How To Do Email Marketing In 4 Easy Steps

Written by Franco Varriano.

Email marketing can seem like an overwhelming topic. There’s so much advice out there on the topic, so many tactics to try. You don’t want to spend months learning email marketing; you want to get out there and start boosting your ecommerce sales. Where are you supposed to start?

This post will take you through the basics of email marketing, with a focus on mastering the tactics that will help you get more sales for your store, all while automating as much as possible so that you don’t spend all your time on marketing.

Why Email Marketing Is Essential for Ecommerce Success

In ecommerce, the goal is clear: convert prospects into customers, and influence customers to make another purchase. While email marketing isn’t the only way to achieve this goal, it’s the way we recommend for the following reasons:

1. Email Is Ubiquitous

If someone is shopping online, they have an email address. That’s something you can count on, unlike with social media profiles. 1 billion people use Facebook, but more than 3.7 billion use email. This doesn’t mean you should neglect social media marketing, but there is value in prioritizing email.

2. Email Is Targeted

 Email is still a way more targeted, effective way to reach a prospective or current customer than a social media post. Sure, you still need to write an email subject line that will stand out among the dozens or even hundreds of others in your recipient’s inbox. But in the end, your subscriber or customer has asked to be on your email list. Even better, if they’ve purchased from you before, then you have detailed information you can use to send them future targeted offers.

3. Email Is Personal

 Even though people use their emails more for business and transactional purposes these days, email still retains a personal quality. Provided you can make your email offers individually, you have a better chance of getting through to someone in email than you do with an online ad, no matter how targeted it might be. An ad is an interruption; a well-crafted email is an invitation.

4. Email Has a High ROI

 Despite proclamations that email is either dead or dying, it remains one of the highest ROI in digital marketing. In fact, a study from McKinsey concluded that email is 40x better at acquiring new customers than social media. Not to mention that people who receive promotional emails spend 138% more than people who don’t. Email is something you shouldn’t be waiting to implement.

 So how to get started with email marketing? This guide is divided into three sections:

  1. Collect Email Addresses
  2. Choose the Right Type of Email Campaign
  3. Enable Key Automations
  4. Test and Optimize

Step 1: Collect Email Addresses

After choosing the right email marketing service, the first step in email marketing is growing your email list. Here are a few ways you can collect email addresses as a store owner:

1. Add an Optin to Your Checkout Process

When someone is making a purchase, they have to provide their email regardless. Why not give them the option to join your email list in the process? This is something you can set up in your ecommerce software of choice. In Shopify, for example, all you have to do is check the correct box in your Checkout settings, as you can see in the image below:

If you allow customers to create accounts in order to save their information for future purchases, you can also add an email opt-in option to the account creation process that customers go through when they checkout. Here’s an example of what this would look like using one of Shopify’s default forms:

2. Add Email Forms to Your Website

Source: an on page optin form from Pipcorn.

A visit to your website is a chance for you to collect an email. To increase the likelihood of your website visitor signing to your email list, provide the visitor with a variety of opportunities to subscribe to your website.

Standard places to put email subscription forms include:

  • At the end of blog posts
  • In the sidebar of your site
  • At the top of your homepage
  • You’re about page
  • Pop-up boxes (to make these less annoying, you can set them to display only when a visitor is about to leave a page)

3. Incentivize Subscribers

Source: a free giveaway incentive from Skinny Teatox.

 Saying something like “join our list to receive product updates” isn’t very compelling. Who cares about product updates, especially if they know nothing about your products? Instead, offer a potential subscriber an incentive, something to draw them in and join your list. Once they’ve done that, you can win over their heart and mind by showing off your awesome products.

Here are some incentives we recommend:

  1. Discounts – Offers such as “Enter your email to receive 20% your next purchase” or “Sign up with your email to get free shipping”.
  2. Free Items – Try something like “Sign up to receive a free sample of our product” (of course, you should replace “our product” with the name of your actual product)
  3. Exclusive Access – If you can give someone access to a new product before it launches, that can be a compelling reason to join your email list. Though this approach tends to work best for brands that are already more established or at least have some existing media hype.
  4. Special Content – You can write a guide about a topic related to what you sell. For example, if you sell beard grooming products, you could write a guide to beard care and give it away in exchange for emails.

 Now that you know the basics of collecting emails, it’s time to move on to the next stage: choosing the right type of email campaign.

Step 2: Choose the Right Type of Email Campaign

When we talk about email marketing, we’re describing a variety of marketing communications with both prospective and current customers. Your specific email marketing strategy (and the type of emails that you send) will depend on what you want to accomplish. Rare has a variety of preset campaigns that you can choose from and apply:

Broadly speaking, here are the core email marketing campaigns that are likely applicable to your marketing campaign if you are an ecommerce business:

1. New Product Announcements

When you’ve added a new product, you need to tell customers who would be interested. You can’t expect them to find out on their own. Sending new product announcements makes sense.

2. Personalized Product Recommendations

A product recommendation uses information on what customers have bought in the past to suggest additional products they would find useful. Most modern email marketing software allows you to automate this process (as you’ll see in the next section). These are great, well-received emails…as long as they are relevant.

For example, recommending women’s shoes to someone who’s only bought men’s shoes from you in the past wouldn’t make sense in most cases, and would even run the risk of offending the customer.

3. Newsletters

Email newsletters are perfect for when you want to keep customers updated about new products, company news, and relevant trends in your industry but don’t want to overwhelm them with constant updates. The weekly newsletter is the standard frequency, but you can also give customers the option to receive more or less frequent updates depending on their preferences.

4. Promotional Emails

The promotional email category covers all special discounts and offers. Whether it’s a flash sale, a coupon for a customer who hasn’t bought in a while, or the classic Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) deals, the promotional email is the place to tell your customer. Just make sure you don’t write spammy sounding content, or your subscriber may never see your excellent offer.

If creating all these different types of emails sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. With the right email templates, you don’t have to worry about the design at all, letting you focus on the quality of the products and the offers.

Step 3: Enable Key Automations

Email marketing automation will help put your email marketing operations on autopilot so you can focus on other tasks. We separate automatic emails into two categories: Customer Success Emails and Revenue Generating Emails.

Customer Success Emails (CSE) include:

  • Welcome messages for new subscribers
  • Order confirmation emails after a purchase
  • Shopping cart abandonment emails
  • Shipping confirmation emails
  • Customer feedback emails

Revenue Generating Emails (RGE), on the other hand, include:

  • The reward email
  • Upsell after purchase emails
  • Milestones emails (i.e: 10th purchase)
  • Targeted campaigns (which includes many of the types of email campaigns we discussed in the previous section)

As you can see, we’ve listed 9 different types of email. Imagine receiving 9 emails from the same company within a couple of days—you would most likely unsubscribe.

Customers don’t mind customer success emails as they’ve become quite the norm (in fact, you look unprofessional if you don’t send them). But revenue generating emails can become annoying fast, especially when they’re full of irrelevant content.

We’re in the age of personalized content, and your customers have high expectations whenever you visit their inbox. The right email marketing tool should help you send personalized messages to customers at the most appropriate time (the time when the customer is most likely to open the email).

Using email marketing tools with intelligent automation, as well as understanding what your customers really want through surveys (and the customer feedback emails we mentioned above), you’ll have the information you need to send only highly personalized, targeted offers at the right time.

Step 4: Test and Optimize

Tracking key metrics in the Reports tab.

To ensure that your email marketing efforts are providing the right results, you need to pay attention to key metrics. At, we like to refer to the key metrics of email marketing as the Power 7 of Email Marketing. Monitoring these will show you if you’re on the right track, as well as help you improve.

The 7 keys are:

  1. The number of emails sent
  2. The open rate
  3. The clickthrough rate (CTR)
  4. The conversion rate
  5. The bounce rate
  6. The unsubscribe rate
  7. The rate of complaints

Let’s look at each of these in more detail:

1. The number of emails sent

This first metric gives you a rough idea of the size of your audience. Ideally, it should be increasing over time, as that indicates that your email list (and hopefully overall business) are growing.

Of course, sending more emails isn’t always better. While you do want this number to increase over time, you want that increase to be the result of adding subscribers, not from sending too many emails. If you overwhelm your customers with emails just because you think more is better, you run the risk of customers complaining or unsubscribing (see below).

So make sure that you experiment with how often you send emails. As a general guideline, we recommend that you don’t send more than one email per day (outside of regular communications about orders, of course). You can also give customers the option to choose how often they hear from you, in order to strike the balance between giving frequent updates to those who want them and communicating only the essentials to customers who like to receive less email.

2. The open rate

While the number of emails sent gives you an idea about the size of your audience, the email open rate gives you an idea of how you’re doing against the dozens (or even hundreds) of other emails that your customer receives each day.

Boosting your open rate is of paramount importance, as it shows that your message is getting in front of your customers. If recipients aren’t opening your emails, it doesn’t matter what’s inside them.

To increase your open rates, we recommend you use A/B testing to compare different subject lines. In an A/B test, you create two different versions of a marketing message (in this case a subject line) and use your email marketing tool to send each message to a random half of your email list. You then compare which email performed better in order to direct your future email marketing efforts.

We also recommend that you use smart timing features to ensure that your customers receive your emails when they’re most likely to open them. Smart timing works by looking at when your customer opened your emails in the past in order to predict the best time to send the email in the future.

3. The clickthrough rate (CTR)

The clickthrough rate (CTR) gives great insight on how customers engage with your emails. It’s the rate at which customers click and follow the links in your emails to the relevant product page or another part of your site.

An easy way to increase the click through rate is to use the automation features we discussed above to send relevant content like individual product recommendations, happy birthday emails, or special discounts after a customer has made a certain number of purchases.

You should also make sure that the text of the link you want people to click is clear and action-oriented. Customers should know what they’re going to get on the other side of the link (and that what they’re going to get is something they want).

In particular, avoid generic text like “Click here” or “Find out more”. Instead, get specific with text like “Claim your 30% discount” or “Browse your personal recommendations”.

4. The conversion rate

While the clickthrough rate tells you how many people are clicking your links, the conversion rate tells you how many of those clicks converted into purchases. The higher your conversion rate the bigger your bottom line.

To boost your conversion rate, you need to make sure that the page to which you send a customer matches what you promise them in the email. Don’t promise a 30% discount and send them to a page that only gives them 20%. Don’t link to the incorrect page of your website. And make sure that the design of your email is consistent with what customers see on your site, so that they don’t feel disoriented upon arrival.

You should ensure that your emails and website are optimized to display on mobile devices. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than to click a link in an email and end up on a website where they can’t even see your products because of an outdated design that isn’t friendly to mobile devices.

5. The bounce rate

When you attempt to send an email but your customer doesn’t receive it, that’s called a bounce. Many things can cause bounces, including incorrect email addresses, email service provider server outages, and even spam filters. You should work to keep the bounce rate as low as possible. Not only does a high bounce rate mean that people aren’t receiving your offers, but it can also indicate that you’re sending spammy or unethical emails (even if this isn’t the case).

But don’t worry. As long as you send relevant, honest emails, you shouldn’t have problems with email bounces.

6. The rate of complaints

The “Report spam” button is standard in Gmail and other email service providers.

This is the rate at which customers complain about your emails. Primarily, it refers to the number of customers who are marking or reporting your emails as spam in their email software. If this number is high, then you should take a look at the emails you’re sending and make sure you’re following email marketing best practices. But unless you’re bombarding your customers with dozens of irrelevant emails each day, you shouldn’t be too concerned about your rate of complaints.

7. The unsubscribe rate

The unsubscribe rate tells you a lot about the areas in which you can improve your overall email marketing. It tells you the percentage of recipients that unsubscribed from your email message using either the unsubscribe link in the footer of your email or the unsubscribe functionality built into their email program.

You should keep your unsubscribe rate as low as possible. If you have a high unsubscribe rate, then that indicates that your content isn’t valuable or relevant to your subscribers. It could be that your offers aren’t targeted enough, your emails are too pushy/salesy, or even that you’re sending emails too frequently.

Optimizing your key metrics is essential for tracking the success of your email marketing and the overall growth of your business. By simply increasing the number of emails sent, the open rate and the clickthrough rate, you are automatically closer to a better conversion rate and a growing business.

At the same time, by decreasing the rate of complaints, unsubscribe, and bounce rate, you can rest assured that you’re sending emails your customers want to receive.

We hope this blog post has given you an idea of how to get started with email marketing. But, of course, to end your first email marketing campaign, you need the right tool. This is where can help. No matter what you sell or how big your online store, is the source for all your ecommerce email marketing needs.

And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.

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