E-commerce newsletters: examples, tips and tools
Our guide to creating effective e-commerce newsletters that provide information, spread the word about your brand and sell your products.
- What is an e-commerce newsletter?
- The advantages of e-commerce newsletters
- What are e-commerce newsletters for?
- What should I write in my newsletter? Publishing plan and schedule
- Customer database and list segmentation
- Tools for creating e-commerce newsletters
- Tips for effective newsletters
- Examples of e-commerce newsletters
An e-commerce newsletter forms a vital part of any wider digital marketing strategy, for many reasons: improving brand awareness, increasing customer loyalty and promoting cross-selling and upselling, to name but a few.
The aim is therefore not just to sell more, but also to inform your contacts about the brand and any new discounts, products or updates. E-commerce newsletters are a way of gaining access to the user’s most ‘intimate’ virtual space: their email inbox.
This makes it one of many email marketing strategies, which we discussed in more depth in this article. So how do you go about creating a successful e-commerce newsletter? Here are some tools, tips and examples.
What is an e-commerce newsletter?
The most common piece of contact information websites – and therefore online shops – ask for is an email address: email is a useful communication channel that improves brand recognition, helps customers remember your brand and increases traffic to your online shop, which hopefully translates into more purchases.
In practice, it goes something like this: the user lands on your online shop, registers using their email address and potentially buys something. Or they leave their email address having seen a banner offering a discount in exchange for registering. This is just one way of ‘capturing’ this piece of contact information, and forms part of a wider lead generation strategy. You then add the email address to your contact list: a series of contacts who periodically receive informative content, offers, coupons and much more.
People still use emails a great deal to get information, find new interesting content and, yes, make purchases.
The advantages of e-commerce newsletters
The key advantages of e-commerce newsletters are:
- They allow you to build a database of contacts over time: this is a real asset for any business, not bound by the rules or restrictions of any platform. Taking the best possible care of a database of contacts allows brands to forge a direct and personalised communication channel with their customers.
- They build loyalty, increasing your brand’s credibility and its positioning in a specific sector. They are therefore particularly useful for online shops that sell to a niche group.
- They help to increase conversion rates: while paid advertising on social media and on Google is becoming increasingly expensive, the costs of email marketing remain sustainable, albeit not as low as they once were.
What are e-commerce newsletters for?
Online shops often undervalue this tool and only use it for sending sales communications that end up having the opposite effect: unsubscribing en masse. To avoid this, you need a targeted corporate newsletter strategy.
E-commerce newsletters have many potential uses. These include:
- Telling your business’ story: you can provide your subscribers with insight into your online shop, such as the founders’ backgrounds or profiles of employees or specialists who work behind the scenes, or describe the values underpinning the brand. This helps to increase potential customers’ trust in your online shop, so they will be less likely to question whether to make a purchase.
- Spreading the word about new or existing products: presenting products is a key part of any email. You can send messages with further information about the product specifications, including information that is not available in the online shop.
- Providing discounts or coupons: everyone loves a bargain. You could, for example, provide offers on specific products or discounts for certain periods and events, including Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
- Sharing useful guides and content: newsletters can also be used to nurture relationships with customers by providing useful articles or guides in the relevant area. This could be instructions on how to use a specific product, or a curated ‘top 10’ list of products from your catalogue in a certain category.
- Highlighting reviews and testimonials: you can also use emails to provide real-life experiences of satisfied users, and so increase trust in your online shop.
What should I write in my newsletter? Publishing plan and schedule
To ensure your e-commerce newsletter is consistent over time, punctual and genuinely informative and creates the conversion rate you were hoping for, you need to create a publishing plan: it would be foolish to try to create your newsletter content on a day-to-day basis.
The purpose of a publishing plan is to organise all the subjects you want to cover in the emails you’ll be sending. It is usually a written document containing all the strategy’s aims: ideas on how best to reach your target audience, your goals and the main topics to include.
This goes hand-in-hand with a publishing schedule, which contains specific information on the content to be sent out. This tends to be an Excel spreadsheet (although other software would work just as well) containing the following details:
- Email date
- Copy and design instructions (optional)
This is definitely more of an operational document, which allows you to plan your actions a long time before the emails are sent out, ensuring you are never short on content.
Customer database and list segmentation
For an e-commerce newsletter to be successful, you also need profiled contact lists.
The reason for this is simple: products in specific categories may not be of interest to your entire database of contacts. The solution to this is to send communications tailored to your customers’ interests. This is another job of the publishing calendar: segmenting the list.
Well before you send any emails, any online shop should research their customers and divide them up into groups, perhaps based on their purchase history.
For example, if you manage an online shop selling high-tech goods, you could segment the main list into:
- IT (including desktop computers, notebooks and accessories like mice or keyboards)
- Specific product categories (smart TVs, mobile phones, small electrical appliances)
- Average spend (less than £50, £50-£100, etc.)
Once you’ve done this, you can create an email schedule with specific messages for phone fans, offers on products under £50 and much more. The important thing is to be consistent with what certain user groups expect. Of course, this is just an example of how to segment customers: each online shop has its own characteristics, and the contents should be modelled on people’s specific needs.
Tools for creating e-commerce newsletters
People don’t tend to send e-commerce newsletters manually: there are specific tools that allow you to send them automatically. This is called marketing automation, and involves using email marketing and CRM tools that automatically send messages to specific lists of profiled contacts.
Some of the most commonly used CRMs and tools are:
- Active Campaign
MailChimp, for example, is perfect for small online shops, while Active Campaign is a common choice among SMEs.
Tips for effective e-commerce newsletters
Putting together a clear and effective message should be the ultimate goal for any online shop’s newsletter. Here are some tips to bear in mind:
- The subject is vital: it’s the first line of text the user sees, and decides whether they open the message or ignore it. You need to find a winning phrase that encourages people to open the email: something creative and tantalising. It’s best to avoid the words ‘offer’ or ‘sales’, as the message will probably end up in people’s spam folders.
- Take a personal approach: steer clear of an overly ‘salesy’ writing style, and forge a personal relationship with users by sending emails from a particular person. For example, don’t send generic messages from the brand; begin your message ‘Hi, I’m Mark from [brand name]’.
- Don’t go overboard with the number you send: too many emails is self-defeating, as receiving an email every day can get annoying. Naturally, every online shop has its own needs, but one email a week, every two weeks or even once a month is enough, perhaps always sent on a specific day of the week.
- Create a striking design: the visual aspect of a newsletter is often more important than the text. Make sure you use a design that is pleasing on the eye and above all consistent with your brand. Simple graphics tend to work much better than complex designs in emails, so choose a template that ensures excellent responsiveness and short loading times.
- Use CTAs sparingly: every email should contain some, but not too many, calls to action (CTAs). For example, you could encourage readers to open a blog article, or invite users to visit a page containing all the discounted products. You could, alternatively, consider sending newsletters showing a small catalogue of discounted products, with a series of CTAs directing the user to specific product pages.
- Always allow people to unsubscribe: transparency is everything, and your subscribers should always be able to unsubscribe and no longer receive any messages from a specific business. You should therefore add an unsubscribe link to the bottom of each email.
- Check performance using KPIs: each email you send creates a basket of data that may be useful for future communications. Always keep an eye on the open rate (the percentage of emails opened compared to the number sent), the click-through rate and the unsubscribe rate.
- Run frequent A/B tests: once your newsletter is up and running, it’s time to optimise it. An A/B test involves sending two different versions of the same message to subscribers, to see which works best. You can then use the data to work out which approach to take in future.
Examples of e-commerce newsletters
Here are some examples of well-designed e-commerce newsletters, which could inspire you or provide ideas for your own online shop:
- Unieuro, an electronics chain, sends very effective emails presenting specific products with a link to their profile, plus a CTA button at the bottom pointing to the ‘all offers’ page.
- The fabric shop Stitches n Giggles also has an interesting design: simple yet effective and easy to read.
- Status Audio, an American headphone manufacturer, often sends newsletters with in-depth information about its products, including reviews, helping to promote both brand awareness and sales.
We’ve reached the end of our exploration of e-commerce newsletters. To get the best results, you need to explore this constantly evolving world and continually hone your approach.