How To Build A Powerful Email Marketing Strategy For E-Commerce?

The good old email marketing????

“Does it still works?”, asked one of my clients who recently opened an ecommerce store.

I smiled and then nodded in affirmative.


All I see people complaining about spam emails, low open rates. Nobody likes it.

Such conversations are common in my interactions with clients. This is a myth and it needs to be busted.

Email is the best marketing tool for lead generation. Upsell/cross-sell. Recover cart abandonment losses. And relationship building.

All you need to do is to do it right!!!

This post is for people like my clients who believe email marketing sucks. It is for people who want to do email marketing but want to sharpen their strategy. And for people who are new to email marketing.

What is ecommerce email marketing and why it matters?

In the good old days, shoppers would visit a store. Talk to buyers and exchange pleasantries. Retailers would try to understand customer needs through these conversations. And find solutions to meet them.

It was a small world. Shoppers were loyal to their shops. Sellers would try to build relationships. Today it is different. There are no face-to-face conversations happening between a buyer and seller. You don’t see your shoppers. You can’t talk to them.

The good old email is how you do it today. Yes even in 2018.

Once you have a person’s email you can build personal connections with your audience. Talk to them. Listen to their feedback. Understand their needs better. Solve their problems. Put your offerings in front of them. And build relationships.

Why email marketing matters to your ecommerce business?

Here are few stats which you must pay attention to –

Now that we know why the good old email is incredibly powerful. It’s time to move onto learning how to do it effectively.

Establish Your Email Marketing Goals

Email marketing can accomplish a lot. To get started it is necessary to establish few goals. Here are few goals you must consider for your ecommerce marketing channel.

  • Welcome and onboard new buyers
  • To promote your products and services
  • Get feedback from customers on your services
  • Announce new offerings and company events with customers
  • Share content like blogs, eBooks, videos etc.
  • Send reminders to buyers who have abandoned cards
  • Send coupons to loyal customers
  • Re-engage with lost customers
  • Provide customer support
  • Build relationships with customers

4 Steps To Build an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing can be daunting and technical when you get started. To simplify this I have broken this down into four simple steps. Each of these steps has been elucidated for deeper clarity on execution.

Step 1: Build an email list for your ecommerce business

Step 2: Pick a robust email marketing platform

Step 3: Connect and engage with your email subscribers

Step 4: Measure your email marketing campaign and improve

Step 1: Build an email list for your ecommerce business

Your buyers will give you their email while creating an account or as part of checkout process.  Beyond it, you have many opportunities to get email ids from those who don’t buy products from your store.

1. Ask People To Join Your Newsletter

The newsletter subscription is one of the easiest and popular ways to collect emails. If your customer wants to get updates on your offerings he or she will sign up for it. Put this subscription box in the footer of your website. That way it will be visible and accessible on all pages. Asos not just ask people to sign up for a Newsletter but also picks the gender of the person so that it can segment the audience and send targetted emails.

LuxyHair uses the footer to capture users for their weekly newsletter.

2. Leverage The Power Of HomePage

Coucousuzette uses a high impact newsletter option on the HomePage. The opt-in stands out compared to other elements on the page. The homepage is often the highest viewed page in your online store. Also, people who visit your homepage are often who know your brand. They are the ones most likely to become your subscribers as they are looking to hear from you and check out your offerings repeatedly. You should use a prominent newsletter subscription box on the HomePage for this reason.

3. Use A Content Bait To Improve Subscription

If you are selling products that need deep user awareness. Then you must be creating blogs, eBooks, and videos. You can use these content pieces as baits to get emails from your customers.

For blogs, you can put a subscription box on the blog page with the offer to deliver every new post in their inbox.

You can create a landing page and ask your audience to fill-up a form to download the eBook.

4. Use Smart Pop-ups

You need to use pop-ups well. Else it can be annoying to your visitors. In a lot of stores, popups start appearing the moment a visitor lands on the page. That’s poor user experience. Remember your first priority is to help buyers shop for products.

But, if done right, popups can be effective tools for collecting emails. The best way to use a popup is when the customer is leaving your website with exit popups. You can tie in signup incentives like discounts, win a gift card etc., with the popups to make it more lucrative.

LuxyHair uses this $100 Gift card to entice people to sign up. They know the value of an email subscriber hence the high value of giveaway.

DoDoCase shows an offer to people who are trying to leave the website which is a discount coupon for first-time buyers.

5. Referral Contests:

Run referral contests. It will not only get you emails but will also make your customers promote your business. Ask your customers to take part in the contest. Incentivize every referral. Also, ask them to share the contest on their social media channels to earn bonuses on every referral.

6. Out Of Stock Products

It is possible that few products on your online store are currently out of stock. Instead of showing a sorry message you should collect email ID of people willing to find out when the product will be back in stock. This can be done by placing an opt-in form instead of the buy button on the product page. Flipkart does this for all it’s out of stock products.

7. Build a High Converting Landing Page and drive traffic

High converting landing pages can be something which gives away high-value content for free. You can build a high converting landing page using tools like UnBounce, InstaPage, and Leadpages. Once you have built a landing page you will have to optimize to improve your conversion rates. Having a landing page with the sole objective of collecting email allows you an opportunity to drive traffic from social media, organic and paid sources to your offer.

WaytekWire gives away a buyer’s guide to anyone looking to buy a circuit protection. Once a user enters their email it qualifies as a qualified lead and can be approached with offers and other relevant information.

8. Give Free Shipping Coupon Codes In Exchange For Email

Most online retailers know that Free Shipping is what their customers are looking for. But giving away free shipping for everyone does not add any marketing value to your business. Instead, have a website notification which sends out free shipping coupon codes to email subscribers. Doing this you will have an email subscriber who has an intention of buying in your email list.

How to Choose the Right Email Marketing Platform?

Building a list is great but what maximizes your list into profits is a great email marketing platform. A platform which is both robust in functionality and doesn’t become expensive as you grow your list size.

With these platforms, you can send emails when –

  • When a visitor signups
  • Buys a product first time
  • When visitor abandons cart
  • Send product invoices & shipping information
  • Birthday and Festival Greetings
  • Offers and discounts
  • Reminder Mails

All you have to do is to identify the right context and send a personal email accordingly.

There are hundreds of email marketing platforms available on the market. While shopping for an email marketing platform, you need to consider-

  • Integration: It is best if your email marketing software integrates with your ecommerce platform. This helps your software pick up valuable sales data from your CRM, analytics and payment gateways to trigger emails accordingly. This ensures seamless integration and reduces development effort considerably.
  • Automation: This will depend on your business needs. If you want to send simple emails and newsletters then any platform would do. But if you want to target visitors across the sales funnel then you would need an advanced platform. GetDrip, and InfusionSoft are two advanced systems which help you with sophisticated automation.
  • Supportive Features: You must also consider other supportive features relevant to your business. Features like analytics, customer support, ease of use etc., are important. It helps you optimize your campaigns better for click-through rates, open rates, and sales revenue.
  • No of subscribers: Most email platforms will charge you for the number of subscribers in the list. So you have to estimate the size of the list and choose the plan that best fits your needs. If you feel that your list size would be too high then you should pick a platform which is inexpensive at high volumes.

Popular Email Marketing Softwares

The market is flooded with email marketing platforms of varying capabilities- from basic to advanced. Here are my top 3 email platform recommendations-

MailChimp: It is one of the first email marketing tools that come to mind. They offer a free plan for up to 2000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Then there is a $10/mo and $199/mo plan with advanced features. One of the reasons behind the popularity of MailChimp is its free plan which is best for businesses who are just starting out as it gives them access to a lot of features that are unavailable elsewhere.


  • Good analytics and reporting
  • Easy to use template editor
  • 800+ integration options


  • Limited automation features
  • Paid plans are relatively expensive

To get started with a free MailChimp account, click here

Aweber: Another good choice for ecommerce sites. The plans pricing ranges from $19/mo for 500 subscribers and goes up to $149/mo for 25,000 subscribers. For a subscriber list above 25,000, you need to call to get a quote. All features are available on all the plans and hence you don’t have to spend extra to get access to advanced features.


  • Ease to use
  • Attractive plan pricing
  • Good library of templates
  • Good deliverability rates


  • Limited advanced automation features
  • Allows limited fonts

Click here to get a free trial

Constant Contact: Another email marketing platform that is perfect for businesses of all sizes. It offers two plans- ‘email’ and ‘email plus’ starting at $20/mo and $45/mo for 500 subscribers respectively. The pricing offers great flexibility as it is based on list size but you have to pay extra for some features.  The platform also offers new features like event management tool, social campaigns and surveys etc.


  • Extended trial period of 60 days
  • Large template library
  • Easy to use
  • Robust security and data management


  • Limited customization
  • Customer Support

Click here to get a free trial

How to connect and engage with email subscribers?

To keep constant touch and engage with your email subscribers you would need –

Set Autoresponders

Autoresponders are a great way to set up email marketing campaign on autopilot. It is like a machine is making money for you. For your store, you can set autoresponse emails for –

    • Feedback – Emails can be a great way to collect valuable feedback about your shopping experience. A personal email on asking your customers how you can improve the shopping experience can give you many businesses, product, and marketing insights.

    • Recommend A Friend – Your email marketing campaigns o drive your other marketing campaigns like social referrals. Since your subscribers are listening to you they have a higher likelihood of sharing your offerings with their friends.

    • Re-engagement Email – Few of your subscribers might have started ignoring you after the first purchase. They might have gone cold and stopped looking at your emails. A good way to engage such subscribers is to write an email checking with them and giving away a coupon they can use to an immediate avail.

    • Birthday/Festival Greetings – Life events are a personal and people do spend a money to buy themselves gifts. This is particularly true for fashion and gadgets. Targetted email a week before the actual date will help you be in the buyer’s mind when they decide to make a birthday purchase.

    • Upsell and Cross Sell on Email – Your customer might have placed an order. But there are many other products he or she still might be interested in buying which is relevant to the product. This is when cross selling and up selling plays a role. You have to automate emails which cross sell and up sell other products based on customer’s recent purchase.
    • Abandoned Cart Email – Abandoned cart emails are targetted emails which your email software sends when your visitors leave products in their cart. It sends a soft email reminder asking the user if there is anything stopping them from completing the purchase.

  • Send scheduled emails: These are your regular emails which share your latest offers, products and company announcements. Stick to a schedule which is usually Weekly or Bi-Monthly for most retailers.

Next Steps

Now that you know how to build an email marketing strategy. Here’s how to get started-

  • Identify opportunities to build an email list on your website – Where will you put your subscription boxes? What kind of exit popups will you use? Would you send weekly newsletters? What type of contests will engage your audience?
  • Shop for an email marketing platform – First, understand your needs. Look at various options, check their features. Read reviews. Consider all the factors discussed while selecting a platform. Start with a free trial and then move to paid subscription.
  • Write good email copies – Talk in your customer’s language. Hire a copywriter if you lack the skill to do it.
  • Personalize your messages – Most platforms allow you to personalize email subject lines and copy with first names. Use it.
  • Have a testing plan in place – to perfect it. Keep experimenting with each element of your emails to optimize the performance. If a mail is not getting desired open rate, change the subject. Play with different delivery times.
  • Double check your emails on mobile – Make sure that your email renders well on small screens.

Keep Learning:

7 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

How to Make Great Landing Pages (With Crazy High Conversions)

How to Build Your Email Subscriber List with Viral Contests and Giveaways

E-Commerce Email Marketing 101: 11 Must-Have Emails (w/ Templates)

After working 7+ years as a digital marketer for startups and large enterprises I quit my job to start EcommerceYogi. Here I share the exact same tactics which I have used to drive millions of users per month to e-commerce stores. Follow me on Linkedin and Twitter to stay connected.