Conversion Optimization

eCommerce Newsletter: 20 Ways To Stand Out And Actually Drive Sales

Personalization; the 80/20 rule; and imagery. Drive sales using your newsletter with these 20 smart ideas.

eCommerce Newsletter: 20 Ways To Stand Out And Actually Drive Sales

With so many brands competing for the customer’s attention, it has become increasingly difficult to improve newsletter conversion rates. The average email conversion rate for eCommerce is 8%. 

To add to the woes, the human attention span is 8.25 seconds as we speak. 

There’s no quick fix, but these 20 eCommerce newsletter ideas can help change things just the way you want them to:

1. Make things personal (Barnum Effect) 

2. Make it captivating

3. Make your product the protagonist 

4. Follow the 80/20 rule 

5. Paint a picture using imagery

6. Reinforce the Bandwagon Effect 

7. Choose the right sender name 

8. Offer instant rewards (Hyperbolic Discounting) 

9. Evoke curiosity gap in subject lines 

10. Focus on the right emotion 

11. Level up your CTA game

12. Segment your subscribers 

13. Use the Before-After-Bridge 

14. Give a sneak peek after the subject line 

15. Use the right mix of colors to create brand recall 

16. Use compelling product images 

17. Use whitespace to your advantage 

18. Bring in credible experts

19. Use the right font to maintain consistency 

20. A/B Test, Rinse, Repeat 

1. Make things personal (Barnum Effect) 

Humans are inclined to believe vague descriptions they come across, when it’s also somewhat personal. 

For instance, your daily horoscope is written for a particular set of people with a specific zodiac, but we believe that it is exclusive to us. 

That’s the Barnum Effect: the human tendency to believe generalized descriptions to be accurate descriptions of themselves. 

Royal Copenhagen invokes the Barnum Effect by addressing the recipient by name.

Create personalization using Barnum Effect

To apply the Barnum Effect, use first-person pronouns such as you, your, and yours to influence the readers. 

Another way is to feature recommendations based on the shopping behavior of the user. Find out if they are first-time shoppers, discount-only shoppers, coupon-only shoppers, etc., and tailor offers accordingly.

2. Make it captivating

Make your newsletter captivating enough from the first line. 

Using the 4 C's framework, you can make your copy convincing without writing huge paragraphs:

Clear: Your copy must be understood by a 5th grader—use simple language

Concise: State the information in the least possible words—use bullet points for readability

Compelling: Make it compelling by focusing on their problems, solutions you can offer plus benefits 

Credible: Feature testimonials and third-party certifications to demonstrate credibility 

AlgaeCal uses the above framework to drive conversions from its newsletter.

Make newsletters captivating: Keep it clear, concise, compelling, and credible

To nail this framework:

  • Start with a surprising revelation and use the ellipsis to incite curiosity 
  • State the problem upfront and the backstory in no more than 50 words 
  • Highlight the authority behind the product to make it credible 

3. Make your product the protagonist 

Leading the conversation by making your product the protagonist makes people pay attention. Here’s a 3-step process to do so: 

  • Star: Star is the protagonist—product, service, and idea 
  • Chain: The list of benefits, facts, values, and problem-solving abilities 
  • Hook: Use a compelling CTA to drive customers to commit 

Pai Skincare in its newsletter leverages the above framework to bring conversions. 

Make your product the protogonist: Star-Chain-Hook

How to do it: 

  • Mention the product’s backstory in brief to engage the reader 
  • State the benefit and the problem it solves to sell the experience to the user 
  • Use a sensory image(like the one in the example) to appeal to at least one of the senses to trigger a psychological response

4.  Follow the 80/20 rule 

As per the 80/20 rule, 80% of your newsletter content must be valuable content. The 20% can constitute promotions. 

Elysium offers tips to make summer activities contribute to good health.

Use 80/20 rule in eCommerce Newsletters

To apply the 80/20 rule—For every 8 tips, there must be 2 product recommendations or 1 recommendation for every 4 tips.

5. Paint a picture using imagery

Imagery is a descriptive language used to appeal to the reader’s senses to form a mental image in their head. Use the PPPP framework in your eCommerce newsletter copy to put this into practice.

The PPPP refers to Picture, Promise, Prove, and Push. As per the framework, each of P denotes: 

  • Picture: Outline the main benefit that your product offers to the users
  • Promise: Detail how the situation after the problem would look like
  • Prove: Provide evidence in the form of testimonials and third-party certifications 
  • Push: Ask your customers to take action 

Hairtamin applies the same in its newsletter.

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Use imagery to paint a picture

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To make it effective: 

  • Use adjectives(stronger, shinier) to increase perceived value of your product

6. Reinforce the Bandwagon Effect 

The Bandwagon Effect is a cognitive bias where people adopt certain behaviors because other people do so. It is the tendency to base decisions on populist trends. 

Booty Bands uses the bandwagon effect by quoting 300,000. 

To reinforce the Bandwagon Effect:

  • Feature testimonials of existing customers and how it impacted their lives 
  • Use video testimonials to increase your newsletter conversion rate by 32%

7. Choose the right sender name 

42% of users say that the sender name is the first thing they look at before deciding to click an email. The best practice is to include a person's name followed by the name of the brand. 

Include a sender name

Other tips for personalization include:

  • For purely promotional emails, the brand name should be the sender name 
  • Avoid using noreply@abc.com or info@abc.com to avoid coming off as generic 
  • Check out your sender names appear on different devices, especially on mobile 
  • If relevant, show the qualifications of the sender to demonstrate credibility 

8. Offer instant rewards (Hyperbolic Discounting) 

Hyperbolic Discounting is the inclination to choose immediate rewards over long-term rewards, however small the former might be. 

Zala rolls out a limited-time offer, an example of hyperbolic discounting. 

Offer instant rewards: Hyperbolic Discounting

Hyperbolic discounting works even better when you combine it with a limited-time offer.

9. Evoke curiosity gap in subject lines 

64% of users open emails only if they find the subject line interesting. One way to do this is through the Curiosity Gap. 

The Curiosity Gap refers to the space between the information shared(what we know) and the information that isn’t revealed(what we don’t know).  

Here’s how Under Armour uses Curiosity Gap in its subject lines and preview text.

Evoke curiosity gap in subject lines

To bring forth the same: 

  • Start with a line that users want to hear and make an abrupt end 
  • Quote an astonishing statistic and offer ways to reverse it 
  • Create a knowledge gap by bringing subject matter experts. For example, Lose 10 pounds in 30 days—From the guy who trained 100+ people 

10. Focus on the right emotion 

Customers will find your newsletter interesting when you target emotions dear to them. Emotional marketing refers to persuasive messages that tap into human emotions to elicit the desired response. 

REI in its newsletter targets happiness, revelation, and joy—all emotions relevant to its target audience. It works because the emotional part of the brain works 20% faster than the cognitive part. 

Focus on the right emotions

To tap into the right emotions:

  • Focus writing on nostalgic topics that resonate with your target audience 
  • Write your efforts towards a cause and how you’re making an impact—For instance, mental health, cancer, or sustainability 
  • Write in a way that leverages confirmation bias—the inclination to look for information that is in line with their existing beliefs. Tell why Manuka honey is better and back the claim with social proof

11. Level up your CTA game

Your conversions are going to see an uplift when you use action verbs such as Shop now and Unlock 30% off as CTAs. The positioning plays an important role, too soon or late can spoil things. Keep the first CTA in the above-the-fold right after you push users to commit. 

Ugmonk uses Shop right after communicating scarcity. It is a single CTA with a consistent color compelling users to click.

Place prominent CTAs

Right after, you might want to consider:

  • The size of the CTA button—we recommend 16 px 
  • Rounded CTA buttons, since they direct the attention towards the content inside 
  • Choosing a color that diverts the attention of the user instantly—brand color works best
  • Using real vs implied urgency—offer expires in 24 hours is real urgency whereas Buy Now or Sign up today convey implied urgency 

12. Segment your subscribers 

Start segmenting your subscribers based on: 

Active subscribers: Reward subscribers with high open rates (>50%) and send them stuff that includes promotions, rewards, and other offers to reward them for their behavior. 

Inactive subscribers: As a rule of thumb, segment subscribers with <10% open rate. Send bundling offers and other incentives such as free shipping, easy returns, BNPL options, tier discounts, etc to re-engage them into the funnel. 

13. Use the Before-After-Bridge 

The Before-After-Bridge is a copywriting framework where you first describe the current problem(Before), the situation after the problem is solved(After), and the solution that can make it happen(Bridge). 

This creates an increase in perceived value for the product. 

Hydropeptide uses the said framework in its newsletter. 

Use Before-After-Bridge

To incorporate Before-After-Bridge: 

  • Use before/after images for customers to evaluate 
  • Outline the before/after details in terms of percentage 
  • State the course of action and the specifications or ingredients that helped achieve the same

14. Give a sneak peek after the subject line 

A preview text that follows the subject line is important in getting users to click and read your email. 

To make your preview text compelling:

  • Offer a gift or promo code by building the context with subject lines
  • Ask a question to incite a psychological response from users 
  • Create exclusivity through limited-time or limited-edition offers 
  • Use social proof and user reviews to get your foot in the door 

15. Use the right mix of colors to create brand recall 

Color is associated with memory and recognition, making it easier to recall than a name. As a matter of fact, using your brand colors increases brand recall by 80%. 

One Trick Pony uses its brand colors as the theme in its newsletter. 

Create brand recall with the right mix of colors

How you can do it: 

  • Use the 60-30-10 rule—dominant color(60%), secondary color(30%), and accent color(10%)
  • Stick to a consistent color scheme for your newsletter campaigns to create memorability 
  • Choose colors based on the gender preferences of your target audience—women prefer purple(23%) and blue(35%) while men like blue(57%) and green(14%)

16. Use compelling product images 

75% of customers make purchase decisions solely based on product images. Interestingly, 22% of returns happen because the product shipped was different from what was shown. 

This can be solved by showing original product images in context.  

To create captivating product images: 

  • Use a white background in your images to eliminate distraction
  • Add images that feature close-up shots of the product 
  • Feature product images taken from different angles 
  • Use product images with the resolution 800px to 1200px 

17. Use whitespace to your advantage 

Using whitespace helps in readability and is easy on the eyes ensuring cognitive ease. It creates a visual direction for your newsletter allowing readers to scan, break down, and interpret information for easy readability. 

Birchbox uses whitespace in its newsletter to help users scan information.

Use whitespace to create contrast

Use whitespace in newsletters by: 

  •  Highlighting headings and subheadings to create visual hierarchy 
  • Using a Z-shaped pattern since the eyes naturally move in the same manner on mobile 
  • Having the right margin and spacing between lines(130-150% of the size of your font) 
  • Applying negative space—it doesn’t have to be white, any light color that gets the job done will do 

18. Bring in credible experts  

People are inclined to listen to the advice of experts who are an authority in their field. 

Orangewood features a guitar specialist in its newsletters to drive conversions.

Feature experts to convey authority

Leverage authority by: 

  • Featuring awards from recognized organizations 
  • Displaying qualifications, achievements, and testimonials for the authority in question 

19. Use the right font to maintain consistency 

The right font makes the copy readable, legible, and visually appealing to the reader. 

It helps emphasize the parts of the message you want to communicate to the readers creating a contrast. Use fonts belonging to the same family to ensure consistency. For instance, if you’re using Lato, use Lato Bold or Lato Black where needed. 

Ultimately, the role of font is to build visual hierarchy—the practice of creating a distinction between different elements of the copy such as heading, subheadings, and body text. All of these must flow in a manner that motivates the reader to keep reading each line and move to the next. 

Booty Bands ensures font consistency throughout its newsletter using the Arial font.

Right font typeface to create consistency

To ensure font consistency: 

  • Use fonts belonging to the same typeface. For instance, Roboto is a typeface while Roboto Medium and Regular are fonts
  • Choose web fonts such as Arial, Verdana, and Tahoma that are designed to look good on all devices
  • Keep the font size between 10-14 px for the body, heading, and subheadings

20. A/B Test, Rinse, Repeat 

A/B Testing your newsletters is critical so you know how well your efforts are paying off. Start by testing: 

Email subject lines:  Use the CURVE framework by Jordie Van Rijn. Curiosity, Urgency, Relevance, Value, and Emotion. 

Call-to-Action: Find out which variation gets more clicks. Is it a rounded or rectangle shaped button? Which text, link, or color performs well?

Send time: For eCommerce, the best time to send newsletters are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 AM(when in doubt, test and find out) 

Content: Test different types of content such as how-to guides, UGC, reviews, etc. Try out what kind of images do well, and heatmaps for interaction. Evaluate if short or long-form copy works 

Layout: Using a single-column layout makes the newsletter experience translate well on mobile devices since it doesn’t break. 

Wrapping Up 

With these eCommerce newsletter ideas, you’re going to see a spike in your store traffic, but there’s a serious problem.  

98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything. 

Why: user experience issues that cause friction for visitors. 

And this is the problem Convertcart solves. 

We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions. 

How we can help you:

Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions.

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