Email is still a killer app for driving e-commerce traffic and sales. You have to be deliberate, though. Here are five ways to improve your email campaigns.


In an era of virtual reality, chat bots and retail professionals armed with digital tools that we hardly imagined a decade ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking of email as, well, boring. But email campaigns remain one of the biggest drivers of e-commerce traffic and the crowd at Shop.org’s Digital Marketing Workshop on Monday was eager to hear from those who are making their names conducting successful email efforts. “Email is such a driver,” David Cost, vice president of e-commerce and digital marketing at Rainbow Shops, told a room full of digital commerce professionals. “Our goal is to collect an email address from everyone who comes to a store or the website.” More Shop.org 2016 coverage

Cost said that at one point the marketers at Rainbow Shops realized that fewer than one in five visitors to retailer’s website signed up to be on the store’s email list. They decided to kick things up a notch. In the end, Cost said, Rainbow Shops has five keys to its email success:

  1. Only send email to active subscribers:

    Rainbow Shops only sends regular emails to customers who have opened an email at least once in last 90 days. “Don’t spend money to send email to people who aren’t opening your emails,” Cost said. Of course, if you notice your subscription numbers starting to plummet, it’s time to take action, such as reminder emails and the like.

  2. Test:

    You need to know whether your particular approaches are working. Monitor your results and keep in mind outside variables that could affect your results. For instance, Cost said, email engagement is generally higher on Fridays and the first of the month, when consumers typically feel more flush.

  3. Send emails twice a day:

    Don’t be bashful about staying in touch. Cost says Rainbow Shops sends a daily morning email to subscribers. Those who don’t open the morning email will receive another email in the afternoon. “Look how people use email,” Cost said in answer to an audience member’s question about overdoing email. “They look at what’s the last email they got; what’s at the top of the inbox. If it happens to get there when they look, then they’ll open it." Otherwise, what’s the harm in sending a second email? Chances are, your customer never saw the first one, Cost said.

  4. Use cart abandonment to your advantage:

    Send customers an email featuring the items they put in their carts, but never purchased. Rainbow Shops has seen good results without needing to coax shoppers with promotions or discounts. Sometimes a reminder is enough to close the sale.

  5. Give to get:

    If you want to get an email address from a customer, offer something in return. Rainbow Shops provides coupons for 10 percent off in return for an email address. “Online, if you want to get information from a user, you have to compensate them for that information.”

So, sure, email can seem a little stodgy in a time when retail is moving at warp speed. The secret is to not stand still; to realize that all email marketing campaigns are not created equal. And if you stick with it and get it right, you might find that there is nothing sexier than increased traffic, conversions and revenue. Just saying. Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at @ mikecassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy. .