5 Tips to Boost Email Marketing for Retailers

Melanie Balke
April 19, 2023

Few marketing channels have the enduring power of the humble email.

These commonplace correspondences are an unavoidable facet of modern life, and that ubiquity makes them the perfect venue for promotional content. Like traditional direct mail, an electronic message can drive sales, lure in potential customers, and cultivate a strong base of loyal customers for a fraction of the cost.

If you’re looking for the most effective way to boost website traffic, this is the blog post for you! Keep scrolling to learn the tricks and tips that most marketing professionals don’t want you to know.

Why Your Retail Business Should Care About Email Marketing

A worker inspecting a factory machine. "The Benefits: Why Your Retail Needs Email."

There are plenty of reasons to love email marketing.

It has a consistently high ROI and massive appeal. Moreover, thanks to the widespread availability of smartphones, the majority of the world’s population now has quick and easy access to their inboxes at any time.  I’ve even written a whole article dedicated to the many benefits of this ubiquitous marketing channel.

But, as business owners, we want specifics. We want to know if something works. So, how about these stats?

Build Better Customer Relationships With Email Marketing for Retailers

A psychadelic postcard. "Build Trust: Emails are a reliable way to create strong customer relationships."

In business, two things make brands stand out to customers: brand awareness and personal connections. And guess what? Email delivers both.

More specifically, email marketing gives brands the ability to “keep up with the Joneses.” Automated emails are great ways to remind customers of upcoming sales and — perhaps more importantly — your brand as a whole.

Still not convinced?

A brief search will yield plenty of successful retail email marketing examples.

Multiple outlets reported on Amazon’s free email marketing tools, which were formally integrated into its massive ecommerce platform in late 2022. Similarly, Lands’ End (the clothing company) announced its ingenious use of personalized email marketing around the time time.

In both instances, the emails bolstered engagement, sales, and staying power. Even Staples — the iconic office supply store — revealed some of the secrets behind its customer-centric email marketing strategy this month.

Collect Customer Feedback With Ease

A person with a large bracelet typing on a laptop. "Gather Data: Email marketing remains a popular way to survey consumers."

The proliferation of mobile devices has helped email marketing blossom, and its popularity has made the channel a go-to method for collecting feedback. Some email platforms even include ways to analyze responses for tone and sentiment.

Every brand can utilize email-based surveys!

Heck, I just went to have a burger at Red Robin and got an email survey.

It’s that common.

Now, if you plan on using your email marketing for surveys, make sure your inbox is accepting responses. Having to explain to your many patrons why their carefully composed reviews were tossed by a no-reply email address is not great (to put things lightly)!

Improve Your Sales Funnel and ROI

A large machine. "Improve Sales: Email marketing can improve ROI and overall revenue."

Finally, email campaigns are widely known for their high ROI.

This blog post isn’t about the specifics, so I won’t do a deep dive here. You’ll want to refer to some of my other articles for that information! However, I do have enough space to say that this massively popular marketing strategy is a fantastic way to refine and amplify your sales funnels.

The Top Retail Email Marketing Tips to Know in 2023

With all those benefits, I’d be surprised if you aren’t excited to try email marketing for yourself! So, how can you make it work? What’s the secret sauce?

Keep scrolling!

It’s time to break down my top picks for email marketing tips.

Get Your Automation Tools Ready

Men looking at a paper. "Tip #1: Master Your Automation."

What’s the first thing a business needs to be successful?

No, not a good coffee machine! (That’s a close second, though.) I’m talking about efficiency, and you won’t get that without some automated email tools. Even with all the revenue that email marketing generates, the process remains labor-intensive. That’s why companies are investing big bucks into tools that make it easier and faster.

The Benefits of Automated Email

A large gear. "Why Automated? Automation improves efficience and reliability."

I’ve already touched on this, but one of the main draws of automated email marketing is increased efficiency. But there’s so much more to it than that! With some knowledge and marketing finesse, online retailers have turned a basic tool into a money-saving machine. Automation may even be one of the reasons for email marketing’s cost-effective nature.

Some of the tertiary perks of automation include:

  • Boosts customer retention
  • Creates and nurtures more loyal customers
  • Improves customer acquisition
  • Improves the customer experience
  • Increased sales
  • Makes scaling easier and faster
  • Works well with other software

What Does Email Automation Do?

Anyhow, back to the whole “cost-effective” thing…

Most email marketing software comes with automation, but the right email marketing software perfectly fits your needs. The answer to this question is complex, and it depends on what a business needs. Frankly, it’d be a lot easier to talk about what automation can’t do.

Email automation describes a wide array of systematic processes that can do everything from sending marketing messages to cleaning out old email addresses.

The most basic functions of marketing automation revolve around dynamic content and timing. For example, implementation specialists can use basic building blocks to insert names and details to create personalized subject lines. They may also tell the platform to send automated birthday emails on certain days.

Now, thanks to AI, we can go deeper. (Imagine some dramatic music, please.)

Infographic listing uses for automation, including list maintenance, shipping updates, and personalized content.

Automation powerhouses like Klaviyo offer creators dynamic content blocks to display recommended products and recently browsed items. Staples of Canada has even revealed an in-house solution that clips coupons and attaches them to emails. Its platform also shows an in-email map directing customers to the nearest physical store.

Other approaches to automation include automatic list maintenance and shipping notifications. Really, the possibilities are endless! All you need is some creativity and a few marketing strategy pros.

Master the Art of Mobile-Friendly Email Marketing

A phone booth. "Tip #2: Refine Your Mobile Marketing."

Next, you’ll want to step into the future. It’s 2023, and any brand that ignores its mobile users is bound to fail. Despite contradictory predictions, e-commerce has remained an enduring presence, and its popularity doesn’t seem to be waning. More importantly, mobile devices remain a dominant access point for online shoppers.

Compared to similarly effective SMS strategies, mobile-friendly email marketing campaigns are more cost-effective, as they don’t require users to maintain a valid phone number. So, if you want to see those retail sales go up, it’s time to make sure your emails work on mobile devices.

Take Advantage of Dynamic Email Messages

Public domain drawings for a wool spinning machine. "Dynamic Emails: Use responsive templates to create gorgeous emails."

“Dynamic” email messages are hard-coded to adapt to a viewer’s screen — regardless of the size. Comparatively, a static or traditional email tends to be too wide to comfortably view on a mobile device and too narrow on desktops.

Now, this may seem like a wildly complex tech problem, but it’s not! In fact, dynamic emails fall into the “free tips” category because most platforms come with built-in “plug-and-play” templates. At most, your team might need to create some graphics for specialized birthday or anniversary emails!

If you love to save money (and who doesn’t?), you’ll also be thrilled to learn that many of these templates can accommodate fully customizable elements. Some brands even include built-in recommendations based on a user’s purchase history in their emails.

…Or Consider a Mobile-First Marketing Strategy

A farmer on a tractor. "Mobile-First: A low-cost way to amplify your email marketing efforts."

Alternatively, as a small business, you may choose a mobile-first plan. Unlike dynamic emails, these messages can’t resize themselves. However, thanks to clever design tricks, they look great for desktop and mobile users.

The route you take depends on your needs, and some small business owners may begin with mobile-first email marketing before moving to more advanced dynamic templates. Both options are perfectly valid, and good designers can make any email look spectacular!

Grab Attention With Personalized Email Campaigns

A crowd of people in 1941, public domain photo. "Tip #3: Get Into Personalization."

Every email signup form has a set of basic fields. Many brands ask for a customer’s first name in addition to their email address. Why? Because that information is the first step towards high-yielding personalized email marketing.

If you haven’t heard of personalization, then you’re missing out on a lot of new subscribers. In fact, many people expect a level of personalization.

A Crash Course on Personalized Email Marketing for Retailers

Whenever retailers send birthday emails or anniversary reminders, they’re engaging in personalized email marketing. More precisely, they’re using the data they have on an individual consumer to create an experience that’s (seemingly) unique to them.

Both large and small businesses can snag a piece of the personalization pie, but it takes a bit of know-how to pull off.

Most email platforms have a suite of built-in customization options. The most basic is a user’s name, which is usually represented by replaceable blocks like “[FIRSTNAME].” Thus, if a brand wants to connect with new subscribers by using a personalized subject line, its welcome email would likely look like, “Welcome Aboard, [FIRSTNAME]!”

There are also more advanced ways to personalize an email, but we don’t have time to cover all of that!

Why Your Business Needs Personalized Email Marketing

Aside from being an email marketing best practice, personalization is one of the best ways to form near-immediate connections with internet users.

Don’t believe me?

Try this exercise! Sign up for a few email lists, then see how many use marketing automation to send a personalized subject line. You’ll see plenty of retail email examples.

Of course, popularity doesn’t always make something good, but personalization is something that lives up to the hype. Much like segmentation (which I’ll discuss in a second), personalization takes customer preferences into account. It makes content more relatable and relevant, and those qualities often drive sales.

Start Segmenting Your List

Sorted cardboard for recycling. "Tip #4: Sort It Out and Segment."

Another of the top marketing techniques is list segmentation. Again, this is a complex topic, so I’d suggest checking out some of my posts on the subject. However, I’ll still give everyone a quick run-through here!

Like personalization, segmentation aims to create relevant sales with relatable content. Unlike personalization, segmentation works on a larger scale.

What Is a Segment?

Segments are groups of customers with something in common. They may all be males, or they might enjoy baseball. Whatever the case may be, these customers are part of a relevant group, and their marketing strategy can be fine-tuned to fit theirs needs.

Segmentation comes with most email marketing platforms, but the depth varies.

Most brands have at least two segments: New subscribers and existing customers. Otherwise, you’d be sending those welcome emails to everyone!

What’s the Big Deal With Segmentation?

Enough about the technicalities.

What’s the benefit? Why should small businesses invest their limited resources into sorting customers?

At the end of the day, segmentation is just another way to make emails more effective. A well-researched segment can be the difference between a modest success and massive gains. Moreover, segmentation is a great way to educate potential customers — with the possibility of cultivating an immediate purchase!

Don’t Forget to Test

A mountainous road. "Tip #5: Don't Forget to Test Everything."

Finally, it’s time to remember the golden rule of copywriting and implementation: Always double-check everything!

Yes, I’m talking about A/B testing, but I’m also telling you — begging you, even! — to double- and triple-check your work. Make sure everything looks great before you hit send, and keep your eyes peeled for pesky typos.

This tip goes for everyone, too, not just retail email marketing.

What’s That A/B Testing Thing?

I know this post is getting long, but there’s still a little bit more to cover!

Most email service providers offer features for A/B testing. This is a process marketers use to determine what works best for a certain audience. Normally, these tests feature two emails with similar (or even identical) layouts and content and one critical difference.

For example, let’s say I want to see if photos are a good idea. One marketing email — version A — will include photos, and version B will be plain text. The relevant audience will then be randomly divided into two equal test groups. One group receives email A; the other gets email B.

Then, we run the marketing campaign.

Once the results are in, we get to see if our theory was correct.

It’s the marketing equivalent of a lab test, and it’s one of the best ways to connect with your target audience.

Too Many Marketing Strategies?

Those are all of my top 5 tips for retail email marketing, and it was a lot of information.

If you’re feeling tired or uncertain after reading this post, it might be time to look at a signup form for yourself. Namely, check out my contact page and sign up for a free strategy session. We’ll also discuss if The Email Marketers can help your business thrive!

Together, we can generate leads and find more email subscribers. More importantly, we can increase your revenue and give you marketing strategies that’ll make your competition’s eyes water.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the rest of my blog for more free tips.