Over the past decade, social media platforms have grown in popularity and digital marketing has become one of the dominant ways for brands to interact with their customers. But digital marketing is more than just social media and, after all these years, email marketing is still one of the best ways to keep your customers informed and interested in your brand.

Email is one of the most effective conversion channels for ecommerce stores, and it’s one of the few channels you maintain full control over. So it’s vital for the success of online store to build a bigger email list of motivated subscribers—and we’re here to show you how, and why.

Email marketing offers benefits over social media marketing

It’s easy to get caught up in the instant gratification of likes and follows, and the promise of your next video going viral, but the honest truth is that social media marketing should only be one part of your well-balanced digital marketing strategy. Email marketing offers a return on investment of 3800% that social media marketing can’t compete with, because

But the most important benefit of building your own email list is that you own the list. When you send your email campaign, you’re directly communicating with your subscribers—the people who have signed up to say they want to hear from you. There’s no algorithm inserting itself as a middleman, affecting what your fans can see. It all comes down to what you’ve got to say and whether your customers want to read it. You’re also directly gathering information about what’s working and what’s not, so you can adjust your approach over time to boost your conversion rate.

Targeted messaging will maximise your email marketing ROI

Email marketing works best if you’re sending the right content to the right people. You don’t want to send a hard-sell to a happy customer who is already experiencing the benefits of your product, or to someone who lives in a country where they can’t buy it. Nor do you want to send a new lead the intimate details of maintaining your best-selling product—a product they haven’t yet decided to buy. The best way to avoid this is to create marketing segments—groups of email subscribers that share certain attributes and interests, and therefore represent a unique audience for your marketing email.

It makes sense to segment your list at the time when site visitors are signing up, but you also need to be wary of putting too many steps in the process, which can scare off your prospects. One way to work around this is to track which page the sign-up is coming from. If the user has just placed an order, add them to the customer list; otherwise, add them to a list of prospects. You could also send a welcome email with instructions for how to update their subscriptions to particular lists.

5 Steps to start email marketing for top conversion rates

1. Choose your weapon

First, you’ll want to select email marketing software that combines all the features you want into an easy-to-use bundle. Look for features like

  • email list management including import, export and segmentation
  • tracking the basics like open, click-through, forward, bounce and unsubscribe rates
  • ability to measure conversion rates and ROI
  • integration with your CRM, loyalty or ecommerce software
  • user-managed subscription preferences
  • custom branding and templates
  • mobile-responsive design
  • automation and scheduling.

Many platforms offer a free trial or free pricing tier, which lets you test out the interface and decide whether to sign up.

2. Add subscription forms

Next up, you need to give your website visitors easy ways to subscribe to your list. Add opt-in boxes on your landing pages, homepage, and sidebar that are impossible to miss. Consider using timed pop-ups to catch visitors who look like they’re on their way out, and add a signup form to the end of your online ordering process. The easier you make it to sign up, the more likely visitors are to take you up on your offer, so ask for the bare minimum: just an email address and an optional given name. You can also kickstart your signups by inviting past customers to join or asking new subscribers to invite their friends, but check the anti-spam regulations in your country before sending any unsolicited email.

3. Offer an incentive

Modern shoppers can be quite protective of their personal data, so it can help if you give them a small gift in return for their email address. The options are limited only by your creativity, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • guides, checklists, or tip sheets
  • templates or toolkits
  • tutorials, webinars, or email courses
  • ebooks
  • voucher codes for free shipping or discounts on purchases.

When it comes to delivering on your promise, it’s usually best to send a download link as part of your welcome email. That way you’ll be able to confirm your new subscriber’s email address and track their downloads in one simple step.

4. Seize offline opportunities

Don’t forget that you can also tell people about your email list and invite them to subscribe when you’re out in the real world, anywhere you interact with prospective customers: at conferences, in your pop-up shop or market stall, or at networking events. Take a signup form on your mobile device or add a QR code to your business card so people can sign themselves up on the spot. You could even host a random prize draw for new subscribers who drop a business card in your barrel.

5. Send your first email

When it’s time to send your first campaign, keep your language and tone consistent with your website, and keep the email short enough that readers are likely to get to the end of the page. Include links to more in-depth information on your website, because the ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your ecommerce store. And personalise the subject line and contents of your email campaigns—subscribers are 26% more likely to open an email with a personalised subject line, up to 41% more likely to click through and 10% more likely to convert.

Keep your marketing engine running smoothly

Set up an editorial calendar so you can send out campaigns twice a month—the optimal frequency for getting a high open rate. Use your email marketing software’s tracking features (or third-party analytics) to watch open rates, bounce rates, forwarding rates, conversions and unsubscribe requests, and compare them to industry standards. Give your subscribers more of what they want so that, over time, you get a higher level of engagement.

It’s best to remove unresponsive subscribers from your list over time, so you get a clearer picture of how your email marketing strategy is performing. Many email marketing platforms can manage this for you, Of course, the best way to keep your email list manageable in the long term is to make it easy for subscribers to manage their own preferences, and remind them of how to do this in every single mailout.

Neto is a leading ecommerce platform designed to help your business grow across multiple channels. It offers a wide range of add-on integrations to digital marketing platforms, and inbuilt analytics to help you track your campaign success. Looking for more information on what to do with your email subscription list? We’ve got some ideas about lead nurturing to grow your online store, too.