E-commerce Email Marketing – How to Do It Right

With a return on investment of $44 for every $1 spent, there’s no disputing it. Email marketing works. In e-commerce, visitors from emails spend an average 188 seconds on websites, higher than even direct traffic.

In the wider retail industry, 80% of marketers in the US say email is number one for customer retention and acquisition.

To fulfill the enormous potential of email marketing, you need to get it right. It means following the best practice, choosing the right types of emails to focus on, and segmenting your subscribers.

In the ultra-competitive world of e-commerce, a winning email marketing strategy to be the difference between failure and success. Follow these tips to get it right.

Build a Healthy Email List

What’s the difference between a healthy and unhealthy email list?

A healthy list is one full of engaged subscribers who have directly signed up to your emails. Whether it’s through your website or social media, they know what they have subscribed to. Here’s a number of other factors behind a healthy list:

  • Fresh and Updated: Email addresses get old, stale, and inactive. There’s also the odd spam address which may somehow get through. They can affect your deliverability, which can have a knock-on effect on your sender ranking. Get rid of them – we’ll explain how later.
  • Size Doesn’t Matter: There’s no point having 10,000 email subscribers when 2,000 of them never open your emails. In this case, having 8,000 email addresses is far better. Focus on quality rather than quantity.
  • It Matters Where Email Addresses Come From: This is an important message we need to share. Do not use purchased or rented lists. Third-party email lists are a one-way ticket to the spam folder.

How to Build an Email List – The Right Way

Subscription Forms

As we mentioned before, the best way to build an email list is to get people who know your brand to sign up. One of the most common ways is through your website. So, create a subscription form that entices your site visitors and makes it easy for them to subscribe.

E-commerce platform Etsy uses a simple sign up form with options for the visitor to choose from:

Etsy Email Signup

(Source: Etsy.com)

This is an example of a friendly and effective subscription form. The email collecting form is a clear call-to-action. It also has a small disclosure stating, “Your email will not be shared with anyone. You can unsubscribe any time.” This creates trust and allows users that Etsy’s intent is not to spam you, even allowing subscribers to check off what they want to receive. There’s also an indication of how frequent the emails will be sent.

Etsy gives subscribers complete control over their interaction with the brand.

Social Media

By now, any e-commerce store should have a social media account. It’s a great way to promote your business on your terms to the wider market. Facebook, for example, has over 2.1 billion active users. The relative “new kid on the block” Instagram already has 800 million active users and counting.

There’s no other way to reach out to such a vast potential market for your store. And you can use social media to capture even more email addresses:

Dollar Shave Club Facebook

(Source: Facebook.com)

The Dollar Shave Club includes a sign up button on its Facebook page. After you click it, you’re taken to this page:

Dollar Shave Club sign up

(Source: Dollarshaveclub.com)

With just one click from Facebook, you’re taken to trial sign up page on the Dollar Shave Club. Easy, simple, and effective.

Another way of gaining email addresses is proactively engaging with your social media followers. Adidas takes the opportunity to promote a basketball event in Los Angeles, featuring Snoop Dogg:

Adidas Social Media event

(Source: Twitter.com)

By promoting the event on Twitter, the sports apparel brand gives itself a chance to gain those valuable email addresses. After all, these followers are already interested in Adidas and proven to be engaged. Getting them to subscribe presents a real opportunity to take the relationship to a new level.


By reaching out to your loyal customers, you could turn them into advocates for your business. Word of mouth from family and friends is a number one influencer for 74% of consumers when it comes to brands.

Referral emails are a great way to take advantage of the power of family and friends. Travel site Booking.com sends its most loyal subscribers an offer for themselves and their friends.

Booking.com referral email

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

By offering a reward to both subscribers and their friends, it’s a perfect incentive to trigger a referral. You should try this tactic on your most loyal customers.

Personalize Emails

It should be obvious by now, but not enough businesses do it. Personalizing your emails is proven to drive up revenue.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) suggests segmented and targeted campaigns generate 58% of all revenue in email marketing.

In order to easily organize targeted campaigns, consider using Etsy’s sign up page. This way, you can automatically generate a segmented list with each subscriber selecting the emails they want to see.

A common misconception behind personalization is that you need to include your customer’s name. While this helps, personalizing emails go beyond this. It’s about targeting the content to the right audience.

Let’s look at eyeglasses brand Warby Parker as an example:

Warby Parker Personalization

(Source: Author’s screenshot

This email doesn’t mention the recipient’s name anywhere but it introduces the concept of “the club.” It makes the subscriber feel they have been rewarded in some way, even if the brand admits “it’s not really a club.”

The subject line also helps give a personal touch:

Warby Parker subject line

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

Warby Parker smartly uses content and targeted email marketing to make the subscribers feel engaged with its brand. The word “you” and “we” indicate a personal connection and a friendly tone.

Automate Your Emails

In our 9 Ways to Take Advantage of Email Automation post, we found that triggered emails score 624% higher conversion responses than “batch and blast” emails.

At MageMail, we offer Magento merchants the full range of automated emails. Here are our top three:

Abandoned Cart Emails

According to the Baynard Institute, cart abandonment rates reached 69% in 2017. Other studies put it as high as 75.6%.

This equates to around $4.6 trillion being left on the table each year. The good news is that with a cart recovery strategy, $2.75 trillion of this is recoverable.

Automated emails is the number one way of recovering abandoned carts.

One of our MageMail users, City Furniture uses abandoned cart emails for its clients:

pasted image 0 2 (Source: Author’s screenshot)

The furniture retailer includes all the necessary information within a simple format. The products left behind take prominence, but there’s also some helpful contact details and a “Complete Your Order” tab at the bottom. There’s no doubting the core message here.

Statistics show cart recovery emails are highly effective, with an average 48% open rate – far higher than normal marketing emails. However, it’s critical to send the first email within an hour of the cart being abandoned. The same report found 90% of leads go cold after an hour.

Welcome Emails

A welcome email or series is a great way to get your relationship with subscribers off to a good start. They enjoy a four times higher open rate and five times higher click-through rate than the average email.

It’s a strong indication new subscribers expect and want to receive a welcome email when they sign up. So what should you include in them?

First of all, avoid simply promoting your products. Instead, focus on giving the information your subscribers need to get the most out of your e-commerce store. Let’s look at an example from MageMail client, Pen Factory:

Pen Factory welcome email

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

You will notice it mentions nothing about the products. Pen Factory uses its welcome email to share the benefits of its account. There’s also contact details in the subscriber wants more information.

Alternatively, you could treat your new subscribers to a special offer. Home furnishing store, Pottery Barn, includes a discount code in its welcome email:

pasted image 0 1

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

It’s a great way to make the subscriber feel special and welcomed into the brand. Just ensure your business will be able to afford to giveaway a percentage of revenue.

Product Recommendation

Product recommendation emails give you the perfect opportunity to cross-sell or even up-sell to your subscribers. With 45% of shoppers more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations, it’s an effective way to boost your conversion rate.

The best way to do these emails is to base it on the purchase history of individual subscribers. As a result, product recommendations will be highly targeted and personalized.

E-commerce leader, Amazon is a pioneer in product recommendations:

pasted image 0 3

(Source: Author’s screenshot)

The focus here is on the products, which have been picked based on my site visit the day before. Targeted, personalized, and focused, this is a winning email from Amazon.

These are the top three types of automated emails we provide for our clients. However, we offer many more, including:

  • Wishlist Reminders
  • Replenishment Emails
  • Birthday Emails
  • Product Anniversary
  • Winback Campaigns

Visit Magemail.co to find out more.

Test, Test, Test

Email marketing through responsible email service providers (ESPs) like MageMail, enables you to access a ton of data. Post-email reports can provide an invaluable insight into the performance of your campaigns.

You should use this data to split-test all aspects of your emails, from the subject line to right down to the color of your call-to-action tabs.

This is the only way you can find out whether you are making the most of your emails. You may be satisfied with the performance but with a few tweaks here and there, you could boost your conversion rates.

We make it easy for you to carry out split-tests on your automated emails. We strongly suggest you use it to fully optimize your e-commerce marketing strategy.


One of the most important factors in a successful e-commerce email marketing strategy is a healthy list. This is ground zero, the center, the deal-breaker. Without a list full of engaged subscribers, your emails are likely to be wasted.

Ensure you have allowed the email list to grow organically, with subscribers signing up through the proper channels. Third-party or purchased lists are a no-go area.

You can also utilize the sign up form to segment your email list automatically. It has the added bonus of giving the subscriber complete control over their interaction with your brand. This will lead to a more engaged list with higher open and click-through rates.

Automated emails have been proven to drive up revenue for e-commerce businesses. They can cover a variety of different scenarios including abandoned carts, welcome emails, and plenty of others. The team at MageMail can advise you on how to make full use of our features.

The message is to be proactive. The days of just blasting out emails to customers are over. To make email marketing work for your store, you need to be targeted, focused, and personalized.

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