Article first published June 2016 updated June 2019.
From new product announcements to promoting sales, celebrating customers, or recommending products, retailers around the world are using email marketing to drive sales. And, thanks to email automation, many are setting up and sending campaigns that are triggered to send at just the right moment.
As a retail marketer, you know that email is an important part of your overall marketing strategy. However, maybe what you don’t realize is how effective it can be for your business.
In this post, we’ll shed some light on statistics that prove email is not only essential for driving retail sales but that it can be an extremely powerful way to deliver personalized content with impressive ROI. Let’s look at how you can amplify your strategy to make your email marketing a sales-generating machine.
What data says about retail email marketing
A 2015 study from Forrester Research indicates that email is a major player when it comes to how marketers spend their online budgets and that it’s second only to search-related efforts.
In terms of ROI, it’s extremely effective too. Data from eTail showed that, within the US, email accounts for 17 % of the total digital budget and produced an impressive 24% of revenue.
However, there’s more: Insights from Custora, a lifecycle marketing platform, show that 15% of its retail clients’ e-commerce sales came directly from email marketing. Netta Kivilis, who heads up marketing at Custora, said that email was one of the biggest revenue-driving channels for customers, accounting for as much as 40% of total revenue in some instances.
So what can we glean from these statistics? Email is a powerhouse for generating sales for retail. What you need to know, then, is how you can use email marketing to drive these same results for your business.
Email campaigns retailers need to be sending
Retail marketers need to be constantly connected with their customers in order to inform them about new products, company updates, or order information. By consistently sending out impactful emails that add value to your customer’s inbox, you can not only increase sales but also build customer loyalty for the future.
In fact, 72% of people prefer receiving email promotional content when compared to 17% who prefer social media. Let’s take a look at a few ways email marketing for retailers can be useful and the types of messaging you need to send out.
Once you have new subscribers, you need to set expectations for what they can expect and welcome them into your email family. These new subscribers are interested in your content and products, so an impactful welcome series will continue to keep them engaged with your brand. You can include a brand message, “about us” video, product promotion, and more.
Source: Really Good Emails
Shopping cart updates
Once a customer leaves something in their shopping cart, you’re missing out on a sale. If you’re looking to capitalize on that potential, you need to set up automated emails that trigger every time a customer abandons their cart. In turn, the email will remind them to complete their purchase and push them back to your website. Successful emails often display what was left in the cart along with cross-promotional product add-ons.
Source: Really Good Emails
In order to build social proof and understand the customer experience, requesting reviews is a vital email marketing strategy for retailers. This information will not only help you improve your product but also your overall customer service. Automate your review requests with every customer purchase to ensure you’re retaining future sales.
Source: Really Good Emails
Let’s look at some real examples of companies seeing positive results from retail email campaigns, as well as some strategies that can make your efforts more effective overall.
Rip Curl: Driving sales with email marketing
Rip Curl is a global surfing brand that uses Campaign Monitor to promote their surf-related products and events and have seen fantastic results from their email efforts.
When Rip Curl launches new products, they use email to drive shoppers to their online store. They’ve seen particularly high performance in relation to a line of wetsuits called the Bombshell. James Taylor, Rip Curl’s Global Creative Director, said, “Beautiful emails have turned our Bombshell wetsuit into a global phenomenon.”
Other brands like Seafolly, Jaybird, On, and Topshop are also using retail campaigns—and we recently looked at what makes each of their emails so effective.
However, it’s not just big brands that are reaping the benefits of well-designed, sales-oriented emails. You can harness the power of email marketing to do the same for your business too.
Let’s examine a few tactics that you can implement right away:
3 effective strategies for retail email campaigns
Maybe you’re wondering: what are some of the specific strategies that are helping retail marketers drive sales and revenue with email marketing?
One of the most effective ways marketers are boosting sales within email is by ditching the mass-message emails of the old days. Instead, they’re opting for a more customized approach, which helps ensure subscribers are getting the right message at the right time.
However, what’s truly surprising about this tactic is that it’s still largely underutilized. Media Post found that only 21% of marketers were using real-time personalization or A/B testing, and only 56% were using segmentation-based targeting as a top tactic within their email strategy.
So here’s what you need to know about customized messaging to improve your retail email campaigns.
Data proves that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and information from The Aberdeen Group echoes this truth: Their research shows that 96% of organizations believe email personalization can improve email performance.
Moreover, personalization comes in many forms. You can make emails feel more tailor made by leveraging custom fields for features like:
- Subject linesthat use the subscriber’s first name
• Message body text that uses the subscriber’s first name or a recent purchase
But personalization also relates to the content. This means leveraging personalized content that’s relevant to subscribers’ unique interests, relates to their geographic location and where they are in the sales funnel, etc. Relevancy is extremely important for customers. In fact, 74% of online customers get frustrated with content when it has nothing to do with their interests.
You can deliver more relevant content via segmentation.
Segmentation is the grouping of subscribers into lists based on a categorical context. Lists can be segmented in a variety of ways, including:
- Geographic location
• Average spend
• Job title
• Transactional data (like last purchase made)
• Behavioral data (like what content they’ve interacted with)
This tactic is proven to deliver impressive results too. Segmented emails have been shown to produce as much as a 760% increase in email revenue. It makes sense: The more relevant the message, the more likely your subscriber is to act on it.
But, in order to execute segmentation effectively, you need to collect the right data from subscribers up front. You can segment subscribers in two main ways:
- Self-segmentation via separate page or location-based opt-in lists
- Sorting subscribers based on data they’ve provided
Once you’ve created your different segments, you can start sending more targeted emails with content that relates to your subscribers’ unique interests.
Retail marketers can use our integration with Shopify to power smart email campaigns using pre-built segments, including high spenders, repeat customers, first-time customers, and newsletter subscribers.
You can learn more about using Shopify with Campaign Monitor here.
Dynamic content is another way to personalize your emails for increased relevance.
3. Dynamic content
Dynamic content allows you to decide which customers should see which blocks of content within your email.
So, for example, you might be sending out a retail email campaign for two new product lines: one for men, and one for women. Using dynamic content, as Adidas did in this example, you could indicate “who should see this” for each block of content, and create two separate types of content: one for men, and one for women.
This way, you can create two different versions of the same email that’s optimized for your customer data—all within a single campaign. Again, no one-size-fits-all messaging. You’re sending emails that are highly relevant to the recipient.
With these three tactics, your retail emails can become much more effective at boosting website traffic that ultimately translates into sales.
The bottom line? Personalization matters.
Drive traffic to physical retail locations with email marketing
Your company may operate in a physical space, but the majority of your customers spend their time shopping on digital platforms. While creating a digital email presence is key, it’s also important to use those emails to drive traffic to real-life retail locations. How can you bridge the gap?
Let’s look at three ways retailers can drive traffic with email to their brick-and-mortar locations.
Offer in-store promotions.
As one of the most straightforward tactics, send your subscribers exclusive coupons that can only be redeemed in-store. This strategy can be particularly useful if you’re trying to decrease inventory or meet certain sales goals.
Build hype around holidays.
are notorious events that push consumers into retail locations to spend money. Create email campaigns around these holidays and offer special promotions to customers who visit on that day. While the 4th of July and Thanksgiving are popular, consider utilizing lesser-known holidays like National Puppy Day or Donut day to harness engagement.
Host exclusive events.
While the modern customer loves online shopping, sometimes you need to offer them something they can’t find elsewhere in order for them to visit your store in person. Hosting events offers customers a sense of community, networking, and a unique shopping experience. Use email to promote your events and encourage your customers to get involved.
Now that you’ve seen some examples of effective retail emails and have some specific strategies you can implement to make your email marketing more effective, all that’s left is for you to do is to deploy and test.
We challenge you to work toward incorporating more personalization features in your campaigns. Before you know it, you’ll see your ROI for retail email marketing begin to climb. If you’re ready to boost your retail email campaigns, learn how you can create dynamic personalized emails that move beyond just mentioning your subscriber’s name.