5 Crucial E-mail Marketing Features for E-commerce

E-mail marketing features

In a previous post, we talked about how to pick an e-mail marketing service for your e-commerce store. We spoke about aspects like usability, reliability and so on.

The biggest selling point of any service is the features they offer. Most services offer a wide range of e-mail marketing features that cater to any online business. However, there are some features that are absolutely crucial for any e-commerce store.

If you’re comparing e-mail marketing services, you have to ensure that the one you choose has all the following features.

E-commerce Integration

This is the first thing you should look for in an e-mail marketing service. Does it integrate with your e-commerce platform?

Typically, e-mail marketing services don’t need full-fledged integrations. They usually generate HTML code for opt-in forms, and this is enough for most online businesses. The opt-in forms collect e-mail addresses and send them to a list specified in the service app.

E-commerce is a special case. Because you’re selling so many different products online, and most e-mail addresses are collected via the checkout form, it’s important to find out which products led to which e-mails.

Conversely, your e-mail marketing campaigns will contain products that you want to push out to subscribers. You’ll want to be able to track which subscribers clicked on your products and went on to buy from your store.

To do all that and more, there needs to be a deeper integration with the e-mail marketing service and your e-commerce platform.

Responsive Designs

There are two types of e-mails you can send. The first is plain old text. These are basically the e-mails you send to friends and family from your personal Gmail account.

The second type is HTML. They are like mini-websites within an e-mail. You can add images, custom CSS, and even different layouts to design the e-mail to look any way you want.

For most online businesses, plain text e-mails are just fine. They’re good for quick notifications or blog updates. For e-commerce stores, however, the ability to send HTML e-mails are a must-have feature. You’ll be able to send product details to customers along with images and purchase buttons. If you are an Amazon customer, you might have received such e-mails from them.

The problem with HTML e-mails is that they can sometimes look bad on a smaller screen. Just like with a website, HTML e-mails need to be responsive. It’s no secret that most people use their mobile devices to access their e-mails. So when they receive an e-mail from you, it has to look good on a phone.

While most e-mail marketing services offer HTML e-mails and custom designs, some don’t have in-built support for responsiveness. When looking at the e-mail design features make sure they are responsive. You don’t want to create gorgeous e-mails for desktop only to have them break-down when your customers see them on their phones.

Automated E-mails

Automated e-mails are another basic feature that most e-mail marketing services provide. There’s no real point paying for a service if you have to send all e-mails manually. That being said, e-commerce stores need more than the regular automation that most services provide.

You’ll want to be able to send e-mails based on certain events or actions that customers take on your store. This is why it’s important to have an integration with your e-commerce store. Common examples are a welcome e-mail to new customers or a thank you e-mail every time someone purchases something.

However, to really impress customers, your e-mail automation needs to be coupled with advanced analytics and targeting features. Some e-mail marketing services have this built in while others have third-party integrations. Either way, collecting data on what consumers are doing on your site will allow you to send personalised e-mails and offers.

For example, you could offer a discount to someone who has visited a particular product page ten times. Or you could send a coupon to loyal customers who have bought five products from you. Or you could send customers a ‘gift’ discount on their birthdays. The more data your e-mail marketing service pulls in, the more triggers you can create that automatically shoot e-mails.

From the customer’s perspective it will look like there’s someone manually crafting e-mails for them. From your perspective, it’s all automated allowing you to focus on the other aspects of your business.

A/B Testing

Sending beautiful and personalised e-mails are well and good, but it wouldn’t matter if your customers don’t open them, or if they open them at the wrong time, or if they open them but don’t click on anything.

A good e-mail marketing service will allow you to test various aspects of your e-mails. You should be able to test what day of the week and what time of the day customers are most receptive to your e-mails. You should also be able to test different headlines, copy and designs to see which ones result in the most clicks to your store.

The e-mail marketing service should be flexible enough to let you pick how long your tests can run and which e-mail addresses will be part of the test. Sometimes your tests might result in poorer numbers, so you don’t want your entire e-mail list to be a part of it.

Finally the service should be able to provide reports and even automatically take action on tests, dropping the losers and implement the winners.

Analytics

Open rates and click-through rates are just one part of the story. Analytics and data that can provide a 360 degree view of your customers is a valuable e-mail marketing feature.

Every e-mail address represents a real person who is in a different stage of the customer life-cycle. Some are just subscribers, while others are regular customers. A good e-mail marketing service will give you insight into all this, helping you understand the different stages and behaviours of your customers.

Of course, there’s no point in being able to access all this data if you can’t do anything with it. You should be able to sort through it all and convert it into action. Finding out what marketing campaign led to the most subscribers, or what offers led to the most sales, will allow you to repeat these successes over again and grow sales without taking wild guesses.


Don’t get carried away by features like social sharing and custom form building. Sure, they are nice to have, but these 5 e-mail marketing features are the must-haves if you want to take your store to the next level.

Does your e-mail marketing service provide all these features? If not, are you planning to switch to one that does?

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