hands on computer keyboard with shopping cart imagery
By researching your business's audience and their buying habits, you can curate targeted email marketing campaigns that can increase your sales. — Getty Images/Suwaree Tangbovornpichet

With email marketing, you can personalize and target communications in ways other marketing campaigns cannot. This can be a big contributor to your e-commerce sales. By following a few tips, and with a little practice, you can create email campaigns that drive repeat sales, build a brand following and generate referrals.

Build your list

Effective emails begin with your list, which can actually be fairly easy to build. Here are ways to get started:

  • Purchases: On your checkout page, include an option to sign up, or opt in, for email communications. The email platform you use — such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact — can provide code or a plug-in for you to add to your page.
  • Website sign-up: Add an eye-catching graphic on every page of your site that invites visitors to sign up for email communications. Offering an incentive, like 10% off first purchase, can increase opt-in rates.
  • Marketing campaigns: Use your social and digital campaigns to invite people to sign up for your emails. Again, an incentive can increase your success.

[Read: Email Marketing Guide for New Business]

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, kick things off with one campaign for customers and one for prospects.

Plan your campaigns

The next step is to make a plan for using email to generate sales and repeat business. Consider who is on your list and their behaviors — from purchasing once, to purchasing multiple times, to visiting without purchasing — as this will help you organize your campaigns.

There are many email campaigns that can drive sales, including:

  • Welcome: Within your email platform, you can automate emails based on behaviors. A great time to do this is with a welcome email generated whenever someone signs up for your email list. To increase sales, include an incentive to make a purchase.
  • Purchase: It’s reasonable to automate an email that confirms a purchase, even if the customer didn’t opt in. In your message, provide an incentive to make another purchase.
  • Customer campaigns: Tracking buying behavior can help you customize your emails to customers who do opt in.
    • For repeat customers, consider sending emails with loyalty messaging to customers who make multiple purchases. Thank them for their repeat business, ask for reviews and provide special offers.
    • For dormant buyers, determine how frequently loyal customers make purchases. Anyone who has not purchased in that timeframe can be considered dormant. They should receive an email that expresses gratitude for past purchase(s) and gives them a reason — a new product, special offer or seasonal buy — to visit your site again.
  • Referrals: Ask customers to recommend you to a friend in exchange for a special offer that benefits both them and their friend if they make a purchase.
  • Cart abandonment: Research in 2018 found that more than 75% of online shoppers abandoned their carts — i.e., put items in a cart but left the site without making a purchase. One way to improve your e-commerce is to convert some of these sales. Whenever someone abandons their cart, automatically send an email with a limited-time offer to complete their purchase.
  • Prospects: Create a campaign to potential customers (who have opted in to emails) to gain their interest in your brand and motivate them to make a purchase.

[Read more: 6 Essential Steps to Creating an Effective Email Marketing Campaign]

Finding success

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, kick things off with one campaign for customers and one for prospects. As your list grows from a variety of sources, it will be best to segment your campaigns by audience and test different messaging and offers to see what works best. You can then further segment by categories like product interest, behavior and demographics, and create multi-email campaigns with targeted messaging and offers to each group.

Your messaging, tone, design, frequency and offers will all impact your success. Be sure to measure behavior and results. As you fine tune your campaigns, you should see a continued increase in your e-commerce sales.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 13, 2019