Most of the time as an ecommerce store owner, you’re focused on pushing your metrics UP.

More sales.

More customers.

Higher average order value.

But there’s one number that every store owner wants to see plummet — and that’s Days Between Orders.

Whittling this number down means quicker turnaround of your inventory, higher visibility on social media (since naturally, your customers will be snapping photos of your products), and obviously, more spendable $$$ in the pocket of your snazzy custom-tailored zoot suit.

Now, you could email customers every single day and just tell them to come back.

However, that that kind of one-note “BUY BUY BUY” outreach gets old preeeeetty fast.

Warning: Swansonesque reactions may occur.

So how can you stay top-of-mind without bothering your list? What kind of content should you send, if it’s not always 100% sales-focused?

The answer lies in keeping the cardinal rule of inbound marketing in mind.

The #1 rule of inbound marketing: Always provide value

You’re a store owner. You sell things.

But to your customers, you COULD be so much more:

  • A source of inspiration
  • A place to learn new things
  • A representation and reflection of their beliefs

… as long as you create emails that reach past simply advertising your own products and into real value for your customers.

Yes, you can still sell while you do all of the above

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to sell your products in email. That’d be lunacy.

No matter what you sell, there are lots of ways to tie your products into your email newsletters in a way that feels genuinely valuable to your readers.

So instead of focusing on selling and only selling in every email, aim to entertain, educate, and inspire your subscribers.

You’ll find that your regular email marketing messages actually become stronger when you temper them with a little something more.

Not sure where to start? Here are 5 approaches to take:

5 types of content to complement your marketing messages

1. Teach or educate

I love the way skincare maker Deciem reveals a little-known fact about vitamin C serum — that in fact, it’s not supposed to be orange:

This useful info is a natural tie-in to Deciem’s latest product: a vitamin C serum that, with my new knowledge, I now feel like I can trust.

2. Entertain or provide visual delight

It’s not every day that an ecommerce store ups the ante on making its emails a delightful experience, from the subject line to the closing.

There are lots of ways to entertain inside your emails, from the copy you write (why not punch it up?) to the design and graphics you use (aim to show instead of tell).

You could try cracking a joke! Using a splash of color! Including an animated GIF! ← my personal favorite, for obvious reasons.

For example, here’s Paravel offering a new hand-painted personalization service for its high-end bags. Instead of just telling readers about the new service, though, they show it with a playful, cartoony background and a GIF:

Feature a new item

If you recently added a new product, or you’re planning to do that soon — well, there’s your next email topic. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Featuring a new product isn’t just another way to make sales. It also shows your readers that your store is actively coming up with new ideas and creating new products. It keeps them interested.

Here’s Harry’s showing off its new travel kit with a few simple lines of copy about the materials used to create the kit:

3. Check in or say thanks

I can’t tell you how rare it is that an ecommerce store sends a simple email to its long-term subscribers saying, “Hey, how are you? Thanks for being a fan.”

You know that’s exactly what this cat is thinking.

Checking in to ensure product satisfaction (and encourage your buyers to leave reviews) should absolutely be part of your post-purchase email campaign. But it should also be part of your overarching customer satisfaction strategy, even when folks haven’t bought in a while.

It’s also a wonderful idea to write to customers to simply say thanks. Along with keeping your brand top of mind, sending a message of gratitude can make customers feel heard and appreciated.

TIP: Plan to send this kind of email if you’ll soon be updating your branding, expanding your product line, or making another significant change in your store.

4. Reveal your process or technology

Give your subscribers a behind-the-scenes look at how and where your products are made.

If you don’t create your items in-house, you could feature your packaging in a mock “unboxing” video, interview one of your designers, or feature a day in the life of a (real, breathing, human) happy customer.

I love the way footwear company On offers a video product tour “from the On labs” for their latest shoe, the Cloudflash:

As buyers become more and more connected with the provenance of their purchases, it pays to pull back the curtain.

(You might also remember me suggesting going behind the scenes in your welcome emails. Why am I repeating myself? Because compelling stories don’t get old.)

Mixing & matching is highly encouraged

Take another look at the emails above. None of them is doing just ONE thing at a time.

For example, here’s Nisolo sending a direct email from the founder that 1) thanks me for being on the list, 2) introduces a new product, and 3) tells me more about the company.

Bing, bang, boom:

Also, notice how this is formatted like a direct email from the company co-founder. It was sent via a mailing list — but it sure feels personal, doesn’t it?

So temper your sales emails with something more. You’ll end up with a more engaged, stronger list in the end — which is great news when you DO want to sell hard.