Email is a powerful sales conversion tool, and should be an important element of any eCommerce marketing campaign to build relationships and retarget existing customers.
Here’s a question for all of the marketers reading this: what day and time should you hit send to increase the chances of your emails being opened and read?
According to the results of fourteen studies, the best time to send an email for maximum readership is on a Tuesday at 10 a.m. That’s great to know, but if your email message does not resonate with your target audience and get them to take action, then no matter what time you hit send—it will fail to convert.
Successful ecommerce marketing is less about when and what time to send a single email, and more about creating multiple interactions with your customers on their journey to making a purchase on your eCommerce site. Email marketing should be part of a comprehensive campaign to nurture your target customers over the longer course of their buyer’s journey. That is the only way to meaningfully convert with email marketing.
Due to the widespread use of email around the world, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to develop relationships with current customers and reach out to new ones. For example, when eCommerce customers put items in their online shopping cart, only to abandon them without completing the purchase—a series of email reminders are proven to help.
According to research, sending three email reminders about an abandoned shopping cart resulted in 69% more orders than sending a single email. This is actionable insight, but understanding trends like this, and how to effectively implement them in your eCommerce marketing campaigns takes time and research.
Here are some recommendations on the future trends of email marketing for eCommerce that you can start using in 2021 to successfully build customer relationships and convert.
Do the Research
Successful email marketing requires knowledge about your target audience and their needs in order to craft effective messages that they will respond to with clicks. It takes a series of emails to nurture your target customers over their buyer’s journey. This sequence of emails will also increase traffic to your site, boost brand awareness, and give you a chance to highlight special promotions and offers.
Dive into research to understand your customers, create profiles or personas to detail the characteristics of your target audience like the demographics, aspirations, pain points, price sensitivity, and personality traits of your buyers in specific categories. Getting some clarity on these aspects of your target audience will help you to create successful email marketing campaigns featuring messages that effectively move the needle with your targets.
Segment Your Audience
Email marketing is most successful when every email recipient is targeted with a uniquely crafted message that entices them to take action. Make lists divided into buyer groups and categories. Each group should have a different strategy behind the email messaging created.
For example, if you are promoting a certain product or service, you may have a group that has purchased those products, or similar products before, and another group who never do. Logically, each of these groups should be sent a distinctly different message in order to get them to take an action that leads to more sales in that category.
Make Your Emails Interactive
It’s important to include an interactive, call to action to either ask customers to click on a link.
For example, to fill out a survey or make a purchase. In fact, email surveys as a call to action are a great way to learn more about your target customers’ pain points, so you can craft even more effective email messages that address those in the future.
Incorporating interactive content, like surveys, into your emails increases engagement, keeps a reader’s attention, and increases the likelihood they will take an action you want them to take.
Brief videos or animations embedded in your emails are also extremely effective at inspiring interactivity, raising brand awareness, and inspiring email readers to action. According to MarTech Advisor, videos in emails have shown increased click-through rates up to 300%. Brief videos that are informative and contain customer testimonials, product explanations, or tutorials perform the best—but all video or animation makes an emotional connection that goes beyond mere words to communicate a well-researched message.
If you simply want email recipients to buy a particular product or service, why not include the shopping cart in the email itself? This kind of interactivity will remove any barriers customers may face to complete a purchase, and it will deliver a quick measurement of ROI for this particular email messaging in a campaign. Sometimes that is a great way to gauge the suitability of a product or service for a particular target or group.
Perhaps you have a new line of products that you want to demonstrate by email? GIF image files are a way to provide a high-quality visual detail and your customer targets can simply click on a call to action like, ‘Complete Your Order’, to be redirected to the shopping cart. In a few clicks, they will have made a purchase. Make the check-out process fast, simple, and convenient so your email recipients can complete the transaction in minutes and be on their way.
Implement the research
Here is where the research you’ve done is going to make a great contribution to your success with email marketing. The insights you’ve uncovered about your target customers will enable you to personalize the emails you send out, for example, based on the pain points your customers are facing, their interests, or their latest purchases.
Use the data to personalize the subject line of your email, and it will significantly improve the chances that your email will be opened and read. According to research, email open rates fluctuate between 15% and 28% depending on the subject line, so you must grab a reader’s attention right away in order to make an impact.
Take advantage of AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven analytics is taking the data from customer and persona profiles and trailblazing a new frontier by providing the capabilities to quickly automate smarter personalization of subject lines, and even entire messages.
Leverage data from AI
Algorithms analyze data-driven insights on what your customers want and their preferences so you can automatically craft emails that are more likely to inspire targets to take the actions you want them to take. Running analytics on customer location, interests, or activity to segment email campaigns is trending now, thanks to the rising power of machine learning and AI.
Automatic segmentation with AI helps you send the right content to the right target and builds trust with your eCommerce customers. This will also increase the conversion rate and result in more engagement with your email campaigns. Generic, bulk emails sent to all of your contacts will never come close to this.
How marketers use AI for email marketing
Many marketers are now using AI to draft email copy and subject lines, optimize send times, clean up email lists, and even automatically create and send newsletters. AI algorithms can also customize promotions to individual customer segments, suggest additional products to go with an online order, and automatically retarget customers who may have abandoned a shopping cart.
Leverage User-Generated Content
Authentic, user-generated content is a hot trend now among email marketers and can be successfully applied to campaigns in support of eCommerce. This should be organic content that comes straight from your customers, because that is who other customers will most identify with—real people reviewing your products or services.
According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers say that they trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising. Another study found that 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as a review from someone they know personally. These are compelling statistics that reveal how influential this kind of validation can be if implemented right.
Integrating user-generated content into your emails
It can be challenging to integrate this type of content into an email campaign, but an easy way to begin is to build up a library of user-generated reviews. Actively encouraging customers to leave reviews, images, and even video will reap great benefits as you are effectively crowd-sourcing authentic content generation.
If you have a very fast-moving product line or service, leverage online purchases as a platform to encourage customers to leave reviews. Once you have enough responses, you can sort through and use the most relevant user-generated reviews in future email campaigns.
Inform your customers
Some customers may not be aware that what they share will be public information. As a best practice, make sure that you let customers know that their content may be shared with others. As a best practice, you’ll always want to inform customers that your brand may share brand-related reviews with your audience. Send the best reviewers a message telling them how much you enjoyed their content, and that you would love to share it with others.
2021 will see a greater emphasis on research and data-driven insights to fuel the personalization, audience segmentation, and interactive elements of successful email marketing campaigns in support of eCommerce. Automation with AI-driven analytics will enable many of these trends to be implemented in less time and at a lower cost than ever before. We hope this overview of some of the latest trends will help you stay on top of these fast-changing best practices.
Ray Ko is the Senior Ecommerce Manager at ShopPOPDisplays. With years of experience in the retail space, Ray is an expert in formulating and implementing e-commerce strategies to increase revenue.