As eCommerce becomes ever more complex and competitive, so has the marketing landscape. Consumers are exposed to vast numbers of promotional messages daily, making them “harsher” judges when it comes to branded content. However, even with the proliferation of social media marketing, email newsletters retained its unique position within marketers’ toolkit.
Why? Because email marketing works. Yet, to achieve the channel’s maximum effectiveness requires tact and appliance of best practices. In this post, we will cover the eight essential eCommerce newsletter best practices to help eCommerce businesses grow conversion.
The 8 eCommerce Newsletter best practices
Analyzing eCommerce newsletters with the best performance statistics, we noticed many common threads. Here are the eight synthesized best practices to improve your email marketing results.
1: Define a clear goal for every email newsletter.
Each email newsletter you create should have a well defined and engaging theme. This can be introducing new product collection, announcing upcoming sales, or notifying seasonal trends. Having a clear goal can help you optimize all the critical components of the newsletter – subject, hero image, content, and CTA.
The CTA or Call to Action button on your newsletter should be distinctive and links to a relevant category page that reflects your theme. For instance, if the goal is to announce a sales promotion, then the category page should feature the various sales items.
At a high level, the primary goal should be to drive email traffic to the category page, thereby optimizing click rate. The secondary goal is to convert them into purchasing (grow conversion rate) ultimately. The perfect email marketing recipe targets both!
2: Keep eCommerce newsletter short and sweet.
We have all seen long-winded email newsletters with an endless scrolling of featured products and cross-sell recommendations. However, the “all-in-one” newsletter is simply not effective.
Focus is the keyword when it comes to impactful communication. When the newsletter covers too many products/categories/topics, readers are more likely to become overwhelmed and lose focus on the main message. The result is a lower open to click ratio.
What if you want to feature more products?
Try breaking down your content into 2 to 3 different variations, each one telling just one story. You can choose to send it over time as a mini-series.
Alternatively, segmenting your recipients and direct the most relevant product to each respective recipient group is a great way to boost email outcome. Data have shown that highly targeted communication works better in engaging audiences. Something as simple as gender-based newsletters – sending women clothing to female shoppers and men fashion to male recipients – can boost open, clicks, and conversion rates throughout the email campaign.
3: Limit your email subject lines to 30 characters.
The email subject line matters. They are the first text your recipients encounter and play a critical role in determining whether it is worthwhile to read the rest of the content. In fact, 42% of people open emails based on the subject alone.
With over half of emails consumed on mobile devices nowadays, it is important to keep the email subject line short and punchy. To optimize your subject lines for mobile readers, try to create subject lines with approximately 30 characters (about 5 to 6 words). This way, the subject would not be cut off on a mobile screen.
4: A/B test your email template.
The optimal eCommerce newsletter design varies by industry and customer persona. To understand what works best for your business, try A/B testing different content and style to see which one performs better.
Start with two versions of the newsletter design you would like to test. For best results, each test should focus on one variance, such as the subject line or CTA, as opposed to entirely different content. Randomly divide your recipient population into two lists, and send one version to each of the split lists. Compare and contrast the results to see which version has better click-thru and conversion rates. Repeat this experiment over a few campaigns, and you should have a good sense of what your customers prefer.
5: Use multiple CTAs in your email body.
If your eCommerce newsletters tend to be on the longer side, then don’t forget to add more CTA buttons to maximize the CTR. A good rule of thumb is to include a CTA on each section or every full-screen scroll.
An effective strategy is to use a primary call to action on the main hero section of the newsletter (to the targeted landing page) and secondary ones for the products.
Tip: Use different styles (e.g., colors, border) for CTA buttons can help differentiate the primary and secondary actions.
6: Use trust marks before the fold.
According to Conversion Rate Optimization principles for landing pages, having trust marks and validation badges above the page folds improves conversion rate.
The same concept applies to eCommerce newsletter. You can and should include the trust marks on the newsletter template to reinforce the brand. Just make sure these badges are directly visible on mobile screens without recipients having to scroll at all. If you offer free shipping or returns, we found these statements add a positive boost to customer conversion.
7: Use dynamic creatives.
One way for your communication to stand out is to rely on more fun and dynamic creative. An easy way to incorporate such content is by using animated GIFs. Bellroy provides a creative example of using GIF elements into their product newsletters.
You can also use dynamic image creators, such as PickaPic or Nifty Images, to personalize newsletter creatives. PickaPic offers a way to generate an image that dynamically changes by date/time (e.g., time-sensitive offers). Nifty Image allows you to add a personalized text (e.g., name) into images.
Tip: Use of creative should align with your overall brand and communication style, and highly dependent on your audience persona. For a more professional B2B style newsletter, then the creatives should reflect that as well.
8: Optimize delivery time.
Timing is everything. For promotional eCommerce newsletters, delivery time and date have a strong correlation with the open rates. A recipient is more likely to notice and open an email when it’s just delivered to the inbox at the time when he or she is actively checking the inbox.
As a result, it’s essential to understand your audience’s behavior and test, over time, for the time that open rates peak. There are also ISP tools, such as ContactPigeon, that optimizes the delivery time for open rates automatically, by understanding past open, click behaviors of each recipient.
Experiment, track and iterate towards success
The only path towards growth is non-stop optimization. Building your eCommerce newsletter is only half of the job since the other half requires discovering best practices that work for your brand and target audience through continuous experimentation and testing.
****This is a guest post from Joyce Qian. Joyce heads Growth at ContactPigeon. On a daily basis, she ponders on different ways eCommerce businesses, big and small, can grow and achieve success. Outside of work, Joyce loves reading, traveling and exploring her new found home in the ancient city of Athens.****