EDM marketing for e-commerce businesses

Garry Mockeridge
Garry Mockeridge
Marketing and sales content expert
5 mins
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a man looking at an online shop

Email marketing is still a powerful weapon in the armory of businesses. In 2023, email marketing revenue looks set to pass 10 billion US dollars1. However, here we’re specifically discussing EDM marketing – Electronic Direct Mail marketing. Some people use the terms email marketing and EDM marketing interchangeably but EDM marketing is actually slightly different.

What is Electronic Direct Mail (EDM) Marketing?

EDM marketing is a digital marketing strategy which enables businesses to efficiently promote products or services by targeting large groups of customers and potential customers, who have opted into emails.

The strategy is designed to build relationships with clients, generate new leads, and increase sales. Companies can use EDM marketing combined with cross-channel marketing to target customers using a variety of different channels.

Email marketing versus EDM marketing

While email marketing can involve ‘softer’, more brand-focused communications such as welcome emails, and keeping customers engaged through regular newsletters, EDM marketing is more sales-driven and ‘direct’ as its name suggests. Its purpose is to promote products to a list of potential customers (who are opted in) via email2.

To be able to carry out an EDM marketing campaign, you already need to have a substantial list of opted-in prospects.

The other key difference, as mentioned above, is that EDM marketing often integrates with other channels, whereas email marketing generally uses purely email.

A person looking at email on a phone in front of a laptop displaying a website

Writing an EDM marketing email: a checklist

Here are some basics to keep in mind, for when you’re writing and designing a sales-oriented email. Of course, you’ll need to adapt these depending on the context of the email.

  1. Use an engaging subject line to increase the chances of your email being opened – but it must be relevant to the content of the email or you’ll be guilty of misleading your customers.
  2. As most emails are opened on mobile phones nowadays, use pre-header text to support the subject line to further tease the recipient’s interest.
  3. Use high quality, relevant images in your emails.
  4. Use a design that’s consistent with your brand.
  5. Keep your email copy concise and consistent with your brand’s tone of voice.
  6. Make sure you have your email reviewed internally before it’s sent out.
  7. Include a strong call-to-action (CTA), such as visiting the website or arranging a call with a representative. 

Alternatively, you could hire a professional copywriter, who will bring a whole new level of expertise into play – there are freelancers out there who specialize in email copywriting.

EDM marketing: top tips

To whom, when and how do you send your EDM marketing emails to try to maximize sales? Here are some tips.

Segment your list

It’s ineffective and wasteful to spam your customers with irrelevant emails and it will probably be bad for business in the long run. A much better idea is to segment your list and target them accordingly.

There are many ways to segment your email list: age, gender, interest, location, monthly spend, and behavior on your website are just a few you can combine. The key here is to know your customer and how they behave.

Once you have created your segments, you can send your audiences relevant, targeted offers via email – and even use other channels to reach them.

You can also use segmentation to group together VIP customers, based on sales frequency, or recent or lifetime spend. Then you know which group of customers to focus your retention efforts on. You could even create an exclusive loyalty program for them.

Go as personalized as possible

From customer data, you can get a good understanding of a customer’s interests. If a customer buys new products as soon as they appear on your website, why not give them an advance VIP code to allow them to pre-order? That way, they will feel valued by your brand and are more likely to remain a loyal customer.

You can also make the most of birthdays and anniversaries by sending a discount code, free sample or gift to celebrate the occasion.

Track all your emails

Track your emails’ click and open rates as much as possible. By doing so, you can see what kind of offers and emails attract your customers. You can use A/B testing for specific elements such as subject lines too.

Make sure you track sales and purchases too, to determine which emails get the best results. That way you can keep improving the performance of your campaigns in the future

Make EDM marketing part of a larger campaign

When you’re launching a new product, for example, or you’ve replenished stocks of one of your best-sellers, use other channels in conjunction with your email campaign to ensure your message lands powerfully.

Social media, promotion, and offline events can all be combined with email to surround the customer with your sales message.

Abandoned cart and abandoned browse emails

If your web tracking shows that an online shopper abandons their cart, all is not necessarily lost. You can remind them of what they’ve left in their cart and invite them to check out. You could also use a time-related offer or a low-stock message, to encourage them to move quickly, or offer them alternative products related to what they abandoned.

You can send several emails following cart abandonment and test different approaches, but always make sure you send the first one within the hour, while the products are still fresh in the customer’s mind.

Likewise, if a customer has been browsing your site and then leaves, tempt them back with similar messages to those recommended for abandoned cart emails. Again, it’s important to act fast though.

Make the most of after-sales emails

While after sales emails are often used simply to keep a customer ‘warm’ to your brand, you could also use them to cross-sell a related product. For instance, if a customer has just bought a new pair of sunglasses, you could try promoting a beach bag – possibly at a discount to say thank-you.

Whether the transactional email is thanking the customer for their order, or confirming payment, product details or delivery, for example, make sure the copy tone and design is consistent with your brand. You can also use these to encourage customers to opt in for your marketing emails.

Use lapsed customer emails

If a customer hasn’t purchased in a while, you can tempt them back with a ‘Missed you’ or 'special offer’ email. Understanding who is right for this depends on you having a good understanding of your data: your starting point is to look at a customer’s last purchase date.

Strategies you can use to reactivate lapsed customers include offering incentives like money-off discounts, present relevant content based on what they have bought previously, and ask for feedback on why they have lapsed.

Email automation makes it all happen

It goes without saying that to execute an effective email marketing strategy, you’ll need email automation in place. Automating sequential messages based on user interaction helps encourage a sale in the longer term and gives you the ability to gradually improve your offer until you find the sweet spot for conversion with each customer. Think about what offers you can provide, from discounts to free shipping.

EDM Marketing Campaign Benefits

Email marketing campaigns have a host of benefits and advantages over other forms of marketing. Here are our top seven. 

 1. A great return on investment

Email marketing involves a relatively low initial investment, especially compared to influencer marketing, for example. However, it can make a huge difference to sales, especially with EDM marketing, when you’re targeting a list who have opted in, so are interested in your business. In fact, the return on investment of email marketing has been calculated as up to 45 US dollars for every dollar spent3.

2. More traffic for your website

Include motivating offers and strong calls-to-action in all communications, along with a link to your website – or your web address if combining with offline channels. That way, you can drive traffic to your website and increase sales.

3. Stronger customer relationships

Targeted, personalized emails are a great way to build stronger relationships with your customers. The better people feel they know your brand, and the better they feel it understands them, the more they will trust your brand. This, too, in the long run, will increase sales.

4. Your brand stays front-of-mind

While the main focus of most EDM marketing is sales, it will also help keep your brand front of mind for your customers – even if they don’t buy straight away. Keep them engaged and they will buy in the end.

5. Improved engagement on social

As well as generating web traffic, EDM marketing can increase engagement with your brand on social platforms. For example, in your emails you can encourage people to find out more about your brand and follow it on social. Using a variety of channels alongside email is one of the strengths of EDM marketing.

6. Saving time using automation

By automating messages that don’t need to be personalized, you can save yourself time to spend on other aspects of your business. This is a more efficient way of reaching more people too.

7. Discover what your customers really want

It’s easier to sell to customers, if you know what they want. Email marketing enables you to get feedback in the form of satisfaction surveys, for example. As well as building loyalty, because customers can see that you care about their opinion, this can help you improve the product and experience you offer – leading to yet more sales.

EDM Marketing FAQs

What is an EDM in marketing?

EDM is an acronym for Electronic Direct Mail. The term ‘direct’ here implies a more sales-orientated form of email.

Is EDM marketing the same as email marketing?

Not quite. While some people use the terms interchangeably, EDM marketing is more sales-oriented, whereas email marketing covers ‘softer’ communications too. Plus, EDM marketing usually involves a more complex, multi-channel strategy.

What is the difference between EDM marketing and email marketing?

While EDM marketing is more ‘direct’ and sales-oriented, email marketing includes less sales-focused communications such as newsletters and welcome emails. Also EDM marketing is usually aimed at people who have opted in for email, and are already interested in a brand, whereas email marketing can be less focused. Finally, EDM marketing is more often used in conjunction with other marketing channels, such as social media, whereas email marketing is more likely to use email alone.