The Lifeblood of E-Commerce and How to Optimize it
Today’s commerce landscape is almost unrecognizable to that of the mall’s heyday. Vacancy rates at regional and super regional malls in the U.S. have reached 8.6 percent, a high not seen since the third quarter of 2012. With malls the emptiest they’ve been in nearly six years, e-commerce is swooping in to fill the shopping void. In 2017, global e-commerce sales grew nearly 25 percent compared to the previous year. This year in the U.S. alone, e-commerce is approaching 10 percent of all retail sales as companies like Toys"R"Us filed for bankruptcy and Brookstone announced it was shuttering all of its mall locations. Forrester predicts that online sales will account for 17 percent of all U.S. retail sales in just four years, up from a projected 12.7 percent from last year’s report.
To face this shifting paradigm — one where more consumers are foregoing trips to the mall in favor of shopping from the comfort of their homes — retailers must think and act like e-commerce companies in order to survive. That means increased focus and attention must be placed on harnessing and optimizing email as the lifeblood of e-commerce.
Whether it’s promoting products, sales or major events, email is a crucial e-commerce marketing tool. Half of all consumers report purchasing from a website after receiving a marketing email. That’s because 67 percent of consumers believe email is essential to their lives. This makes email a crucial gateway for e-commerce businesses looking to connect with their customers. For online-only retailers that are lacking in-person customer interaction, email is the best tool for overcoming this hurdle and establishing meaningful communication and relationships with customers. Here are some tips to get the most out of your e-commerce marketing emails:
If you want to capture a customer’s attention, then you need to speak directly to them — literally. Personalizing emails to a specific individual can drastically improve engagement rates. Cold and impersonal “to [name]” messages won’t suffice. Instead, tailor your subject lines and content to each recipient to better facilitate and resemble an actual one-on-one conversation. You can accomplish this by segmenting your email lists into various groups that share similar interests or commonalities, based on things like demographics, purchasing behavior, past engagement rates and more. These personal details can go a long way toward making happier customers who are more engaged and motivated to make purchases.
Customer Loyalty Campaigns
Once you’ve hooked customers through email, you need to work on keeping them consistently engaged. Launching a campaign with a specific focus on building and maintaining customer relationships and loyalty will be key for any e-commerce brand looking to thrive without a brick-and-mortar presence. This sort of campaign can also work to win back disengaged customers who maybe haven’t shopped with you in some time. Using email to offer customers exclusive deals or launching a loyalty program they can subscribe to are two great ways to facilitate engagement. Depending on how much customer data you have, you can also send special “life event” emails offering discounts for things like their birthday. These little things go a long way for most consumers, showing that you’re actively thinking about them.
This one may seem like a given, but you would be amazed at how many e-commerce brands don’t have promotional campaigns in place for their products, services, sales or holiday events. Conversion rates tend to spike for these different promotional campaigns, especially when it comes to discount and low inventory promotions. The average benchmark for these messages is a 1.04 percent conversion rate and a 9.68 percent click-to-conversion (CTC) rate. Close behind those in terms of CTC are new merchandise email alerts at 8.23 percent. Each promotional campaign is a bit different and tends to target a specific audience segment, so it’s important to personalize these emails and their content accordingly for maximum results.
Abandoned Cart Campaigns
We’ve all been there — we browse a site, see a bunch of items we like and put them in our shopping carts only to leave them there collecting digital dust as we’re not yet ready to pull the trigger (or life interrupts the potential purchase). An abandoned cart campaign works to nudge consumers into that purchase. These emails can recover up to 15 percent of what would otherwise be wasted revenue, and has increased e-commerce business revenue by half in some instances, recovering hundreds of thousands in sales. Bluecore notes that of all e-commerce emails, abandoned cart emails have both the highest CTC rate (21.78 percent) and conversion rate (2.63 percent). This campaign is an absolute no-brainer for a successful e-commerce venture.
In order to scale your emails, you’re going to need a little extra help — enter automation! Automating some of your e-commerce email marketing campaigns helps you foster more long-standing relationships with customers by sending the right messages at the right frequency and times containing the right content. This can work for a variety of the campaigns mentioned above, including abandoned cart emails and engagement campaigns designed to check in with unengaged subscribers and provide them with options to opt back in or unsubscribe. Lastly, automated messages that notify customers that an item they’ve looked at recently is either on sale or back in stock is a relatively simple touch that can add huge value and facilitate sales.
If consumer behavior is proving anything, it’s that people don’t need a physical venue for their shopping needs. Online retail sales show no signs of slowing down, and retailers that wish to thrive in e-commerce need to market to the consumer buying habits driving this trend. Gone are the days when people would make purchasing decisions from the paper circulars stuffed into their mailboxes or tucked away in their newspaper and then flock to the mall to buy. Email has risen in its stead, functioning as the digital circular of e-commerce. Brands, get on board.
Carly Brantz is vice president of revenue marketing for SendGrid, a cloud-based email delivery platform.
Carly Brantz is vice president of revenue marketing at SendGrid. With more than 15 years of experience, she’s an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, she leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other marketing conferences.