I was going through my email this weekend and had these emails come through from Newegg.com and Circuitcity.com.  Which would you click on and engage with?

circcity email newegg email

For me, I know it’s the Newegg ad.  It provides more insight to what the sale has to offer and there’s more to intrigue me to go deeper.  The Circuit City ad just tells me they are having a sale.  Being that’s it a holiday weekend, I know every retailer out there has some sort of sale, so it doesn’t do much for me.

Thinking about the contrast of these two email campaigns inspired me to write these tips for creating content for your e-commerce email campaigns.

  1. Provide value
    If you want a customer to read your email and engage with you, provide value.  This can be as simple as providing sales information on multiple products that may be of interest to the customer.  It can also be articles on how to get the most out of a product that is sold, or links to the top rated products in a category or popular conversations in the retailers social forums.
  2. Be relevant
    When recommending products to your customer, recommend products that are relevant to them.  If you have order history that tells you the type of products your customer is interested in, then suggest products in the same categories.  As an example, no retailer has done a better job at recommending products via email to me than Amazon.  I have bought at least a half dozen books that I had no intention of buying, but Amazon recommended other books on the same subject that I purchased from recently and I followed through and purchased the recommended books.
  3. Provide expertise
    Provide expertise when recommending products either from your merchandisers that know the products well or from the wisdom of crowds.  One of the best uses of reviews or rating data from a service like Power Reviews, is being able to take the ratings and use those positive reviews in your selection process for the products you recommend.
  4. Be considerate of your customer’s time and attention span
    Enable the consumer to quickly peruse the email and decide if there is something of interest to them.  If it’s cluttered or vague, it’s difficult to understand the value proposition and make a decision in 5 seconds or less.  Avoid vague offers like “15% of most items in electronics”.  This requires the consumer to come to your site and hunt around for the products that qualify for this discount.   Instead show one of the products in the category and the impact on price and then tell them that the discount applies to other products in the category with a link to a product assortment page only showing those products that the discount applies to.

All of these items require more effort on the part of a retailer.  If you go through the effort of providing content that your customer wants to see, it will convert into additional sales and a better customer experience for the long term.