Everything Your Fashion Ecommerce Store Needs to Know About Email MarketingDeep Dive
Table of Contents
- “I don’t have enough time for email marketing”
- Problem #1: “I don’t know what to say or send”
- Problem #2: “I don’t know how to write a subject line that gets opened”
- Problem #3: “I don’t know what funnels and automations to create”
- Problem #4: “I don’t know how to encourage conversions in my emails”
- Revenue comes from relationships
Like paying your taxes, eating organic, and saying hello to dog owners instead of just to their dogs, it’s something you know you should do.
But like tons of other fashion ecommerce retailers, you struggle with:
- Finding the time to manage your email marketing
- Knowing what content to send
- Writing irresistible subject lines
- Getting sales and conversions through email
So you end up dashing off an email when you have time. It’s never as good as it *could* be… and your open and conversion rates usually reflect that. 😬
You might have heard the marketing adage “the money is in the list”… and now you’re wondering exactly how to get it out.
Today’s Deep Dive will reveal solutions to four common problems keeping fashion stores from email marketing success.
Plus, I’ll show you how to set up a workable email marketing strategy by mapping out an email calendar — and then actually sticking to it.
We’ll also check out a few examples of above-and-beyond ecommerce marketing, so you can start building your swipe file (more on that later).
First, though, let’s tackle problem numero uno.
“I don’t have enough time for email marketing”
Every business owner I know cites “not having enough time” as the primary reason for not moving forward with their own ecommerce marketing strategy.
If this is something you’ve thought to yourself, I have two questions for you:
- How much time do you think it would take you to write and send an effective email?
- What type of ROI would make the juice worth the squeeze?
In an informal survey of over 100 fashion shop owners who use Conversio, nearly 16% said they don’t have enough time to send emails.
But listen. The emails you send your list don’t have to be endless, tedious labors of love that suck hours from your workday.
In fact, you can send an email in 30 minutes flat (or less) once you’ve set up a system that takes you from ideation > creation > scheduling/sending.
Now I’ve got a challenge for you.
Send an email today. This week. Or at the very least, this month — by using one of the methods below.
Actionable ways to email your list TODAY
- Send a text email as a “Note from the Owner”. Keep it short and sweet, and thank your subscribers for being on the list.
Actionable ways to email your list THIS WEEK
- Spend up to half a day creating an email template in your email marketing provider of choice. Then send an email highlighting one of your most popular products.
- Send an “unexpected freebie”. If your list hasn’t heard from you in a while, a discount code or other subscriber-only offer can help remind readers of the value of keeping in touch.
Actionable ways to email your list THIS MONTH
- Pick a product or category you’d like to promote over the next 1-2 months. Put together a series of 3-4 short emails introducing the product, digging into its benefits, and showcasing previous buyers’ positive feedback. Aim to schedule these emails around once a week, though you can increase frequency closer to the end of your campaign.
This is not an article on time management. That said…
I don’t really want to get into time management and productivity. There are more than enough articles on that, and anyone who’s seen my typical work week can tell you that I am not the authority on using your time 100% effectively.
But if you’re truly tired of having email marketing slip to the bottom of your To-Dos every week or month, here’s one strategy I’ve just started using to get things done and start building momentum again:
Prioritize your ecommerce marketing strategy. Make it the first thing you do every week. Whether your week starts on Sunday or Monday, sit down and put together an email before you move on to anything else.
That includes your inbox, order fulfillment, and other time-sensitive tasks you usually use as an excuse to skip your own marketing. You’ve got to light a fire under yourself somehow, right?
(Hat tip to Charlie Gilkey of Productive Flourishing for turning me on to this extremely practical yet harder-than-it-sounds tip.)
Incredibly, email marketing takes much less time when you know exactly what you need to say… so let’s look at some ways to find content ideas.
Problem #1: “I don’t know what to say or send”
This was another major problem of the fashion store owners we interviewed, with roughly 15% of respondents saying they didn’t know what content to send their list.
And I get it. Especially if you haven’t emailed your list in a while, you might feel disconnected.
But keep in mind that these folks have opted in to hear from you (or at least, they *should* have).
They EXPECT to hear from you! And while they might not notice if you never email them, well, there’s no point in even having a list at that point.
So it’s on you to reach out, and soon.
Luckily, it’s easy enough to figure out what to send. Start by asking two simple questions.
Ask yourself: What kinds of emails do I genuinely enjoy receiving from the stores I like?
Truly well-crafted fashion ecommerce marketing is much more common than it used to be, but it can still be hard to hunt down in the wild.
Every now and then, though, you probably get an email from a fashion blog and say, “Hmm!” or “Ha!” and the thought of unsubscribing doesn’t even cross your mind. Follow that feeling.
You might realize that the ecommerce marketing emails you enjoy all tend to be related to fashion trends, which helps you feel like you’re on top of what’s new.
For example, this email from luxury department store Harrods:
Or this “Festival Season How-To” outfit spotlight email from GAP:
Or their emails get you ready for the coming season, like this one from Under Armour:
Or they introduce you to the makers behind your favorite products, like this email from Juniqe:
Or they make the experience of getting a discount code even better, like this weird and wacky email from fashion shop Standard & Strange:
I could go on.
If you want to get inspired by existing emails, the best place to start is your inbox, looking at what feels right to you and your brand. (The second-best place, where I found many of the examples in this post, is Really Good Emails’ Fashion Industry category.)
Or, ask your list: What do you want from me?
You can also go straight to the source for inspiration.
Send a quick, personal email to your list to ask: “Hey, why are you here?” Then use those responses as guidance for your future email marketing strategy.
While the responses you get back might be populated largely with “Because discount codes” and self-reflective “Wait, why AM I here?” unsubscribes, you’re bound to get at least a few invaluable insights into what your list actually wants from you.
- Maybe they like supporting a fashion store whose products are handmade so give them a sneak peek into your process.
- Maybe they enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your wares are sustainably produced so explain how their purchase benefits communities and causes in need.
- Maybe they point out that your products are unlike those found anywhere else So play up your store’s unique qualities.
See where I’m going with this?
As always, it comes back to providing real value. Don’t stop at showing your products. Heck, don’t even stop at helping your list understand the benefits of your products.
Create a fun, educational experience that helps you become part of your prospect’s life — so that when it’s time to move some products, you’ve got a loyal, engaged list ready and waiting to buy.
And lest you think that education/value and sales shall never meet, it turns out they’re star-crossed lovers. You can educate and sell at the same time.
For example, show your list how to wear or style your products with the clothing they already own.
Along with giving readers style inspiration, this helps put your products in context so they can envision themselves wearing the product in question (and looking great in it).
Here’s how my constant style/marketing crush Everlane accomplishes the education and sales two-bird whammy with an email titled: “Cheat Sheet to Styling the White Shirt”:
Consider the calendar
Have you gone through your own inbox and surveyed your list, and you’re still coming up short on ecommerce marketing strategy inspiration? It’s time to widen your focus.
Look at what holidays or special occurrences are coming up in the country or countries where your customers live. Then brainstorm email topics related to those days.
For example, say your fashion blog or store sells shoes. For background, your target customer (whom you have confirmed through prior customer research is a real, breathing person) is an American woman who likes to look put together, but prioritizes comfort over high fashion. She’s going to pick the classy black flat over the strappy black stiletto any day.
OK. You know who you’re sending to.
Now look at your calendar. What holidays or events are coming up? Hmm, in the U.S., we’re looking at a few major upcoming holidays over the next couple months:
- Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 4)
- Halloween (Tuesday, Oct. 31)
- Autumnal equinox (Friday, Sept. 22)
Let’s pick Labor Day. How can you send a Labor Day-related email to the customer we’ve just described? Well…
You’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day…so maybe this customer needs some black flats to transition her wardrobe to fall.
Or, you might decide to take an “easy-breezy style staples” angle, and send a “Labor-Free Outfits to Wear After Labor Day” email, featuring — you guessed it — your flats.
Or, you could spin the holiday like this: “In honor of Labor Day, here are the hardest-working flats you’ll ever meet.”
See what we’re doing? We’re finding topical tie-ins: simple jumping-off points for you to get back in touch with your list.
Heck, you can even MAKE UP a holiday, or send an email based on a silly or obscure holiday no one knows about. Here’s a list of those.
You can also make up a weekly recurring day, like Cotton Bureau has done with T-Shirt Tuesday!
Then, consider YOUR calendar
Are you launching a new product soon? Opening a new store? Changing locations? Shifting your branding?
These are all great topics to share with your email list.
Drum up excitement and anticipation before your next launch by sharing your plans, progress, and product details over the course of a few weeks or months. When you finally send the launch announcement, your list will be warm and ready to buy instead of cold and confused.
Other content ideation tools
Take a systematic approach
There are lots of idea-generation systems out there. But I haven’t seen a better approach than Andy Crestodina’s.
His “What to Blog About” article walks you step by step through different ways to find blog topics (in our case, email topics) using keyword research, trending topics, highly shared social media posts, Quora questions, and more.
Build your own swipe file
Remember ^ up there ^ just a second ago, when I suggested that you go through your own inbox to find the fashion ecommerce marketing emails you personally enjoyed receiving?
Don’t just browse through those emails, take a glance, and then forget about them.
Label the emails that you love, screenshot them, or organize them with your method of choice so you can easily refer back to them in the future. Tada! This is your new swipe file.
As an ecommerce marketing geek, I swipe and store about half of the list emails I get. My system? Taking two seconds to slot emails into particular Gmail labels.
I like to get super-granular with nested labels (e.g. Ecommerce/Checkout Funnel/Thank You Page) so I can find specific inspiration with a moment’s glance.
(And the truly terrible emails I get? Why, those go into a “Bad Swipe File” label. Can’t wait to write THAT post…)
My point is that there are SO MANY starting points for content ideation. Chances are, once you sit down to focus on coming up with email marketing strategy and content ideas, you’ll think of a bunch of ideas at once — which means you might not have to start from scratch again for a while.
So no more of this “I don’t know what to write about” business, OK?
On to the next problem.
Problem #2: “I don’t know how to write a subject line that gets opened”
Writing an irresistible subject line is the #1 thing keeping many an ecommerce marketing strategy from success.
Considering that literally a billion people use Gmail, and ecommerce-related emails are likely to end up sorted into the “Promotions” tab, it’s imperative to write a standout subject line for your fashion store.
So the pressure is high… but there’s an easy release valve:
Forget about the fact that you’re putting together an “email marketing strategy” and just write like a person.
What subject line would you use in an email to your friend? How about an email to your mom? How about in an email to your professor or your doctor, which you NEED them to read before X Terrible Thing happens?
You’re writing to people. People who want things and worry about things, just like you. So be a person first and foremost, and you’ll be more likely to avoid writing soulless, boring subject lines.
Other guidelines to keep in mind:
1. Remember the point of a subject line
Your email subject line has one job: Convince your reader to open the email.
So don’t try to pack too much into a single subject line.
Something like “The lightest linen shirt we’ve ever made” can do just fine. It doesn’t have to be “Light linen shirts, beach hats, Ping-Pong balls, sneakers, and the kitchen sink”.
Remember, too, that the subject line still needs to be relevant to the email’s body copy. The subject line “Hey, your car is on fire right now” will get readers to open your email, but tricky tactics like this will leave readers with a bad taste in their mouths.
Still stumped? Look for subject lines in your inbox that you couldn’t resist (or, hey — just check out your growing swipe file!). Ask yourself: What is it about this subject that enticed me to click?
Personally, I opened this email from Glossier without thinking twice:
2. Play with the curiosity gap
The curiosity gap refers to the gap between what we know and what we’ve just been shown that we don’t know.
We feel an insatiable urge to fill that hole in our own knowledge, and so we click through that incredibly irritating Upworthy headline or answer “Who’s there?” instinctively when someone says “Knock knock.”
Loewenstein outlines five curiosity triggers that alert people to such a gap: questions or riddles, unknown resolutions, violated expectations, access to information known by others, and reminders of something forgotten.
Let’s look at each of those triggers one by one, and examine how it might work when applied to a fashion shop or ecommerce retailer’s email subject lines:
- Questions or riddles: We want to confirm that we know the answer to the question, OR find out the answer so we can fill the hole in what we know. So we open the email.
Poshmark sends a subject line that seems to promise the impossible. We know there’s *probably* a catch, but still:
- Unknown resolutions: The story-oriented human brain is satisfied by a beginning-middle-end structure, whether we’re listening to a nursery rhyme or a symphony. Subject lines that trail off or set up an unresolved situation beg for a click.
Here’s Sephora introducing something exciting to makeup fans, then trailing off: “Get hot new arrivals from Shu Uemura…” This email from Chubbies, succinctly titled “Oops,” is great in many ways — and sets up a “What happened??” need-to-know in the reader.
- Violated expectations: Along with being a basic principle of humor, expectation violation calls for explanation or resolution.
Soapbox by Wistia does it nicely with the subject line, “No lights? No camera? Action.” And so does Framebridge, with the line: “Pearl Jam. Football. Your mom. Oh my!”
- Access to information known by others: Wouldn’t it be terrible to think that someone else knew more about something than we did?? Sarcasm aside, think of all the times you lost it in grade school when someone whispered, “I have a secret.” Same principle.
Here’s apparel retailer Girlfriend suggesting that I have exclusive, priority access to knowledge:
- Reminders of something forgotten: We’re suckers for completion. Which is why abandoned cart emails work so well. They remind people to “close the loop” and finish what they started.
Men’s underthings retailer Mack Weldon sends an abandoned cart email with the subject line, “You left something comfortable in your cart.” (By the way, you can see a couple more examples of great abandoned cart emails in our Ecommerce Checkout Funnel Copywriting guide.)
Put simply, curiosity is hunger. And knowledge satiates that hunger. So write a curiosity-inducing subject line, and then solve the problem inside your email (or encourage a further click).
3. Aim to stand out
Intentionally short, interestingly formatted, or unusual subject lines can encourage email opens.
Think about it. A short line of text, especially among uniformly longer lines, draws the eye.
Like this one. See?
Skeptics in search of hard data should note that research showed subject lines under 50 characters tended to get higher open rates — so trim down to amp up opens.
Glossier’s email subject lines are regularly incredibly short, which allows them to play with the “preview text” that shows through in many inboxes.
Stand out in other ways by experimenting with capitalization, punctuation, and emoji in your subject lines and even your “sender name”.
Here’s Rugs USA, using all caps to stand out among the other camel-cased lines in my Gmail Promotions tab:
And check out Frontier Airlines, the only email in my box using a cheetah emoji to illustrate how fast their fares are selling:
Avoid being sorted into spam
While you’ll find dozens of lists of “spam words to avoid using in email subject lines,” one thread runs through all of them: deception.
The AI behind your users’ inboxes is smarter than ever, meaning it can often accurately suss out when a subject line is too good to be true.
For example: “THE BEST SALE OF THE CENTURY!!!” would be a poor subject line candidate. It’s vague, hyperbolic, and hyper-excited. How great could the sale really be?
Even seemingly positive words like “perfect” have been shown to decrease open rates, so tread carefully when writing promotional subject lines.
Instead, aim to give sale-specific details in the subject line to increase trust. Percentages and numbers are a solid bet. For example: “Get 15-20% off pig-leather hats in the next 2 days” would likely be successfully delivered to far more inboxes than the hyperbolic “BEST EVER” email above.
Want to geek out on subject-line writing?
Cool, because it’s one of my favorite things.
Problem #3: “I don’t know what funnels and automations to create”
Email funnels, or email automations, are fashion ecommerce marketing’s best friend.
Funnels are the paths that lead your users from casual subscriber (“Hey, why not? I want a discount code”) to loyal fan and brand promoter (“New email from [YOUR NAME HERE]?? I’ve gotta open it RIGHT NOW and forward it to my friends!”).
Automation helps you grow your list and keep your subscribers interested and engaged, so you have a bigger pool of prospects to sell to.
Plus, it looks like you’re doing much more work and like you’re totally on top of your shiz. Even when you’re actually at the pool, sipping a margarita.
Ecommerce email funnels every seller should have (even beginners)
No matter what email marketing software you use, no matter whether you’re using Conversio or not (but, like, easy win there), there are a few email marketing automations you need to set up.
Here are three examples of how to handle the most crucial automations, including what types of content each should include and how to time each email.
FUNNEL 1: Welcome + Set Expectations
Don’t just throw your new subscribers right into your “General” list and call it a day.
Nurture them a little bit. Get their feedback (you know, so you can more easily segment them later).
Once your subscriber has joined your list, preferably using a double opt-in, send them…
First Email in the Welcome Funnel – The Welcome Email
The point of the welcome email is to let subscribers know what you’ll be sending them (and how often). You also need to reiterate the value of being on your list.
Keep this email short and light. It’s just a quick thank-you, and should never feel like an obligation. In many cases, it also includes the discount code the subscriber was promised for signing up.
Second Email in the Welcome Funnel – The “How The Sausage Is Made” Email
Timing: ~3-5 days from subscription
Ah, a few business days. Just enough time to let your leftovers go bad, finish off that box of wine on the counter… and loop back around with your new subscribers.
People love feeling like they’re getting an inside look. It’s just one way to increase customers’ perception of your value.
So take the time to explain the inspiration behind your process, and/or offer a behind-the-scenes peek at a single product’s manufacturing.
Another option? Highlight your team.
Show how your company works from the inside. Introduce the people who will be packing your reader’s order and shipping it (ideally with a handwritten thank-you note to delight customers and encourage brand loyalty).
Third Email in the Welcome Funnel – The Slip-In
Timing: ~1-2 weeks from subscription
By this point, your subscribers should be nice and warm and ready to hear more from you.
So unless somebody has a problem, you’re pretty much good to slip these folks onto your general list and full-speed ahead with business as usual. But don’t forget what you two had together…
FUNNEL 2: Post-purchase Follow-Up
First Email in the Post-Purchase Follow-Up: The Check-in
Timing: ~1-2 days after delivery confirmation
If an order arrives at your customer’s house, and you never hear from her again, should you consider it a win?
Because you don’t know if she liked what she bought or hated it. Depending on the size of your operations, you might not even know if there was an issue with the product!
So you’ve absolutely got to follow up post-purchase.
Send a quick email with questions like:
- How’s X Product working out for you?
- Are you having any problems with X Product?
- Is there anything we can do to improve your purchase experience?
Second Email in the Post-Purchase Follow-Up: The Review Ask
Timing: ~1 week after delivery confirmation
While many retailers follow purchases with a “Net Promoter Score” (NPS) survey, just as many ask for a public-facing review.
Reviews are a powerful form of social proof, but very few customers will take it upon themselves to leave you a review unprompted. You need to ask.
Third Email in the Post-Purchase Follow-Up: The “Related/Complementary Products”
Timing: ~2 weeks after purchase
Did your target customer buy a pair of sensible black flats? MY STARS!
Send that girl information and photos of other products she might like… such as sensible flats in other colors, or a comfy shoulder bag that sets off her shoes.
Simple. Relevant. $$$-making.
FUNNEL 3: Re-Engage + Pare
Want to maintain an active fashion ecommerce marketing list with healthy open and conversion rates?
Then you need to regularly pare inactive subscribers.
But before you do, make sure you’ve done everything you can to keep them around.
First Email in The Re-Engage + Pare Funnel: The “Hey, You OK?” Email
Timing: ~Depends on how often you send. If you send weekly and a reader hasn’t opened any of your last two months (eight emails), it’s safe to say he’s inactive.
Once a group of subscribers hasn’t opened and/or clicked through your emails in a while, they should be sent the “Hey, You OK?” email.
This is to get their attention and reaffirm their interest in being on your list — and in fact, you may be able to include a button on your list that allows readers to simply click to stay on the list.
You can also include a button to allow them to unsubscribe themselves. Sometimes all folks need is a little push, so let them do the work for you.
Second Email in The Re-Engage + Pare Funnel: The “This Is Goodbye” Email
Timing: ~Triggered when readers don’t reconfirm their subscription or interest
Some readers didn’t open the “Hey, You OK?” Email? Didn’t click the “I still want to be here” link?
Time for This Is Goodbye.
Let ‘em know it’s been real, it’s been good, but it hasn’t been real good — and now it’s time to part ways. In other words: PUUUUURGE!
Problem #4: “I don’t know how to encourage conversions in my emails”
Oh, right. Conversion.
As a seller, you probably care a lot about conversion. The primary reason you’re emailing is so you can make more sales, right?
But your emails just aren’t inspiring the right kind of love, AKA the kind that allows you to eat sushi for every meal if you want to (which is an aspirational notch on my personal wealth barometer, btw).
Set your back end up right to stay out of spam
The very first step to conversion-happy emailing — before you even put pen to digital paper — is making sure your emails actually get to the inbox.
Several design and back-end setup mistakes can hurt your deliverability, causing your emails to shoot right into “spam” folders… never to be seen again.
There are a number of incredibly mundane, very important things you can do to improve deliverability. One of those back-end setup things you need to do, especially as your list size grows, is to ensure your emails look valid to spam filters. Kissmetrics has a great list of 12 ways to stay out of spam and reduce the number of emails that bounce.
You can also check your spam score quickly and easily by using mail-tester.com. Simply send a copy of your draft campaign to the email address the site specifies, then click “Check Your Score”.
One of the most common email design mistakes? Not sending mobile-responsive emails. This means your emails might look dandy on desktops and laptops, but are eye-squinchingly, fingertip-frustratingly impossible to see on cell phones and other devices (and you can forget about getting users to convert).
There are way too many templates out there to send non-mobile-responsive emails. Many service providers will automatically create a mobile-responsive version of your email, including Conversio.
If you’re worried about how your emails show up on mobile, copy yourself or a friend on your next email and open it on your phone. (But don’t forward a preview email to that friend — to render correctly and responsively, emails must be sent directly from your email service provider.)
If the text and images fit the size of your screen and you don’t have to scroll back and forth, congrats! Your email was mobile-responsive. If not, you may need to switch templates, adjust image sizes, or submit a help ticket to uncover what’s preventing your emails from being responsive.
Another design no-no is baking text into your images, instead of including an image plus actual highlightable text.
Why? Your email marketing platform will modify text size up or down to improve the mobile reading experience. But text on an image will be resized along with the image — preventing you from controlling whether your reader will be able to read the text or not.
Plus, email platforms can’t read text inside images, so it looks like you’re sending a giant image with no context. This makes your email appear suspicious, and amps up the likelihood that your subscribers’ email services will mark your email as spam before it even gets to their inbox.
Another mistake? Not including alt text for images. Alt text is what shows up when your image doesn’t load (a common inbox security protection is to ask users if they’d like to load images instead of just automatically loading them).
It may seem like a small consideration, but including alt text can improve your deliverability by improving your text-to-image ratio. So don’t forget to specify what each image contains as you’re uploading images — ex. “Blue button-down shirt”.
Now, for the overachievers in the room: One of my favorite things to do is take alt text a step further. I see it as one extra opportunity to delight readers.
For example, you could specify “blue button-down shirt” as alt text for your Blue Button-Down Shirt product. That’s solid. It tells readers what image should be there. It’s concise and descriptive.
But instead of “blue button-down shirt,” why not something more descriptive? Like… “The perfect blue button-down to slip over your suit at the beach,” or “Best button-down ever? We shirtainly think so.”
It paints a much more inviting picture of the product — all without the picture itself.
Include appealing images
This means… no stock photos.
Now, I’m probably preaching to the choir here, since virtually all fashion ecommerce shop owners should know that beautiful product photos sell products. It’s common sense.
But just in case you’re thinking of taking a stock photo approach to your emails: don’t!
Why? Because stock photos kill trust. They make it that much harder for your readers to believe that you won’t take their money and run. They make it look like you’re hiding something — otherwise, why not use real photos?
Instead, put the time and effort into getting high-res, professional photos of your products if you don’t have them already. Bonus points for showing products on real people, in real environments, like the example above from Harrods.
Make calls to action SUPER OBVIOUS
Now, this doesn’t happen as much as it used to. But every once in a while, I’ll open an email from an ecommerce brand and discover: There is nowhere for me to click.
For example, check out this giveaway email from adult brand Good Clean Love:
No links, buttons, or forward movement… Wait. Is that the CTA?
All the way down there underneath the sponsor logos? In the same color as those logos, so it’s impossible to see?
WHY, IT SURE IS.
Can you imagine how much that hurt the number of contest entries they got??? Woof.
Spend time considering the design and placement of your CTA within your emails. For bonus points, aim to include an alternative text link just in case some email clients can’t display the designed CTA.
Personalize and segment your fashion store emails as much as possible
If I knew your name, reader, I’d say it right now.
I’d do that because studies have shown that we like hearing our own names.
Using a reader’s first name is one of the most basic ways to personalize an email. And while we all know that Amazon and Zappos didn’t sit down and personally craft our order confirmation emails, it’s still nice to get a little jolt of personal recognition.
The more you know about your reader, the more you can personalize. But first, you’ll need to decide what data matters most, and how to segment your list.
What’s segmentation, and when should you use it?
Segmentation refers to the practice of splitting your customers or prospects into different groups based on what you know about them (or what they tell you about themselves).
Once your list is segmented, you can send different, more relevant content to each segment — and enjoy higher open rates, fewer unsubscribes, and better engagement across the board.
Is segmentation very similar to the concept of personalization? Yes. Yes it is. But they ARE two different animals. Two animals who work in tandem.
I like the way David Krajicek explains the difference between segmentation and personalization:
Segmentation is strategy. Hyper-personalization is execution. […] Segmentation is invisible to consumers. Hyper-personalization can be painfully obvious.
Put another way, you can segment without your customers even knowing it. By contrast, you can’t send them a super-personalized email featuring the items they were just looking at on your store without them knowing it.
One of the simplest ways to start segmenting is by landing page or product category. If you’re emailing an existing customer, you can tailor your emails more closely based on the products they order.
Remember the Labor Day shoe example we imagined above? If you know that I your customer has never bought high heels from you, you probably don’t want to send her an email all about skyscraper heels.
To make sure you don’t annoy her with irrelevant emails, you can slice and dice your store data to reveal this customer’s past purchase categories. Then group her and everyone else like her into a “Prefers Flats” segment, which won’t receive emails that primarily highlight heels. (You might still choose to send this segment occasional emails mentioning or showing heels, since you don’t want your segments to become a self-fulfilling prophecy that could cut down on your sales.)
There are a ton of ways to personalize your emails and segment your users even more based on both qualitative and quantitative data.
And you should explore those ways in depth, but remember two key rules:
- Don’t be creepy.
- Seriously, don’t.
Sending your user an email that says,
HI, LINDA. HOW’S THE WEATHER THERE IN RUTHERFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE? HA HA, JUST KIDDING. I KNOW IT’S RAINING.
ANYWAY, SINCE YOU’RE PROBABLY ABOUT TO GO EAT DINNER, I WANTED TO SHOW YOU THESE RAIN BOOTS. THEY COME IN YOUR SIZE (6, IF I RECALL CORRECTLY).
… well, clearly that’s too much.
Use your data for good, not evil. Focus on being helpful and relevant (you’ve heard me say this before, but I’m gonna keep saying it).
Now, you might not be at the point of having tons of data to parse and use for personalization yet. And even if you’ve got the data on hand, your ability to segment will depend on the sophistication of your email marketing provider and your analytics interpretation abilities.
That’s all totally fine! Just keep ways to segment and personalize in mind as your list grows.
Revenue comes from relationships
Yes, the money is in the list.
But you’ll only get it out through email marketing efforts based around the list itself — what your subscribers want, fear, love, dream of, have secretly added to their wishlist…
You’ll get to your increased ROI by sending your list emails that build your relationship with them. There’s no shortcut.
And when you do send a sales-focused email, those subscribers will know, like, and trust you enough to buy.
The good news is that a pretty good chunk of the fashion ecommerce world hasn’t caught up with this way of thinking yet. So be the store that stands out. And reap the rewards.