Agency Guide to Creating a Winning eCommerce Email Strategy for Clients

Developing a marketing strategy for an eCommerce business can present some very unique challenges. This is especially true when it comes to eCommerce email strategy.

Why eCommerce email specifically?

Unlike regular retail stores, in which customer interactions during the transaction process are a given, eCommerce businesses replace these interactions with emails.

When you add normal email marketing campaigns to the equation, you can start to see why email is so critical to eCommerce businesses.

If you’re an agency working with clients in the eCommerce business, it’s important to keep in mind this extra layer of nuance. Taking the time to build out an eCommerce-specific email strategy will help your clients’ businesses thrive and keep them coming back to your for more.

In this article, you will learn exactly how to implement a successful email strategy for your eCommerce clients.

Email campaigns vs. transactional emails

First things first, let’s get some definitions out of the way:

  • Email campaign: The more traditional form of email marketing. These are one-to-many “bulk emails,” that usually come in the form of newsletters or special promotions that are sent to a large list of contacts.
  • Transactional emails: These are emails that are sent out automatically as a function of the website itself after a specific action takes place. Examples include password reset emails, order confirmations, shipping notices, etc.

Although they are both types of emails, they serve very different purposes. This means they require different tactics to optimize effectiveness.

For eCommerce businesses, both of these types of emails are important. If you want to add real value for your eCommerce clients, you’ll need to blend both strategies together.

Build a following with email campaigns

As your client’s resident marketing expert, you have the opportunity to help them create a better and more effective email marketing strategy — that starts with email campaigns.

Grow your client’s audience with a list of loyal contacts

Before your clients can start sending marketing emails, they need to have email addresses to which they can send those emails.

To do this, you should help them set up email opt-in forms on their website. These can be implemented in a number of different ways, including:

  • A popup when people enter your client’s site
  • A checkbox opt-in during the checkout process
  • A static opt-in form in the footer or sidebar of your client’s site

In addition to email addresses, it can be a good idea to give subscribers a chance to tell your client more about themselves as well. This can be done at the time of opt-in, or after they sign up and receive a welcome message.

When asking for more information from new subscribers, it’s a good idea to keep in mind what products your client sells on their store. This will help you decide what information will be helpful for building relevant email marketing segments. Some examples include:

  • Gender preference
  • Birthday (for a special offer)
  • Product categories of interest
  • Preferred email frequency

Start with a newsletter

Once your client has a list of emails, it’s time to start actually sending out emails!

The best place to start for any email marketing strategy is an email newsletter.

This is a good starting point because newsletters are inherently consistent and the content has broader appeal than more targeted promotional emails. Consistency makes it easy to build trust with readers and generate interest in the eCommerce store’s offerings.

To fill out the content of your clients’ newsletters, you can use their original content, or you can help them curate relevant content if they don’t produce enough regular content.

Keep contacts engaged with your client’s business

After building a following with the newsletter, your client can now move into targeted promotions.

You should have your clients send these promotions to relevant segments and includes information such as:

  • Product updates for customers who have already made purchases
  • New product suggestions
  • Sales (seasonal or specific to certain products/categories)
  • Promotional discounts

These promotional emails should be highly personalized to each segment with the goal of driving them back to your client’s store.

Create an email marketing schedule that makes sense for your client’s business

It’s important to maintain consistent contact with customers through email. This helps you stay top of mind, and it also builds trust — but only to certain extent.

You should try to find the right balance for your client’s customers that avoids overwhelming them with too much communication, but still maintains a high enough frequency to be a familiar presence in the inbox.

To do this, help your client establish a minimum threshold of emails (e.g. at least one email campaign per month).

This threshold can differ between various customer segments as well. For example, your client may have a “VIP” segment of customers that receives exclusive promotions and more frequent updates.

After deciding on the minimum number of emails your clients should be sending, you can align this with known sales (seasonal) and upcoming new product offerings.

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Cultivate loyalty through optimized transactional emails

The next piece of building an effective eCommerce email marketing strategy for your client is optimizing their transactional emails.

Send the right messages

Just like with regular email campaigns, it can be easy to get carried away with sending too many different types of transactional emails.

But, since transactional emails are triggered by certain behavior, it’s much easier to choose which messages are most important to your client’s customers. To avoid flooding their inbox with unnecessary messages, I would recommend limiting your clients’ transactional emails to the essentials:

  • Order confirmation
  • Shipping confirmation
  • Delivery confirmation

Don’t phone it in with transactional email design!

With campaigns, putting thought into the design is a given. But, that’s not always the case with transactional messages.

Many businesses make the mistake of dumping the standard information in their transactional messages (e.g. order details, shipping address) without any thought to design. It’s YOUR job as an agency to make sure your customers don’t make this mistake.

Make sure their transactional emails have strong branding so customers recognize immediately where the email is coming from.

Transactional emails are also a great place to optimize for other marketing objectives in addition to communicating order info as well.

Test, test, and test some more!

The final step of creating a winning eCommerce email marketing strategy for your clients is showing them how to iteratively improve their emails.

Constantly testing new ideas and monitoring the engagement results is the best way to accomplish this. Make sure your clients are testing on the following areas:

  • Promotional offers: Try out different types of offers (% off, free shipping, discounts on specific products/categories), as well as how they’re delivered (campaigns to different segments, VIP-only offers, included in transactional messages, etc.).
  • Timing: Different times of day, month, and even year can result in vastly different levels of engagement.
  • Frequency: The frequency of emails you send can have a big impact on engagement. Results will also likely vary by segment.

Conclusion

By following these tips, you can be sure that your eCommerce clients’ email strategies are up to the test.

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