Retail Email Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by: Scott Cohen

Published on: 03-11-2023

Scott is the CEO at InboxArmy and has more than 20 years of experience in email marketing.

Email marketing is the backbone for how retail and e-commerce businesses connect with customers, drive engagement, establish brand loyalty, and generate rate. With the e-commerce sector projected to account for 22% of global retail sales in 2024, email marketing plays a pivotal role in shaping the customer journey from abandon cart reminders to exclusive offers and product recommendations.

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of email marketing for retailers, showcase how you can leverage personalization and direct communication with your audiences, and illustrate how to implement an effective email strategy to enhance customer relationships and boost sales.

Retail Email Marketing Stats

Businesses experience exponential growth with successful email marketing strategies, especially in retail, and yours should be one of them. Need some statistics to back it up? Here’s why you should be focused on maximizing your business’s email marketing success:

  • Email marketing revenue is estimated to reach almost 11 billion by the end of 2023. (Statista, 2021)
  • A/B and spam testing your emails leads to higher ROI. Experience up to a 28% higher return when you put testing to work for your email program. (Litmus, 2022)
  • 59% of respondents say that marketing emails have influenced their purchases. (SaleCycle, 2022)
  • 84.3% of consumers say they check their emails at least once daily. (Pathwire, 2021)

Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach a global audience, a tool for building lasting customer relationships, and the best way to drive sales in the highly competitive world of online retail.

Benefits of Email Marketing for Retailers

Benefits of Email Marketing for Retailers

In case the stats aren’t enough, email marketing offers numerous benefits that allow you to connect with your customers and drive growth. Here are seven key benefits:

Email Allows You To Build And Maintain Relationships With Loyal Customers:

Over 80% of consumers check their email at least once a day. Email marketing enables direct and personalized customer communication. You can send tailored messages, promotions, and product recommendations, fostering a more intimate connection with your audience.

Email Is Cost-Effective:

Email marketing is more cost-effective than other marketing channels. You’ll reach a large audience at a relatively low cost. The return on investment (ROI) for email marketing across industries is approximately 4,500% — so you could earn up to $45 for every $1 you spend on it.  

Email Allows You To Reach A Wider Audience

By expanding your mailing list (the right ways), your business can tap into customers interested in your products. You can diversify your content distribution, utilize SEO, and implement an advertising strategy to expand both your subscriber and customer base.

Email Drives Brand Awareness

Just being in the inbox is a brand touch. You can use email to build and reinforce your brand identity and image in the consumer’s minds to establish positive recognition. The more your customers see and associate your business positively, the more you’ll gain brand recognition. And that wider audience helps bring in new customers.

Email Drives Conversion And Sales

Send promotions, discounts, and product recommendations to encourage recipients to purchase, often resulting in immediate sales.

Email Powers Customer Retention

Email marketing is crucial to customer retention. Use emails to nurture relationships with existing customers and send loyalty rewards, exclusive offers, and updates that keep customers engaged and loyal

Email Offers Unparalleled Analytics And Data Insights

Email marketing platforms provide valuable analytics and data on campaign performance. Track open and click-through metrics to modify your business’s strategies and enhance future campaigns.

These benefits are just a small number which make email marketing a powerful tool for your business to boost sales, build brand loyalty, and engage with your audience effectively.

Retail Email Marketing Tips

Retail Email Marketing Tips Banner

Now that you have inspiration, here are our top tips to maximize email campaign effectiveness:

Segment Your Email List

With segmentation, you can send more personalized content to specific customer categories to increase engagement and conversion rates. Split your email list into segments based on customer preferences, behavior, demographics, or purchase history.  

A MailChimp study discovered that segmented email campaigns had a 14.3% higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns.

Mobile Optimization

According to Litmus, mobile devices account for 41.9% of all opened emails. Mobile-friendly emails will make or break your conversion rates. Most people open their email on mobile devices, so ensure they are well-formatted and easy to read on smaller screens. A poor mobile experience can result in lost opportunities. 

A/B Testing

Regularly split test different sections of your emails, including subject lines, content, images, and calls to action. This data-driven approach helps you identify what resonates best with your audience and refine your email strategy.

Monitor Analytics and Iterate

Pay close attention to email performance metrics, including open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and revenue generated. Use this data to make data-driven decisions and continuously refine your email marketing strategy for better results. 

Quick tip: Video content is king nowadays. According to Martech Advisor, adding video content to your emails can increase clickthrough rates by 300%.

Retail Email Marketing Best Practices

Retail Email Marketing Best Practices Banner

When executed using best practices, retail email marketing can level up your business by authentically engaging customers and boosting sales. Here are some best practices for retail email marketing: 

Compelling Subject Lines

According to Optin Monster, 47% of email recipients will open your email based solely on the subject line. Craft  attention-grabbing retail email subject lines  that pique curiosity and provide a glimpse of what’s inside. Avoid spam or misleading subject lines; otherwise, this can harm your credibility

Targeted Marketing

58% of revenue is generated from segmented and personalized emails. Separate your email lists based on customer demographics, purchase history, and engagement level. This allows for highly targeted campaigns, ensuring that messages are relevant to each group increasing conversion chances.

Brand Scalability

The global marketing automation market is projected to reach $13.71 billion by 2030 (Polaris). Automation saves time and ensures that customers receive timely and relevant messages, even as a retailer’s customer base grows. Set up automated email sequences for customer interactions, such as welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, and post-purchase follow-ups.

Valuable Content

Supply useful and relevant content in your emails, for example, product recommendations, promotions, educational information, or entertaining content that resonates with your audience. 

Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)

Include clear and prominent CTAs in your emails. Make it easy for recipients to take the desired action, whether purchasing, signing up for a newsletter, or clicking to learn more. 

Timing and Frequency

Be mindful of both the timing and frequency of your emails. Test out different send times and days to determine when your audience is most responsive. Additionally, avoid overwhelming your subscribers with excessive email frequency; this can lead to customers quickly unsubscribing. After all, one of the top reasons people choose to unsubscribe from an email list is too many emails (Optin Monster).

Engaging Visuals

Use eye-catching images and visuals in your emails. High-quality product images, lifestyle shots, and graphics can help make your emails more inviting.

Email Campaigns Retailers Can Send 

Need some inspiration? Here are some common types of email campaigns to engage your audience and drive sales:

1. Promotional Campaigns

Selfmade email

Promotional email Campaigns highlight special offers, discounts, and sales events. They often create a sense of urgency and encourage immediate purchases.

Self Made capitalizes on its new product serum launch with an eye-catching design and simplistic style. They make positive testimonials work for them to entice subscribers to purchase. 

2. Product Announcements

Scott's Cheap Flights

Introduce your new products or update existing product lines via email. These campaigns can generate interest and anticipation.

Take a look at Scott’s Cheap Flights rebranding, now called Going. They’ve kept their simplistic style and laid out the need-to-know information to be easily scannable. 

3. Abandoned Cart Recovery

Javy email

Abandoned Cart emails target customers who have left behind items in their shopping carts who still need to complete their purchases. These reminders encourage these customers to finalize their transactions.

Javy’s abandoned cart reminders incentivize customers to complete their purchases by offering complimentary products they might like. 

4. Welcome Emails

Airtable email

Send Send welcome emails to new subscribers or customers and give them a warm welcome to your brand. You can include introductory offers or incentives to make a first purchase. 

Airtable’s concise welcoming email prompts the customer to watch an introductory video to learn the basics of their platform.

5. Loyalty and Rewards Emails

Ray ban email

Communicate with loyal customers and provide exclusive offers, discounts, and rewards to express appreciation and encourage repeat business.

Ray-Ban, the well-known sunglasses brand, is famous for its quality and higher price tag. So, telling loyal customers they have a gift coming their way near their birthday is an easy way to keep their attention and get them excited about the surprise.

6. Personalized Recommendations

Spotify email

Utilize customer information to deliver customized product suggestions, drawing from past buying behavior or browsing history.

Spotify does an excellent job recommending different playlists based on customer’s past listening trends. 

7. Seasonal and Holiday Campaigns

Coterie email

Holiday emails align with specific seasons or holidays, featuring relevant products and promotions. Examples include back-to-school sales, summer fashion collections, and holiday gift guides.

Coterie uses a simple, holiday-themed design with a clear “celebrate” CTA, enticing the reader to explore their holiday products. 

8. Educational Content

espresso email

Send educational content such as how-to guides, styling tips, or product tutorials. These emails can establish you as a retail authority in your niche and provide value to your audience.

The How-To-Make an espresso guide has a crisp design and easy-to-follow graphics. They continue into the next section by displaying their coffee products ideal for making espresso. 

9. Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Motif email

Showcase your business’s product reviews and testimonials to gain trust and credibility with new customers. Encourage customers to leave feedback or reviews. 

Motif’s new power brightening serum is beautifully displayed with easily recognizable testimonials. They make it easy to grab their new product with their “meet the serum” and “try the serum” CTAs. 

10. Re-engagement Campaigns

calibrate email

 Sometimes, customers subscribe and stop interacting with your emails. To win back these inactive customers, send re-engagement emails with special offers or incentives to encourage a return to your brand

The weight loss brand Calibrate gains the reader’s attention by stating that they get their money back if the customer doesn’t get results.

11. Order Confirmation and Shipment Updates

instacart email

Providing order confirmations and shipping updates enhances your overall shopping experience. After all, after we make a purchase, we love to be updated about how our orders are progressing. These transactional emails are an absolute must.

Instacart confirms their customer’s order was received and is being fulfilled. They also provide a specific delivery time frame so the customer can be ready to receive it.

12. Event Invitations

meridian email

If you host in-store events, webinars, or product launches, invite customers to visit and provide details and RSVP options. Meridian uses a bright design and lists the event need-to-know information, like the date, time, and location. They lead you to the “learn more” CTA for further details.

13. Cross-sell and Upsell Campaigns

citizen email

With Cross-sell email campaigns you can promote related or complementary products to previous customers’ purchases, increasing the average order value. Citizen offers a basic plan but focuses on the benefits their customers would get if upgraded to the Plus version.

14. Survey and Feedback Requests

descript email

Gather valuable customer insights through email surveys and feedback requests to improve products and services. Descript is clear with its simplistic design and one-question survey, making it extremely easy to leave feedback. Everyone likes their voice to be heard, so consider adding a gift as an incentive for your customer’s feedback.

15. Flash Sales and Limited-Time Offer

p&c email

A subset of promotional emails, These emails create a sense of urgency by limiting a customer’s time to act and encouraging quick decision-making. We feel like we have to take action; otherwise, we will miss out. P&Co displays the specific products they offer with flash sale discounts and clear “shop” CTAs. 

You can also explore our article showcasing a curated selection of compelling retail email examples.

Wrapping Up

If you’re a retailer seeking to boost sales and drive growth, there are several vital steps to take to get started with retail email marketing.

Craft engaging and personalized content, including eye-catching subject lines and compelling messages, and design responsive email templates that align with your brand. Monitor campaign performance, analyze metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, and adjust based on the data to optimize your retail email marketing strategy over time. 

Need help getting started or getting to the next level? InboxArmy, one of the top email marketing companies, specializes in specializing in effective email marketing strategy, development, and execution. We work with global brands, agencies, and businesses of all sizes, from startups to enterprises. Our agency assists in planning your email marketing strategy, including email collection and segmentation, campaign management, automation, design and coding, and more

About Author

Winner of the ANA Email Experience Council’s 2021 Stefan Pollard Email Marketer of the Year Award, Scott Cohen is a proven email marketing veteran with nearly 20 years of experience as both a brand-side marketer and an email marketing agency executive. He brings to our clients a unique blend of experience building and managing larger CRM and retention teams, sending millions of emails and SMS per week, and award-winning copywriting chops. For more information, follow him on Linkedin

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