Ecommerce Email Marketing: The Ultimate Guide

ecommerce email marketing guide

Ecommerce email marketing has become a key retail sales strategy, working to increase brand awareness, re-engage shoppers and ultimately, grow business.

This guide shares top tips to transform any retail email strategy, revealing everything you need to know, to reach your goals.

Before we continue, a quick disclaimer: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive commission – at no extra cost to you. It’s a small step we take to help fund the content we produce for our readers. Our content is unbiased and we only recommend products we believe in. 

What is ecommerce email marketing?

Email campaigns for ecommerce involve sending marketing messages to new and existing customers via email. These are most commonly viewed on smartphones, with 85% of users accessing emails on their phone. In the 25-34 age bracket, this rate is even higher, at 90%.

Emails are a fantastic way to directly reach customers, particularly when campaigns are designed strategically.

What makes a successful ecommerce email marketing strategy?

The most successful email marketing strategies are those that offer value to the reader. To do this, your strategy should take subscribers on a journey.

From the first welcome email, all the way through to order confirmation emails, your communication should build rapport, engage your audience and meet its objectives.

email marketing strategy

How to create the perfect ecommerce email marketing strategy

1. Work out your ecommerce email marketing objectives

The first stage of any email strategy is to outline what you are hoping to achieve.

The goals of email campaigns can range significantly, which is why emails can be such an effective tool, regardless of the objective.

For your first campaign, choose one specific goal, as this will help you to remain on track when planning.

Common ecommerce email marketing objectives include:

  • Growing brand awareness
  • Building loyalty and rapport with prospective customers
  • Re-engaging shoppers
  • Encouraging conversions
  • Upselling
  • Encouraging new purchases
  • Sharing promotions
  • Sending shipping updates

2. Know your target market

Now you know what you want to achieve through your email strategy, it is time to identify the people that you are trying to reach with your ecommerce email campaign.

It is best to create a specific campaign for a set audience, making sure all communication is as relevant as possible to the people that receive the email. For example, you would not want to send welcome emails to loyal customers. In the same way, it could put new customers off if you immediately start sharing promotions before they know anything about your business.

Choose a target market that aligns with your objective. As an example, if you’re looking to grow brand loyalty, you could target new subscribers that are likely to be less loyal to your brand.

Audience for email marketing campaigns

3. Choose an email marketing platform

The next step is to find an email marketing platform that meets your requirements. You will need to make sure that your chosen email marketing software has the features and capabilities that you need to execute your perfect strategy.

Considerations include:

  • How many emails you wish to send
  • How many contacts you intend to send email marketing campaigns to
  • Functionality and design aspects
  • Ease of use
  • Budget

4. Design your email marketing funnel for conversions

A marketing funnel is the journey that you take subscribers on, guiding them towards your conversion goal.

Your funnel should be broken down into five stages:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

Automation can be used to create a seamless customer journey via email, while saving time and offering value for subscribers. Keep reading to find out more about the different types of emails.

Click here to view an example of an excellent email marketing automation funnel.

Gmail mobile email campaign for retailers and ecommerce businesses

5. Design copy that works

Once you have an idea of the types of emails that you would like to create, it is time to begin creating your templates.

Remember, the best email marketing offers value to readers and includes on-brand, engaging copy, with calls to action.

7 of the best ecommerce email marketing platforms

1. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a well-known email marketing platform that is great for startups and beginners, offering useful tools that make design straightforward.

Key features

  • A/B testing
  • Lead capture forms
  • Integration with CRMs
  • Data segmentation
  • Email automation
  • Personalisable content blocks with dynamic content

Pricing

Mailchimp has a free plan for one audience with up to 2,000 contacts and paid plans start from $11 per month.

Visit the Mailchimp website here.

2. Constant Contact

This drag-and-drop builder makes it simple to design the perfect email for any device. It also offers automation and social marketing for lead generation.

Constant Contact

Key features

  • Smart email editor for easy design
  • Marketing automation
  • Smart ecommerce tools and results
  • Website and landing page builder
  • Social media marketing and scheduling

Pricing

Constant Contact offers a one-month free trial and paid plans start from $9.99 per month.

Visit the Constant Contact website here.

3. SendinBlue

SendinBlue is a great all-round ecommerce marketing platform, allowing you to create professional-looking emails, prioritise important tasks and make the most of automation.

Key features:

  • Contact segmentation
  • Built-in CRM, SMS and chat features
  • 60+ responsive email templates
  • Shared inbox to keep track of customer email history

Pricing

SendinBlue is free for up to 300 emails per day to unlimited contacts. Pricing starts at $25 for up to 10,000 emails.

Visit the SendinBlue website here.

4. HubSpot

HubSpot is brilliant for those wanting to automate email campaigns, making the process simple. It also has its own inbuilt CRM, giving in-depth customer data to help customise emails.

Key features

  • Built-in Hubspot CRM platform
  • A/B testing to perfect email campaigns
  • Drag-and-drop style template editor

Pricing

Paid plans begin at $45 per month and include a large number of marketing contacts. There is also the ability to pay more for additional marketing contacts.

Visit the HubSpot website here.

5. Omnisend

Omnisend makes it easy to combine email and SMS marketing, making it a great choice for ecommerce brands. With pre-built automation for welcome emails, cart abandonment, transactional emails and much more, Omnisend streamlines engagement for retailers.

Omnisend
Omnisend

Key features

  • Pre-made, customisable templates for professional-looking emails
  • Automations library with pre-determined workflows
  • Contact segmentation
  • Pop-ups and forms for lead generation
  • Reporting and analytics features

Pricing

Omnisend is free of charge for up to 2,000 emails per day, or up to 15,000 per month. Pricing starts at $16 per month, with additional features such as SMS costing more.

Visit the Omnisend website here.

6. Drip

Drip is fantastic for new ecommerce businesses, making the process of building emails simple for any brand. It also has a range of intelligent marketing tools.

Key features

  • Email segmentation
  • Split testing features
  • Drag-and-drop builder
  • Automation workflows
  • SMS functionality
  • Segmentation of audience
  • Revenue attribution

Pricing

Drip offers a free trial, with the full plan costing as little as $49 per month.

Visit the Drip website here.

7. AWeber

AWeber is a valuable platform for those with a low subscriber count. It makes it quick and easy to create an email campaign.

AWeber
AWeber

Key features

  • AI-powered email templates
  • Automation to promote latest blog posts
  • Drag-and-drop landing page builder

Pricing

AWeber is completely free for up to 500 subscribers and paid plans start at $18.75 per month.

Visit the AWeber website here.

9 Best ecommerce email marketing examples and campaigns

We will now reveal 9 ecommerce email examples to grow your brand and drive sales.

1. Welcome email

To begin the customer loyalty journey, welcome all new customers with an email that brings value. Use this as an opportunity to show your brand off. You should also use this as a method of creating more touchpoints, for example, sharing social media channels with your new customers.

A welcome email is a great way to thank customers for their subscription or first purchase and begin to build brand loyalty.

Welcome email marketing example

2. New launch email

Have you got a new item in stock, a new website, or something that you want to shout about? A new launch email is a great way to share this exciting news with your audience. Make sure you use imagery and video content to showcase whatever you’re launching!

New launch email example - ecommerce email marketing

3. Promotional email

Promotional emails are the ultimate way to announce discounts, limited time offers or sales. Whether you’re running a competition, sharing a discount code, or want to use promotional emails for events such as Black Friday, Christmas, or end of season stock clearances, this can all be done via email. Remember to include a call to action, making it easy for engaged consumers to take action.

ecommerce email marketing for black friday promotional emails

4. Cart abandonment email

Cart abandonment emails are one of the best ways to re-engage customers and encourage them to make a purchase. A cart abandonment email can show products that shoppers had in their basket, working to recover lost sales by tempting them with items you know they are interested in. Making the most of abandoned cart emails is one of the best ways to grow sales and build the foundations for loyal customers.

Other things you can include in a cart abandonment email include:

  • Offering free shipping
  • Showing similar products to the ones consumers previously browsed
  • Promoting ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ options to encourage purchases
cart abandonment email - how to recover lost sales and sell after an abandoned cart

5. Survey or review email

Customer reviews are an incredibly important marketing tool for retailers, building trust and giving the customer confidence to make a purchase. They can boost conversion rates and help shoppers to not abandon their carts.

This free method of gathering marketing content can be easily done via email, reaching out after customers complete their purchases. Why not incentivise reviews by running giveaways, offering discounts or free shipping, or creating a loyalty scheme?

requesting reviews in email strategy

Click here to learn more about the benefits of reviews.

6. Upsell email

Increase lifetime value by growing average spend. An upselling email could promote add-on items that complement a customer’s purchase. This type of time sensitive email could even be sent immediately after a customer places an order, offering additional items that they can add onto their order before it is shipped, or encouraging a separate purchase.

upselling email to grow customer spend and lifetime value

7. Confirmation email

Transactional emails or confirmation emails are a great way to keep customers in the loop and get them excited about an upcoming delivery. While online shopping doesn’t have the same level of in-person customer service, this can still be achieved by using order confirmation emails to communicate.

ecommerce email marketing - confirmation email

8. Order dispatch email

There’s nothing better than knowing a product is on the way, so let your customers know! Delivery accounts for a significant proportion of customer service and experience, so keep them updated and make their purchase a positive one.

Shipping tracking and delivery update for retail purchase in emails

9. Refer-a-friend

With any ecommerce business, the goal is to have happy customers. Once you have this, it’s important to grow your audience. With 92% of consumers trusting recommendations from people that they know directly, having a referral scheme is a great way to sell to customers’ friends and family, boosting sales significantly. Encouraging people to share your business with friends and family through referrals is a brilliant alternative to relying on word of mouth for sales.

Refer-a-friend scheme email example for business

Top email marketing for ecommerce tips

These top marketing tips will help you to create the most effective email campaigns possible:

  • Create an attention-grabbing subject line
  • Personalise emails wherever possible, for example, adding subscribers’ names into emails or using segmentation of your audience to make sure content is relevant
  • Avoid overly salesy words
  • Create captivating, valuable copy for readers
  • Use a clear and easy-to-use layout
  • Make your ecommerce email mobile-compatible
  • Give a reason to act with a call to action, or create urgency if needed with limited time offers
  • Make every call to action easy to act upon, with obvious click-throughs
  • Use email templates to create easy designs
  • Take a look at email examples for inspiration
  • Design an email marketing funnel including a welcome email, confirmation email, cart abandonment email, promotional email and any other relevant types of retail email
  • Useful email marketing tools such as HeadlineStudio can help you to create the perfect subject line or headline

Email marketing statistics for retail

  • 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months – State of Marketing Trends Report 2022
  • 33% of marketers send weekly emails and 26% send emails multiple times per month – Databox
  • The most effective strategies for email campaigns are subscriber segmentation (78%), message personalization (72%), and email automation campaigns (71%) – HubSpot
  • 81% of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters – Content Marketing Institute
  • 15.8% of all emails go missing or have been caught by popular spam filters – Email Tool Tester
  • 46% of smartphone users prefer to receive communications from businesses via email – Statista
  • A majority of email views come from mobile devices (41%), followed by desktop (39%) – HubSpot

Ecommerce email marketing FAQs

How can I grow my ecommerce business with email marketing?

Email marketing is a great approach to grow ecommerce brands, encouraging visitors to become regular, loyal customers, as well as growing sales volume. This can all be achieved by having the right email marketing strategy for ecommerce in place.

How do I write ecommerce emails?

Begin by knowing the purpose of your ecommerce emails and then use text and eye catching imagery to make it effective. Create a captivating subject line and look at email examples for inspiration. By doing this, you can boost your email marketing strategy, whether you’re creating welcome emails, promotional emails, transactional emails, or an order confirmation email for customers.

What are the 4 types of email marketing?

The 4 main types of emails are email newsletters, acquisition emails, retention emails and promotional emails. With ecommerce emails, having a combination of approaches helps to create the most beneficial email service possible for customers, as well as creating campaigns that work.

What do email marketers do?

Email marketers’ job is to build email lists, create emails and nurture leads through each marketing campaign. By creating a marketing campaign that is designed to benefit and engage the customer, a brand can encourage a first purchase and even win back those that have left a website by encouraging the customer to complete their purchase.

Is email marketing part of ecommerce?

Ecommerce relies on regular and loyal customers. Marketing through emails can play a significant role in encouraging new and repeat business, particularly when planned effectively.

How can I grow my ecommerce business with email marketing?

There are a range of ways that emails can work to grow the success of your ecommerce store. By sending high quality content to your target market through email marketing campaigns, you are able to convey your messaging and increase the likelihood of a purchase.

What is email marketing automation?

Email automation involves creating a series of emails, which can range from welcome emails for new subscribers, to promotional emails that offer a discount, transactional emails for those that make a purchase, or even an abandoned cart email to win back customers. Once you have created a set of email marketing templates, these can be easily automated, scheduling them to send to certain contact lists at specific times. The benefits of email marketing automation include saving time and being able to analyse the success of your email marketing funnel.

What is the best way to offer a discount?

Once you know the kinds of discounts that you can realistically offer, it’s time to share the news of this in email marketing. These types of promotional emails can help to reduce cart abandonment, by making limited time offers that customers don’t want to miss out on.

What is exit intent?

Exit intent is the reason that a customer chooses to leave your website. It is possible to use this data to understand exit intent in more detail, creating email campaigns to re-engage shoppers and recover lost sales, whether this is through offering a discount code, free shipping, or reminding them of the products that they had in their basket.

How can I find an email example?

To find a great email example, view the types shown in this article. Alternatively, Google is full of email examples. If you’re looking to find email examples from a specific brand or competitor, try signing up to their newsletters or email scheme and see the experience that they provide for new subscribers. This is a great way to find inspiration by viewing the types of welcome emails, order confirmation and cart abandonment emails that others provide.

Which emails help to grow sales?

Emails are a great way to create an eye catching design, full of engaging information that encourages purchases. This is why they are used throughout the customer journey, as well as during time sensitive retail events, such as Black Friday. Every brand can benefit from sending ecommerce emails to subscribers. Whether you want new subscribers to make their first purchase, or existing shoppers to view exciting products, ecommerce email campaigns can help you to achieve this. Begin by sending a welcome email to anybody that may be unfamiliar with your brand, before sending a promotional email, for example, sharing free shipping on a customer’s next purchase.

How can I use an abandoned cart email?

Cart abandonment is very common, which is why it is so important for retailers to know how to create an effective abandoned cart email. Cart abandonment emails should remind the customer, as well as encouraging them to make a purchase. These emails are time sensitive, so should be sent out before too much time has passed, otherwise the consumer may have lost interest in the items that they were considering buying. If you have the data available, you should re-share the items they had in their shopping card as part of your abandoned cart email, showing customers what they’re missing out on. Email templates can be useful to create an abandoned cart email, creating spaces for product imagery, descriptions and much more.

Read the rest of this guide to see email examples that include cart abandonment emails.

What are transactional emails?

Transactional emails are used to confirm any transactions made, such as an order confirmation email. By sending an order confirmation, it helps customers to get excited about their upcoming delivery, giving them confidence in your ability to deliver. It also creates the opportunity to share social media channels and other channels to help build rapport and grow engagement.

What does it cost to send an email campaign?

Depending on the email platform that you use, it can be free for a brand to create email content and distribute it to subscribers. For the platforms with more functionality, these are not free, however, the benefits can outweigh the financial cost if they lead to more sales.

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