Are you neglecting your email marketing? Are you not sure what to say or how to engage with your customers?

In this blog, I consult Loren Nally of the Retail Marketing Academy for her expert advice on ecommerce and digital marketing.  Loren was a guest on Episode 44 of my podcast Start, Scale Succeed.

How important is email marketing to product businesses?

It’s vital. Email is important to all business, but particularly for retailers.

Often people don’t realise you can be emailing your potential customers before you’ve even launch. That’s how good it is, you can have sales ready to go.

In general email marketing should deliver at least 20% of your overall sales – that’s a big portion you are missing out on if you are not doing it.
  • It’s much easier to do that social media marketing, which is subject to algorithms which keep changing.
  • An email goes straight into the inbox, and your customer is going to see it. You can talk to them by name, and build up a personal relationship with them.
  • With social media there is a very huge chance that they’re not going to see it – people often see only about 3% of your content.

Welcome Emails

This is often something people are not doing. So many times I have seen business with a signup box on their website, but no email goes out after people sign up. This is the absolute worst thing you can do, we are a nation who want instant gratification – we want that email in our inbox in 10 seconds.

It’s super important to get that email out – it can just be a single welcome email rather than a sequence but it needs to be done.

They other key thing to remember for retailers is you need 2 welcome emails – for purchases and non purchases

Non purchases are people who come to your site, check around, and maybe sign up – that is when the first welcome email goes out, perhaps there is an incentive for your first purchase.

Purchases are people who come to your email list through your checkout, they’ve already made the first purchase.

Often what I see is people getting the same welcome email, which says welcome to our email list. Here’s 10% of your first purchase, which is the worst thing to receive if you have just made that first buy. Make sure that you have separated out your audience.

Welcome emails are your chance to build and nurture a relationship with that customer – this is your nurture sequence.

What should be in your nurture sequence?

  • Stick to 3 or 4 emails in your welcome sequence
  • Deliver an incentive to purchase like a discount, welcome emails have the highest conversion rate of any emails sent
  • Share a little about yourself, and who your are
  • Share different facets of your business you want to get across, such as your USP and values
  • Talk about where else people can find you online and connect with you

How can you grow and manage your list?

Make sure you are growing  your email list in the right way.

Make sure you are GDPR compliant, a double opt in is a legal requirement.

As well as protecting the customers, there are benefits for you because you’re not going to get all the mistyped email address that will cause hard bounces instantly, which will affect your deliverability and reputation as a sender.

Clear out your list regularly, People get too hung up on the size of their list. It’s not about the size, it’s quality over quantity. I regularly clear out client emails lists, removing people who are really disengaged, they’re not responding, they’re not opening, they’re not clicking, they are wasting space on your account. You don’t know those people on your list and can say goodbye.

I’ve seen lists come from by 50% or more, but the sales & revenue has not changed, because these people were not buying at all.

As a best practice, clean up your email list 3-4 times a year. 

How does segmentation work?

One of the most effective things you can do for your email list, no matter the size is segmentation – targeted personalisation. Email allows you to do this in a way that you just can’t on social media. It’s about the right message, to the right people at the right time. 

For instance – have an automation for abandoned baskets. Remind them that it is there, we all get distracted with kids running around etc – you can message with ‘you were looking at this, we’ve only got four left, did you want one?

The easiest way to segment your audience is to look at where they’ve come from – who made a purchase, who came through a general sign up form. 

If people haven’t purchased, you are trying to encourage them to make that first purchase. 

  • Remind them of the discount if there is one
  • Help the understand the value of what other customers are getting from your brand, share testimonials, reviews etc

If they have purchased you are trying to get a repeat purchase. It’s a good group to focus on because if they have done it once, they are highly likely to do it again.

  • Ask them to do your marketing, and spread the word
  • Use special offers such as if you share our website with your friends you both get £10 off

How many times should you be emailing your list?

Aim for 2 times a month
  • It depends on how often you have new products, new offers, new things to talk about. The key is don’t send one out just because you need to send one. You have to have something to talk about.
  • Make sure any one contact doesn’t have too much frequency. A lot of email tools now have settings to stop people getting emails who have had some recently.
  • Remember it doesn’t need to be a blog, it can just be checking in.

Remember to check the mobile view

Make sure that you check the mobile view. All too often emails are composed in desktop, and people don’t realise that when it is turned into mobile view the text scroll is now too much and you will lose the attention of your audience. 

Look at the bias on your own list, and see how people are viewing your emails. Usually the bias is towards mobile.

Make sure your calls to action stand out in the scroll – that the buttons are a consistent colour and stand out. 

Repeat the calls the action – so that people don’t have to scroll back up to the top

What is a good open rate?

Don’t look at the open rate. They are pretty irrelevant for several reasons:

  • You have to open an email to delete it unsubscribe
  • The Apple iOS 15 issues mean emails are all pre-opened

Instead look at the engagement rate – the click rate and conversions. A click rate of 25% after the email has been opened is pretty good. 

How do you get people to convert with email marketing?

  • Firstly look at your subject line. You’ve got a few words to decide whether someone is going to open or ignore your email. Make sure it relates to what is in the email, and isn’t misleading. 
  • Keep your emails shorts and specific, a focused email will get more conversion
  • Make sure you put the calls to action in
  • Add clickable links to the image as well as the button, often 50% of people will be clicking the image

The best converting emails are those that truly recognize where the customer is in terms of their journey

These aren’t necessarily the regular emails you send out, or ones with seasonal marketing messages like Easter. The ones that work best are the ones that recognize your journey, for instance ‘you’ve bought this product before and there is now a matching or complementary item that would work well with it’. 

How far in advance should you be emailing your list about upcoming promotions etc?

It will depend on your promotion – for instance you don’t want to talk about an autumn sale in July. 

Flash sales work well, they give someone an incredibly limited time to get something on your site – 5 hours is the smallest window I’ve done, 24 hours is probably best for safety. You can send 1 email ahead to tell people it’s coming. As a rule of thumb if something is lasting for a week, give them a warning a week ahead, if it is 24 hours, a warning 24 hours ahead

Email Marketing for Product Businesses at Christmas

Most business are now launching Christmas around the same time as Black Friday.  A lot of my clients are having success with a pre black Friday promotions. There is so much emphasis on Black Friday, that it gets very noisy. Getting your promotions in earlier can work, and helps you spread the load.

Extra quantity doesn’t help, bear in mind that people will be getting increased volume from everyone else. Instead be more target and timely. Previews work well, given you list a exclusive insight into forthcoming ranges, and build excitement this way

What lead magnets can product businesses offer?

  • The 10-15% discount always works really well
  • Sign up initiatives like prize draws are a great way of building up a list quickly
  • Consider offering VIP access to a certain product that nobody else can get. If you are prelaunch, you can always share samples and prototypes
  • A downloadable look book which gives you a preview of what is coming works really well for prelaunch, new ranges and Christmas
  • Quizzes can work well. If there is a particular range and the customer is not sure which one is right for them, they take a quiz and are recommended certain items. They could even be sent a discount code for these items.

How can you use email marketing to build brand awareness pre launch?

3 months is the perfect length of time for warming up an audience for a launch. 

Give your subscribers a taster so they get excited about the launch for instance sneak peeks, where the products are manufactured, sourcing materials etc

Share your behind the scenes as you get ready and include a launch countdown

You can also make it interactive, and use it to get early customer feedback, for instance ‘what colour should I have this product in?‘ etc This is really useful for you, and makes the people on your list feel special and involved in the brand. You are building that affinity before you have even launched.

Abandoned Cart Email Marketing Tips

  • You must have an abandoned cart email, it’s an easy way to recover baskets, and they are really effective
  • Don’t stop at just one. People need reminding, we are all busy and will forget. Do 2 -3
  • You don’t need to include a discount code on your email – this digs into your margin, and savvy customers will know you do this and abandon carts on purpose
  • Think about your time delays – 3 in 24 hours may well be missed because someone is sleeping and working.  Delay them a bit more, particularly if it is a high ticket item that is more of a considered purchase. 
  • The first email should be a simple reminder
  • The second email  should have a sense of urgency – things are starting to sell out, or there are only x amount left
  • the third email could include reviews from people who have bought the product and its benefit to them
  • Often abandoned cart emails will go out to people who have not specifically signed up for your general email list, so do add in a come and join the community email

Thank you so much to Loren for all her advice. You can listen to the full podcast here.

I hope that this post helps you to continue on your journey to success and if you need any extra support then check out my free resources on my website, follow me on Instagram, subscribe to my monthly newsletter or get in touch at Book a free discovery call to see how we can work together and how I can help you with your business or idea Book a power hour with and get the clarity of what your next steps need to be and your questions answered.