Five ways to create killer e-commerce emails

By Daniel Carter

Did you know: more than 111 billion marketing emails are sent every day? 

That feels like an avalanche, and you might expect consumers to resist such an onslaught of spam.

But even with all the in-box noise, email is still one of digital marketing’s top performers: 

  • More than 99 per cent of consumers check their email every day
  • 60 percent of consumers say marketing emails influence what they buy
  • 50 percent purchase from emails at least once per month 
  • For all the buzz about social media, 70 percent of consumers still prefer contact via email

That all makes email an essential part of any e-commerce marketing programme. It also means your subject lines, CTAs and body copy have to be absolutely killer — otherwise they’ll barely make a peep in marketing’s global wall of sound.

Even if your list isn;t long, you need to ensure your emails make the sender look great, keep current customers onside, and drive more growth by personalising and segmenting high-quality and targeted content

With a well-crafted email strategy and a decent GDPR-compliant list, you’ll be able to nurture new leads or re-activate dormant customers. 

Here is my guide to getting it right, with five approaches that can make your emails better.

Personalise and segment

With easy-to-use platforms like Mailchimp, even absolute beginners can create an effective and well-designed email campaign quickly. 

Technology makes marketing automation easy, but personalisation is what makes it effective. 

  • Segment by dividing your data up into lists that group consumers together by certain attributes — demographics, city, previous purchases, and more. 
  • Use personalisation tags to email everyone  on a first name basis. 
  • Trigger your messages by automatically sending personalised content based on specific customer actions

Email personalisation strengthens the customer experience and keeps your customers or prospect engaged. You’ll be sending sales messages with commercial offers, daily deals and giveaways. To stop them being gobbled up by spam blockers, you need to structure your content and campaigns for success.

Use triggered messages

Triggered messages are real-time personalised emails that launch when your target customer completes a defined action.

If your website is integrated with your CRM and email marketing platform, you can capture sales-related customer activity and program your syetsm to act on it. Common triggers include:

  • Greeting and gently nudging a website visitor when they abandon a browsing session or shopping cart
  • Reply when a customer completes a feedback form or information request
  • Celebrate customer birthdays and send them a discount or personalised offer

Write well

Whatever your campaign objective is, you need experienced e-commerce copywriters to create emails that lead to more sales. 

According to Daniel Foley, Your copywriter will need to study your target prospects and current customers to achieve the right tone, style and language — and then use the techniques of storytelling and conversion copywriting to craft an email or campaign sequence that sells.

Establishing your e-commerce brand’s unique tone-of-voice will help set you apart by making your brand instantly recognisable in an inbox.

You don’t want to be writing identikit emails that ignore segments or where the customer is in the sales cycle. You also want to avoid carpet-bombing everyone on the list with the same messages again and again. 

It’s important to craft copy that makes the recipient feel like it was written just for them — every time. Emails have to be relevant and interesting to the person reading them. 

When you’re creating subject lines, titles, and pre-headers, it helps to use power words that immediately make the message feel personal. 

The most powerful word in marketing is ‘you’ and you want your targets to feel like the email was tailor-made for them. 

Top tip: use lower case lettering to set a friendly tone. And avoid ALL CAPS AT ALL COSTS. It looks like yelling.

  • Get to the point – embed your offer in the first paragraph and persuade the reader to take action. 
  • Keep it simple and avoid jargon
  • Make it scannable – sub-heads, bullets, lists, and short paragraphs make messages easier to consume
  • Make it immediate – use tactics like fear of missing out (FOMO) to promote daily deals, discounts and offers.

Calls to action (CTAs) – After all that work to get people to open your email, you’ll then need a compelling reason for the recipient to click through. 

If you’ve segmented your data, you’ll be able to use something directly relevant to the target list’s attributes (city, gender?), or address where they are in the purchase journey: e.g. new prospect, returning customer, or dormant subscriber.

Be mobile-friendly 

According to Campaign Monitor, most people now check their emails on smartphones. So don’t let all your hard work go unanswered because an email doesn’t display properly on a handheld browser, or the copy hasn’t been structured with small screens in mind. 

  • Use short sentences and 1-2 sentence paragraphs. 
  • Get straight to the point. 
  • Optimise subject lines for mobile devices — 25-30 characters, tops

Know how you’re doing

Measure how well your campaigns are performing by tracking key metrics: open rates, bounce rates, unsubscribes and click throughs.It also helps to see how your campaign stacks up against industry averages. 

For email campaigns sent to at least 1,000 targets, consider the following averages as benchmarks:

  • Clickthrough rate – 2 percent
  • Open rate – 15.4 percent
  • Unsubscribes – 0.28 percent

It’s also a good idea to test different subject lines, formats, body copy messages, and CTAs to see which of your email executions perform better. We’ll look more closely at the practice of email A/B testing in another blog. 

For now, welcome an element of trial and error when you are just starting out. Try different approaches to see what captures customer interest. Learn from it, and improve.