Guide to Email Marketing for Retailers
by Habeab Kurdi last updated on 0

Guide to Email Marketing for Retailers

Want more people to start visiting your stores online? Or maybe you’d like to win more sales from your existing customers? If you said yes to either of these questions, then it’s time you had a look at email marketing and its impossible-to-beat ROI.

In this email marketing for retailers guide, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of setting up an email program that attracts and retains loyal customers that keep coming back for more. Also, we’ll examine some great retail email examples.

Sound like a plan? Let’s dive in.

Table Of Contents

Why email marketing

“What’s in it for me?”

You might be asking yourself that question regarding email marketing, and even this article, right now.

However, your customers are likely also asking themselves this question. When they are looking through your products, when they are considering signing up for your email list, when they are considering a purchase from you, and even subconsciously when they are considering their expenditure of time, energy, and money.

So, what’s the value of email marketing for you and your retail business? What’s in it for your customers?

That’s where connections are so important. You can build strong, everlasting, real connections with your audience, through emails, and create connections to your products and brand as well. A stronger connection creates brand loyalty.

And more and more customers are going online to find what they want and what they need, and they want to support someone that makes them feel better about their investment of money and time.

The answers are all there, and well, right here – email marketing. The best email marketing strategies work so well because, while your customers don’t shop every day, they do check their email daily, and probably more than once a day.

How to send your first campaign

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An email is your direct line of communication

Retail businesses need to adapt to current email marketing strategies, which are taking on even more significance in 2023.

A retail business that looks at email campaigns as part of its overall marketing strategy is set up for success as the world – and online world – evolve.

Break it down into digestible pieces that are familiar – retail, email, marketing, and it’s all about the products, which when it comes to a retail email is considered content.

Email marketing for retail is a tried-and-true marketing strategy to putting your retail business in front of a virtual crowd every day.

By providing your customers with emails containing information, giving them a direct connection with you, and of course getting more sales by reaching shoppers online and selling to them directly online. From product releases, to sales, to special-themed items and offers, to expanded in-store hours, and even tips and insights, engaging existing customers through email marketing can improve your ROI.

You can learn about all the benefits of email in our Email Marketing for Beginners guide. Just know this – email marketing generates an ROI of 38:1, more than any other marketing channel out there.

We’re going to show you how to achieve your goals and long-lasting success using email marketing for retailers, like you.

Simply consider that digital marketing gives you as a retailer a direct line of communication, via your email marketing strategy, that you cannot achieve with just a brick-and-mortar store.


Let’s go!

We’ll start with some retail email marketing examples and best practices to start out our guide to marketing for retailers.

Email marketing strategies for retailers

How do you get leads and potential customers on your retail email marketing list? How do you get them to stay on your mailing list, open your emails, and not even consider hitting that unsubscribe button?

That’s right – connect with them.

Present a great incentive for signing up, either with a signup form on your landing page, through a paid ad, or even via a compelling video or engaging webinar.

1. Email list building

First things first – get them signed up for your marketing email content!

Retail businesses, ecommerce businesses, and physical stores alike all need the same thing – people walking in that door. In the case of businesses online, that’s getting a potential customer to become an actual customer.

One of the best ways to go about this is by putting a form on your landing page asking for their email address, and in exchange offer them a lead magnet, like 20% off their first order, or invite them to join your exclusive members-only emails that have special offers, discounts, and new product announcements before the public hears about them.

Here, you’ll find some great lead magnet examples and ideas you can use in your company.

Creating a web form is easy, and can increase conversion rates to get visitors signed up for your email newsletter – all you need is a Web Form Builder.

With the right types of forms out there to choose from, you can invite people to sign up for your marketing email right on your website, or entice them with an offer to increase sign ups. You can also use one that will pop up as the visitor tries to leave your website, to catch their attention one last time before they click away.

A subscribe form offering a promo code.
A subscription form to receive a lead magnet.

💡 Get more ideas like these from our small business email marketing guide.

2. Welcome emails

Once you’ve built your form, you will need to create a compelling welcome email that’ll make your new contacts want to engage with you, and givee them a sense of connection that will keep them subscribed to your emails.

Here’s an example of how this could look like:

Retail welcome email campaign example.

Business: Biossance

Subject line: [Activate] 20% off welcome offer


The usage of brackets and activate is eye-catching and engaging without seeming desperate. The message itself is really nice, with a great use of images and text throughout the message.

They offer the signup discount button and a simple statement to “start with a clean slate”.

That extra special touch

Aside from the discount, the email goes in-depth without being heavy-handed to tell their customer base about their care for humanity, for the environment, and sustainability, which creates a connection for customers and gives them a reason to feel good about buying from this company, and even builds trust with a message of brand consistency and values.

That’s a powerful statement: “2 million sharks saved every year”.

Lastly they tell you what’s to come from their retail email messages, inviting the reader to “get excited for:” …

The perks are a great touch at the end as well. There’s a lot here in this email, yet it doesn’t feel too jammed in or cluttered. The most important thing is creating the desired connection with subscribers, no matter your brand, and being transparent and open about who you are and what you have to offer, and what they can expect from your emails.

Your subscribers will grow as people stay signed up, and start to spread the word about your great products and communication.

“Oh you’re looking for X? Sign up for our marketing emails and you’ll get a discount code to buy that! Save some money! And get something great!”

Welcome offer with a discount

Retail welcome email with a discount.

Business: Cat Caboodle

Subject line: Welcome to Cat Caboodle!


A welcome email sent to someone after they’ve signed up. The subject line is super simple, relying on the fact that their customers wanted to sign up and know what to expect here.

They offer 20% off as a welcome thank you. The message is clear, adds some personalization (more on that to come), has an engaging yet simple photo, gives a button and a coupon code for easy redemption. Finally, they close it out with their social media icons to increase customer engagement so they can interact with them elsewhere.

Welcomes are worth their weight in gold

One more, because as we all know, welcome emails are the most important message you’ll ever send (if ya didn’t know, check out our blog article on Welcome Emails… and now you know 😃).

Fast facts:

Welcome emails’ average click-through rates are about 5 times higher than those of regular newsletters, their average open rates are more than 82% (!), the average click-through rate is around 27!

Building trust through emails

A welcome retail email that builds trust.

Business: Riley

Subject line: Life’s too short not to sleep with us.


They offer a lighthearted, engaging welcome playing off their offerings, which is bedding. They are banking on the idea that this will create higher customer engagement, and they’ll want to open the email, rather than feel turned off or alienated by it. It’s about knowing your subscribers, who you want to target, and how to stand out without being overbearing about it.

The tagline is great here, enveloping their offer: Fit for a king. Affordable for you. The world’s best bedding & bath.

In the middle is the offer of $25 off as a welcome gift, telling customers to “start fresh”.

Again, they give a button to redeem as well as a coupon code. That is followed by some of their offerings, so customers can jump right into what they need and want directly from the email.

Giving an added layer of comfort

Lastly, the email instills trust by inviting the reader to “try us for a dollar” and offering free returns, and mentioning their high ratings.

In all, there is not a lot of text here, and everything delivers. It’s a great welcome email that will keep someone wanting to see what comes next.

3. Personalization + segmentation

A small bit of personalization in marketing emails goes a long way.

From using their name, to sending them offers based on what they’ve bought, to letting them know about special events or offers related to where they live, and even using customer birthday information from your web form to send them a birthday message and discount to use for their special day, there are a lot of ways to make one more link of connection that’ll help you drive more repeat customers.

How to personalize to perfection

  • Use: tagging, scoring, tracking, insights, buying history, browsing history
  • If you track customers’ actions on your landing page or website, or even how they interact with your marketing emails, you can see what they click and send offers based on this
  • When you use a signup form to collect information, ask for something specific tailored to your business, business, or industry, and use that to present a unique, personalized offer that only your retail business could. For example, of course ask for their email address, but also ask for birthday, location, maybe even interests.
  • Tailor automation workflows to customers’ needs and wants with scoring and tagging to create refined segmentation for your emails
  • Personalize based on email history data – what they’ve opened and clicked – and use that information to make a better connection and improve open rates

Personalize with a custom offer

A personalized email with a custom offer.

Business: Topo Designs

Subject line: Go ahead, take another look!


personalized message tells the recipient this email is one they, personally, will love. It’s an email marketing strategy based on what consumers have already shopped for, or rather, looked at and clicked on links from their website. They give a discount code to use on something they want already, and even feature the item that they’ve been thinking about.

It’s simple, direct, and sleek, without much clutter.

Wait, that’s free?

They reinforce trust with their guarantee, and give a reminder of the freebies they offer (shipping, returns, exchanges).

Tell them their wish list item is on sale

An email announcing a wish list item's sale.

Business: Columbia

Subject line: Price drop on your favorites!


This is a great example of transactional emails made to increase ROI, because they share relatable, desired content.

The message personalizes and makes consumers feel special by showing them this offer is based on them. Using the ability to track, segment, personalize, and automate it all lets them send out a dynamic offer based on their favorites.

It could be products from the online store they were allowed to “save” or add to a “wish list” or “star” as an item they like to remember for later. Using this information and data, retail businesses can send emails with a message showcasing items they like, but haven’t bought yet, are now on sale. This will make a sale more likely you already have an indication they like this item, and now it’s right in front of them, on sale.


Plus, it’s an opportunity to upsell and put other items in front of their eyes as they’re in the buying mood, in hopes of increasing the order size. When you already have someone ready and willing to buy from you, a well-placed and timed upsell can pay huge dividends.

4. Marketing automation to drive revenue

Want to increase those email open rates? You’ve got step one, a great subject line. If they are engaged, intrigued even, they will open the email. Once they’ve opened your email, you’ve won a huge part of the battle toward getting that conversion.

Now you can put all the pieces together and start using marketing automation to your advantage, acting behind the scenes to deliver all your messages. The right messages, to the right people, at the right time, increasing your chances of getting them to make a purchase and stick with you for the long run.

Pro tip: Put messages in email inboxes right when they are most likely to open them, on their timeline. Find out when they’re most likely to open using Perfect Timing. If your emails get the most opens in the morning, and you have customers in different time zones, morning is different for all of them, so set it up to deliver the message to everyone’s relative morning time, automatically, using Time Travel!

As a retail marketer, think of what works for a physical store and apply it in your email marketing strategies. Use event tracking as customer feedback, let your customer base tell you what they want with their activity, then this can automatically trigger email sends and messages based on what they’re doing.

Behavior is the best informer

Behavior-triggered emails tend to see greater results. Why is that? 

Well, because your clients are already informing you as to what they want, what they’re looking for, and you can connect with them through a well-timed email while they are already at a higher engagement level based on the actions and behaviors you’re tracking.  

Every little behavior speaks to a bigger picture, and gives you an opportunity to segment further, to really deliver the things your customers are seeking. For instance, in real life, if someone is browsing your shop and continues to circle back to a certain section, you can be sure that’s what they’re really interested in. Maybe they see an item they love, but you don’t have their size or have sold out of most of your stock. When it comes to retail email, you can set up a system that notifies just them about their items online, based on their behaviors.

It’s back in stock

An email campaign for items that are back in stock.

Business: Uniqlo

Subject line: Good news! We’ve restocked!


Automated, personalized, and delivered in a way that requires nothing but the initial set up from the sender. It’s an email marketing strategy all based on triggers and behaviors.

The item they wanted was out of stock. The company knows this person wants it based on what they are tracking, or even from having the ability to let the visitors fill out a form requesting this information. Once it’s back in stock, the email is triggered to send to the customers that want it.

Now, the gap from want to purchase is closed and made as simple as possible.

Then, the message follows up with some other items back in stock.

And this CTA is the star of the message – “Gimme”. It’s clever, it’s made for their email subscribers specifically, and it also puts this subliminal message into their mind that yes, they wanted this, and yes, now they can have it just by a couple quick clicks.

And of course, the tried-and-true method for a super effective retail email is using an abandoned cart reminder. You can use automation to send a reminder after a day, after a week, or even as this item is about to be sold out.

A little nudge with an abandoned cart reminder

Abandoned cart reminder email from Winc.

Business: Winc

Subject line: You forgot something unforgettable.


The subject line says it all, and is a great way to use lighthearted content to try and accomplish more – getting that sale.

Items left in the cart are so close to being sold that a little email nudge can push the item out the door and give you another happy camper.

This message takes retail marketing and turns it into content that is personal, talking in regular language and an approach that isn’t pushy. Saying “accidentally” and “no biggie” gives a little reminder that there is an item they wanted, and they almost bought it, but for whatever reason it just didn’t happen.

As an incentive, the email offers a discount ($20 off first order in this instance) which is a huge nudge-nudge to get customers closer to buying, using feedback as a guide because they’ve already told you they want to make this purchase. This is another way transactional emails can improve your ROI because it’s not a “cold” sale, they’re already “warmed” up.

It’s maybe not the prettiest email or the most engaging, but since this email marketing campaign is meant to get them back to their cart, the email itself doesn’t need to go overboard in those regards. This is an email marketing practice you can easily duplicate and automate yourself.

Keep it relatable

Remember, you’re a human in retail, marketing to other humans, and connecting with them means being human even as you’re using retail emails with marketing in mind.

5. Building loyalty with your customers

Create multiple offers, so, for instance, someone who loves shoes gets a special code for their next pair of shoes. Yet someone who likes sweatshirts gets a unique offer showing them some of your best sweatshirt offerings, or other warm clothes, with a discount if they buy now (or before a certain date).

Give the people what they want!

One other way to do this is by offering bundles of your items at a discount. That way, a person interested in one or two items might see that they’re bundled together in a package of multiple items, and it will make more sense to them to buy the bundle. This is a classic way email marketers try to upsell and move more products via email campaigns, while broadening what your customers know about you and your content.

Bundle up

A retail email campaign that merges multiple marketing strategies.

Business: Ugmonk

Subject line: Bundle Up


This email packages together a few ideas in one. It’s a personalized thank you message to their customers based on a previous email campaign, it gives them bundle packages to help their shopping (especially helpful around holidays when folks are shopping for others, for inspiration, check out these holiday email campaigns) based on purchase behavior, and they present gift guides and gift cards – two more items that increase your chances of selling, without even focusing in on certain products.

Boost your email marketing with more

That’s not the end of our retail email marketing tips! You can combine email marketing for retail best practices with engaging paid ads.

With these, you can drive more traffic to your website, attract new customers, and retarget those who’ve visited your online store but didn’t end up buying.

Now, you have everything you need to unlock the potential of your email campaigns, and you’re ready to write your own email marketing success tale.

Whatever you do, whoever you are, wherever you are located, you can reach your customers with these online retail marketing strategies, focused around retail emails engineered to get you more leads, and more sales.

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