Why Startup Ecommerce Brands Rely on Email Marketing

    by Patrick Foster


    Running an e-commerce startup today provides a remarkable amount of turbulence. The highs are high indeed — get the right attention at the right times, and your brand can become a worldwide trend in a matter of minutes — but the lows can be desperately low. After all, there’s so much competition that success is far from guaranteed. In fact, it’s outright unlikely (at least, from a statistical standpoint), and you don’t get unlimited time to make your name — unless, of course, you happen to have unlimited funds… and if you do, why run a for-profit business in the first place? So if you’re going to muster your resources and launch your store, you need to play a very smart game indeed. Your marketing strategy needs to be effective and efficient — and when it comes to digital marketing, there’s no more solid option than email marketing. Here’s why email remains the tactic of choice for e-commerce startups everywhere:

    Email Newsletter continues to achieve exceptional ROI

    Because emails are so easy to track, it isn’t hard to find informative stats about their marketing applications. There isn’t generally much mystery about the effects of an email newsletter, for instance: you just need to go through the analytics to get a rock-solid assessment of its real-world value (particularly if you’re using goal tracking with assigned values). And as far as the stats go, email marketing is still the top dog. One really sticks out: “In the UK, every one pound spent on email marketing has an ROI of 38 pounds; in the US, it's $44.” Plenty of other marketing methods can be effective, but they can also go very wrong. With PPC, for example, you only need to be slightly off with your keyword research to end up blowing through your budget on ads that reach the wrong audience. To scale an e-commerce business, you need steady profitability, not wildly-varying results. Email is the least-risky option on the table, with one of the highest ceilings when it comes to potential. The choice isn’t hard to justify.

    You can get really creative with emails

    An email is a blank canvas, and you get to paint anything you like. To promote through Twitter, you must stick to the character limit, fit the format, and be mindful of all the potential backlash that lies in wait on any social media platform. Facebook Ads have specific restrictions too. PPC in general demands adherence to strict limitations. Even something like influence marketing won’t provide the much creative scope, because no level-headed influencer is going to rock the boat by doing anything vaguely interesting or controversial. They’ll stick to being bland and generic, and those things don’t typically sell. But your emails are up to you. If you want to turn them into visual feasts with colorful animations everywhere, you can go for it. Or you can tell lengthy stories that demand close attention. It’s completely up to you — so if there’s a certain creative direction that clearly suits the unique selling points of your brand, you can completely embrace it without needing to worry about how to condense it to fit into a narrow corridor. For evidence of this, let’s head to Really Good Emails, a site that’s always great for grabbing some inspiration. Email Design This isn’t the pared-down tile of a PPC ad. It’s essentially a landing page delivered directly to your inbox. Which is more likely: that someone will click a link in a PPC ad, or that they’ll take a look inside an email from a company they’ll inevitably already know about? (Hint: it’s the latter.)

    It’s simple and easy to push out e-mail campaigns

    Startups are typically pushed for time, so spending hours every day going through marketing channels isn’t an acceptable option. But email is both easy to send (and automate, if desired) and the only viable hub for broad and in-depth customer contact. The former is easy to explain: email services have been around for so long that almost any software you’ll find with providing email integrations. Want to send out huge numbers of emails in a single batch? Not a problem — and if you want to start setting up automation triggers for things like cart abandonment emails, you can easily find an integration to help you get it done. As for the latter, plenty of people shy away from specific social media platforms (or social media in general), but everyone using e-commerce will have an email address. It’s the unifying factor, ahead of phone numbers or addresses.

    Mass mailing readily support long-term personalization

    Building up a loyal customer base is about providing personalized experiences. You want someone who has purchased from you several times before to be more likely to buy from you again, and you achieve that by making your service better for them over time. It’s so much harder to stand out through your design (e-commerce layouts are quite standardized — check out some stores for sale and you’ll see that they differ in themes and products more than design) or through your pricing (almost everyone is drawing from the same set of suppliers, and profit margins are typically very thin). Personalization is about drawing from someone’s store activity to anticipate and meet their preferences. For instance, someone who’s bought a particular type of item before might want to see related items. This is something that emails are perfect for. Whenever you send out a marketing email, you can work in deeply-personalized content drawn from your database. Email Stats Imagine seeing a PPC ad picked to be served to you because of a Google search you performed weeks ago. It’s more relevant than a random ad, but not by that much. Now imagine seeing an email sent to you that’s populated with products, suggestions, and vouchers selected specifically to suit your needs. The latter is going to be much more convincing. For all these reasons and more, email marketing is still the best marketing tactic an e-commerce startup can invest in. It becomes more valuable over time, unlike PPC advertising, but typically costs less, and it isn’t going anywhere.
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    Patrick Foster
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