you include in your email newsletter?

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

Your subscribers don’t want to get daily emails promoting your products. Instead, they want to read something entertaining and informative. The simplest and most effective way to get started with email marketing is by creating an email newsletter that balances both direct response and interesting content.

Email newseltters powered by blog content (not just product promotions) 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.
  • Bring more repeat visitors to your website.
  • Help you sell more stuff!

Let’s take a look at how to achieve this with email marketing.

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. Especially because welcome emails drive an average of5x more purchases than typical emails!

“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. One way to do this is to showcase your top content and products right off the bat. 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 manage an ecommerce store, 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.

How to Send an Email Newsletter that Drives Results

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 marketing is all about: building your brand and your customer relationships to drive sales.

The best email newsletters don't just promote products. They inspire subscribers and tell stories people want to read. Click To Tweet

Online retailer 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 related product offers to create a compelling story their subscribers get genuinely excited about.

Campman email newsletter

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.

When you’re new to email marketing, a weekly email newsletter is the perfect place to start. It’s the easiest way to market to your audience for free without burying their inboxes in emails that feel like ads.

7 Ways to Spice Up Your Email Newsletter

Not sure what to include in your email newsletter? Consider:

  1. Blog content: Include audience-focused content — in other words, articles that speak to their interests and not just your company. If you sell baby clothes, for example, you can include content geared toward new parents. (Tip: Licensed content is a great way to fill your blog with relevant articles without spending all your time writing.)
  2. Sales and promotions: Keep your subscribers updated on discounts and sales.
  3. New and featured products: Showcase your newest products or highlight old favorites.
  4. Company news: Whether you’re announcing a nonprofit partnership or opening a new brick-and-mortar store, you can communicate important company news via your newsletter.
  5. Customer reviews and testimonials: Social proof, like a five-star customer review, is a great way to build confidence in your products and your brand.
  6. Other UGC: Reviews aren’t the only type of user-generated content you can use in emails. Snag customer photos from Instagram or videos from YouTube (unboxing videos, anyone?) to get your subscribers excited about your products.
  7. Third-party content: Not everything in your newsletter has to be about your company. You can also link to other websites and resources your subscribers will find interesting. Just make sure you do this sparingly — you don’t want to drive traffic to other people’s websites at the expense of your own.

Segment Your Email List

Now, let’s get a little more advanced. How can you take your email newsletter to the next level?

Once you’ve found your rhythm, you can start segmenting your subscriber list. By slicing and dicing it into different subgroups, or segments, you can turn 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 email marketing, there are a million and one ways you can segment your subscriber list. 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 more relevant 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 likeMailchimp, 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. Use UTM parameters.

This is a must-do, even if you’re brand new to email marketing. Use UTM parameters to track which website visitors are coming from your emails. That way, you can use Google Analytics to run reports on these visitors and their buying behavior.

2. 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 canread here.

3. 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.

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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