Fashion startups, take note: Now more than ever, customers do their research before they make a purchase.
This is especially true for online purchases where user reviews, price comparisons, and background information about the product are available in just a few clicks of your mouse.
Between PR, social media, ads, and partnerships, fashion startups have tons of options for generating awareness for their online stores. But providing the necessary customer education and helping potential customers through their research is the next necessary step for driving conversions.
B2B companies have known this for years. Marketing automation, or email campaigns triggered by on-site actions, is a response to this consumer behavior and nudges customers along the research journey and guides them towards conversion.
If you’re selling online and competing on price alone, you’re competing with Amazon. That’s going to be a tough battle. You have to differentiate your product quality, company story, and brand mission. You have to explain these value propositions to potential customers in order to guide them to make a purchase. Fashion startups are wise to think about their marketing funnels in a similar way to B2B companies and develop programs that educate potential buyers about these value propositions based on the customers’ indicated interest through on-site actions. Email is the ideal marketing channel for delivering this nurturing content.
With this approach in mind, here are five tips for building your online store with email marketing.
1) Build Your List
If you don’t ask, the answer’s always no.
Invite new site visitors, social media followers, and potential customers who see your ads to subscribe to your mailing list.
Here are a few ways you can build your email list without annoying people:
Make your signup form prominent on your website. If it’s “below the fold” on your website’s footer right now, consider placing a second one at the top of the site page too. Don’t make it difficult to find.
Instead of a pop up that blocks the entire page, try a “slide out” sign up. Slide outs (or fly outs) appear to come out of the lower side of the page after someone has been on the page for a few seconds or when they scroll down. These are great because they are less obtrusive than pop-ups, but still catch people’s attention.
Be upfront about how often you’ll be sending email. Joining an email list is a form of commitment. But what exactly is someone committing to? There’s a big difference between receiving an email every day or two and once a month. Set expectations and stick to them.
Make email opt-in the default setting for new buyers. Set up your site in a way that customers have to sign in or sign up before adding a product to their shopping cart. This way, even if they don’t follow through with the purchase, you have their email addresses and you can enroll these customers in abandoned cart nurturing programs and still make the sale.
2) Use Welcome Emails to Your Advantage
Welcome emails have far higher open rates than any other email. This is because your customers are actively engaged with your brand when they receive this email. So don’t miss out on this opportunity to develop that relationship further.
Instead of a plain old welcome email that just confirms the subscribers’ email addresses, include a call to action to follow your company’s social media accounts or download your company’s mobile app. Directing your customers to these other marketing channels creates additional touch points in the buying journey and ensures that your company and value propositions stay top of mind for new subscribers.
Take a cue from Fab.
Fab’s welcome email promotes the company’s mobile app and does a great job of creating an additional touchpoint with the consumer.
For a social media example, custom jewelry startup Gemvara smartly encourages its subscribers to engage with them on social. In this case, they don’t promote any one platform in particular. Rather, they promote the Gemvara hashtag, which is applicable across social networks.
3) Send Regular Newsletters
This is somewhat obvious. If you’re asking people to subscribe to your mailing list, you have to give them something worth subscribing to.
You can start simple with monthly newsletters about new products, promotions, and company news – like how your Kickstarter campaign is coming along.
As you collect more data about what topics are popular with your customers and what on-site actions your customers are taking, you can evolve this basic approach and target people based on their stage in the buying journey.
A good newsletter example to look at is Kate Spade. Kate Spade sends updates regarding sales and new products, but the newsletter also includes posts from the Kate Spade lifestyle and culture blog. (See the link to the Rio de Janeiro city guide in this example below.)
4) Segment Your Lists
Email list segmentation allows you to target people based on their stage in the buying journey and what they have done on your site before.
Here are a few examples of segmented email campaigns:
Focus discount promotions towards people who have not bought before. People can get trained to expect discounts, so you want to use them strategically. You can of course offer old customers discounts, too, but a better way to do that would be as a reward through a referral program.
Segment customers based on pageviews. If someone has visited a product page more than once, that’s a pretty clear signal that this person is closely considering purchasing this product. You can help these customers along the buying journey with product information content and third-party validation. Tweets from happy customers and links to positive product reviews are great examples of third-party validation. Details about fabric, craftsmanship, or ethical production processes could give potential customers the extra information they need to make a decision to buy your product.
5) Personalize Your Emails
Studies show that including a recipient’s first name in an email subject line can raise open rates by nearly 3%. That’s a great case for using data in your email marketing to send more targeted and relevant messages.
Personalization begins with tracking. Track on-site events like pageviews and past purchases will help you set up behavior-driven campaigns. Although one simple newsletter for all subscribers is a good start, these targeted campaigns are more likely to convert than blast newsletters of the same old content to every customer. You want to work towards this approach.
Here are a few ways you can personalize your emails with data:
Use names – Ask for first names during the signup process and use this information to personalize subject lines, greetings, and even email content.
Location – Direct subscribers to check out your product in person at the nearest retail stores that carry your product or at your own showroom.
Additionally, take location into account when it comes to email content.
New England just had one of the coldest, longest winters that any of us could remember. On those nights this winter when you knew you’d be hunkered down in a blizzard, it was comforting to get an email with the subject line “Snowed In? Here’s 20% off.”
For example, take a look at Ann Taylor’s take on this kind of email:
Now, if I was basking in the sun somewhere other than New England, it probably wouldn’t have had the same ring to it.
Purchase history – If someone has bought a pencil skirt before, they probably need a blazer to go with it. A style guide on how to mix and match outfits with their past purchases and new products could be a great campaign to send to this segment.
You can also make an educated guess about someone’s gender based on purchase history. If you sell mens’ shirts and have a segment of customers that buy frequently around Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas, you could infer that this segment is buying gifts for others and may actually be female. With this information, you can customize what content you send to this segment and offer much more impactful and helpful campaigns.
Here are the key takeaways you want to keep in mind as you develop your email marketing strategy for your fashion startup.
• Send regular newsletters. Commit to a pace you can keep up with, and keep up with it.
• ASK for email subscriptions. If your newsletter just exists and no one signs up for it, it doesn’t do you any good. Set subscriber goals each month and think of new ways to get them.
• Start collecting data as soon as you can. Your other PR, social media, and blogging efforts will drive visitors to your website, and your new email newsletters will drive repeat visitors. It’s important to set up event tracking and begin collecting data about what these people are doing on your site as soon as you can. This way, you can quickly transition from general newsletters to more targeted, relevant campaigns.
How are you using email marketing for your fashion startup? Let us know in the comments!
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