Ecommerce Newsletters 101: A Primer for Getting Started

ecommerce newsletters

Amazon. One Kings Lane. The Gap. Your inbox is probably full of email newsletters from the largest stores on the Internet.

However, for the vast majority of stores who aren’t massive, newsletters tend to be neglected. I’ve yet to talk to an Ecommerce entrepreneur or marketer who didn’t think newsletters were important – but that doesn’t necessarily mean newsletters are getting sent.

The hardest thing about email newsletters is sending your first one.  There are a ton of excuses – too little time, not knowing where to start, etc – but I’ve also found that every store who starts sending newsletters wishes they’d started far sooner.

This post aims to make sending that first email newsletter as easy as possible for Ecommerce store owners by doing two things:

  • The Why: Going over why sending a newsletter is so important (particularly if you are just getting started)
  • The How: Giving a step by step guide to sending that first email.

4 Reasons Every Store Should be Sending a Newsletter

To start, it’s worth focusing on why newsletters are so important (after all, there are a ton of other things on your to do list – why should newsletters jump to the front of it?).

4 reasons newsletters are one of the most important marketing tools for Ecommerce stores of all sizes:

1. Newsletters build an audience

If you don’t have a newsletter, you are essentially betting that visitors will either buy right away or remember you and come back. Why make this bet? Having a regular newsletter opens up a third option: visitors can indicate interest without the need for a full commitment right away, and you can stay in touch over time.

By starting to build a community early, you’ll have a list of potential future purchasers and potential future promoters – and that list remains valuable over time as your store grows. Even if you don’t have the right products or pricing to convince someone to buy right now, getting them on your newsletter now means that you’ll stay in touch with them.

2. Newsletters are an incredibly cheap marketing channel

Numerous studies have shown that email provides an average ROI of $41 per dollar spent. From ads to SEO, getting the right person to your website the first time is expensive and hard, whereas email is about capturing more of them (or staying top of mind) once you’ve already made that investment.

3. Newsletters are low time investment

While this seems far from the truth when you are just starting out, the amount of time it takes to put together an email newsletter decreases drastically with each one you send (and the first one doesn’t take as long as you think).  Once you have a template, process and a writing style, drafting a newsletter is much, much faster.

4. Newsletters can drive your entire marketing funnel

The remarkable thing about newsletters is that they can be helpful with people at different stages of the Ecommerce marketing funnel:

  • Newsletters provide Lead Nurturing: Potential customers who are just aware of you but haven’t been convinced to buy yet.
  • Newsletters drive Customer Retention: Customers who have bought once before but haven’t returned for a second purchase.
  • Newsletters lead to Customer Acquisition: For frequent and loyal purchasers, newsletters can be a way for them to stay engaged and to spread your message through forwards.

Nearly all of the Ecommerce marketing articles you read focus on the first stage of your funnel (how you make people aware of your store the first time), while newsletters effectively drive people at every stage following that.

The 6 Step Guide to Sending your First Newsletter

While each of these sections could be its own blog post, for your first newsletter, don’t worry about optimizing or perfection. Your focus is on getting the newsletter out.

Step 1: Grow your list.

Are you proactively trying to grow your email list? Are you taking full advantage of your web traffic? The first step is making sure you have what’s needed in place to be growing your list.  Follow these 7 tips for growing newsletter sign-ups for ways to begin building a list. Don’t over-think it – the main thing is that every new visitor sees a clear way they can get started.

Step 2: Build a template

Building your email template can seem really intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.  Take an example of something you’ve liked, and start with that.  Email templates are much like Apple products – simplicity is both beautiful and functional. Here are a few ideas for places to start.

Step 3: Writing your Newsletter Content

Writing your first message can seem intimidating, but here are a few ideas for different types of newsletters that can work:

  • Product Features: Highlight a particular product and provide more information on it, why you think it’s great and tell more of it’s story.
  • Story-telling: Tell more of your Ecommerce store’s story.  What makes it unique? Why did you start it? Do your products have an interesting story?
  • Highlight Blog Content: Provide a short lead in to a blog post or other piece of content you’ve already written and send readers back to that.
  • Promotions: While often over-used, using your newsletter to announce a discount or special promotion you are running is a great place to start too.

One thing that often makes the process easier is to take 15 minutes and write down as many topics as you can think of. Once you’ve done that, sketch out what the newsletter might include at a high-level without worrying about the specific words or pictures. If you’re able to get this far, then filling in the details will be much easier.

Step 4: Write your Subject Line

There’s no end of advice on writing great email subject lines.  For your first newsletter, it’s another area where it isn’t worth over-thinking it (and if you are still unsure, repeat the process above of writing down as many as you can think of in 15 minutes and then choose the best).  Finally, it’s also incredibly easy to A/B test subject lines to see how much of a difference one or the other makes.

Step 5: Sending the Newsletter (and Send Times)

Again, identifying the right send time is an area where there’s no end of perspectives (much of which are contradictory).  To start, we recommend picking a Tuesday – Thursday morning and just sending it out – you can optimize send times later.

Step 6: Analyze the Results

The great thing about email is that you almost immediately get results. You see who opened it, who clicked and even who purchased (if you’re using a tool like Klaviyo that hooks into your store’s purchase data). Because of this, once you’ve sent one, you’ll also have the added motivation to send a second newsletter.

Wrap-up

Once you’ve sent your first newsletter, set a goal for the next couple of months (one a week is often a great starting point) and make sure you stick to it. By setting aside a time and being consistent, you’ll improve (so it’ll take less time to put your newsletters together and they’ll get better) and you’ll start to have some data on how they’re doing (whether people open and click, what recipients like, etc).

Have you had success with your email newsletters? We’d love to hear more in the comments.

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