Email marketing is a critical element of ecommerce success. It’s a direct way to reach your customers and prospects where they are — in their inboxes.
When done right, email marketing for ecommerce can be an extremely effective way to drive traffic to your ecommerce website or online store, generate leads, and boost sales.
But ecommerce email marketing can also be complex and time consuming. There are a lot of moving parts, from crafting the perfect email to designing attractive templates to using the right tools and best practices.
In this article, I’ll dive deeply into email marketing for ecommerce. I’ll cover what it is, why it’s important, types of ecommerce emails, creating an email strategy for your ecommerce business, templates, examples, tools, best practices, and more.
So, if you want to make email marketing a crucial part of your ecommerce success, read on.
Email marketing for ecommerce is the process of using email to reach and engage your customers and prospects with the goal of driving traffic to your website or online store, generating leads, and boosting sales.
It can take many different forms, from one-off promotional emails to more complex email campaigns, like automated email drip campaigns or email newsletters.
The goal is to use email to build relationships with your customers and prospects, keep them informed about your latest products and deals, and ultimately drive them to take action, whether that’s visiting your product pages, making a purchase, or signing up for your email list.
Email marketing is a critical part of ecommerce success for several reasons:
Unlike social media or paid advertising, with email marketing, you can reach and connect with your audience directly on a one-to-one basis, in their inboxes. This gives you a direct line of communication with your customers that you can use to build relationships and drive sales.
Email allows you to segment your audience and send highly-targeted messages to specific groups of people. This helps you ensure that your customers only receive information that is relevant to them, which can increase engagement and loyalty.
For every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $36. That’s a 3600% ROI. For some industries, it can be even higher, as you can see below.
Its cost-effectiveness makes email an attractive option for ecommerce businesses on a tight budget.
With the right email marketing tools, you can automate your email marketing to save time. This includes automating many of the tasks involved, from sending emails to adding new subscribers to your list. This frees up your time so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Many platforms such as Constant Contact also allow you to set up and automate drip email sequences, meaning you can send a series of emails automatically over time.
Email marketing automation is an effective way to nurture your ecommerce leads and move them further down the sales funnel.
Email campaigns allow businesses to track results and ROI in a way that is not possible with many other marketing channels.
With most email marketing platforms, you can track metrics like who opens your emails, what links they click, conversion rates, unsubscribe rates, and other important data points, and make necessary adjustments.
These data points and insights can be extremely valuable in helping you fine-tune your ecommerce marketing strategy.
Whereas, with most other marketing channels, it can be difficult or impossible to know how many sales were directly attributable to a particular campaign.
There are a number of different types of email that can be used in an ecommerce marketing campaign, and each has its own benefits.
When planning your ecommerce email marketing strategy and campaigns, you should first consider which types of email would be most effective for your business and your goals.
Let's take a look at the most common types of ecommerce emails.
Welcome emails are sent to new subscribers when they sign up for your email list. They’re a great way to introduce yourself and your business and start building relationships with your new subscribers.
Welcome emails typically include:
- A personalized message from the business owner or a member of the team
- An overview of what the subscriber can expect from your emails
- A discount code or other incentive to encourage the subscriber to make their first purchase
For example, the skincare brand, Paula's Choice, welcomes their new members with a €5 off coupon code on a €25 purchase:
The most common type of email is promotional emails. These types of emails are typically sent to promote a new product or service and encourage your customers and prospects to make a purchases.
With promotional emails, you can introduce new products or services, offer special discounts or sales, and provide other incentives to buy. They help you build excitement for your new products, services, or offers.
Here are some example subject lines for promotional emails you can send to your customers and prospects:
- “New Product Announcement: XYZ Widget Now Available!”
- “Get 20% Off Your First Purchase!”
- “Introducing the ABC Widget – Now Available for a Limited Time!”
Transactional emails are sent to customers after they have made a purchase to provide information about the transaction. These include sending notifications about order confirmation, shipping, or delivery.
These types of emails typically have high open and click-through rates because they are usually timely and relevant to the customer.
Sending transactional emails is a great way to keep your customers informed about their orders and make sure they stay up-to-date on the status of their purchases. While these emails do not typically contain marketing messages, they can help you build relationships with customers by providing them with useful information about their purchases.
You can send your customers emails like:
- “Your Order Has Shipped!”
- “Thank You For Your Purchase!”
- “Track Your Shipment Here”
Cart abandonment emails are sent to customers who add items to their cart but don’t complete the purchase. These emails aim to encourage the prospect to complete their purchase from your brand.
Cart abandonment emails typically include:
- A reminder of what items are in the customer’s cart
- The total cost of the items in the cart
- Any applicable shipping costs or a “free shipping” offer
- A discount code or other incentive to encourage the customer to complete their purchase
For example, this cart abandonment email from the lifestyle brand, Huckberry, includes a free shipping code to help boost their order completion rates.
Educational emails are designed to help customers learn more about your products or services and how to use them. You can use these types of emails to provide helpful tips, tricks, and advice to your existing and potential customers.
Educational emails are a great way to build trust with your customers and show that you are an expert in your field. They can also help increase customer loyalty and engagement. That's what makes them effective for ecommerce businesses.
As an ecommerce business owner, you may want to consider sending educational emails to your customers on a regular basis. You can send them as part of a weekly or monthly email campaign, or you can send them on an as-needed basis.
For example, you can send emails like:
- “Video: How to Use the ABC Widget”
- “5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your XYZ Widget”
- “The ABC Widget: What it is and How to Use it”
- “Step-by-Step Guide to Care for Your XYZ Jewellery”
Ecommerce businesses can send customer retention emails to their existing customers to encourage them to come back and make more purchases. These types of emails can help keep your customers engaged with your business and reduce customer churn.
Customer retention emails can include things like loyalty program information, special offers for repeat customers, or simply a reminder that you appreciate their business.
For example, you can send emails like:
- “Welcome to Our Loyalty Program”
- “Save 10% on Your Next Purchase!”
- “We Miss You – Here's a 10% Discount!”
- “Thank You For Your Business – Here's a 10% Discount for Your Next Purchase!”
Another great way to re-engage customers is to send price drop alerts for items they’ve viewed or added to their carts in the past.
Upselling and cross-selling emails are designed to encourage your existing customers to purchase complementary or higher-priced items.
For example, if a customer buys a pair of shoes from your store, you could send them a follow-up email with a special offer on shoe care products like polish or insoles.
Or, if a customer buys a dress, you could send them an email with a special offer on jewelry or other accessories that would go well with the dress.
Here’s a creative cross-selling ecommerce email from Dollar Shave Club:
Order replenishment emails can be sent to customers who have purchased items that need to be replaced on a regular basis, like coffee filters, face washes, or razor blades.
These types of emails can offer a discount or other incentive to encourage customers to make another purchase. They can also include helpful information like product care tips or links to complementary products.
For example, this order replenishment email from the organic superfoods brand, Rockin' Wellness, includes a free U.S. shipping offer for the day to encourage customers to restock their supplies.
While you may send different types of emails based on the nature of your ecommerce business, the stage of your customer’s journey, or the specific products and services you offer, there are certain elements that every ecommerce email should include.
- Subject line: It is the first thing recipients will see when they receive your email. Your subject line should be clear, concise, and interesting enough to encourage recipients to open and read your email. And it should give recipients a taste of what they can expect from your email.
- A personalized sender name and email address: Your subscribers should be able to see at a glance who they’re hearing from when they open your email. Use a consistent sender name and email address for all of your emails to create a sense of trust and familiarity.
- A compelling offer: Your offer should be relevant to your audience and something that they will be interested in. It could be a discount, free shipping, an exclusive sale, or early access to a new product.
- Great design: Your email should be well-designed and easy to read. Use images, infographics, and other visuals to break up your text and make your email more visually appealing. And be sure to test your email design on different devices and email clients to ensure it displays correctly.
- A clear call-to-action (CTA): Your email should have a clear CTA that tells recipients what you want them to do next. Whether you want them to click through to your website, buy a product, or sign up for your newsletter, make sure your CTA is displayed prominently and easy for recipients to find.
- A way to stay in touch: Include a way for recipients to stay in touch with your ecommerce business after they’ve received your email. This could be a link to follow you on social media, sign up for your newsletter, or download a white paper or ebook.
Including these elements in your ecommerce email will help you achieve your desired goal, whether it’s driving traffic to your website, generating sales, or building brand awareness.
Now that you know what types of ecommerce emails you can send and what elements to include in your emails, it’s time to understand that how you execute your email marketing strategy is just as important as what goes into each individual email.
Your ecommerce email marketing strategy should be based on your business goals, your target audience, and the stage of your customer’s journey. It should also take into account the different types of ecommerce emails you can send and how each email can help achieve your desired goal.
To get started, follow the steps below to create a successful email marketing strategy for your ecommerce business.
Before you start sending ecommerce emails, you need to define your goals.
What do you want to achieve with your email marketing? Do you want to increase website traffic, drive more sales, or increase brand awareness?
Your email marketing goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This will help you track and measure your progress over time to see if your email marketing efforts are paying off.
For example, instead of saying that you want to “increase sales,” you could say that you want to “increase sales by 10% in the next quarter.”
Who are you trying to reach with your ecommerce emails? What are their needs, wants, and pain points? What motivates them?
The better you understand your target audience, the more effectively you can speak to their needs with your ecommerce emails.
Start by asking yourself who your ideal customer is and then fleshing out your buyer personas with specific characteristics, including their demographics, interests, motivations, and pain points.
Once you know who your target audience is, it’s time to start building your email list. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Add a sign-up form to your ecommerce store or website.
- Run a contest or giveaway.
- Offer a discount for subscribing to your email list.
- Add entry and time-based pop-ups to your website.
- Offer a product sample or ebook for free.
- Collect email addresses during the checkout process.
Email list segmentation is the process of dividing your email list into smaller groups based on specific criteria, such as location, age, gender, interests, or past purchase history.
This is important because it allows you to send more relevant and targeted emails to your subscribers. And when your emails are more relevant and targeted, they’re more likely to be opened and clicked on, which can lead to more website traffic and sales.
There are a number of ways you can segment your email list, but some common criteria include:
- Location: Segment your list by country, state, or city.
- Age: Segment your list by age group.
- Gender: Segment your list by gender.
- Interests: Segment your list by interests such as sports, fashion, or travel.
- Purchase history: Segment your list by what products or services they’ve purchased in the past.
There are a number of different email marketing tools and platforms for ecommerce, so choose the one that’s best suited to your needs. Some popular options include Constant Contact, Mailchimp, and AWeber.
When picking an email marketing platform for your ecommerce business, consider the following:
- Ease of use and navigation so you can get started quickly
- The features you need such as email automation, segmentation, drip emails, and A/B testing
- Their pricing plans and how much you’re willing to spend
- How well they integrate with other platforms and software you use
- The level of customer support they offer
The types of content you include in your ecommerce emails will depend on your goals and target audience, and also on where the prospect/customer is in their buyer’s journey.
Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
Types of Ecommerce Emails to Send
People unaware of your brand and products
Send educational content, such as blog posts, infographics, product information, and videos.
Prospects who visited your site or looked at a product but didn't buy
Send emails with incentives, such as discounts or free shipping, to encourage them to buy.
Customers who have made a purchase
Send emails with product recommendations, cross-sells, or upsells.
People who stopped purchasing and stopped opening your emails
Send emails with special offers or discounts in the subject line itself to try and re-engage them.
Whichever types of ecommerce emails you ultimately decide to send, make sure the content is relevant and valuable to your subscribers.
Your ecommerce emails need to be engaging and compelling if you want people to open and click through them.
To do this, focus on creating email subject lines that are short, clear, and to the point. Avoid using too many words or characters and all caps, as this can make your subject line look spammy.
When writing your email copy, keep the following in mind:
- Use a voice and tone that’s consistent with your brand.
- Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
- Use high-quality images, videos, infographics, or even just simple charts and graphs to break up your text. Show off your product from different angles and in different environments and include people using your product in your images.
- Include a call-to-action (CTA) so people know what to do next. This could be something like “Buy Now” or “Sign Up.”
- Make it easy for people to unsubscribe if they want to.
I’ve also put together a list of email marketing examples that you can learn from. Check them out here to get some inspiration for your next email.
One of the best ways to improve your ecommerce email marketing is to constantly test your email content on different devices to make sure it looks good and functions correctly.
And be sure to optimize your emails for mobile devices so they look great no matter where recipients open them up.
You should also experiment with different elements of your emails, such as your email subject lines, copy, images, layout, CTA, and more. Try different versions and see which ones perform the best. Then, you can use what you learned to improve your future email campaigns.
Email marketing is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. This way, you can adapt your email marketing strategy as needed and make sure your campaigns are always fresh and relevant.
Some of the latest email marketing trends include:
- Interactive content such as quizzes or polls
- Animated GIFs to add some personality to your emails and make them more visually appealing
- Personalization to make your emails relevant and targeted to each individual recipient
When you’re running an email marketing campaign for your ecommerce business, it’s important to track key metrics so you can see how successful your campaign is.
Here are some of the most important metrics you should track:
- Open rate: This metric measures how many people open your email. A higher open rate means that more people are interested in your email content.
- Click-through rate (CTR): This metric measures how many people click on the links in your email. A higher CTR means that your email content is relevant and engaging.
- Conversion rate: This metric measures how many people take the desired action after clicking on a link in your email. A higher conversion rate means that more people are interested in what you’re selling.
- Bounce rate: This metric measures how many people unsubscribe from your email list or mark your emails as spam. A high bounce rate indicates that your email content is not relevant to your target audience.
- Revenue: This metric measures how much revenue your email marketing campaign generates. A higher revenue amount indicates that your email marketing campaign is successful.
You can easily track these metrics using email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and Mailchimp. These platforms will also let you organize data and insights into meaningful reports that you can share with your team or clients.
When you’re tracking these metrics, it’s important to keep in mind that not all of them are equally important. The most important metric will depend on the goals of your email marketing campaign.
- If your goal is to increase website traffic, then your focus should be on the click-through rate.
- If your goal is to increase sales, then you should focus on the conversion rate.
By tracking these metrics, you’ll be able to see how successful your email marketing campaign is and make necessary changes to improve your results.
When it comes to email marketing for ecommerce businesses, there are a few key templates that you should keep handy. These templates will help you get started with your email marketing campaigns and ensure that they are successful.
The welcome email is the first email new subscribers will receive from you. This email should introduce your brand and let people know what they can expect from your emails.
Here's an easy-to-use template for you:
Subject line: Welcome to [Your Brand]!
Hi [First Name],
Welcome to [Your Brand]! We’re glad you’re here. We promise to never spam you with irrelevant content or sales pitches – only the good stuff.
Here’s what you can expect from us:
- [Benefit 1]
- [Benefit 2]
- [Benefit 3]
Thanks for joining us!
[Address + Contact + Social Media Profile Links]
You can send emails to promote a special offer, sale, or discount. This email should be clear and concise so that people know exactly what the offer is and how to take advantage of it.
Subject line: Get XX% off your next purchase!
For a limited time, we’re offering XX% off your next purchase! Just use the code XXXX at checkout.
This offer is only good for a limited time, so don’t wait!
[Your Brand's Name + Contact Details]
You can use emails to announce new products, features, or services. Make sure to include a call-to-action so people know what to do next.
Subject line: Introducing the all-new XXXX
We’re excited to introduce the newest addition to our product line – the XXXX!
This product is designed to help you with [XXXX + why they should try it] and is available now.
We’ve also updated our website to include more information about this product. Check it out here: [www.YourBrand.com/product]
Early birds can enjoy a discount of XX% off by using the code XXXX at checkout. So, hurry up!
[Your Brand's Name + Contact Details]
You can use ecommerce emails to recommend products that you think your customers or prospects will love.
Subject line: You might be interested in these products
Hi [First Name],
We noticed that you’ve been looking at [product they viewed] on our website. We thought you might be interested in these similar products:
- [Product 1]
- [Product 2]
- [Product 3]
[Your Brand's Name + Contact Details]
Use this template to remind people of the items they left in their cart and encourage them to complete their purchase.
Subject line: Did you forget something?
We noticed that you left some items in your shopping cart. We thought you might want to complete your purchase and get those items shipped to you.
- [Product 1 with price drop]
- [Product 2]
- [Product 3]
If you order today, we'll also throw in FREE shipping!
[Your Brand's Name + Contact Details]
You can use this email to get feedback from your customers about their recent purchases. You can also use it to offer customer support or troubleshooting help.
Subject line: How was your recent purchase?
Thank you for your recent purchase from our store. We want to make sure that you’re happy with your purchase and our service.
How was your overall experience?
Is there anything we can do to improve your experience?
If you have any questions, our customer service team is happy to help. Just reply to this email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Thanks for trusting our products!
[Your Brand's Name + Contact Details]
When designing your ecommerce email strategy, keep these templates in mind. They can be a helpful starting point for your own email marketing campaigns.
To run a successful ecommerce email marketing campaign, you’ll need the right tools. Here are some of the best email marketing tools for ecommerce businesses:
Constant Contact is one of the most popular email marketing tools on the market. It offers a wide range of features, including a drag-and-drop email builder, built-in templates, list segmentation, and more.
It’s a great option for ecommerce businesses of all sizes as it lets you stay connected with your website visitors and promote your products using targeted automation.
Plus, it integrates seamlessly with the ecommerce platforms you use, varying from BigCommerce and Shopify to Magento, WooCommerce, Etsy, eBay, and more.
Their plans start at $9.99/month.
Other useful features:
- Create sign-up forms for your ecommerce website and directly see new contacts in your Constant Contact dashboard.
- Use hundreds of pre-designed email templates to create your emails.
- Send real-time automated abandoned cart reminders and birthday discounts to boost sales.
- Segment your target audience.
- See your email list growth over time and track metrics like email views, opens, clicks, and more.
- Create shoppable landing pages.
- Get more email opens with subject line testing.
- Stay connected using their mobile app.
- Create email surveys and polls to understand your customers better.
- Get award-winning live chat and phone support.
Sendinblue is a powerful email marketing platform that offers a wide range of features, including automated email campaigns, transactional emails, and segmentation.
It helps you send personalized messages to the right customers and prospects at the right times. You can also store all customer data in one place.
Sendinblue integrates seamlessly with your ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify and other business tools such as Google Analytics and WordPress.
You can send up to 300 emails/day for free. For more emails, you can upgrade to their paid plans, starting at $25/month.
Other useful features:
- Grow your email list by integrating custom forms on your ecommerce website or online store.
- Segment your audience.
- Create targeted landing pages.
- Send abandoned cart reminder emails and run other personalized email campaigns based on your customers’ purchase activities.
- Set up the design and deliverability of your transactional emails.
- Get reports about email opens and click-through rates.
- See how recipients engage with your emails using their email heat map.
- Conduct A/B testing and send time optimization.
- Create and automatically send time-sensitive offers to your selected customer segments.
- Connect with your customers and website visitors via live chat.
- Track your customers’ activities and segment them with lead scoring. For example, 10 points for signing up, followed by another 15 points for visiting a product page.
Omnisend is another popular and easy-to-use platform for ecommerce email marketing, SMS marketing, and marketing automation.
It offers everything from professional email templates to pre-built automation and workflows, pop-ups and sign-up forms, segmentation, sales reports, and customer support.
And the best part?
You can start sending ecommerce emails for free for up to 500 emails/month and reach up to 250 contacts.
Omnisend integrates with hundreds of tools, including Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Wix, and Zapier.
Other useful features:
- Create emails using pre-designed professional email templates and a drag-and-drop editor.
- Automate trigger-based email sequences to engage your prospects and customers throughout their buying journeys.
- Build shoppable emails using features with their product picker, unique discount codes, and product recommendations.
- Drive more sales from automated welcome series emails and abandoned cart recovery emails to post-purchase engagement emails and more.
- Segment your audience based on their activities and shopping behaviors.
- Get more email opens and clicks with A/B testing and campaign booster.
- Get top-notch customer support 24/7.
Want to look for other options in the market? Check out my review and comparison of the top email marketing tools for 2023.
Email marketing can be a great way to boost your ecommerce business – if it's done correctly. It can be tempting to just blast out a bunch of emails to your entire list, but that's not always the most effective way to use email marketing.
William Harris, the Founder & CEO of the ecommerce marketing agency, Elumynt, said that you can’t send boring emails. You have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes to send emails that can engage, convert, and retain them.
Here are some tips on how to do email marketing for ecommerce the right way:
- Make sure your emails are relevant and targeted to your audience. Don't just send out generic emails. Personalize them to make them relevant to your customers.
- Timing is everything when it comes to email marketing. Make sure you send your emails at a time when your customers are most likely to check their inboxes.
- Keep your emails short and to the point. No one wants to read a novel in their inbox, so make sure your messages are concise and easy to read.
- Use attractive visuals in your emails. Customers are more likely to engage with an email that has images or videos, so make sure to use them in your campaigns.
- Always include a call-to-action in your emails. Whether you want customers to click through to your website or buy a product, make sure there's a clear call-to-action in your email.
By following these tips, you can make sure your ecommerce email marketing campaign is successful. So start planning your next email campaign and put these tips into practice.
1. Is email marketing good for ecommerce?
Email marketing has a great potential to generate sales for ecommerce businesses. It can help you build relationships with customers, promote products and services, drive traffic to your website or online store, increase sales, build customer loyalty, and improve customer satisfaction.
2. What is the success rate of ecommerce email marketing?
Ecommerce email marketing has a high success rate. Industry reports show that ecommerce emails have a 21% open rate on average. 2.56% of ecommerce emails drive actual website clicks.
In another study, marketers reported a 750% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
Abandoned cart emails have a 46.6% open rate, a 28.7% click-through rate, and a 5% conversion rate on average.
And, as I already mentioned earlier in this article, email marketing delivers an average ROI of 3600%.
3. How much should I make from ecommerce email marketing?
You should make at least $10 for every $1 you spend on email marketing. However, the average return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is 3600%. This means that, on average, businesses make $36 back for every dollar they spend on email marketing.
4. What is the best time to send ecommerce emails?
The best time to send ecommerce emails varies depending on your audience, your products, and your goals. However, in general, the best time to send promotional emails is between 9 am to 12 pm for maximum engagement.
Another report suggested that emails sent at 6 pm contribute to the highest number of click-throughs for ecommerce businesses.
Most people open their emails during weekdays so it's best to avoid weekends.
Of course, the best time to send ecommerce emails will also depend on your customer's time zone. You'll need to take that into account when you're planning your email marketing campaigns.
Ecommerce email marketing can be a powerful tool to stay in touch with your customers and prospects. By sending timely and relevant emails, you can build relationships, drive sales, build customer loyalty, and improve customer satisfaction.
When designing your email marketing strategy, keep in mind the different types of ecommerce emails you can send, as well as the best time to send them. You should also make use of email marketing tools such as Constant Contact to automate and segment your campaigns for maximum impact.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.