Best Email Marketing Strategies for Ecommerce Business

Top 15 Best Email Marketing Strategies for Ecommerce Business

Last Updated on 29th Mar, 2024

Effective Email Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Results

Email marketing remains one of the most effective strategies for ecommerce businesses to engage customers and drive sales. With email open rates averaging around 20% and conversion rates around 4%, a solid email marketing campaign can generate impressive returns.

This comprehensive guide covers the top 15 proven email marketing strategies and best practices for ecommerce businesses. Whether you sell online through your website or marketplaces like Amazon, implementing these tips can significantly boost your revenue and grow your customer base.

Top 15 Email Marketing Strategies for Ecommerce Business 

  • Focus on Building Your Email List
  • Segment Your Email List
  • Welcome New Subscribers
  • Write Email-Friendly Subject Lines
  • Set a Promotional Email Cadence
  • Test and Optimize Your Emails
  • Make Emails Mobile-Friendly
  • Drive Action with Clear CTAs
  • Leverage Upsells and Cross-Sells
  • Promote Emails on Social Media
  • Pair Emails with Incentives
  • Automate Post-Purchase Emails
  • Track and Assess Email Performance
  • Comply with Email Laws and Regulations
  • Confirm Explicit Consent

Strategy #1. Focus on Building Your Email List

The foundation of any successful email marketing campaign is a targeted list of engaged subscribers who want to receive your messages. There are a few recommended strategies for ethically and effectively growing your ecommerce email list:

  • Offer lead magnets in exchange for emails. Lead magnets like ebooks, coupons, and free trial offers incentivize visitors to exchange their contact information for something of value. Use website popups and landing pages to collect emails.
  • Promote email signups across your website. Add email signup forms and links to all site pages – product pages, blog, homepage, etc. Make it easy for visitors to opt in wherever they are.
  • Add email fields at checkout. Ask customers who purchase to opt-in for future promotional messages and cart abandonment reminders during checkout.
  • Advertise your emails on the packaging. Print a call-to-action on packing slips, invoice inserts and product packaging, inviting customers to join your email list.
  • Integrate email signups with social media. Promote your email lists and lead magnets on social channels. Add email forms to your Facebook page and social media profiles.
When building your list, be transparent about your email marketing practices. Clearly communicate the types of emails subscribers can expect to receive and honor opt-out requests promptly.

Strategy #2. Segment Your Email List

Dividing your email list into distinct segments allows you to deliver content that is highly relevant to each subscriber. Here are some common ways to segment your ecommerce email list:

  • Recent Purchasers: Send follow-up emails like satisfaction surveys, related product recommendations, and requests for reviews.
  • Cart Abandoners: Remind customers who left items in their carts to complete the purchase and offer incentives to close the sale.
  • Prospects: Send educational content and limited promotional offers to subscribers who still need to purchase. Nurture leads.
  • Loyalty Program Members: Offer exclusive promotions and early access to engage high-value customers.
  • Geo-Location: Tailor messaging based on subscriber location, such as city-specific events or local pickup options.
  • Purchase History: Recommend specific items based on a customer’s past purchases and shopping behaviour.
  • Order Frequency: Treat occasional shoppers differently than repeat customers with more aggressive promotional emails.
  • Birthdays and Anniversaries: Send coupons, special treats or personalized offers on subscriber milestone events.
  • VIPs: Provide preferential treatment and personalized touches for high-spending customers and influencers.
  • Product Category Interests: Send category-specific emails to subscribers who opt-in for updates about products they love.
Segmenting requires a robust email service provider (ESP) and ecommerce platform that can track customer data and interactions to assign email subscribers to the appropriate lists using filters and tags.

Strategy #3. Welcome New Subscribers

The first impression from your initial emails can make a big difference in subscriber engagement and satisfaction. Here are some tips for creating a stellar welcome series:

  • Send the first welcome email immediately after signup, thanking subscribers for joining.
  • Share a lead magnet like a coupon code to incentivize early purchases.
  • Introduce your brand story, products, and core values to establish rapport.
  • Outline the types of emails subscribers can expect from your brand and set expectations.
  • Add links to popular pages like bestsellers to orient new contacts.
  • Ask for email preferences and interests to improve segmentation.
  • Feature user-generated content like customer photos and testimonials to build trust.
  • Send 3-5 emails over the subscriber’s first 1-2 weeks, spacing out messages to avoid overwhelming inboxes. Vary content.
  • Write friendly, conversational copy and avoid hard selling at first. Make an excellent first impression.

Onboarding emails have higher open rates than regular promotional messages, so take advantage of this opportunity to educate subscribers and turn them into loyal fans.

Strategy #4 Write Email-Friendly Subject Lines

The subject line is the first touchpoint that determines whether a subscriber opens and engages with your email. Follow these best practices for irresistible subject lines:

  • Keep it short and scannable. Shoot for less than 50 characters so the full subject line shows up in inboxes.
  • Use the recipient’s first name. Personalization significantly boosts open rates. Make sure your ESP can dynamically merge first names.
  • Urgency works. Phrases like “24 hours only” or “Ending soon” convey scarcity. But use them sparingly to avoid sounding desperate.
  • Ask questions – Posing questions related to your offer often boosts curiosity and opens.
  • Emojis catch attention – Use relevant emojis to make subject lines more engaging. But don’t overdo it.
  • Test different options – Send A/B tests of email subject lines to a segment of your list to identify winners before full deployment.
  • Avoid spammy phrases. Terms like “free”, “limited time”, “and act now” often trigger spam filters. Use them judiciously.
  • Keep promises – If your subject line promises something specific, deliver on that promise in the email content.

With a bit of testing and optimization, you can develop subject line formulas that work well across different email types and campaigns.

Strategy #4 Write Email-Friendly Subject Lines

The subject line is the first touchpoint that determines whether a subscriber opens and engages with your email. Follow these best practices for irresistible subject lines:

  • Keep it short and scannable. Shoot for less than 50 characters so the full subject line shows up in inboxes.
  • Use the recipient’s first name. Personalization significantly boosts open rates. Make sure your ESP can dynamically merge first names.
  • Urgency works. Phrases like “24 hours only” or “Ending soon” convey scarcity. But use them sparingly to avoid sounding desperate.
  • Ask questions – Posing questions related to your offer often boosts curiosity and opens.
  • Emojis catch attention – Use relevant emojis to make subject lines more engaging. But don’t overdo it.
  • Test different options – Send A/B tests of email subject lines to a segment of your list to identify winners before full deployment.
  • Avoid spammy phrases. Terms like “free”, “limited time”, “and act now” often trigger spam filters. Use them judiciously.
  • Keep promises – If your subject line promises something specific, deliver on that promise in the email content.

With a bit of testing and optimization, you can develop subject line formulas that work well across different email types and campaigns.

Strategy #5 Set a Promotional Email Cadence

Finding the optimal frequency for sending marketing emails is all about striking the right balance between underpromoting and oversaturating inboxes. Consider these general guidelines when setting an email cadence:

  • 1-3 emails per week is ideal for most retail/e-commerce email lists. Ramp up around major promotions and holidays.
  • Alternate between educational and promotional content. Make sure to make every email a sales pitch.
  • Welcome series upon signup, then ease into your standard cadence.
  • Transactional emails like shipping confirmations don’t count toward cadence limits, as subscribers expect these.
  • Test more and less frequent sending on sample segments to gauge engagement at different volumes.
  • Give subscribers control over preference centres, allowing them to increase/decrease promotional messages.
  • Spread emails evenly through the week and consider timing tests to identify optimal days/times.
  • There are various offers, so emails are varied. Feature different products, sales, content types, etc.
  • Provide an unsubscribe option in every email and make it easy for contacts to opt out or modify preferences.

Strategy #6 Test and Optimize Your Emails

Email is an ideal channel for testing and iterating to improve results. Here are some key elements to experiment with:

  • Subject lines: Test different phrases, emojis, urgency prompts, question styles, etc.
  • Content length: Compare open and click rates for short vs. long-form emails.
  • Layout: Try different orderings of copy, images and CTAs.
  • Visual styles: Mix up colours, fonts, imagery and graphic choices.
  • Offers: Compare % off, dollar off, gifts, sweepstakes, etc. to see what resonates.
  • CTAs: Test different text, placements, and colours and see if bold/large increases conversions.
  • Day/time: Try sending at different times on weekdays, weekends and holidays. Look at open and response rates.
  • From name: See if opened and engagement rates change when using alternate sender names.
  • Email Frequency: Measure the impact of sending more or less often.

Tools like A/B testing and open/click tracking provided by email service providers make testing straightforward. Analyze results after each test, then optimize based on learnings before sending your following email.

Strategy #7 Make Emails Mobile-Friendly

With the vast majority of emails now opened on mobile devices, responsive design is a must. Ensure your ecommerce emails display cleanly across different smartphones and tablets with these tips:

  • Use bullet points, numbered lists and headings to chunk up long blocks of text for scannability.
  • Include CTA buttons versus just links so they are easy to tap on small screens.
  • Size product images responsively so they resize automatically based on screen width.
  • Simplify design elements like social sharing bar, navigation and logos.
  • Limit two columns for content to prevent awkward stacking on narrow phones.
  • Check templates on mobile screens first before finalizing the email layout and copy.
  • Reference mobile stats like open rates by the device when designing future emails.
  • Set wide margins so the message avoids getting cut off by mobile notifications.
  • Use large fonts and line spacing – don’t sacrifice legibility for desktop aesthetics.

Testing your emails on actual devices instead of just resizing browser windows allows you to preview responsiveness and clickability prior to launch.

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Strategy #8 Drive Action with Clear CTAs

Calls-to-action (CTAs) prompt readers to take their desired next step, like visiting a product page or completing a purchase. Follow CTA best practices in your email marketing guide:

  • Place CTAs strategically in natural following step locations like product descriptions, end of articles or postscripts.
  • Make CTAs prominent by using contrasting colours, larger fonts and bolding. But don’t overdo it.
  • Keep the CTA copy short and action-oriented—”Shop New Arrivals” instead of “Click here for more information”.
  • Test CTA language like “Add to Cart” vs “Buy Now” to see which buttons and phrases perform best.
  • Only use one or two CTAs per email to avoid choice overload and keep the desired action clear.
  • Show social sharing options – recommendations are powerful CTAs that let readers promote your emails.
  • Match CTAs to email content and goals. Behaviour-based CTAs, like re-engaging dormant emails with personalized prompts to revisit your website, are best.
  • Make CTAs visually consistent across campaigns for brand recognition while testing performance.
  • Trace clicks on your CTAs back to conversions to understand the true impact of each email action.

Crafting CTAs that effectively drive traffic, social engagement, and sales requires testing and optimization. Track CTA-specific metrics to improve response over time.

Strategy #9 Leverage Upsells and Cross-Sells

Email is a top channel for upselling and cross-selling existing customers. Use these approaches in your promotional emails:

  • Recommend higher-priced versions of recently purchased items. For example, premium sunglasses should be promoted after they buy an essential pair.
  • Suggest add-ons and accessories that complement purchased products. For example, if they buy a camera, upsell a case and an extra memory card.
  • Cross-sell related items or substitutes“—Customers who bought this also bought…”—and offer product alternatives and pairings.
  • Surface recently viewed items they didn’t purchase as friendly reminders in follow-up emails.
  • Create urgency for upgrading with time-limited promotions, such as VIP discounts for next-day only or extra savings if they buy again within one week.
  • Offer tiered packages/memberships. Encourage customers to level up their purchases for more significant benefits.
  • Feed in user behaviours like repeat purchases in categories or browsing filters to recommend relevant items.
  • Share inventory data, such as “3 left in stock,” to encourage the completion of a purchase of popular items selling quickly.
  • Provide fast one-click reordering of consumables and past purchases so it’s convenient to buy again.

The more you integrate cross-sells and upsells, the more subscribers will buy over their customer lifetime – boosting long-term value.

Strategy #10 Promote Emails on Social Media

Your email list is just one distribution channel. To maximize the reach of your email content, share it across social media.

  • Most email subject lines or intriguing snippets on Twitter/Facebook pique interest.
  • Turn key sections into graphics to share as Instagram posts or Facebook/Pinterest ads.
  • Run retargeting video ads featuring email content to expand visibility.
  • Ask subscribers to share by adding social share buttons to forward emails virally.
  • Cross-promote top-performing emails in social posts/stories to direct traffic back to your website.
  • Recycle evergreen content like popular articles or lead magnets into new social posts.
  • Give social followers a “sneak peek” at upcoming email content to build anticipation.
  • Attribute conversions to social clicks in your ESP reporting to understand the full impact of promoting emails through social channels.
  • Sync subscriber activity across email and social so activations on one platform trigger targeting on the other.

We are integrating email and social boosts engagement on both channels. Remember to track clicks, actions, and sales tied to social promotion when analyzing performance.

Strategy #11 Pair Emails with Incentives

Sweetening your email offers with incentives motivates subscribers to engage more and convert better. Some incentive ideas include:

  • Discount codes – promo codes and coupon codes are redeemable on your ecommerce site. Vary % off or dollar amounts.
  • Free shipping – waive shipping fees with a minimum purchase threshold or promo code.
  • Gifts and premiums – like gift cards, bonus products, or discounts on future purchases for taking action.
  • Giveaways and sweepstakes – enter to win prizes by completing a purchase or referral.
  • Loyalty rewards – points, status levels, or early access for your VIP/loyalty program members.
  • Free trials – for subscription services, extend the trial period for email subscribers.
  • Guarantees – like extended return windows or price matching. Reduce perceived risk.
  • Bundling deals – discounted combo packs or build-your-own bundle offers.
  • Tiered offers – progressively better discounts for spending more.
  • Expedited services include faster shipping, fulfilment, support, and installation.

Combine incentives with your email messaging and product selection to maximize appeal—track redemptions and conversions by incentive type to focus on what works best for your audience.

Strategy #12 Automate Post-Purchase Emails

Life cycle or behavioural emails target customers based on actions versus random blasts. Post-purchase automation is particularly effective for:

  • Confirmation emails with order details and tracking numbers are sent instantly upon purchase.
  • Surveys request reviews a few days after delivery to capture feedback while the purchase is still at the top of the mind.
  • Win-back offers if there are no repeat purchases within expected timeframes, with incentives to buy again.
  • Replenishment reminders for consumables like beauty or health products – “Time to reorder!”.
  • Upsell recommendations that complement recent purchases are emailed 3-10 days after delivery.
  • Cross-sell suggestions for new releases in categories they’ve shown interest in by purchasing before.
  • Cart abandonment reminders to complete a purchase after leaving items sitting in their online carts. Offer incentives.
  • Milestones or loyalty rewards are sent on signup anniversaries, birthdays, lifetime spend thresholds, etc.
  • Request for product reviews two weeks after confirmed delivery when customers have experience using it.
  • Renewal reminders to re-up soon-to-expire subscriptions before they churn.
  • Satisfaction surveys are used to collect ratings, testimonials, and feedback to improve future purchase experiences.

Leveraging post-purchase automation increases reorder rates, lifts customer lifetime value (CLV), and provides helpful reminders to delight customers. Just remember to monitor for engagement fatigue if you send too frequently.

Strategy #13 Track and Assess Email Performance

Monitoring email analytics provides the insights needed to refine your approaches over time. Be sure to track:

  • Open rate – the percentage of total recipients who opened the email. Benchmark by industry.
  • Clickthrough rate – the ratio of unique clicks on links within the email vs total delivered.
  • Conversion rate is the percentage who take your desired action, such as visiting a webpage or making a purchase, after opening.
  • Bounce rate – emails rejected due to hard bounces (wrong addresses) or soft bounces (full inboxes). Monitor closely.
  • List growth – the pace of newly confirmed opt-ins who have passed double opt-in confirmation.
  • Unsubscribe rate – the portion of your list opting out each month. Keep below the industry average.
  • Email share rate – viral spread by readers forwarding your emails to contacts.
  • Engagement by segment – opens, clicks and unsubscribes broken down for each portion of your list.
  • Sales are attributed to email – purchases are explicitly driven by email sent according to tracking.
Monitor email metrics regularly and run A/B tests to identify improvement opportunities in subjects, content, design and sending cadence.

Strategy #14 Comply with Email Laws and Regulations

Though email marketing is highly effective, it is a regulated channel. Be sure your practices comply with essential laws like:

  • CAN-SPAM Act – requires honest sender info, opt-out options, and honour for unsubscribes. Fines can be steep.
  • GDPR – European data privacy regulation placing strict limits on processing EU citizen data without explicit consent.
  • CASL – Canada’s anti-spam legislation is similar to CAN-SPAM, with restrictions on commercial emails.
  • COPPA – prohibits sending marketing emails to children under 13 years old without verified parental consent.

Stay up-to-date on the latest email compliance rules in the countries you send to. Work with an ESP that monitors regulations and updates practices as needed. Legal fines plus damage to the sender’s reputation make non-compliance very risky.

Strategy #15 Confirm Explicit Consent

A fundamental tenet of email marketing best practices is only messaging contacts who have provided clear, explicit consent. To confirm active permission:

  • Display clear opt-in language when collecting emails – avoid pre-checked boxes.
  • Implement double opt-in for email signups requiring confirmation clicks from new subscribers.
  • Include unsubscribe and preference links visibly in all emails. Honour opt-out requests promptly.
  • Refresh your list periodically by re-permissioning contacts and removing inactive emails.
  • Documentation providing evidence that subscribers agreed to receive emails from you specifically. Maintain compliance.
  • Look for emails ending up in Spam or Promotions folders as a sign of lack of consent. Remove those that do.
  • Monitor opt-in and opt-out rates closely, as high unsubscribes can harm deliverability in the future.

Seeking active permission before adding any contacts builds trust and ensures you market ethically to receptive audiences who want to engage.

Final Takeaways

Email marketing is a top customer acquisition and retention strategy for ecommerce businesses when executed effectively. By focusing on growing your list organically, sending targeted and relevant messages, and continuously optimizing your campaigns, you can drive impressive ROI.

Be sure to comply with email laws, avoid oversaturating inboxes, and make it easy for recipients to opt out. With valuable content tailored to different segments, compelling incentives to take action, and automation to nurture relationships, email marketing can significantly boost sales, repeat purchase rates, and lifetime value. Consistently apply these proven tips to maximize the return from your email program.

FAQs

How often should I send promotional emails to avoid oversaturating inboxes?

Sending 1-3 emails per week is ideal for most retail/ecommerce scenarios. Monitor engagement at different frequencies and reduce sends if you see spikes in unsubscribes or spam complaints. Give subscribers control over email volume as well.

What percentage of my email list should typically unsubscribe each month?

If possible, aim to keep your unsubscribe rate under 0.2% each month. This shows that your content is engaging and that you make it easy to opt-out. Higher unsubscribes can harm the sender’s reputation and deliverability over time.

How do I segment my email list for more targeted messaging?

Divide your list by categories like past purchase behaviour, order frequency, loyalty status, geo-location, age, gender, product preferences etc., to tailor content to each subscriber’s needs. Personalized email converts much higher.

What metrics are most important to track for email performance?

Focus on open rate, clickthrough rate, conversion rate, revenue per email and unsubscribe rate. These indicate engagement, interest, and action taken, and they list health. Monitor regularly and optimize based on the data.

How can I increase conversions from my email program?

Test different subject lines, content, incentives, and calls to action to see which combos get the best response. A/B test email elements before complete sends. Reduce friction in conversion flows and make it easy to act on your emails.

How do I ensure compliance with email regulations?

Honour opt-out requests immediately, only send to those who have actively opted in, include unsubscribe links in each email and comply with laws like CAN-SPAM, CASL and GDPR, depending on your subscribers’ locations. Stay up-to-date on requirements.

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