eCommerce Weekly Checklist: Email Marketing


One of the most powerful marketing tools for an ecommerce business is email marketing. To begin, you need a list of email addresses (database) and a system to create and send emails (you can use your own email system or a web-based version). Do you want to reach out to past customers, offer special deals to current customers or just let more customers know about your brand, products and services? These are all viable uses for email marketing and for the purpose of this checklist, we’re going to assume that you already have an opt-in (by consent) list to which you can send marketing emails.

What ever you do, DON’T purchase a list of email addresses. Purchased lists can be expensive, rarely work and could put you in a position of violating CANN spam laws for sending emails to people who didn’t consent to being on your list. If they complain (and they will) your ISP may blacklist your company from sending future emails.

Hiring an agency to manage email marketing is an option, or you can do it yourself. The key is to determine your ROI either way. Email is still the cheapest and most effective way to reach a wide number of people and let them know what’s going on at your company


  • Get on your competitors’ email lists immediately

Study their programs and offers. The key to successfully converting a reader of your email to a sale is in the offer. Sound easy? It’s actually not that easy to come up with just the right offer. The more you understand your customer base and segment the lists, the greater the likelihood that you will be successful targeting the right offer to the right audience. Find other retailers that send unique and enticing emails that you can emulate.

  • Creative, grabby subject lines

Consumers have become so desensitized by huge discounts days, that a subject line boasting 10% OFF may not even get your email opened. Generally, emails have 1 day to grab the attention of your customer. After that, the chances of someone going back and opening the email diminish exponentially, so it’s important to have an eye catching, attention grabbing subject line. Make it so enticing that in addition to getting opened, people go out of their way to forward it or post on blogs and other forums.

  • Clear offer and call to action

Make sure that it’s clear to your reader what you want them to do. If you offer a sale item, be sure to take them directly to the product page where they can easily click the “add to shopping cart” button. Don’t make them search around for the special or you will lose their interest.

  • Test and optimize landing pages

Make sure your landing page and email match. It doesn’t have to be identical, but the messaging and theme/design should be aligned, to avoid a disorienting change when a reader clicks from your email to the designated promotional landing page.

  • Provide both HTML/TEXT formats

Emails that contain a lot of images often don’t get opened, especially on mobile devices. Text-only versions of emails have been tested as more successful in some cases. This may be different for your audience, so try it out by sending both types to see which one gets a better open rate and click through rate or send both HTML and text versions (many email systems allow both).

  • Newsletter-style emails

It may be tempting to just blast your list frequently, but DON’T. At least one of your emails a month should be in the format of a tip or advice. You want to use this format to connect and engage with your reader and provide value for them so they’ll stay on your list. Subscribers want quality, and useful information – not to be inundated constantly with promotions.

In the Long Run:

There are some additional marketing elements you may want to incorporate into your email campaigns after you have mastered the basics. Social media, trigger campaigns, drip campaigns, segmentation, embedding product video into emails, testing landing pages, testing offers and personalization are some examples you should be trying out. The key is to start today. Learn from your buyers’ behavior to see which email campaigns they respond to. Ensure that your campaigns are integrated with your overall marketing and growth strategies instead of the occasional hit and run tactics.

By: Shirley Tan

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eCommerce Weekly Checklist: Email Marketing

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