How Online Fashion Retailers can use Email Marketing for Brand Building, Profit & Customer Retention – 67 Points Checklist
“Despite the title of this article, we believe this article can benefit retailers in industries outside fashion as well and help them use Email Marketing to build stronger relationships with their customers and make profits. “
Customers who arrive at your online store from an email are more likely make a purchase as compared to other traffic channels. The Custora study shows that visitors who arrive from an email are 11 percent more valuable than average. Indeed, it’s the most important channel for communication with customers. This article will take you deep into all the tips & tricks involved in using Email Marketing to build a strong relationship with your customers. We will tell you everything that you need to know in order to effectively communicate with your customers, retain them and make profits. We will talk about various ways- how you as an Online Fashion Retailer can get more subscribers, guide them to make their first purchase and then keep them coming back for more. If you read this entire article, you’ll know more about Email Marketing than 90% of Email Marketing experts out there.
Have a Solid Content Strategy
To deliver value in your emails, you need a solid content strategy – clear idea of what you will send to your subscribers in your emails. No tips and tricks can help if you don’t have anything to say in your emails. There is only so far you can go with a ‘send to all’ email blasts with blatant product promotions. Successful Email Marketing campaigns are built on the foundation of planned, personalized content. In this section of the article, we will talk about the content of your emails.
1) Forget Editorial Calendar, Commit to delivering value in your emails
Editorial calendar is not an email marketing strategy. The Success of your Email Marketing campaign has little to do with frequency of your emails but your ability to deliver value in your emails. Your subscribers won’t mind daily emails from you if you can deliver value in each email but they will spam report you (even if they subscribed) if you send one email in a month without any real value to them. In the section of the article, let’s talk about the importance of staying in touch, staying relevant and consistently providing value to your customers in their inbox.
2) Know your audience You can create and deliver lovable content only when you know your subscribers. You need to know what kind of content your audience is into. You need to know:
- Where they live?
- How’s the weather there?
- When is their birthday?
- When is their anniversary? etc
You can take all this information from the email sign-up form or user registration. If required, you can also break down your subscribers into segments and send them only what’s relevant to them.
3) Educate your customers by sharing high-value FREE information via. emails
We all love free information. When you send an email with product images, price etc, please make sure that also have a content section in the email where you tie-in interesting content as well so that if a customer does not want to buy now, there is still some value for him/her.
4) Use videos in your emails
Videos are proven to be more engaging than plain text or images. If you produce videos on a regular interval, show the video snapshot in the emails. With videos, you will experience higher click through rate of your emails.
5) Use founder signature
Sign the welcome email from the team, or consider a personal touch from the CEO / Founder.
6) Send your print campaigns to your email subscribers as well
Use email in conjunction with your other marketing activities. If you’re running a beautiful print campaign, please make sure that you forward a soft copy of your popular print campaign to your email subscribers as well.
7) Keep your email subscribers posted on the social media contests
Whenever you run a contest on Facebook, Instragram, Pinterest etc, make sure you invite your email subscribers to participate in the contest first.
8) Keep your subscribers posted on what’s going on your Social Media pages
If there is a post, tweet, pin, picture, video etc doing well on your social media profile, feature them in your emails to customers. If your social media followers loved it, chances are that your email subscribers will love it too. It will also lead to more repins, reblogs, retweets, shares it.
9) Make your old subscribers re-optin
Your database ages pretty quickly. If you haven’t contacted your subscribers for over 12 months or if you’re starting your email marketing campaign using an old list, you should make your subscribers re-optin.
10) Make un-responsive subscribers re-optin
Find the subscribers who have a track record of not opening your emails from a long time. You can either keep sending them emails hoping that they will buy your product one day or you can send them an email and ask them to re-opt into your mailing list. If they really care, they will re-optin to your emails to continue receiving emails from you. This will help you maintain the quality of your mailing list.
11) Email at regular intervals, don’t skip
Don’t start an email marketing campaign only to send emails at random intervals throughout the year with long time gaps. If you’re irregular, your emails will be less effective and there will be higher chances that users will un-subscribe or spam report you.
12) Abide by the rules set by the CAN-SPAM Act
CANSPAM Law is a law created to protect email users from unsolicited emails. The main thing about the CANSPAM law is that you can’t send someone an email until you have their permission (via. email sign-up forms). And once they subscribe you can’t email them without giving them the option to opt-out. If a user opts-out, you can’t send them an email again.
Keep building your email list
You have worked hard to bring these prospects to your website, you can’t let them go without taking an action. If a visitor didn’t make a purchase now, it does not mean that he/she is not a good prospect for future. Capturing emails of the visitors landing on your website is of paramount importance to your business. You should encourage them to sign up for your emails, using a sign-up form, pop-up, or lightbox. In this section of the article, let’s talk about how you can get more subscribers to opt-in to your email list.
13) Capture emails on your homepage
Since the homepage is usually the top landing page for new visitors on your store, it’s important that you prompt users to subscribe to your mailing list on your homepage itself. You can do this by having an email sign-up form in the footer of your website.
14) Use Pop-up sign-up forms; they are obtrusive yet effective
We strongly recommend you to show a splash pop-up to a user and make user subscribe for various benefits. Make sure you use nice graphics in the pop-up and show them benefits of signing-up such as – discount coupon code on their first purchase.
15) Take permission to email on the registration & guest checkout page
You can have a check box on your website’s registration page to allow users to opt-in to your newsletters. If you don’t do this, you will end-up having a list of registered users in your database who though are registered on your website but you can’t contact them as you don’t have their permission. Having a check box on your registration and guest checkout page will help you keep a check on your registered non-subscriber users.
16) Collect emails from your Blog readers
If you have a Blog, make sure you’re collecting the emails of your readers. You can have an email sign-up form in your blog’s sidebar.
17) Give something in return of email
When a user subscribes, you need to send them more than just a thank you email. Send them a discount coupon code, free information anything that makes them feel good about signing-up to your mailing list.
18) Collect emails during the face to face interactions with your customers
Apart from signup forms on your store, it’s a good idea to collect email addresses at:
- Your brick-and-mortar store (if any)
- Trade shows
- Or Public events your brand may be present at
If you’re a MailChimp user, you can use Chimpadeedoo – an iPad app that can help you collect signups and automatically sync them into your MailChimp list when you’re online.
19) Collect emails from your Facebook fans Even though very few of your fans like to sign-up from your Facebook page because they prefer staying in touch via. Facebook but it’s worth having a sign-up tab.
Email Marketing Set-up
20) Publish your newsletters on your website in the newsletter archive
Have a place where you feature all your newsletter archives. You can link out to this section from your newsletter sign-up page to give your potential subscribers a taste of your newsletters in advance. Moreover, having a newsletter archive section on your website can boost the organic traffic in your store.
21) Have a permission reminder blurb in your emails
Don’t forget to add a friendly permission reminder blurb in the footer of your email stating reason why the recipient has received the email. For example: “You are receiving this email because you are a registered customer of Company-name. Your username is ABC and your last login was on ___.” A small & friendly permission reminder in the footer of the email helps in keeping your spam reports low.
22) Add a request to ‘Add to address book’ message in the email
To improve your email delivery rate, include an ‘Add to address book’ notification in your emails that prompts users to add your email to their address book. If a customer adds your email to address book, you can be rest assured that even your most fancy emails won’t land-up in their Junk folder.
23) Allow users to open the email in a browser
Most email service providers would allow you to insert a link at the top of your email to let users open the email in his/her browser. This is to help users for whom your email isn’t rendering well due to compatibility issues.
24) Enable Google Analytics tracking
Even though there is an inbuilt Analytics dashboard in all Email Marketing Service providers, but it doesn’t tell you about what users did after leaving the email – did they buy? how much time did they spend on your website? etc.
25) Put a reminder notification in the email – “Remind me about this offer – Tomorrow | Friday | Next Week”
If you’re giving a limited offer in your email, show a friendly reminder link to remind the user about the offer later. It simply increases your chances of a user coming back later to take an action as suggested by you in the email.
26) Avoid disclosing price inside the email
If the featured products inside your email are not on a discount, avoid showing their prices inside the email. Your objective should be to generate curiosity and make the user click through your email and land on your website to make a buying decision. The exception to this rule is only if you’re selling a product at an extremely discounted price. So, for sake of achieving a better Click Through Rate, avoid disclosing product price in the email.
27) Don’t use background images in the email
While designing your emails, you should avoid using background images. This is because many of the email clients do not support the background-image property.
28) Invite users to download your Mobile App in the email
If you have a mobile version of your website, make sure you include a link to prompt your users to download your mobile application and start engaging there. Since the majority of your subscribers will be accessing your email from their mobile, there are good chances that they will download your app.
In Fashion, your email has to look sexy. The style you bring to your emails can make a big difference in how your email subscribers engage with your brand. Don’t stick to just newsletter style emails, go beyond.
29) Use pictures of humans in the email
We have seen that pictures of human work better than product pictures on a mannequin. This is because people engage and buy when you trigger their emotion and as you can imagine – human pictures do better in triggering emotion.
30) Use Image Alt tag or Title tag
As you may have already noticed, most email clients (Gmail recently has started to show images by default) doesn’t load images into the browser until you give permission by clicking the ‘show images’ link. Now when the images are disabled, you can either show nothing or show image alt or title tag text to the user. We strongly recommend that you use relevant keywords in the image alt/title tags so that user can make sense of the email even when the images are disabled.
31) Use Gifs to add life to your emails
Using GIF images is an excellent way to not only making your emails more appealing but also:
- draw users attention to important information in your email
- tell short stories
- show multiple products in a single section
Having said that, beware of the size of the GIF images; don’t let the GIF file size exceeds 40 KB.
32) The look & feel of the email should match website’s look & feel
Be consistent with the colours and typefaces you use in your email; the look & feel of your emails should match your website’s look & feel.
33) Avoid sending out image only emails
If you’re a start-up with a low brand name recall, please avoid sending an email that’s nothing but one big image, with little or no text. Until they’re not in love with your brand, they may not bother to click on the ‘show images’ button to see your email. Moreover, sending an image the only email can increase your chances of landing your emails in users spam folder.
34) Single column layout is the most readable
We have seen that single column works better than multiple columns. Not only multiple column emails look more cluttered but also have readability issues when seen by the user on mobile.
Design your emails to open well on Mobile
Email Marketing is becoming more and more Mobile Marketing now as 47% of emails are open on a mobile and as much as 50% of the mobile purchases are triggered by email. So, it’s extremely important that your emails not only look good on computers but on all popular mobile devices as well.
Note: The good thing about making your emails mobile compatible is that very few of the of the emails being sent out by retailers these days are are mobile compatible. So, if you optimize your emails for mobile, you can have a fair advantage over your competitors.
35) Call to action button should be clickable on Mobile
While you test your email, make sure that the call to action buttons are easily clickable when email is opened on a mobile. A good way to ensure this is to show bigger buttons when the email is open from the smaller mobile device.
36) Pay attention to the order of content
When we talk about mobile emails, the order of your content in the email is just as important as what you’re saying. Make sure that you present your content in a logical sequence.
37) If you have a sidebar, make sure it’s in the left
Like we said, single column emails are proven to perform better than multiple column emails. However, if you have to have a sidebar, then we highly recommend that you use a left hand side bar. This is because if there is an important headline or call to action in the right sidebar, it won’t get the spotlight on a mobile device.
38) Use a small header
While designing header of your email, it makes a lot of sense to have a shorter header with less navigation; it lets more of the content display when the user is opening the email on a smaller device.
39) Your website should be mobile compatible too
Now that you know that more than 47% emails are opened from mobile, you can safely assume that majority of people who will land on your website from emails will be browsing your website from their mobile. So, along with the email, make sure that your website is mobile compatible too.
40) Use pre-header text as a teaser
Use a catchy pre-header text that gives a user crux of the email. This pre-header text as a teaser to make a user load image and engage with the email.
41) Have a clear call to action
Avoid showing multiple calls to actions in your email or else user will get confused and exit the email without taking an action. Have one clear objective when you’re designing the email and allocate real estate to all the design elements accordingly.
42) Show Customer Support Information in your email footer
Showing customer support information in your email footer can make your customers see your emails as an extension of your customer support process and that you’re sending emails with not just an intent to sell but also to help them.
Copy writing – Your Email should be worth reading
“Why waste a sentence saying nothing?” Seth Godin When people subscribe to you, they’re already expecting some kind of goodies from you – may be discount coupons, free stuff etc. No matter how good your offer is if your email is not worth reading or doesn’t grab user’s attention is 5 seconds, the click-through rate of your emails will remain low. In this section of the article, let us give you a few helpful tips about email copywriting.
43) Subject Line should make user open email
Your first goal in email marketing is to make the user open the email. Avoid pitching in your subject line. Keep the email subject line enticing to the user so that user gets curious to know more and open the email.
44) Avoid an all CAPS subject line
Using an all CAPS text in your subject line can trigger spam filters and land your email in spam. Avoid using all CAPS subject line.
45) Have a primary message
While you may be talking about multiple things in your email, there should be one primary message in your email which stands out among all other messages. The call to action attached to the primary message should decide the performance of your email.
46) Use symbols in subject-line
Many online retailers like to use symbols in the subject line of their emails because it helps them grab user’s attention among other emails and increase the open rate of the email. If you’re using a window machine, you can find these characters here: Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map (select font as “Arial” or “Arial Unicode MS”)
47) Talk about what’s happening locally
Personalisation is not only about the first/last name. Of course, it’s important but it’s also about sending relevant content. One of the best ways to send personalized email is to have a section where you talk about what’s happening locally for the list segment – local weather, festivals, trends, politics etc. For example, you can use city name in the subject should change with every segment.
48) Address the customer by his/her first name
It’s obvious and you may already be doing it. As far as possible, try to address subscribers by their first name.
49) Talk to one person
While writing the copy of your email, make it like you’re talking to one person not a group of person. For example, you can avoid using phrases like – “all of you”, “you all”, “every” etc.
50) Get to the point very quickly
People don’t have time to read long emails. They want to be able to just scan through the email and see what you’re offering. Users have a short attention span. The average human attention is 8 seconds. So, it’s extremely important that you get to the point very quickly.
51) Use 5 Magical Words
In the digital age, we humans are a society of scanners. You can pretty much be assured that most of the users won’t bother to read all the text in your email. They will just scan through your emails. While writing a copy of your email, stress on the 5 magical words that will provoke curiosity and action. Use these words in a subject line, opening, heading, image and call to action.
52) Use a powerful headings
Make an effort to use powerful headings that connects you with your audience and make sure your magical words are there in them.
Use A/B Split testing
Each time you send an email, it’s an opportunity to test something in your email. The most effective & most popular way of testing your email before you send it to all your subscribers is – A/B split testing. In this type of testing, you create two versions of the same email and send one version to segment A and another version to segment B to see which one performs better. Then based on who is the winner from the two versions, you can send the email to all your subscribers.
53) Test 1 thing at a time
The most important factor of A/B split testing is to know what your goal of testing is:
- Test subject lines to figure out which subject line will lead to more open rate
- Test headings in an email to know which heading leads to more clicks?
- Test header images in the email to know which image performs better
- Test call to action button to compare click-through rate
Whatever you want to test, you should only test 1 thing at a time. Testing email variations with two or more changes will return inconclusive data. For example, you can’t test subject and head of an email at the same time.
54) Take a large enough sample size
While A/B split-testing, make sure that a number of subscribers in each segment are a large enough (1000 or more) to draw conclusive results. Testing with small sample size will return inconclusive results.
55) Allow enough time to gather results
Once you do split testing, give it at least 24 to 48 hours until you decide which variation is a winner.
56) During testing, don’t overly rely on pop-up previews
Most email service providers provide a pop-up preview of the email for testing. Don’t rely on pop-up previews alone—they’re simply a visual check. However, you can’t rely on it for testing. Send a test email to yourself and your team for testing. Alternately, you can use email testing tools such as Litmus to be sure that your email is compatible with all popular email clients.
List Segmentation & Customer Retention
List management and segmentation is an integral part of Email Marketing. When the size of your email list increases and so does your email frequency, you will you will experience an increase in revenue from Email Marketing. However, if you don’t pay attention to managing & segmenting your list, you will soon reach a threshold point when the return on investment on Email Marketing will start to diminish. This is why you should divide your email subscribers into unique segments allows you to send targeted, relevant messages to those groups. Not only does it improves your email conversion rate but also help you send more personalized emails to your customers. You can create segments in your list based on – user location, weather, purchase behavior etc.
We all know that it’s far too economical to hold on to existing customers than it is to find a new one. Let’s now talk about how you can use Email Marketing for Customer Retention.
57) Know your Net Promoter Score This has to be one of the most powerful recommendations in this entire article. Reichheld developed the NPS methodology, to segment customers by asking them a single question that is predictive of their value to the organization
“On a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to refer to a friend or colleague?” The answers customers provide are classified as follows: 0 – 6 = “Detractors” 7 – 8 = “Passives” 9 – 10 = “Promoters” The easiest way to run this campaign is using following SurveyMonkey template.
The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents that are labeled “Detractors” from the percentage of respondents that are labeled “Promoters”: % of Promoters – % of Detractors = NPS Net Promoter Score can range anywhere from -100 to 100.
Treat the respondents who give you a score of 9 or 10 as VIPs. Send them special offers, personalized content and go an extra mile to keep these people happy as they are not only your valued customers but also best promoters of your business.
58) Treat them like a VIP Once you know who your best customers are, treat them as a VIP. Reward them with Loyalty gifts in the form of exclusive coupon codes. Help them buy more.
59) Segment according to purchase behavior Purchase behavior of a customer is extremely useful in predicting future behavior. We recommend Windsorcircle for Automation platform to help you keep your customers through data-driven, personalized and automated customer loyalty programs leveraging your existing eCommerce and email marketing software. Their platform is based on RFM analysis for customer segmentation. – R1 – Give recency rank (recency since last purchase) – score of x/4 – F1 – Frequency Rank (how many times customer bought) – score of x/4 – M1 -Monetary Rank (how much they bought) – score of x/4
The goal of RFM Analysis is to segment customers based on buying behaviour. To do this, we need to understand the historical actions of individual customers for each RFM factor. We then rank customers based on each individual RFM factor, and finally pull all the factors together to create RFM segments for targeted marketing.
So the best customer in this example would be R1M1F1 (111 are best customers).
For more information on their services and RFM analysis you can check their website or this white paper
Use Welcome, Thank you & Miss you emails to build relationships
60) Send welcome emails when a new subscribers signs-up
Welcome email is the first email that goes out a subscriber when he/she confirms his /her email address. If you’re among the Fashion retailers who prefer not sending out welcome emails; it’s a missed opportunity because when someone subscribes to your brand, he/she is most likely taking an action if you ask them too. Welcome emails usually have a higher open rate. You can send a coupon code in the welcome email (don’t forget to put a limit to the validity of the coupon). It’s a great way to start the relationship. It sets their expectations about what they will receive from you.
First email from NastyGal is a very light hearted visual representation about what they do, what the brand is about (fun) to lightly warm-up the relationship. Second email is product category specific (this email will depend on what the customer purchased).
61) Thanks, customers for making their first purchase
If you know a customer has made the first purchase, they will appreciate if you thank them for their first purchase and they will be more likely buy from you again.
62) Reward your subscribers according to the length of your relationship with them
While rewarding customers for their loyalty, reward them as per the length of your relationship with them. Older subscribers and customers should be rewarded more than the new subscribers. Don’t treat those who’re buying like those who’re not buying. Both are two different segments and need different motivation to buy. You should make a ‘big spender segment’ of customers who buy most frequently and have the highest average order value and send them different offers to them. We’re not saying that you should ignore the ones who’re not buying or treat them badly because they may not be buying now but they can buy in the future.
63) Ask for Reviews
Set-up an auto-responder email after a specific time period of customer’s purchase and prompt them to leave a review for the product purchased. If they’re happy, they will happily leave nice product reviews on your product page in exchange of reward points or discount coupon code which they can use for their next purchase.
64) Send emails to people who haven’t purchased for a long time
To control the aging of your list or perhaps win back the customers you have lost, you can run a Win Back Email campaign in which you can email customers who have not purchased since last 3 to 8 months. Apart from helping you win back some lost customers, it’s also a good gesture to the customers as it shows that you care for them.
Open Rate optimization
The first thing you want your subscribers to do when they receive your email is to open it. All your efforts spent on list management and campaign set-up can go wasted if they delete the email without even opening it.
65) Pay attention to your Email Subject line Subscribers make their judgment about whether they want to open or delete the email based on the sender name and subject line.
- Time sensitivity: More people will open the email If there is time crunch in the subject.
- Scarcity: If the products featured inside the email are limited in stock, you can mention it in your subject and opening phrase.
- Free Stuff: Needless to say, we all love ‘Free’. Emails with free in the subject can increase your email’s open rate.
66) Enable Abandoned Cart Emails to target Cart Abandoners
No matter how compelling your website, content or product is, some customers will still abandon cart without completing the purchase. These customers need an extra push from you to complete their purchase. If you’re not yet tapping these customers, you’re missing out on an important customer segment. There are plenty of email marketing services out there that can enable you to re-target the customers who visited your store, added product to the cart but didn’t complete the purchase for whatever reason (for example – User Experience issue on the website, Indecision of the customer, Technical Issues with the website, Cost of the item etc). Using their email service, you can send a series of automatic emails to these customers prompting them to come back and complete the purchase. Our favorite Email Marketing service to implement abandoned cart emails is Bronto.
67) Set-up at least 2 to 3 Abandon cart reminders
- Post-Abandonment Email 1: This is the first reminder email that goes out to a user if user didn’t return to complete the purchase in 24 to 36 hours. You can make it a casual reminder to them. A simple subject line saying ‘complete your order’ or “a friendly reminder” should be enough to encourage abandoners to pick up from where they left due to their indecision, technical or user experience related issues on the website. Make this email look like it’s part of your routine customer support process and please don’t forget their cart details inside the email.
- Post-Abandonment Email 2 & 3: If a user doesn’t complete the purchase even after the first reminder, you can try offering them the discount or Free Shipping to see whether it encourages them to come back and complete the purchase. Depending on how soon you sent the first reminder, you can time your 2nd & 3rd reminder emails to go out to cart abandoner in 48 to 72 hours. In all these 3 emails, you can promote urgency by reminding customers about the time left before the products in their cart will expire.
Important note: Don’t include the discount in your first abandoned cart email or else you will end-up training your customers to abandon their cart each time they make a purchase in order to get discount emails. YOU DID IT!
Woohoo, you made it to the end. Congratulations and thanks for reading the entire article!
I hope you learned a lot about Email Marketing and that you can use it as a resource to run more effective and more profitable Email Marketing campaigns for your Online Fashion store. Remember to share your questions and feedbacks on Twitter @ilovefashionret.
@ILoveFashionRetail we design & develop e-commerce websites & mobile apps for fashion retailers. We also help fashion brands grow their online sales & traffic. Our essays are featured in Forbes, Moz, Fairchild, FIT and more. Contact us.