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Ecommerce email marketing - top tips to increase sales

E‑Commerce Email Marketing – Top Tips to Increase Sales

Key Takeaways:

  • E-commerce businesses benefit most from email marketing as it’s their only way to re-engage leads.
  • Email marketing can be highly affordable, and there are several helpful tools on the market to assist young e-commerce companies.
  • Effective email marketing is achieved through high-quality design, well-thought-out email campaign techniques, and proper maintenance of the sender’s reputation.

Why Should E‑Commerce Businesses Invest in Email Marketing?

When your whole busi­ness is online, email mar­ket­ing is how you can acquire new leads, keep exist­ing leads inter­est­ed, and con­tin­ue grow­ing your company.

Email mar­ket­ing can achieve things that reg­u­lar shops can’t. While e‑commerce brands can chase up aban­doned carts, retail assis­tants can’t chase win­dow shop­pers down the street.

Since email mar­ket­ing isn’t restrict­ed by loca­tion, it allows com­pa­nies to grow glob­al­ly and reach cus­tomers with­in their own homes.

Though e‑commerce brands can use their web­site, SEO, and social media to engage leads, they can’t use these chan­nels to land right in users’ inbox­es. Thus, email is a cru­cial pil­lar of mar­ket­ing that can’t be ignored.

Not con­vinced? For each dol­lar spent on email mar­ket­ing, busi­ness­es can expect an aver­age return of $40.

Keep read­ing to learn every­thing busi­ness own­ers need to know about e‑commerce email marketing:

How Does Email Marketing Work? An Overview:

Here’s a begin­ner’s guide to how email mar­ket­ing works:

  1. First, you cre­ate a sign-up form that gets peo­ple to leave their con­tact details via your web­site. This is set up to add their email address­es to your mail­ing list.
  2. You then cre­ate effec­tive emails through good design, effec­tive copy­writ­ing, mar­ket­ing tac­tics, and brand personality.
  3. You send pro­mo­tion­al emails to increase sales, incen­tivise pur­chas­es, stay con­nect­ed with cus­tomers, and share impor­tant com­pa­ny infor­ma­tion when poli­cies change.
  4. You reg­u­lar­ly clear out unen­gaged sub­scribers from your mail­ing list and take oth­er actions to pro­tect your sender’s reputation.
  5. You review email mar­ket­ing per­for­mance data with the help of ded­i­cat­ed tools to exam­ine and improve your processes.
  6. You might need to hire spe­cial­ists to help with cer­tain aspects of your email mar­ket­ing, such as a design­er, copy­writer, or mar­ket­ing manager.

Pros and Cons of Using Email Marketing in E‑Commerce

You might be won­der­ing whether email mar­ket­ing’s right for your brand. Though it has some dis­ad­van­tages, you might be swayed when you under­stand its benefits:


  • Email mar­ket­ing is typ­i­cal­ly afford­able but espe­cial­ly when com­pared to oth­er mar­ket­ing channels.
  • Email mar­ket­ing is per­mis­sion-based, which means sub­scribers are gen­uine­ly inter­est­ed in receiv­ing mes­sages from your brand.
  • Email mar­ket­ing is scal­able, so it can suit your busi­ness, what­ev­er stage it’s in.
  • Through audi­ence seg­men­ta­tion, deep lev­els of per­son­al­i­sa­tion can be achieved, which isn’t pos­si­ble with even paid adver­tis­ing channels.
  • Email mar­ket­ing efforts are high­ly and eas­i­ly track­able through the use of a few metrics.
  • Every com­pa­ny using email mar­ket­ing has the poten­tial to reach a mas­sive, glob­al audience.
  • Busi­ness­es can use email mar­ket­ing to reach leads in real-time as emails can be trig­gered by events, e.g., aban­doned carts.
  • Email mar­ket­ing is non-intru­sive. While peo­ple might scroll past ads or hang up on cold calls, indi­vid­u­als can return to your emails at a time that suits them, which not only gives your mes­sages longevi­ty but also nur­tures the buy­er’s jour­ney in that the lead feels in con­trol of their decisions.
  • There are loads of afford­able email mar­ket­ing tools that can help with all stages of your cam­paigns if you don’t have an expert on your team.


  • Email mar­ket­ing leads aren’t always qual­i­fied, so they may need to be weed­ed out down the line.
  • You could get marked as spam through no fault of your own (a sub­scriber could be over­whelmed by the num­ber of pro­mo­tion­al emails they’re receiv­ing from mul­ti­ple businesses).
  • Email design is some­times viewed as restric­tive com­pared to the cre­ative poten­tial posed by oth­er adver­tis­ing options.
  • You’ll have to main­tain your sender’s rep­u­ta­tion and be aware of the spam pre­ven­tion tech­niques used by email providers.
  • You’ll need skills, mon­ey, and resources. Some­times small busi­ness­es might have to over­ly sim­pli­fy their email mar­ket­ing cam­paigns if they don’t yet have a big enough bud­get to hire sev­er­al contractors.

How to Build a Successful Mailing List

Make it easy and attractive for people to sign up

First, you need to cre­ate a sub­scrip­tion form that will appear on your web­site – either as a pop-up, in the foot­er, or on land­ing pages.

Sign-up dis­counts are like­ly to encour­age more peo­ple to leave their details, as well as forms that aren’t too com­pli­cat­ed to fill in. For more infor­ma­tion on cre­at­ing lead cap­ture forms, check out this arti­cle.

Keep subscribers engaged

Email mar­ket­ing can be used at every point of the buy­er’s jour­ney: from reach­ing leads at the Aware­ness, Con­sid­er­a­tion, and Action stages to post-pur­chase Sup­port and Bond­ing stages.

Check out the sec­tion below, where we dis­cuss dif­fer­ent types of email you can use to engage sub­scribers at dif­fer­ent points in their buy­er’s journeys.

Whilst there are things you can do to keep sub­scribers engaged, there are also things to avoid doing to pre­vent sub­scribers from becom­ing dis­en­gaged. View the sec­tion below to learn what these are.

Segmenting your mailing list

Seg­ment­ing your mail­ing list means cre­at­ing small­er, tar­get­ed lists so that sub­scribers receive emails that are more per­son­alised and rel­e­vant to them. Mean­while, this also ben­e­fits e‑commerce com­pa­nies as they’re more like­ly to achieve cer­tain email mar­ket­ing goals when using audi­ence segmentation:

Not only do indi­vid­u­als feel emails are rel­e­vant to them, but they also don’t have to suf­fer the annoy­ance of irrel­e­vant emails. This means your sender’s rep­u­ta­tion is bet­ter pro­tect­ed, and users are less like­ly to become tired of your messaging.

When to let subscribers go

You might think “big­ger is bet­ter”, but that’s not always true with mail­ing lists. Com­pa­nies need to be clear­ing out unen­gaged email address­es every 3–6 months. Keep­ing hold of unen­gaged sub­scribers will just harm your met­rics and risk your sender’s reputation.

Root­ing out tired and dis­en­gaged leads will boost your CTR and give you a more accu­rate idea of your email performance.

What NOT to do

Be cau­tious of send­ing unso­licit­ed emails. If you’ve gath­ered email address­es in a way that isn’t GDPR com­pli­ant, you’re break­ing the law. More­over, your emails will like­ly be marked as spam or not opened – which will harm your sender’s reputation.

Don’t make the mis­take of send­ing loads of emails real­ly fre­quent­ly – that’s called spam. You might think it’s ben­e­fi­cial to be con­stant­ly in your sub­scribers’ inbox­es, but that could­n’t be fur­ther from the truth. Com­pa­nies send­ing few­er, high­er-qual­i­ty emails will see bet­ter results.

Types of Emails to Send

Welcome emails

A wel­come email is what carves a first impres­sion. Express your hap­pi­ness and grat­i­tude that this indi­vid­ual has shown an inter­est in your com­pa­ny! Use their first name and per­haps use the email as a space to explain more about the busi­ness’s val­ues and what it offers.

Typ­i­cal­ly, wel­come emails offer a first-pur­chase dis­count of 10% or more. These offers are so com­mon that users almost expect them when they sign up. (You might even adver­tise the dis­count on your sign-up forms to entice vis­i­tors!) A dis­count is a great way to get those leads under your belt and help them try out your prod­ucts or services.

The aver­age open rate for com­pa­nies across all indus­tries is 19.7%, whilst it’s 68.6% for wel­come emails! This means there’s a larg­er poten­tial for sales with this ini­tial email.

Anniversary emails

Anniver­sary emails aren’t very com­mon, so they can pos­i­tive­ly sur­prise sub­scribers and con­vey a pleas­ant com­pa­ny ethos.

They can be used to mark a year signed up to your mail­ing list, a spe­cial birth­day mes­sage, or mark a re-pur­chase if your com­pa­ny sells repeat-pur­chase products.

Anniver­sary emails are more per­son­al than oth­er types as they take per­son­al infor­ma­tion into account spe­cif­ic to indi­vid­ual users. In this way, cus­tomers can feel more con­sid­ered and cared for by your brand.

Repeat-pur­chase reminders need to be cal­cu­lat­ed care­ful­ly, so work out how long your prod­ucts typ­i­cal­ly last and send those emails when your cus­tomers are near to fin­ish­ing them.

Abandoned cart emails

Aban­doned cart emails allow you to catch those almost-cus­tomers. The Con­sid­er­a­tion phase is a cru­cial part of your sales fun­nel, and even a small dis­count could be what that lead needs to con­vert to the Action stage.

Did you know that send­ing 3 aban­doned cart emails results in 69% more orders than just 1 email?

Special deals emails

Pro­mot­ing spe­cial deals is a great way to re-engage email sub­scribers, clear out excess stock, and gen­er­ate inter­est in unknown or new products.

Dis­counts and spe­cial offers that focus on just one CTA see bet­ter results than those with mul­ti­ple CTAs. They’re also much eas­i­er to build and straight­for­ward to measure.

Referral emails

We already know the val­ue of sub­scribers shar­ing or refer­ring your brand to their friends and fam­i­ly – it’s a great way to gen­er­ate new leads. You can increase refer­rals by offer­ing your sub­scribers an incen­tive when they suc­cess­ful­ly refer a friend. You might offer a free gift or a one-time discount.

Before build­ing your ‘refer-a-friend’ scheme, cal­cu­late your cost-per-cus­tomer-acqui­si­tion first. This will tell you how much you can afford to offer as an incen­tive whilst remain­ing in profit.

Newsletter emails

Newslet­ters can bring a lot of val­ue to e‑commerce brands. They’re typ­i­cal­ly used for edu­cat­ing sub­scribers and estab­lish­ing brands as indus­try thought lead­ers. For instance, you might release newslet­ters that explain indus­try news or pro­vide more infor­ma­tion about your prod­ucts or services.

For exam­ple, a skin­care brand might use its newslet­ters to dis­cuss win­ter skin­care, an upcom­ing range of prod­ucts, or a new sci­en­tif­ic study about SPF. What­ev­er it is your com­pa­ny sells, a newslet­ter is a longer-form way of stay­ing in touch with your users and cre­at­ing a conversation.

If you have a reg­u­lar blog, this is some­thing you could pro­mote in your newslet­ter to dri­ve more users towards your site and onto prod­uct pages from there.

Feedback emails

Since feed­back is an essen­tial com­po­nent of Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment (CRM), your access to cus­tomer email address­es is a gold­mine – so it should be used!

Some­times an incen­tive is need­ed to encour­age users to com­plete sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys, but oth­er times their strong feel­ings will be enough. Send­ing feed­back requests after a sale (and deliv­ery) is a great time to get in touch, as cus­tomers will have fresh feel­ings about their experience.

How to Optimise Your Emails

We’ve all received pro­mo­tion­al emails that seemed spam­my or had bro­ken links and too many CTAs.

Build­ing and design­ing effec­tive emails is an art, and you may need to invite a design­er to join your team to help with it. Though this will come at an expense, it’s as impor­tant as hav­ing a well-designed web­site or a firm handshake.

Well-designed emails with good visu­al hier­ar­chy, prop­er colour the­o­ry, and opti­mised use of copy­writ­ing see bet­ter results. With that in mind, make sure you keep the fol­low­ing in mind when design­ing your emails:

  • Opti­mise your emails for both mobiles and desktops
  • Choose entic­ing head­ers and sub­ject lines
  • Opti­mised use and design of CTA buttons
  • Easy-to-read font
  • High-qual­i­ty images
  • Attrac­tive use of colour that’s easy on the eyes
  • Play around with small and big ele­ments to draw atten­tion to spe­cif­ic sections
  • Con­sid­er visu­al hierarchies
  • Ensure links are func­tion­ing properly
  • Build in sec­tions need­ed for personalisation
  • Be aware of the name in the email address you’re send­ing from

Which Email Marketing Metrics Should You Track for E‑Commerce?

1. Clickthrough rate

Your CTR is the per­cent­age of sub­scribers who clicked on one or more of your email’s embed­ded links. You can cal­cu­late it by:

(total clicks / num­ber of emails deliv­ered) x 100

CTR eas­i­ly indi­cates each email’s per­for­mance and user engage­ment lev­els. You might find that it’s the main met­ric mea­sured in A/B tests because the inten­tion of these tests is often to deter­mine how emails can be more ‘click­able’.

2. Bounce rate

When talk­ing about emails, the bounce rate refers to emails that could­n’t be deliv­ered. You can cal­cu­late this by:

(total bounced emails / total sent emails) x 100

Bounce rate is very impor­tant when it comes to your sender’s rep­u­ta­tion as it’s used by inter­net ser­vice providers to deter­mine your trustworthiness.

Be aware of both soft and hard bounces. Hard bounces occur when the email inbox is closed or invalid – you should remove these email address­es imme­di­ate­ly. Soft bounces occur due to tem­po­rary issues that are some­times resolved by resend­ing the email or wait­ing till the prob­lem on the recip­i­en­t’s end clears up.

Bounce rate is only an issue if there’s a risk to your sender’s rep­u­ta­tion. (It’s nor­mal to have a few bounces.)

3. Conversion rate

Your email con­ver­sion rate relates to the per­cent­age of sub­scribers who com­plet­ed a spe­cif­ic action, such as click­ing on a link and mak­ing a pur­chase. You can cal­cu­late it by:

(num­ber of sub­scribers who com­plet­ed action / total deliv­ered emails) x 100

Con­ver­sion rate is cru­cial when exam­in­ing the suc­cess of your CTAs, and, more wide­ly, your over­all busi­ness goals.

4. List growth rate

This KPI tells you the rate at which your mail­ing list is grow­ing. You can cal­cu­late it by:

(((num­ber of new sub­scribers) – (num­ber of unsub­scribes + spam flags)) / total num­ber of sub­scribers) x 100

The growth of your mail­ing list may tell you about the effi­ca­cy of your mail­ing list sign-up forms or land­ing pages, but it’s nat­ur­al for mail­ing lists to decline each year. There­fore, a plateau­ing growth rate does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean you’re not obtain­ing new subscribers.

Keep an eye on this one, as it’s essen­tial your mail­ing list is a good size.

5. Unsubscribe rate

This met­ric indi­cates the per­cent­age of sub­scribers who unsub­scribe after open­ing a giv­en email. You can cal­cu­late it by:

(total unsub­scribes / total emails deliv­ered) x 100

You may also want to include those indi­vid­u­als who have flagged you as spam in this calculation.

The unsub­scribe rate isn’t to be ful­ly relied upon as some sub­scribers will show their dis­in­ter­est by not open­ing your emails or open­ing but not read­ing them – which you can’t know for sure. It’s much bet­ter to look at actions tak­en to mea­sure engage­ment through met­rics such as con­ver­sion rate, shar­ing rate, and click­through rate.

6. Open rate

Your open rate is sim­ply the per­cent­age of sub­scribers who open an email. You can cal­cu­late it by:

(num­ber of opened emails / num­ber of deliv­ered emails) x 100

Though the open rate is use­ful when com­par­ing emails over time, it does­n’t tell you a lot at face val­ue. Emails can be opened but not read; they can be opened and for­got­ten about. In this way, open rates are often vague and don’t tell a clear pic­ture. So, they’re not to be over­ly relied on.

7. Sharing or forwarding rates

Your shar­ing or for­ward­ing rate tells you the per­cent­age of users who are shar­ing your emails on social media or with friends. You can cal­cu­late it by:

(num­ber of clicks on ‘share’ or ‘for­ward­ing’ but­ton / total num­ber of emails deliv­ered) x 100

This met­ric tells you a lot about cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and engage­ment lev­els. It’s often over­looked but can be cru­cial in attract­ing new leads and sub­scribers – so don’t ignore this metric.

8. ROI

Your ROI is the return on invest­ment you’re get­ting on from your email cam­paigns over­all – though you could cal­cu­late it for indi­vid­ual emails if you want­ed to. You can cal­cu­late the over­all fig­ure by:

((£ in cam­paign gen­er­at­ed sales — £ spent on cam­paign) / £ spent on cam­paign) x 100

Return on invest­ment is high­ly impor­tant as it shows the real, tan­gi­ble results of your labour. You might use it to com­pare dif­fer­ent email cam­paigns to eval­u­ate the suc­cess of dif­fer­ent tech­niques or just use it when man­ag­ing bud­gets. Either way, it’s the bot­tom line to indi­cate suc­cess in most cases.

5 Best E‑commerce Email Marketing Tools

Some tools can be extreme­ly help­ful in automat­ing your email mar­ket­ing strategy…

MailChimp (for beginners)

If you’ve con­sid­ered email mar­ket­ing, you’ve like­ly heard of MailChimp. It was the most pop­u­lar email mar­ket­ing tool in 2021 and 2022, boast­ing increas­es of 88% in rev­enue to their customers.

MailChimp is a pure­ly mar­ket­ing soft­ware, so it can’t do as much as oth­er tools; how­ev­er, it is very sim­ple to use, mak­ing it ide­al for beginners.

On a free MailChimp plan, you’ll have a lim­it of 2500 sends each month, and a max­i­mum of 500 con­tacts. You’ll have access to many email tem­plates, though the lev­el of cus­tomi­sa­tion isn’t as high as it is with a soft­ware like HubSpot.

HubSpot (all-in-one)

Hub­Spot has the advan­tage of being an all-in-one tool, but that isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly rel­e­vant if you just need help with your email marketing.

On Hub­Spot’s free plan, you’re lim­it­ed to 2000 sends per month, even though you could have an unlim­it­ed num­ber of con­tacts. If you do want to upgrade to more exten­sive plans, it can be cost­ly, and the soft­ware itself isn’t entire­ly straight­for­ward to use.

Though Hub­Spot has a steep learn­ing curve, this means you’ll have access to high­ly advanced automa­tions and plen­ty of cus­tomi­sa­tion for email designs.

Drip (e‑commerce)

Drip focus­es on email mar­ket­ing and automa­tion, much like the oth­er tools in this list, but specif­i­cal­ly tar­gets e‑commerce businesses.

The gen­er­al con­sen­sus is that Drip is just as good as MailChimp but does­n’t have the same rep­u­ta­tion due to its age (being found­ed 12 years after). This is unfor­tu­nate, as Drip’s automa­tion builder is much more advanced and visu­al­ly pleasing.

Drip’s start­ing costs are almost dou­ble MailChim­p’s; how­ev­er, Drip has a much sleek­er user inter­face and more unique fea­tures when build­ing email campaigns.

Klaviyo (e‑commerce)

Though Klaviyo does­n’t pri­ori­tise usabil­i­ty, it does make up for it with lots of fea­tures and in-depth cus­tomi­sa­tion, audi­ence seg­men­ta­tion and automa­tion options.

Though Klaviyo is one of the more com­pli­cat­ed inter­faces, it does offer lots of guid­ance when you sign up.

Main­ly focus­ing on email and SMS mar­ket­ing, Klaviyo does­n’t offer help with land­ing pages or social media, and its free plan only allows for half as many sub­scribers as MailChimp’s.

If your main con­cern is e‑commerce, Klaviyo has lots of room for your require­ments, e.g., auto­mat­ed alerts, inte­gra­tions, and broad goal achieve­ments that all suit larg­er companies.

Salesforce (for CRM and reporting)

Sales­force boasts exten­sive mar­ket­ing fea­tures and high lev­els of cus­tomi­sa­tion, com­ing neck-and-neck with its com­peti­tor, HubSpot.

The stand­out aspect of Sales­force is its CRM and report­ing. Sales­force’s dash­board makes it real­ly easy to see your entire e‑commerce pro­file at a glance – which is great for busy busi­ness own­ers and com­pa­nies with lots of projects on the go.

Though it offers a free tri­al, you can’t get a free plan with Sales­force. How­ev­er, its pric­ing plan includes add-ons, which means you don’t need to pay for any fea­tures you don’t need.

Ulti­mate­ly, Sales­force is very sim­i­lar to Hub­Spot – which is a much cheap­er and more well-round­ed tool.

Final thoughts

If your busi­ness is dig­i­tal, it makes sense that your cus­tomer acqui­si­tion and lead nur­tur­ing chan­nels will be dig­i­tal too. You could choose to make use of social media and search engine ads, but these chan­nels won’t allow you to fol­low up with poten­tial leads or nur­ture them post-purchase.

Opti­mis­ing your email mar­ket­ing is cru­cial, though, since so many email users are tired of spam­my, irrel­e­vant, or pushy com­mer­cial emails. Fig­ure out how yours can stand out, and you’ll be reaping

If you feel that you need help with email opti­mi­sa­tion, do get in touch with our team.

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