email-open-ratesOne Spark Is All You Need to Turn Your Ecommerce Emails Around

With social media dominating the marketing and ecommerce chatter, many may feel email just doesn’t get the job done anymore. Cementing this opinion may be a dismal open rate on your last email marketing campaign or newsletter. Believe it or not, consumers actually prefer email to most other forms of online marketing. So why isn’t anyone opening your marketing emails?

Subject Lines

Your customers’ first impression of your email comes from the subject line. Therefore, what you say is important. Before you send out just anything, you must consider your buyer personas, your message, and your spelling. Many factors go into a successful subject line, but the most effective will address the buyer in a personal way and include facts about the products, and all without annoying or offending the recipient.

The subject line is another great place to include personalization for the contact. In fact, average email rates increase by up to 32% just by personalizing the subject line (source).

The “From” Field

As with the subject line, your “from” field should be as personalized as possible, too. While you do want to include your company information, that shouldn’t be the only way you identify yourself. Let your buyers know a real person is sending that email by including your name, too. Consider using your first and last name, followed by a comma and the company name. If you enjoy regular contact with your buyers, you may only use your first name, such as “Joe from Fluffo Mattress Company.”

A/B Testing

To determine which subject lines reach your target audience, consider A/B testing. With these experiments, you can send the same information with various subjects and collect data on which emails experience the highest open rates. You can use what you learn through your A/B testing to create a more effective subject line every time you send.

Segment Your Contacts

No matter how niche your products may be, your contact list can always be segmented into smaller lists. With your A/B testing, you’ll be able to determine which buyers respond to which messages. For instance, you could separate the younger buyers from older, the males from the females, the analysts from the creatives, etc. After sending out a few messages, segment further by creating new categories for those who interact often and those who have never opened your emails. You can also segment by where the individual contacts are in the buying cycle. Maybe not everyone wants a coupon right now - they might just need help making a decision. Segmenting allows for more personalized messages, which then leads to a higher open rate.

Delivery Times

There is no right or wrong answer for email delivery times. Most would probably suggest avoiding the middle of the night, but if you find that works for you, ignore everyone else. To discover your best delivery times, you’ll need to experiment. Send several in the morning, then move to an afternoon time. You may also find evening is best. Depending on the content of your message, your buyers may want to wait until they’re home and free to pull out the credit card. Others might like the distraction you offer from work tasks.

Challenge your assumptions around the best times - the improvements can be significant. There can be as much as a 22% swing in open rates depending on whether or not you're emailing at the right times (source).

Number of Messages

Are you sending your ecommerce emails at the same time each week without fail? Not only could you benefit from changing up your delivery times, but you could also try varying the number of messages you send each week. For instance, you might try two this week and none next week. When your emails surprise the recipients, they might just experience a better open rate. 

Tweak Your Templates

No matter how hard you try, some of your emails will end up in spam folders. One of the possible reasons is bad HTML code. Even if your customers have opted in, your sloppy email could bypass the inbox and never have a chance. Make sure you check the code on occasion, especially if changes are made to your email templates. Even the smallest mistake could cost you valuable clicks.

Keep Adding Contacts

It stands to reason, your latest visitors and subscribers will be more likely to open new emails from you. Take every opportunity to collect contact information, whether through subscription forms or your marketing campaigns. In addition to a request for email addresses, add more fields to your forms and learn about your subscribers. You can use this information to build buyer personas and segment your contact lists to get a jump-start on your A/B testing.

Your email marketing list decays about 25% every year - you have to keep filling the funnel with fresh relationships.

Use Your Data

All the testing and tracking in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t do something with the information you gather. If someone on your list has never once opened an email or engaged with you in any way, that reader is only harming your open rate. Clean up your lists according your data on a regular basis. With recipients who are actually interested in your messages, you’ll experience much better open rates.

Encourage Forwarding

What if your customers want to share your products and services with their friends? By including a forward button at the bottom of your emails and encouraging people to use them, you could really see a boost in your email open rates. Everyone is more likely to open an email from trusted friends and family. That seal of approval from your current customers will help you garner more new buyers than you thought possible.

What are your experiences with ecommerce emails? Have any of the tips above helped you experience improved open rates—or better yet, sales? We want to hear about it. If you have tips we didn’t cover, tell us in the comments.

Image credit: Randy Robertson

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Originally published Oct 7, 2013 1:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016

Topics:

Email Marketing Ecommerce