13 Ways To Improve Your Ecommerce Email Program Today (Part 6)

Throughout this series on how to build a dominating ecommerce email program, we’ve outlined how to create an ecommerce email program capable of skyrocketing your business growth exponentially. This is the playbook we use every day with our ecommerce brands and clients. Now it’s time to get a bit more practical. For the last piece of the puzzle, we’ll dive into best practices and tips for the structure, design, and content of the emails you’re going to write. These are tips that you can put into practice immediately to get more out of your customer list— starting right now!

8 Tips for Email Design & Email Copy that Make People Purchase

1. Keep design simple

The emails you build don’t have to be elaborate, entirely HTML emails. Also, contrary to what you most likely see in your personal inbox, we prefer not to use all images either. A combination of images and plain text is often your best bet. While fully image-based emails may look amazing, they have a greater potential to be ineffective for some of your audience. Images are heavy and slow to load, they are more likely to get flagged as spam, they will almost certainly end up in Gmail’s “promotions” folder, and some people simply choose not to load images.

Text vs. images aside, be sure to mix it up frequently so customers don’t develop “banner blindness”. Use a variety of formats, switching from emails with large, colorful images to emails that only contain simple text. Stay the same for too long and your customers will stop paying attention.

2. Be mobile-friendly

Hopefully this goes without saying, but even in a world where everything is mobile, this still gets overlooked. When checking site analytics, most ecommerce stores will find that more than half of their traffic comes from mobile devices. So if you’re not designing with mobile in mind, you’re doing it wrong and your emails are highly unlikely to convert.

This doesn’t just mean making your emails small to fit a mobile screen (everyone does that). It means thinking about the headlines, copy, subject lines, and CTA’s so they are optimized to convert for someone viewing them in a mobile environment (i.e. on the go).

3. Make it scannable

Keep in mind that people are busy and their inbox is noisy. They likely have hundreds of emails to sort through, so you need to hook them quickly. Not only do you need to hook them, but reading your email needs to give them relief not add to their stress.

The best way to do that? Avoid giant blocks of text, because people will not read every word anyway. Help the customer scan your email quickly by bolding items, using bullet points, and breaking paragraphs into 1-2 lines each. Writing less is harder, but it’s worth it.

4. Maintain mystery

Remember, a large part of your job is convincing people who NEED your product to get over themselves and actually BUY your product. People don’t take action based on information. They take action based on emotion.

If you put all of the content in your email, the reader won’t have a reason to click through to your site, and reading your email will be just plain boring. Instead, use an intriguing introduction to give the reader a hint. Include a compelling call-to-action and a link so they can move to your site to read or learn more about your products.

Note: Don’t hook people with a promise you don’t fulfill. That is just being a jerk.

5. Always embed products

This is clearly a given for emails that are directly meant to sell products. But what about emails that aren’t explicitly for selling? We’ve talked a lot about content-based emails that don’t directly sell. Well, even if it’s a content-focused email, it still has the potential to generate revenue (and it will). For that reason, always place products in the email. The easier it is for people to get to your products, the more your revenue per email will increase.

6. Be honest

This one is as simple as it sounds. Be transparent with your subscribers. It will actually build better customer relationships in the long run. Under no circumstances should you stretch the truth, even if you’ve made a mistake. When— not if, when— your company screws something up, it’s wise to own it. As counterintuitive as it may sound, mistakes actually make you more relatable and can improve your relationship with your customers if handled correctly. We’ll show you an example of this further into this post.

Note: Don’t be a sleazy marketer and send manufactured “we messed up and launched the sale early” emails trying to create a mistake that was never there. That’s taking things too far.

7. Deliver value in every email

This is truly the golden rule of email. For every email you send, be sure to include something valuable. This does not mean include a coupon with every email you send (remember that 1:1 ratio of content emails to emails that sell?) But it does mean being mindful of what a customer will get out of every email they open from you. Share more about your brand story. Provide helpful tips for your products. Send customer stories or reviews. All of these add value without pushing hard sales. If you stick with this, you will have better engagement, fewer unsubscribes, and more fans over time. Stick with us for an example below!

8. Include multiple CTAs

Last but not least, include multiple, obvious calls-to-action throughout the email. The goal is to give the reader the opportunity to get to your site whether they only glance at the top, or if they scroll all the way through the email. Placing a CTA toward the top, bottom, and dispersed in the content will dramatically improve click and conversion rates.

5 Unique Email Examples to Inspire Your Campaigns

As we’ve discussed, email should be your most profitable marketing channel, but you need to think outside the box. Take a look at a few things our clients are doing to stand out and drive results

Example 1: Abandon Cart Notification

If you’re looking for an interesting way to hook customers who have abandoned their checkout process, try switching up your subject lines. Instead of the standard “Did you leave something behind?”, one of our brands asks “Should we delete your account?” It became one of their highest converting abandoned cart emails simply because it got a reaction out of cart abandoners.

Example Abandoned Cart Email Subject Line

Example Abandoned Cart Email Subject Line

Example 2: Importance of A/B Testing

We can’t stress the importance of A/B testing enough, both subject lines and creative. As we’ve mentioned, Klaviyo makes this extremely simple. We typically test 3 subject lines, including something extreme, something conservative, and something in the middle. Fairly often, our hunch about which of the three will win ends up being a flop. And that’s why we test!

For example, take a look at a simple A/B subject line test for one of our clients below. We assumed that including the 40% off deal in the subject line would win by a mile. However, for this one, a more creative headline won by 2 percentage points (which… is basically a mile when you’re talking open rate).

Example A/B Email Subject Line Test

Example A/B Email Subject Line Test

Check out a few other ways our clients have tested subject lines during a Cyber Monday promotion:



Example 3: Honesty is the Best Policy

At some point in your business journey, something will go wrong and customers will be irritated. In this case, believe it or not, honesty through email communication pays off!

Let’s look at an example with one of our clients. They had a flawed batch of product from the factory that had already been sold to a large number of people through pre-order. This was a big deal. They decided to send an email to these customers, owning the mistake and promising to send a new and improved version free of charge. The feedback from this email was overwhelmingly positive. Responses flooded in and customers were turned into fans for life.

Example of an honest email

Example of an honest email

Example 4: When Email Communication Goes Wrong…

Along the same lines, at some point, you will likely run into a mistake with your email marketing. In this case, never be afraid to apologize. Everyone makes mistakes, and owning up to them will make your brand more relatable and trustworthy.

For example, one year, one of our clients accidentally had a pretty major oversight during a Memorial Day sale. Someone on their team spun up an email last minute that included the copy “We’re running a killer sale for Memorial Day.” They quickly realized that this was an insensitive word choice considering the purpose of Memorial Day. The team owned the mistake by sending an email out apologizing for the mishap. This brief apology saw incredible engagement and again turned customers into brand fans.

Example 5: Deliver Content with Value

The right topics for your content-based emails will depend on your brand and your audience. It will also take some trial and error to see what type of content resonates with your customers the best. Whatever you do, stick with it because a healthy email program needs more than just emails that focus on selling (otherwise, you risk burning out your list).

One way our client GrooveLife has done this is by creating video content that their customers are interested in on their YouTube channel, “Project Adventure”. Each month, Groove’s founder and other members of the team select one Groove fan to take on a wild adventure that’s documented for the channel. The result? An exciting video that inspires whoever watches to get out there and seek adventure in their lives. This message is core to their brand and their products, and is entertaining to their customers. Here’s an example of how GrooveLife pushes this content out to their email list:

Example Content Email

Example Content Email

Now It’s Your Turn

Ready to take your email campaigns to the next level? With this series as your guide, you are equipped to get started today!

As always, if you run into roadblocks or questions as you are…

  • Choosing your email service provider
  • Integrating with your ecommerce store and establishing engagement metrics
  • Setting up automated sequences
  • Planning campaigns

… Feel free to give us a shout! We’d love to help however we can as you grow your ecommerce business through email.


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