Email Conversations: #1 Idea for Email Marketing Results $$$

Rishi Rawat Blog Posts 6 Comments

eCommerce marketers are constantly hunting for email marketing hacks. But they want automated hacks because we’re obsessed with automation. We want to do everything at scale. If our marketing strategy can’t be easily replicated across a huge group then we find it unappealing. We love adding thousands of people into our mailing list and then sending them email blasts.

And this is why email metrics have been trending down for years.

Some email stats that justify the need for better ecommerce marketing

1: Marketers send a crap ton of emails: 102.6 trillion emails every year. And the numbers keep going up, with 126.7 trillion expected to be sent by 2022. The average email subscriber receives 13 commercial emails a day. (All email stats).

2: According to MailChimp here are some interesting e-commerce email stats:

  • Average Open Rate = 15.68%
  • Average Click Rate = 2.01%

(Source)

3: But despite #1 above the reality is email marketing is super cost effective. Direct Marketing Association estimates that email marketing brings in $40 for every $1 spent.

Key takeaway: Yes, email is effective but people are also receiving too many emails, which means you need to stand out. Using automation to send even more isn’t the solution, better ecommerce email marketing is.

We have a controversial idea:

A more manual, artistic approach

In a world saturated with sameness why not stand out by taking a personalized approach? You can still do this at a relatively large scale but the receiver will recognize you’re message because it will instantly pass the “is this another crappy mass message?” test.

Enter email conversationist. Our path to better ecommerce email marketing.

Because this task is bespoke we can’t entrust it to your marketing team. You actually need to hire a person to handle this. We call this person an email conversationist. They are a cross between customer service and sales. A little like a concierge service.

This doesn’t have to turn into a monumental task. Let me share an inspiring example. Basecamp (a project management tool) has 17 people on their customer service team:

Better ecommerce email marketing
Basecamp customer team. See note I added at bottom right corner of image.

To put this in perspective: these fine 17 customer service people support 3.3 MILLION Basecamp accounts. Think about that for a minute 20 minutes 🙂

Surgical approach

Let’s say you aren’t convinced this email conversationalist person will be able to handle your huge mailing list. Ok, so don’t give them the whole mailing list. And, you don’t have to shut off your weekly newsletter blasts immediately. Let’s work towards better ecommerce email marketing in a step by step manner.

Let’s forget the whole mailing list and start with one segment. This is how I do it, I can’t possibly handle the whole mailing list for my customers.

What segment should we select?

We should select new signups who are interested in a specific product. Here’s one way to go about doing this: all signups that happen in the first 2 weeks of April will be given to our email conversationist. After that, the remaining new signups will be added to our current marketing automation.

How to add people to our list

There are many ways to do this but here’s one. If the user is on the page, engages with the page, then starts to exit, show them a message:

Better eCommerce Email Marketing
Made up example

Types of conversations

Now that we have the segment what should we talk about? Well, many of the conversations will grow organically but to start off we could cover these possible topics:

  • Ask the new signup how they discovered your site. This serves a dual purpose: letting the user know their opinion matters + gives us rich insight into their discovery journey.
  • You could about a feature they liked best.
  • Or maybe a feature seemed a little confusing.
  • Learn about how they’ve been getting by till now. Shoppers use ingenious workaround tricks.

You get the idea.

Email format

Some thoughts on the email format:

  • The email shouldn’t be super well designed. That will defeat the purpose. It should be a simple plain text email, like the kind you send and receive from actual human beings.
  • It should come from a real email address, not info@xyz.com.
  • Don’t add any tracking pixels to the email, we don’t need to know if the email is was opened 5 times.
  • Email should be super short, it’s a quick conversation format where the reader can quickly respond. Example, “Hey, Rishi, our Max model is for rooms under 600 square feet. Do you know the actual measure of your room?”

Measurement

Ultimately it’s all about results. I don’t want you to take this new approach for giggles, you should do it because it’ll drive better short term and long term results.

How to measure effectiveness

You already know revenue per user of your current mailing list. And if you don’t have it use this:

Total revenue generated via email divided by number of email subscribers.

This will give you reveal a revenue per user metric. It could be something like $1.1 per user.

Our math is simple now. We give our email conversationist 30 days to strike up friendly conversations with the people in her mailing list. We look at the revenue being generated and divide it by her salary. If the number looks promising you know it’s working.

This isn’t the first time we’ve ranted about marketing automation. We’ve done it here too.

A little about us

Thank you for reading this better ecommerce email marketing article. We are Frictionless Commerce and over the last 11 years, we’ve thought about just one thing: how do we get online shoppers to convert? We’re fascinated by buyer psychology. And once we understand how your site visitor thinks we use our 9 point copywriting process to convince and convert them.

If you’re on LinkedIn much you can should definitely connect with me. On LinkedIn, I post ecommerce conversion ideas every day, multiple times a day.

Comments 6

  1. While I agree that prsonalization is a very efective strategy, I cannot imagine spending 2 hours every day for a month writing emails. If every half of the emails resulted in a sale (unrealistic conversion rate!), it still wouldn’t fee like the right use of my time.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi, Mark. The 2 hour time detail is something you can determine based on what works for you.

      Mark: If every half of the emails resulted in a sale (unrealistic conversion rate!), it still wouldn’t fee like the right use of my time.
      Rishi: The final time cost will be 70% lower because you’ll develop a personalized communication formula. Plus could hand it off to a junior resource once it’s been finetuned.

      My point is that personalized communication so underutilized it’s a growth opportunity for brands. This I’m certain of.

  2. At one point Rob Snell was the king of personal emails to his mailing list. I’d get emails from him and it was a challenge to tell that he was sending it to a list and not to me personally.

    This has made a big impact on me. This is precisely how I send emails to my mailing list. I believe the results speak for themselves. My average open rate is right at 50% (quite a bit better than the 10-11% industry average.) The click rate varies depending on the subject and just how much emphasis I put on it but I have seen click rates of over 40%. And if I send a strong recommendation for something to the list I’d BETTER put a bunch of it in stock because they are going to buy.

    In the body of my emails I ask questions of my readers and encourage them to reply. When they do reply they will get a personal reply from me. I certainly don’t spend quite as much time as your suggestion implies but the time I do spend is richly rewarded.

    1. Post
      Author

      Rob’s a great writer.

      Chris: This has made a big impact on me. This is precisely how I send emails to my mailing list. I believe the results speak for themselves. My average open rate is right at 50% (quite a bit better than the 10-11% industry average.) The click rate varies depending on the subject and just how much emphasis I put on it but I have seen click rates of over 40%. And if I send a strong recommendation for something to the list I’d BETTER put a bunch of it in stock because they are going to buy.
      Rishi: This is so amazing. Thanks for sharing it. I’ll be updating my post with your comment for others to see!

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