Email Marketing For Ecommerce Websites

by Jason Vaught
Email Marketing For Ecommerce Websites

Email Marketing For Ecommerce Websites

Four decades later, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to communicate with customers, which holds for ecommerce websites. Email marketing can be even more valuable for ecommerce businesses because it allows you to target customers who are already interested in your products directly. This article will help you understand the ins and outs of email marketing for ecommerce sites and how you can get the most out of your campaign. 

What is Email Marketing For Ecommerce?

Email marketing for ecommerce websites is the process of using email to communicate with customers who have shown an interest in your products. Email marketing allows you to target customers already interested in what you’re selling. It’s a great way to keep customers informed about new products, sales, and other events. 

How to Capture New Email Subscribers

The perfect email marketing campaign means something if you have a curated list of people interested in what you offer. Before going too far with your email marketing strategy, create a repeatable process for capturing new email subscribers. 

Here’s how to do it.

Site-Wide Signup Forms

A common means of capturing a visitor’s email is through the typical “sign up for our newsletter” form placed somewhere on the theme of your website. Site-wide sign-ups can be the top navigation, sidebar, or footer. They can also be through a pop-up form that jumps onto the screen after a specific time.

There is no harm in having a static signup form on your website, but don’t expect it to provide a significant amount of sign-ups. Shoppers often miss these forms since their mind is on other more pressing matters, and the message needs more personalization.

Pop-up promotions are better at capturing emails since they act as a pattern interrupt, effectively stealing the visitor’s attention. Having website pop-ups is a clever strategy, but many ecommerce websites lack the correct integration settings or do not understand the psychology behind this marketing tactic. As a result, shoppers see these pop-ups as obnoxious and intrusive. 

When creating your pop-ups, set them to show only once per visit and make the exit button easy to find for those who are not interested. Otherwise, you will negatively affect the user experience, making the new customer leary of your website. 

Lead Generation pages

Lead gen pages are another impactful way to engage in email marketing. Whether through social media, pay-per-click, or advertising outreach to potential customers, lead-gen pages give new customers a gentle introduction to your brand. Rather than pushing a product recommendation, you begin the relationship by adding value to the customer. 

The problem with most lead gen pages is their lack of words and visuals powerful enough to increase conversions. Always have a copywriter optimize your page for maximum conversions, even if it is to capture an email. It will be money well spent. 

With email marketing software, you can use lead gen pages to capture the emails of existing customers you want to segment into a specific list. You can set up email segmentation for holiday promotions, special events, and topics that interest a portion of your customers. 

Established brands commonly use this email marketing strategy to re-engage old customers who may have stopped paying attention to company emails. 

Checkout Page

Go through your email history, and you will find a lengthy list of ecommerce websites continuing to market to you even though you “never signed up for their newsletter.” 

We signed up for these newsletters but lacked the recollection because we missed the discretely placed pre-checked box. Unknowingly, we permitted these companies to drop our email into their marketing automation tool. 

It seems like an easy way to build a list, right? Maybe. A pre-checked box is a fast way to a list of uninterested people. Uninterested people lower your open rates, increase your unsubscribe rate, and make a mess of email analytics. 

Whether you have a pre-checked or unchecked box, having an email signup form on your checkout page is the right move for your ecommerce business. It leads to many sign-ups from transaction-ready customers. 

Off-Site Lead Generation

With the advancements in social commerce, much of your lead generation occurs on social media platforms. Capturing emails through your social media ecommerce efforts is essential for your overall strategy. Some platforms, such as Facebook, have lead-gen forms, whereas others have app integration, making the process easier. 

Creating Your Ecommerce Email Marketing Strategy

Now that you’ve put a plan in place for capturing emails, let’s figure out what types of emails we will send and how to best communicate within those emails. 

Setup Your Abandonment Email

A way to make fast cash with email marketing is sending a cart abandonment email to anyone who still needs to finish the checkout process. Transaction emails sent to those who’ve abandoned their cart must be short and to the point. Unfortunately, most ecommerce brands take “short” to the extreme. 

The standard abandonment email lists the items left in the cart with the message, “pick up where you left off.” While better than not emailing, this form of communication needs personalization and a solid call to action. Abandonment emails must be catchy and worthy of opening the email. 

Is it an added discount? A bonus? A link to a F.A.Q. giving customers more confidence about your product? How can you custom-tailor abandonment emails specifically for the customers of your ecommerce business?

Don’t Forget About Upsell Emails

One of the best times to ask a customer to make a purchase is right after they make a purchase. It sounds counterintuitive, but when someone is in “shopper mode,” they’re looking for a solution to their physical or emotional problem. They want to feel better or further experience an existing feeling. 

Shifting your mindset to this way of thinking helps to understand why sending upsell emails is so important. Think about the weight loss shopper who buys a metabolism-boosting pill. 

Their purchase is to support their weight-loss goal. When considering their goals, you can suggest other products to help them solve this problem.

“Do you struggle to get enough quality sleep? And did you know that poor sleep is a contributor to weight gain? Reaching your goal weight will be hard if your sleep isn’t optimal. 

We are sending this email because our customers report that this nighttime relaxing stress supplement makes sticking to their nutrition plan easier. In fact, our customers say they lose an additional 20% of weight when using this with the product you initially purchased.”

Email automation is all about personalization, and upsell emails come with data to direct the type of email you send, making them personalized with little effort.

Create & Nurture Drip Campaigns

In a drip campaign, you slowly guide customers in the direction you want them to go. Unlike a one-time promotional email or monthly newsletter, the drip campaign gives new and loyal customers something to expect in the future. It might be a 4-part series explaining how to use your product or a group of promotional emails to increase product interest. 

The drip campaign is one of the most underutilized strategies found in the most basic email marketing tool. Whether a big or small business, you should have at least one drip campaign for your email subscriber list. 

Aspects of an Ecommerce Email Campaign

Breaking emails into parts is vital for creating a campaign that achieves peak performance. A bulky email body can ruin the best headline. Conversely, Mediocre open rates destroy the most compelling email content. 

Let’s look at what an ecommerce email contains.

Headline (subject line)

Many believe the headline to be the most crucial part of your email. As we mentioned, what your email contains is irrelevant if nobody opens it. 

The most important step to getting the headline right is understanding who your customer is and what awareness level they are. 

  1. Most aware

  2. Product aware

  3. Solution aware

  4. Problem aware

  5. Skeptical

  6. Unaware

Eugene Schwartz outlines the first five stages of awareness in his copywriting classic “Breakthrough Advertising.” The sixth is thanks to Derek Johansen of CopyHour

A good email headline grabs the reader's attention and makes them want to learn more. You can achieve this by using catchy phrases or questions that pique the reader's curiosity. You should also try to keep your headlines short and to the point, as people are more likely to read shorter emails.


A continuation of the headline is the pre-header (more of a post-header) and is critical to maximizing your open rate. Since we’re talking to ecommerce business owners and managers, think of the pre-header as the first feature resting beside the primary image on your product page. 

The pre-header must provide the most enticing information supportive of your headline. 

Headline: Here’s What Most Don’t Understand About Weight Loss

Pre-Header: The unexpected reason why most people fail

The pre-header is an opportunity to take people from attention to intrigue. Use this feature to its potential, and your email open rate will significantly increase.


Expectations begin once people open up your email. If you keep those expectations alive till they reach your call to action, you’ve improved the email relationship. But if you don’t, their response rate to future emails may drop.

The content inside your email resembles a series of sprints where people must find a reason to keep reading approximately every 1-2 sentences. Many will only read the headers for each section and skip the content in between, which means you only have a few words to keep their interest.

The email body’s primary goal is to get people to take action, but we can’t expect customers to act at one point in the email. To achieve this, direct people to a single action at numerous points throughout your email content. 

Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is what you want customers to do after clicking on the email. A call to action exists in every communication, from the welcome email to the “we miss you” email.

Creating diversified CTA strategies for your email campaigns brings more value to the customer and primes them when the time comes to ask for a purchase. Take the CTA seriously even when sending out emails leading subscribers to an article.

Your call to action asks the customer to engage in a relationship with your company. Every time you make this request, it either helps or hurts the relationship, so take your requests for feedback as seriously as your new product launches. 

Every click matters.

Email Design

Graphic design is an element of email campaigns needing more attention and as you will find, more pruning. Your email design may include the following:

  • The company logo.

  • The email template (theme).

  • Typography.

  • Images to support the text.

Every email marketing service offers free email templates, but this doesn’t mean they optimize every template for the highest conversions. Often, what the best looking provides mediocre results because it interferes with the text and the call to action. 

Your email design should do one thing and one thing only; encourage subscribers to take action. 

Since most emails require approval before displaying images, your email needs to look good with or without your email design. 

Make sure your email design is desktop, tablet, and mobile-friendly. Your email list consists of people using each of these three screen types, so make this a part of your standard operating procedure.

Setting Up Audience Segmentation

One of the most complicated aspects of email marketing automation is list segmentation. Segmenting your subscribers means creating a separate email list for each product, category, demographic, or any other number of specifics we can define as a unique audience. 

In most email marketing software tools, you can create tags rather than separate lists, helping to simplify the segmentation process. We can automatically or manually apply tags for any number of things, including shopper frequency, email engagement, or based on what CTA people have clicked.

With expertise, audience segmentation is better served by digital marketing experts with the tools and capabilities to set up and report on different customer audiences. Trying to do this alone is exhaustive and pulls you away from your primary role in the company.

Copywriting Strategies For Ecommerce Email Marketing

Converting readers into action-takers requires more than just choosing the topic and following ecommerce best practices. Every email should follow one (or more) of the ecommerce copywriting strategies used to convert people through any medium. 

Create Urgency 

With email marketing, creating urgency through time-bound marketing campaigns removes the commonly internalized “I’ll come back to this later.”

99% of people will not come back to your email later. Even with good intentions, inboxes receive too many emails for subscribers to see you more than once.

Tip: For this reason, many brands send reminder emails to those who opened the initial email but have yet to take action. 

You can create a sense of urgency directly or subtly. Both work but depend on the demographic and the intent behind the email. 

“You have 10 minutes to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer.”

“Did you see our last email about the once-in-a-lifetime offer? I want to be sure you don’t miss out since there’s 10 minutes away from shutting it down.”

“If you’re interested in losing weight forever, you may want to check out this once-in-a-lifetime offer. I think there are only 10 minutes left on the deal, but I could be wrong.”

While it takes consideration and planning, you can include urgency in every email you send.

Employ Scarcity

Scarcity is in the eye of the beholder. To the ecommerce brand, 100 remaining units of a discontinued product feels like a lot, but to email subscribers, 100 units of a discounted product might seem small. You can see examples of the scarcity strategy outside of ecommerce as well. 

For example, a digital marketing conference may “only” have 100 platinum seats available, but their goal is selling 80. What seems scarce to the customer is a goal for the company. 

Marketers use scarcity all the time, and so should you. Use scarcity in everything from the abandoned cart email to the once-a-year virtual conference you hold. 

Before sending any emails, ask, did I employ scarcity in the conversation?

Tell Stories 

While email may have begun as a back-and-forth communication tool, story-telling made emails go viral. 

It may have been a while since you’ve received a chain email that’s hit thousands of inboxes thanks to someone hitting the forward button, but stories still work. 

Weaving stories into your emails brings readers into your world, helping them better understand your brand and other customers. 

  • Turn your product development into a story. 

  • Get more out of testimonials but lean into their personal story. 

  • Talk about how the email itself came about. 

Here’s a tip: If you struggle with telling stories through the written word, tell your story to someone who loves creating stories. An ecommerce agency like ours can transcribe and edit your story, turning it into an interesting reason for people to keep reading the email. 

Email Marketing Tips That Most Miss

Ready to level up your email marketing? Here are two tips we find most ecommerce sites either need to be made aware of or ignored for some strange reason. 

Split Testing

How do you know if you have the best marketing campaign if you’ve yet to test it against another? Continuously split-testing your emails provides better insights into how you create content the next time. 

As you get further along in your email marketing journey, your split tests will be more nuanced. As you eliminate the methods ineffective for your subscriber list, you can hone in to more narrow changes. 

Make it Easy To Read

While showcasing your expertise is good, talking above your subscribers is not. Make your content as easy to read as possible. Here are our top 5 way ways to make emails easier to read. 

  1. Set the font size to 12.

  2. Include headings every 50-100 words. 

  3. Keep paragraphs 1-2 sentences.

  4. Keep sentences to an average of 20 words.

  5. When possible, use words at an 8th-grade level.

Tactics To Increase Your Conversion Rates

Small changes can have a significant impact on your email marketing campaign. While you now understand what makes up an email marketing strategy and how to create one for your brand, let’s discuss four expert tactics that increase your open and click-through rates. 

  1. Emojis work, so use them.

Think Emojis are just for kids using social media? They’re not. Using emojis in your subject line, you can see a 28% increase in your email open rate

  1. Rethink your email sender name.

While we’ve talked a lot about personalization, unless you’re a social media influencer or have name recognition, leave it off the email sender’s name. A better strategy is using the email sender’s name to emphasize your subject line.

  1. Push all links to a single page.

Anywhere you have clickable text or images, point them to the place that matters most, the CTA. Instead of having your logo click on the homepage, set it to click on the same page as your primary call to action. 

  1. Limit images to three or fewer.

While your category may differ, across Constant Contact’s list of clients, they found that emails containing three or fewer images receive the most clicks. Hopefully, this reduces your fear of not having the most graphically stimulating email out there. 

Ecommerce Agency With Expertise in Email Marketing

Want help creating the most impactful email marketing campaign for your ecommerce business? Our team of email marketing experts handles everything from strategy to execution so that you can focus on what matters most; running your business. Schedule a time to talk with our team about your ecommerce site and learn how we can help you with your digital marketing.

Jason Vaught

About Jason Vaught

Business and entrepreneurship came early for Jason, with his candy selling business being shut down by the middle school principal, which led to his suspension. Taking a break from marketing and strategy until after his formative years, Jason began his first “real” business at 22, which he held until December 2021. Throughout this time, Jason owned various businesses in many industries, which gave him a unique lens to look through. He channeled the information gained from these various perspectives through article content writing. He quickly realized that it took more than good content to rank in Google. This is when his fire for SEO and content marketing first started. Now, Jason focuses all his efforts on SEO and content marketing, finding that he enjoys helping other companies more than his own. There is something special (and spiritual) about being a part of someone else’s success. Personally, Jason most enjoys spending time with his 5-kids and beautiful wife. He’s also passionate about golf, gardening, and reading good books.