It’s 2020 and email marketing is still one of the most effective strategies businesses can use. If you are running an eCommerce store, investing your time and effort into building an email list should be your priority. Don’t take my word for it, and take a look at the research showing that email can generate $38 for every $1 spent.
That’s hell lot of money, isn’t it?
Truth is, your email list is your gold mine… If you know how to build it and use it to your advantage.
Lucky for you, I got you covered. In this article I will show you the best tactics for building a huge email list for your eCommerce business from scratch.
Let’s get started.
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Understand and define your target audience
First and foremost, you need to define your target audience. If you don’t know what kind of people you want to have on your list, you won’t attract or convince them to give you their email address.
Understanding and segmenting your target is a crucial step in helping you develop an effective lead generation strategy and in effect – build an impressive email list for your online store.
Here’s a quick guide to finding your target market.
Research the market and your existing audience
The first step in defining your target group is conducting market research as well as analyzing the behaviour of your existing audience on your eCommerce platform.
Here are a few key factors that you should take into account:
- Used device
All this information will help you understand who you should be marketing your products to and what kind of people should be on your email list. For example, if your online store isn’t optimized for mobile, you might be missing out on the opportunity to mobile users to your website. This potentially means leaving tons of cash on the table.
Apart from this basic data, you can also get more detailed information based on the behaviour of your existing audience.
In the age of the IoT (Internet of Things), data collection has never been easier. Potentially useful Information gets generated when audience members use all kinds of connected devices or digital channels. With permission, for instance, you can get location intelligence data from an individual’s smartphone. That might help you better connect your target audience’s online and offline behavior.
If you make a chatbot for your online store website, you can get an insight into the analytics data, such as: visited pages, how many times, the time spent on certain products’ pages, things added to wishlist or shopping cart etc. Apart from that, with chatbots you can also tag your website’s visitors based on various properties (such as behaviour) to create customer segments and later on launch personalized email campaigns.
You can also use external tools, such as Google Analytics or Amplitude to gather similar data and segment your customers depending on your chosen criteria.
Analyze your product
No matter the product you are selling, you need to understand exactly what problems your product solves and what needs it fulfills. It’s helpful to consider the following:
- What pain points does your product address?
- Who would benefit the most from using it?
- Is it compatible with other products?
- How does the price reflect on the demand?
- How popular is this solution on the market already?
Moreover, you can use a tool like Prisync to analyze your pricing and see how it compares to your competitors. In fact, price is often a critical factor for your customers’ decision-making process so make sure to understand what pricing strategy would be best for you.
Perform competitive analysis
Another way to find your target audience is to figure out what groups are your competitors targeting. There are several ways in which you can conduct a competitors analysis.
One way is to analyze landing pages created for seperate customer segments and see if you can replicate that for your products/categories.
If your competitors are running blogs related to their products or services, you can use a tool like BuzzSumo to spy on them. This tool allows you to check out the best performing content on topics you are researching, as well as which distribution channels are most effective.
For example, let’s say you have an online business selling custom t-shirts and want to write an article or tutorial about designing a t-shirt. To check what kind of content around this topic is already performing well, you can type “how to design a t-shirt” in BuzzSumo.
From there you can see what content got most engagement and on which channel. As you can see, Youtube seems to be the marketing channel that is best performing for this topic. Also, don’t forget to check your competitors’ strategies on other platforms, such as Zest or Growth Hackers as they might be getting decent traffic from there, too.
Here again, while performing a competitive analysis, don’t forget to analyze your competitors’ pricing. By spying on you will have a better idea of how your lead generation strategy should look like – whether it’s better to offer free shipping, a discount or a free gift.
Design your buyer persona
Once you’ve collected all the data related to your audience, it’s time to design your persona. You can do it from scratch or use ready-to-go buyer persona templates to save some time.
Here’s an example of an eCommerce buyer persona:
Having a clearly defined buyer persona will allow you to more skillfully target the right prospects and avoid wasting time marketing to those that aren’t interested. Your lead magnet will also depend on the characteristics of your buyer persona.
Build separate landing pages for your products
One of the most effective ways of increasing your chances for email sign ups and paid conversions is creating separate landing pages for your products. It’s great for personalizing your offering to different kinds of customer segments.
The more smoother is their journey on your website and the more personalized is their experience, the higher the chance that they will leave you their email address. With separate landing pages you are also attracting highly qualified traffic so building an email list consisting of people who might become buyers. You can create landing pages for separate products or for special deals.
A good practice here is to use different copies for different pages to address your target groups. This also means designing a different lead magnet for each of them in order to maximize your chances for converting your visitors into email subscribers.
Here’s a good example of an eCommerce landing page built for a special promotion:
Image source: Snacknation
Once your landing page is built, a good idea is to focus on your SEO so that you can start attracting organic traffic to it. Also, don’t forget about mastering the UX design on your page. The experience of your website’s visitors and decide whether they will decide to purchase something from you or not.
Bonus tip: Apart from regular landing pages, you can consider creating a so-called conversational landing page. Using such a page with a live chat or chatbot, you can communicate in real-time and one on one with your prospects.
Design an appealing lead magnet
In order for your visitors to feel compelled to trust you with their contact information (email addresses), you need to offer them something valuable in exchange. This is where the idea of a lead magnet comes in.
Of course, to be effective, lead magnets should be tailored to appeal to your customer segments. Here are the most common lead magnets for eCommerce businesses.
What’s a better way to encourage your website’s visitors to leave you their emails than offering them a juicy discount once they do?
Coupons work great for online stores as there is a high probability that people coming to your website are already looking to buy something from you. If you give them a little nudge by offering 20% discount or $10 off from their purchase in exchange for an email address, you increase your odds of collecting a bunch of emails.
There are multiple ways you can use this strategy to grow your list. It can be either a discount offered to new website’s visitors in the form of a pop-up, delivered with a chatbot or promoted via Facebook or Google ads. It’s up to you to decide which one works best.
You should also A/B test whether it makes more sense to offer a discount with percentage or rather a fixed amount off the purchase.
Another popular lead magnet for online stores is to offer free shipping. Too often, the cost of shipping (especially from another continent) is what stops your potential customers from purchasing your products.
They see the initial price of what you are offering and are about to complete their transaction when the checkout page suddenly displays double the price of the item they are ordering.
What do they do? They often give up and look for cheaper alternatives elsewhere.
That’s why offering free shipping is so powerful and so commonly used in eCommerce stores. One of the most successful companies that basically has built their whole business model and brand on free shipping is a bookstore called Book Depository. Free delivery has become their strongest competitive advantage and something they are known for worldwide.
Image source: Google
If you do decide to offer free shipping, though, make sure you can deliver – quite literally. Customers will still expect deliveries to arrive on time and for things to go smoothly. Even when they haven’t paid for it. It’s important to audit your inventory management, and make sure you can handle any extra orders or deliveries you might need to fulfil. Generating new sales is no good if you can’t delight the extra customers and keep them on board for the long haul.
Playing games and being competitive is in our nature. Who doesn’t like winning?
That’s why running giveaways and contests is such a powerful way to attract new traffic and acquire new leads and customers. There are various ways to execute on the idea. Some people run giveaways on their ecommerce websites, some use spinning wheels, others promote it via their social media channels.
As long as your contests are compliant with the law of the country where you run them, they can be a great way to expand your email list and make some buzz around your brand.
Here’s an example of how such a giveaway could look like.
Image source: Lenovo
You giveaways prizes can range from physical items, for example your own products, to discounts or free tickets.
Truth is, people love free stuff. Especially so if the gift comes unexpectedly. It doesn’t matter how big or small the thing is, the odds are on your side that the recipient will feel appreciated and happy if they receive something as a gift.
Giving away something along with an order doesn’t have to cost you any extra. In fact, there are ways to do it completely for free if you decide to partner up with a company looking to promote themselves and increase their brand’s awareness.
You can use the free gift promise as a bait for your website’s visitors who would be curious enough to receive it to leave you their email address in exchange for it. You can simply create a pop-up saying “leave your email address to receive a free gift with your next order” and watch your list exploding!
Widgets are a great way to get valid emails and additional personal information about your prospects. They offer a report, service or some significant data that are difficult to receive for free.
For example, SE Ranking Lead Generator offers to install the On-Page Checker widget on your website. After filling in the form, customers get a free detailed report on how well a web page is optimized for a particular search query. And you can collect contacts of your potential customers with an obvious interest in the niche.
Explore different lead generation strategies
Once you have your lead magnet ready to go, it’s time to explore ways you want to deliver it.
Probably the most popular way to deliver your lead magnet and encourage your audience to share with you their email is via good ol’ pop-ups. Pop-ups still work well and there are different types you can use.
The main rule with using pop-ups for lead generation is: Don’t be annoying.
Looking at eCommerce businesses, the pop-up type that comes across most often is an intent pop-up that shows up the moment a website visitor lands on the page. It usually informs about some kind of discount or promotion that a person can get after they leave their email address. For example, this is a smartly designed pop-up that you could replicate in your shop.
Another pop-up type can be an exit one that shows up when the website visitor is about to leave. Here, the pop-up usually tries to convince the person to finish the transaction or offers a deal to encourage them to take an action before they go.
Moreover, pop-ups can also show up as small live sales notifications at the bottom of the page, informing the visitor about who has recently purchased a certain product and where. It works great as it addresses the FOMO aspect as well as builds more trust in the brand.
Another great, and less “invasive” method to informing your website’s visitors about your lead magnet is to use chatbots. Chatbots are gaining more and more popularity as they can serve multiple purposes: lead generation, customer acquisition, audience segmentation, customer service, and more.
They are especially useful for eCommerce stores websites, as they easily engage people landing there. They also assist them with their journey to becoming a customer. Here, for example, is a chatbot that is designed to offer a discount to each new website’s visitors.
Image source: ClickUp shop
Influencers are still hot on social media. They often have a power to bring you tons of new followers, traffic, and email subscribers, too. All you need to do is research influencers and micro influencers in your niche and decide who’d be the best fit for promoting your business. You should consider to the following:
- Audience size
- Their business collaboration history
- Type of partnership you want to start
Influencers can either promote sign ups for your email list, talk about your discounts or giveaways in exchange for a commission. Here’s an example of this in practice.
Image source: Instagram
In order to get in touch with them, you might want to consider using an email outreach tool to automate this process and save your time. Just make sure that your message is personalized.
Finally, setting up a referral program for your loyal customers is what can work miracles in helping you grow your email list. With word-of-mouth being one of the most powerful marketing channels, using referral marketing is a smart choice to make.
It’s a great win-win system, too. Chances are that you existing customers are already recommending your products and services to their friends and family. Why not reward them for it and motivate them to do it more often?
Referral marketing works especially great for small businesses that have established a loyal audience, for example on social media. Here’s an example of an online store Gilt using this technique in their own marketing.
Image source: Gilt
Truth is, converting your customers into your brand’s advocates is one of the best investments you can do for your company’s success.
Pick the right email marketing software
In order to run your email marketing campaigns effectively, you need to equip yourself with the right set of tools. This is a step that you should be incorporating simultaneously with building your email list, so that you can launch your email campaigns right away.
Here are the key things you should consider when choosing a suitable email marketing solution for your website:
- Data segmentation
- Emails customization
- In-built templates
- 3rd party integration
- Monthly emails sends
- SPAM rules compliance
- A/B testing
There is an abundance of email marketing tools to choose from and you have to test a few of them to find the one that suits your business needs most. Don’t forget to monitor and measure your results. It’s important that you pay attention to your email deliverability, open and click through rates to be able to adjust your strategy if needed. These can be improved by using an email verification tool like Hunter.io. As an eCommerce business, your job is to stand out in the overcrowded inboxes of your email subscribers. Having the right tools in your toolbox is the first step to making that happen.
Building an email list is your investment into your future. As email marketing continues to be one of the most powerful marketing channels, you should capitalize on it as much as possible. Make sure that your subscribers won’t regret the decision of leaving their email addresses in your hands.
Here’s a short recap of all steps we’ve outlined for building a sales-generating email list:
- Understand and define your audience
- Create separate landing pages for products/deals
- Focus on designing appealing lead magnets
- Experiment with lead generation tools
- Choose the suitable email marketing platform
All in all, with an email list of engaged subscribers, you are just a few steps away from turning them into loyal customers. Don’t waste this opportunity. Good luck!