Executive Education

Does Your Storefront Use Email As Effectively As It Could? Top Tips to Improve Email Experience

Email is not dead

Email is an incredibly important marketing tool – but only if you know how to use it.  Here are a few tips to help you up your game.

No matter how many people trumpet the slow death of email, year after year, it remains one of our most enduring communication tools. As a matter of fact, evidence from multiple studies suggests we now use it more than ever. Consider the following:

  • 72% of US adults send or receive personal emails via smartphone at least weekly.
  • 81% of online shoppers are likely to make additional purchases as a result of emails based on previous behaviors or preferences.
  • 72% of consumers say email is their preferred medium of communication with companies they do business with.

The numbers here are rather clear, no? Email marketing is an incredibly powerful tool in the right hands. Chances are, you’re already using it. But are you using it as effectively as you could be?

Consider Using Videos (Sparingly!)

Your mileage may vary on this one, but there exists evidence to suggest a well-placed video can do a lot to enhance your emails. Even so, videos are tricky to implement. I wouldn’t recommend trying unless you’re already working on marketing your store through YouTube.

The key, according to Kissmetrics, is planning. Your email marketing campaign should have a clear goal in mind before you kick it off, and every email you send should further that goal. In addition, videos should follow these guidelines:

  • Short and sweet. If your video lasts more than a few minutes, people aren’t going to bother watching. Modern users are busy – the mobile users reading your emails even more so. Consider creating a series instead of having a single, long-winded video.
  • Avoid autoplay. It will only make your users angry. Trust me on this.
  • Get Personal. What makes your store distinct? What can you offer that your competitors can’t? Convey that in your videos.

You can easily embed videos in your emails with a tool like MailChimp.

Know Your Metrics

At the end of the day, whatever the goal of your email marketing, you need a way to measure success. To that end, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with the most critical email marketing metrics at your disposal. That way, you’ll know which ones to focus on based on your purpose.

According to Hubspot, there are six that you absolutely need to know:

  1. Clickthrough rate: How many recipients clicked on a link in a given email?
  2. Conversion rate: How many recipients completed the desired action (ie. completing a purchase on your store)?
  3. Bounce rate: How many emails couldn’t be delivered?
  4. List growth rate: How quickly is your email list growing?
  5. Forwarding rate: How many of your recipients shared your email with friends, colleagues, or family?
  6. ROI: How much have you invested in your campaign, and how much revenue (if any) is it generating?

Note that different campaigns will prioritize different metrics, and that not every metric needs to be measured to determine success.

Make Sure Everything’s Mobile-Friendly

From 2012 to 2016, the marketing environment for mobile email grew by 500%. The lesson here should be clear: more people are opening emails on their smartphones and tablets than ever before. You need to account for these users, and design your emails so that they’re readable on small screens – otherwise, you’re alienating a ton of users.

Segment Your Email Lists

Different users are going to be interested in different things. Maybe one group of users is interested in receiving coupons and bargains, but another simply wants information about new products. Do a bit of research into what sort of demographics your storefront serves, and adjust your email lists accordingly.

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Even if you’re automating your emails, they should include a personal touch. Mention the recipient’s name. Make reference to a recent purchase they made. Show them that they’re a person – not just a metric.

Basically, the more you can do to make your emails personal instead of another meaningless blast, the better.

Write Compelling, Timely Copy

The most successful emails get straight to the point. They’ve got a short, clear subject line and concise text in the body. They’re well-written, but they don’t waste time beating around the bush, boring the recipient with unnecessary details.

A few extra words of advice to that end:

  • For non time-sensitive stuff, determine the best time of day to reach your audience, and send your emails out then.
  • Certain events – completion of a purchase, for example – should generate immediate emails.
  • Keep key calls to action and critical information near the top of the email – a lot of people are going to look at the preview pane, rather than the email itself.
  • Constantly test your emails to make sure they look good and function as intended.

Closing Thoughts

Email marketing is an incredibly effective way to increase conversions for your storefront – but only if you know what you’re doing. If you approach it clumsily or without knowledge, you can do more harm than good.

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Christina Coons
Christina Coons is a professional digital marketer at Northcutt, an inbound marketing agency. She specializes in e-commerce, social media, and public relations, and spends her days helping brands succeed online.