Email Marketing is a powerful sales tool for retailers, designers, and manufacturers in the home furnishings industry. In past blogs, we’ve talked about the best practices for collecting emails and how to use your website as the vehicle to build your email list. After working with a number of retailers on email campaigns, we decided to go all the way back to basics and discuss the best ways to create emails that actually drive product sales.
Keep it Balanced
Well-balanced diets. Well-balanced design. Well-balanced emails. As with every good thing, moderation is key. When it comes to the content value of your emails, the same is also true. Emails are a great way to sell customers on a new product in your collection. The anatomy of a good email boils down to three areas:
- Creative (graphics)
Every email you send should have a healthy balance of all 3 areas. This means you need to vary the meat of your emails. Leave one section for promotions and use the rest to showcase your interior designers, blogs that help customers make a fabric selection, videos that show the inside of your showroom. Mix different flavors together to find out what makes your customers tick and click. More on testing that in a minute.
Sell, but not too often. That may seem counterproductive when your goal is to create emails that sell more products. What you need to know is that every email is another step in the buyer’s journey. While the email sent on Thursday may not reach them at the Moment of Delight (the moment when they’re ready to buy), if it has good content and attractive images, it may lead them to browse your website and use the room planner or read the blog. When they do come to the Moment of Delight, your brand will be at the top of their mind from the series of informative, entertaining, and engaging emails you sent.
Don’t fill every email with wall-to-wall promotions. Remember that a majority of your email recipients will be reading on mobile devices. Too much spammy, promotional content will turn off the reader and crowd the sacred white space we love to include in emails for effect.
Pro Tip: Speaking of spammy content, let’s talk about subject lines. While there are no hard and fast rules to the length to increase user engagement on email campaigns, there are tips we can give you.
- Stay out of the emoji keyboards. Tons of emojis in an email subject will 100% land your email in the spam folder forever.
- Make it personal. Use merge tags to auto fill the first name of your email recipient in the subject line. Consumers are more likely to open an email if it is personalized!
- Keep it short. Like we said, most of your emails are going to mobile devices. Using shorter subject lines will make sure that your subject can be read on mobile without cutting off.
Maintain a Healthy Email List
Not to beat a dead horse but a healthy email list is critical to your success in email marketing. If you want to find a way to create emails that drive product sales, you need an engaged audience to email each week or month. Maintaining a healthy list is the only way to achieve this goal.
As mentioned before in previous content, your website and social media are excellent ways to build a healthy email list. Attract customers and potential customers to sign up for promotions, tips, and good content with a great landing page for email sign-ups. Make sure that you request permission to email marketing content to your list by adding a checkbox for a subscription. This might seem small but is the most important element of email marketing.
In our blog about Email Rules for Retailers, we talked about the Can Spam Act and how to successfully abide by the laws without losing email subscribers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, your organization must not only use good judgment but also follow the rules when it comes to electronic messaging. Adding an “opt-in” box in your subscription form keeps your company compliant when building that email list.
The best way to keep your email list healthy is to provide high-quality content (and a place to unsubscribe) for your email recipients.
One of the most important elements and some in MicroD’s Strategic Services department would argue it is the single most important element, to a successful email campaign that drives product sales is A/B Testing.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B Testing, also referred to as multivariate or split testing, is a marketing technique as old as the engine itself. The official definition of A/B Testing comes from HubSpot marketing platform:
The A/B testing feature in email is a way to let you send two slightly different emails to your audience so that you can obtain information on which triggered the most engagement and then use the most effective email to send to the rest of your list.
Here is how it should work, if done correctly. Take one variable of your email campaign to use as the A/B Testing variant. We recommend using a variable that will help you track your goal. If your campaign goal is open rate improvement, select the subject line for your variable. If the campaign goal is clickthrough rate improvement, select a call-to-action button or featured image. The point is to find one detail that you can change between Email A and Email B.
Once you have chosen a variable, make a slight adjustment between Email A and Email B. With many of the email marketing platforms listed in our next tip, A/B Testing is automated.
When Email A and Email B are ready, you will select the percentage of your email list to receive either Email A or Email B. Now, we start the A/B Test. Choosing approximately 20% of your email to perform the A/B Testing is the best size for your list. Too fewer emails will give you an inaccurate reading from the test. Too many emails will leave nothing left for the winning email to send to. That’s why we recommend selecting 20% of your email list to receive either of the 2 A/B Testing emails.
Over a designated period of time, a few hours to a full day, one version of your email will go to that 20% of the email list. Based on the goal you set earlier, your email marketing platform or agency will choose the “winning” email based on the opens or clicks that you’ve chosen to measure. The remaining 80% of your email list will then receive the winning email.
The power of A/B testing isn’t just through one email. As with most marketing strategies, this tool will help you create better emails that will have higher engagement over time.
Tools for Success
A lot of time goes into creating email campaigns that are effective. Luckily, the retail industry and even the segment of home furnishings retail, have outstanding digital marketing tools to help your business.
If you can spend the time that is necessary to build beautiful email campaigns internally, dedicate one person or one team with following your brand guidelines and best practices to create consistent email campaigns. Consistency is the key to high engagement and healthy email lists. If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to the email marketing, here are some great tools that make the time commitment much less.
- Constant Contact – for nonprofits and email marketing
- MailChimp – for easy email templates and marketing
- Emma – for emailing and segmentation
- Canva – for easy-to-use graphics
- Pexels – for great free stock photos
- Google Drive – for planning your email calendar
- Marketing Agencies – for everything!
While it is the last point on our list today, setting goals is the first and last thing you should consider when creating emails that drive product sales. To get started, create a benchmark in your business as it stands today. Then, decide what metrics you can use to define what “success” looks like for your email marketing. For some retailers, foot traffic is the biggest metric. For others, increasing website traffic or online product views are critical. Whatever your goal is, make a benchmark of where it stands today and where you want to be at 30 days, 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year.
This isn’t an infomercial oven, though. You can’t just “set it and forget it” when it comes to your campaign goals. Check in, and often, on your benchmarks. Is there something from the reporting or A/B testing that can help you shift the needle to make those goals faster?
Pro Tip: Set your email marketing goals like your fitness goals. Be audacious, but intelligently. No one is going to lose 50 lbs in 5 days so you can’t expect to get 50 new sales in 5 days. Make goals that you can work toward but reasonable. Setting too lofty of a goal will only set yourself up for failure–and that’s not what we’re here to do.
Set goals. Rinse and repeat.
Email marketing doesn’t have to be painful in order to produce sales. If you’d like some advice, check out our Facebook Live on Email Marketing Content Best Practices!