There’s a reason many retailers ask for a customer’s email during checkout: email is both effective when it comes to snagging sales and is inexpensive to send to even the largest of lists.
As most merchants are aware, email marketing is a necessary function when running a small business. Regardless of your ideal customer, email messages resonate with most demographics. Direct mail has mostly gone the way of the dinosaur, according to recent studies. Chief Marketer research shows that the ROI for email was 28.5%, while it’s only 7% for those pesky printed direct mailers. Email also has a higher impact than other digital mediums. For example, an email message is five times more likely to catch your customer’s eye than a Facebook post. And it’s also better and drawing new customers, according to McKinsey. Information sent to someone’s inbox is 40 times more effective at converting them than social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Because email is so effective, it's wise for most retailers to consider it as a primary pillar of their marketing strategy. But setting up email marketing campaigns can be an overwhelming endeavor for merchants just getting started. Luckily, there are dozens of tools available to make the process more palatable for merchants — but which should you employ for maximum impact with minimal effort? Here are our votes for the 10 most essential retailers should check out to get the most from their email marketing efforts.
With dozens of email providers at your fingertips, it’s difficult to choose the one that’s right for your business. If you’ve made any sort of foray into email marketing before, you’ve likely heard of MailChimp. It’s a tried-and-true tool for small businesses. MailChimp has a simple user interface, and a range of free and upgraded paid tools to help you send high-quality, branded emails to your subscribers. With features like in-suite analytics, A/B testing for subject lines, and drag-and-drop design tools, MailChimp is effective, even for email novices.
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Finding the right point-of-sale (POS) system that offers a customer management feature can help sellers learn more about their customers’ shopping habits (and store all those important email addresses).
Shopify POS allows retailers to start building integral customer relationships directly from their point-of-sale system. Using the Shopify POS app, merchants can collect customer data (i.e. name, email address, etc.) any time a new customer makes a purchase.
The app automatically creates a customer profile whenever a new order is created. From here, merchants can collect email addresses during the checkout process. Then it’s even easier to notify customers of upcoming sales or new products with the MailChimp email marketing app, which connects seamlessly to your Shopify store.
You can also look up a customer’s order history to send them emails tailored to their previous purchases. Imagine sending customers a cross-sell email campaign offering a pair of pants in their exact size to match the blouse they purchased last month — that’s a truly personalized shopping experience.
Offering similar functionality to MailChimp, Campaign Monitor is another tool to consider when on the prowl for a one-stop email provider. The platform makes it easy for you to create, send, and optimize your email marketing campaigns. The drag-and-drop email builder means retailers don’t need any coding skills to build sleek emails to send off to customers, hyper-targeted messaging to ensure your copy hits all the right notes with customers, and a pretty sweet visual design tool that maps out the customer’s journey through their responses to your email campaigns.
GetResponse is another email marketing software option for eager retailers new to email campaigns. It covers the basics of helping users easily create and deploy campaigns (not to mention it’s one of the least expensive tools, with plans starting at $15 a month for 1,000 contacts), but the feature that sets this tool apart is its tracking capabilities. Sure, GetResponse measures the usual analytics, like open and click rates, but the real draw here is that the tool tracks purchasing behavior. That information is gold — especially to inform your next round of emails to customers.
Now that you have the lowdown on some great tools to help you keep in touch with your customers, let’s explore a tool to help you capture more of those coveted emails. SumoMe helps retailers go beyond the blasé email signup boxes sitting stagnant in your website sidebar. SumoMe actually detects when someone is about to leave your website, then prompts them with a pop-up box asking for their email. And the box is entirely customizable, so you can tinker with the content to optimize signups for your particular audience.
Writing subject lines that get receivers to open those sales emails is an art. But TouchStone is one tool that helps you get this often-pesky task down to a science. Essentially, TouchStone helps you test your subject lines against 21 billion other options out there in the web — not bad for an A/B test. The tool checks for delivery, open, and click rates, meaning that you won’t have to do testing on your own over and over again to figure out the most effective subject lines.
Gaining the trust of your customer is crucial to earning their long-term loyalty.
And that same principle applies to their inboxes. When retailers have compiled a substantial list of customer emails, it’s important that those emails make it into the receivers’ inboxes rather than their Spam folder. Sender Score is one tool you can use to ensure you’re staying trustworthy in the eyes of your customers’ inboxes. Created by Return Path, Sender Score’s algorithm checks the trustworthiness of your IP address and your domain. After comparing this data to more than 60 million other mailboxes, the tool assigns you a trustworthiness score, which mail servers often check to determine whether an email might be spam.
With so many email clients out there (Gmail, iCloud, etc.), it’s tough to make sure your emails look the way you designed them to when viewed in your customer inboxes. Luckily, Litmus is a tool that allows you to view your email campaign design in more than 40 email services to make sure your design stays intact and will pass through receivers’ spam filters.
For the retailers out there who spend ample time on social media, you’re well aware that video is the medium holding user attention and engagement. The Washington Post says that 80% of the Internet will be online video by 2020, and more email marketers are taking note. For those retailers who’d like to experiment with video in subscriber emails, BombBomb makes recording and sending videos fairly simple. This is a great idea to promote YouTube videos from your branded channel, sending animated messages to subscribers, and keeping customers engaged.
When you receive hundreds of emails daily, it’s difficult to keep up with who needs a follow-up email. But Rebump is a Google Chrome and Firefox extension that seeks to eliminate the mental anguish of inboxes overflowing with emails awaiting responses. This free tool automates this process — meaning, it sends follow-up emails to customers without needing input from you. And the emails are customized to ensure each response doesn’t sound like a stiff template. This frees up more time (and brain space) for you to focus on tasks that are more crucial to running your retail business.
A Final Word
While there are dozens of other tools out there to aid entrepreneurs in their quest to nail email marketing, these are a few choice services to get you started.
Did we miss an essential email marketing tool on our list? Share your recommendations in the comments below.