John Tackett

E-commerce: 2 tactics to increase relevance in your email sends

February 11th, 2014


Relevance is the biggest reason why a customer opens your emails amid the flurry of messages they don’t open.

True relevance is elusive, tough to achieve and even harder to maintain.

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, I wanted to share two tactics for moving the relevance dial that you can you can use to aid your own email marketing efforts.


Move from rebates to readership

For some marketing teams, promotional sending is habitual on a scale viewed as borderline narcotic.

With limited time and resources, incentives intuitively seem like the right move to drive sales, but when the customer experience becomes built on a quid pro quo discount purchase relationship, you’ve got a bit of a problem on your hands.

So how do you break the cycle of promotional-only emails?

Well, one approach Marcia Oakes, Senior Online Marketing Manager,, shared in a recent case study is to create relevant content that celebrates your product and engages your customers.

Marcia’s team realized that their problem was two-fold, as calendars are a seasonal product and even promotions have their limits with customers.

“There are only so many ‘calendar clearance’ messages that our subscribers will receive before they will opt-out,” Marcia explained, adding, “We don’t want our list to go cold. That would hurt us with our deliverability with the major ISPs.”


Marcia’s team built a monthly newsletter around blogging and social media that engaged their subscribers with year-round entertaining content.

Their move beyond promotions to audience building resulted in open rate increases of 46% over the previous year.


Customers will abandon more than just your cart

I think it’s important here to make a distinction.

Moving beyond a tactic doesn’t mean you abandon it altogether.

It just simply means you take one more deliberate step toward doing it better than you did yesterday, and hopefully better than the other guy.

For example, Laura Santos, Marketing Manager,, saw an opportunity to move beyond cart abandonment triggers and seized it.

Laura’s team used their customer data to determine a chance existed to increase sales among their multiple-visit shoppers by sending emails to customers triggered by abandoned product pages that encouraged them to return and complete the transaction.


The tactic slashed checkout abandonment rates by 40% in less than two years while increasing overall checkout conversions by 65%.

You can learn more about how Laura’s team used triggered sends and testing to increase their ROI in a recent case study, “E-commerce: Moving beyond shopping cart abandonment nets 65% more checkout conversions.”


All roads lead to relevance

No matter the goal of your next email send, it’s important to remember the big picture view of why you send emails in the first place: to delight your customers with relevance.

Whether that relevance is an offer for your latest premium product, an incentive to complete an abandoned purchase, or heck, even an offer for free shipping – the important thing here is that being delightful means you have to be relevant.

Good customers demand no less and great customers deserve no less.

Also, these examples are just a few opportunities to aid your email marketing efforts in e-commerce.

Feel free to share some of your insights on delighting customers in the 2014 MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Report survey. The deadline for the survey is Feb. 14, 2014.


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Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , ,

  1. February 12th, 2014 at 11:17 | #1

    A wonderful blog post, John, and so true. The point of e-mail marketing is not to find a way to get something from your customers, but to provide them with the content they need.

  2. John Tackett
    John Tackett
    February 12th, 2014 at 11:46 | #2

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for the kinds words. Glad you enjoyed the post.


    John Tackett

  3. Noel Rodrigue
    February 17th, 2014 at 11:28 | #3

    Bang on target John.

    You can paint your marketing email readers head to toe, but as some point they move on, leaving an unpainted spot on the floor. Better off making them dance to your music and painting the floor properly. 😉

    The emails are meant to reinforce the link between company and readers such that it becomes a bond. Boring them to sleep doesn’t do much for a bond.

  4. Lucia Coffey
    February 17th, 2014 at 13:25 | #4

    these are good points. One of the reasons people unsubscribe to e-mails is because it clutters their inbox. Do you have any experience with “self-destruct” e-mails that would disappear after the deadline for a promotion is over? Does anyone do this?

  5. Jose
    February 20th, 2014 at 18:23 | #5

    @Lucia: I don’t think there’s such a thing as self-distruct email, although I like the idea.

    Anyone have another example of how to create content that “celebrates your product and engages your customers.”

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