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A Guide to Ecommerce Email Marketing for Small Businesses
Business companies, life-style bloggers, and governmental and non-governmental organizations—all of them use email marketing and send email campaigns. However, all of those campaigns have a different purpose. Bloggers care about the traffic and subscribers, non-governmental organizations care about donations and stakeholder publicity, politicians send email campaigns to save their ratings, etc.
Meanwhile, the purpose of ecommerce email marketing is to sell goods. That means you create chains of messages to communicate with your customer, and each time, a message generates revenue.
Ecommerce email marketing is not only about promotional newsletters. There is a wide range of emails that might be sent to your customers. Using your basic business data, you may send highly personalized cart recovery, customer reactivation emails, promotional newsletters, welcome emails, etc. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so small business retailers should not bombard their customers’ inboxes with hundreds of different messages at a time.
This ecommerce email marketing guide will lead you through the process and help you understand what is important in email communication and how to set up a high converting email chain for your customers.
Why does Omnisend takes care of this ecommerce email marketing guide? The reason is simple. Currently, the number of retailers that benefit from ecommerce email marketing is still small. When we see how our clients greatly succeed from using their basic business data, we want to help those who are not yet reaping the fruits of their labor. We want to encourage retailers to take advantage of the basic data that every business has and send emails that are relevant to customers, thereby generating profit.
This guide will provide you with actionable tips, statistics, case studies, and recommended sources—and, in some cases, even ready-made solutions.
a Content marketing manager and email enthusiast at Omnisend Sujan Patel
growth & content marketer and co-founder of Mailshake & Web Profits Grant Thomas
marketing manager and strategist of driving and converting website traffic at Justuno
Two key aspects to a successful and healthy ecommerce business are website traffic and email list building. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin, Mario and Luigi … you get the picture.
Generated traffic is worthless, in terms of gathering contacts, if your website does not offer visitors the chance to sign up anywhere. On the other hand, having plenty of subscription forms ready and no traffic will have you waiting for new email subscribers for years.
So, how can you maximize the return on traffic acquisition campaigns? How can you gain more control over your sales and marketing so you’re less reliant on high quantities of traffic? The answer is to invest in converting traffic and email capture.
Why Traffic Conversion Matters
The site conversion funnel is wide at the top and very narrow at the bottom. On average, 98 percent of traffic coming to your website will not convert into a lead or sale. There are definitely cases where a new visitor will purchase during his or her very first visit, but this doesn’t occur too often. The reality is that you’re going to have to work for the majority of your sales, and this starts with capturing email addresses to open up that channel for direct communication and repeated visits to the store. The more visitors who come to your website, the more signups you get.
Before we go any further, here are a few questions to consider:
How are you engaging with the 98 percent of traffic that doesn’t convert? Are you providing conversion opportunities outside of completing a purchase?
Are you providing conversion opportunities outside of completing a purchase?
Are you capturing emails for future reach out?
The purpose of these questions is to provide a benchmark for what you are currently doing to convert traffic before purchases. This will help you identify new strategies and tactics to increase traffic conversion with email capture.
Fueling Your Sales Funnel with Email Capture
The most important pre-transactional conversion for your business is an email op-in. Here are the benefits of getting an email:
Identify the visitor; you can now view them as a lead.
Directly market to leads via email marketing.
Trigger automated email campaigns.
Fuel Facebook ad campaigns (custom audiences and lookalike audiences).
Trigger cart abandonment campaigns.
Another key benefit of an email list building is that email is a channel that you have ownership and control over. You have a direct channel for marketing that gets you traffic and, over time, allows you to be less reliant on other volatile traffic sources.
Organic traffic is dependent on search engine indexing. Facebook advertising costs money and is indirect in nature. Own the email marketing space, and you will put your business in a prime position for long-term success!
Capturing an email isn’t always easy. Some visitors will immediately see value in your business and newsletter offer while others will need some convincing.
You can have hundreds or thousands of followers / fans on social media networks, but you won’t really ‘own’ them. In comparison, an email subscriber has given you the permission to contact him at any time DIRECTLY.
– Tomas Laurinavicius, lifestyle entrepreneur and blogger
A Note on Non-Discount Offers
Some businesses are hesitant to run email capture promotions because they don’t want to discount products. While an incentive for a discount does convert at a higher percentage, don’t feel the need to discount if it does not align with your brand or product margins. There are plenty of other options for incentivizing visitors to join your email list.
Converting Website Traffic with Email Pop Ups
The most effective way to increase email list growth is through the use of email pop-ups. This practice is widely used by marketers in all industries—in particular, ecommerce. Bearing in mind that the average ecommerce conversion is about 2 percent, email pop-ups can convert from 5–10 percent of daily website traffic and can also be used in promotional and content marketing strategy. Many retailers will use email pop-ups to offer a discount or free shipping to shoppers. Other uses of incentives include content upgrades, contest entries, product updates, and more.
Another beneficial use of email pop-ups is gaining more control over your shopping experience. Think about it: you spend all of this time and money driving traffic to your website, and once it gets there, you have limited control over a particular visitor’s session. Email pop-ups allow you to engage with your shoppers, convert them into leads, and also incentivize them to purchase.
In a world of increasing competition, you must be proactive. Ask for an email, provide value in some form, and you’ll convert a higher percentage of traffic!
IMPORTANCE OF DESIGN
Whether it be an email, blog post, or website, you want to put your best foot forward. The same applies to your email pop-ups. Your pop-up should represent your brand well; have clear, concise copy; and a strong call to action. Focus on these three aspects, and you should see high conversion rates with your email pop-ups.
It’s also important to keep your designs up to date with the time of year. This provides seasonal or holiday relevance, keeps your promotions up to date, and also shows shoppers that you’re a reliable retailer. For a complete list of key sales dates, check out this ecommerce promotional calendar by pop-up professionals at Justuno.
USING EMAIL POP-UPS WITHOUT ANNOYING VISITORS
Before we jump into this topic, it’s important to realize that using email pop-ups is a numbers game. The more visitors you engage, the more conversions you’ll receive. However, this does not mean you should annoy your visitors with pop-ups.
Do not overwhelm with pop-ups on your site. Even if you choose pop-ups with different scenarios, the optimal number is two per site. Here’s a quick list of best practices for displaying email pop-ups:
Add a delay. Show your pop-up 7–15 seconds after a visitor lands on your site.
Present email pop-ups to new visitors only.
Display a pop-up after a number of pages load. This allows time for browsing.
Use an exit pop-up. This will only display when a visitor is about to leave your site.
Use a scroll pop-up. The pop-up will display when a visitor scrolls a percentage of a page.
Only display pop-ups on certain pages.
Only display pop-ups after a visitor takes certain actions.
Display specific pop-ups to visitors landing from a specific traffic source.
Use a signup bar or signup box.
A NOTE ON MOBILE TRAFFIC CONVERSION WITH MOBILE POP-UPS
Mobile traffic is becoming more and more prevalent, and it’s important to have email capture tools in place to convert mobile traffic. Mobile pop-ups are an excellent way to build your email list, but there are several things you need to know.
First, the mobile pop-up design should be catered to the mobile browser. There should be less text, larger text size, and a larger call to action. If you simply use the same design as on desktop, your mobile pop-up will not be readable and will take up too much of the browser window.
Second, as of January 10th, 2017, Google has updated its policies regarding mobile search and mobile pop-ups. Google would like mobile search content to be more accessible and wants to discourage the practice of displaying a mobile pop-up immediately after a visitor navigates to a page from the search results.
This ONLY applies to mobile search traffic from Google and only to the first page viewed from search results. This means you can display mobile pop-ups to traffic from other sources and to organic traffic once visitors navigate to a second page on your site. For a full breakdown of this update and mobile best practices, check out Google’s Updated 2017 Policies on Mobile Pop Ups.
Lastly, understand that while mobile traffic is increasing, conversion rates are slow to catch up. Many shoppers will browse on their mobile phones and complete a purchase on desktop. This puts even more importance on capturing an email from mobile visitors.
Other Signup Forms
For better email capture, you may use a combination of several signup forms. The most common combination is pop-ups that appear according to your rules with one of the static signup forms that is on the screen all the time. For example:
On some occasions, such as offline events, you might also find it useful to have a signup page. This is a custom webpage with a signup form that can be easily shared on social media or used on tablets in a conference.
Email list building is incredibly valuable for both conversion rate optimization and email marketing. Improve overall traffic conversion and acquire more leads by simply engaging visitors with email signup forms. An investment in list building today will not only make an immediate impact but also sets you up for sustainable long-term growth.
Marketing automation has become a buzzword already. Indeed, if, years ago, sending triggered emails was something available exclusively for the big players, today, it is a necessity for every online retailer, including the smallest ones.
The purpose of ecommerce email marketing is to sell products. Sending a newsletter once or twice per month will not bring the best positive results you could yield from email marketing. Here is where automated emails come in to help you with that. They aim to complement your promotional newsletters with highly relevant, personal, and profit-oriented messages to your customers.
Ecommerce email marketing automation is a set of preset emails that are sent to your customers when they meet the email rule. Automated emails are sent when a particular customer triggers them through his or her behavior. For example, by signing up to your newsletter, the customer triggers the welcome email, and this email is sent to his or her inbox. Another example is abandoned cart recovery emails, which are triggered when leaving a cart behind.
There are most popular scenarios where automated emails work best. These particular workflows will be discussed in the following chapters.
Why Do You Need to Use Ecommerce Email Marketing Automation?
There are at least five good reasons to start sending automated emails:
Your emails will always be relevant to your customers. Email marketing automation is based on triggers. Emails are sent to particular customers when they match them. This means you will not be blasting messages to your customers without a reason – all of them will be contextual at the right time.
Automated emails get a conversion rate that is 33 X higher. Sending a personalized email to the right customer at the right time has benefits – a much higher level of engagement! Customers react positively to emails dedicated to them. For example, sending a cart recovery email, which contains products picked and abandoned by the particular customer, doubles the retailer’s open rate, quadruples the click rate, and even increases the conversion rate thirty-three times, in comparison to a bulk email campaign.
Automated emails do not change usual promotional newsletters; they complement them. As mentioned earlier, automated emails do not replace your ordinary email campaigns; they support them and create a consistent brand communication.Not all of your emails should have promotional content. You may send a “Thank you” email after a purchase, a “Join us on social media” email, a “Birthday” email, etc. All of them can be automated and sent without you moving a finger.
Marketing automation does not require much of your time. You set them up once, and they continue to do their job afterwards. This is true. Email service providers, on behalf of your store, will send hundreds of relevant emails to your customers without your additional time input. Some of them, including Omnisend, provide clients with default automated emails which you do not have to modify; only the click of a button is needed to enable. If you do not like the default version, you can customize the email according to your own needs. However, the default version will save you a lot of time in comparison to writing and sending personal emails to your customers, which, let’s be fair, some of you still do.
You gain an advantage in front of your competitors. Although the number of businesses using marketing automation is rapidly growing, according to SalesForce Reports 2016, only about a half of online stores send automated emails. For example, abandoned shopping cart reminders are only sent by 47 percent of businesses, and a welcome email, which is highly expected by all new subscribers, is only sent by 53 percent of businesses. In 2017, you still can gain a great advantage over your competitors. However, if you do not start automating your messages now, in 2018, you will have to work on trying to catch up to your competitors.
To summarize the benefits, I can say it no better than Dimira Teneva:
“They [automated emails] are the answer to all players for less work, more revenue, better personalization, more accurate timing, and relavancy. They help build better brands.
There are no strict rules for this. However, there it is common sense that your emails start with a welcome email once your customer/visitor subscribes to your newsletter. The rest is up to you.
Below are the automated emails that Omnisend considers as the most important for every online business.
An automated welcome email is sent when your visitor signs up to your newsletter. According to surveys, 74.4 percent of new subscribers expect this kind of email immediately after subscribing. Their expectations are totally right, because if they express interest in you, the least you can do is to welcome them.
Businesses that have already discovered the benefits of welcome emails claim that they are effective, and the main reasons are as follows:
By sending a welcome email, you confirm a connection and consolidate your online store’s credibility. In some cases, you can even surprise a subscriber with an unexpected incentive to buy; i.e., a free shipping offer, a discount, etc.
This email is the best way to personally introduce the new subscriber to your brand and product categories as well as the benefits of belonging to your brand community and buying from you.
By delivering a highly relevant email at the right time, you can expect to move your new subscriber from interest to acquisition. In other words, a welcome email works like an icebreaker for the first purchase of a new customer.
The effectiveness of this email is perfectly reflected in numbers. The average open rate, as well as click rate, of the welcome email is 2.5 X higher than a promotional one. Meanwhile, the conversion rate is six times higher – 1.04 percent.
Some brands send a series of three welcome emails. An analysis reveals that sending a series, instead of one email, brings 23 percent more orders.
To achieve great results, a welcome email should be attractive. Although the welcome email design does not have to be the same as the promotional newsletters, it should go in line with the rest of your messages, displaying strong branding, an outstanding call-to-action button, high-quality images, etc. Read more about email design here.
In addition to attractiveness, the welcome email should be representative as well. This you may achieved by the following guidelines:
Welcome your subscriber onboard
Introduce the benefits of becoming a brand community member, whether it is members-only offers, priority in ordering new arrivals, etc.
Offer a “welcome deal” (use some incentives to encourage the customer to buy)
Introduce the product categories on your store
Include the pages with the return policy and contact information. This will add credibility to your store
Online stores that send a series of welcome emails divide all of this information into three emails to avoid having too much content in one message. However, you can always start by setting up a single welcome email and proceed with a series of others if needed.
SHOPPING CART RECOVERY EMAIL
Only three out of ten visitors who have put items into their shopping carts finalize their purchase.This is one of the biggest ecommerce issues met by merchants nowadays.
To totally resolve this issue is impossible. People abandon their carts due to millions different reasons, and searching for solutions to all of them would accumulate great expenses and take forever. However, trying to at least win back those indecisive individuals (55 percent of all abandoners) is definitely worth your time. Sending email reminders about abandoned carts is the most effective and easiest way to do that.
A cart recovery email is an automated email/series of emails that are sent to a customer once he or she abandons a cart and leaves your store without purchasing.
The data for abandoned carts is fetched from an online store when the customer logs in or entered his/her email address at checkout. In the case of Omnisend, the cookies in the customer’s browser are an additional source for this kind of information. After the customer has abandoned the shopping cart, a cart recovery tool sets up the order, packs it into the email, and sends it ready-made to the client as a friendly reminder to proceed with the purchase.
Emails include alluring text as well as the items that were abandoned: images, descriptions, prices, and buttons asking the customer to proceed with the purchase. See the example below:
Due to the relevance for the customer, this kind of automated email is highly effective. The average conversion rate of cart recovery emails is more than twenty times higher than a promotional email – at 4.64 percent. The average revenue per email is $5.46!
Usually, to achieve even better results, retailers use a cart recovery series of emails, as it sometimes takes a few tries for the customer to notice, and this brings 131 percent more in orders. The series contains three email reminders that are periodically sent to the customer after he or she abandons the shopping cart.
A few tips for effective cart recovery email:
Write a great copy for your email. Challenge and provoke your customer to finish the purchase.
Consider using incentives: free shipping, discounts, gifts, loyalty points, etc. In this way, you can encourage a customer who left due to high shipping costs to make the purchase.
Use images of the abandoned products. When shopping online, images and well-written descriptions play the biggest role in convincing customers to purchase.
Try to send a series of three emails. In this case, incentives might be only offered in the final email.
If you do not have time to set up your cart recovery email, and this is the reason why you haven’t begun sending those emails, start sending a default email, which is preset by Omnisend. And stop wasting your money!
Ordering a follow-up email also contributes to consistent communication with a customer. This email is sent immediately after a purchase is completed. Once the purchase is done, what should you say to the customer? Most of the time, it’s “Thank you” plus something useful to the buyer. For example:
An invitation to connect on social media. Say thank you and include big, clear call-to-action buttons that link to your social media. In this way, you will attract new followers and be able to reach them through different media sources, which is great for remarketing.
Recommendations related to their purchase (cross-sell and up-sell). Recommendation apps, like Nosto, will help you add them to your emails.
An invitation to leave a review on your store.
An invoice. Tools like Sufio will help you with generating invoices and sending them out with order follow-up emails.
A discount offer for the next purchase will always leave a good impression and incentive to come back.
Although this email will not drive sales like a cart recovery email, 92 percent of companies sending this kind of email claim it as being effective for long-term marketing.
CUSTOMER REACTIVATION EMAILS
Did you know that it costs five times as much to capture a new customer than to keep an existing one? All retailers have customers who have purchased once or twice but failed to become loyal customers. According to studies, the number of inactive customers can vary from 25 percent to even 60 percent of the entire database of your online store. Reactivation emails can help you with retaining them.
This kind of automated email is sent to customers that have not purchased from you for a certain period of time (number of days you can pick according to your customer buying cycle). If you sell clothing, shoes, accessories, etc., reactivation emails should be sent 30-90 days after the customer becomes inactive, but no later than 180 days after. However, a different period of time may be necessary for retailers selling other products (e.g., household appliances). Think about your customer cycle and adapt accordingly.
In addition, the reactivation workflow is more powerful when you send a series of three emails instead of one. These emails typically use incentives, such as free shipping, personal discounts, a special gift, etc. They highlight what is new in the store. Most often, the message in this email is something like: “We miss you, please come back. + [special offer].”
In the example below, you can see how Glotrition uses an unexpected image, great copy, plus an incentive to buy.
Again, if you have doubts whether to invest your time in this kind of workflow or not, start by sending a default Omnisend reactivation email and review the initial results. Later, you can decide either to customize it and carry on improving the conversion or just let it be as it is.
This email is automatically sent to the recipients on their birthdays. Showing personal attention, as well as offering a discount for any order on that day, yields great results. Salesforce research has revealed that 75 percent of companies that send this kind of email series assess them as very effective, and only 6 percent see little or no value in them.
An issue for this kind of automated email is data. Very few stores have birthday dates of their clients. However, this information might be easily collected with pop-ups, extra landing pages, and a separate birthday email campaign.
On the other hand, you could use the newsletter subscription date and send this kind of email as a subscription anniversary greeting.
In both cases, follow this tip for launching a birthday email: give some extra time to your customers to redeem the discount.
Every email, no matter what kind it is, should have several main components to pay attention to while building your email campaign. This chapter will lead you through the following email parts: the sender’s information, subject lines and preheaders, the body of the newsletter, and the information in the footer of your email. Tips and alerts, best practices, and common sense are also shared within the sections below.
For successful email marketing of your business, you need a professional email address. These are the three reasons why:
First of all, free domain email addresses, such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc., are for personal use and not for commercial purposes. These main email clients have signed the DMARC policy according to which they do not deliver bulk email campaigns sent from personal accounts. Emails go to the spam folder instead. This policy was confirmed to address the email spammers threat. However, it affects all email marketers who use their personal domain for commercial emails as well.
Furthermore, by sending emails with your company domain, you foster your sending reputation. Your further email deliverability depends on this reputation. Read this great article by HubSpot about why every email marketer should care about email deliverability.
YourName @ YourBusinessDomain.com – good email address
The last reason is that an official company email address clearly communicates to your customers who you are. It supports you, as a business; gives you credibility; and makes you look professional. So, if you still do not have a professional email address, it’s time to set up one.
A Sender’s name is closely connected with Sender’s email and this is the first information about your email, that a customer sees in his inbox. It should be consistent and easily recognizable.
According to ConvinceandConvert.com, 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address.MAAWG Email Security Awareness and Usage Report also claims that sender’s name as well as sender’s address is more important than subject line when considering to open email or delete it.
This data proves that sender familiarity is crucial for your email campaigns.
OPTIONS FOR THE SENDER’S NAME
The sender’s name can be a company name, an individual’s name, or a combination of the two. The best practices are as follows:
Using the “YourCompanyName” as the sender field is the safest option. Moreover, constantly a highlighted company name reinforces the brand.
“YourCompany Fan Club” signifies this email is only sent to members of the rewards club, eliciting a feeling of exclusivity.
“YourCompany + Sale.” Some retailers use several sender names. For example, for email campaigns, asos.com typically only uses the company name “Asos.” However, sometimes it uses extra words: “Asos Sale” or “Asos Outlet Flash Sale.”
“Personal Name | YourCompany”. This sender’s name might be the best if your newsletters have a strong personable voice behind the email.
Email Subject Lines
Email list subscribers receive hundreds to thousands of messages daily; your subject line needs to capture attention amidst all of this inbox noise. And considering that roughly 35 percent of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone, it’s worth paying extra attention to this email element.
Here are a few best practices to help you create email subject lines that convert.
Personalize your subject lines. Retention Science studied 267 million emails across 543 retail email marketing campaigns and discovered that email campaigns with a subscriber’s first name got 2.6 percent more opens than emails without any personalization. Email service providers indicate an even bigger increase in open rates when using the recipient’s name. Most email services provide the functionality to insert the recipient’s name into the subject line of the email. On Omnisend, it looks like this:If, for example, James Anderson receives your email, he will see “James, these are gift ideas for you!” in the subject line.As a note, don’t abuse this privilege or you risk your messages coming across as spammy. Also, consider the quality of your subscriber data. If your list is full of subscribers with fake or inaccurate first names (often entered to circumvent opt-in form requirements), then personalized subject lines may not be appropriate.
Keep it short and sweet. While there’s no “ideal” subject line length, keep in mind that 54 percent of emails are opened on a mobile device. Subject lines that are too long (in most cases, more than 4–7 words) can get cut off.To avoid falling victim to shortened subjects, test your proposed heading on any mobile mockup tools your email provider offers or simply on your own mobile device. If you’re concerned at all about readability, pare down your subject line to a shorter length.
Use compelling “power” words. “Power” words include action verbs (“Join us…” or “Shop with…”), phrases that make customers feel special (“Private invite…” or “My gift to you…”), and urgency triggers (“For 24 hours only…” or “Limited time offer…”). Essentially, they’re words and phrases that motivate your subscribers to act, whether that’s opening your message or taking a conversion action.Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give you a 22 percent higher open rate.
Avoid spam filters. Convince and Convert shares that “69% of people report emails as spam based solely on the subject line.” To stay on the straight and narrow, skip spammy words (“Free…” or “Guarantee…”) and don’t use ALL CAPS – it comes off as you yelling through the email. The excessive use of !!!!!exclamation signs!!!!! is also off-putting. These three things increase the possibility that your email ends up in spam.
Test your email subject lines. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with subject lines and copywriting. For this purpose, some of the ESPs offer A/B testing (this feature is great, if you have thousands of subscribers) while Omnisend offers a Campaign Booster that allows you to change the subject line and repeat the same campaign to non-openers from the first try. It doesn’t matter which tools you use, attempt to alter the copywriting to increase ROI.Ultimately, trust your gut as you’re working on your email subject lines. If something feels too spammy, skip it. If you’d click on the created subject line from your inbox, give it a try. Use the data you gather to increase your odds of subject line success in the future.
The preheader is a short text (30–50 characters) that follows the subject line of your emails and can make all the difference between an opened email or a deleted/archived email.
By default, this line of text is taken from the first text found in the email campaign, but you can set your own text.
Ideas for preheader:
A quick summary of email content
The subject line says “Flash sale!” and the preheader reveals what’s on sale: “Party dresses, shoes, accessories, handbags on sale”.
Subject line elaboration
The subject line says “Hot deals from $15” and the preheader elaborates: “In addition, get free shipping within 3 days”.
The subject line says “Flash sale!” and the preheader reveals the discounts: “Party dresses and shoes – 30% OFF”.
If you haven’t used preheaders before, don’t worry, you are not alone. Sometimes, even well-known brands forget to customize them; for example, Crocs. The default preheaders it leaves are not the best to encourage subscribers to open Crocs emails.
The use of a preheader text in your email marketing campaigns will provide your subscribers with more context on what your email is about and will encourage most of them to open and take action on your campaigns. This will increase your open rate, which can lead to a higher conversion rate.
The Newsletter Body
The content of promotional email is flexible – it has not strict rules to follow. However, there are some main guidelines, based on numerous researches and email marketers’ experience, worth following.
Always include your company logo. Make it the first thing the recipient sees in your email. It will strengthen your brand identity and indicate that you are professional.
Convey the main newsletter message. Whether it is a sale, a new collection, or an ordinary campaign, every email should have a core idea/slogan. Write it down in the email, and let your subscribers know what you want them to do.A message might go as a headline or be included in the “hero image” at the top of your email, just after your logo. See the example below:
Use high-definition images of the products to make you look professional on all devices. Also use alt text for images in cases where images are not shown immediately (like Outlook’s standard setting). Also use discounts and interactive elements. However, the main focus should be on one content element. It should appear in the first part of the email and be led by a bright call-to-action button. For information on how to design your email to make it look professional, go to Part IV – Promotional Email Design.
Never forget to include social media icons. Even if the subscriber is not ready to buy anything from you right now, but he/she has opened your email, it’s a sign of interest in your products. You should foster this relationship and offer alternatives in your email for further actions if subscribers are not ready to purchase. Leading them to your social media is a great option. You will prolong the contact with a customer and, after looking some more at your products and communication on social media, he/she may reconsider coming back to your store. Social media icons can be included at the top of your email, next to your logo. However, the most common place for them is at the end of the email, in the footer, next to your contact information. To figure out which placement works better for you, try experimenting and monitoring the click performance on Click Map.
If you announce a sale, make the conditions of it crystal clear. Avoid setting up wrong expectations for customers. If they become disappointed, they will never open your email again.For a clear discount announcement, Omnisend users typically use a discount element. However, you can use images, text elements, and other ways to include your sale offer in your promotional email.
Improve your click rate with interactive elements. Currently, interactive content online is mainstream. Rich media banners and quizzes are all over the Internet. Email, at this point, will lose ground due to HTML5 technology. However, there are interactive elements in email that are powerful enough to make your emails perform better. Our latest analysis reveals that the average click rate of emails with a scratch card inside is twice as high (6.59 percent) as an average promotional email without any interactive elements (3.82 percent). This element, as well as animated gifs and embedded videos, can double or even triple your email performance and help you earn more.Read about using video and gif elements in your email as well as how scratch card can blast promotional email performance.
One of the most important things on email is the call-to-action button. If you send a promotional email to your customers, you want them to do something: visit your store, read more, follow you on social media, etc. For this, you can link images, buttons, or text lines. Use whatever fits your purpose.
Tips to make a great call-to-action button:
They should be short and clear. Use active language, e.g., BUY NOW, VISIT OUR STORE, CHOOSE YOUR FAVOURITE, etc.
There shouldn’t be too many CTA buttons because readers will get lost. Clicks will spread all over the email and end up with a too-humble conversion.
Make your buttons obvious by using a different color or style, and place them strategically. Do not forget to leave empty space around your button so that it will definitely stand out.
If your email is longer, repeat your CTA at the end of the email. Don’t force your reader to scroll all the way back to the top of the newsletter.
Avoid using images as buttons. Some email clients block images, so some of your subscribers won’t see the button at all.
Footer of the Email
In the end of every promotional email, there should be a footer: a content block with all the necessary information about the email sender:
Your company name.
Even though you have included your company logo at the top of the email and your links lead the subscriber to your shop, it is still important to repeat your company name. It is a requirement of CAN-SPAM Act and the majority of other legislations.
Indicate a physical address of your company. This is one more requirement, plus it will add credibility to your emails. Also, repeat your website information and add a contact email address if you do provide online support.
Social media links.
When subscribers are interested in your products, they explore your brand. Social media is a great destination to link them to. Indicate those social media networks where you are live and interested in following profiles. This will cater to the growth of your social media followers as well as prolong contact of prospective customers with your brand, which usually ends up with a purchase.
In most countries, bulk emails can only be sent to email subscribers after they opt in. A legal sentence will explain to the person why he/she has received your email; for example: “You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to our site or made a purchase.” It might protect your emails from being reported as spam.
Every subscriber has the right to unsubscribe from your newsletter if they are not interested in your communication anymore. This link should be included. Otherwise, unhappy email recipients will report your emails as a spam.
Believe it or not, email design has a significant impact on email overall performance. An aesthetic and consistent email design helps you create a sense of professionalism and business credibility in your subscribers’ mind. Plus, better click rates and conversion are an improvement that you can feel immediately.
In Omnisend Email Lab, an experiment with the Kali Laine email marketing campaign was completed. After designing a campaign with better-focused call-to-action buttons and using a different layout, the click rate increased from 0.64 percent to 2.26 percent.
Not an email designer? No clue on how to design your emails? You can always hire professionals to help you. However, if it’s still pricey for your business, follow the following main email design rules, and your emails will look pretty awesome and professional.
Follow Your Brand Style
A solid brand style means that your social media channels, website, emails, and other means of communication have a similar graphical appearance: they contain the same fonts, design elements, colors, etc. Design agencies call it “the brand book.”
However, if you think that investing in a professional brand book is too early for your business, I suggest that you create a simple brand style guide and follow it while creating emails, posts for social media, flyers, and other kinds of material. Make a list of fonts that have already been used on your website, right down to the color code of your brand, and include any logo variations that can be used in your company’s material. Being consistent with your brand style will help your customers to identify with you as well as build credibility. Especially in personal email communication, customers want to know exactly who is approaching them and will only trust emails that look familiar.
Not enough talk about the importance of brand in email. Customers don’t sign up for email – they sign up for your brand.
The type of content you want to include in your newsletter will dictate the overall layout. A single column layout is best for more focused messages; for example, a final reminder for a Black Friday sale. On the other hand, a multi-column layout is better to show a variety of content; for example, items from a new collection. One way or another, your email layout must be mobile-friendly.
When building your email campaign, imagine that it is a table with columns and rows, and think about how they will move while responding to different screen sizes.
Simple rules for email layout:
Only simple emails of up to three columns will look good on mobile devices.
Do not use a lot of content because, in the mobile version, all the images and other kinds of content will display as one narrow column, and your newsletter will become endless. No one wants to scroll forever to get to the end.
Do not overreach yourself with “super-fancy” asymmetric email newsletter designs. In most cases, they are not mobile-friendly, so only desktop users will be able to enjoy your emails, and others will delete them because they will be impossible to read. Omnisend takes care of your mobile layout. You can always check it in the Content Editor.
If your newsletter highlights different types of content, clearly define sections by using spacing and lines.
Use High-Definition Visuals
The quality of your company logo, as well as the images you use in your communication, is crucial. These have a massive effect on the visual attractiveness of your email newsletter design and have a direct impact on conversion rates. Just think about it: while shopping online, it’s only the image and description that convinces a customer to click the “BUY” button.
So make sure that:
Your logo is of good quality with a transparent background. If you want to look professional, you should have a good-quality company logo.
If you use product listing, use the same size and same style of images. They cannot be blurred, too dark, or of different sizes.
Very soon, you will be able to edit images right in the Omnisend Email Editor. For now, you can use third-party image editors, like BeFunky, LunaPic, Gimp, etc.
Also, consider acquiring a portable mini studio for taking professional-looking photos with your phone.
EMAIL DESIGN TIPS
TIP #1: A “hero” image with the key message following just after your logo is always a good introduction to the email.
TIP #2: Consider doing some photoshoots with people wearing/using your products. According to semiotic surveys, for marketing purposes, images containing people work better than images with objects, landscapes, etc.
TIP #3: When you use photos, try paring down the color in the surrounding design to make the images the central focus.
TIP #4: Give your elements some room. Do not put them too close to each other.
TIP #5: If you do not have any great photos, consider creating images using nice typography. These can replace the “hero” image very well.
TIP #6: Always look at different galleries of emails for inspiration. There is nothing bad in doing that. You will find wonderful ideas and color schemes that you will be able to implement and get great results.
Highlight a Call-to-Action Button
The best way you can highlight the button is to leave some white space around it and use a color that fits with the overall color scheme but differs from the rest of the colors in your email. More tips for call-to-action buttons are available here.
Make an Easy-to-Scan Email
Many studies have shown that people do not read every word of an email from the beginning to the end. They scan the content, starting from the top-left corner and stopping at the subject lines and images. Only then, if bold text or images capture their attention, will they read the rest. This is the so-called “F” reading pattern described by Jakob Nielsen.
Nielsen’s study found that web users skip over the small-letter content, resulting in an F-shaped reading pattern. Relevant words and images on the left side of the screen tend to get more attention than things on the right, so consider putting the keywords to the left side of the email. Also, if using text with images, put the images to the left to get more attention.
Keep a Balanced Image-to-Text Ratio
There is always a temptation to design a nice picture with a key message included, put it into the newsletter, and send it to subscribers without worrying about fonts, email elements, etc. Unfortunately, an image-heavy newsletter will increase the chances of your email client flagging it as spam, resulting in damage to your sender reputation and email deliverability.
There should always be a balance between the amount of images and text in the emails you send. By following this rule, you will avoid ending up in the spam folder.
Moreover, there are email clients that block images by default. This is one more reason why you should repeat the key message and have the call to action in written text. They should be viewable when opening the email, even if the images are not visible.
Use Proper Fonts
An optimal text size for the email body is within 14–6px. The 14px text option is better for longer paragraphs and 16px for a sentence or two. The headings should be bigger – within 22–42px. Adapt your line height accordingly, as you do not want your texts overlapping.
An email has a list of fonts that are considered to be safe to use. This means that by using them, all your subscribers from different email clients will see your text the same way. The most popular email-safe fonts are Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Georgia, Tahoma, Lucida, Trebuchet, and Times.
When looking for email design inspiration, you will find a lot of beautiful emails with themed backgrounds. Indeed, they look fancy and posh. But bear in mind that not all users will be able to see the background as you want them to.
Since the 2007 version, Outlook does not support background images. Neither do certain other major email clients. To avoid awkward design metamorphoses, always use a solid background color as a fallback (Omnisend provides it automatically according to the dominant color of the chosen pattern), and make sure no crucial information or imagery exists solely in a background image.
Test Before Sending
Don’t forget to send a test email to your inbox. Open it on desktop and a mobile phone. More than 50 percent of all customers open emails on their mobile devices, so it’s crucial for emails to look good on the small screen. Omnisend users can use the email preview on desktop and mobile devices in the Campaign Editor. Don’t forget to check!
Following the rules and tips above, you will improve your company’s overall style, as well as newsletter design, and will make it convert significantly better.
There is no single answer for when the best time is to send out your bulk email campaign. However, there are some patterns according to which people from different countries behave in one or another way.
The first and most important rule is that you have to be consistent and send your emails regularly. If you send a monthly newsletter, pick one day of the month when you will deliver your newsletter to subscribers. If you send weekly newsletters, it should be the same day every week. Your subscribers have to know when to expect your newsletter; when to wait for it. Sending your newsletters according to a schedule will positively affect your open rates and reduce spam reports.
The following insights were made after accomplishing a survey based on 15,000 active online stores and their customers’ behavior. The following data concerns bulk email campaigns sent by small and mid-sized businesses. It has nothing to do with newsletters sent by lifestyle blogs, political parties, or public organizations.
Taking into account all 130 countries that Omnisend has clients in, promotional newsletters convert best on weekends, though Wednesdays have the best “Opens”. A better conversion on weekends might be because customers have time to explore your offer and shop online. However, on weekends, it is more difficult to reach them via email.
Results in Different Countries
Apparently, customers from different countries react to promotional emails differently. This is why determining the best unique time for all world countries is not feasible.
Though survey data was collected in many countries, the absolute majority (63 percent) of Omnisend clients are based in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India. The following insights concern these countries:
The best days for email opens are totally different depending on the country. In addition, the best day for open rates does not necessarily correlate with the best conversion rate or the biggest order value. The chart below represents the average email conversion rate over the entire week:
The customers’ behaviors in these five countries include the following:
For the United States, Wednesday is the best day on which to send bulk email campaigns. On this day, open and conversion rates are at their highest.
In Canada, though the open rate is the greatest during the middle of the week, the conversion rate is much better on Sundays.
For Australia, it seems that Tuesday is the day.
For the United Kingdom, the graphs correlate and indicate that Thursday is the best day to send emails.
For India, in regard to email conversion, Wednesday and Sunday are equally good.
Resending a Newsletter
Even if you have chosen the wrong day for your email, you can easily fix it by resending the same campaign to subscribers who haven’t opened it for the first time. It will help you to significantly improve your email campaign open rates as well as overall performance.
Customers receive dozens of newsletters every day. If the average open rate of promotional newsletter is 18.8 percent, it means that 81.2 percent of emails are never opened. The Omnisend data shows that the vast majority of emails are opened during the first 24 hours after receiving. If your email hasn’t been opened during first 48 hours after sending it, its’ performance is over.
However, people do not open emails for many different reasons (they fail to notice your email in their inboxes, wrong subject line, etc.). That is why your campaign is worth the second chance. Resending it to subscribers who haven’t opened the first email is a good choice.
BIGGER REVENUE BY UP TO 30 PERCENT
A Campaign Booster is an email resending feature provided by Omnisend. During the first 46 hours after the initial email campaign was sent, you may decide whether it’s worth boosting or not. If you decide to resend the campaign, all you have to do is write a new subject line. The campaign will be sent 48 hours after the initial campaign, only to those prospective customers who have not opened your first email.
Although customer engagement with the boosted campaign is lower than with the original one, overall engagement with an email campaign increases significantly.
Resending a newsletter with Campaign Booster, improved clients’ click rate, on average, by 42.3 percent and their conversion rate by 35 percent.
This means that the same newsletter sent again for every 10,000 customers would bring, on average, 161 additional visits to your website and about 6 additional purchases.
These data, charts, and insights reflect mostly general tendencies in small and mid-sized ecommerce companies. Although every case is different and requires an individual approach, for the sake of curiosity, try our tips!
In the end, the most important thing is to be consistent in your email strategy and carry on creating value for your customers.