Ecommerce Email Marketing Tips: The Basics

The Email Marketers
November 22, 2021

Ecommerce Email Marketing Tips: The Basics

When it comes to email marketing, the pressure is really on if you run an eCommerce business. All your sales have to be digital, so there isn't a lot of room for error. Just the number E's and M's in "eCommerce Email Marketing" are a little daunting, and that's before you tackle questions like "How do I make sure my email service provider integrates with my digital shopping platform?"

Here's the part where I tell you to take a deep breath. No, seriously, all of us could use more mindful breathing in our day. Let go of some of your eCommerce email marketing anxiety, and clear out that headspace for all the practical, actionable tips you're about to read.

I promise the first steps toward creating a strong eCommerce marketing strategy are simpler than you think. And once you've laid that solid foundation, the rest flows along easily with the help of email marketing software, eCommerce platforms, and ever-useful marketing automation. Of course, there will be some testing and adjusting along the way, but we've got your back there, too-- just check out the marketing tips and email marketing campaign lowdown below.

Ecommerce Email Marketing: What Is It And Why Does It Matter

Ecommerce email marketing is the practice of using email for sales generation in an online business--or in this case, your awesome online business. It can be as simple as sending an email to your entire mailing list announcing your latest promotion, but you'll earn much more if go more in-depth and send highly personalized and segmented emails based on the actions of your customers.

Ecommerce email marketing campaigns and automations have the power to help online stores smoothly move prospects through every phase of the marketing funnel. A strong email marketing strategy can attract new customers, turn first-time customers into repeat customers, and cultivate relationships with long-term customers. Ultimately, this boosts sales. Some examples of ways to implement email marketing campaigns are:

  • emails to customers who abandon their shopping carts (cart abandonment emails)
  • transactional emails like shipment tracking and order receipts
  • emails announcing new products and offers
  • emails with coupon codes or special offers
  • emails that cross-sell and recommend complementing products

As you begin to design your email marketing email strategy, use the general guidelines and tips below.

Getting Started With Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Ecommerce email marketing campaigns translate to more customers and more engagement with your online business. You know you need solid eCommerce email marketing --so how do you get started?

Compile your email list

It's kind of a no-brainer: in order to send emails, you need to have email addresses recipients.  Here are a few ways you can build your mailing list:

  • Source emails from customer accounts. Customers who sign up for a customer account often are asked to provide their email address, to help businesses keep track of purchases. Remember though, invite rather than require customers to create an account--customers might feel frustration at having to provide lengthy details and you want ALL aspects of the customer journey to be seamless, including the purchase step.
  • Use opt-in forms on your site. To increase your subscribers, directly ask people to sign up. A handy place to ask is on the relevant pages of your eCommerce online store, where your customers are already engaged. Pop-ups are our recommended route for opt-in forms. You can also try placing opt-ins in your header or footer page, as well as your About Us or Blog pages.  
  • Use incentives. Consider offering a real reward for potential customers who share their email addresses with you. Make it appealing for customers to become subscribers to your email marketing campaigns. Exclusive discounts, free shipping on first purchases, offers for your loyalty program, free resources, or sweepstakes and contests might all be used as tempting incentives.

Determine the Frequency.

You want your email marketing campaigns to run at a predictable frequency--not only for the subscribers' sake but for your own sanity! The frequency decision is entirely up to the needs and requirements of your eCommerce store and might change according to different email campaigns. Simply put, how in touch you do want to stay with your subscribers and customers?

No matter what your needs are, marketing automation is your best friend when it comes to metering the frequency of your campaigns. A good email marketing service also allows you to infuse your campaign frequency with segmentation. Your customers are in various stages of engagement with your company and on different steps in their customer journey, so communication and information needs will vary depending on the stage at which they are. Segmentation is crucial as you set out email flows and frequencies.

Choose Your Email Marketing Software

There are a number of options when it comes to choosing your email service provider, platform, and email marketing software. You will likely want to comparison shop and make decisions based on the specific needs of your campaign. However, there are two trusty platforms that have proven themselves over time and can be recommended without hesitation: Klaviyo and Mailchimp.


The best tool for e-commerce email: Klaviyo offers a ton of benefits for your email marketing strategy. It's our favorite platform simply because it's the best. Klaviyo synchs with contacts in your address book and stores them for your campaigns. There is an easy-to-use drag-and-drop email design feature, and the ability to customize messages according to events, properties, and customer attributes. Using visitor behavior, the website tracking tool uses visitor behavior to segment your audience and send triggered marketing emails. Lastly, it offers pre-built autoresponders so you won't have to keep track of all your send-outs and go crazy in the process :)


Looking to get started with a solid email service provider that costs a little less? Mailchimp is the most popular B2C ESP for a reason! Mailchimp built its brand entirely around serving small businesses, and its tools and support have been shown to increase open rates, engagement, and conversions.

Another critical feature: A/B testing is also included so that you can see which methods are more effective at attracting visitors and raising your conversion rate.

Types of Emails for your Ecommerce Email Marketing Campaign

Ok, you've got your mailing list, know your frequency, and have settled on the email software for your eCommerce email marketing needs. Now, time to send the emails! But keep in mind, not all emails are the same. There are 3 basic types of emails and email flows that will come into play in your eCommerce email marketing strategy. If you feel stuck on how these emails should look, don't be afraid to use email templates to jumpstart your design.


When a customer completes a transaction such as a purchase, a transactional email is sent to notify them of this and provide them with relevant information. These include receipts, order confirmations, shipment notifications, and feedback emails. Transactional emails are key to eCommerce email marketing. Why? Because the open rate for transactional emails is nearly double the open rate for non-transactional emails. This email is an important step in creating loyal customers and potentially increasing sales. Transactional emails fall into a few distinct categories: confirmation emails and receipts, shipping confirmation, and feedback emails.

Confirmation Email and Receipts

These emails should contain the basics of a recent purchase. Let the customers know that their order is received, when they can expect the product (if it is an item that will be shipped), the address you have on file for shipping, and where they can direct questions. After the basics are laid out, you can use these emails to cross-sell or offer the option of including accessories to their orders, offer free shipping on a future purchase, offer a discount, or ask the new customers to join a loyalty program.

Shipping Confirmation

The shipping confirmation email is sent once the package or item has been shipped to customers. You might want to include shipping tracking options here and you can also use the opportunity to offer loyalty programs, referral programs to build your word of mouth marketing campaigns and garner new subscribers, or cross-selling and up-selling products.

Feedback Email

This email can be easy to neglect but it's vital. Hearing customer feedback about their purchase helps you improve your marketing best practices and build customer loyalty. Additionally, you can place your feedback form on your site, so that potential customers can see related products and offers, or you might place the form on the site page with customer reviews, offering social proof that your company's products are worthwhile.


Lifecycle emails are only sent to a small percentage of your subscribers, and it's best if they are personalized.

Examples of effective lifecycle emails that eCommerce businesses can automate include abandoned cart emails, a welcome email series, and win-back campaigns.

Shopping Cart Abandoned Cart Emails

You can give your business a second chance at recouping lost sales by setting up abandoned cart email workflows. By redirecting customers back to their shopping cart, these automated abandoned cart emails encourage customers to complete their purchases. Including images of the items that have been left is a great technique, as well as a clear call to action link that allows customers to easily return to their abandoned cart. In order to coax customers into making a purchase, consider offering an incentive such as free shipping. Using a compelling subject line to convey excitement and urgency to potential customers is a must.

Welcome Email

New customers and new subscribers receive a welcome email after they have given their email to an eCommerce business. The welcome email is not only common courtesy to your new subscribers but it can also generate sales: data shows that the welcome email has an open rate of 45% and, compared to a normal promotional email,  first purchase automation produces 3-6 times more sales. Don't forget to provide an opt-out option for your customers in the welcome email.

Win-back Emails

Win-back email marketing campaigns target lapsed customers and attempt to bring them back to make more purchases. You must make the decision as to at what point you consider a customer "lapsed"--using analytics is key here. Then automate when and if a customer will receive a win-back email. Use the win-back email as a reminder of your products and consider offering an incentive to return, such as free shipping.


Promotional emails can be great for introducing a new product, showcasing seasonal offers, winning back customers, or helping potential customers make the decision to make their first purchase. Of course, you want to be mindful that your profit margins allow you to offer discounts. If discounts are not an option, special offers such as a referral program or subscriber-only content can make for a great promotional offer.

Metrics To Track Email Marketing Performance

Setting up your eCommerce email marketing automations and campaigns is all well and good, but the real art and science of email marketing comes from tracking data and using that info to improve your marketing results. Throughout all your eCommerce email marketing campaigns, you need to track performance. There are several metrics you can use to evaluate the success of your campaign: list size and growth, open rate and click-through rates, deliverability, A/B test results, and conversion aka sales aka revenue.

List Size and Growth

A large email list is the next best thing to revenue, whether you're collecting customer emails or capturing email addresses from visitors to your website.

Use your email service provider to see how many new subscribers you've added on a weekly or monthly basis, or between your most recent broadcast emails, to keep track of this simple but important metric. If your mailing list isn't growing over time, add lead generation to your marketing to-do's.

Open Rate and Click-Through Rate

How many emails were opened by subscribers during email campaigns? This is determined by the open rate. The typical open rate is between 20% and 30%. When you're just getting started, your open rate will probably be higher than usual. Of course, it's not just the content of your email that influences your open rate; it's the subject lines as well.

A campaign's click-through rate tells you the percentage of emails delivered that received at least one click. Your online store's conversion rate should be at least two to three times the click-through rate. Why? This is because your subscribers are highly targeted and interested in your content. The call to action, subject line, and images in your email will have a significant impact on the number of people who open it.


The bounce rate is determined by the number of emails that are marked undeliverable because of an invalid email address,  or if they have been marked as spam.

Spam filters grade emails based on a long list of factors, and the email server flags the message as spam if the score is too high. Because servers are constantly evolving, it's impossible to exactly predict what will be marked as spam.  In general, you'll want to stay away from things like:

  • Obvious "sales" emails that include trigger words like "free" or use all caps
  • Just images and no text, since spam filters do not register images
  • Using old email lists

Humans can mark emails as spam as well. If you buy lists or send emails without permission, don't have a visible and easy unsubscribe option, or leave inactive leads on your lists, you run the risk of ending up in the spam folder.

A/B testing

This is a great tool that can be used to test out different messages and designs with a smaller group of subscribers, in order to determine which form of email works best. When you send two versions of an email to A and B groups of subscribers, you can use your analytics to determine which message generated more engagement or sales. Armed with that knowledge you can then send the higher-performing email option to the rest of your subscribers.

Conversion Rate aka Revenue aka Sales

The ultimate goal of any eCommerce email marketing campaign is to convert engagement into sales which becomes revenue. Determine how much of your revenue is generated from your email campaigns--an online store can see as much as 20% of their revenue come from email marketing campaigns.

Final Thoughts About Your Ecommerce Email Marketing Strategy

Getting a handle on your email marketing takes some time, but remember, you don't need to do a total overhaul overnight. First, you need to know your email marketing ABCs (and your E&M's): your mailing list, your email service provider, and transactional, lifecycle, and promotional automations.

To help your eCommerce email marketing reach its full potential, remember that data is your friend, and a good ESP will help you track the right data, and continue to refine your email marketing campaign using metrics. As you develop and strengthen your strategy, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how these straightforward tips translate directly to higher conversion rates, more sales, and more revenue.