If you operate an online store, what do you think is the most effective marketing strategy for converting visitors into customers?

Social Media! Nope.

Email marketing is at the top of the list for e-commerce owners, coming in second only to organic search. Just how profitable can email marketing be for your e-commerce business? For every dollar that e-commerce businesses invest in email marketing, they make $38. That is one of the best ROI that you will find.

Is this the type of success that you want for your e-commerce business? We thought so. This is the information that you need to build the strongest email marketing campaign for your e-commerce business.

Identify Your Goal

Not every e-commerce email marketing campaign is designed to motivate people to buy something in the immediate term. Some campaigns are created to increase loyalty, increase the number of followers a retailer has on social media, or generate goodwill. Before you start your campaign, identify what you want it to achieve.

For example, let’s say you want to build loyalty with an email blast. A common approach is to offer some sort of “thank you”, such as a discount. This is a decent attempt, but what does it do to get the customer to invest in your brand?

Toys R Us took this approach when they offered an incentive for providing customer feedback. This approach is great for several reasons:

  • Taking the time to fill out the survey makes the customer feel more invested in your brand.
  • The customer feels that you value their opinion, which is important in building loyalty.
  • The incentive is an entry in a drawing which will keep recipients engaged to see if they won.

At the cost of a single $250 gift card, which only cost the company a percentage of that, this is a highly profitable email marketing strategy.

While you might want to get as much information across in one email campaign as possible, resist the temptation to include multiple goals in a single campaign. Multiple, disconnected CTAs in a single email will not only confuse your subscribers, but also make analyzing the success of your campaign more difficult.

Automate Your Emails

Now that you know what you want to achieve with your email campaign, how do you plan on getting it out to all your subscribers?

As an e-commerce business owner, you are busy enough. You don’t need the added stress of figuring out how to send out hundreds, possibly thousands of emails. This is where a professional email service becomes your best friend.

Email service providers such as Mailchimp and AWeber make email automation a breeze, no matter the size of your subscriber list. There are dozens of efficient, reputable email providers out there. Take your time and research to see which one offers you the best in terms of available services, fees and customer support before you commit.

Choose a Template

Think email templates are boring? Think again!

Sure, your email template needs to include basic information like the name of your business, contact info and a CTA, but that doesn’t equal boring. As an ecommerce business, you depend on imagery to sell your product or service. Keep this in mind as you are choosing an email template. Make sure there is plenty of available space to for high quality images.

hey chickadee email

Hey Chickadee sells Pusheen character plushes along with jewelry, accessories, and clothing. Their newsletter features high quality photographs of their items being worn or as part of artistic vignettes. 

Get Personal

Modern technology makes it possible to personalize emails in a way that goes beyond addressing the recipient by name. There are multiple ways of personalizing your ecommerce emails that will inspire people to react and engage.

How about tailoring your emails for these specific niches?

  • New customers via a welcome message
  • Birthday month messages
  • Based on buying habits
  • Special events, such as back to school, holidays, tax return season
  • Thank you messages post purchase

Create Original, Engaging Content

Every time you send a message to your existing or prospective clients, your content should be original and engaging. Redundant copy will only encourage readers to click “unsubscribe”.

Plus, boring and repetitive content speaks poorly for your brand image in general. If you can’t create lively, engaging content for your emails, why should potential customers believe that the products or services the you offer are any better? This is your chance to build your image with your subscribers.

Be Concise

Just as your content should always be original and engaging, it should also be concise. Consumers have an increasingly shorter attention span so it’s vital that you say want to communicate as succinctly as possible. If you can say it five words instead of eight, do it.

Content creation can be tricky. If you’re worried about your ability to create material that’s compelling, unique and concise, consider hiring an experienced copywriter.

Optimize for Mobile

If your emails aren’t optimized for easy viewing on mobile devices, stop what you are doing and fix it now.

80 percent of internet users have a smartphone, and depending on your market, that number will go up. Especially if you are targeting millennials. This means that there is a really good chance that your email will be opened on a mobile device. What will your subscribers get when they open it?

Emails that have been optimized for mobile should include:

  • Short subject lines
  • Highly visual content
  • Short, scrollable content
  • Well designed CTA buttons
  • A link to your mobile optimized web page.

Feelunique.com is a British cosmetics and beauty company. In the example above, they promote their VIP Club with links to their website in an email campaign. 

Use Images and Video

People are visual creatures by nature. You can take advantage of this by incorporating images and videos into your email content to make more of an impact on your subscribers, which is especially important for e-commerce businesses.

Even if you decide to go the text only route with your email, you can still include links to product images or relevant video content in your message.

Create Compelling Subject Lines

What inspires you to open an email? If it’s not the name of the person who sent it, it’s probably what’s in the subject line. Like you, many consumers read an email’s subject line and then decide whether or not they’re going to open it.

Your subject line should communicate the immediate value of opening your email. Here are a few topic ideas for great e-commerce subject lines:

  • Discounts and Specials: Highlight the value you are offering
  • Last Chance Deals: Last chance to stock up on a favorite? Let them know in the subject line.
  • Solutions: Does your product or service offer a solution to a problem or need of your target audience?
  • Highlights: Are you featuring a top name in your current collection? Place their name in the subject line.
  • New Arrivals: Has a long-anticipated product or service arrived?
  • Referrals: Highlight a referral initiative in the subject line.
  • Personalize: Including a personal element such as a name or a birthday greeting will increase your open rate.

Make Signing Up Easy

Don’t limit your list of subscribers to people who’ve made purchases from your store in the past. Make it easy for prospective shoppers to sign up for your emails by adding a signup form to your website’s homepage. If you have an active blog and social media pages, make sure to add webforms to each of those platforms as well.

Segment Your Email List

While your email list contains information that can be vital to your success, you can increase the value your list has for your business by segmenting it. By creating specific groups of targeted shoppers, you’ll be better able to send content that is relevant and meaningful to each group.

You can segment your list in accordance with several factors, such as what people have done when they’ve visited your website, their shopping preferences and personal traits, just to name a few.

Prepare Sequences

Ecommerce retailers will find success by sending a sequence of individual emails, each one designed to move the consumer one step further along in the buying process. Two of the most important email sequences you need to be optimizing are your welcome and abandoned cart series.

Your welcome series should include a sequence of messages that warm the subscriber to your brand. You can accomplish this by highlighting your brand reputation, service quality and value.

On the other hand, your abandoned cart series should be designed to appeal to the customer that you may be losing. Highlight the values that will miss out on if they don’t complete their cart or offer a cart completion discount or incentive.

Mention Wish Lists

If people have taken the time to create wish lists, you can use this information to create custom messages. You can follow up to remind consumers about what they wanted to buy. You can send notices that a desired product is now in stock and can be shipped on the same day.

A wish list is a personal touching point that you can capitalize on through email marketing. Be sure you have a dedicated landing page for people who click through the emails that discuss their wish lists.

Up-Sell and Cross-Sell

Selling to someone who has already made a purchase from your e-commerce store is easier than making a sale to someone new because you’ve already established trust. This gives you the chance to up-sell and cross-sell to your exiting clientele.

After someone makes a purchase from your online store, you can send an email that suggests complementary items. Sending a digital sales receipt is also a good idea because they have high open rates. You can include a special offer along with the sales receipt or an incentive for the recipient to send referrals your way or write a review of your e-commerce business.

Work with a Local Digital Marketing Agency

If you want to make the most of your email campaigns, you should consider working with a local digital marketing agency that has experience with the e-commerce industry. Bolster your online store to the next level of success. Find your e-commerce digital marketing partner now.

Leilani Wertens Headshot
Content Manager at

Leilani is an established digital marketing professional, fine art and editorial photographer, and journalist. She has over 10 years of experience writing, editing, and publishing content for the web.