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In 2021, global ecommerce sales totaled $4.9 trillion, and this number is set to double in the next 6 years.


To claim your own share of those sales, you’ll need to create a positive customer experience — the easiest way to do that is with email marketing.


In this post, we’ll explain the many benefits of email marketing for ecommerce businesses, and how to create a winning strategy that’ll help your sales skyrocket.


Ready? Let’s begin!

1. What is ecommerce email marketing?

Fundamentally, it’s the art of using email marketing to generate sales for your ecommerce business.


The reason why these 2 concepts go hand-in-hand is because being able to sell your products online relies heavily on customer relationships.


Email marketing is the vehicle you use to create and nurture those relationships.


Ecommerce email marketing is slightly different from other email campaigns for 2 main reasons:

However, your ecommerce marketing efforts aren’t restricted to just what goes into your emails.


You’ll also need to put work into:

  • How your potential customers sign up to your email list
  • How your customers complete their purchases
  • How you encourage customer loyalty

Don’t let the effort put you off though — email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of up to 4400%!


Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits email brings to the marketing table.

1.1. Why email marketing is important for ecommerce

Why email marketing is important for ecommerce

There are several reasons to lean into email marketing if you run an ecommerce business:

1. Connect directly with ecommerce customers

Because email marketing puts you in direct contact with your email list, you can reach out to new customers and start building a relationship with them.


You’re also able to stay in contact with existing customers and maintain that connection, encouraging them to purchase from you again.

2. Drive more sales through email

While your ROI is never guaranteed, email marketing does remain one of the most popular and successful methods of converting your first customers and getting more revenue from loyal customers.


You could also sell your offers directly to your email list, although this breaks away from the traditional ecommerce model.

3. You own your contact lists, not any third-party platform

It’s easier to get more likes and followers on the different social media platforms, but converting followers into customers is twice as difficult.


On top of that, those platforms tend to change their algorithms to prefer any content that keeps people on their platform, and off of your website.


With email marketing, you’re in full control of the details of your audience, and it’s far easier to engage and convert them.


Now that you understand how powerful an email strategy can be for your ecommerce store, let’s discover the kinds of emails you’ll need to send.

2. The different types of marketing emails used by ecommerce businesses

In any ecommerce email marketing strategy, there are 2 main types of emails that you’ll send:

1. Promotional emails

2. Transactional emails

While both types of email can help you nurture your relationship with your customers, they do so in different ways and at different times.


Keep reading to find out how each type of email can contribute to your overall strategy.

2.1. Promotional emails

These are defined as any email messages that you broadcast to a wider segment of your audience to drive sales.


Promotional emails can include:

  • Newsletters
  • Welcome emails
  • Email campaigns
  • Product launch emails
  • Giveaway emails
  • Seasonal and holiday emails
  • Special offer emails

The purpose of promotional emails is generally to help ecommerce business owners stay in touch with their existing customers, outside of their purchases.


This means there’s a lot of flexibility to what this kind of email contains, but you must ensure that what you share is relevant content.

2.2. Transactional emails

In contrast, the contents of transactional emails are a little more strict.


These are defined as automated emails sent to inform customers about any purchases or account activity that occurs with your ecommerce business.


Transactional emails can include:

  • Confirmation emails
  • Account notifications
  • Feedback requests

Now that you understand what promotional and transactional emails are, let’s dive into some best practices that’ll affect all of your email marketing efforts.

3. Ecommerce email marketing best practices

Email marketing comes with specific rules and tactics that help business owners achieve their goals.


However, the rules apply slightly differently if your business is in ecommerce.

3.1. Eye-catching designs

Ecommerce has had a massive surge in popularity in the last few years, and there are now millions of online stores.


With email marketing’s unmatched return on investment, those millions of stores are flooding customers’ inboxes.


To stand out from that crowd and make your brand more memorable than the rest, you need to have eye-catching email designs.


You can create an email design that gets the right kind of attention by:

  • Crafting a striking email subject line
  • Experimenting with colors and images
  • Avoiding walls of text by adding images or GIFs
  • Making sure your email is on-brand

Above all else, we advise that you keep your email design simple — you don’t want to distract your customers from the information they need.


Here’s an email from Cotton On that that uses a simple but effective email design that offers free shipping and a free gift:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

3.2. Personalization is key

If you make your future customers feel valued, they’re likely to reward you by purchasing your products.


72% of consumers flat out refuse to engage with any messaging that hasn’t been personalized.


Depending on the size of your customer base, adding a personal touch to your emails might seem like a mammoth task.


Luckily, an email marketing tool like systeme.io simplifies it all, so that you can send the right message to the right customer, at the right time.


Personalized emails can have the following features:

  • Sent to segments of your audience, not everyone at once
  • Use the customer’s name in the greeting or email subject line
  • Send content that is specifically relevant to the recipient

Goodreads makes personalized recommendations to help nurture customer relationships:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

Simple personal touches like these can have a big impact on your customer’s overall shopping experience.

3.3. Behavioral targeting and A/B testing

To get a real understanding of the different segments of your audience, you need to monitor their behavior.


There are several ways to use customers’ behavior to further personalize your interactions with them:

  • Take note of their previous purchases and send them recommendations based on those
  • Track what they click on and where they spend the most time, and use it to tailor the content you email to them
  • Offer email discounts and personalized offers based on their interests and actions
  • Showcase customer success stories in your content
  • Use Google Analytics to show you what products get the most attention and promote those to your email list

Brandless uses customer stories and user-generated content to further promote their products while they show appreciation for their fans:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

However, you need to have a solid contact list full of customers before you can start monitoring their behavior.


If you’re still at the beginning of your journey, you should focus on growing your email list first.


If your ecommerce site already has an established presence online you can further maximize your email campaign with A/B testing.


Alternatively, you could send your campaign to a small segment of your audience, monitor and tweak it based on the results, and then send it on to the rest of your audience.

3.4. The importance of confirmation emails

When your customers purchase from your ecommerce store, you need to send them an order confirmation right away.


The same is true for when they initially sign up to your email list.


There are several benefits to sending quick emails like this:

  • You build trust — Timely notifications show customers that you’re in control and aware of them
  • Purchases are secure — Customers are more likely to trust you with their money if you show them exactly where it’s going
  • Better customer experience — Your customers will feel like they are important to your business, and won’t easily forget you and your brand

Here’s a great example from Flamingo Estate:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

You too can automate these kinds of responses with email marketing software.

3.5. Mobile optimization

85% of all email users check their emails on their smartphones, and if your business is 100% online, you can’t afford to ignore this statistic.


While a good mobile ecommerce site will help you make a good first impression, email is where you can really build a strong rapport with your audience.


This email from Swamp Rabbit Cafe mimics the layout of a printed receipt but is also completely mobile-optimized:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile devices:

  • New subscribers are unlikely to confirm their account details or remain on your email list
  • New customers are unlikely to purchase from your ecommerce store again
  • Existing customers will get frustrated with your messages and won’t click through to any products you’re promoting

This means your click-through rates, and ultimately your sales will suffer.

3.6. GDPR compliance

The final best practice for email marketing is all about keeping your messages and data collection lawful.


This is particularly important for ecommerce businesses because you handle a lot of personal data from your customers.


There are several email marketing rules you need to follow to stay compliant:

  • Don’t purchase your email list
  • Avoid using misleading subject lines
  • Allow your customers to unsubscribe anytime
  • Don’t gather unnecessary data about your customers

If your emails aren’t compliant, you’ll end up triggering spam filters and no one reads an email that ends up in their spam folder.

4. How to create an ecommerce email marketing strategy

Now that you have those best practices locked in, it’s time to start building out your ecommerce email marketing strategy.


So that it’s even easier to accomplish, we’ve divided this strategy into 3 parts:

  • Part 1 is all about how to use promotional emails
  • Part 2 digs into transactional emails
  • Part 3 unveils the perfect email marketing tool for ecommerce businesses

Let’s get started!

4.1. Part 1 — Set up a promotional email marketing strategy

One of the most important ingredients in any email marketing campaign is an audience to send you messages to.


You’ll need to connect with your ideal customers, build trust with them, and then start pointing them in the direction of your products.


We’ll start with how you can reliably reach your audience.

4.1.1. Use an opt-in process

Contact details are the ticket to connecting with your audience.


You can get hold of this golden ticket by choosing an opt-in process where interested site visitors can give you their contact details.


To implement a successful opt-in process, you’ll need to:

  • Add opt-in forms to your blog posts, About page, and landing pages so that you can collect email addresses
  • Create an attractive lead magnet or free offer to give website visitors in exchange for their details
  • Provide enough free value that visitors to your online store will want to stay in contact with you to find out more

Some ecommerce platforms come with the ability to build opt-in forms, but their functionality can be pretty limited.

One of systeme.io’s customizable opt-in templates

One of systeme.io’s customizable opt-in templates

Partner with a digital marketing tool like systeme.io and use high-converting opt-in form templates to make this step even easier.

4.1.2. Create a welcome email sequence

Once someone has signed up to your mailing list, they’re expecting to hear from you — don’t leave them hanging!


We suggest you set up an automated welcome email sequence to greet new subscribers.


Welcome emails come with some undeniable benefits:

  • Their read rate is 42% higher than average emails
  • Introduce your brand and values to potential customers
  • Connect with an interested audience whilst providing value
  • Set expectations and flex your business’ perks
  • Add a welcome offer, incentivizing new subscribers to make a purchase
  • If they’re automated, you save a ton of time and effort

This initial email sequence is an opportunity for you to introduce your offers, establish your authority, and begin building a relationship with your audience.


Why not offer a welcome discount code to new subscribers as Cat Caboodle does, and incentivize them to make their first purchase:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

It’s unlikely that your ecommerce platform supports welcome emails without using a clunky, external integration with an email marketing service.


Look at all-in-one software solutions like systeme.io instead — it’ll save you from technical headaches.

4.1.3. Promote your products with email campaigns

After going through your welcome emails, you can start sending subscribers your more general promotional email campaigns.


Irrespective of your niche and your offers, it’s a bad idea to broadcast the same email to your entire contact list.


Instead, use contact tagging to segment your email list based on your subscribers’ interests and behavior — you’ll be delivering more relevant content and see better email performance overall.


Then, you can and should include the following in your promotional emails:

  • New offers
  • Time-limited deals
  • Exclusive discounts
  • Business updates
  • Holiday promotions

These kinds of email marketing campaigns can be set up ahead of time and automated to send over several days or weeks.


Here’s an example of a holiday promotion from Good Pair Days:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

4.1.4. Set up a cart abandonment email campaign

Incomplete online purchases lead to lost sales and with an average cart abandonment rate of 79.8%, you need to address them.


Creating a cart abandonment email campaign is a strategy that many brands use to help customers complete the sales process.


Here’s an example of an abandoned cart email from Lego:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

There are several reasons why these abandoned cart campaigns work so well:

  • Once automated, they save you a ton of time
  • They’re based on customer behavior and are personalized
  • They show customers that you care about their actions

However, you cannot expect every customer to return to their abandoned cart, just because you’ve notified them.


You’ll need to provide an incentive like low stock, a discount, or even free shipping to seal the deal.

4.2. Part 2 — Set up an automated transactional email strategy

Building out your transactional emails may take a little bit longer than the promotional side of things.


However, once it’s complete, it’ll run on its own in the background for years to come.


These emails are about more than just racking your customer purchases, they can be mobilized to help your business too.


Here are a few things you can do to help you get started.

4.2.1. Customize your transactional emails

As an online retailer, transactional emails form a core part of your business communication.


Like any other element of your online presence, you should make your emails recognizable by aligning them with your brand.


Depending on your email service provider, this can be easily achieved.


You can customize your transactional emails by:

  • Using the same words that you’ve used on your online store
  • Matching your email design to your online store
  • Including your logo somewhere in your email
  • Creating a call-to-action button in your brand’s colors
  • Sending from a recognizable domain that matches your website

Combining this with personalization is a winning recipe that’ll encourage customers to trust you with their purchases.


That’s exactly what Amazon does with this order confirmation email:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

Most ecommerce platforms allow you to customize your online shopping carts, which is another great idea.

4.2.2. Reward customer loyalty

You can nurture your customers by rewarding them for supporting your business with your transactional emails.


Whenever a customer makes a purchase, you can offer them an exclusive discount or deal.


This serves as a reason for them to purchase again while also making them feel like they’re important to you.


There are several ways to reward your customers:

  • Offer free shipping
  • Provide exclusive discount codes
  • Include free gifts in their next purchase
  • Introduce a loyalty points system

That’s exactly what Taco Bell does to nurture their customers:

Source: ReallyGoodEmails.com

Online retailers can upgrade their transactional email strategy by using a referral program where loyal customers promote your offers for you.

4.2.3. Include links to other touchpoints

Just because a customer has made a successful purchase with you doesn’t mean that you can forget about them.


Even in your transactional emails, you need to continue to build on and maintain your relationship with your audience.


Include any of the following in your email copy:

  • Social media buttons
  • Quick links to your landing page
  • Email share buttons
  • Easy order tracking links

The email from Taco Bell shows you how simple it is:

Taco Bell

There are plenty of benefits to this simple addition:

  • Increased website traffic because of the easy-to-access links
  • Continue to nurture customers on the platform they prefer
  • A smoother shipping and delivery process
  • Improved customer experience overall

4.3. Part 3 — Team up with the best

The final step in creating a fool-proof ecommerce email marketing plan is to choose an email marketing platform.


While there are plenty of options to choose from, we’d like to introduce you to a hidden gem that’s shaking up the digital marketing space.

4.3.1. Systeme.io’s email marketing

systeme.io logo

systeme.io logo

Systeme.io is an all-in-one digital marketing platform with powerful email marketing capabilities.


This software gives you the power to:

  • Host and segment your email lists with contact tagging
  • Build beautiful opt-in forms and reach even more potential customers
  • Send unlimited emails to your audience, whenever you choose
  • Create automated email campaigns linked to your sales funnels
  • Analyze the success of your email marketing with detailed metrics

But what does all of this actually mean for ecommerce businesses?


You can keep track of your leads and customers easily, and target different streams of your audience with tailor-made emails that boost engagement.


You’ll also be able to contact any customer with ease as your customer’s information is stored and protected on your contacts list.


If you’re looking to attract new potential customers, opt-in forms and squeeze pages will automatically capture their information, and add them to the correct list.


You don’t have to think twice before reaching out to a customer or resending an important message as emails are unlimited with systeme.io.


You’ll also save yourself a lot of time by setting up email campaigns that are triggered by customer behavior — we help online businesses work while their owners sleep.


Digital products are automatically sent, online course access is granted, and you can even accept product returns without lifting a finger.


While this might sound impressive, you’re probably groaning inwardly at the thought of setting up a clunky integration. . .

4.3.2. Systeme.io’s other features

systeme.io’s features

systeme.io’s features

Luckily, systeme.io needs no integrations — you can run your entire ecommerce business from one place!


Beyond super-charged email marketing, you can also use the following features:

  • Create a website to sell your products and services online
  • Build sales funnels and convert more customers
  • Start your own affiliate program and reach a wider audience
  • Create and sell online courses and supplement your income

And more!


There’s no end to how a systeme.io account will support your ecommerce efforts.


Usually, software like this is out of reach for small online businesses, but not anymore!

4.3.3. Systeme.io’s pricing

With systeme.io, you start for free, and you can stay that way if you like.


There are 4 scalable pricing plans on our platform:

systeme.io’s pricing plans

systeme.io’s pricing plans

All of our plans, even our Free plan, come with the following:

  • Send unlimited emails
  • Unlimited file storage space
  • Unlimited students
  • Unlimited blog posts
  • Direct integrations with PayPal and Stripe
  • 24/7 online support via email

If you’re ready to commit to a partnership with systeme.io, why not opt for annual billing?


You’ll get a 30% discount, and we’ll help migrate your entire business for free.

5. Conclusion

The power of email marketing is undeniable, especially for ecommerce businesses.


Using this post, you can channel that power towards your own business.


Combine transactional and promotional emails for an email marketing strategy that’ll win you more customers every day.


Take your ecommerce email marketing to the next level by partnering with the best — systeme.io.


Sign up for free today!

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