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Too many ecommerce marketers blast their entire contacts list with a coupon three times a week and call that email marketing -- but email marketing can be so much more.

With targeted lists that separate new users from repeat customers, marketers have the ability to increase clicks by up to 718%, as evidenced by one particular case study -- and yet, many will continue doing what they’ve always done. Well, we know what to call people who do the same thing every day expecting a different result, right?

Lamenting the Ones Who Got Away

Visitors to your ecommerce site who leave without making a purchase don’t have to be the fabled "ones who got away." If you’re using an inbound ecommerce strategy, they’ll leave their email address so you can send them more information.

Now, as Baudville already knew, staying in the user’s mind is the most important reason for sending emails after a visitor leaves your ecommerce page. Discounts and special offers certainly have their place in email marketing -- specifically, in the intent phase of the pre-transactional buying cycle or to reward and delight existing customers at the proper moment.

When you send out discounts three times a week, you may hit on a new customer who wants to take advantage of lower prices ... but what have you really done to delight that customer or inspire loyalty? When all you do is attract price sensitive customers, are you ever going to be able to optimize your most important ecommerce business metric?

Offering Education

Baudville decided to change things up and offer something of greater value than a simple discount: education. The company wanted to make sure that potential customers who expressed interest in a particular category but didn't buy had educational resources to help them make a decision -- one of the most important jobs of an ecommerce marketer.

If sellers treat all customers the same, customers will treat all sellers the same. Baudville knew this and launched a campaign targeted at a subset of customers with a very specific set of segmentation characteristics:

ecommerce-email-segmentation

If someone spends a good deal of time on your site without making a purchase, they're usually seeking information to help them make a decision -- and it's not always about price. They may even explicitly state as much when signing up for your email offers and newsletters. Baudville catered to those seeking more information and sent out this email one day after users' visits:

baudville example 1

The offer for free resources resulted in a 26% open rate, which is an increase of 164% over the average of 9.86%.

But check out the click rate: 7.2%. This is an increase of 718% over the average of 0.88%! With a sample size of more than 3,000 contacts, this experiment by Baudville is definitely statistically significant and should serve as an inspiration to other ecommerce marketers who think they have more to offer than discounts. By the way, the typical 0.88% click rate is for those coupons and discounts marketers have been relying on so heavily.

Elements of Effective Ecommerce Email

This email above is highly effective for several reasons, including the clarity of Baudville's calls-to-action and the clean overall design that prevents customers from being overloaded. However, most of Baudville's emails have such optimized characteristics. The most effective element of this email is that it was the right message sent to the right people at the right time.

This email was sent to people who had visited the trophies pages without completing a purchase -- either through their standard lead generation quote form or through their ecommerce shopping cart. That's a strong signal that someone is in the higher phases of the pre-transactional buying cycle.

Instead of badgering customers with coupons when they don't even know what they want to buy, Baudville makes this part of the conversation about helping the potential customer figure out which of their large number of products is going to work best for their situation.

Not every customer who visits your website and leaves is doing so because they're shopping for a different price. In fact, the majority of customers are not in a purchase-intent phase of the buying cycle. Most are trying to make a decision -- and the websites that empower that are the ones that get more sales and win more long-term customers.

optimizing email marketing ebook

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Originally published Dec 10, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017

Topics:

Ecommerce Marketing