The funniest thing happened recently… I popped in to offer my help with each of our current clients’ email marketing strategy for ecommerce, and I am finding out how nerve wracking the whole thing can be! One woman apologized that her answers to my questions were “disappointing,” and another said she knew she should have set up a mailing list five years ago, and that she was sick to her stomach over it.
If you’re feeling shaky about your email marketing (and let’s try to get away from calling it a “newsletter,” because that word tends to lead people to write uninspired emails), I have some foundational tips for you here today, based on the many conversations I’ve been having with our awesome clients, and students in a class I recently taught.
Why you need an email marketing strategy
Your own website and your mailing list are the two things that you will absolutely own and that no one can take away from you. Etsy can shut down your shop and Facebook can change the algorithm to stop showing your posts, but with your own domain name, website, and email list, you can weather any changes that other companies foist on your business.
Imagine that Instagram or Facebook or Etsy or Amazon deactivate your account today. How do you feel? Now imagine that you have a mailing list of tens of thousands of fans who are eager to hear from you. Feeling a lot better now, right? You can let them know where to shop, what you’re up to, and no one can take that from you.
So if you don’t have an engaged email subscriber following, I encourage you to get to work on that. It’s a great thing.
How often to email your customers
I’d recommend keeping consistent, so people don’t forget about you, and so you don’t forget to send emails! 1-4 times a month is usually a good range to aim within for a small business.
If writing a marketing email feels difficult, start with once a month (but no less). Check your stats to see how many sales the mailing list is sending you. Once you see how much money your monthly email makes, you may be inspired to begin sending weekly.
Create a welcome email for new subscribers
I’d like you to think about what you’d like to tell a new subscriber who is a bit curious about what you do and has just joined your list. Your “welcome to the list” email is a great place to share a photo of you and/or your products, explain briefly what your brand is and what makes it special, and set expectations that make people want to stay on the list.
Use what you know about what makes your business special and who it’s for to create a great welcome message that lets people know they’re in the right place and that you really understand them.
I’d encourage you to add a thoughtful and strategic message that goes out to each new member. If you use MailChimp, this can either be your “welcome message” or you can set up an automation with as many emails as you’d like, dripped out over time.
Mailing list signup call to action
One of the most important little snips of copy on your website is going to be the text you use to entice people to join your mailing list. Let’s be honest: no one wants a “newsletter” and no one’s excited to have more email in their inbox in general. And every other ecommerce business out there is begging them to jump on their mailing lists. It can be hard to get past these barriers and get your best customers to join.
So, slapping “sign up for news and updates” on your website by an email subscribe field is a tragedy to me!
One of the best ways you can grow your mailing list is to:
- Think hard about what valuable thing you can offer to your subscribers. Something that will make entering their email address in your signup form a “HECK YEAH!” for them.
- Find a way to succinctly and temptingly convey that on your website.
- And then, of course, deliver on that promise by maintaining a consistent schedule and sending valuable emails.
What to email your mailing list subscribers about
Some people get stuck on figuring out what to say in a marketing email. There are no rules here! It’s all about what will be most interesting to your readers and what will help you make a sale. Your emails can be words, photos, videos, animated gifs… whatever makes sense and gets you excited to communicate with your biggest fans each week.
Are you already blogging or posting to social media? Then your job is half done. An Instagram post can easily be made into an email message. A single photo and few lines of text with a link to a product is a marketing email! Three paragraphs about why you do what you do is an email. A fun graphic with a code for free shipping is an email. Showing some process shots and story from your studio is an email.
If you’d like some ideas (how about 260 of them?), visit: 260 Blog Post Ideas For Creative Businesses
Then, if you’d like to be able to set up a schedule of upcoming posts, visit: How to Erase Blogging Headaches With an Editorial Calendar
Both of these reference blogging, but you can do the exact same thing for your email marketing strategy.
If you freeze when you try to write an email because you don’t know who you’re talking to, you may want to take my course on figuring out who your target customer is, and how to tell her what’s so special about your business: E-Course: Branding Foundations For Online Shops
Reconfirming your stale email marketing addresses
If you go too long without emailing subscribers, your email will eventually be unwelcome. They will have forgotten who you are or why you’re emailing them. Permission to email people goes stale after a while, and the worst case scenario is you wait too long and then people report your emails as spam, which can really foul up your list.
What if you haven’t emailed your subscribers in months? If it’s been more than 4-6 months since you sent someone an email, you should reconfirm their interest. Instead of suddenly barraging people who have forgotten about you with regular marketing emails, you need to double check that they still want to be on your list.
I know this all sounds like a challenge! If you accept this challenge, though, your business will be all the stronger for it. And once you have a focused plan, the email marketing thing becomes an easy, familiar part of your business strategy.
- Do You Need a Newsletter For Your Business?
- How To Write a Newsletter: Remove ‘ugh’ From The Equation
- Two Great Guides To Finally Creating an Email Strategy
- Email Pop-Up Copy: What Works Best for Online Retailers?
- Shopify Email Pop-Up Best Practices
- Free Resource: Get More Traffic, Make More Sales
Next step for your email strategy
What are you going to email people about, and how often? Learn how to create a marketing calendar with this free workbook:
Shipshape Collective Freebie
A step by step guide which will erase half your blogging headaches and make your blog twice as effective!