There's very few marketing approaches for online retailers as effective and cheap as email marketing. Shopping carts and e-mail marketing go together, but many companies are using different services for their shopping carts and their e-mail lists. This puts them at an extreme disadvantage since they'll have to pull together and maintain two e-mail marketing lists: one from the shopping cart and the other from the e-mail marketing campaign list. Integrating your e-mail with a shopping cart service minimizes the amount of work you need to do and keeps your e-mails tied to your shopping cart—which is exactly how it's supposed to be in the first place.

Shopping cart email is one of the highest return on investment marketing actions online retailers can take, yet most make common mistakes like not incenting customers to opt in to their email campaigns, or not providing information or an offer to pre-sale site visitors to sign up for further promotion.

Use Your Shopping Cart to Gather E-mail Addresses

As customers make purchases in their online shopping cart, they'll need to enter their e-mail addresses. This is a great way to build up a mailing list since your customers are already interested in your products. Why not use the shopping cart e-mails for your next round of promotions through an e-mail blast to your customers? In order to amplify signups, provision of some type of incentive or informational piece is the staple used by most online retailers for their shopping cart email programs. As always, it's wise to balance the potential of a free download used only as a promotion versus one that is created to capture emails. This does not have to be a one or the other choice as offering a free, no email required incentive, coupled with a later phase or installment that requires email is a fine "one-two punch."

Use Your Shopping Cart Data to E-mail Your Best Customers

Online shopping carts also provide valuable data about your best customers. You can take this data and create a separate list with special promotions and offers for your most loyal customers if you integrate your shopping cart with e-mail marketing. Sources for lists can include lists that may be purchased that can or should be imported into the program (such as "opt-in" or other Can Spam compliant types of lists), manually entered lists, or those captured from/through the shopping cart as part of the sales and/or prospecting process.

Integrate Your Shopping Cart into E-mail Auto-Responders

Whenever someone signs up for your e-mail list, you have a golden opportunity to make a sale. Your new subscribers have just shared their interests and contact information with you. Why not use an e-mail auto-responder to send them to your e-commerce website in order to make a purchase. You could even make this a one-time promotion for new mailing list subscribers.

Shopping cart software is a powerful tool that you can easily integrate with your e-mail marketing Campaigns. E-mail marketing and shopping carts belong together in the same tool in order to save e-commerce businesses time and time money, to say nothing about boosting sales and customer loyalty.

Segment the E-mail Addresses Gathered by Your Shopping Cart
If you're collecting e-mails in your shopping cart, you can also save a lot of time with a shopping cart e-mail marketing tool that allows you to segment your list into different categories or groups. Depending on the products you're selling, you can target customers with promotions that are specific to their needs based on what you find in their shopping carts, e-mailing them exactly what they want. Here are some segments used by many retailers successfully when designing their shopping cart email programs:

Customized Emails By Product Purchase

Of course those who purchase your product are the best prospects for further sales. So it's obvious that you may want to send a one-time broadcast to people who have spent a certain dollar amount or purchased a particular product or brand. Clearly you can because the data is right there if your shopping cart email system captures the data. Having these tools built right into your shopping cart software is a sure-fire way to success with email marketing.

E-mail Customers Who Left Items in Their Shopping Carts

As we have seen, shopping carts integrated with e-mail marketing tools can also provide useful data about your customers. For example, you can set up an auto-responder that contacts customers every time they leave items in their shopping carts. The faster you reply to them, the better your odds of keeping that sale. The only way to reply in that timeframe is through integrating a shopping cart and e-mail service.

Shopping Cart-Generated Emails To Credit Cart Declines/Credit Cart Expirations

While this may be a financial policy decision as well, from a marketing perspective setting up an autoresponder campaign for those who have had credit card validation issues may be a wise investment of time. While there may be valid credit card issues (or even potential fraudulent behavior), there are many times when a prospective buyer didn't have the correct information at the time of order, but since has remedied the situation. In that case, a gentle reminder to "reactivate" the order is often met with order success. At the least, it shows interest or even sympathy on the part of the merchant to give the potential buyer the benefit of the doubt by maintaining a connection with them. Creative approaches can include areas to check on their card for mis-entering information, reasons to contact the bank or card issuing institution and of course offers and incentives to restart the order.

Shopping Cart Emails To Those Who Cancelled Their Orders

This is a very obvious segment, but one that many merchants fail to execute on. In this case, a bonus is learning why the order has been cancelled and can include a sincere question (perhaps in the form of a survey) to find out why the order was cancelled. You can also call the potential shopping cart email recipient's attention to the fact that the order was cancelled, in case there was some confusion about the process. Good promotions here include offers to match or even give lower pricing with the any other competitors in case the cancellation was a price issue, or provide free shipping in case the customer found a problem/issue with that. Customer service questions can also be asked and answered including links to your customer service policies and of course a call in number to gain any assistance.

Conditions That Could Trigger A Shopping Cart Email

In addition to the above segmentation, a good shopping cart email program can be setup with certain rules or conditions that invoke a more specified email campaign. For instance, a merchant may envision emails sent to recipients who may meet a variety of conditions including customers:

1. That have not purchased specific item(s)

2. Who have purchased the specified item(s) in a specified (optional) qty.

3. That have purchased item(s)

4. That have not purchased within a certain time period

5. That have purchased within a certain time period

6. That have purchased more than a certain amount

7. That have purchased less than a certain amount

8. Located in a certain geographic area

9. Not located in a certain geographic area

10. Located within a certain distance of an address, postal code, etc.

11. Without access to pricing tier(s).

12. Who do not have access to a specified pricing tier(s).

13. Who have not received marketing e-mail within a certain time period.

14. Who have received marketing e-mail within a specified number of days.

Make Sure The Shopping Cart Email Is From Your Address

A problem that many third party shopping carts (and some third party email services) inadvertently cause is not having the email come from the merchant domain. If you are mailing through a third party service that has an email domain that looks something like this:

It can cause confusion for those receiving the email, or at the least you can lose branding potential. Of course, it can lower the trust of those receiving the email who may not feel email from a separate domain is as secure (the same issue with a separate domain for a third party shopping cart, often cured by using an SSL type hosting arrangement). More sophisticated shopping carts like UltraCart allow a merchant to process emails through their own web server, which means it will appear from it's own domain like:

(SSL can also be used to encrypt personal and bulk emails which can make it more secure and identifiable, again increasing trust. UltraCart offers this features when sending both individual and bulk emails through its email modules.)