At MailChimp, our mission is to empower the underdog. We try to anticipate and build the tools small-business owners need to take their business to the next level.
But we couldn’t do it on our own—our customers teach us a lot about the struggles and successes, the risks and rewards of being a small-business owner. Every day is a challenge to balance different responsibilities, from motivating employees to finding new customers.
This year, we thought we’d honor National Small Business Week, which runs from April 30 – May 6, by highlighting some tips from our very own e-commerce experts: our customers.
Keep email design simple
Fjällräven’s advice for creating e-commerce and marketing campaigns is to simplify, simplify, simplify.
“I have a major pet peeve with super long e-commerce emails. They drive me crazy, and I think they’re ineffective,” says Sam Minassian, digital marketing manager for North America.
The tried-and-tested design that leads to successful open rates for their campaigns and automations features a single idyllic image, short lines of text, and a product recommendations block to show customers more products they might like to purchase. That single image is effective—one look at their emails, and you’ll wish you were off on an outdoor adventure while wrapped in one of their coats.
Write subject lines and preheaders that work together
To increase their open rates and online orders, Arcade Belts writes subject lines and preheaders that tell a complete story in recipients’ inboxes. Preheaders are often overshadowed by subject lines, even though most email clients display them side by side.
“For me, the preheader’s important because it gives more information on why customers should open an email,” says Kasey Wiese, the company’s communications manager and graphic designer.
Apart from keeping it short, Kasey’s main tip for writing an effective preheader is to play off your subject line or the content of your campaign.
Use analytics to discover who your customers are
Greensbury knew their audience pretty well, but our predicted demographics feature revealed intricacies about their customers that have helped guide their marketing strategy. Learning that women are more likely than men to make a purchase through their campaigns, for example, has influenced the kind of copy they write for their emails.
Predicted demographics also helped dispel one assumption they had about their audience: “We discovered a few months ago that our average customer who is likely to purchase is in a higher age bracket than we had thought,” says Hannah Agatston, director of partnerships and marketing. Parsing out these details about their customers has also allowed them to create more focused segments for sending targeted campaigns.
Engage more with your most-engaged customers
Gingiber finds that narrowing their audience with pre-built segments helps ensure high open and click rates for their campaigns. They let their best customers guide their marketing strategy by sending them more emails than they typically send their full list.
“We engage our entire mailing list at least twice a month, then target especially engaged customers an additional 2 times a month,” says Stacie Bloomfield, founder and illustrator.
She also sends these customers promotional emails right before a big sale and keeps them engaged by offering freebies like coupons and downloads. For Stacie, it’s important that her customers feel like they’re being offered something they can use and enjoy.
Combine Facebook ads with email for a 1-2 punch
Facebook ads and email are vital to Fowler’s Chocolates’ seasonal marketing plan. When a holiday buying season begins, they send exclusive discounts to their contacts via email, and then use Facebook ads to boost these promotions and capture last-minute sales. They also use their email list to target similar people on Facebook who might not have gotten around to their holiday shopping yet.
“The option to show my ads to people who are similar to my contacts is what has made our ads so much more successful,” says Heather Palmer, the company’s digital marketing lead.
To turn these new contacts into repeat customers, they continue to send emails during the off-season to keep these customers engaged.
Design campaigns that look good on mobile
If you’re like Gwynnie Bee and a large percentage of your site’s visitors come from mobile devices, you’ll want to test how your campaigns will appear on mobile. The responsive design of our templates automatically adjusts the style of a campaign to be viewed on any device, but you’ll still want to consider how your campaigns behave differently on smaller screens as you’re designing your layout.
Gwynnie Bee noticed their engagement increased by 20% when they redesigned their campaigns to display better on iOS and Android devices.
“We really understood that it has to be mobile-first,” says Courtney Andrews, senior marketing manager.