Email marketing is a low-cost channel to get your brand in front of more consumers and entice current customers to repurchase. In contrast with advertising, email marketing allows you to build relationships with your customers encouraging trust and long-term loyalty, the backbone of customer retention. If you run a successful email campaign, you can build an army of loyal subscribers who trust you enough to buy when it comes time to promote your products. Add to that, it was found that email marketing enjoys a 4400% ROI in the US, that is, marketers can earn $44 for every $1 spent on campaigns. The ROI in the UK is $38 for every $1 spent.

Email Marketing for E-Commerce

Email marketing can also drive consistent automated revenue and increase customer retention. You can automate cart, category and checkout abandonment sequences, personalise welcome messages based on customer preferences, and offer product recommendations–all via email.

The key with email marketing is to always add value and focus on personalising messages to subscriber preferences and behaviour like purchase history and browsing activity. The more a subscriber feels valued, the more likely he/she will remain a subscriber and take advantage of your offers.

Value is an important word when it comes to email marketing and people often still seem to miss this. How many times have you unsubscribed from an email because it was all sales sales sales and nothing else? Sure, if it’s a business whose discounts you’re always on the lookout for, you may check them regularly. If not, you’re likely to feel pestered, with nothing in it for you. If you want the people on your list to be long-term customers, build long term relationships.


Automation is a key element for e-commerce email marketing and whether email is a focus for you or not, you should at least have some of the following set up.

Welcome Email/Series – Real time welcome emails tend to get great open rates. A popular way to get users to sign up is by offering an incentive, such as a discount on the first order. And why not continue this with a well planned series of follow-up emails?

Abandoned Cart Emails – Has someone added something to the basket and then left the site? Assuming you have their email address at this point, Abandoned Cart Emails can often deliver great returns on what would often be a lot sale.

Up-Sells and Cross-Sells – After a sale can be a great time to convince the customer to buy a related item or something that would complement their purchase well. For example, did they just buy a suit? How about showing them the top picks of shoes and ties?

Re-Engagement – This is an important one, especially if your products have a repeat buying cycle. For example, if you sell protein powders, you may want to send an email to a customer 3 weeks after their purchase to remind them to re-stock.

Other Tips

There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle when it comes to getting email marketing right but I thought it would be good to just throw a few more tips in the hat for inspiration and to get you thinking about anything you may be missing (assuming you’re doing this at all).

Segment your list. If you can do this well and customise your emails to specific segments, your open rates and conversion rates will be much higher.

CTAs. Include a clear call to action on emails.

Don’t be boring. Whether it’s a thank you email, order confirmation or a promotion, catch the users attention.

Test test test. Test subject lines, landing pages etc. What works best? What can you improve?

Personalisation. This can mean a number of things, from displaying the customer’s name to showing products that are relevant to them based on purchase history. Personalising emails can be a great way to grab attention and can make a big difference to the performance of your emails.

Optimise your emails to get past spam filters. If they end up in spam folders, or even the ’Promotions’ tab in Gmail, they’re much less likely to ever be opened.

Think mobile first. More than half of your readers will likely be reading the emails on their mobile, so why wouldn’t you think mobile first?

Use images. Especially for e-commerce businesses, this goes without saying.

Ask for reviews. Not only can these act as testimonials that others can read, it can also give you valuable feedback about your products and service.

Reward loyalty.

Consider a referral scheme.

Track and measure. Set up email campaign tracking so that you can measure performance in Google Analytics. You should also be tracking your open and click through rates. How can you improve these?

Remember that email is two-way. Please don’t use a no-reply email address. You may as well just say “hey, listen to us but don’t bother replying because with haven’t the time nor the interest to hear what you have to say!”

2 Way Communication

The List

What’s the point in email marketing if there’s no one on your list? Yes, you’re probably building up a list of customers but you also want to be building a hot list of potential customers, right? And the right ones at that. Would you rather have 100,000 people on your list who are never likely to buy from you, or 10,000 warm potential customers who are highly relevant and likely to buy from you? Having a targeted list is key. Here are some tactics that all e-commerce businesses can use to expand the size of that list.

Generic email opt-in forms. Such as those you see in the top bar of a page, in the footer or maybe in the sidebar of the blog.

Pop-ups and incentivised emails. These are usually timed or exit intent pop-ups that offer a discount on the first online order.

Lead magnets. Whether it’s a downloadable guide, template, checklist or free course/training; make sure it’s relevant to your target market, valuable and good quality.

Content upgrades. A form of lead magnet but this is offered within content and is normally relevant to that content. For example, it maybe a checklist related to the blog post.

Content Upgrade

Giveaways. Again, make sure this is relevant. I’ve seen people run competitions to win an iPad, only to collect a huge amount of email address from people who have no interest in their products whatsoever. Make sure the prize is relevant only to your target market.

So, how about you? Are you doing email marketing the right way? Do you have your automation all set up? Do you have a hot list? Are you doing everything you can and should be doing when it comes to email marketing?

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