Running an online shop is like juggling with six balls. You’re doing your inventory, marketing, sales, support, accounting—often all at the same time!
So should you really add an e-commerce email marketing strategy to your daily to-dos?
You know the answer!
Email marketing campaigns can be personalized and automated to perfectly fit the customer’s journey. Building long-term relationships using email is key because existing customers are easier to sell to than new customers.
Turn website visitors into customers with a long lifetime value.
In this email marketing strategy guide for e-commerce, you’ll learn which email campaigns you should send in each stage of the customer journey. We’ll include templates, integrations and marketing automation ideas, so you can get the most out of email!
E-commerce email marketing is an effective marketing strategy that uses email to nurture customer loyalty and generate repeat sales for your online store.
Email marketing for e-commerce can be low maintenance like sending out a weekly newsletter to keep your subscribers up-to-date on your latest products—or you can go big and create multiple automated email sequences that work together to build relationships and develop long-term, loyal customers.
Most online visitors will stumble upon your e-commerce store through a search engine or a paid advertisement, while they’re looking for a product or service that can help them fulfill a need or solve a problem.
Once they’ve entered your online shop, you want to make sure they’ll come back.
The best way to keep the conversation going with potential customers is to follow the three basic steps of e-commerce email marketing: Build an email list, Offer valuable content, and Use integrations to minimize manual work.
To make people sign up for your newsletter, you first need to make them aware you’ve got one. I hear you thinking: “Will a newsletter advertisement interfere with my customer’s shopping experience?”
The answer is no.
Not if you place your signup form on strategic spots on your website.
Places you can add your signup form include:
In the footer and on your contact page (this is where most online shops integrate their forms)
As a pop-up on your website (set it to pop-up right before the visitor leaves your website, as the last chance to get them to leave you their information)
As a link in your social media about descriptions
In your physical store, as an offline iPad app or using good old pen and paper
As an opt-in checkbox when customers create an account to purchase a product
Want to learn how to build a high-quality email list from scratch? Check out this ultimate guide!
“Sign up to stay up to date with the latest news.” Yawn!
You can do better than that!
With so many e-commerce newsletters available, what will you offer that makes you stand out from the competition?
Your newsletter doesn’t have to exist solely to communicate sales periods and new launches. On the contrary, this is your chance to build your brand and invest in forming amazing relationships with customers.
Tell stories and provide real value for customers. Treat email marketing as part of your e-commerce marketing strategy.
Many e-commerce emails do this already.
Instead of purely focusing on product sales, they actively build a following by telling stories around their brand. They educate their audiences with informative blog articles, entertain with online magazines, inspire with trend reports and engage by putting the spotlight on their readers.
Not sure how to go about putting together compelling newsletter content? Never fear, we've another guide on how to put together actual email content that people care about.
The beauty of email marketing is that you can reach all your customers simultaneously, without putting in a lot of work. Webshop integrations and templates are key for making this happen.
By using an e-commerce integration, you can connect your store to your email marketing.
All your customer information and purchase history data will be automatically synced, making it easy for you to maintain an up-to-date address book.
With this customer information, you’re also able to send targeted campaigns based on your customer’s needs.
As for templates, most email service providers offer ready-made templates to copy, adapt and use for your own e-commerce newsletter. This is a great foundation to start with, as you only need to tweak the colors, images and text.
Stay with us to learn which email campaigns will help your e-commerce business grow in different stages of the customer journey.
Sign up for an email marketing software.
Create and integrate a sign-up form.
If available, install an e-commerce integration.
Pick a template, adapt it to your brand and save it as a foundation for future use.
Would you ask someone on a date before knowing their name? Hopefully not! You want to learn more about them and build interest before you go in for the sales pitch.
To help you send the right message, at the right time you can read our guide about email automation that gets into details on setting up email automation workflows.
The customer’s journey from becoming aware of your online store to making a first purchase works in a similar way. What you say to them at each phase matters, and email marketing is the one-to-one digital marketing channel to help you deliver the right message.
Each customer journey can be divided into 4 main phases:
In the first phase (awareness), people recognize a need or problem to solve and explore their options in a passive manner. Your goal is to make customers aware of your brand, tell them what you do and stand for and leave a positive impression.
In the second phase (consideration), people start more actively researching, collecting information and comparing different brands or solutions. Here’s where you want to convince prospects you’re a store they can trust to have an excellent experience.
The third phase (decision) is the time to convert your prospect into a customer. This may be with the help of a discount offered to email subscribers, an abandoned cart email or a popular product going on sale.
The fourth phase (follow-up) is your opportunity to keep the conversation going. Remember, nurturing a long-term relationship is the goal here. Keep your brand in the forefront of your customers minds.
Did you know for most consumers, it’s not the price but the customer experience that matters. A recent study found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
This fact shows that now more than ever, it’s important for e-commerce to put customers in focus and offer the most seamless and personal shopping experience possible.
The awareness stage represents the first time your customer “walks” into your shop and gets familiar with your products or services. In email marketing, these are all the people that visited your website and signed up for your e-commerce email list.
These types of emails are the first contact between you and your new virtual pal. Introduce yourself, share some fun facts, be helpful and don’t forget to ask questions so it’s not all about you.
Ideal e-commerce emails for starting to build a relationship with new subscribers include:
“Getting to know our brand” emails
“Getting to know you (our customers)” emails
Welcome emails are automated, meaning they can be sent directly after someone signs up for your email list. This way, you don’t need to keep track of who signs up when. Your email tool will take care of it and personalize the experience.
Need inspiration? Take a look at these 15 welcome email examples for new subscribers.
We love this example from LALALAB. In their welcome email, they talk to their audience in a personal manner, making you instantly feel connected to the brand. They also let subscribers know how to get in touch with them in case there are any questions and where to find them elsewhere on the Internet.
We also love the welcome discount email from RuMe. The copy and use of colors feel inviting and bright. The newsletter quickly sums up why their bags matter, what’s new and where else on the web you can stay in touch with them.
What is it your brand stands for? What values make you unique?
Each brand has its own story—from what problems are solved when shopping their product or service to funny anecdotes from the early startup period. These insights are what customers are attracted to.
At MailerLite, we love to explore the world and build a product that people love. Our team is hyped about the work we do and the lives we live. This becomes clear on our About page. In 2019 we wanted to highlight that fact to our subscribers by introducing them to the faces behind the product. As a result our email software became a lot more personal.
Sunglasses brand WearPanda also has an awesome welcome email. From the sender email (“email@example.com”) to the quiz and company facts—the entire welcome email is completely on point.
It’s never too soon to show interest and ask questions. Treat your email campaigns as a means to start conversations.
With email surveys, you can ask your audience questions and get to know them. This shows you care for their needs and gives you plenty of feedback to continuously improve your brand, service or product assortment.
Once you’ve collected more information, you can segment email subscribers based on interests, demographics or whatever information is valuable to craft more personalized emails.
These segments are then used to give unique product recommendations, style inspiration and advice. It's all about personalization for each and every subscriber!
Take your dialogue with subscribers to another level and learn how to personalize your email marketing.
Rituals cleverly uses a surprise birthday gift as an incentive for subscribers to share their birthday.
MeUndies engages with its customers to celebrate the fact they’ve sold 10 million pairs of underwear. The customer call-to-action (CTA) in the email is to join the conversation and share how many pairs they personally own.
This is a clever example of how a CTA seamlessly compels a MeUndies customer to take a particular course of action. Learn how to create a CTA that works and implement those practices into your next newsletter.
Group all new email subscribers that sign up via your form into one group.
Create an automated email workflow with a welcome email and, optionally, add more emails that tell your story and start a conversation.
In the consideration phase, customers gather information about the different products or services they found. The email campaigns sent in this phase should highlight the benefits of your offer, build trust and convince the reader that you have the best solution for them.
Types of emails to send during the consideration phase include:
Social proof emails
Unique selling point (USP) emails
Highly engaging conversational emails
When someone asks where to go for dinner, very rarely do we just walk into a random street and pick the next best restaurant. We Google, we Yelp, we Foursquare. Or ask our real-life friends for recommendations.
Reviews guide us through the modern-day choices overload. Which is why they’re a key factor for building trust.
This is how makeup brand, Tarte Cosmetics, uses reviews in their e-commerce emails:
There are many online shops out there, and you want to stand out from the crowd to earn their attention.
Showcase your best products, make customers aware of the benefits and explain why your offer is the best one on the market. This can be done with text, images and interactive elements such as video.
Feeling stuck when it comes to email design? Learn how to design emails people will read.
We really enjoy the approach the brand minted takes in their email newsletters. As a reader, you get to know the artists and feel like you’re buying a unique piece that supports the individual behind it.
We were also mesmerized by this email from Vrai & Oro. The subtle glittery details and fun take on their CTA buttons stood out from the average e-commerce newsletters we come across.
Also in the consideration phase, it’s important to keep the conversation going. Involve the reader by letting them participate in quizzes, surveys, contests and more.
A big trend among fashion e-commerce businesses nowadays is to show outfits on real customers. Subscribers love this because it gives them a much better idea of how it would look on their own bodies. Give it a go by embedding Instagram posts into your newsletters!
Furthermore, readers love seeing themselves being featured in an email newsletter from a brand they like. It’s easy content for you to generate and build a community around your brand.
Leverage social media to your advantage and read more in this guide on how to make email marketing and social media work together for good.
Our customer Highway 3 does a great job of evolving customers by prompting them to send in their own beach pictures.
Collect your best reviews and implement then into an email.
Create an email that showcases your product as an absolute must-have.
Think of ways to engage with your customers and add this in your email content.
Yes, it does take a while, but in the decision phase you may bring out your sales pitch. Ease newsletter readers into purchasing from you by offering a trial, discount or free shipping first.
Emails to send during the decision phase include:
Trial period offers
Discounts and promotions
Abandoned cart emails
Sometimes your product needs to speak for itself and people need to experience it before they can fully commit. What we're seeing nowadays is that a lot of websites offer extended trial periods.
For example, users can experience Skillshare for 2 months free of charge and at THINX, customers can try the underwear for two cycles. You'll want a win-back campaign to reinvigorate interest in your brand after the trial period lapses.
If you're confident about your product, a long trial period is a great way to introduce it to potential customers. On their end, it's low-risk and for you, it's a great opportunity to show that your product is worth it.
Whether you want to offer discounts is up to you, but it can help when your number of e-commerce sales need a boost. Seeing a special discount or promotion in the subject line can increase sales and create a sense of urgency for readers.
Let's take a look at this email newsletter from clothing brand Wear South Africa. For Black Friday, they let us know in their email subject that they’re offering up to 80% discounts on their beautiful, colorful clothing.
Another example comes from our customer, clothing shop Grins & Grace. They got creative by hosting a virtual quarantine party! Throughout the entire day, customers could enjoy discounts on different items.
Are webshop visitors lurking around your shop but not completing their purchase during the checkout? Boost your conversion rates by following up with a cart abandonment email for the shopping cart they left behind!
Take a look at this example from FREYRS Eyewear. They show you exactly what you left behind and provide a clear CTA so you can seamlessly navigate from the email straight to the checkout.
Once an order is made, you can send a transactional email confirming the order.
Think of an attractive offer and send it out to boost sales.
Set up a transactional email that automatically sends an order confirmation email (you can use the transactional email feature from your e-commerce platform for this).
Did you know that existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more?
That’s why you want to keep your current customers around. Your post-purchase email sequence should be spot on, so repeat customers feel appealed to continue the e-romance.
Luckily, there are plenty of e-commerce email marketing campaigns you can send post-conversion. Our favorites include:
Upselling and cross-selling emails
Customer feedback is the holy grail of e-commerce email marketing. You can use product reviews to gather feedback and persuade new customers to get their wallets out. Which is why you should ask for feedback or reviews after every purchase.
Use survey blocks, to embed questions directly into the email. Customers can write their answers in the email, without needing to leave the inbox.
This is how Amazon gathers customer feedback after each order.
If a customer already showed interest in one product, it’s very likely they’ll also love other items in your online shop—may it be accessories to pair the item with or other products that fit well.
You can promote separate products, as well as promotional bundles that save the customer money. Up-sell and cross-sell wherever you can!
A good example of upselling is this one by Dollar Shave Club—it’s fun, easy to read and offers a clear CTA.
You might wake up one day, look at your email stats and feel like Lionel Richie the day he wrote “Hello.”
Cheer up. Your open rates might have dropped and your click-through rates may be dismal, but a re-engagement email campaign can save the day. It's worthwhile segmenting readers that haven’t opened your emails in a while into one group and then send them an email asking for a second chance.
You can offer to take them off your email list if they don’t click a link saying they’re still interested within a certain time frame. This will shrink your subscriber list, but that’s only a good thing. You’re much better off sending your email campaigns to people that want to hear from you, versus trying to talk to people that don’t care.
Personally, we lightened up seeing this re-engagement email campaign from our customer The PUR Company. Their sticker GIF makes it extra personal!
Use one, or more, of the above post-purchase email ideas to nurture the relationship future even after a sale.
Need inspiration for more types of e-commerce emails you can send to keep your subscribers engaged? Here are some extra ideas you can add to your email arsenal:
Birthday emails: A birthday email is quick to set up when you use email software and set automatically when your subscriber’s date of birth is known. As an incentive, you can treat the reader by offering a present, free shipping, discount voucher, sample or anything else your target audience might enjoy.
Celebration emails: Celebrations that come with bank holidays give everyone a reason to smile. Join in these holidays with a celebration campaign! You could announce a one-day sale, or share historical facts about the holiday itself.
Referral emails: The more people involved, the better the party! Why not ask your existing customers to share your brand with their friends and the cool kids from down the block? A referral program can help spread the word. You can start your word-of-mouth movement by offering something in return.
VIP emails: If you’re a smart e-commerce email marketer, you want to root for a loyalty program. According to research done by Nielsen, "67% of customers agree that they shop more frequently and spend more at retailers with a loyalty program." You can tie this program to exclusive event invitations, sale sneak peeks, first-access to new products and member-only discounts and surprises.
We covered a lot, didn’t we? Now it’s up to you to set up your automated sequences and create e-commerce email campaigns based on your customer’s journey.
The key to building relationships with subscribers and transforming them into happy repeat customers, is to show you care.
You have all the tools you need, it's time to put them to the test!
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