4 Reasons Why Email Marketing for Retailers Is Absolutely Necessary (And How to Make It Work)

Melanie Balke
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June 24, 2024

Of all today’s digital marketing channels, none are as powerful as email marketing. The electronic offspring of direct mail marketing campaigns is an effective tactic for anyone — including your retail business. It’s an adaptable, affordable, and multifunctional tool for every fiscal need, yet I meet too many retail brands without an established email marketing strategy.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit email marketing is not easy.

A skilled in-house team can take months to craft a profitable retail email marketing strategy, and that planning doesn’t include the details about each campaign’s content and imagery. Then, you’ll need a trustworthy email service provider. And don’t forget your automated email flows; for that, you’ll need an expert e-commerce implementation specialist to handle your triggered transactional emails.

However, email marketing efforts are well worth the trouble.

4 Significant Benefits of Email Marketing for Retailers

Assorted stamps. "The Perks: How Email Marketing Helps Your Retail Business."

I’ll start by emphasizing its strengths.

Email marketing is more than a customer data pool. It’s a gateway to loyal customers and increased sales. Even conservative estimates of its potential are remarkable, as comprehensive email marketing strategies can yield up to 3,200% ROI or more!

How?

1. Drive Traffic to Your Website

You need interest to drive sales. Fortunately, promotional emails are a quick ticket to widespread awareness.

Email marketing generates fast, accessible recognition for your brand. It promotes brand loyalty and supports customer loyalty programs. Your signup form is more than a collection point; it’s a vector for personalized content and customer retention.

More importantly, automated emails cover every step of your sales funnel. Welcome emails capture new customers, while awareness and personalized promotional emails draw them into your fanbase. Post-purchase email campaigns win the hearts of repeat customers, and personalized subject lines encourage repeat purchases.

2. Boost Customer Relationships

The benefits aren’t limited to e-commerce brands, either. Even brick-and-mortar stores can boost in-person sales and expand their customer base.

Email marketing is a great way to gather data. It can remind customers of upcoming events, recommend high-value items in post-purchase emails, and encourage in-store customers to return for seasonal promotions. Emails are the quintessential digital customer relationship amplifier. After all, your campaign monitor does more than send campaigns. That same web tool can track customer status updates and deliver targeted messages as needed.

Need more sales power? Pair that CRM with the power of personalized email marketing. Now, an otherwise bland discount code is a one-on-one connection with your customer. A skilled retail email marketer pushes further, using the goodwill of personally relevant emails to encourage more in-store interactions.

3. Collect Social Proof

Your marketing efforts can also collect powerful social proof.

Think about some of the most influential industry leaders. When you see their marketing, you see yourself. You see tangible proof of how a product or service can change lives. Those photos, videos, and testimonials are marketing gold!

Unfortunately, there are few convenient ways to ask for user-generated content. You can request in-store feedback, but most people are socially checked out once they have their receipt. You can ask for customer feedback with targeted social media campaigns, but they won’t guarantee engagement.

Email marketing removes the “middleman” of social proof. It gives happy email subscribers a chance to improve the customer experience. Moreover, should you attach that survey to a post-purchase email, you can incentivize further interactions with a discount code or lead magnet.

4. Increase Sales for Your Retail Business

All those personalized emails and timely marketing messages turn potential customers into loyal supporters. An innocuous welcome email is the start of a lucrative friendship, and email service providers happily support their clients.

Ultimately, those email marketing campaigns give your retail brand a financial edge.

And you don’t have to trust my word. Countless retail businesses are actively reaping the benefits of an email marketing strategy. These brands understand the power of an email campaign. Their marketing teams know how to send targeted messages and use each shopper’s purchase history to shape their future choices. Successful retailers — both on- and offline — convert customer engagement into cash.

The Anatomy of a Successful Retail Email Marketing Strategy

A plastic bag. "How It Works: The Anatomy of an Email Marketing Campaign."

So, how does it work? What turns a humdrum email strategy into a powerhouse to rival all other marketing channels?

The answer is more than superb copywriting and remarkable welcome emails.

A genuinely effective marketing strategy accounts for everything and tackles every possible hiccup customers may encounter. To succeed, you must create a comprehensive playbook for your email marketing efforts. Appease existing customers with as much zeal as you greet potential customers and pamper your buyers at every step in between.

A Defined Brand

You can’t build brand loyalty with generic templates, so establish a guide for your email campaigns to ensure a cohesive brand identity. These traits will apply to every campaign you send — from welcome emails to post-purchase flows. They’ll define your marketing strategy and help you stand out from other online retailers.

Ideally, you’ll want a skilled email marketing manager to formulate your branding plan. Otherwise, you may end up with generic campaigns that look like boring retail email examples.

When defining your email marketing identity, consider these three critical points:

  • Layout and formatting
  • Tone
  • Visual identity (including colors and font choices)

List Management Software

Next, you’ll need something to handle your email subscribers.

Most modern email clients come with built-in list maintenance software, but you may need more than what you’ll get from a basic signup form. If you plan on tracking users’ past purchases to drive sales, you’ll want some high-end CRM software. You’ll need e-commerce integration to study customer engagement metrics. Add a skilled programmer to your honey-do list if you’re looking at rolling out interactive email campaigns.

All that information goes somewhere. Otherwise, it would be free-floating data buried in your online store. (That’s a big “yikes” for your information security team, by the way!) Alternatively, you’d collect email addresses in an equally insecure spreadsheet. List management software keeps your data tidy and removes unwanted, inactive subscribers. Most options also include additional tools to support more complex aspects of your email marketing strategy.

Add-Ons and Tools

No list of retail email marketing tips would be complete without mentioning the channel’s many tools.

Modern email marketing tools support more than basic marketing bursts. Just look at any collection of retail email marketing examples; you’ll see what I mean. Today’s email campaigns extend beyond subject lines and body text. They also include tools to segment your audience, optimize performance, and streamline email marketing campaigns.

Don’t forget to check out those troubleshooting tools, too. Previews and automated tests can spot technical problems in your email campaigns. With these tools, you’ll see how your marketing looks on mobile devices and get a chance to tweak your subject lines for smaller displays.

Even the tiniest details can make a big impression, and goodwill goes a long way for your retail business.

Amplify Your Retail Email Marketing

Overlapping leaves with an overlaid subject line. "Find a Pro: Boost Your Retail Email Marketing."

Alternatively, you can skip the hard work and hire a team of dedicated professionals!

I founded The Email Marketers to give everyone a chance to succeed. I’ve assembled a team of email experts to amplify your retail business and turn your marketing campaigns into pure profit. My team can help any online store gain the foothold it needs to grow. (And they can do the same for brick-and-mortar retail businesses, too!)

Schedule a free strategy session and see how my experts can help your brand grow.