According to Mailbird’s analysis of 91 million email inquiries, the average person gets about 96 emails a day, and reads only 63.4 of them. This means 35% of emails are left unread. On top of that, add in multiple work email accounts, and it’s no wonder that your average customer is feeling email fatigued.
However, email isn’t dead. In fact, 99% of people check their emails daily, some as much as 20 times a day. What’s most likely happening is the average consumer is more weary and much savvier now to tuning out bland, corporate, cookie-cutter marketing email campaigns. It’s the same banner blindness and desensitization that happened to digital ads.
The key to successful email marketing campaigns today is to craft authentic, engaging, and value-driven emails. Consumers are evaluating your emails for value within milliseconds, so it’s important that you provide true value and give them a reason to engage or take action. Below, we’ll provide some great examples of e-commerce brands that do value-driven email marketing well.
5 Ecommerce Email Marketing Examples
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1. The Lead Magnet
You need emails to send emails to. Before you can spam (ahem: engage) your customers, you need to have a way to get their emails in the first place. This is called a lead magnet.
Most consumer goods e-commerce companies offer a standard 10-25% discount on the first order in exchange for an email. This is a time-tested lead magnet, but there are other more value-driven ways you can get users to give you those precious emails. After all, you can’t have a sales strategy that’s driven only by discounts without appearing inauthentic (no one likes a limited discount that goes on forever).
Marketing guru Vanessa Lau’s Bossgram Academy course (price tag: $1,997) is a great example of how you can trade value for emails. Vanessa does this really well with the free tools she offers in exchange for a user’s email on her landing page. Everything from a free masterclass to cheat sheets and guides are offered all for a simple email sign up. She even offers a video preview of what customers can expect in her Instagram Guide for Organic Growth, so you can preview what you’re getting in the PDF.
When you receive the guide, you’ll realize that the guide is actually packed with very useful organic growth tips for Instagram. It’s clear the guide has been carefully crafted and thoughtfully curated. An effective lead magnet should deliver real value to your customers, regardless of whether they buy from you today.
Treat your leads as a tool to move your customers further down your sales funnel, ultimately to the point where they decide to pay cash for your premium services or products. A newsletter alone is not going to cut it anymore today, especially if you’re using your newsletter solely for product promotion. Always ask yourself: what value are you offering the customer in exchange for saturating their email inbox?
If you deliver consistent and high value in your lead magnets that actually help them with a problem, consumers won’t even realize they’re being marketed to. For e-commerce companies we recommend creating style and lifestyle guides, design inspiration, mood boards, palettes, product use cases, helpful related products – everything that shows the product in action, rather than just a simple retail picture.
For digital products, we recommend taking time to create high-value lead magnets such as cheat sheets, toolkits, templates, case studies, planners/calendars, widgets, reports, and infographics to help your customers deal with the problems they have that they ultimately may rely on your paid products to solve.
2. The Webinar Invite Email
It takes time to gain a customer's trust, especially B2B. With remote work practices sticking around even after the pandemic, webinars are here to stay, especially if you’re in B2B sales. Take for example the below email invitation for a Holiday Campaign webinar hosted by Shopify x Tiktok.
What we really like about this email is that it delivers a lot of value. For one, it’s helping brands navigate the holiday sales period, which is often the biggest quarter and places a lot of stress on marketers (Tiktok’s customers).
Second, the invitation comes from Tiktok, but it’s not solely delivered by TikTok Business employees trying to sell you ads; it’s in collaboration with a trusted platform and partner such as Shopify. This gives the webinar a bit more authenticity and, frankly, more value as customers are able to learn from the two platforms they may be curious about.
A webinar hosted and organized purely by Tiktok comes off as a bit sales heavy, but a value-driven webinar about holiday sales with Shopify seems like it’s trying to solve a real problem.
When I was at Rakuten, I grew organic sales from 0 to $1.5 million USD, and I can confidently say the majority of my business came from webinars. Webinars, especially if done right, are a great way for you to help solve the problems of your customers in a way that showcases your product’s strengths. It also helps put a friendly face behind a corporation, helping your customers gain more trust – which is critical in B2B e-commerce businesses.
We recommend including high-value freebies like webinars in your email marketing campaign, especially if you’re a B2B e-commerce business. If you’re an e-commerce consumer goods business, we recommend something like offering your customers an exclusive invitation to a live streaming session with a popular influencer who happens to love your products.
3. The Welcome Email Done Right
Welcome discounts are a dime a dozen nowadays, but we really appreciate Fishwife, a canned fish e-commerce company, for their bold use of bold colors and graphics in their welcome email.
Fishwife really stands out by aligning their graphics and copy with the assertion that they’re not just another boring tinned fish company. We really appreciate that Fishwife took a unique twist on “flat design,” a cookie-cutter corporate art style used to death by Google, Facebook, and thousands of other corporations.
Fishwife’s welcome email features flat playful iconography interspersed with, for example, real capers arranged in the shape of a fish. The flat design (sun and sailboat elements) could easily have been tired and overdone, but becomes playful when juxtaposed against the real picnic-patterned plate and tomatoes.
We also liked that the company’s simple value proposition (“ethically-sourced, premium, and delicious tinned seafood”) is clear from the get go. It’s not text-heavy, but branding heavy. The copy is also under 25 words, and the 10% discount offer and call to action (“get Fishwife”) are clear. You know exactly what you’re getting without needing to scroll for two minutes.
4. The Abandoned Cart Email
After the welcome email, the second most popular automated email is the abandoned cart email. The example from Casper Sleep below (which we borrowed from Shopify) is a great example of a simple but effective abandoned cart email.
What we really like about this example is that it’s super clean, which aligns with the brand’s goal of selling you things that help you sleep. Even the email reminds you of a restful, decluttered stress-free sleep. The copy and testimonial used in this email are also very simple and playful (“come back to bed”).
Second, the email is really simple: you know exactly what you forgot in your cart. Casper also incorporated reviews into the abandoned cart email just to help you get that additional social proof.
Our recommendation to take this email even further is to offer an exclusive 10% off discount if the user decides to check out within the next 48 hours. It’s helpful to create urgency for abandoned cart emails.
5. Stand out with Gamified Email Marketing Features
The next example (borrowed from Omnisend) illustrates how gamification can help your email marketing campaigns stand out.
Consumers are bombarded with endless sales promotions in their inboxes (e.g. “20% off for a limited time”), so anything you can do (without appearing spammy) to stand out will help drive sales. We really like the example below from Teatrunk, which sells gourmet tea from India.
By implementing a scratch off feature, Teatrunk adds something different to the standard discount coupons. What’s more, the luck element (“up to 50% off”) and emulation of an actual scratch card feels exciting. The playful copy, “doesn’t get bigger than this sale” also adds to the excitement of the scratch off.
Of course, other gamified features you can implement include gift boxes, wheel of fortune, augmented reality, among many others. These features feel fresh and new, and add an interactive element to your emails, which help if you’re targeting younger consumers such as Gen Z.
What’s more, they help drive sales, with 60% of consumers surveyed in Digital marketing world forum 2019 said they would be more willing to buy from a brand if they enjoyed playing a game with it.
Social media platforms come and go (remember Myspace?), but email seldom changes and is still more effective at acquiring customers than social media. It’s important that you treat your emails as an equally important part of your customer’s journey. After all, why spend all that time on your landing page, when your emails read bland, boring, and worse, spammy.
It’s important that you recognize that automations and personalization are good and dandy, but there’s nothing more important than authentic engagement and delivering true value. To find out what works with your customers, experiment with your email copy, templates, and lead magnets. (Related: Email Marketing for Ecommerce: 10 Strategies You Can Easily Implement To Drive Sales)