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Our integration partners at SimpleRelevance, who know all about sending the perfect email, have written this guest post to show you why email marketing matters and give you some tips on talking to your customers. Their app helps you send relevant, personalized emails to your customers based on their geographic, social, demographic and past purchase data. You can try it for free in our App Store.

Pardon us for stating the obvious, but your e-commerce store should be sending email. It seems like a no-brainer, but last year we conducted a survey of over 10,000 e-commerce stores and found an overwhelming majority of them do not email their customers. In fact, three months after opting in to each mailing list, 84% of retailers had not sent a single email.

Why does email matter?
Not surprisingly, regular email marketing campaigns are strongly correlated with higher sales. In fact, the same survey found that stores investing in email marketing can generate at least 30% of their revenue from these online campaigns. So if 84% of companies are leaving more than 30% of sales on the table by not emailing their customers, the total impact on $1.2 billion in sales is along the lines of $302 million. Yes, that’s right! As amazing as it is that small businesses using Bigcommerce have sold more than $1.2 billion, they could have sold even more with regular email marketing.

Email is still kingStill not convinced? Take a look at the results of a recent study by the Direct Marketing Association. It found that, on average, companies generated $40.56 of return for every dollar spent on email marketing. As you can see from the graph below, this is nearly double the return compared to mobile, social, display and search advertising efforts.

Custom emails = better sales
Sending emails is good. However, sending relevant emails with customized product recommendations is even better. Amazon.com has known this for years — in fact, VentureBeat reported that 35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from recommendations based on past purchase behavior. Luckily, customization does not always mean significant extra work.

For example, let’s look at a hypothetical email campaign for a ceramide hair straightener. Acknowledging that gender stereotypes do not always hold true, we can likely assume that the open rate on the hair tool email would be higher for women than for men. Aside from open rates, men would likely be turned off by the lack of relevant content and inclined to unsubscribe from your list. By simply customizing the subject line to “treat yourself this holiday season” for women and “give the gift she’ll love” for men, you can instantly make the exact same email more relevant to both parties.

Gathering data
Sending relevant emails does require you to truly know your customer. Unfortunately, a report by Marketing Sherpa found that only 14% of companies actually collect and use basic demographic data about their customers. Including a few extra fields on your email signup sheet such as age and gender is the easiest and most cost effective way of collecting data. Remember, even small customization features can make a big difference.

Optimizing your emails
Finally convinced of the benefits of sending email but still struggling to get it done? You are not alone. Research has shown that “too busy” and “not enough time” were the top two reasons companies were not sending email.

Given that over 70% of e-commerce retailers have only 1-10 employees, it is easy to see how the thought of finding time to send relevant emails can be daunting. But here are a few of our top tips for quickly putting together relevant email campaigns that will help increase your sales.

1. Make sure your email reaches the inbox. List hygiene is essential to improve your deliverability, so periodically remove people who never open email, or addresses that bounce.

2. Make sure you use a professional template that is mobile-friendly and has a call to action focused on purchasing your products.

3. Subject lines are key! Make sure that they are concise, personalized, and familiar. If not, your message won’t even get opened.

4. Timing is everything. Don’t just hit the “send” button whenever you’re done writing. Think about when your customers are more likely to purchase, and send them email at the proper time.

Here’s one example of a Bigcommerce store that uses SimpleRelevance to apply all of these lessons:


For all of the tips above, it’s important to test and optimize over time. You’ll be amazed how often your intuition is wrong, so make sure to let the data do the talking.

Email is important, and neglecting it means you are almost certainly leaving money on the table. Don’t ignore your customers — send them email they’ll want to see and take action on. If you do, you can count on the fact that you will sell more!

Leave a Comment
  • We are working on something like this right now. This has been really helpful.

    The part about customizing them is very valuable.

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