eCommerce Insiders

How to Use Email to Boost Your Online Sales

Are you planning to use email to boost your ecommerce sales?

Email is the most converting traffic in ecommerce, fact. According to 2012 SEEWhy report, traffic from email marketing converts at the staggering 67.37% rate.

It comes as no surprise then that most ecommerce stores spend considerable amount of time and resources on their email marketing strategies.

If you are planning to do the same but don’t know where to start, read on. What follows is a concise guide to ecommerce email marketing.

Functions of Email Marketing in Ecommerce

Before you start firing off emails to your customers and site visitors, it’s important that you understand the various functions email can play in your online stores marketing mix.

  • Abandonment Recovery

First and foremost, email is one of the most powerful tools used to recover abandoned shopping cart transactions. According to aforementioned SEEWhy report, as many as 71% of your visitors might leave your store without purchasing. However, out of those, approximately 75% will return to the store, either to buy or abandon again.

These more than one time abandoners are often referred to as Serial Abandoners. With email marketing, you can recover their transactions at a massive 57% rate. I write more on this subject here and here.

  • Creating Loyal Customers

As someone once noted, you should service the hell out of your every customer but especially the one who purchased from your store for the first time.

Your first time buyers are people who deserve a special care. They have put in a lot of trust into your store and your job is not only to deliver their goods but also to confirm and build on that trust.

Since you rarely can actually meet your customers face to face, email is your best tool for communicating with new customers.

Sending a first time customer a thank you note, or a reassurance of support can go a long way in building their trust in you and ultimately getting them to come back to purchase again.

  • Making Dormant Customers Buy Again

Seemingly, email is often used to target customers who haven’t purchased from your store in a while. Thanks to email you can unobtrusively remind them of your site and even nudge them to come back and shop again.

  • Rewarding Loyal, VIP Customers

Email is also a great tool to reach out and reward long term, loyal customers. You can do so by sending them occasional discount or even a gift.

  • General Communication

Email is a great tool to keep all your customers informed about recent developments in the store, new stock, promotions or lines or products.

  • Feedback

Lastly, email is a great way to get feedback from your customers. As you will see shortly, there are techniques you can use to entice users to tell you about their experiences with the site, product and your service overall.

Types of Ecommerce Email Newsletters You Can Send

Your customers are bombarded with way too many emails every day. What’s even worse, most of those messages provide no value whatsoever.

Part of the problem is that these are often wrong messages sent to wrong people. In order for your email marketing to work, it is important that you send only certain types of emails you feel will benefit your customers the most.

Below is a list of various types of email newsletter messages you can send to your clients. You don’t need to send all of them. In fact, depending on the stage your store is at, you won’t even need to send some (i.e. an email to dormant customers will only work for an established store that’s been running for at least 2 years).

What I would recommend is that you select a small number of those email types and experiment to see if they bring the desired effect. Depending on the results, continue using them or try different ones.

  • A General Newsletter

This type of email message usually contains company’s news, information about new stock, lines or products or any changes in the way your store operates.

When to Send: Occasionally. A general newsletter provides very little value to the customer and should only be sent if there is an important news you want to tell your customers about.

  • Product FAQ / Info

This is a very simple, yet extremely powerful email message that will quickly show that you care about the customer. All this message needs to include is some technical information about the product the customer has purchased and perhaps a link to a manual he or she can download from your website. Optionally it can also contain some tips on how to get the most out of the product.

When to send: A day after purchase when their recollection of the purchase is still very strong.

  • Follow Up Email

Post sale follow up is one of the most powerful tools a business can use to build loyal client base. By getting in touch some time after the purchase to ask if the customer is happy with the product can show that you genuinely care about them and their needs / wants.

Such email is also ideal to ask for feedback, Facebook like or a testimonial.

When to send: Around 10 – 14 days after purchase.

  • Product Review Request

These days, having product reviews on the site is crucial. Positive reviews work best in convincing more people to buy the product. They also signal that the online store is frequented by others, something that can greatly increase a confidence in your ecommerce business.

Having said all that, getting customers to write product reviews is quite difficult. One of the ways to do so though is by emailing customers who purchased a product and asking for one.

It is also a good idea to offer some form of incentive in return for a review – a discount on the next order perhaps.

When to send: Approximately a month after a purchase to give your customer enough time to use the product.

  • Upsells / Offers / Discounts

Probably the most commonly sent type of email message. Sending an offer or a discount is likely to inspire some people to take action and revisit your store.

However, make sure that you do not send those emails too often as your customers might quickly learn that by waiting for a while they can get the product for less.

When to send: Occasionally, not too often. Ideally send these around big holidays or typical retail discount occasions (i.e. Black Friday or Cyber Monday)

  • Emails to Loyal Customers

Repeat customers are the lifeblood of your store and you should let them know how much you appreciate the business. Once again, email is a great way to do it, by applying a loyal customer discount to their account and letting them know about it over email for instance.

When to send: Occasionally as a reward for loyalty. Once or twice a year is enough.

  • Emails to Dormant Customers

Seemingly, you can use email to try to get dormant customers back to your store. Once again, an offer or even a quick reminder might work.

When to send: Commonly these emails are sent to customers who haven’t purchased for 1-2 years and you shouldn’t send it more than once per customer.

  • Cart Abandonment Emails

Email is a powerful tool for recovering abandoned shopping carts. Messages to send include simple reminder of items left in cart up to special discounts and promotions.

Also, most ecommerce platforms allow you to automate the shopping cart abandonment emails.

When to Send: Send first email approx. 20 minutes after the abandonment and if a sale is still not made, follow up with another two, one a day after the abandonment and another a day later.

  • Thank you Emails

A simple note to say thank you for your business can go a long way in building loyalty and trust. These emails don’t have to be long or fancy, a simple plain text email with one – two lines of text will also work wonders.

When to send: Ideally after a purchase. You can merge this email with the Product FAQ message as well.

Best Practices for Ecommerce Email Marketing

There are few things you should remember about when planning your ecommerce email marketing.

Be Personal

First of all, make your emails sound as if they were sent by a person, not a faceless company. Since you rarely get to meet your customers in person, the email is your only chance to build that rapport and relationship with them.

Keep Your Emails Simple

A common misconception is that in order to get the most out of your emails, they need to be fancy, complex and filled with graphics. Fortunately, this is far from the truth. In many cases, simple, plain text emails work better and deliver much better click through rates than fancy, graphics heavy ones.

Therefore, don’t get intimidated by the fact that you need one of those emails. Instead, keep it simple and focus on the message and providing value to your customers.

Monitor Results and Amend Accordingly

One of the key aspects of any campaign is monitoring results. At the end of the day, the reason you send those emails is to increase sales, build loyalty and relationship with your customers and raise the awareness of your business. And, you need to know whether your efforts are bringing any effect.

Once you decide which emails you will be sending, decide on KPIs you will be tracking to measure their progress. For a list of various ecommerce KPIs, check out my previous article on this site.

Segment Your Audience

It is important to remember that not every message is suitable for every customer or prospect. To make the most out of your email marketing efforts, you need to segment your customers and send targeted messages to various groups.

Over to You

Are you using email marketing to promote your online store? What are your experiences with it?

Pawel Grabowski

Pawel Grabowski is a copywriter and content marketer and the founder of, the content marketing agency helping SaaS companies grow the user base and generate quality leads with targeted content strategies.

Find out more about Pawel at and connect with him on Linkedin.


One thought on “How to Use Email to Boost Your Online Sales

  1. Pingback: 4 Key Elements of Email Newsletters that Convert | eCommerce Insiders

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