15 Tips for Creating High-Performing E-Commerce Newsletters

Today’s article on 15 Tips for Creating High-Performing E-Commerce Newsletters is brought to you by Emil Kristensen CMO and co-founder at Sleeknote.

Let’s welcome Emil in our blog, and learn from his invaluable experience!


Are you getting the results you need from your e-commerce newsletter? Although 72.5% of consumers want to use email to communicate with businesses, their inboxes are likely still overloaded. With billions of emails sent each day, if you want to get subscribers’ attention, and make sales from your newsletter, you’ve got to get the details right.

In this article, we’ll show you how to create high-performing e-commerce newsletters that wow your customers and win your business.

Get Subscribers to Open Your Email

Let’s start with a couple of tips aimed to get your open rate up. After all, if subscribers don’t even open your email, there’s no chance they’ll click through to your site and make a purchase.

1. Personalize the Sender

Here’s a key fact some don’t realize about your e-commerce email newsletter: it matters who it comes from. According to Litmus, for 42% of people, the sender name is the most important factor in whether your email gets opened.

Personalize the sender

That’s why it’s crucial to identify the company who’s sending the email. And to make it a little more personal, let recipients know the person that it comes from. Many companies now use the [first name] from [company] format, similar to these emails from Buffer:

Buffer

2. Grab Them With the Subject Line

That same Litmus research shows that for 34% of people the email subject line is the most important thing they look at when deciding whether to open your e-commerce newsletter. So do what you can to make this appealing.

One technique that works is to include action words in your subject line, to prime recipients to take action. When you ask people to “open”, “get”, “grab” and so on, that’s exactly what you’re doing. It’s like a mini call to action (CTA) right inside the email subject line. For best results, start your email subject line that way.

You can also use psychology in email subject lines. For example, trigger urgency and scarcity, with phrases like: “time is running out” or “last chance to get this deal”.

Psychology

Or make subscribers curious by asking a question. Ancestry.com announced that it was opening up some old genealogical records with the question: “Were your relatives in the last battles of WW1?”.

A recent trend in email subject lines is to use emoji. These little icons get subscribers’ attention and help you to set the mood and tone of your email. So, it’s got to be worth a shot, right?

icon

Plus, the research shows that using emoji can increase open rates between 15% and 50%, as in the data from ReturnPath below.

ReturnPath

For best results, keep them relevant to your topic and your audience.

3. Tease Email Content With Preview Text

The third thing you should do to improve open rates for your e-commerce newsletter is customizing the preview text. According to Litmus, almost one-fourth of email recipients look it when deciding whether to open an email.

Getting the preview text right gives you another chance to win your subscribers’ attention by giving context to the email subject line and including a teaser for what’s inside. It’s kind of like the secondary headline you get on a landing page. Even better, it’s a chance to add another CTA to make subscribers want to act.

Here are a few examples of email preview text:

Preview Text

Design for Conversions

So, let’s assume you’ve passed the first hurdle and someone’s actually opened your e-commerce email newsletter. Next, you’ve got to get them invested in learning more. One way to do that is by designing your e-commerce newsletter correctly. Here are some tips.

4. Set the Right Width

A big turnoff for any email recipient is getting an email that’s too wide for the screen. If people have to scroll from side to side, they’re likely to abandon the effort – and your email. That’s why it makes sense to stick to the industry-standard width of 600px. That will look good on most devices. But there’s another step to take to make your emails look great …

5. Make Emails Responsive

In 2017, nearly 60% of digital sales happened on mobile devices, says eMarketer.

emarketer

That’s why it’s essential to make sure your e-commerce newsletters look great on mobile devices. There’s just one issue: there are a bunch of different mobile screen sizes, so how do you make sure your email looks good on every device?

The answer: responsive design. In other words, use email newsletter templates that automatically resize and reflow text and images so the newsletter looks great on every device.

6. Use Clear Product Images

Human beings are visual creatures. That’s why it’s essential to get your product images right. The right image can make the difference between making a great first impression, and turning your subscriber off for good.

For e-commerce, great product images can:

  • Show the product clearly
  • Show people how your product can be used
  • Create a feeling or mood to go with the product

Since people respond to people, you can also show people wearing or using your product.

For a newsletter, it’s also important to optimize your images, so they load quickly on a mobile device. You should also include alt text to describe images for recipients with disabilities, or those who simply have images turned off. Here’s a good example from Bose:

product image

Source: Really Good Emails

Nail the Content

Once your subscribers open your email, you’ll want to keep them interested. That’s all about getting the content right, which is what we’ll look at in this next batch of tips.

7. Use Recipients’ Names

Admit it. When you see your own name anywhere, you pay attention, don’t you? That’s how most of us are wired.

That’s also why it’s a no-brainer to use people’s first names in your emails, as in this example from Jet.

Source: Really Good Emails

Of course, to do that, you’ll need to collect those names via your signup form. But once you have them, this basic form of personalization is a must to get subscribers’ attention and make them feel you’re talking directly to them.

8. Keep Copy Short and Not Too Promotional

According to Constant Contact, the average length of a high-performing email newsletter is 200 words. That means that you should plan to keep most e-commerce newsletters short.

At the minimum, you’ll have a headline that relates to the subject line, body copy that gives them information to help them, and a CTA to tell them what to do next (more on this later).

Here’s the important thing: 200 words is just a guide. If the desired action needs more copy, then make your copy longer. If it needs less, then make it shorter.

As for the content itself, remember that part of the goal of the newsletter is to build a relationship with your customers. Sure, they want to know about your products and services, but if you go for the hard sell in every newsletter, you’ll soon turn them off.

Instead, talk to them like people and show your brand’s personality. When customers start to relate to you, they’ll be more inclined to buy from you. Here’s a good example from Typeform:

not promotional

Source: Really Good Emails

9. Include Incentives

You want to make people pay attention to your email, and make sales, too? Include a coupon. According to eMarketer 70% of US shoppers said coupons helped them make a buying decision. You can offer coupons:

  • As an incentive for signing up
  • As a bonus for regular subscribers or shoppers
  • To encourage people to complete a purchase

Make your coupon even more appealing by having an expiry date. There’s nothing like a bit of urgency to encourage people to take action.

10. Get the CTA Right

The last bit of the content, but one of the most important, is the call to action (CTA). This is part of your e-commerce newsletter that tells people the action you want them to take next.

Ideally, this should be a single action, like visiting your online store to buy a particular product or explore a product category. For best results, repeat the CTA a few times in different ways. For example, you can:

  • Place a text link early in the email for those who don’t read the whole thing
  • Link a product image
  • Use a button which includes the CTA

What about the CTA itself? Since it’s all about getting subscribers to take action, action words are paramount. Phrases like “buy now”, “shop women’s fashion”, “get your discount” are some examples.

Ideally, the CTA will be only a few words. You can also vary it slightly to see which one is most effective, as in the example below.

CTA

Source: Really Good Emails

Other E-Commerce Newsletter Success Factors

So, you’ve got people to open, read, and click on your e-commerce newsletter, but your job isn’t done. Here are a few more tips that can improve newsletter performance even more.

11. Segment Your List

Earlier, we talked about personalization. As we said, it’s much more than using people’s names in an email. Instead, it’s about making sure you send the right emails to the right people at the right time.

To make this happen, you need to use the email list segmentation features built into most email marketing tools.

Since people hate getting irrelevant emails, don’t send them. Just make sure you’re sending the emails they want. That will improve open rates, clickthrough rates, and sales.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use automation. You just have to be smart about it. Look at Amazon. They automatically send out email newsletters related to what people look at on their site, what they’ve clicked on, and what they’ve added to their wishlist or basket.

12. Get the Frequency Right

People get a LOT of emails, sometimes more than they want. And 39% of people find it difficult or rather difficult to unsubscribe from emails. The problem for you is that if they can’t unsubscribe, they may mark your emails as spam. If that happens a lot, it’ll get harder to get any of your emails delivered.

Make life easier for subscribers – and for yourself – by giving people an easy way to change their email subscriber preferences. If you send a lot of emails, give people the option to receive email less often (called an opt-down option). This keeps them on your email list, and you avoid annoying them by sending too much email.

13. Play on Emotions

Ah, the holidays—that halcyon period between November and January when e-commerce retailers make most of their sales.

There are all kinds of emotions associated with the holidays, many of them positive. You can conjure up that holiday feeling with some savvy marketing. Consider:

  • Changing the color scheme for your newsletter to match particular holidays
  • Using language related to the holidays in your subject lines, headlines, and copy
  • Including holiday images

This also works for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and so on. Here’s a good example from Caspar, courtesy of Really Good Emails:

emotions

The bottom line: holiday email marketing is one of the most effective ways to leverage the increased urge to buy during the holiday period. Make sure you have your promotions ready.

14. Send Abandonment Emails

There’s one kind of email that’s not part of your regular e-commerce newsletter but is absolutely essential: an abandonment email or email sequence.

Around 69% of people abandon their carts. If you send abandonment emails and get them back to your site to complete a purchase, you can recover a lot of revenue.

Use your abandonment sequence to target some of the key causes of abandonment:

  • Send an email to check that there are no technical issues impeding the purchase
  • Offer a coupon to target price-sensitive shoppers
  • Use images to remind people what’s in their cart
  • Offer free shipping, as people hate the additional cost

15. Test and Measure

Finally, test, test, and test again. Every part of your e-commerce email marketing strategy has to be tested with your actual customers to see what works. Consider:

  • A/B testing your subject lines to see which ones are most effective.
  • Experimenting with sending frequency and see whether it results in more unsubscribes or whether you’re getting the same sort of response when you send more often or less.
  • Testing headlines, copy and CTAs to see what’s most effective.

After you’ve tested for a while, you’ll have a bank of effective content you can use as a starting point for new newsletters.

Make these tweaks in a continuous cycle and you’ll keep boosting e-commerce newsletter performance for happier customers and more sales.


We feel honored to have Emil’s insights featured in our blog, and we are incredibly thankful for the knowledge he has shared with us.

About the Author

Emil Kristensen is the CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote: a company that helps e-commerce brands engage their site visitors—without hurting the user experience.

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