If you ever want to spark a heated conversation, simply ask: “How many unread emails do you have in your inbox right now?”

Then, get ready for a fierce competition between friends, family, or coworkers for who gets the most emails per day, and complaints about how tough it is to open, read, and respond to each and every one.

The crowded inbox has become an unfortunate fact of modern life for many of us. Unless you’re one of those rare and talented people who manage to get to inbox zero, you’re constantly digging yourself out from under an ever-increasing pile of emails at work and at home.

Your ecommerce buyers are in the exact same boat. They’re getting hundreds of promotional emails and they likely ignore any messages that aren’t from someone they know and trust. So why would they open your marketing email out of the hundreds they receive?

As a B2C marketer, it’s your job to catch their attention in the confusion and chaos of a busy inbox. You have to prove to them over and over again that it’s worth their time to engage with your ecommerce brand. Here are the steps you can take to stand out, grab your buyer’s attention, and get them to convert on your latest email promotions.

Get the basics right

First off, you have to make sure you’re hitting the inbox and following technical best practices for email. If your brand emails are ending up in spam because they’re low quality, there’s no way anyone is reading them. Before you start sending out any promotional emails, make sure you:

  • Warm up your IP correctly: Slowly ramp up sends with high-quality content, building your reputation as a quality email sender so you hit the inbox consistently.
  • Segment your email list: Make sure the email is as relevant and targeted to the sender as possible, to increase the possibility that they engage.
  • Make your emails responsive: If your buyers open your email, it better look great on mobile, desktop, and in any browser.

These are basic email best practices that you have to follow, or else you won’t even get in front of your buyer’s eyes in the inbox.

Email at the right time

Depending on your industry, location, and audience, there’s a best time to send emails to maximize the likelihood your buyers click. If your audience is mainly based in the United States, for example, you probably shouldn’t send out emails in the middle of the night for those time zones. We suggest that our customers send emails between 10 AM and 2 PM, specifically around the lunch hour since professionals get a little antsy at work around this time.

However, what works for one brand may not work for your ecommerce business. Instead of relying on generic “best practices” for the best time to send emails regardless of industry or product, actually test what works best for your specific buyers. Run A/B tests at different times of the day and see when your unique audience is most likely to open your emails. Then, when you have statistically significant results, you’ll know exactly when to target your audience and when they’re most likely to click your emails.

Experiment with subject lines

Subject lines are your first impression in the inbox. People often focus too much on the content of the email when it comes to driving buyer engagement. While that is important, first you have to get people to actually open the email — and that’s where a great subject line comes in. If you stand out in the inbox with a good subject line, you’ve already won.

Remember to stay somewhere in the ballpark of 30 characters for subject lines and be mindful of your preheader copy. In addition to the subject line, many people read the pre-header copy, so you better make it compelling! Here are a few tactics that work well when it comes to attention-grabbing subject lines:

  • Personalize it: Personalize the subject line with your customer’s name or the specific product they clicked on recently. Dynamic personalization makes this easy to do.
  • Lead with the offer or discount: Don’t wait to put a percentage off in a CTA in your email. Include the offer in the subject line or pre-header copy.
  • Try capital letters: If something is exciting, GET EXCITED. But use this tactic carefully, as it can get old over time.
  • Sprinkle in a few emojis: Depending on your brand, emojis can add some fun and character to your emails. However, emojis and certain characters like exclamation marks can trigger spam filters, so use with caution.
  • Convey the sense of urgency: Try to create the feeling of FOMO, like X items remaining, or X amount of time left.
  • Use numbers or lists: What works in blog content also works in emails. People are always interested in seeing a list of interesting products.

Try alternate channels

Sometimes, no matter what you do or how creative you get with your marketing emails, some of your buyers just refuse to engage via email. Maybe their inboxes are especially crowded and they’re just too busy to read your messages. If your emails aren’t hitting the right buttons with certain buyers, you have to think outside the box — outside the inbox in fact. The inbox really is just one of many channels that can be effective in engaging your buyers.

If people aren’t opening your emails after a certain period of time, try targeting them with paid ads on Facebook, Instagram, or Google. You can even go the extra mile and try out web or mobile push to see if that works to catch the attention of your buyers. By coordinating social, search, push, and email marketing, your buyers will be far more likely to engage. If you build out a true omnichannel marketing strategy, you don’t have to rely on email alone for your marketing.

With the right ecommerce marketing strategy, you can even reach that elusive buyer who has 3,000 unread emails in his inbox. By using creative marketing tactics, you can break out of the crowded inbox and truly stand out from the crowd.

Brian Murphy

Brian is the Email Marketing Manager at Zaius. Outside of the digital world, Brian is a die-hard Boston sports fan, plays guitar, loves to brew beer, and coaches youth football.

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