Maximizing Your Sales with Email: A How-To Guide

How many emails do you open a day? Ten? Twenty? More? If you’re like the average working professional, you probably get upwards of one hundred emails a day.

Some of them get read and responded to, some of them get ignored for later, and some of them go straight to the trash.

How do you, as an e-commerce vendor, make sure that your emails don’t end up in this last category? In order to build a good relationship with your email base, you have to send emails that people actually want to read.

Your email marketing campaign can be the most valuable tool in your sales arsenal, if used correctly. It gives you the opportunity to reach out to potential customers easily, inexpensively, and in a way that encourages them to get involved.

Email marketing all comes down to three basic concepts: personalization, interest, and community. For your emails to be successful, they have to be personal, interesting, and contribute to a sense of community. With these three attributes, your emails will become something that your readers look forward to, instead of something they delete immediately.

In order to prioritize these three concepts in your email marketing campaign, you should start with these 5 basic steps:

  1. Segment your customer population.
  2. Automate your follow-up/lead nurturing process.
  3. Send more than just asks.
  4. Use rich text and media in your emails.
  5. Create a community around your products and brand.

Once you’ve nailed down these basics, you can use them as a foundation to increase sales, brand visibility, loyalty, and more. If you’re ready to get started, let’s dive in!

1. Segment your customer population.

The first step to creating personalized emails is to get to know your supporters better. Understanding their preferences and interests is the key to writing and sending better emails. When you draft your email campaign, remember that marketing will never provide a one-size-fits-all solution.

Instead of using a generic email for all of your readers, break your readership down into smaller, more similar groups called segments.

Segmentation is a marketing strategy where you separate your readers into small groups based on things they have in common. This tactic allows you to write for the benefit of a specific reader persona, as opposed to trying to appeal to everyone with one email.

Some common ways to segment your reader population are by:

  • Age bracket.
  • Location.
  • Previous purchasing history.
  • Gender.

Then, once you’ve created these segments, you can create an email marketing campaign tailored to the assumed interests of these groups. For example, if you’re a kitchenware vendor, you know that your 22-30 age bracket will probably be more interested in wine glasses than your 12-21 age bracket.

Segmentation is a great strategy for creating more personalized emails.

2. Automate your follow-up/lead nurturing process.

As your online popularity grows, you might find that you’re pursuing more leads than you can keep track of. No matter if you’re selling t-shirts, event tickets, or membership software, lead nurturing and follow-up are crucial for maximizing your sales numbers.

In order to keep any potential sales from slipping through the cracks, automate the follow-up process to ensure that every lead is pursued until the end. What are some easy ways to automate your email marketing processes? You can automate email follow-ups based on different criteria:

  • Intervals of time. If someone opens an email but doesn’t click through, send them another email reminding them of what they saw before 7 days after the original email.
  • After certain actions. If someone clicks through to a product but doesn’t buy, automate an email with more information about the product 3 or 4 days after they first saw it.
  • After abandoning a purchase. If someone gets most of the way through the ordering process and then doesn’t complete it, send them a follow-up the next day with a subject line like, “Don’t forget about me!”

If you’re having particular trouble with shopping cart abandonment, head over to this guide from Swoop to learn more about preventing this troublesome trend.

Depending on what products or services your organization sells, it might even be worth automating a follow-up email that offers the reader to opportunity to talk to a live sales rep about the product.

A Follow-up demonstrates to your readers that you’re truly interested in their business, and helps them choose you over a competitor who doesn’t follow up or nurture them through the sales cycle.

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3. Send more than just asks.

Yes, the purpose of your email marketing campaign is to maximize your sales. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should bombard your readers with emails about purchasing products every day!

This tip is all about principle number 3 of marketing: build a community around your brand. While reminding your readership to purchase your products is crucial to your business, it’s not the only aspect of your organization that your email marketing campaign can benefit.

Use your emails to send out things like:

An example of a business that does this in a groundbreaking way is REI. Their Co-op program delivers information about outdoorsy events and meetups right alongside products and discounts. We’ll talk about REI again later when we discuss building a community around your brand.

What everyone can learn from REI, however, is that your members will be more invested in your brand as a whole when you provide value to them in a variety of ways. This value can be through newsletters that keep them updated on new innovations or through offering experiences as well as products.

When you send your readers a variety of emails, they’ll be more excited to engage with your sales email as well.

4. Use rich text and media in your emails.

Let’s think for a moment about what your emails actually look like. When you open an email in the morning and you’re immediately hit by a wall of text, are you going to actually read every single word to find out what’s important?

The odds are, probably not. You might skim the first few sentences, but if the point doesn’t immediately jump out at you, you’ll probably send the email to the trash. To prevent this from happening to your emails, make sure that you provide a lot of visual interest by including rich text and media in your emails.

Rich text and media encompasses a lot of things, but the point is to draw the eye to the most important detail. This can be through changing text size, font, and color or including pictures and videos.

Some examples of engaging rich text and media that you can use to improve your emails are:

  • High-quality, well-lit photos of people happily using your product.
  • A video testimonial from a happy customer explaining why they like your services.
  • Brightly-colored buttons linking to product pages and infographics.

Incorporating these into all of your emails, not just sales emails, is a best practice for email marketing. They make your emails more attractive, as well as easier to read and understand. For example, bolding and enlarging the main points of the email make your email easier to skim for a reader who doesn’t have a ton of time.

Plus, using pictures and videos puts a face to the other consumers out there and creates an emotional connection between them, your readers, and your product.

Don’t forget to track and report on email analytics to discover which of your photos and videos are the most compelling and effective.


5. Create a community around your products and brand.

This step might be difficult, but it’s worth it in the long run. Creating a community around your brand is key to promoting customer loyalty and retention, and it helps your organization grow thanks to the word-of-mouth marketing that naturally occurs.

Let’s talk about REI again. Their primary business operative is to sell outdoor recreation equipment to adventurers of all levels. However, that is far from their only offering now. Through REI’s community, you can attend learning events at their stores, go on hikes with other REI Co-op members, and learn about other outdoor opportunities through their newsletters and online forums.

So how can you take the lessons learned from REI and incorporate them into your own marketing tactics? Some of our favorite techniques are:

  • Organize regional meetups. Remember when we suggested segmenting by location? This is the perfect time for that. Plan networking nights or other events based on where the bulk of your readers are.
  • Offer online forums. On your website, include places for customers to ask questions, read reviews, and discuss your product and adjacent topics.
  • Promote creativity in your community. Encourage people to post on Instagram or Twitter about your product using a hashtag that others can emulate. YouTube influencers are particularly good at this type of marketing—just look at all the content creators that use a hashtag to denote their supporter base.
  • Offer bonuses to loyal customers. When you ssell online, you have the opportunity to offer extras automatically through your website based on your customer’s previous engagement. Consider sending a free t-shirt to someone after their fifth purchase!

Creating a community promotes customer loyalty as well as provides additional value to your customer base. Instead of just offering your product, you can offer your product with the added bonus of a veritable army of other people who use the same product and might be able to offer advice, tips, and tricks.

Bottom line…

Email marketing is a crucial part of your overall marketing strategy for any organization, business, or association. When you can effectively reach out and create connections between you and your readers through email, you’ll be able to expand your influence as well as promote community!

Onward & Upward, Team

Contributed by Jake Fabbri

Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.