Customer relationships and brand loyalty are everything for any E-commerce retailer that wants to not only survive but thrive in today’s ultra-competitive online retail landscape.
With Amazon’s dominance, many smaller E-commerce brands cannot simply rely on having the lowest prices or the fastest shipping. So, it is vital to find other ways to encourage customers to choose you over the myriad of other options they have access to in just a few clicks.
There is some good news if you find yourself competing with the giants of online retail: you’re able to do things the big boys simply cannot do after growing to a certain size.
It is much easier for niche retailers to build strong customer relationships, offer exceptional service with a personal feel, and demonstrate a commitment to values that resonate with their ideal customers. These points offer a huge advantage and are how many online stores compete successfully in crowded marketplaces where they are not the cheapest or most convenient option.
Customer experience and strong brand values should be at the center of everything retailers do online. There is, however, one particular digital marketing channel that’s highly effective when using these tools to convert prospects to customers and increase repeat purchasing with previous buyers.
That tool is email marketing.
Using Email to Help Customers Choose You Over the Competition
One of the big advantages of email marketing for E-commerce brands is that much of it can be automated while still having a highly personal feel. Leading ESPs for online retailers, such as Klaviyo, are constantly developing new ways in which brands can automate personalized messaging to customers and prospects.
Email has the ability to reach everyone who has ever signed up to your newsletter, opted in anywhere on your site, or made a purchase with you. This makes it the perfect channel for not only selling your products but selling your brand itself, what you stand for, and the reasons customers might want to ultimately choose you.
Here are some of the most effective ways to build strong customer relationships, increase loyalty, and make people fall in love with your brand using the email channel.
Use Your Email Marketing Strategy to Put Your Brand Values On Show
Your welcome sequence – often the first set of emails someone will get from your brand – is a great place to start educating people on your values.
This is often the highest grossing automated email sequence for E-commerce brands but is not just for sales. The welcome sequence sends new prospects who have opted in but not yet purchased through a timed sequence – with a goal of converting them to customers over 4-5 emails. Your welcome sequence is also an excellent place to start building strong customer relationships and telling people why you’re doing what you’re doing as a brand. Take a look at this section of an email from sandal brand Beek:
This is from their welcome sequence. Yes, they start by talking about their products and why you might want to buy them, but there is a big focus on relationship building via putting what they stand for as a brand clearly on show. In Beek’s case, it is feeding children, definitely something people can get behind.
Content like this can be inserted into every single email you send as a brand. Sometimes, it can take center stage and others it can just be a footnote. But, if you do this consistently, people will start to associate your brand with whatever message you’re putting out there. This is a huge competitive advantage for Beek that will help them stand out in a vast ocean of other footwear brands selling sandals.
Take a look at this welcome sequence guide to learn how to create an effect for your brands.
Automate Personalized Email Outreach to Customers and Prospects
Just because many email marketing strategies for E-commerce brands can be automated, it does not mean you need to lose the personal touch.
Beautiful, well-designed marketing emails are great, but they should not be the only style of campaign you send to your subscribers, especially if you’re trying to create a personalized experience.
Many E-commerce brands see great success with emails that are essentially just plain text, without any real design elements. These are much more likely to appear as though they were written just for the individual recipient – either by a customer service team member or even by the owner or CEO.
Here’s an example from Outdoor Voices:
This is a simple and friendly note letting customers know they are able to reach out to someone specific if they need help, advice, or answers to questions. This is something you definitely would not get from Amazon!
This, of course, can be automated. To the end customer, it feels personal, but everyone who buys a product can receive this message addressed to them by name. Some will know it is automated, but many will have no idea. For an even more personal feel, the logo could even be removed from the example above so the email would be 100% text, just like a message from a friend.
Here are three great opportunities to use plain text emails with a personal feel:
- One week after a purchase: Here, a simple “how are we doing?” email that invites customers to actually reply and share their experiences when doing business with you can be very effective.
- During the abandoned cart sequence: Adding an email here that has a handwritten feel can be great for learning why customers are really abandoning their orders and what questions they need answers to before buying.
- In the last few hours of a sale: This works extremely well. Write up a short 3-4 line email from the owner or CEO reminding your best customers or hot prospects that your promotion is ending later today, and there are only a few hours left to lock in that big discount. This strategy can really boost the results you see from discount promotions, and it feels very personal to each recipient.
There are countless opportunities to use this style of messaging to build better customer relationships, of course. Any experienced E-commerce email agency will be able to let you know which strategies could be a good fit for your brand in this area.
Outside of the Email Marketing Channel
In addition to email, chatbots are another digital marketing channel E-commerce retailers can use to not only sell their products but also offer an excellent customer experience. Chatbots can be used in a similar way to traditional email.
You can take new prospects through a welcome sequence, remind people of orders that were abandoned during checkout, and keep customers apprised of what exactly is going on with their order via shipping and delivery updates.
You might want to consider making your chatbot strategy more weighted towards customer experience than sales, too. This is due to the fact the channel is inherently personal, with many people having Facebook messenger notifications activated on their cell phone.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.