The e-commerce guide to creating email campaigns for every buyer’s journey stage

Running an online shop is like learning how to juggle with 6 balls. You’re doing your inventory, marketing, sales, customer support, accounting — often all at the same time!

So should you really add an e-commerce email marketing strategy to your daily todos?

It depends. If you’re looking for a marketing channel with an impressive ROI of around $40 per email and a proven record to be the best channel to build long-term customer relationships, your answer is yes.

With email marketing, you can capture website visitors and turn them into customers with a long lifetime value. 

Long-term is key here. As tempting as it is to focus on acquiring new customers is, research has shown that is costs 5 times as much to attract new customers than to keep existing ones.

Email campaigns can be personalized and automated to be sent at the right time, so it perfectly fits the customer’s journey. Easy to set up and highly effective!

In this email marketing strategy guide for e-commerce, you’ll discover what email campaigns you can send in each different stage of the customer journey. We’ll teach you about templates, integrations and automation, so you can use your time efficiently and book big results.


Most online visitors will stumble upon your store through a search engine or a paid advertisement, as 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 if they like what they see. 

The first step to turning them into long-term customers is to get them on your email list. By collecting email addresses of potential customers, you can start a conversation and stay top of mind. 

Now let’s have a look at how you build an e-commerce email list.

Building your e-commerce email list

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.

You can integrate your sign-up form:

  • 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 a 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
Time-saving feature

Signup forms are easily created when you use an email software. All you need to do is insert the required information fields and style the form. The software will then automatically generate the implementation code and link.

Making people excited about signing up for your list

“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 content marketing strategy.

Many e-commerce 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.

Ask yourself: What added value will my e-commerce email marketing campaigns bring to my target audience?

Quick break: A great e-commerce example

Let’s look at online fashion e-commerce ASOS. They started out “just” selling clothes, but have since broadened their brand. Visitors can take inspiration from looks curated by real people, sell their own items on their marketplace or read about fashion and music in their digital magazine.

With these initiatives, ASOS built a cult following that uses the platform to get inspired, engage and keep up-to-date with trends and culture (besides ordering clothes).

Using e-commerce integrations and templates to minimize manual work

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.

MailerLite e-commerce integrations

At MailerLite, we have e-commerce integrations available for Shopify, WooCommerce and EasyStore. Or connect MailerLite to PieSync or Zapier.

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 software 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. 

MailerLite integrations for e-commerce

At MailerLite, we have many e-commerce templates that our customers can quickly adapt and send out. After you’ve signed up for a free account, you’ll find them in the Template Gallery when creating a new email campaign.

Stay with us to learn which e-commerce email campaigns will help your business grow in different stages of the customer journey.

Action plan
  1. Sign up for an email software
  2. Create and integrate a sign-up form
  3. If available, install an e-commerce integration
  4. 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.

The customer’s journey from first becoming aware of your store to making a purchase works in a similar way. What you say to them at each phase matters, and email marketing is the one-to-one marketing channel to help you deliver the right message.

Each customer journey can be divided into 3 main phases:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision (and post-purchase)
Customer journey phases (awareness, consideration and decision)

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.

In the third phase (decision), your prospect actually becomes a customer. Though there are only a few emails that are purchase-related (like the order confirmation), it is very important to follow up post-conversion with the right email campaigns (remember: long-term relationships).

Interesting research fact

Did you know that 66% of consumers rate experiences over price when it comes to making a purchase decision? For most consumers, it’s not the price, but the customer experience that matters, according to a 2019 report by marketing agency Merkle. Apple, Amazon and Nike were mentioned as top performers in this field.

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 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. 

These 3 e-commerce emails are ideal for starting to build a relationship with new subscribers.

Invite new customers with open arms. The welcome email is there to make people feel good. Make your e-commerce template visually attractive, tell readers what they can expect from you and make it personal.

Welcome emails are automated, meaning they can send 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.

How to craft a welcome email that WOWs

In this e-commerce guide, we’ll only share the basics of welcome emails. However, there’s much more you can do with this email campaign! In this article, we’ll teach you the 5 main elements of effective welcome emails, show real examples and give tips for subject lines.

We love this example from LALALAB. In their welcome email, they talk to their audience in a personal matter, 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.

LALALAB welcome email example

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.

RuMe ecommerce welcome email example

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 and is definitely something we want to communicate to new customers. By meeting the faces behind the product, our email software becomes a lot more personal.

MailerLite about us email example

Sunglasses brand WearPanda also has an awesome welcome email. From the sender email (“zookeeper@wearpanda.com”) to the quiz and company facts — the entire welcome email is completely on point.

WearPanda ecommerce welcome newsletter example

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 subscribers based on interests, demographics or whatever information is valuable to craft more personalized emails.

These segments are then used to give unique recommendations, style inspiration and advice.

Rituals smartly uses a surprise birthday gift as an incentive for subscribers to share their birthday.

Rituals ecommerce email example

MeUndies engages with its customers to celebrate the fact they’ve sold 10 million pairs of underwear. The customer call to action in the email is to join the conversation and share how many pairs they personally own.

MeUndies newsletter example
Action plan
  1. Group all new subscribers that sign up via your form into one group
  2. Create an automated email workflow with a welcome email and, optionally, add more emails that tell your story and start a conversation
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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.

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, uses reviews in their e-commerce emails:

tarte ecommerce newsletter example

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re probably not the only one your subscriber is interested in. There are many online shops out there, and you want to present your best self.

You’ve got to earn their attention. Showcase your products in the best light possible, 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.

We really enjoy the approach the brand minted takes in their 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.

Minted personalized newsletter example

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 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.

Make it social!

In our editor, you’ll find an Instagram block integration. Simply drag the block wherever you want in your e-commerce newsletter, connect your Instagram account and pick what post you want to integrate in the newsletter. This makes it super easy to show pictures of your customers and products in the newsletter.

Furthermore, readers love seeing themselves being featured in a newsletter from a brand they like. It’s easy content for you to generate and builds a community around your brand.

Our customer Highway 3 does a great job at evolving customers by prompting them to send in their own beach pictures.

Highway 3 newsletter with user generated content
Action plan
  1. Collect your best reviews and implement then into an email
  2. Create an email that showcases your product as an absolute must-have
  3. 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. 

THINX newsletter example

Are webshop visitors lurking around your shop but not completing their purchase during the checkout? Follow up with an abandoned cart email!

In Bluecore’s ‘2019 Mid-Year Email Benchmark Report’, it was found that abandoned cart emails still continue to have the highest conversion rate from all triggered emails, with an impressive 1.6%. 

This is why it makes a lot of sense to activate an abandoned cart email that’s send out to people that didn’t complete their order during the checkout.

FREYRS eyewear abandoned cart newsletter example

Once an order is made, you want to send a transactional email confirming the order.

Royal Tess London transactional newsletter example
Action plan
  1. Think of an attractive offer and send it out to boost sales
  2. Set up a transactional email that automatically sends an order confirmation (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 bring you 31% more money in the bank? 

Yep, that’s exactly what Invesp Consultng found in their research.

That’s why you want to keep your current customers around. Your post-purchase email sequence should be spot on, so customers feel appealed to continue the e-romance.

Luckily, there are plenty of e-commerce email marketing campaigns you can send post-conversion. Here are our 9 favorite ones.

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.

Feature alert!

With our survey blocks, you can directly implement questions in 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.

Amazon review email example

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.

A good example of upselling is this one by Dollar Shave Club — it’s fun, easy to read and offers a clear CTA.

Dollar Shave Club upsell newsletter example

As we get older, our birthdays tend to be a little less exciting. Nevertheless, your newsletter subscribers would probably enjoy receiving a small surprise on their birthdays.

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 e-commerce, you can treat the reader by offering a present, free shipping, discount voucher, sample or anything else your target audience might enjoy.

In the birthday email below, BarkBox celebrates your pup’s birthday by promoting their “I would almost eat this” pup-pie.

BarkBox happy birthday email example

New items added? Restock alert? Product launch? Let the people know with a shiny email.

When you’re using MailerLite, you can easily implement product blocks in your e-commerce newsletter. The shop integration will connect your e-commerce to our email software, after which you can look for products and copy the details directly into your email template.

Cool feature alert

At MailerLite, customers can install promotion pop-ups on their website. These pop-ups are great for e-commerce, as they be used to offer a discount voucher with an expiration, facilitate social engagement, promote a best-selling product and more. Read all about our promotion pop-ups here.

We were mesmerized by this email from Vrai & Oro. The subtle glittery details and fun take on their call to action buttons stood out from the average e-commerce newsletters we come across.

Vrai & Oro newsletter example

“Every day is a celebration!” 

Okay Pollyana, you’re right but when it comes to emails, you might want to stick to the actual celebrations to avoid inbox overflow. The ones with bank holidays that give everyone a much-deserved break from working life.

Like Christmas, Easter and Independence Day. Talking about the latter, don’t feel obligated to announce a one-day sale or talk about hot dogs. You can also share historical “facts.” Like Pair of Thieves does ever so hilariously.

Pair of Thieves newsletter example

Another great example is from our customer Angel Aromatics. In this newsletter, they’re announcing their Easter egg hunt.

Angel Aromatics special occasion newsletter example

The more people involved, the better the party! Why not ask your existing customers to tell their friends and the cool kids from down the block about your brand?

A referral program can help spread the word. You can start your word-of-mouth movement by offering something in return. FREYRS eyewear does this with their ambassador program. They pay customers for each referral, making it a lot more tempting for people to join the movement.

FREYRS referral program email example

A star is born, and it’s you, subscriber! 

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.

Take a look at how American Eagle promotes its reward program.

American Eagle reward email example

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, but a re-engagement email can save the day. Segment readers that haven’t opened your emails in a while into one group and then sent 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.

Quick feature announcement

Now that we’re talking about e-commerce re-engagement campaigns, in this blog you can read about it in much more detail.

Personally, we lightened up seeing this re-engagement email campaign from our customer The PUR Company. Their sticker gif makes it extra personal!

The PUR Company newsletter example
Action plan
  1. Use one, or more, of the above post-purchase email ideas to nurture the relationship future even after a sale

We talked 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 prospects and transforming them into happy customers that’ll stick with you in the long run, is to actually care. 

Ease into the relationship with valuable, informational content before bringing out your sales pitch. Before asking a customer to commit to an order, offer them a trial, sample or discount to test their future investment. 

After a customer converted, keep the conversation going with post-purchase email campaigns. This will keep your e-commerce top of mind and increases the chances of additional purchases.

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