It’s no secret. Retail is in the midst of a digital revolution.

We are moving from a world of Walmart greeters and paper receipts, to a world of chatbots and email receipts.

Today, eCommerce represents 15% of all retail sales in North America and digital campaigns influence nearly 60% of all retail sales.

What’s more, Nasdaq predicts in the next 20 years that almost all retail purchases will be facilitated by eCommerce. You can see this beginning now, as more than half of all millennials make their purchases online (Business Insider).

This will only get more prevalent in future generations.

Email is still essential retail

The majority of retail professionals agree that email marketing is the best channel for customer retention, followed by social media. (eMarketer)

As retail goes digital, email will become even more essential to generating traffic. This means promoting sales, increasing conversions, and building a loyal customer base.

In fact, retail companies have already seen some of their biggest digital successes as a direct result of targeted and personalized email campaigns offering relevant sales and promotions to their consumers.

What’s more, email continues to drive the highest ROI of any digital channel, bringing in $40 for every $1 spent (DMA UK).

Retail brands that leverage email marketing properly can gain a highly engaged customer base, and encourage visitors to deal with their abandoned carts.

However, this is no easy job. To prepare retail companies for this digital transformation, we’ve compiled some really effective email campaigns from brands that have done email marketing right.

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1. eBay’s “Big Deal” of a marketing email

Many brands ignore brand consistency when it comes to their email campaigns.

On the contrary, this eBay Deals marketing email  features a clean and consistent layout that is perfectly aligned to the design of their website.

This is something you’ll want to avoid, as customers are more likely to remember brands that offer consistent branding across all channels.

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Having consistency includes using the same buttons, colors, and font. However, beyond this, you’ll notice that the email also includes a header menu similar to eBay’s homepage.

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Brand consistency is key

The layout has a clear design hierarchy that starts with emphasis on their headline – “This Is a Big Deal”. eBay knows how important sale and discounts are to driving engagement from emails.

The ghost button (i.e. transparent button) as the call to action (CTA) is a bold design choice in order place the focus away from them and into the messaging of eBay Deals.

In fact, in this email, there are no price tags. This is because their primary goal is to drive traffic to their website for further conversions. 

They want to ensure that interested customers will do two things. (1) click through to the website to explore the deals (2) sign up to their Daily Deals email newsletter. Users who sign up will have updates on eBay’s Daily Deals, and eBay will have a channel to capture more data about their active users.

After all, eBay’s platform and app is much more optimized for sales, conversions, and to help people find the products they like. And eBay is in itself an selling platform comprised of small and medium-sized retailers.

Actionable tip: email campaigns aren’t just for selling; they’re also for retaining and engaging with existing customers. eBay uses an email campaign in order to drive sign ups for their Daily Deals newsletter, which will expose users to these promotional offers in the future.

2. Argos shows why email consistency is so important

Argos, a British retailer has significantly changed in the last 5 years.

From being taken over by fellow UK retail giant Sainsbury’s in 2016 to its massive rebranding in 2017 – it has undergone a lot of changes.

Email still a core strategy

Amidst all this change, email marketing is still a core part of their marketing strategy. This includes sending a daily marketing email campaign to millions of subscribers.

Here’s a screenshot to show how absolutely committed they are in sending marketing newsletters, everyday. They adjust the subject line each day to see what captures your attention the best. retail-email-marketing-strategies-argos.jpg

While a lot of pundits advise against sending out a newsletter during the holidays, there is no denying that consumers prefer to see marketing campaigns done regularly. For email marketers, this means sticking to a regular, consistent schedule to send email campaigns.

Sending marketing newsletters day after day doesn’t mean that retail brands should cut corners in terms of email content and design.

Argo’s cleverly designed daily emails

Below is an example of an Argos’ daily marketing email.

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Gifs sprinkled across really render this daily marketing email much more dynamic than without.

The animated header cleverly streamlines information on their delivery options and avoids cluttering the email with a longer, static string of text altogether. The gif of sliding images featuring gym equipment allows them to market many different products at once. Last but not least, the changing colors of the kettlebells is a definite eye-catcher.

Finally, by leveraging absolutely everyone’s (short lived) New Year’s fitness resolutions , Argos effectively injects a bit of humanity into their email copy.

Actionable tip: Implement a consistent schedule in terms of your email campaigns. Use email automation marketing tools such as Phrasee and Kickdynamic to eliminate operational deficiencies related to segmenting and personalizing mass marketing emails.

3. Jack Wills uses transactional emails to drive more sales

Email open rates can vary a lot by industry, the type of email and more.

For example, the average ecommerce open rate is around 15%. But triggered emails like abandoned emails and receipts see open rates 152% higher than marketing emails.

When it comes to emails – every detail counts. There is only so much space in an email and so much time to read for the customer.

This rings especially true for eCommerce and retail. In these two industries, email campaigns need to be truly optimized for marketing to maximize promotions. This does not only apply to marketing emails but also transactional emails where you can cross-promote new products or encourage referrals.

Transactional emails are emails sent to a customer after an action. It could be a purchase confirmation, or an online receipt, and so on. Another example is an abandoned cart email, which are emails sent to users if they have left the website with unpurchased items in their cart.

Salecyclestudy conducted a study on abandoned carts for different industries and found that 75.6% of purchases end up being abandoned. There is is a huge potential that a good ‘abandoned cart emails strategy’ can in prove.

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Transactional emails that make you come back for more

Jack Wills, a UK clothing retail brand understands their value perfectly.

They featured a good standard template that shows images of their abandoned purchases and clear CTAs. Additionally, the personalized copy provides a nice touch of effort and care for better customer experience.

This email provides further incentives by stating that with the items in their cart, they are entitled to free delivery. Finally, this is compounded by a clear marketing message at the bottom for cross-promotion: there’s a sale up to 50% happening right now. This maximizes the chances that customers will come back to the website to hunt for these discounts.

Actionable tip: Abandoned cart emails could tap into a massive amount of potential revenue, and can also be used for marketing purposes.

4.’Go green and make green’ through eBilling like Allbirds & Galeries Lafayette

As retail brands become more digital, reaching a wider audience online is not the only advantage.

Email marketing provides a new set of benefits that are quite different from those offline for retail brands.

Officially-certified eco-friendly retail brand, Allbirds, also knows the value of their online receipts. This purchase confirmation email from Allbird has an effective design that emphasises their efforts to reduce environmental impact. As the text next to their footer indicates, they care very deeply about animal welfare and sustainability and expect other brands to do the same. This message is also bound to please and attract environmentally-conscious consumers, making it a very effective branding technique.

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Similarly, leading French department store Galeries Lafayettes had also committed to Go for Good and become more eco-friendly. They did this by having undertaken the mission to digitize their paper receipts with the help of Mailjet’s email service.

Not only do email receipts have a smaller carbon footprint, transactional email billing is particularly useful because customers can take their receipts with them anywhere. What’s more, cashiers can easily capture email addresses and not have to worry about managing piles of paper receipts.

An eBilling initiative also has another very powerful benefit that often goes unnoticed. Brands need to build the infrastructure to send email receipts for both online and offline purchases. Once they do, a massive opportunity opens up to leverage them to drive upsells, customer feedback, referrals, and general brand awareness.  

E-receipts reign supreme

Email receipts can also  reveal data on consumer purchasing behaviour in ways that had not been possible with paper receipts. They are also more cost-efficient and eco-friendly, eliminating the negative social and variable costs related to paper

Unfortunately though 53% of transactional emails are written by the IT department without any marketing influence. This means that unfortunately, they missed an opportunity to drive more engagement. In fact, enhanced e-receipts with promotions and referral programs drive 360% more revenue than those that do not.

Actionable tip: An eBilling initiative can have many benefits for your company. This include reducing printing costs, becoming more environmentally friendly, to using email receipts as an opportunity to cross-promote.

You don’t need fancy coding and design skills in order to jumpstart your email marketing process. Many email service providers (ESPs) offer predefined templates that allow you to easily create marketing and transactional emails for your eCommerce business.

What’s next for email marketing in retail

Despite what the naysayers say, email is far from dead. It is steadily evolving and growing massively.

Retail brands absolutely need to think about how they leverage email as a part of their marketing and growth strategy.

20% of retail traffic today comes from email, which outperforms all other digital channels by 25-30% more revenue. This is only expected to grow from here.

Privacy and emerging email formats

At the same time, email marketing isn’t easy, and there are always new challenges. Global consumer privacy laws such as GDPR and ePrivacy are rapidly evolving – they affect how email marketing should be practiced.

Meanwhile, email is also becoming much more interactive as inboxes like Gmail innovate the platform. Keeping in mind that at one time GIFs were impossible with an email.

And video in email is becoming a rising trend. As are in-email purchases. And even more dynamic personalized content. It’s important to keep up with the email trends and stay ahead of the curve so that you can continue to stand out in the inbox.

What are your thoughts about email marketing in retail. Have you been convinced of its importance or need more persuading? Follow us on Twitter @mailjet and let us hear your thoughts.

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Julian Canlas is the marketing assistant at Mailjet UK and editor for Maker Mag. He likes to write about emails, tech innovation and online communities. Follow him on Twitter @jic94.

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