Guest post: Eight steps to email marketing success for marketplace sellers

Despite the fact that both eBay and Amazon restrict sellers from directly targeting their customers with email marketing campaigns, this doesn’t mean that they cannot take advantage of the medium when expanding their business. These eight tips show how marketplace sellers can find success with email marketing:

1. Build your own website: I cannot stress enough the importance of investing in your own website. When you acquire customers via eBay or Amazon you are paying for the privilege each and every time they make a purchase from you. Email marketing is a retention marketing tool and therefore much cheaper than expensive acquisition marketing techniques. But this only makes sense if you are using it to drive traffic to a site where you are in control of the costs. When you make a sale through your own site you can collect the customer information and add it to your email marketing list. Your site should include a short email subscription form on every single page (featuring an enticing offer such as a discount coupon) to maximise your chance of converting browsers into subscribers.

2. Maintain brand consistency: Seller IDs should be consistent across all channels and match your own store site address. If you trade under multiple IDs, invest in multiple store URLs.

3. Use your packaging to maximum effect: Brand your packaging, invoices and delivery notes with your website address. Amazon’s terms and conditions forbid sellers from using inserts in their packages, but it is perfectly acceptable on eBay, so use inserts to promote your newsletter or offer a discount off the next purchase from your website.

4. Footers: How many emails do you send every day? Order confirmations, customer service enquiries, orders placed with suppliers – they probably run into the hundreds or even thousands. Use your email footers to help you build your brand and promote your website.

5. Blog: Every business worth its salt should have a blog. You can blog about new product availability, how particular items might be used, product reviews, gift ideas, customer satisfaction, company awards, special promotions, company expansion… in fact the list is endless. You can even get your customers to write blog posts for you. For example, a fashion retailer might solicit fashion tips from their customers (featuring their clothes), or a fishing tackle shop might ask their customers to post a picture of their latest big catch. A well-written blog will enhance your rankings on search engines and provide content for social media activity. Interesting, quirky, funny and useful blog posts also have the potential to go viral and can be a major source of traffic. Don’t forget to include product links and promotions on your blog pages and remember to feature an email newsletter subscription form on every page.

6. Social media: Channels like Facebook and Twitter might not be great drivers of sales for online retailers but they are awesome engagement tools and as such can drive considerable traffic to your site. Keep you posts interesting, relevant and timely, be sure to reply to any direct messages and remember to engage with your audience and not just broadcast to them. A great way of doing this is to ask questions. Online entertainment retailer Play.com is brilliant at this. I recommend following them on Facebook (en-gb.facebook.com/Playcom) and Twitter (twitter.com/playcom) and stealing their best ideas. Encourage your social media followers to subscribe to your email list with the promise of a special promotion or email-only offer. iContact offer a form which can easily be integrated into your Facebook page to help you grow your list.

7. Online PR: A press release distributed via a service like PRWeb can be an excellent driver of traffic to your site, helping you drive more sales and generate more email registrations. For six great ideas for your next press release check out this blog post on PRWeb – http://www.bloggingprweb.com/newsworthy-ideas-online-news-release.

8. Marketplace optimisation: As well as reducing costs by encouraging customers to visit your own store, it may also be possible to use email marketing to enhance you products’ visibility on eBay and Amazon. The increased sales driven by email marketing of a particular product may help you rank better in eBay’s search results or win the blue buy box – the most prominent position, next to the ‘Add to Basket’ button – on Amazon.

Becoming THE Expert John HayesJohn Hayes, a regular contributor to Tamebay in his role as a Marketing Strategist with the email marketing company iContact and non-executive director with multi-channel retail technology provider SellerExpress, has just published his second book. A Crash Course in Email Marketing for Small and Medium-sized business is available in paperback and ebook format from Amazon and all good bookshops.