This is part three of a three part series.

  1. Use a proper email service provider
  2. Build a clean, ethical marketing list
  3. Write brilliant emails that make people eager to shop

So you've got setup with Mailchimp, you've got a clean list to send to and now you need to know what to send. This article could easily be 10,000 words long.

There's time to talk about writing great subject lines or optimising your sent from name in other articles.

Right now I want to focus on the bigger pictures. In the interests of keeping it actionable I'll be succinct.

Here's my top 5 tips:

  1. Brand your emails consistently
  2. Focus on one thing per email
  3. Give them an action to take
  4. Encourage contact
  5. Don't just send lists of products

Brand your emails consistently

Using Mailchimp you can choose from a wide range of drag and drop templates. Once you get serious about your email marketing (when you see its effect on your bottom line) you should invest in your own custom template. For now, pick a template that fits and stick with it every time you send an email.

Email can be as much about repetition of messaging as it is about the effect of an individual message, so having a consistent brand appearing in your customers inbox is important. You want them to recognise your mail as soon as it lands.

Focus on one thing per email

Here’s the blunt truth - not everybody is going to open your emails. In fact you’ll be doing well if 1 in 4 people you send to even open your email. So instead of trying to aim at your entire audience with every email pick something specific and try to really target a group of your customers.

Every email should have a single focus. Maybe you sell clothing and it’s June, so you focus on Bikinis, Shorts, Sunglasses. If you sell tyres, then send an email focusing on winter tyres or tyres for off-roaders. You can’t successfully appeal to everybody with every email you send, so concentrate on one thing with each and do it well.

Once you get to know which subscribers open which emails, you’ll be able to send them only the things you know they’re interested in. This is called segmentation and it’s one of the advanced features baked right into Mailchimp from the start.

Make sure you include links to your website (give them an action to take)

It seems obvious, but make sure it’s easy to get to the action you want your readers to take. If it’s a product you’re showcasing make sure you’ve got links directly to that product page in your email. Make sure the image is a clickable link to the product too, that’s what readers expect.

Make sure your email includes all the pertinent details about your business. You don’t want your customer to have to think too hard about anything. If you’re a bricks and mortar store too, make your address prominent. There’s nothing worse for the customer than having to hunt around to find out how to find you.

Make it easy to contact you, encourage it

Use a real email address as your “Sent From” email and make sure it’s monitored, hitting reply is a quick and simple action from an email client so you should encourage people to get in touch.

Offer your phone number too for those who might have questions or need more help during the sales process.

Even if nobody calls, it lends your email (and your business) credibility being able to see that somebody is available to speak to; some people still don’t trust shopping online 100%.

Send more than just lists of products

Instead of a list of products you have for sale, why not send some advice on how best to use your products?

Instead of trying to think up yet another special offer and racing your price to the bottom, why not send a case study about how a customer used your product and achieved lifelong happiness?

There's more to being a brand than trying to club your customers with products, coupons and discounts. Try and engage with how your products make your customers feel.

Buy this, buy this, buy this - it's a message that people get bombarded with every single day. Try to stand out by speaking their language instead of the language of the marketer.

This is just the start of your journey

So the steps outlined here are the kick start you need to go from wasting time on social media to building an email list that will be a powerful revenue stream. It’s the difficult first step of a long and rewarding journey.

There’s a lot to learn and email marketing doesn’t happen on autopilot. You have to work at it consistently and keep learning but doing so will reap rewards far greater than you will get from other avenues. It’s a time investment in your ecommerce website’s future.

So go sign up for your Mailchimp account now and get started.

By Craig Cooper

Founder and managing director of Pilgrim Marketing®, helps Shopify stores to thrive with customer acquisition and store optimisation campaigns. Connect on LinkedIn or Follow on Twitter.