Ecommerce Email Marketing: 3 Easy Steps To The Perfect Email Promotion
If you’re looking for a simple, easy guide to running the perfect email marketing promotion for an online retailer or ecommerce store, you’ve come to the right place.
In the next few minutes, you’ll discover an easy 3-step process for creating winning email promotions that drive massive revenue every time you run them..
Once you have this simple 3-step recipe, you’ll be able to create amazing promotions at the drop of a hat.
…But Isn’t Email Marketing Dead?
Contrary to what social media fanboys and fangirls think, email isn’t dead.
In fact, email marketing is the second most effective customer acquisition channel (behind search at 15.9%). Plus, customers acquired through email spend more money over time, with the lifetime value of email customers 12% higher than average.
Whether you love it or hate it, email marketing works.
Now, about this promotion…
Here’s The Promotion You’ll Run (And The Simple 3-Step Process You’ll Follow)
Ultimately, the amount of revenue you can generate with this promotion depends multiple factors, including the size of your list, how engaged it is, what email marketing you’ve done up until this point, and a few other things… so I can’t say for sure how much you can generate with a promotion like this.
However, what I can say is that whatever your current situation, if you follow these 3 simple steps, you’ll drive serious revenue and sales for your store.
Everything has been broken down into 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Choose Your Offer
First, you’ll choose an offer. You’ll find out why discounts aren’t always your best choice when it comes to offers (and what you can offer instead).
Step 2: Write Email Copy
Next, you’ll write your email copy.
You’ll discover how to create the email copy from top-to-bottom, including the subject line, headline, and body copy. Plus, you’ll even get our list of best practices for email marketing fundamentals.
You’ll write 4 emails in total for your promotion.
Step 3: Build Your Emails
Finally, you’ll take the 4 email promotion you’ve written and create HTML emails using one of the free or paid tools that we recommend.
Then you’ll send the 4 emails over 7 days.
Throughout the post, I’ve also included examples so you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Let’s get into it.
Step 1: Choose Offer
Everyone loves a good discount, because discounts work.
Problem is, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.
Firstly, discounting devalues your brand.
Think about it. When you discount a product, you’re telling your customer that it’s not valuable enough to sell for the original price. You’re implying that the product isn’t good. That the item isn’t selling. That your store isn’t performing. That you’re desperate for sales. That the item is out of date.
In other words, when you discount a product, customers ask themselves “what’s wrong with it?”.
Secondly, discounting sets unwanted expectations.
When you discount products, customers expect more discounts. Plus, you end up attracting more shoppers who want discounts.
Thirdly, you run the risk of alienating your existing customer base. Giving discounts can make your existing customers feel like a third wheel. They may have paid full price for something, and now you’re offering the same thing for 10%, 20% or 50% off.
It makes your old customers feel bad.
That’s why I’ve included two alternatives to discounting.
Discounting has its place. It’s appropriate and even necessary at times. Just don’t depend on it to stay in business. Don’t be a one-trick pony.
Choose one of the following three offers before continuing onto the next step.
Offer #1: Discounts
The discount is easy.
Offer X% off everything store-wide, or choose a specific product or category for the discount.
To encourage people to spend more, try offering a discount on all orders over $50 (or another amount) to encourage people to spend more.
Offer #2: Free shipping
Like discounts, it’s easy to offer free shipping.
You can either offer it on everything, or tweak it by offering free shipping on all orders over $100 (for example).
Offer #3: Free gifts
Offering a free gift is a great way to drive sales without resorting to discounts.
Here’s an email from Storq where they offer a free black tank top on all orders over $75:
As soon as you open this email from Storq, you’re shown an image of an attractive girl in what presumably is a Storq tank top.
Notice how they encourage sales without offering a discount. Discounts can devalue a brand and teach customers to wait for the cheapest price. Storq does a great job by avoiding that problem by offering a free gift instead of a discount (“we’re slipping a FREE BLACK TANK into all orders over $75”).
I love the use of personality in the discount code too (“TANKSGIVING”).
Like discounts and free shipping, you can offer the free gift to all customers and all orders, or you can encourage them to spend more by requiring them to order $75 or more.
Have you chosen your offer? Before you move onto the next step, choose your offer:
- Discount, free shipping or free gift?
- What terms? (is it for everyone, or only on orders over $XX?)
Once you have your offer, it’s time to write your email copy.
Step 2: Write Email Copy
The Subject Line
Instead of forcing you to come up with your own subject lines, I’ve created them for you so you don’t have to do anything:
Email 1 Subject: FIRSTNAME, THANK YOU!
Email 2 Subject: Did you get our email?
Email 3 Subject: Don’t miss out
Email 4 Subject: LAST CHANCE ?
If you have used these subject lines within the last 3 months, you’ll get better results if you use different subject lines for the promotion we’re creating here. If you need inspiration, use this blog post on subject lines to stimulate your creativity.
The Pre-Header Text
The pre-header is what people see after the subject line. It’s a preview of your email, and it’s worth optimizing it to get more opens.
What the pre-header text looks like (it’s the first sentence of your email):
And here’s how it looks in the inbox on the phone:
Michaels uses their pre-header text perfectly, to get more opens and sales in every email they send.
Here’s an example of bad pre-header text in the email:
And in the inbox:
Diamond Nexus hasn’t optimized their pre-header text, and they’re missing out on sales as a result.
The Body Copy
When it comes to the email body copy, instead of telling you what to do, let me show you.
Here’s a great email from CanvasPop:
This email from CanvasPop is simple and effective. It’s immediately clear why they’re emailing you. It’s easy to read. And it’s dead obvious what they want you to do. There is zero chance of misunderstanding this email.
Lesson #1 – Keep it simple
Don’t get complex and long-winded with your body copy. When it comes to promotions and offers like this, short and sweet almost always wins.
As soon as you open the email, you’re greeted by a headline which tells you exactly why you’re receiving this email (“BLACK FRIDAY SALE”).
Lesson #2 – Include a single, obvious, call to action
When you look at CanvasPop’s email, can you tell what they want you to do? If you wanted to shop using the coupon code, where would you click?
The big, fat pink button, right?
CanvasPop makes it dead simple for you. You have to do the same. Make it dead obvious what action you want people to take.
Now let’s take a look at a Huckberry email:
Lesson #3 – Make it fun
Huckberry are masters of making their emails fun. In this email, they use colorful language to generate excitement about a trip to Antarctica (“a harrowing trip” and “do not go gentle in that good night…”).
Instead of a boring Black Friday email with a generic discount, they’ve crafted a promotion that includes all sorts of exciting prices (along with a trip to Antarctica, you can also win an “uber soft” mattress from Casper).
And now for a brilliant email from Quirky:
Lesson #4 – Add a sense of urgency
Don’t make your sales open-ended. And when you have a deadline, remember to tell people that there’s a deadline. Don’t assume people will figure it out on their own.
In this email, Quirky triggers urgency by reminding people that the 50% discount offer is only available until Tuesday.
But that’s not the only thing Quirky does right…
Lesson #5 – Get their attention with a pattern interrupt
Look carefully at the email from Quirky above. What’s different about it?
If you said that it’s a moving image, you’d be right.
Quirky breaks email tradition here and uses a GIF (an animated image) to create the “head snapping to attention” effect. In an inbox full of boring, drab, static email promotions, this email from Quirky stands out like a Ferrari on the highway.
Like the other examples, it’s clean, simple and easy to understand. But what really makes this email stand head and shoulders above the rest is the use of the animated GIF to stand out.
How can you do the same?
While you might not have the design resources to make an animated GIF like this, you can sure as hell figure out ways to get people’s attention. The trick is doing something people don’t expect. No one expects an animated image – that’s why it works.
So when you create your email copy and email designs, take some time to brainstorm ideas for doing something that no one expects. It might take a few tries to get a hit, but when you find something that works, you’ll be glad you invested the time and effort to find something that works.
Here are the 5 email lessons to remember when writing the copy for your email promotion:
- Keep it simple
- Include a single, obvious, call to action
- Make it fun
- Add a sense of urgency
- Get their attention with a pattern interrupt
Now, before we’re done here, we need to take a look at email marketing best practices.
When it comes to email marketing for online retailers, there are a few best practices that you’ll want to abide by.
Use your store name as the from name
Sometimes, it makes sense to send emails from a personal email (Jane Smith) or a mixture of name and company (Jane, Bonobos).
But when it comes to promotional emails for online retailers, it generally works best to use your company name like Michaels does here:
Use a reply-to email for the from email
Don’t make the mistake of using a “no reply” email address for your from email. Your subscribers may want to hit reply and ask questions or give feedback. Don’t make it hard on them.
Instead, make it easy for your customers to talk to you by using a simple email address that they can reply to. A good email address to use is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure your emails are mobile-compatible
53% of emails are opened on mobile devices, so make sure your emails are mobile optimized.
Don’t include social profile buttons
Big brands make this mistake all the time.
When you’re sending email promotions, you have a very specific goal: get people to your website so they can buy stuff.
Adding links to your Facebook page, Twitter profile, and Instagram accounts distracts from the core purpose of the email. People who would have otherwise bought stuff will end up distracted by social media instead.
It’s fine to include links to your social profiles in other emails (like your welcome email and nurture sequence), but get rid of them from your promotional emails.
Keep your email footer simple
The footer in your promotion emails should include a customer service number and email, a quick note on how you got the subscriber’s email (ie. You’re receiving this email because you signed up on OurWebsite.com), and your company logo. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Before you move onto the final step, write down your pre-header text, headline, 1-2 sentences for your body copy, and what your call to action is (ie. SHOP NOW).
For example, before continuing, you should have something like…
Pre-header: Here’s a gift to say thanks
Headline: FREE FERRARI ON ALL ORDERS OVER $100
For the next 7 days, get a free Ferrari on all orders over $100.
[cta: SHOP NOW]
Once you’ve got that, you’re finally ready to build your emails.
Step 3: Build Your Emails
One of the easiest ways to create your email promotion is with Klaviyo’s free email template editor. Create a free account, go to the email template editor, and create your emails.
Other email editor tools include:
- Inkbrush (free)
- Stamplia builder (free)
- CoffeeCup (from $9/month)
- Litmus email builder (from $79/month)
If you have access to a design and development team (or if know how to code HTML and CSS yourself), you can custom code your emails.
If you don’t have a design team who can do it for you, nor the time or expertise to do it yourself, hire an agency like ReEngager (that’s us!) to do everything for you and send you a weekly ROI report.
Double-check templates for mobile compatibility
If you’re using Klaviyo’s email template builder, you can check how your email looks from within the designer.
If you’re using another tool, or custom coding your emails, use a tool like Litmus to check your emails for mobile compatibility.
Annnd You’re Done. Schedule and Send Your Campaign.
Take your 4 emails, load them into your email software, schedule them up and hit SEND (if you don’t have email marketing software, I recommend Klaviyo).
Here’s the schedule for the 4-email campaign:
Email 1 – Thursday or Sunday
Email 2 – 3 days later
Email 3 – 3 days later
Email 4 – 1 day later
The best time to send your emails will vary depending on the industry you’re in.
We find that the best time to send emails for most companies is around 7-8am, when people are bored on their morning commute and looking for distractions.
3 More Examples of Awesome Ecommerce Email Marketing Promotions
This is a marvellous email from Bonobos. Like every other email on this page, it’s simple and easy to understand. There’s a good reason for that.
The last thing you want to do when selling something is confuse your potential customer. By keeping it simple, you make it easier to focus on the message in the email, and ultimately lead them to the sale.
Diamond Nexus does a great job in this email of keeping it short and simple. Plus, it’s dead obvious where they want you to click.
The first thing I would change is the font they’re using with “FLASH SALE” and “SAVE 20% OFF”. It’s difficult to read and understand. They’d be better off using a sans serif font (for example, Arial instead of Georgia).
Also, “SAVE 20% OFF” doesn’t make sense. It should say “SAVE 20%” or “GET 20% OFF”.
Despite these 2 changes, this email from Diamond Nexus is a solid example of a short and simple email that sells.
If you’re looking for examples of awesome emails, look no further than Michaels. I’ve been on their list for a while now, and every email they send rocks.
If you have the design resources, you should be testing campaigns like this. They’re more complex and involved than some of the other emails I’ve showcased here, but they work amazingly well for some brands.
Don’t Leave This Page Without Taking The Next Step…
“He Who Hesitates Is Lost”
Before you leave this page, take action. Make note of the ideas here and figure out what your next step is.
If you haven’t chosen a date for your next promotion, then choose a date. If you already have a date, write a rough outline of your promotion based on the ideas here. If you’ve already got someone on your team who handles email and/or marketing, email them a link to this page.
Whatever you do… don’t delay.
If you’d to get started as soon as possible, download our free “fill in the blank” HTML email templates.
[DOWNLOAD] 4 “Fill In The Blank” HTML Templates For The Perfect Ecommerce Email Promotion (No Design or Copywriting Necessary)
30 seconds from now, you could have 4 beautiful emails to use for a discount offer, free shipping offer or free gift offer – no design or copywriting necessary.
You’ll love the benefits of using our free templates:
- “fill in the blanks”
- compliant with ecommerce email marketing best practices
- include recommended subject lines
- pre-header text designed for ultimate open rates
With our templates, the only thing you need to do is “fill in the blanks” and hit send.