chapter 2

Why Email Marketing is the Key to Ecommerce Success

For many ecommerce businesses, a third of their website traffic consists of returning visitors as reported by MarketingSherpa.

But the reality of website traffic is that most people who visit your website or online store are new visitors who will never visit again—unless, that is, you do something to keep them coming back. Building an email list helps you get around this issue and retain more of the traffic you worked so hard to earn.

Your email list and campaigns drive repeat traffic back to your website by providing an incentive to return (either with discounts, valuable content, new products, etc.) and directly communicating it on a regular basis.

According to recent research by the Direct Marketing Association:

  • The ROI of email is 3,800% (according to the Direct Marketing Association).
  • 72% of people would rather receive promotional material via email than social media.
  • 38% of people say receiving special offers is the top reason they subscribe to an email list.

In other words, if your ecommerce business hasn't taken the time to adopt email marketing, then you're leaving money on the table. And if these stats don't convince you, here are five more reasons you should be building your email list.

1. Email Outperforms Twitter and Facebook for Selling Online

Most businesses, small and large, know that social media is the place to be for distributing content and marketing messages. A McKinsey & Company study however points out that email marketing is still 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter when it comes to generating a sale.

The reason email is so much more effective at driving traffic and sales is because you get to take the conversation about your products and business to your customer’s most personal online space: their inbox.  

While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for free content distribution and engaging your community, they're also noisy and your audience may not be on them when you post an update. Your emails, however, are there waiting for someone when they open their inbox.

2. It’s Getting More Difficult to Strategically Climb Google’s Ranking Algorithm

Customers coming from both paid and organic search are extremely valuable to your business; however, climbing the search rankings in Google is getting harder and harder.

For those that keep up with the latest in search engine optimization news, you probably know that a lot of the tried and true methods that SEOs have used in the past to gain higher keyword rankings are being devalued by Google. Algorithmic changes have (rightfully) cracked down on low quality content, keyword-based anchor text, paid links and many other linking strategies. This has put many businesses that have used these in the famed Google penalty box, and many more businesses in a state of constant fear that they may lose their rankings in the future.

Most of the SEO strategies that are safe and work well (like content marketing) take time to build upon before desired rankings are achieved, leaving new businesses with only one option to get on the first page quickly: Google AdWords.

This is why businesses are investing in PPC ads to build their mailing list. This way, instead of just getting a potential one-time click in search, they are opening the door to future communications with their target customer base, one where they don't have to worry about getting penalized.

3. Email is Content Marketing's Best Friend

Content marketing is a strategic marketing activity whereby businesses create and distribute original content that their audience finds valuable. Rather than paying to get in front of potential customers with traditional advertising, businesses aim to draw attention to themselves by delivering relevant education and entertainment which builds buzz for the brand as well as trust with the audience.

That's why collecting email addresses from your visitors is so important. It gives you a way to keep in touch and follow up with your audience over time and ensures that all the time and money you've spent on creating content results in more than just one-time visits.

4. Email Drives Traffic and Sales

With the potential to communicate your messages to specific segments on your email list, you can use your email list to reach your customers in a wide variety of ways.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Newsletters provide your audience with the latest information on new products and updates to your business.
  • Drip campaigns are a collection of emails sent at strategic times with the intention of engaging and educating customers over time, until they purchase.
  • Special occasion emails for holidays, birthdays, and other personal events.
  • Abandoned cart reminders ensure customers complete the checkout process.
  • Reward loyal customers with exclusive discounts.
  • Re-engage customers who have not shopped in a while.
  • Generate feedback testimonials from customers.
  • Trigger campaigns send specific emails when customers take a certain action (Customer clicks ‘Men’s Wear’, ‘Men’s Spring Season Discount’ email is delivered 2 days later)

You can engage your customers through email in much deeper ways and use it to drive traffic to your ecommerce website. Shopify's email buy button also makes it simple for your email recipients to go straight to checkout with the product they love.

5. Email Allows You To Build A Relationship With Your Customers And Potential Customers

While social media and search are great ways to get discovered by future customers, email is the best way to maintain and strengthen that relationship over time.

Sixty-six percent of online consumers prefer to buy new products from brands that they are familiar with according to a Nielsen study.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you if you do any online shopping. You’re more likely to buy from the websites and brands that you are more familiar with and have formed a relationship with.

Keep in Mind: Anti-Spam Laws

Email marketing is the best example of “permission marketing” — a term coined by Seth Godin, marketer and bestselling author — which means people can opt in and out of their relationship with your brand as they please. Unlike traditional advertising and other intrusive marketing channels, it’s ultimately their choice to hear from your business.  

The relationship you build with your email list should be consensual; not just from a marketing standpoint, but a legal one too. There’s some red tape to be mindful of in the form of anti-spam legislation that applies to commercial electronic messages.

If you neglect these laws, you could face some serious fines if someone were to build a case against you—starting in the thousands—depending on the country you’re marketing to (not just the country you’re operating in).

While anti-spam laws will differ depending on where you’re marketing to, adhering to the following best practices is a good place to start:

  • Get consent: You’ve obtained express permission or opt-in from your list to send commercial email messages, and have explained the nature of the relationship you’re establishing. Make sure you have a record of this in case you ever need to provide proof.
  • Clearly identify yourself: Your messages must clearly identify yourself or your company as the sender, and offer some way to reach you—like a physical address or a website, usually in the footer of your emails.
  • Offer a way to opt out: Every email needs to provide a way to unsubscribe that lets the recipient remove themselves from all future communication.

Check out The Definitive Legal Guide to Ecommerce for a deeper look at anti-spam legislation for specific countries around the world. Don’t be intimidated. These laws are based around best practices that ethical businesses should be following anyway.

Now with that out of the way, it's time to start building your email list.

Next chapter

3. Choosing the Right Email Marketing Platform

1 min

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