How to send ecommerce emails that connect with your customers, strengthen relationships and drive sales – a 5-point checklist

An email from a fabulous shoe store dropped into my inbox this week. It had a great subject line, so I opened up… but the email inside was pretty “meh”. I immediately clicked the back arrow and carried on scrolling.

The whole process took 4 seconds.

I know that store has shoes I like. I tried some on back in March, before lockdown. They didn’t have my size in the colour I wanted in Birmingham, but the staff were super helpful and tracked down a pair in a London store.

I was going to be passing through Euston later that week. But ultimately I decided I couldn’t face the Oxford Street crowds – especially as coronavirus was starting to hit the headlines. So I never bought the shoes.

I have a great relationship with this brand’s physical stores. But their emails are bland and boring. They’re not conversational. They’re from a brand, not a person. They don’t make me feel anything…

And they don’t make me want to buy anything. Which is a problem. ‘Cos I don’t plan to go to a physical store any time soon, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that.

So if I was working with this shoe store, what would I suggest? First of all, I’d want to check what kind of results they’re currently getting from their emails. But since I can’t see that data, let’s assume they need help with three key metrics – open rates, click-through rates and conversions (sales). In that case, I’d start with this checklist:

  1. Your “From name” should be Name at Brand or Name from Brand. Test what works best for you, but those are often a good choice.
  2. Your subject line needs to be enticing. It should invoke curiosity, or be a pattern interrupt (something unexpected). It needs to grab attention.
  3. Do your research before you write the copy. What are your customers’ buying triggers? How can you speak to one of those triggers in this email?
  4. Use personalisation. Imagine if that shoe co. had shown me the exact athleisure leather sneakers I’d wanted, in the colour I’d wanted, and in my size. And maybe something similarly on trend but different, in case I’d already bought the first pair from one of their bricks and mortar stores. Chances are I would’ve hit “Buy”.
  5. Inject some personality. Customers can’t form a relationship with a brand that writes “We have handpicked some luxurious favourites from this season’s collection.” Yawn. As an alternative… off the top of my head, how about, “These arrived yesterday, and we thought they’d look great with your floaty skirt or denim midi. Letting you know before they hit our newly-opened stores on Friday!”

You don’t get a lot of chances to get your emails right. Customers might only open once or twice, before filing you in the “pointless & dull” category in their head. Or unsubscribing.

So don’t churn out boring, bland emails just for the sake of sending something. Make every email earn its place in your customers’ inboxes. And the payback will be loyal, engaged customers who love you and your products… and regularly hit “buy”.