It’s not that I hate newsletters. I really don’t.
It’s the “newsletter mindset” that I’m after – it’s this approach that many, many e-commerce stores have defaulted to with email of which promotions are the only thing going out to customers.
Think for a second about your own past experience being on an a retailer’s email list. Some words that probably come to your mind are:
Discount code…Flash sale…Free shipping…Daily deals…Limited time offer…Buy now!
Discounts and creating urgency in your promotions are, to this day, the most effective way to move the needle on sales, so let me be very clear that I’m not suggesting that you abandon them.
Do not abandon them.
But it is time to think beyond just those incentives and use email to also offer a more personable, unique experience for your customers – one that fosters trust and ultimately brings them back to your site when they’re ready to buy.
Andy Dunn (founder of Bonobos.com) published an article called, “E-Commerce is a Bear“. It’s a fun read that prompts the question: what we are supposed to do with the fact that Amazon is one of only two standalone e-commerce companies that have IPO’d in the last 20 years (the other being Ebay).
In the article, Dunn lists four strategies that he believes will allow niche e-commerce businesses to survive Amazon’s wrath, and the one I want to spotlight here is Proprietary Experience.
“E-commerce also creates new models that didn’t make sense before. Take a subscription shoe-commerce sites like JustFab and ShoeDazzle, the fantastic beauty discovery platform Birchbox, and the luxurious dress experience Rent the Runway, or celebrity-influenced commerce like BeachMint.
While these companies are rapidly evolving, they all were founded with a premise of repeat delight via e-commerce at their core.”
E-Commerce is a Bear by Andy Dunn
Providing a unique and positive customer experience is (and will forever be) necessary to survival. That “repeat delight” has to happen in many different facets of your customer experience, and email, often people’s first impression of customer service, is certainly not an exception.
Consider how e-commerce is failing at this
One of the most damaging things about the newsletter mindset is that stores struggle hard with even getting people to sign up because of how it’s positioned and presented at the opt-in.
I call this collage: White Noise
What do calls-to-action like this do for a person who is just seeing your products for the first time?
How effective will they be at getting them to sign up if they’re already a customer at one of your competitors?
“Not much” and “not very”, are the answers I’m looking for.
Email is not going away anytime soon, and the stakes have been raised on creating the aforementioned proprietary experience. So let’s look at some ways to rethink how to better position your email list in a way that offers more of an incentive to visitors.
5 examples of opt-ins from e-commerce stores who have ditched the newsletter mindset
In my experience, simply changing the messaging around your email list is usually enough to raise conversion rates on opt-ins by a significant percentage.
Here are four live examples of more effective approaches to using an email list as an e-commerce business.
Using Exclusivity – offer benefits to list subscribers only
Key: it doesn’t have to be a TON of value to be effective. It just has to say more than “join our newsletter.”
Great example of repositioning to something that sounds much more valuable and communal.
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This is a full-boar rewards program, but lot of good ideas for value bombing with “members-only” rewards and content.
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Content, Education and Tips/Tricks
A simple, but enticing offer — free recipes (and I will bet you those recipes point you back to their products)
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Ongoing Giveaways and Sweepstakes
Death Wish Coffee:
Monthly giveaways require some follow through on picking and announcing winners, but otherwise a dead simple approach.
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These are not the boundary lines for how to approach your email list differently. These are just examples – examples that don’t require a major investment to execute and are effective at not being white noise in a pop-up modal.
If you’re looking to use email more effectively in creating a memorable experience for your customers and would-be customers, look to more examples like these. Join their email lists, ignore their discount offer (or don’t…I’m not your parent), and simply notice what they do well.
Then consider how you can reposition the way your store uses email to deliver more value and delight.
There’s much more to be said on the topic of newsletters and email automation, but I’m not up for writing 5,000 more words and you’re probably not up for reading them. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on how to be more effective with email, join my own newsletter using the form below.
You can do that confidently knowing that there’s good content in store and you won’t see the words “buy now” or “flash sale” anytime soon.