The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes a frenzy of activity from many ecommerce websites attempting to catch the eye of current and potential consumers. Sending newsletters is one popular and effective way to attract more sales - but how can you get the maximum impact without seeming to be overbearing to customers? We’ve gathered a few tips to help you avoid the pitfalls that cause an audience to ignore, delete or toss your promotional emails into the Spam folder.
Make It PainlessFirst, know that a customer providing their email address to you for promotional material is a great first step: it means they’re already invested in what you’re selling and curious about what further value you can provide. To that end, it’s important to make it easy for them to sign up if they wish to do so. Most of Volusion’s store templates have a newsletter signup entry in the footer area of your storefront. You can also edit the text that displays there by going to Design > File Editor and clicking on your “template.html” file link (your link will include the actual name of your template). Once there, hold down the CTRL + F keys to search the page for the relevant text (for example, “Keep up to date with new arrivals & new looks!”). You can edit the text to say whatever you’d like, then save your changes.
Our ecommerce websites also have a modifiable newsletter signup field on your checkout page, and you can create your own in the navigation menu promotions section (applies to older, non-responsive templates with navigation menus on the left). Adding these signup locations throughout your website makes it easy for interested customers to sign up, without being too obtrusive to other shoppers.
When a customer signs up, the “Email Subscriber” box will be checked within the existing customer account associated with their email. If an account doesn’t yet exist for that email address, the system will create a new account with the subscriber box selected.
You may wish to collect more information from your customers, but we recommend keeping the newsletter signup simple.
You may wish to collect more information from your customers, but we recommend keeping the newsletter signup simple. You can always use custom fields to ask additional questions at checkout if you’d like to. You also want to make sure the phrasing of your signup form is accurate. In a few words, let your customers know what they’re getting into, depending on what you plan to send: promotions, daily deals, product tips, company updates, etc. You can even draw more store traffic by posting a link on your social media or blog site to wherever your form is located.
Make It ComfortableMaking it comfortable goes for both you and the customer; you want your newsletters to be easy to send and easy to read. Any Volusion store plan above the Mini comes with access to our built-in Marketing > Newsletter section, making it simple and convenient to craft a new newsletter. The majority of this article is written with Volusion’s built-in Newsletter functionality in mind, but if you already have a third-party email provider you’d like to use, such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp, that’s fine too! The Volusion newsletter system has a number of advantages, such as sending only to Special Interest groups, using the Easy Editor toolbar to craft your newsletter within the Admin Area, and a text-only option for customers who have their email set up to disable HTML.
Tailor your newsletter to match your store’s aesthetic and branding – perhaps with a holiday twist.
In order to “make it comfortable” for the customer, try to put yourself in the mindset of your demographic. Are they perpetually busy? Are they inundated with similar offers from other stores? Make sure your emails are easily scannable with clear formatting. Tailor your newsletter to match your store’s aesthetic and branding – perhaps with a holiday twist. Have an editor review it for errors and make sure any links are correct. And use the built-in test email function to send a preview to yourself to confirm that it looks good on various mobile devices.
Make It TimelyMany merchants aren’t sure when or how often to send their newsletters. Again, the answer is to know your audience and your product. Are customers clamoring for more updates? Ramp up your releases. Do you sell something that only needs to be purchased every once in a while, or around the holidays? Address that in your messaging. If you’re just getting started, think about how often you’d like to see such emails from your favorite stores. Every business has a “sweet spot”; some once a week, others once a month. The only real way to know for sure is testing, but once you nail down your ideal frequency, stick to that – most customers prefer a regular schedule over sporadic notifications.
When sending, remember to monitor the newsletter limit associated with your plan. If you plan to send a lot more emails over the next couple of months, you can upgrade this limit in your MyVolusion account. The new limit will activate immediately, allowing you to send to more subscribers right away. You can downgrade your limit after your busy season by submitting a ticket from your MyVolusion account to our Billing department and specifying your desired limit.
Make sure the information you provide to subscribers is useful to them. Big sales, coupons, and special deals are crowd pleasers.
Make It Valuable“Give the people what they want” is business 101, and no less so for newsletters. Make sure the information you provide to subscribers is useful to them. Big sales, coupons, and special deals are crowd pleasers. Detailed product information can be important for certain ecommerce websites. And major changes to how orders or shipping will be processed are vital to convey. Other information that doesn’t impact your customers directly, like company culture events or moving offices (unless it impacts the above) may be better suited to being published on your site so customers can seek it out if they wish. The Special Interests function can be especially useful for this, allowing you to send emails to particular sub-groups of customers.
If you're caught sending spam, your site can get shut down.
Make It Error-FreeThere are a few specific spam and legal issues to avoid when sending newsletters. First, reading over the CAN-SPAM Act will help make sure your messages don’t fall into what many email programs consider a Spam category. To that end, the Volusion newsletter system automatically includes an unsubscribe link at the footer of every email. This is required by the CAN-SPAM Act, and should not be removed under any circumstances. If you're caught sending spam, your site can get shut down.
Additionally, you should never check the box to “Include people who un-subscribed” when sending a newsletter unless absolutely necessary, as it may be a violation of this act. Only emergency emails, such as safety issues or product recalls, are valid reasons to use this feature. If you have any further questions about avoiding spending spam from your Volsuion store, check out this article!
Finally, when crafting your newsletter with the Easy Editor, you may need to modify the source URL for certain embedded images to ensure that they display properly outside of your website, in your customers’ email clients.
Make It Work For YouOnce you’ve sent a few newsletters and can see the holiday traffic come pouring in, there’s still more you can do! If you embedded a tracking link in your newsletter, you can monitor how successful your newsletter campaigns are. You can even check who your newsletter was sent to. And we have more solid advice here.
Looking for other seasonal business tips? Be sure to check out our ebook on how to prepare for the holidays! ‘Tis the season for sales, and a good newsletter can be a gift of its own for both you and your customers.