Want to grow your ecommerce business without spending a fortune on marketing channels you hardly control?
In this article, we’ll show you how to increase your ecommerce sales using a channel that, unlike many others, isn’t pay-to-play.
We’ll talk about email marketing for ecommerce and online retailers.
Specifically, we’ll cover:
- What is ecommerce email marketing
- Types of ecommerce email marketing campaigns
- How to set up an ecommerce email marketing strategy
- 9 ecommerce email marketing best practices
- How to track revenue from your ecommerce emails
Let’s dive right in.
Want to grow your ecommerce store more easily? Try GetResponse ecommerce email marketing software. It packs all the right tools an ambitious ecommerce business needs to grow – email templates, email automation, transactional emails, web push notifications, paid ads, and live chat. Plus it integrates with all major ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, and more.
What is ecommerce email marketing?
Ecommerce email marketing is the strategy of using emails to generate sales for your online store. It can be simple, like sending a message presenting your latest offer to your whole mailing list. Or complex, like sending highly targeted emails triggered by your customers’ actions on your ecommerce site.
Online retailers use ecommerce email marketing as their standard practice to grow their business and build a loyal customer base. As you’ll read more in a few moments, this often involves developing different strategies to attract new buyers, turn first-time buyers into repeat customers, and foster relationships with loyal customers.
Some of the best examples of using email marketing campaigns to boost ecommerce sales include:
- sending emails announcing new product lines and offers,
- sending coupon codes to email subscribers on special occasions,
- sending emails when shoppers abandon their shopping carts,
- cross-selling and recommending complementary products in newsletters,
- sending transactional emails such as shipping and order confirmations.
To help you better understand the type of marketing communications we’re talking about, check out this great example of a cart abandonment email sent by an ecommerce company, MCM.
Notice that this email not only reminds a user about the products they left behind in their online shopping cart but also contains a list of recommended products they may be interested in.
We’ll discuss why you may want to consider sending abandoned cart emails and other ecommerce messages to your own audience a bit later in this guide. Plus, we’ll show you what you can do with the correct email service provider, like GetResponse.
If you’d like to go over the foundations first, consider reading our beginner’s guide on how to do email marketing.
Types of ecommerce email marketing campaigns
Every ecommerce email marketing strategy is different, but they all have something in common – they utilize these three types of marketing emails:
This is when you use email to inform your subscribers about deals in your store, new product lines, new collections, etc. These include:
New product launch emails
New product launch emails are exactly what they sound like. These are emails used to introduce new products to email subscribers.
Here’s a great example from Casper.
Brands use periodic newsletters to stay in constant contact with their customers. They are a great way to stay on top of the minds of your target audience and keep that relationship going.
These newsletters can take many different forms. You can use them to share valuable content and newsworthy information regarding your brand.
Here’s an example from Huel, featuring customer reviews:
Subscriber-only discount promo code emails
Subscriber-only discount promo code emails do an excellent job of building an engaged email list and promoting customer loyalty. Since the promo codes are exclusive to your subscribers, they make them feel valued by your brand.
Special promos for a particular audience segment
You can also run special promotional emails targeting a particular segment of your email list. For example, you could target your most loyal customers with a special promo code.
Other types of promotional ecommerce emails are:
- content updates
- seasonal deals emails
Tip: Promotional emails are usually sent by a brand as a newsletter or broadcast.
Transactional emails are sent to the customer with key information about a specific transaction in your store, like:
Subscription confirmation emails
These emails are triggered when a customer subscribes to your email list. They can serve as the so-called welcome emails and are vital because they enjoy one of the highest open rates of any email campaign.
Use these emails to introduce your brand and its offerings. Some brands may also use the initial confirmation email to ask customers to confirm their subscriptions, as shown in the example below.
This is a great strategy when you want to build a clean email list and maintain high deliverability right from the start.
Order confirmation emails
Order confirmation emails are sent immediately after a customer has completed a purchase in your store. They provide additional information regarding the order.
Every ecommerce email marketing strategy is different, but they all have something in common – they utilize these three types of marketing emails:
Shipping information emails
Shipping information emails are usually sent alongside order confirmation emails. They provide shipping details like where the order will be shipped and when.
A brand could have multiple shipping information emails for the different stages of the shipping process, i.e., when the order has been cleared for shipping, when the order is out being shipped, and when the order is about to be delivered.
Customer satisfaction survey emails
These emails are used to collect feedback from customers. You can send them a few days or weeks after an order has been delivered. They can also be sent to all existing customers annually to collect general feedback.
Tip: Transactional emails can be sent directly from your ecommerce platform or via an email automation platform, like GetResponse. The latter often gives you more design capabilities but may often require a technical setup using API or SMTP. Luckily, in GetResponse, we’ve added a new feature called Quick Transactional Emails that lets you set up essential transactional emails with no coding at all!
Click here to learn more about GetResponse’s quick transactional emails!
Lifecycle emails are automated emails triggered by your shopper’s action and depending on where they are in their customer lifecycle, such as:
Welcome emails series
As mentioned, welcome emails are deployed when the customer subscribes to your email list. They can also be initiated when a new customer buys a product from your store for the first time.
Beyond welcoming the customer, these email series can be used to promote products and collect additional information from the subscriber.
Win-back email series
Shopping cart abandonment emails
These are sent when the customer adds items to their shopping cart but does not complete the order.
We have an interesting article on cart abandonment emails you may want to read for some examples and best practices on these emails.
Browse abandonment emails
Browse abandonment emails target potential customers who browsed through your product catalogs but did not add any items to their carts. You can use the data on what the prospect was looking at to send a personalized email that could result in a purchase.
Here is one example of a browse abandonment email.
Upselling and cross-selling emails
You can use upselling and cross-selling emails to increase the average order value. The trick is to ensure you promote relevant products in those emails.
Naturally, you don’t need to use all these types of messages in your marketing strategy. However, as you keep growing your online store, you’ll want to make sure your communication is versatile and tailored to users at different stages of your funnel.
If you keep sending only promotional messages, your shoppers will quickly get tired. They’ll stop opening your messages, and your conversion rate will drop. So, it’s important to sequence your emails thoughtfully.
Tip: You can send lifecycle emails using marketing automation. If you’ve never done that before, you can start by using prebuilt automation workflows that’ll get you set up in moments.
How to set up an ecommerce email marketing strategy
Here is a step-by-step process on how to build an ecommerce email marketing strategy.
Step 1: Start building an email list
Most ecommerce brands start with little or no email list. What they do have, however, are website visitors, social media followers, and of course – existing customers.
To start growing your email list, consider doing the following:
- Add a pop-up form that’ll appear after your visitors enter your website (ideally on all pages or just those that get the most website traffic).
- Add an embedded signup form (e.g., in the footer) so that users can join your list even if they’ve closed the pop-up or, for some reason, didn’t trigger it.
- Promote your newsletter on social media, highlighting the benefits and exclusive perks your subscribers get
- Run a giveaway or contest to encourage your audience to opt into your list.
- Run a paid advertising campaign advertising your exclusive offers (make sure the pop-up form appears on the pages you’re promoting).
- Run a referral marketing campaign where existing customers or subscribers can recommend others to join your list in exchange for a reward.
Pro tip: Offering a discount or free shipping is probably the easiest way to convince folks to opt into your email list. And if you don’t want to offer deals right away, you can always make the offer available only on their second purchase.
Here’s an example of a popup form created inside GetResponse you could use on your site:
To explore this topic further, read this post on how to build an email list from scratch.
Step 2. Welcome new subscribers automatically
Now that you’ve started collecting new email subscribers, onboarding them with a welcome email is vital.
A welcome email is the single most engaging email you can send – it gets an average open rate of 63.91% and a click-through of 14.31%, according to our Email Marketing Benchmarks study.
A great welcome email can serve several purposes. It can help you:
- Set the tone for the relationship you’re starting to build with the subscriber
- Express the appreciation for entrusting you with their email address
- Bring visitors back to your website
- Motivate new subscribers to make their first purchase (e.g., through a discount code)
- Present your different product categories and other key information, e.g., delivery costs, refund policy, or ways to reach you.
There’s another critical benefit welcome emails can help you achieve – great email deliverability. That’s because, unlike email blasts that are sent to the whole of your email audience, welcome emails are delivered to individual subscribers by your email automation platform.
This steady flow of highly engaging emails shows email service providers like Gmail or Yahoo that you’re a solid email marketer and your emails should be filtered into the mailbox, skipping the spam folder.
Here’s an example of a simple marketing automation workflow that automatically sends the welcome email.
Bear in mind that you could build out this workflow even further and turn your welcome message into a whole series. This is especially useful if you’re offering a wide variety of product categories and you don’t send promotional/sales emails all that often.
One of GetResponse’s customers, Landcafe, took this approach when they developed a whole educational series for their new subscribers. Their six-email series not only helps tell the brand’s story and guide its customers through the wide variety of coffees they sell but also helps them generate revenue. In fact, 54% of their sales come from their onboarding sequence.
The visual below portrays what their educational email series looks like:
Step 3. Start sending promotional emails regularly
With the first two steps out of the way, it’s time to get into the habit of sending promotional emails to your audience.
Although you don’t want to overwhelm your subscribers with too many messages, you need to ensure they remember your business and visit your website. The best practice is to send at least one email per month. But ideally, you’d be looking at a weekly or biweekly schedule – depending on how versatile and engaging your content is.
Most email marketing services come with ready-made email templates you can fill in with your own copy, images, and colors to match your branding. Building your marketing messages this way won’t take too much of your time and will help you drive more sales from your ecommerce shop.
Here’s an example of an email template you can find inside GetResponse that’s been designed with ecommerce businesses in mind.
And here’s a walkthrough video showing you how to build an email with AI using our new AI Email Creator.
Step 4. Send reminders to those who did not convert
Once you’ve started sending your emails more regularly, you’ll probably notice that not all of your recipients will open all of your messages. And that’s natural – our inboxes get cluttered, or our schedule becomes too busy.
Since newsletters get an average open rate of just over 22%, roughly 80% of your email list won’t open your message. This is still a great result compared to other marketing channels, but sometimes you may want to present your offer to those who didn’t open the first time.
To do that, all you need to do is pick a different email subject line and leave your message content as it were. After all, they haven’t seen it yet 🙂 Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to send the message to those who’ve not opened your first email.
Now, depending on the email marketing service you use, there may be several ways to launch such a message.
In GetResponse, you can do this in three ways:
1) By selecting those who didn’t open the message directly in your email analytics report.
2) By looking up those who received your email and didn’t open it and then saving them as a segment in Search Contacts.
3) By setting up a marketing automation workflow that’ll automatically send your reminder message after, e.g., 48 hours from your initial message.
This tactic shouldn’t be used too often, as you may end up resending your messages to recipients who are genuinely no longer interested in your brand. And if you do find such contacts among your segments, you’ll want to try and reactivate them with a win-back campaign.
Step 5. Segment your audience and tailor your communication
As your email marketing list grows, you’ll want to ensure you keep your audience engaged. The best way to do that is by segmenting your recipients and tailoring the content to these individual groups’ needs.
With the right approach, you can help your customers move along your marketing funnel more effectively, leading to more repeat customers and sales.
There are five customer segments you’ll probably want to set up in your email marketing service. These are high spenders, loyal customers, trendsetters, one-time buyers, and recent buyers.
On top of that, here are more segmentation criteria that are particularly helpful for ecommerce brands:
- Preferred brand or category (e.g., based on their clicks or buying behavior)
- Product size
- Price sensitivity (e.g., buys only when there’s a sale)
- Date of last purchase (e.g., within the last 30 days, 30-90 days)
- Lack of purchase (newsletter subscriber only)
Here’s an example of how Submission Technology tailors their email content to target males and females individually.
Starting with email segmentation is super easy. Here’s an example of how you can use GetResponse to set up a segment comprising people who’ve not bought anything in your store and signed up within the last 30 days.
Step 6. Retrieve lost sales with abandoned cart emails
Finally, it’s time to optimize your conversion rates. Given that you’ve already invested so much into getting visitors onto your site, you’ll naturally want to maximize the chances of them finishing their order.
A simple email reminding users about the product they’ve left in their shopping cart can help you achieve that. To set it up, you’ll need to integrate your ecommerce platform with your email automation tool and build a workflow like this one:
Marketing automation workflow that helps retrieve abandoned carts.
All the workflow does is wait for the signal from Shopify, Magento, PrestaShop, or any other platform you’re using that a user has left the website without finishing the transaction. When we get that signal, we launch whatever message or sequence of messages you’ve added into your workflow and help you win back the customer.
There’s also another way to set up your cart abandonment emails in GetResponse. This technique is currently reserved for Shopify only.
It uses the previously mentioned feature called Quick Transactional Emails. It requires only that you integrate your Shopify store with GetResponse, customize the layout of your email template using our Email Creator, and hit ‘activate’.
Step 7. Reactivate subscribers with win-back campaigns
Over time, some of your subscribers may become unengaged and reluctant to open your messages. Even though this is expected, it’s not something you’ll want to leave unattended.
Unengaged subscribers not only cost you money (they use up space in your database) but also affect your email deliverability. Their lack of activity shows the email service providers that your content is unattractive and that you don’t keep your list hygienic. These signals are used to filter your messages, affecting your ability to reach your other subscribers’ mailboxes.
That’s where win-back programs come into play. Their purpose is not only to try to win back those who may still be interested in your brand but also to keep the “lost cases” away.
Recipients you’ve failed to reactivate on multiple occasions should ideally be moved away to a different segment that you won’t communicate with regularly or be removed altogether.
While parting ways with your inactive subscribers may seem scary at first, it’s a process that can tremendously impact your deliverability and revenue.
Here’s what your segment could look like if you used the GetResponse Engagement Score feature to identify people who signed up for your newsletter more than 60 days ago and have an engagement score of 1, indicating they’re “unengaged”.
Here’s the workflow that would wait 90 days before checking if the recipient is present in the inactive segment. It will then send them an automated reminder. Should the recipient ignore the reminder message, they’ll be assigned the tag “lapsed-customer”.
Step 8. Ask buyers for their feedback
It’s time to encourage your buyers to provide feedback so you can use it throughout your marketing communication.
It’s a simple process. All you need to do is build a workflow that sends an automated message sometime after someone’s made a purchase. This could be a week, two, or maybe a month – depending on how long it takes to both deliver your product and get a good feel for it.
Here’s a workflow you can use to collect feedback about your products:
Step 9. Send recommendations based on shoppers’ behavior
I’m a big fan of Netflix and how they use recommendations to offer me the best movies and shows based on what others like me enjoyed. You can use the same approach in your ecommerce email marketing program.
Once you’ve connected your store with your email marketing service, set up a workflow and prepare a message containing your product recommendations.
This quick walkthrough shows how you can set this up in the GetResponse Email Creator:
And here’s the workflow that’ll deliver the product recommendation email to your recipients two weeks after they buy from you:
Step 10. Use transactional emails to build customer loyalty
Lastly, you’ll want to take advantage of transactional emails in your email marketing program.
In GetResponse, there are two ways to set them up:
- You can design them in our Email Creator and send them via the Quick Transactional Emails feature
- Or you can set them up using our transactional email service via API or SMTP
The latter solution gives you more flexibility, while the first one is quick, easy, and requires no coding whatsoever. Whichever method you choose, transactional emails are worth sending.
Transactional emails provide the reassurance that the transaction was processed correctly. They also allow you to strengthen your customer relationships.
Take this example from MeUndies, an online retailer selling underwear. Doesn’t this email look fun and enjoyable? Even though it’s just a transactional email, it shows the brand’s personality and sets the tone for the long relationship they’re trying to build with their audience.
Finally, let’s look at some ecommerce email marketing best practices that will help you run successful email marketing campaigns.
9 ecommerce email marketing best practices
So, what can online retailers do to ensure their campaigns move the needle? Here’s a list of 9 tips that’ll improve your ecommerce email marketing strategy.
1. Send your emails at the right moment.
One of the easiest ways to keep your email list engaged is to send your subscribers relevant information at the right time via proper email sequencing.
You can either do this with behavior-triggered campaigns in your email marketing automation workflows or with send-time optimization algorithms that are available in email marketing services like GetResponse.
The first method requires the user to perform an action (e.g., a visitor leaves a site without completing the purchase). Meanwhile, the second one just requires that your platform notes down your recipient’s geolocation (e.g., using their IP address) or looks at when they’ve previously engaged with your messages.
Both methods are great, and to no surprise – they deliver remarkable results. Here are the average email opens and clicks for various types of messages, including triggered campaigns. Notice how they outperform regular newsletters? That’s because they’re timely and relevant.
If you’re wondering if using send-time optimization is difficult – you’ll be relieved to learn it only takes one click to switch it on. Your email marketing platform takes care of the rest of the process.
GetResponse Perfect Timing feature automatically adjusts the send-time of your emails for best results.
2. Personalize your email campaigns.
Don’t rely on generic emails not aimed at anyone specific (a.k.a. email blasts). Make sure the content, arguments, and incentives you use in the communication are relevant to the target audience you’re trying to convert.
Not sure what kind of data you could use to tailor your email’s content? Here are five ideas that’d work for any ecommerce business:
- Person’s name
- Person’s location
- The product your visitor looked at and/or added to their cart
- The product or product category your customer bought from you recently
- The product your visitor added to their wish list and is currently back in stock
If you’ve never used personalization before, here’s how you’d add it to your email subject line:
3. Keep your transactional emails on brand
Transactional emails are perhaps the only type of email communication that gets even more attention than your welcome message. So, why not take this opportunity to use transactional emails to strengthen your brand and build customer loyalty?
To achieve that, you’ll need to ensure that your transactional emails are on brand – including your logo, using the same color scheme and fonts you’re using throughout your other communication.
The challenging part is that most ecommerce platforms like Shopify offer basic email design capabilities or require you to code your emails from scratch. But the good news is that in GetResponse, you can build essential transactional emails using our intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
This feature is called Quick Transactional Emails and lets you set up cart abandonment emails and order confirmations. You can also use our API-based transactional email service for more advanced communications.
4. Optimize your emails constantly
Your gut feeling is important, but we’re often biased and choose things we’re more familiar with rather than what’s best for us. The same goes for your mailings – use data to formulate A/B tests and optimize your campaigns to win in the long game.
The best thing about A/B tests is that they’re easy to set up, yet they can have an enormous impact on your sales results.
Think about it: if one of your email subject lines performed better by 5% and that resulted in 5% more click-throughs, how much more revenue is that for your business? And now multiply that for every marketing campaign you launch – the numbers keep adding up.
Here’s what the subject line A/B test configuration looks like in GetResponse:
5. Use social proof to improve your conversion rate
Customer reviews and opinions are the best pieces of marketing you’ll ever have. People generally seek others’ opinions before making a purchase online. Therefore, adding reviews to your ecommerce emails is one of the best ways to make the recipients feel confident in your brand and its products.
Learn how Selsey, an online furniture store, doubled its conversion rates from cart abandonment emails using customer reviews.
6. Segment your audience
Not all customers are the same. We all know that. However, only a few marketers change how they communicate in their emails based on who they’re targeting. Those that do tend to see impressive results.
Take Submission Technology, for example. This GetResponse customer actively segments their audience and continues to see average click-throughs far beyond the industry benchmarks – often as high as 6-7%.
And what about those who don’t segment their audience? They often do OK, but nothing close to the results mentioned above.
So, if you want your company to thrive, take the time to analyze your audience. Identify individual segments you can use to tailor your messaging and drive more sales from your emails.
You can learn more about this topic in our email list segmentation guide.
7. Improve your email templates with compelling copy
Ecommerce emails often focus on beautiful images and flashy design. But that’s not all there is to successful email programs. Email copy is just as important.
First, start with your subject line. Over half of all email recipients decide whether to open the email based on the subject line.
Then, go with the preheader, header, and call to action buttons.
All these elements should reinforce your message and help you drive more sales for your ecommerce store.
For copywriting guidance, consider reading this guide by Joanna Wiebe on how to write newsletters that get read, opened, and clicked. It’s packed with email marketing tips to help you write more compelling copy for your email campaigns.
8. Optimize for all devices
It’s been said too many times already, but I’ll say it one more time.
When designing your email templates, landing pages, and ad campaigns – focus on all the devices your customers might use to access them. If a single element in this equation is not working, you might be wasting your marketing budget and customer interest.
Pay attention to the images, size, and placement of your call-to-action buttons, the product page, the check-out process, and everything else your customers might encounter on the way. You’ll want the experience to be as smooth and frictionless as possible.
This email from Kiva checks all the right boxes.
9. Pay attention to your mailing frequency
Every once in a while, we all get tempted to send just one more message. We do it thinking there’s little harm, and the outcome can only be good for the business.
While that might be true in many cases, the data from our study tells a different story.
Before you decide to increase your mailing frequency, analyze the data carefully and note when you’re making the changes.
The number one reason subscribers opt out of receiving emails is that they receive too many of them in general.
At the same time, the total revenue you’ll make from the campaign may outweigh the costs of attracting new customers to replace the ones who unsubscribe.
Whatever you decide, ensure your long-term goals aren’t sacrificed by your short-term plans.
The above table shows how mailing frequency can affect key email marketing metrics.
How to track revenue from your ecommerce email marketing campaigns
The easiest way to measure your email marketing revenue is by adding UTM parameters to your messages, setting up goals in your analytics tool (e.g., Google Analytics), and looking at the conversion rates and generated revenue.
Although it’s the simplest way to measure your email marketing ROI, it’s not the most accurate one. That’s because when setting up goals, you have to assign the value of the goal conversion yourself.
If you only sell several products and they have different URLs, then it’s not a big problem. You can set up several goals and assign them a specific value.
The problem comes in when someone decides to buy several items of the same product within one session. This becomes an issue because Google Analytics would count that as a single-goal conversion. This means your email marketing programs will not get enough credit.
Your sales revenue from this channel would only be an approximate one. At the same time, measuring this way is better than not measuring your sales revenue at all.
The second, slightly more advanced way to track revenue from your emails in Google Analytics is to use the Enhanced Ecommerce Analytics plugin. This plugin lets you track user interactions with products on your ecommerce website.
If customers view a product, click on it, check product details, add it to their shopping cart, start the checkout process, complete the transaction, or abandon it – you’ll have all that information in your Google Analytics dashboard.
More importantly, you’ll get accurate information on how much your customers spend with their transactions because the value of each transaction will get automatically sent to GA.
If you connect your ecommerce store to GetResponse, you’ll be able to use that information to create customer segments and send targeted emails.
Be it abandoned cart emails, product upselling emails, or product recommendations.
Ecommerce email marketing FAQs
1. Is email marketing good for ecommerce?
Yes, email marketing is good for ecommerce stores. Email marketing can help you increase your sales and build a loyal customer base. It also has a high return on investment.
2. How to do email marketing for ecommerce businesses
To do email marketing for ecommerce businesses, you first need to build an email list, pick an email marketing software, and then send different types of ecommerce emails. This article shares a 10-step guide on setting up email marketing for ecommerce businesses.
3. What makes a successful ecommerce email?
A successful ecommerce email is made up of personalized content tailored to achieve a specific goal. The goal could be to welcome the subscriber, promote a product, or collect customer feedback.
How will you grow your ecommerce company?
Now that you’ve seen how email can help your ecommerce business grow (even if you’re mostly brick-and-mortar!), it’s time you answer this one simple question:
What’s the first step you’re going to take?
If you’re going to follow the sample strategy I’ve described above, you’ll probably want to use a tool that’ll help you achieve your ambitious goals.
And if you’re shopping for an email marketing service provider, I highly encourage you to give GetResponse a try.
It comes with 30 30-day free trial, and you don’t need to provide your credit card details. And on top of emails, it’s packed with plenty of other tools that’ll help your shop grow.
So go on, connect your online store with GetResponse, and launch your first email marketing campaign today.