Setting Up and Optimizing Email Marketing for E-Commerce

To get started on setting up and optimising Email marketing for your E-commerce store, we’ll first take a look  at the foundational framework provided by one of the major Customer Relationship Management companies, Salesforce. We will close this guide by rounding up with a similar framework from Shopify.

The five steps in the process as described by Salesforce are

  • Strategize
  • Design
  • Deliver 
  • Analyse
  • Elevate

Strategizing is the critical first step in your action plan towards achieving the full scale of success in your Email marketing campaigns. Salesforce describes this phase as being the one where you first and foremost start to know your audience. Towards this goal, Salesforce recommends getting to know the daily habits of your prospective audience leading up to the development of a very detailed persona. This is where you segment your audience into those that are going to be onboarded, those who have abandoned carts and those who need to be re-engaged. Moving into the setting-of-goals phase, you have to choose from among increasing brand awareness, improving engagement or ramping sales up. Then, focus on the relevance of the message that you are going to create and then create it. The next part of your strategizing lies in identifying how you are going to measure your success, bothfor yourself as well as for your audience in terms of whether you have met their needs and expectations.

Zapier has set out the lowdown on the mistakes that have to be avoided in email marketing. The first is to have a subject line that promises a lot only for the content and substance to be a letdown. The second mistake is to not have a preview of the message while the third mistake is to have ‘noreply’ in the From address. Check out Experts Weigh In: 21 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid.

Return Path has set out the expert road map with its November 2016 ‘Email Marketing Strategic Survey’ and the Report ‘Email Marketing Campaign Strategies for Optimizing B2C Marketing Performance.’ The Survey found that improving personalization was the highest on the priority list for a successful email marketing strategy. With regard to the barriers towards achievement of a successful campaign, collecting quality subscriber data was on the top of the consensus among marketing experts. Increasing customer engagement came in at the same level of importance in both goals and barriers i.e with 44 percent of the 104 marketing influencers identifying it as a goal and the same 44 percent of the surveyed influencers also identifying it as a barrier. The percentages for the most important goal of email personalization were 52 percent in terms of goal importance, coming in at the top of the list, while in terms of presenting a barrier, only 36 percent of the surveyed influencers personalization identified it as a barrier. Personalization is therefore important and achievable too as it came in lower than the highest consensus of 46 percent who said collecting quality subscriber data was a barrier and the 44 percent who said increasing customer engagement was a barrier.

So, what did the influencers say was most important in improving personalization?

At the top was individualized email messaging, followed by behavior-triggered emails while the third on the consensus ranking of tactics for improving personalization was social media integration followed by Email list segmentation and Individualized landing pages.

Let us now get down to the implementation.

Mailchimp has listed down the Best Practices for Email Marketing.

Most important is to ensure that mails are not being sent without accurate data or with links that do not work. MailChimp recommends sending a few test mails to yourself to ensure that all is working well. MailChimp assists in the process with its Inbox Preview feature. Next on MailChimp’s Best Practices is to ‘Track clicks and opens’ while third on the list is ‘Avoid Spammy Content.’

WooCommerce

MailChimp for WooCommerce is free. WooCommerce recommends MailChimp and two other extensions, ‘Follow-Ups’ at $99 and ‘WooCommerce Email Customizer’ at $79. Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Emails and check out the basic email marketing elements offered by WooCommerce such as ‘New Order,’ ‘Cancelled order’ etc. Check out all the email extensions and elements at WooCommerce and also all the creative ideas for the full range of emails.

Hub of creativity with ‘Really Good Emails’

Check out the Ecommerce email collection at ReallyGoodEmails and ‘Collect’ the designs you gel with or find to be a good fit for your store. The ‘Behavioral’ designs are categorized over the full spectrum of events such as ‘Customer Appreciation,’ ‘Customer Happiness,’ ‘Engagement,’ ‘Product feedback’ etc. ‘Promotional’ designs range across ‘Announcement,’ ‘Giveaway,’ ‘Last Chance,’ ‘Offer,’etc. ‘Enhancement’ designs are listed over ‘GIF,’ ‘Interactive,’ ‘Video,’ and ‘Weird.’

Email editing

Jilt’s Email Editor gives you the capability of beginning with a template and then customizing the mail so that you can work on every single mail that you send if you so want to. Jilt has separate products for Shopify and WooCommerce. With Jilt, you can tag customers and also segment emails by tag. Campaigns and emails are unlimited. For up to 1000 customers, Jilt comes at $29 per month. The Free plan works with a maximum of 300 contacts.

Marketo’s Email Editor comes with ‘fully responsive templates’ that make it possible to design emails for all devices in one go. Marketo delivers A/B/n testing options as also the capability to come up with predictive content for triggered mails or batch mails.

Another WYSWYG editor is Oracle Responsys which allows you to select data sources to utilize in the creation of content for your email campaign. You can also switch the editor to different device views as you are designing your mails. Competitive Triggers are also available wherein you can see what your rivals are sending and respond accordingly. Enterprise-level access control enables secure collaboration.

Adobe has its own email platform in addition to Marketo. On Adobe Campaign, you can edit your emails in DreamWeaver CC. Adobe Campaign also has AI-powered features such as prediction of open rates, optimization of send times and the prediction of optimal subject lines. With the creation of content, Adobe Campaign allows you to set rules that ensure the creation of dynamic content. When you are using the ‘Email Designer’ of Adobe Campaign, you can drag and drop the product listing and design how it will look in the email too. In a cart abandonment response, you can use product listings to deliver links to each of the abandoned products in the email itself, along with images too.

Zoho has a drag-and-drop campaign editor and responsive email designs together with templates for newsletters. Templates are also available for sign-up forms. Mailing List management is delivered with instant segmentation. Geo-tracking and social statistics are also a part of Zoho email marketing. Zoho also assigns scores to your email subscribers based on how they interact with your mails.

Strategies

With regard to personalization, just using the recipient’s name in the greeting is not going to cut the ice as this article on effective email marketing strategies explains. You need to link up the greeting with what the customer was looking for at your store. The article also points out that a subject line of between 60 and 70 characters is a ‘dead zone.’ You either need to be at 70 characters and above which was seen as leading to more ‘clicks’ while subject lines with 49 characters or less were seen as leading to more ‘opens.’ The other strategies in the article include the right time to send mails, the need to give away free content and emails that are designed for mobile.

With regard to the content mix, the focus has to be on delivering value to the subscriber and not just on sales as this article on Best Practices for Optimizing Email Marketing says. You can try and collect feedback from your subscribers themselves on what content they will find interesting and relevant. Subscribers will also feel more motivated to open and read mails if they know that the mail does not just contain a link to a blog but has really unique content as well as exclusive content too.

Are your mails getting delivered?

Return Path’s EmailDNA delivers the capability of identifying deliveries to inbox and spam by working on the metrics that mailbox providers use to allow mails to reach the inbox. Return Path provides you with the percentages over which your mails are reaching the inbox, spam or are being blocked.

Marketo’s ‘Advanced Email Deliverability Packages’ give the ability to bolster reputation with its high-performance servers. Going further, advanced features such as power packs work at delivering top-notch results for your email marketing campaigns. Marketo’s Email Deliverability Power Packs come with Delivery Benchmark Reports, Spam Content Check and Link, Image, and HTML validation. If you subscribe to any one the advanced packages and achieve three months without any spam, you get to have your own premium certified IP address.

To look more closely at the metrics used by Internet Service Providers, your reputation will go down iff there are many bounces in the mails that you send which reflects on a poor quality of your email list. If your subscribers unsubscribe themselves, it will cause a dent in your reputation leading to a drop in ongoing inbox-delivery rates. And of course, more opens and clicks are going to deliver a better reputation. This article on Improving your Email Sender Reputation in Three Steps has all the information on developing a reputable profile with ISPs.

Adding Video to email

Bonjoro’s mobile app/desktop uploader allows you to record videos and send them to your email subscribers. Opens, views and clickthroughs are tracked by Bonjoro. It integrates with MailChimp, Google among its 35+ CRM integrations. The Free version comes with unlimited videos, 1 automation limit and CRM integration. ‘Essentials’ plan at $25 per user per month comes with 3 automation limit, 1 message template and custom branding. ‘Grrrowth’ plan at $45 per user per month comes with unlimited automations and the removal of the Bonjoro badge.

Transactional Emails

Shopify talks about optimizing transactional emails, which are those sent after abandonment of carts, for confirmation of orders, conveying information on shipping and seeking feedback from customers. With mails sent after abandonment of carts, Shopify suggests adding high-quality images of the products and offering a discount on them. With offering of discounts,Shopify recommends making a very considered decision as it would probably motivate the customer to abandon carts down the line in anticipation of a discount being offered as a follow up. A very important component in the mail would be a link back to the cart that was not checked out completely. With mails that confirm orders, Shopify says sending mails with add-on suggestions before shipping could contribute to the addition of more products to the already-purchased cart. Mails that convey information on shipping are going to be opened for sure and Shopify recommends getting creative on them with the addition of interesting gift ideas or referral rewards. The referral idea must be accompanied by a link to the product. And just as with the mail for order confirmation, suggest related and relevant products in the shipping-information mail too. In the feedback mails, the focus has to be on gauging the satisfaction of the customer.

Post-purchase mails have double the open-rates of normal mails according to this article on Tips to Optimize Post-Purchase Experience for WooCommerce. The article suggests making use of this rate to deploy some interesting invitations to your customers such as offering a newsletter for special offers or invitations to join loyalty programs. For the loyalty programs, a dedicated landing page is essential. The article also recommends focus on handling post-purchase inquiries such as having ticketing systems and customer profiles linked up.

And now, to look at the ways of getting visitors to your E-commerce store to register for emails.

Getting subscriptions-SUMO

According to Sumo, it’s ‘Welcome Mat’ tool is its most successful format for inviting your visitors to subscribe with their email address after they have read through your content. Sumo has ‘Don’t Show’ rules so that you can avoid displaying the ‘Welcome Mat’ invitations when your customers are already going through the purchase process. With ‘Welcome Mat’ you provide a very relevant and interesting achievement/value target for customers if they plug into your ecommerce store with an email subscription. Next, Sumo moves onto identifying which of your subscribers are more close to making a purchase by deploying the Welcome Mats at locations in your ecommerce store which are reached by people who are further down the passageway towards needing and buying your product. These are high-value customers. And the locations where they can be identified are those pages in your store that get more deeper into the description of your product or on pages which are related to purchased products and where customers have moved to as they are really interested in checking out more. High-value customers can also be identified if you deploy pages that have premium offers in return for an email subscription or when you offer discounts. Sumo allows you to customize the locations where you can collect high-value customers by using the ‘Show’ Rule for ‘Welcome Mat’ whereby you can pick the exact spots for the ‘ Powerful Call to Action.’ For having two ‘Welcome Mats,’ a second Sumo installation needs to be done on the subdomain that is having the valuable deal for identifying the high-value customer. Sumo utilizes MailChimp to automate email delivery with the first email going off right after your customers click and provide their email address. Within your ‘Welcome Mat’ or ‘List Guilde’ campaign on Sumo, you can activate MailChimp under ‘Services.’

Now, within MailChimp, you can sort out your subscribers into two categories. One is the Primary category while the other is the ‘Drop-off’ category which consists of those customers who have dropped off just prior to completing a purchase, with this second category making up your high-value subscribers. The next thing you need to work on is what emails are going to be sent to each category immediately after they have given their email address. In Mailchimp, you go to ‘Create automation workflow.’ There, you select the list for which you want to automate the workflow from among the Primary and Drop-off lists. The workflow can be either a single message or a series of messages or a custom workflow. With the Custom Workflow, you need to give it a name, provide a name and email address from whom and which the mail will be transmitted. Next, you need to check the tracking options by checking the boxes for ‘opening of mails’ and ‘clicks.’ Now, you need to set up the trigger for the workflow which you can do by picking an option from the drop-down list. For your ‘Primary’ category, this will be ‘Subscriber joins List.’ This is where you add the email which you want to be sent and you will need to ‘Design’ it next with the Subject line, Scheduling of the mail. You can set the number of days between different mails in the sequence. Sumo recommends a promotion to be offered in the last mail of the sequence of three mails spread over a week and not upfront with the first mail itself. Repeat the same process for your ‘Drop-off’ list too. Check out Sumo’s tutorial and find out more.

Opt-in forms, avoiding spam, nudging customers to return and winning them back-Shopify

Shopify makes the point that the ‘About Us’ page is a great place to request visitors to sign in as it is the place where your brand presents yourself at its effusive best and customers who are swayed will opt to connect. Other locations that will slowly yet surely gather subscribers are the header, footer and navigation. If customers are showing signs of leaving, popup forms can be triggered to pause them. Shopify recommends getting familiar with the laws concerning Spam such as CAN-SPAM, GDPPR and CASL, towards being on the right side of the law with regard to securing the permissions of subscribers. Second-order emails are those which can be sent to inform customers of relevant accompanying products to the top three best-selling products. Shopify also sets a limit of 45 days after the first purchase for sending a win-back mail.

Shopify provides data with regard to each of the standard actions that customers take with emails in its ‘Foundational metrics to track email marketing performance’ within its Email Marketing 101: How to Build Your List, Send Effective Campaigns, and Track Results. A common open rate for mails is seen at between 20 percent and 30 percent while that for clicks is 5 percent. The crucial metric according to Shopify is to generate 20 percent of your revenue from email.

When you have every aspect of your email implementation optimized, gaining the right audience and their conversion and keeping them connected with timely messages and information will keep your ecommerce store buzzing along fine.

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