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Navigating The Future Of E-Commerce: 5 Innovative Email Marketing Trends For Retailers

A person typing on a laptop with email marketing icons flying out of it, targeting retailers in e-commerce.

As many Shopify retailers and e-commerce professionals know, email marketing is still one of the most lucrative platforms.

Email marketing yields an average ROI of 4000%, and your audience is already engaged in your brand. Here’s how you can use the latest proven strategies in email marketing to ensure you’re getting the most out of your email marketing campaigns. 

The Basic Checklist

If you work in retail, your biggest challenge is usually a high unsubscribe rate and a low click-through rate. This is quite common amongst new e-commerce businesses, and usually, the solution comes down to four key elements:

Regulations

Servers constantly look for any signs of spam in an email; these methods are updated regularly. If, for example, Gmail introduces new guidelines, you’ll need to ensure that your emails adhere to these; otherwise, your campaigns will get flagged and end up in a spam folder. 

Segmentation

This means breaking your customer list into segments according to their profiles and behavior instead of sending all campaigns to everyone on your list. Your product or service is rarely a one-size-fits-all, so you must send the right message to the right recipient. 

Personalization

Adjacent to segmentation, personalization involves showcasing products and services based on the customer’s on-site behavior and previous purchases. Example: If a customer has just purchased a bicycle, shifting your messaging to bike accessories makes sense. You’re essentially laying out a personalized shopping experience for each customer. 

Automation

These emails are set up and triggered at various points in the customer’s buying journey, enticing them to take the next step. Automated emails save you time by communicating automatically with your customers in a unique way. 

While most Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Klaviyo, Mailchimp, and Salesforce have integrated features for the above, these features are just tools. To truly maximize your e-commerce performance, you’ll need to establish achievable goals.

Setting Clear Goals

While your business has unique aspects, most retailers have the same goals for their email marketing campaigns, like minimizing unsubscribe rates, growing and retaining your existing list, and converting leads. 

The first step is establishing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to see whether or not your new strategy is addressing the goals you set out. 

The good news is that you won’t have to rely on guesswork since you're working with real-time data. If you think your audience will react well to a specific campaign, the data will prove or disprove your marketing hypothesis. 

It’s also crucial that your new email marketing strategy aligns with your overall brand strategy and the larger goals of your business. As email marketing is quite fluid, you can easily adjust your strategy when the business pivots in a new direction.  

Creating a Winning Strategy

Once you’ve established clear goals and a blueprint of what it is you want to achieve, it’s time to devise a specific strategy for improving each KPI. 

Unsubscribe Rates

A great benefit of email marketing is that customers actively subscribe to your business’s email list. Hence, it’s safe to assume that those on your list are already engaging with your brand to some degree. This also means that any problems with unsubscribe rates wouldn’t usually be attributed to spam issues. Instead, this would mean that your customers are reacting to irrelevant content. 

This is where proper segmentation comes in. By dividing your audience into segments based on behavior and preferences, you can create targeted campaigns catering to each segment’s interests. This ensures that every subscriber only receives relevant messaging to them and their needs – which they are far more likely to engage with.

List Growth and Retention

Organic list growth is paramount to any retailer’s email marketing program, so you must make subscribing as seamless as possible.

Currently, website overlays are the best tool for converting visitors to subscribers. You should see an even better response if you offer a welcome discount to new contacts. 

Since customers are more likely to join a mailing list in exchange for benefits, creating an online competition is also quite effective because signing up is a requirement for entry. A simple referral program can help acquire new contacts if competitions aren't viable. Offer a discount to entice existing customers to refer their family and friends, and they’ll have enough incentive to help grow your list. 

Retaining your existing customers is always more affordable than acquiring new ones. Studies have shown that acquiring new customers can cost up to seven times more than keeping the customers you already have – and the same holds for email subscribers.

This is why it’s so crucial that your email program offers value- and product-focused content to ensure subscribers aren’t receiving monotonous sales content. 

The best way to achieve this is by incorporating content pillars into your email marketing calendar by dividing your content into categories such as promotions, informative content, or holiday campaigns. You can easily ensure that your email marketing campaigns are highlighting a wide enough range of topics that add value.

While the above ensures the quality of your email content, it’s also imperative that you pay close attention to quantity. Finding the right cadence is just as important – send too few emails, and your brand gets lost. If you send too many, subscribers are likely to opt-out. 

Converting Leads

The best-laid marketing strategies are rendered moot if customers aren’t making purchases. Even if you aim to create awareness for a worthy cause and not necessarily get sales, you’ll still want to see a steady rise in click-through rates. 

This is where A/B testing is a boon to e-commerce retailers. By testing the correct vocabulary, imagery, email length, send times, and more, you’ll be able to hone in on what your subscribers want and deliver your offering in a way that they are most likely to respond to.

It’s also best to stay updated on your customers’ preferences. You must occasionally run the same A/B test to see if trends have shifted.

While A/B testing is still the best method to gauge your audience, it requires a lot of time and proactivity. While most Email Service Providers (ESPs) have this functionality, it’s not an automated, set-and-forget feature. 

Fair warning – this does take time and you can’t rely on your ESP to do the work for you. You’ll need to actively watch the data come in and adjust your campaigns accordingly. 

This brings us to our last and most important point.

ESPs Are Tools

While an email service provider can be an impressive platform with valuable features, it’s not a one-click solution to your email marketing needs. Like any tool, an ESP requires input and oversight to be effective. 

While trends change, you’ll always be at the forefront if you utilize a strong strategy, based on data. Knowing your goals and having an effective plan to achieve them will ensure your email marketing remains up-to-date. Everything else is just a means to an end. 

Author Bio

Alex Melone is the Co-Founder and Chief Production Officer at CodeCrew. Alex has extensive experience in the email marketing industry. He started his career as a project manager and became a self-taught expert in deliverability and back-end functionality before branching into entrepreneurship and founding CodeCrew. Alex strives to continue pushing the limits of email’s capabilities. He believes that digital innovation, continued development, and rising to new challenges are the recipe for SME success in the new era of marketing.

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