10 Email Marketing Ideas for Your Online Store

10 ideas for email marketing automation

For every dollar invested, email generates an average return of $38. It’s also nearly 40 times more effective for acquiring new customers than social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter.

Despite its long history of success, email marketing has been flying under the radar, especially during the last few years. But in its new form, including automated email sequences and behavior-triggered messages, email has become an essential part of many effective e-commerce marketing campaigns.

If your objectives include lower customer acquisition costs, increased customer lifetime value, and higher retention, the following 10 ideas will convince you to pay closer attention to email marketing.

1. Segment your list.

The easiest way to go about email marketing campaigns is the well-known one-size-fits-all approach. It may be effective for one-off campaigns. But in the long run, it can have a negative impact on audience engagement.

One way to keep your audience interested is through segmentation — dividing customers based on information such as who they are, where they’re located, what they’re interested in, and more.

As you can see in the example below, segmentation is what TRX, a company selling sports equipment (particularly popular among CrossFit fans and physical therapists), aims to do with an initial survey question in their email sign-up form. Knowing whether their subscriber is a fitness professional, someone who owns a gym, or maybe someone who just works out at home, will prove useful when crafting the most relevant offer.

TRX newsletter pop-up form for subscriber segmentation from the start

TRX newsletter pop-up form for subscriber segmentation from the start.

2. Onboard new customers.

If you look closely at your email open rates, you’ll notice that new users usually outperform those who have been on your list longer. That’s because when someone decides to join your mailing list, that’s when they’re the most interested in your offer.

The problem appears when new subscribers don’t take immediate action. They may not have made a purchase or visited your page yet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested in your offer. Sometimes it’s that they lack motivation or don’t know what to do next.

To help new subscribers make decisions faster, use a process called customer onboarding. Send a series of emails, one at a time. Each covers the most important aspects of your store — information on how to place an order, ways to get in touch with customer support, details of the return policy, or your best-rated products.

Onboarding is also a good time to point new subscribers to other important URLs: your social media channels or a link to download your app and access the store on the go. You can find more inspiration for welcome emails in this article by Pam Neely.

3. Persuade them to make their first purchase.

During your customer activation process, you’ll want new subscribers not only to visit your online store but to make a purchase, too. Sometimes all it takes is a small but relevant incentive.

In most cases, the element that works best for activating new customers is money: free delivery, 10% price discount, or free store credit. For some, this may seem like a big investment. But in the long term, acquiring and engaging new customers through such mechanisms usually pays off.

MeUndies is one of many companies that use price discounts to activate idle customers. As you’ll see from the example below, humor and a small incentive can be powerful tools in the hands of a marketer.

Newsletter from MeUndies persuading new subscribers to make their first purchase

Newsletter from MeUndies persuading new subscribers to make their first purchase.

4. Ask your customers for feedback.

It goes without saying that knowing what your customers think about your brand is important. But how much is an opinion worth? Consider a statistic: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, says a study by BrightLocal.com.

Asking your customers for an opinion has many advantages. You can use reviews to learn more about your target audience and make your product better. Best of all, you can use them in your communications as social proof.

Below, you’ll see how a company called Mahabis uses customer reviews to present the true value their product offers. They use the exact words their audience uses, so their offer feels authentic and the brand is relatable.

Social proof in a newsletter from Mahabis

Social proof in a newsletter from Mahabis.

5. Retrieve abandoned carts.

Although abandoned carts aren’t a problem in the offline world, most e-commerce businesses dread them. Not surprising — according to SaleCycle over 68% of all online shopping carts are abandoned.

With all the resources you invest in acquiring new leads, it’s only natural you’d want to retrieve some of those who don’t finalize their order. You can do this using behavior-triggered messages aimed at returning your customers to your store.

Cart abandonment emails are popular among online retailers. They’re effective and simple to implement, especially if the user’s reason for leaving the site isn’t related to dissatisfaction with the offer but some other distraction.

If you’re interested in going an extra mile to retrieve the abandoned carts, this article Styla recently published will definitely be of help.

6. Send birthday and anniversary emails.

Everyone likes to receive gifts — whether from your family, co-workers, or even yourself. That’s why the customer’s birthday or anniversary can be a good opportunity to make a sale.

An automated email with a discount in honor of your customer’s birthday can strengthen their feelings toward your brand and make the offer feel personalized. On top of that, they already think they deserve a gift, so it’s easier to persuade them to purchase something for themselves.

Birthday email from Converse with a 20% discount code.

Birthday email from Converse with a 20% discount code.

7. Remind them to purchase again.

Certain products need to be replenished regularly — things like shampoos, lotions, pet food, and many others. If you know on average how long it takes to use them, why not remind customers to place an order before they run out?

This technique can make your communication more relevant and effective. Personalized offers help your audience restock and avoid paying premium prices in their local store. On top of that, it gets them to visit your site regularly and become loyal to your brand.

8. Run re-engagement campaigns.

You’ve heard this before: Most marketers agree that it’s cheaper to retain your existing customers than to acquire new ones. So why not try to reactivate clients who have lost interest?

To re-engage dormant customers, decide on the right moment to consider them inactive. For businesses like fashion retailers, a lack of email opens for 90 days is a reliable signal that the user is uninterested. For others, like an online store selling cart parts, the period may be longer.

Once you’ve figured out when to consider your customer dormant, reach out to them. But don’t just send your regular offer. Make it special, personalized, and make sure the subject line stands out from other emails in their inbox.

Re-engagement email from PotteryBarn.

Re-engagement email from PotteryBarn.

9. Create a new list for the holiday season.

The holiday season accounts for an average of almost 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales. To say that it’s important would be an understatement.

To make the most of seasonal hype, you’ll probably increase the frequency of your communications. Sending an email once a week may not be enough, given that your competitors will also shift into high gear.

At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm your customers. You care about relationships and don’t want them to unsubscribe just because you’re trying to end the year on a high note.

That’s why you should consider creating a new list, just for the holiday season. Let your current customers and new leads know that, if they want to stay in the know and not miss any of your best offers, they should join the new list. Make it clear that all subscribers will receive your deals, but only those who join the new list will have access to the very best deals.

10. Send recommendations.

You know what your customers have purchased or added to their wish list. You also know what goes well with those products or what others have purchased with those items. Why not send relevant offers with product recommendations?

Recommendation emails work because recipients instantly know the offer is tailored to their needs. That it’s a product they searched for and hoped to buy, but it was out of stock. Or simply that it will look great with what they already bought and fell in love with.

Take this opportunity to personalize your offers. Use the information you’ve collected about your audience and send something they wouldn’t want to miss.

Summing up

Email marketing isn’t just about sending the same offer to every customer. It’s about building relationships, learning what your customers like, and discovering what they respond to. Best of all, much can be done automatically by choosing the right conditions for building your communication workflow. If you’re not sure what to do first, watch this webinar to get started with marketing automation for your online store.

Back to you!

What do you think of these 10 email marketing ideas? Have you used any of them in your promotional campaigns? Or perhaps you know other techniques that would work well for an online store? Let us know and leave a comment! 

Written By

Michal Leszczynski is a Content Marketing Manager at GetResponse, where he's responsible for coordinating content marketing projects. Over the years, he’s planned out, delivered and optimized numerous email marketing campaigns for the brand’s enterprise clients. Currently, his main mission is to provide valuable and educational content for marketers: those just starting out as well as already rocking in the online world.