Stop Thinking About Email as a One-Off Engagement

By Ben Kruger

Disparate, one-off emails don’t do your email marketing strategy (or your customers) any favors. It’s time to get coordinated.

Why do shoppers visit your store or your website? Usually it’s for a specific need, whether that’s a dress for an upcoming event, a new dining room table for their home or anything else.

Now think about how you communicate with these shoppers. Do your messages align with their search by enabling product discovery and inspiration? Or do you blast them with disparate (and therefore likely irrelevant) messaging? For most retailers, it’s the latter.

Monday: Sweaters
Tuesday: Denim
Wednesday: 30% off Sale
Thursday: New Tops for Summer
Friday: Remember – 30% off Sale!

Look familiar?

But what would happen if you stopped blasting these disparate messages and started honing in on the signals your customers send about the specific products in which they’re interested?

Sending Disparate, One-Off Emails Isn’t Doing You Any Favors

There are two problems with the ecommerce email marketing strategy status quo of sending disparate, one-off blasts to your customers:

First, it brings a steady stream of irrelevant (re: potentially annoying) messages into their inbox. With all the concerns about email frequency, sending an email that a specific customer wants to receive should be encouraged. It’s the irrelevant messages that should cause concern. Those are the messages that move your brand from a welcome visitor in a shopper’s inbox to background noise, leaving those shoppers increasingly likely to hit unsubscribe.

Second, it can actually hinder their shopping experience. Let’s say you send an email about sweaters on Monday and a shopper clicks through and browses several sweaters on your site. That’s a great first step toward making a sweater purchase. But when your email about denim goes out the next day, you’ve distracted that shopper. And by the time your 30% off Sale email lands the following day, the sweaters she liked on Monday are quickly becoming a distant memory. Come Friday, maybe she’s forgotten she wanted a new sweater altogether or maybe she just forgot about your sweaters and got hooked by another retailer.  

Try Introducing a Coordinated, Interest-Based Email Marketing Strategy Instead

If the disparate, one-off blast emails that make up the majority of retailers’ email marketing programs today aren’t doing anyone any favors, what’s the alternative? Introducing a more coordinated email marketing strategy that targets shoppers based on their demonstrated interests.

Specifically, try aligning your retail email marketing strategy to three key objectives: Engaging, nurturing and converting shoppers. Here’s what this coordinated strategy looks like in action:

1) Engage

First, you need to generate interest and guide customers toward their next (or maybe even first) purchase.

During this stage, your goal should be to get recipients to engage and click through messages, land on your site and explore your product selection. In doing so, your customers will essentially raise their hands and say they are interested in a given product type.

You can use the promotional blasts you send today to engage customers, but the key is that once a customer engages, you need to move them out of these diverse promotional emails and into the more targeted nurture phase.

2) Nurture

Next comes the nurture phase, which is your chance to help customers who have shown interest in a particular product category through their buying journey.

To achieve this goal, you need to provide relevant content based on each customer’s product category of interest (if one shopper looked at five pairs of jeans, show her more jeans, don’t send dresses and shoes as well). Educating these potential buyers, for example by offering styling tips or a buying guide on sizing or fabrics, can also go a long way.

While you’re nurturing, remember that your efforts should focus on getting your shoppers ready to buy and building a relationship with them more so than pushing an immediate sale.

3) Convert

Finally, once you’ve guided shoppers to a state where they feel confident about making a purchase, it’s time to push for that sale.

As you transition customers into the convert phase, you can finally make all of the messages you send about making a purchase. Ideally, the nurturing you did should make converting these shoppers far easier, because you should have educated them on the value of both the product at hand and buying from your brand. However, if shoppers need a little extra push, you should also provide incentives as needed or create a sense of urgency (e.g. by highlighting price or inventory changes).

Does Your Email Marketing Strategy Help Customers Shop or Push a Promotional Calendar?

Every retail marketing team has a promotional calendar they need to follow, but your customers shouldn’t feel like the only reason you communicate with them is to push a new promotion.

While you can (and should) absolutely keep those promotional emails in your arsenal, you should use them to engage customers initially and see which specific products certain customers are interested at any point in time. And when customers do raise their hands to let you know they’re interested in buying a specific product, your email marketing strategy should dictate that you stop sending them mass promotions and start nurturing them with targeted messages until they’re ready to seal the deal.

Best of all, once you take this more targeted, coordinated approach to your ecommerce email marketing strategy, you’ll find it can help increase relevance, drive more purchases and strengthen customer loyalty.

Learn more about how you can power relevant marketing campaigns in our step-by-step playbook for email marketers.

Ben Kruger

As the Senior Manager of Data & Insights, Ben helps retailers maximize their value of the Bluecore platform by identifying trends and opportunities within their datasets.