How to create emails that drive sales
If you haven’t yet considered an email strategy for your business, it’s high time you did. Not only can a strong email marketing strategy help communicate your brand messaging and build brand trust, it’s also an incredibly effective tool for growing sales.
Ecommerce specialist Brynley King says it’s vital to ensure that digital marketing strategies aren’t limited to just social media, and instead include owned channels like email.
“With the endless changes of algorithms and updates of organic and paid traffic channels, focusing on your owned marketing channels that you can control is now more important than ever. Email is often the forgotten channel that is rarely executed well and a crucial part in connecting the acquisition and conversion stage of the buyer’s journey together."
Here are a few things to consider for creating emails that increase engagement and drive sales:
1. Segment your database to make it work harder
What you put in your emails is important, but so is ensuring that your emails find their way to the right customers.
“Segmenting customers into cohorts based on traits and attributes allows brands to tailor the messaging that makes everything seem more relevant,” says Adam Sharon-Zipser, Managing Director of Elephant Room.
When considering how segmented your list should be, King recommends getting specific.
“My standard abandoned cart flow comprises a minimum of 18 emails that are heavily segmented based on new vs. returning customer, cart value (for example, under $100 and over $100) and country (for shipping purposes). Every email that’s sent to a customer should be as specific to that customer as possible and on-point with your overall strategy,” she says.
2. Offer variety in what you send
Many brands make the mistake of treating emails purely as a promotion channel, says Sharon-Zipser. “Many of them only send discount codes and incentivised campaigns to customers, which quickly leads to fatigue - and high unsubscribe rates and lower open/click rates.”
Many of them only send discount codes and incentivised campaigns to customers, which quickly leads to fatigue”- Adam Sharon-Zipser
Instead of only promoting products and services, look to increase sales in a more holistic way.
“Sales will be derived from four key domains - promotion, aspiration, information and education. These are the pillars that the modern customer needs in a noisy and competitive environment to help build the trust to spend money with you and continue spending into the future.”
For example, Sharon-Zipser says that an aspirational email might promote the kind of lifestyle that can be achieved with your products or services; educational emails would help them understand the benefits of your products or services; while informational emails alert customers to new products or offerings.
This is a strategy that has worked well for Sydney linen brand Bed Threads, according to founder Genevieve Rosen-Biller. After transitioning from one email a week that was purely product-focused to a three-pillar approach covering education, inspiration, and information, she found traffic increased by five times on newsletter send days, and saw a growth in sales the day after send. “You can't just whack three products in there and say, ‘buy our stuff’. It has to be really considered content.”
You can't just whack three products in there and say, ‘buy our stuff’. It has to be really considered content.”- Genevieve Rosen-Billen
Rosen-Biller says that Bed Threads sends three or four emails a week, including their flagship inspirational email “The Makers”, which profiles Bed Thread users, as well as emails that educate and and inform customers on new products.“So we send up to four, in different formats, but extremely flexible [on how many and what there are] depending on what's happening in the business.”
3. Prioritise deliverability
With up to one in five commercial emails blocked by spam filters, deliverability should be top of mind when creating email, says King.
Your subject line plays a big part in this - avoid spammy words, exclamation marks, capital letters and sounding too salesy (which are all factors that most email providers guard against).
Similarly, in the email itself, ensure you’re getting the balance right between images and text.
“Many brands load too many images into their emails, which can trigger spam filters,” says Sharon-Zipser. “There are also concerns around accessibility if an email contains no text. Gmail has a file size limit of 100kb before it truncates the content, so good use of responsive HTML tables and some images is the best approach.”
4. Make use of automated campaigns
Welcome emails, life-event emails, abandoned cart emails, win-back emails, even transactional emails - they’re all great opportunities to incentivise, remind and prompt purchase (or re-purchase).
“Automation emails based on customer churn risk are awesome as ‘win-back’ campaigns,” says Sharon-Zipser.
The best way to do this is calculate the average time between orders, and build segments around the customers who haven’t spent within this timeframe. They’ll receive a win-back reminder or discount code, which may prompt them to spend again.
According to Big Commerce, sending an abandoned cart email can recover 15% of sales, and for some has increased online business revenue by 50%.
Discounts can be an effective inclusion in win-back emails, but King also advises building engagement through curiosity and gamification. “For example, instead of revealing the sale you’re offering, use terminology like ‘Click here to reveal the deal’, or gamification through offering 100%-off discount codes in emails to get as many subscribers clicking through your email, adding items to their cart and reaching the checkout [to discover their discount].”
Carli Alman is a journalist who has worked in magazines and copywriting for 10 years.