Email marketing is the use of email communications as part of a marketing strategy to reach specific business goals. Emails can be used generate sales, enhance customer engagement (i.e., newsletters), acquire customers, create brand awareness and reward customer loyalty.
Types of emails include:
- Transactional emails. Emails sent as part of the purchase flow
- Broadcast emails. Emails which are sent to all or a proportion of your email list. For example, regular newsletters effectively keep your customers tuned into your brand.
- Email Sequences. Emails triggered by customer actions, e.g. a welcome email series when someone signs up for an email list.
- Abandoned cart emails. These emails remind people to complete a purchase and can significantly increase your conversion rate.
Switching suppliers is only a Google search away. If you do not encourage repeat business, your customers will go elsewhere. Your return customer rate can be the difference between a failing and a thriving business; recruiting new customers is expensive.
Staying in touch with past customers via email is a highly effective strategy for encouraging repeat purchases and building your brand. It is also a low-cost way to build relationships with past customers or browsers who have not followed through on a purchase. Emails can send transactional, promotional, informative and sales lifecycle messages.
Unless you have a strategy for promoting repeat purchases, most new customers will buy once and never return. Building an email list and sending compelling email campaigns allows you to retain your hard-won customers, giving subscribers a reason to stay in touch.
If your eCommerce business has yet to invest in email marketing, you lose sales by missing potential customers.
Advantages of email marketing
Email marketing has the following advantages for eCommerce businesses:
Return customers are essential for eCommerce businesses because they keep the cost of sales down. Search engines and Social Media are great for recruiting new customers. However, email is pivotal in encouraging the second purchase and beyond once a customer is acquired.
Research from the leading eCommerce platform Shopify shows that email traffic had the highest order conversion rate during peak periods. Additionally, 80% of businesses rely on email as their primary channel for acquisition and retention (source Emarsys).
Improves sales performance
There are only three ways to improve revenue: increasing the total number of customers, increasing the total number of purchases per customer and increasing the average order value (AOV). Email can improve performance in all three areas:
- Automated welcome and abandoned cart emails can boost conversion rates.
- Win-back campaigns increase the number of purchases a customer makes.
- Lifecycle campaigns and promotions can automatically highlight high-value products to targeted customers, increasing AOV.
As your email marketing campaign matures, your list will grow and performance will improve. Therefore, it is never too soon to start email marketing.
Platforms such as Amazon, Google and Facebook are growing in importance for online retailers. However, whilst these platforms are a vital part of the marketing mix for any eCommerce business, they have serious disadvantages:
- Charges. To acquire customers through platforms requires payment, either on a commission (e.g. eBay or Amazon) or advertising charge (e.g. Google).
- You do not own the customer. You do not own the customer with marketplace platforms and cannot market directly to them.
- Potential for exclusion. If you break the platform’s rules for actual or perceived infringements, you can get barred either temporarily or permanently.