How To Advertise Your Store with Shopify Email Marketing: An A-Z Guide

Now you are in chapter 5 of Shopify 101 series. We all know that email marketing is a unique channel for ecommerce merchants. Unlike other channels, such as social media and paid advertising, email marketing affords you complete control over who exactly sees your message.

With social media and even organic search, you’re subject to the whims of the algorithm and the company that controls it. This means that only a fraction of your follower list might see your posts.

Your email list is totally yours, and you can use it how you like—provided the people on that list have given you permission to contact them.

Another important difference favoring email marketing is intent. When you grow an organic email list, it consists of those who have expressed interest in your products and, more likely than not, intend to purchase.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing channel: roughly $42 earned for every $1 spent. Given how little you need to invest to earn so much, the choice to use email marketing for your Shopify store is a no-brainer.

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I. Shopify Email vs. Email Service Provider: Which is Better?

Shopify comes with its own email marketing solution that you can set up directly from your store’s backend. This may seem like the easy choice. It has its advantages and disadvantages to consider.

1.Shopify Email Marketing Pros & Cons:

Shopify’s tool offers basic email marketing that can help you stay in touch with your customers.

1.1. The pros of Shopify email:

  • You can manage your email marketing centralized in the backend of your Shopify store.
  • It’s easy to create emails using the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor.
  • You don’t need to know any HTML to create emails.

Shopify email is great for those who are just getting started and don’t need anything outside of basic email functions. However, there are clear cons to opting for Shopify email.

1.2 The cons of Shopify email:

  • Shopify email might be too basic for some and lacks features a full email service provider (ESP) offers.
  • Can only use one kind of automation (cart abandonment, set by default).
  • Shopify email won’t be able to scale with your store, as the features needed to scale aren’t provided.
  • Shopify email is affordable, but it’s not free. The first 2,500 emails per month are free, with $1 charged per 1,000 emails sent thereafter.

While 2,500 emails might seem like a lot, you can reach that number quite easily, especially if you’re using automation. Still, Shopify is quite affordable compared to many ESPs.

However, an ESP offers unique benefits that Shopify email doesn’t.

cons of shopify email

2. Email Service Provider Pros & Cons:

2.1 The pros of an Email Service Provider:

  • They often offer more features that help you scale your Shopify store quicker, and they can support you as you grow.
  • You’re not limited to just one kind of automation workflow.
  • Many ESPs work well with Shopify, allowing you to manage email marketing from within the backend of your store.

Of course, going with an external Email Service Provider is going to come with a few disadvantages as well.

2.2 The cons of using an Email Service Provider:

  • An ESP costs more, on average.
  • ESPs come with a learning curve, even if many are easy to use.
  • You might have to use some ESP features on an external platform.

While an ESP might be more expensive than Shopify email, there’s a high ratio of quality and features to price. Shopify email is very basic and easy to understand. However, it is arguably too basic for those who want to grow quickly.

With email marketing having the high ROI that it does, it might be a better choice for your store to invest in a solution dedicated to email marketing.

Email Service Provider

3. How to Choose an Email Service Provider

Should you decide to go with an ESP for your email marketing, it’s important to make the right choice. Here are a few quick tips to help you make the best decision for your Shopify store.

1. Native Integration with Shopify

No matter what, your first priority should be making sure an ESP natively integrates with your Shopify store. Sharing data between your Shopify store and your ESP will allow for better targeting. This is critical for sending emails like welcome and cart abandonment.

2. Easy to Learn and Use

There’s always going to be a learning curve when it comes to adopting a new ESP. However, if a learning curve is very steep, the longer it is before you can send effective email campaigns and automations. Demo a product before you make a decision, and check out what type of support exists for when you need help.

3. Features and Advantages

An ESP is typically loaded with more features than Shopify email. Some are more basic, others are more advanced. It would be wise to look for an ESP that strikes the right balance between sophisticated features you’ll need to grow and ease of use.

For example, you might not need SMS marketing right now, but will you in a year? In six months? It’s better to think for the long term now, as many ESPs are built to grow with your Shopify store.

4. Customization

One of the biggest pain points with Shopify email is the lack of customization. Email formats are fixed. While they get the job done, they’re missing the specific branding and personalization you could have with an ESP. You’ll want an ESP that offers more kinds of emails and automations, with templates to help you get started quicker.

5. Cost

On average, ESPs are more expensive than Shopify email. However, not all ESPs are priced the same. Many are based on how many contacts or subscribers you have. It’s important to look into each pricing system and test several potential list sizes in their price calculators to know how much you’ll spend in the long term.

how to choose email service provider

No matter which ESP you end up choosing, be sure to do your homework and make a choice that won’t have you migrating your email list and store later.

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II. How to Build an Email List

Once you know what tools you need to start using email marketing, it’s time to begin building your list. When you do it organically, you have a powerful asset at your disposal: a full list of people legitimately interested in your products and brand.

So how do you go about building that list? Here’s a few tools most great ESPs provide.

1. Embedded Static Sign-up Forms

A tried-and-true classic, static sign-up forms are a great way to capture new sign-ups. Usually found in the footer of your page, or anywhere else likely to be found by customers, it’s the most basic of sign-up forms.

sign up form

An embedded form is rarely the most interesting or dynamic of sign-up forms. However, it’s a classic that potential subscribers will expect and know to look for if they’re interested in signing up. Thanks to this, it’s always good to have one at least in the footer of your Shopify site.

2. Pop-ups

Pop-ups are a great way to capture email addresses from your customers. A pop-up appears on your site, asking the visitor to sign up for news and updates on your products, and often offers an incentive for signing up.

With a great ESP, you can typically configure your pop-ups in a few different ways:

  • Time based: The pop-up appears after a certain amount of time spent on the page (or immediately).
  • Scroll based: The pop-up appears after your user has scrolled down a certain percentage of the page.
  • Exit intent: The pop-up appears as your customer moves their mouse off the page or towards the upper right corner of the window.

pop ups

The biggest gripe around pop-ups is that they tend to break user experience. This is where exit intent pop-ups come into play—your user is already breaking their experience and looking to leave. These pop-ups are often effective when paired with a sweet sign-up incentive.

3. Landing Pages

Landing pages are a great way to streamline the sign-up process. Removing distractions and creating copy and images for the sole purpose of getting your customer to sign up, these forms can be particularly effective for special offers and giveaways.

landing pages

4. Gamified Sign-up Forms

Everybody enjoys playing. As soon as something is presented in the form of a game, our brains want to buy in. This is the logic behind gamified forms, offering an alluring discount in return for a sign-up.

sign up form

Typically, you can set up gamified forms to simply always offer a certain discount off of the first purchase, or you can choose a set number of winners of larger amounts. This still lets you control how much of a discount you offer and to whom.

All of these sign-up forms can work together, but we’d suggest using either a pop-up or a gamified form. Both of the more dynamic forms might be too much, but using one of them with a few of the more static forms is a good mix for email capture.

II. How to Target Using Segmentation

Once you begin building your email list, you can start targeting campaigns when it’s relevant. Your customers will better respond to your email marketing if the messages you send are pertinent to the things that interest them.

It would be great if you could send an individual email to each customer, but if you did that, you’d do nothing else. A great solution for this is segmentation.

Segmentation is when you split up an email list into smaller groups to send more relevant messages to your customers.

There are a few different ways you can segment your customers:

  • Demographic segmentation: Targeting by age, gender, location, average income, etc.
  • Campaign engagement: Targeting by whether a customer engaged with your promotional campaign through clicks, etc.
  • Shopping behavior: Targeting by how your customers shop, if they browse a category, if they add something to their cart, or if they abandon during checkout.

In the beginning, you might not need a lot of segmentation or have enough subscribers to target effectively. But it’s important to know how to use segmentation for when your list of contacts grows.

Eventually, you’ll also be able to layer these kinds of segmentation for even more precise targeting. For example, you could target female subscribers in a certain age range, who have clicked recent campaigns and browsed a certain category.

segmentaion in email marketing

III. Email Automation: What It Is & How It Works?

Once you’ve got an email list full of contacts interested in your store, it’s time to think about how you’ll reach out to them. If you’ve picked an ESP with automation capabilities, such as pre-built workflows and an automation editor, then you’ll have a useful tool at your disposal. With that in mind, let’s dive into the definition of what is email automation first

1. What is Email Automation

Email automation is a marketing tool that allows merchants to set up a series of emails that dynamically adapts to a customer’s behaviour. Email marketing automation tools essentially remove the need for manual outreach to customers, as merchants can create campaigns that react to a customer.

There are many different types of email automation, each with their own unique benefits and uses. For example:

  • Welcome Emails: These are triggered to send automatically once a subscriber has provided their contact information. They are used to introduce the subscriber to the store, showcase offers, and build brand loyalty.
  • Transactional Emails: These are triggered to send once a customer has made a purchase or requested a refund. For example, an email with an order confirmation is a transactional email.
  • Post-Purchase Emails: These are triggered at set times after a customer has made a purchase. They include product recommendations, using the data of previous purchases to compile said recommendations.
  • Cart Abandonment Emails:These are triggered to send at set times after a customer has visited a store, placed items in their baskets/carts, and left the store before completing a purchase. They can be sent with incentives, like discounts, to try and lure the customer back to complete a purchase.

However, before you begin working with automation tools, you may want to weigh the benefits of the alternative: whether traditional campaigns work better for your Shopify store and your business as a whole.

2. Campaigns vs. Automations: Which to Use?

2.1 Email campaign: Pros & Cons

Pros of campaigns:
  • Doesn’t require any cost to create or carry out.
  • Once created, a campaign can be used as a template for future campaigns.
Cons of campaigns:
  • Are usually static and harder to adapt on the fly.
  • Harder to personalize for contacts and segments.
  • Requires plenty of work to create and schedule.

2.2. Email automation: Pros & Cons

Pros of automations:
  • Adaptable and dynamic, can be tailored to separate segments and on a contact-by-contact basis.
  • Applicable to virtually any purpose.
Cons of automations:
  • Requires an ESP that offers automations. Certain ESPs focus on automations, while others only offer them passively. Because of this, the quality of automation tools and what they can provide a store can vary wildly.

3. Key Lifecycle Automation Workflows to Set Up

Automations have many different applications, but there are some key workflows every store should have if they decide to adopt them.

3.1. Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are simple messages that introduce your store and brand. They’re best to send immediately or shortly after a contact subscribes to your list or makes their first purchase.

To garner brand loyalty, it’s worth contemplating including an incentive with these messages, such as an exclusive discount.

3.2. Cart/Product Abandonment

These messages trigger once a contact has left your store before completing a purchase or with items in their cart. If you have the contact’s information before they leave, or even if it’s gained throughout the checkout process, you can message them with a reminder about what they’ve left behind. Cart and product abandonment messages usually trigger in stages, beginning with a gentle reminder and followed with subsequent messages that might include an incentive to purchase.

3.3. Post-Purchase Emails

These messages serve as a means to consistently remain in a contact’s mind after they’ve completed a purchase. These can be set up to trigger at any time after a successful purchase, such as a few days or even a month.

Post-purchase messages can include an array of different emails with specific purposes, such as requesting feedback or giving product recommendations.

3.4. Birthday Emails

These messages are a way to showcase your brand as one that cares about its customers. Birthday emails are personalised messages, and therefore help build brand loyalty. Add an incentive like a unique offer to encourage another purchase..

4.5. Transactional Emails

They’re not very exciting, but transactional emails are essential. Without them, your store doesn’t seem trustworthy. For example, if a customer makes a purchase but isn’t sent a confirmation email, they’ll likely question whether their order was even made.

These transactional messages include order confirmations, shipping confirmations, and cancellation confirmations.

Wrapping Things Up

Naturally, there’s more to consider than the above when creating your email marketing campaigns. There’s email design, branding, cross-selling opportunities and more: the latter of which we’ll elaborate in future chapters.

Here are some key takeaways to remember when advertising your Shopify store with email marketing:

  • Thoroughly vet potential ESPs: Check which features and costs work best for your store while trying demos and free trials of those that grab your interest. Think about how they’d be useful for your store at both the time of signing up and throughout the future of your business.
  • Be organic with your list building: Experiment with your store to see which methods your potential buyers engage with best. This can include different types of pop-ups to more niche solutions, such as gamification.
  • Familiarize yourself with segmentation early: Even if your store doesn’t have enough contacts to merit it, look into and play around with segmentation. It is a potentially powerful tool, so try to have a good handle on it when the time comes to use it.

And if you opt for the ESP route, embrace automations. They take a little bit of work to set up, but thereafter work behind the scenes to drive more sales.

This is guest blog from Tracy Puckett – Content Marketing Manager at Omnisend

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