From Eblast to Omnichannel Messaging For Ecommerce Growth

Last updated April 9, 2019

Email marketing has changed a lot since Gary Thuerk sent the first eblast in 1978.

So have the results. His 400 recipients generated $82 million in sales!

Needless to say, if you’re still sending email blasts, your revenues will have gone the other way: not surprising if your email marketing strategy is straight out of the 70s!

This guide will teach you the most progressive approach to email marketing for ecommerce today: that’s omnichannel messaging.

An omnichannel approach, where you communicate with customers on multiple platforms, can quickly increase conversions and ecommerce revenues.

In short, if you want to maximize your profits using the latest messaging strategies in 2019 and beyond, I’ll show you how to go about it.

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What is an eblast?

An eblast is another name for a mass email marketing campaign.

Eblast examples could apply to newsletters sent out to a large database of existing clients or a mass mail promotion of a new product to a database of new prospects – and practically anything in between.

They can be sent to hundreds or thousands of people at a time – hence the term “blast”.

Email blasts are spammy

The aforementioned Gary Thuerk is sometimes referred to as “the father of spam”.

Therein lies the problem with eblasts: most of the savvy email marketers now avoid using the term because it conjures up the idea of:

  • Untargeted emails
  • Emails of questionable relevance to recipients
  • Spam
  • Force-feeding messages to unwilling people

So, you see: not the best public relations for your ecommerce business!

Back in the day, eblasts were justified by marketers because the sheer numbers of emails that went out meant that even a low conversion rate could generate significant profits.

But because email marketing platforms, spam filters, and people’s tolerance levels of pushy sales messages have all evolved, untargeted or aggressive-sounding sales messages are no longer considered acceptable.

In fact, they have the opposite effect. People usually run a mile.

So, with email marketing these days we see:

  • Highly segmented databases
  • Targeted messages
  • Finely-tuned emails with relevant discounts, promotions, etc.

Not the case back in Gary Thuerk’s day!

Omnichannel messaging will grow your ecommerce profits

Email marketing is still considered the highest converting form of marketing for ecommerce businesses. According to OptinMonster:

Email marketing yields $44 back for every $1 you spend – a 4400% ROI

But that too is evolving.

As people communicate increasingly through the social platforms and instant messaging apps, rather than via their email, the marketing messages are following.

Think about this. When people sent letters to each other, mail shots were big. As people moved to email messaging, eblasts got big. When SMS was all the rage, SMS marketing started. Now, as people increasingly move to instant messenger programs, that’s where the marketing campaigns move to.

It makes sense.

People still email and SMS each other of course. Chat is not actually replacing anything; marketing has just become omnichannel rather than focusing on a single dominant channel.

Mark Zuckerberg even said he believes Facebook’s future is private messaging.

The savviest ecommerce marketers are therefore running campaigns based around:

  • Messenger marketing
  • Targeted email marketing
  • SMS promotions
  • Push notifications

And they’re sending targeted messages to people happy to receive them, with a good track record of opening them.

That’s very different to email blasts.

Capturing email and Messenger leads

Whichever way you aim to reach your prospects, growing your list is essential – and that means being able to capture the contact details of your prospects.

Whether your email, messenger marketing list, push notifications list or SMS.

The golden rule here is: get these details as early as possible in the relationship. Here’s some tips to effectively capture leads in 2019:

Combine email and Facebook Messenger

For leads you connect with through optin popup boxes, use the optin to gain permission to send updates to Messenger too.

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If you’d rather capture them on one list, Messenger is lower friction as its one click.

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But owning someone’s email is worth more in the long run, as ultimately Facebook still controls your Messenger list and could change their terms at any time.

You can also include a message in your checkout area as shoppers ADD TO CART, asking them to opt in to receive purchase updates through Messenger. Or engage them with chat pop ups.

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Then connect with them through Messenger, make sure you ask for their email details as early as possible:

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Consider SMS and push notifications

As mentioned, a more complete omnichannel approach to automation includes SMS and push notifications.

We all know what text messages are. Push notifications are messages sent to the inbox or to the main screen of a smartphone – a little like a pop-up ad. But they are app-based.

They can also be browser push notifications you send to the Mac notifications center.

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image8Push notifications have no character limits and are less regulated than text messages.

It’s worth noting that ‘SMS blasts’ suffer from the same problems as eblasts.

But you can probably see how personalized messages sent to the one device that you know people have on them all the time – their phone – can be a powerful marketing tool.

When capturing leads consider timing

Now by no means are we suggesting to add all these opt-ins all at once on your homepage. Please don’t! Less is more and timing is everything.

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But, you can combine them, using different strategies for timing, placement and intent to see great results.

Make sure to update your TOS and legal templates

If you are going down the omnichannel path, you’ll be requesting and storing extra data from users. You’ll also be subjecting your users to those third party data handling terms.

This means you’ll need to update privacy and data policies in your terms of service and legal templates.

Automations for messenger and email

By going omnichannel, you increase the potential amount of “touchpoints” with customers and prospective customers.

That may sound like a lot of extra work. But it doesn’t have to be the case. As messaging platforms have evolved, so has the smartness of the automation tools at your disposal.

You can now do ten times more without it involving ten times the work.

With these tools, you set up behavior-triggered email or messenger sequences in advance and they do the work for you.

What you should automate largely depends on how big your list is.

We’ve found that, for databases below 5000 people, a simple messaging strategy suffices – based around two key types of message series outlined below.

For larger businesses and lists, it’s worth investing more time and effort as, quite simply, your messages will reach and be read (and acted upon) by more people.

For ecommerce email lists of 5000 or below

If your list is still a growing business, focus on these two most important types of messages:

Welcome series

image2A welcome series of emails is targeted at attracting new customers who’ve opted in to receive emails (maybe a newsletter or product updates).

They generally have higher open rates than newsletters so are a good chance to make a great first impression.

Messages often feature a discount on an initial purchase – or a download of some description that provides info of value to potential customers.

This is an opportunity to get interested parties even more interested and locked in your database. It enhances future marketing opportunities.

Note that it’s a series of messages – not a single email. So it might look something like this:

  1. Confirm their subscription and send coupon code – introduce them to the ‘club’ it’s nice to brand your audience, send them the coupon or info you used to incentivize them to join and let them know more emails are coming.
  2. Follow up with your value proposition  these are not only sales emails, but a way to show why someone would shop with you, ehat you do and how you do it uniquely.
  3. Show your benefits as features –  What is the hook of your product, quality? price? Focus on your benefits as features and educate people so they can comparison shop with confidence.
  4. Close em – Drive leads into high selling product and collection pages and use time limited offers to close the sale.

Top tip: Use plain text emails and speak as if you are an assistant helping them shop, not a big brand selling them.

Ecommerce cart abandonment automations

image1 Around 70 percent of shoppers who visit your store will add items to their cart and leave without checking out.

These people have demonstrated a need or desire for what you offer. You mustn’t allow them to slip through your fingers.

Abandoned carts are a goldmine if you get your messaging right.

Follow shoppers up with abandoned cart emails and you have a great opportunity to convert this ‘lost’ revenue.

For lists of 5000 or above

For larger lists, in addition to the initial welcome series described above, consider the following messaging strategy.

Cart abandonment messages/emails

When you have a larger business, significant numbers of shoppers will abandon their shopping carts.

That warrants a more sophisticated messaging system to follow up on all that ‘lost’ revenue.

Send a messenger abandonment message first and an email second.

More people will read an instant message before an email than the other way round.

When shoppers have checked out of your store without making a payment for items in their cart, you want to catch them as soon as possible.

It’s therefore worth sending a Messenger abandonment message first – before following up with an email.

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By combining email and Messenger in this way, you potentially increase revenues for cart abandonment marketing by more than 70 percent over just using email!

This is how the revenue per recipient improves:

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Source: https://www.klaviyo.com/blog/revenue-per-recipient

Top Tip: Test your messaging system out for the optimal strategy. How does a single instant message and a single email work?  Are you still leaving money on the table?  Would you be better off with an instant message and 3 emails? Split test subject lines and content too.

Post-purchase messages

Instant messaging is a great way to inform customers about the status of their order… providing receipts and shipping alerts, for instance:

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Win-back sequences

When your database of customers is large, significant numbers of ‘dormant’ customers won’t have visited your store, opened an email, or bought anything for many months.

Some of these will be beyond redemption: disgruntled, left the country, their mother just opened a store selling what you sell!

However, if your list is large enough, consider a win-back (or ‘re-engagement’) sequence that can reactivate this ‘sleeping revenue’

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Make the messages personalized but try different channels. If they’re not opening emails, try instant messaging or SMS.

Browse abandonment

Got lots of shoppers browsing your products but never adding anything to cart?

Try a browse abandonment messaging strategy to try to convince these ‘window shoppers’ to step in and start buying.

These messages should be highly personalized and usually based upon the specific products that the shopper was browsing.

They should remind users about what they were looking at and offer alternatives – while ideally driving a sense of urgency to buy.

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You can incorporate onsite popups, as well as emails or Messenger messages.

Product review requests

Product reviews won’t just appear. You have to ask for them. And they’re like sprinkling a little gold dust on your store.

Social proof matters more and more, so aim to get 5-star product reviews from as many customers as possible.

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Make it easy on yourself and automate the process with instant messages, emails, and/or texts.

Recommended products

You can also automate the process of sending messages to promote recommended products to shoppers, based on their previous browsing, purchase, or abandoned cart history.

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Because you have user data on the products that shoppers are most interested in, email, SMS or Facebook Messenger are great channels for offering personalized discounts on these items.

VIP list segmentation

One of the key rules of ecommerce messaging, whichever channel you use, is to effectively segment your list.

The most valuable segment is the VIP customers: those who buy from you regularly and/or have a high net order value. This will normally involve the top 1% of your customers.

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There are three very good reasons to hold these people close and to be in regular contact with them:

  1. To sell more
  2. To deter them from buying elsewhere
  3. To learn valuable information for product development and improving your service

Customer referrals

Word of mouth is just as important in ecommerce as it is in bricks and mortar stores.

But, like product reviews, customer referrals don’t just happen for most brands – we can’t all be Louis Vuitton.

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By automating the process of asking for referrals, you ensure that they’re not simply an afterthought.

They become an intrinsic part of your ecommerce marketing strategy that happens automatically after customers buy – and you can even incentivise the review process to encourage further sales.

Transactional emails for subscription businesses

If you run a subscription-based business, you can save valuable time by automating the transactional emails that confirm actions that people have taken and prepare them to take new actions.

A few examples include:

  • New subscriber
  • Cancelled subscription
  • Renew subscription

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Email has traditionally been the way to do this but the growing popularity of instant messaging provides a great alternative channel.

Ecommerce Email Campaigns

Newsletters

Newsletters remain an important way to increase the touch points with customers, keeping them informed, up-to-date with what’s happening, and aware of new products, services, and events.

Eblast design and eblast template used to be important, now plain text email campaigns are what generated real revenue.

You can also engage customers with fun games and quizzes, and run surveys that provide valuable information for your business.

Messenger instant campaigns

Broadcasts can be sent to all your followers directly from Messenger – or just to a segmented list.

Try this next time you have a special promotion to run on a particular product or you want to inform people about an upcoming online (or offline) event.

They can respond instantly from the Messenger app.

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Sync your messenger and email lists

Whatever you’ve set up your email lists to do can now also be done through Messenger, if you synch customer information in your software.

The intended ‘flow’ of messages can be synched so that both operate in tandem. When a specific activity triggers an email, it can also trigger an instant message.

This makes it more likely that your messages get to where they need to be and get read.

No better time to move from eblast to omnichannel

The type of omnichannel messaging described above is still fairly new.

That means it will evolve further – and probably at pace. But it also means you have a window of opportunity to get up to speed with this type of ecommerce marketing and use it to grow sales.

If you’re still trying to eblast your way to revenue, you’re more than likely driving potential clients away.

It’s time to move on.

giles thomas

Author:

Hi, I’m Giles Thomas. Founder of AcquireConvert, the place where ecommerce entrepreneurs & businesses go to learn how to increase conversions & profits. I’m also the founder of ecommerce growth agency Whole Design Studios. I’m a head marketing mentor at the Google Launchpad Accelerator & Google Marketing Expert. Ps. Check out my new blog RisePro.co

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