Ecommerce Email Marketing Strategy: A Beginner’s Guide

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Chances are that if you’re running an ecommerce business, you’ve at least thought about implementing an email marketing strategy. 

An ecommerce email marketing strategy can help transform your digital marketing, allowing you to build valuable relationships with your customers and provide targeted content at just the right moment.

Whether you’re a beginner who’s yet to even write a subject line, or you’re just unsure about how to get the most out of your marketing emails, our ecommerce email marketing strategy reveals everything you need to know about using email marketing to its full potential. 

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is the process of sending marketing emails directly to existing and potential customers’ inboxes. 

The content of the emails can vary and is often focused on selling products or services, raising brand awareness, and building customer loyalty. 

Why Use Email Marketing for Ecommerce?

Email marketing for ecommerce is a particularly useful tool for businesses because it allows online retailers to send transactional, promotional, and lifecycle messages to customers. 

One of the main perks for ecommerce businesses when implementing email marketing best practices is that it’s one of the only digital marketing methods that’s “owned”.

What this means is that businesses have total control over both the content and the distribution. 

There are plenty of benefits to implementing an ecommerce email marketing strategy, but how can it help your business?

  • Build customer loyalty – Keeping in touch with your customers ensures that they don’t just make a one-time purchase. 
  • Attract new customers – Inviting website visitors to sign-up for your email marketing allows you to directly target users who are yet to convert into customers.
  • Drive traffic & boost conversions – Keeping communication open helps to prompt more website visits and encourages users to convert into paying customers. This doesn’t mean you can just spam customers with emails. There are various email marketing laws that you have to follow, but you can still increase traffic.

Types of Ecommerce Marketing Emails

There are various different types of marketing emails that you can send out to customers as part of your ecommerce email strategy to help grow your online business.

Abandoned Cart Emails

Sometimes potential customers will fill their online basket but they don’t quite make it to the checkout stage. The good news is that they aren’t necessarily lost forever.

Adding abandoned cart emails to your email marketing strategy allows you to recapture users who have started the customer journey but are yet to make a purchase. You can encourage them to revisit!

You can even add an incentive to encourage users to come back. Make sure your email focuses on reminding them about their incomplete purchase and the reasons they were considering buying the product in the first place. 


Regular newsletters help to nurture customer relationships and tell your brand’s story. 

Newsletter emails will often focus on company updates, such as new product lines or processes, share the story behind the brand, and creating a connection with your audience without relying on discounts and promotions to encourage sales.

You should use newsletter emails to tell the stories of your brand whether that’s a stand-out team member or a new commitment to sustainability. 


If you want to encourage recipients of your email marketing to make a purchase then offering special discounts and promotions can be effective. 

Custom subscriber-only discounts create a sense of exclusivity and rely on emotions to help encourage purchases.

You can also use your email marketing strategy to distribute time-sensitive and seasonal promotions. 

Up Selling and Cross Selling

Upsell and cross-selling emails are triggered by a user activity within your ecommerce store. 

An upsell email is usually sent when a customer has added an item to their basket and will normally showcase a better (and usually more expensive) version of the item they’ve selected. 

For example, if you sell health drinks and a user adds a protein shake to their basket, an upsell email may showcase a protein shake bundle that features more drinks and health benefits. 

Cross-selling emails are usually sent out to customers once they’ve completed a purchase and are personalized based on their order. They’ll usually feature similar or complementary items from other product lines. 

For example, if we return to the protein shake order from before, a cross-selling email may showcase related products such as protein bars and protein shakers. 

Reengagement Emails 

Reengagement emails allow you to re-target customers who you believe may not have fully left your brand’s ecosystem. 

If you have a regular customer who you know usually makes a purchase every month, a monthly reengagement email helps to remind them it’s time to return to your ecommerce store. 

Similarly, if a customer has placed one order but never returned to your website, a reengagement email can be a great way of getting your brand back on their radar. 

Building an Ecommerce Email Marketing Strategy: Step-by-Step

Now you know why email marketing is such an important part of your ecommerce business, it’s time to take a look at how you can implement your own email marketing strategy. 

An ecommerce email marketing strategy ensures that your emails are targeting the right users at the right time and getting the right results.

We’ve created this ecommerce email marketing strategy step-by-step guide for you to follow. Take a look at the nine steps below:

#1. Set Your Email Marketing Goals

Like almost every aspect of your digital marketing, setting clear goals for your email marketing strategy is a crucial first step. 

After all, without goals, how will you know if your email marketing has been successful?

Think carefully about what you want your email marketing to achieve. Examples of goals you may want to set include:

  • Specific open and click-through rates
  • Drive more traffic to your website
  • Website conversions and sales
  • Increased brand awareness or cross-channel promotion

#2. Pick Your Email Marketing Tools 

Once you’ve established what you want to achieve from your email marketing, you need to find the right tools to make that happen. 

You’ll need to select an email marketing service that can assist you with creating custom emails and distributing them en masse. 

Mailchimp homepage inviting readers to learn more about its various features
Tools such as Mailchimp offer great targeting and distribution services.

There are loads of different platforms on the market, such as Mailchimp and GetResponse, that cover an array of budgets but don’t worry too much about finding a perfect option to start with, remember you can always switch to a different platform or provider. 

#3. Define Your Audience 

The key to email marketing success is knowing your audience inside and out. 

You need to define both your existing email marketing audience and your target audience.

The likelihood is your target audience for your email marketing is going to be similar if not the same as the target audience for your overall brand. In fact, it wouldn’t make any sense to target men over the age of 50 with your email marketing if your brand is aimed at women under 30. 

Not only do you need to determine the wider demographics of your target email audience but also more precise characteristics, such as return customers, first-time customers, and/or product-line interests. 

#4. Plan List Building Tactics

There’s no point sending out marketing emails if you haven’t actually got anyone to send them to. 

List building allows you to grow your email list, sometimes known as your email subscribers, presenting you with a large list of engaged and relevant recipients. But how can you build your email list?

The fact is that the promise of receiving newsletters from your ecommerce brand isn’t necessarily going to be a big enough incentive to encourage users to sign-up. Instead, there are various tactics you can implement to help grow your lists:

  • Offer a discount or unique offer for signing up
  • Promise exclusive content and information
  • Highlight the benefits, such as access to educational and informative content
  • Provide early access to events, including sales and new launches

#5. Create Audience Segments 

Creating audience segments is a vital part of email marketing strategies for ecommerce brands. 

Audience segments allow you to create more personalized and targeted emails. Rather than sending the same email to every member of your email list, you can create unique content and message for each segment group, boosting the chances that your emails will result in conversions.

Email from eBay inviting readers to sell with its platform
eBay created a key audience segment of those looking to sell on the platform over the festive season to target with their email marketing.

Sending more tailored emails will keep your audience happy, and we all know that a happy audience is more likely to make a purchase.

For example, you can send targeted emails to users depending on where they’re at in the customer journey, how many times they’ve purchased from your online store, which pages of your website they visit, or even based on the open rate of your previous emails. 

#6. Develop an Email Schedule 

An email schedule is important if you want your email marketing strategy to be effective. 

Without a schedule, you may find that you’re sending emails on an ad-hoc basis that offers your brand next to no benefit. 

It’s pointless sending out two emails a week for a month only to go quiet and not send out any for the next six months. Similarly, you don’t want to risk spamming your audience’s inboxes with a new email every day either.

A schedule allows you to carefully plan out when you’ll distribute what content and to who. It’s a good way to check that you aren’t bombarding certain audience segments and ignoring others. 

#7. Create High Impact, Optimized Emails 

Once you’ve implemented all of the preparation stages, you need to actually create your emails!

Creating high impact, optimized emails can be tricky and you need to think carefully about the content you include to get the right results.

Here are some of our top tips for creating optimized emails that convert:

  • Personalize every email with the recipient’s name
  • Write a subject line that’s accurate and captivating
  • Make sure your emails are optimized to be viewed on both desktop and mobile
  • Include relevant, high-quality images
  • Always include a link to your website
  • End with an enticing call to action in your email

Read our full guide to writing a marketing email for more tips.

#8. Test Your Emails 

Testing your emails is a great way to find out what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to tweak your strategy accordingly. 

The common way to test your emails is through A/B testing. Here you’ll split recipients into three groups: A, B, and C. 

You’ll then send one version of your email to group A and one to group B. Next, you need to analyze the data and see which version performed better against your key targets, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. 

Once you’ve worked out which messaging works best for certain targets, you can send a final version to group C.

This allows you to test your emails on a smaller number of subscribers before reaching everyone on your list with the final, winning messaging.

#9. Monitor Results 

And of course, last but not least, you’re going to want to monitor the results of your email marketing campaigns. 

Monitoring the results means you can accurately work out what’s working with your email marketing strategy and what’s not. You’ll also be able to draw a direct line between how much time and money you’re putting into email marketing compared to how much it’s making your ecommerce business. 

Some results to track include:

  • Deliverability rates
  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Website traffic
  • Direct conversions
  • CTA follow-throughs
  • Unique discount codes or promotional code use rates

Ecommerce Email Marketing Tips

Now we know how to create a winning ecommerce email marketing strategy, let’s take a look at our five email marketing top tips:

  1. Start with a welcome email. As soon as someone signs up to your email list, send them a welcome email to start building your relationship. 
  2. Use your email marketing to boost your other platforms. You can ask recipients to leave you a Google review or follow you on Instagram. 
  3. Keep the process of signing up to your email list simple. Try to ensure it’s just a one-box format if possible. 
  4. Include multimedia formats, in particular images, to help keep your emails interesting and engaging. You can even embed videos in your emails if you have marketing or product videos!
  5. Don’t forget to brand your emails. Use your brand’s colors, fonts, logos, and tone of voice to raise brand awareness and ensure your emails align with your wider brand.

Once all that is set up, make your life easier with email marketing automation.

Find Out More

Email Marketing Strategy: Summary

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into creating a winning email marketing strategy for ecommerce, but the benefits and results it can provide for your online business are massive. 

Whether you’re preparing to send your very first email or you’re on the hunt for tips to fine-tune your strategy, following the steps we’ve laid out in this article will help you to ensure your ecommerce marketing emails are a cut above the rest. 

Now that you’ve got to grips with creating and implementing an ecommerce marketing strategy, all that’s left for you to do is get started!

Frequently Asked Questions

Email marketing provides an array of benefits to ecommerce businesses, including improving customer relations, driving more traffic to your online store, and recapturing lost customers. 
There are various different types of ecommerce marketing emails but the main three are:
  1. Transactional emails
  2. Promotional emails
  3. Lifecycle emails 

How often you send out ecommerce marketing emails depends on how good your content is and how much unique content you have. Aim to send at least two or three emails a month, and if you can up this to weekly without compromising the quality of your content do so. Avoid sending out emails more than once a week to the same recipients unless you have time-sensitive news to share. 
Written by:
Black and white headshot of Lucy Nixon smiling at the camera
I’ve been a content writer for Website Builder Expert since 2021. Through almost a decade in the digital marketing industry, I’ve built up knowledge on everything from growing ecommerce businesses to building websites. I love breaking down tricky topics into digestible and engaging content for readers. Breaking down the jargon and uncovering the best platforms, tools, and strategies, I’m a meticulous researcher who’s committed to providing our readers with tips and advice that’s tried and tested.

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