By Drew Estes
Many businesses today prefer to interact with their customers almost entirely on social media. The logic adds up; it’s simple enough, it’s free (at least initially) and it seems like the world’s population uses one social platform or another.
In this post, we challenge you, an ecommerce business, to look beyond social media and explore a more traditional marketing channel to expand sales, grow profit, and build positive customer relationships.
Let’s talk about the email list.
An email list is an acquired list of names and email addresses of people (visitors or customers) who gave a business permission to send them updates, promotions, and other details about their product or service.
In a world where most B2C interactions happen online, it’s crucial for businesses to exist where their customers do. No communication would happen otherwise.
Most companies focus their efforts on social media for branding campaigns, interacting with their audience, and running advertising campaigns. Little do they know that there's a huge opportunity getting overlooked, right there in their email inbox.
Social media is a beast when it comes to interacting and selling online, and yet, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers over Facebook and Twitter.
It’s time to take a deep dive into building an email list, deploying it as a piece of your marketing strategy, and exploring what doors it can open for your business.
Short answer— YES!
In-depth answer…? Let's find out.
Contrary to what we’ve been reading in the media for years, email is NOT dead — not even close. So far in 2021, 4.03 billion people use email worldwide. That number is projected to reach 4.59 billion by 2025.
In contrast, Facebook, the largest social platform in the world, has 2.7 billion monthly active users globally.
This data tells us that no platform even comes close to the potential power and reach of email. While messenger and chat apps definitely have a place in the market, email remains an integral pillar of communication.
When it comes to business, connecting with customers and leads through email is a shoe-in for building brand awareness, increasing visits to your website, and driving sales.
For ecommerce, building an email list is one of the best ways to launch new products, create repeat customers, and establish your own brand in a sea of competition (particularly on platforms like Amazon).
Not only does email allow you to reach a substantial amount of people, but the personalization aspect has power unlike any other marketing channel in use today.
When implemented correctly, email will be one of the strongest channels that ecommerce can use, from nurturing new sales to maintaining return customers.
If you have a website, and you want to turn visitors into repeat customers, getting them on your email list should be Priority #1. Here’s why:
Email effectively drives sales
The ROI on email is staggering, and is why most businesses won’t ever stop using it as a piece of their marketing strategy. For every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. That’s a higher return than any other form of marketing is yielding— digital or traditional.
Email is highly targeted towards those who are most likely to convert.
In order to receive updates from your business, a user fills out a simple form to sign up for your email list and confirm their email address. Taking this many steps (although it seems miniscule) shows they are clearly interested in hearing from you, are intent on learning more, and want to interact with you.
It’s a targeted channel because in nearly all cases, they’ve heard of your business and are seeking more information. What’s more useful than that?
Email is personal
Your goal as an ecommerce business isn't to blast a generic email to a gigantic list of random people and hope for a few bites. While some companies do this (and some find success), we don’t recommend it. It’s timely, expensive, and oftentimes against the rules.
Your focus should be to keep email personal.
For example, once a customer makes their first purchase on your website, you can follow up with an email thanking them and send a coupon code for their next purchase. This level of thoughtfulness can establish the tone for your relationship with customers, and sends the message that you are appreciative of their business.
With an email list, you typically have a contact’s first and last name as well as their email. Many email platforms have personalization tokens you can use when sending email. It’s a first name field that is automated based on the contact data provided.
So, instead of something generic in the greeting like, “Hey there,” the language can be more personalized to include their first name, “Hey, Paul!”
Other personalization touches can be articulated through shopper behavior on your website, provide relevant content that helps them in some way, or celebrate ‘standouts’, like birthdays or anniversaries.
You may be surprised at how little tweaks like this one can pack a big punch.
Email is a highly accessible channel
Americans are spending around 5 hours a day using email, between work and personal correspondence. This leaves ample opportunity to not only engage with your audience, but also provide them with content you know they’re interested in, and offer some great value while you’re at it.
Your email list is YOURS, and yours alone
It’s owned and controlled by your company—not the social platform you’re using to interact with customers and leads, and not the gatekeepers who can make last minute tweaks in their algorithm and send your campaigns in a tailspin.
Algorithms and platforms that demand you pay to play in order to even get minor reach on posts— this is what businesses are up against on social media.
For example, organic reach on Facebook is becoming obsolete (to the point that the social platform has ensured users that it will eventually reach zero). Businesses who worked hard to build impressive followings on Facebook in the past now have to pay to advertise in order for a small percentage (less than 10%) of their followers to even see their content in the News feed.
Competing against a mysterious algorithm (with money as its biggest emphasis) and big ad budgets aren’t realistic for many ecommerce businesses. Fortunately, email is not influenced by anyone but YOU! Your business controls every aspect of your email list, and the data is legally yours.
Maintaining your customer’s contact information, especially their email address, is a smart business decision long term, and frankly, essential to your bottom line.
Email maintains and strengthens customer relationships
Maintaining a positive customer relationship from the jump can nearly guarantee a second purchase and referrals to friends and family. Repeat customers also keep the average acquisition cost down, so it’s a win win.
In order to win those repeat customers, you have to find a way to make them feel like they’re part of your brand. Personalization can have a drastic influence on positive customer relationships because it conveys to customers that they’re more than just an order number; you know them, you appreciate them, and they’re an important part of your business.
Email can be used to strengthen customer relationships through:
Mailing lists are an essential strategy to increase profit, boost sales, and manage customer relationships. Primarily, a mailing list is used in these ways:
Email lists rely on the exchange of value to encourage consumers to subscribe, and that’s where your business comes in.
Creating value through content, language, offers, and education are among the best ways to create an ecommerce email list. Here are our top strategies on creating an ecommerce email list, crafted specifically for an ecommerce business.
Create a pop-up on your website homepage
Pop-up forms are one of the most compelling ways to get more subscribers and grow your email list. Whenever you’re using pop-ups on your website, it’s important to focus on the perspective of the user. Ask yourself, as a website visitor: why should I give you my email? What will you give me?
Consumers are willing to provide their email, but you have to make the value more than clear. Use simple text that packs a punch.
Let’s say you’re a pool supplies company, trying to get more email subscribers. You could offer something like:
“Dive in this summer! Join our exclusive subscriber list for all the best pool recommendations, and get 15% off your first purchase.”
Include a signup form on your website
Including a simple email sign up form in your header, footer and site navigation is an effective way to gather email addresses over time. These are typically the places on your website where people look for other information about your business, so this may grab their attention.
Gather emails at checkout for future shopping cart abandonment emails
We probably don’t have to tell you that abandoned shopping carts are one of the biggest challenges ecommerce businesses face. Various data shows that nearly 70% of consumers abandon their carts online without buying anything.
If a shopper enters their email address during checkout before leaving your website, that leaves you with some promising opportunities to contact them before your business is out of sight, out of mind.
This popular strategy usually appears in some form of offer or coupon code, with the hopes that it can entice the visitor to return to your website and make a purchase.
For example, an ecommerce shop selling home goods could send an abandonment email to a site visitor with some text like:
“Did you forget something? Your shopping cart is waiting! Make a purchase in the next 24 hours and get 15% off all candles in the shop.”
Offer exclusivity through gated content
If you have a blog that provides valuable, relevant information for your readers, this one’s for you! You and your team are spending time creating and distributing content, so don’t just give it away for free. Or at least, not without something in return. It’s time to create some gated content!
Gating content is one of the oldest strategies in the book and is very successful in its quest to build an email list. Select certain pieces of content, like an eBook or a video series, to offer for free by exchange of an email address.
Let’s go back to the pool supplies company, as an example.
You run a pool supplies store online, and are trying to boost your subscriber list for the upcoming summer season. Your company blog has lots of great content, ranging in topics from pool cleaning tips to the best water toys for kids.
While maintaining your public blog that brings in average organic traffic, try offering a free video series on the best supplies and techniques for pool cleaning that customers can do themselves. All visitors have to do to gain access to this content is provide their email address.
Now your audience has something tangible to understand the value of your business, and you’re on your way to a healthy email list.
Use social media to contribute to your email list.
Yes, we recommend using social, even if we were slightly bashing it earlier.
The truth is, if people are following you on social media, they probably like what you’re doing and want to follow along with you.
Encourage users to become subscribers to get breaking news and all the latest about your company by joining your email list. You can include a link to subscribe in your Instagram and Twitter bios, and a Call to Action to subscribe on your Facebook page.
A few other ideas:
It’s really important to mention that not every strategy and tactic we suggested will work for every business. There are so many other factors that contribute to success, so we have to stress the importance of testing.
Trial and error plays an important role in finding what works for your business, based on your customers and how they interact online, their social media activity, and the overall interest in your product and brand. The best way to discover what your audience is looking for and how they behave online is to test these various strategies (not all at once!) to see what garners the best results.
There are a lot of great options for email marketing tools online. Some are free, but the features are somewhat limited. In our experience, an email marketing platform is something worth investing in for business and we highly recommend it.
The top email service providers that have features to dial in on your email marketing campaigns (and much more) include Salesforce, Hubspot, SendGrid, Constant Contact, and ActiveCampaign.
There are several ways to do this, and any successful Amazon seller will tell you that an email list is absolutely essential to building awareness and growing a product line.
It’s also important as a business to not rely wholly on Amazon to survive, whether you plan to eventually move away from Amazon or not. Your business can never fully flourish if it lives or dies with each algorithm tweak or new competitor.
One way to build an email list is to use product insert cards, like we discussed in this post. You’ll find great information and tons of tips on how to properly market your business through product packaging there.
To give a brief overview, product packaging inserts are promotional cards you (or your fulfillment center) put in every order shipped.
Product inserts can use surveys and rebates to gather product feedback, collect customer email addresses, and increase review rates for sales on Amazon. Shoppers simply follow a link on your product insert, complete a quick survey, provide their email address, and are paid a rebate.
Once the email address is obtained, sellers can send offers, deals, and discounts, and even cross-sell other relevant products.
Another strategy for building a list is Masschat, our Facebook chatbot that works with your Facebook ads, and helps the shopper get a great deal on the product they’re interested in.
To get the offer, the shopper must opt in, purchase the product on Amazon, and forward their receipt to the business.
How does this help build an email list? During the chat conversation, Masschat collects the user’s email address and stores it in the seller’s Massview contact center. This means you have the contact information of every person who interacted with our chatbot in your campaign, whether they purchased your product or not.
This is valuable data to have, because it allows your business to strategize and pinpoint exactly how you want to contact these visitors in the future. Maybe it’s an email campaign to convince them to buy your product, or to get more reviews. What would you do with that kind of data?
The tips and pointers in this post will help you begin brainstorming your strategy for an email list and drill down on the best tactics for your business. Email is not a one size fits all solution — from it’s personalization capabilities, the power behind it’s reach and conversion rate, and the positive effect it has on customer relationships… There's definitely something for everyone.
If you take one thing away from this post, we hope it’s the knowledge of how you can use your current channels to build an email list, and why this will help your business — both short and long term. Happy emailing!