Want to win at ecommerce email marketing? Cultivate a brand-buyer relationship

ecommerce email marketing

If you’re an ecommerce marketer, you send tons of emails regularly.

Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, BOGO, order confirmations, thank you mails, cart reminders—the list is endless. And if you aren’t promoting the right product to the right people at the right time, all those mails are useless.

Generating revenue (and not simply opens and clicks) via email marketing requires a strong strategy. It’s not about batching and blasting or promoting as many products as you can cram into one email. 

We’ve created this article to finally help you go beyond the generic “buy now” copy and focus instead on developing a real brand-buyer relationship through email marketing.

Let’s get you effective guidance on how to drive revenue, influence brand loyalty, and increase customer retention.

Ecommerce email marketing is all about relationship-building

Ecommerce buyers are fickle. Just 6% feel loyal to any particular brand, as a result of the abundance of opportunity and ease of online shopping.

Screenshot of a graph showing which sectors have the most brand loyalty

The most successful ecommerce businesses develop loyalty by finding the optimal split between sales-focused messaging and emails built to nurture customer relationships.

For most ecoms, though, the majority of their ecommerce email marketing efforts are promotional. You’ll send personalized product recommendations, run win-back campaigns, and automate abandoned cart emails to drive sales.

If this is the extent of your ecommerce email marketing campaigns, you’ll struggle to improve customer retention and risk having your customers poached by a competitor.

But, what exactly is ecommerce email marketing?

Ecommerce email marketing is the process of developing and distributing emails to nurture customer relationships and promote new sales for an online store.

Email marketing is used to attract and convert new buyers, encourage repeat purchases from existing customers, recover abandoned shopping carts, or deliver personalized emails (such as birthday or anniversary celebration emails) to strengthen the brand-buyer relationship.

You’ve seen it everywhere: Sephora sends restock alerts and customized emails when customers are expected to run low on a previously purchased product.

Dollar Shave Club supplements its subscription box product with upsell and cross-sell recommendations and nurtures the customer relationship with personalized birthday and anniversary emails.

The best brands blend the promotional with the relational, making customers feel valued.

Promotional vs. transactional emails: which one to send?

There are two primary types of emails that you should be concerned with in ecommerce: promotional (direct marketing) and transactional. Does one work better than the other? Not necessarily. Both have benefits and drawbacks.

As usual, the best way to discover which is best is to test them with your audience. Regardless, you’ll still want to use both. What really matters is continuously improving the performance of promotional and transactional emails.

1. Promotional emails

Promotional emails are the standard self-serving, overtly promotional emails: 10% off discounts, $25 in free credits, limited-time-only product offerings, free shipping for purchases over $100, etc.

Good example: J.Crew

Screenshot of jcrewfactory home page

This was sent during the summer months, which explains the hot dog. The email clearly states the promotion (50% off) and makes it easy to navigate products (“WOMEN”, “MEN”, “SHOP SHORTS”).

These product category prompts help deliver a more customized shopping experience (e.g. a 34-year-old man shopping for himself won’t click through to find dresses).

Bad example: Saxx

Screenshot of Saxx Underwear Homepage

Can you spot a key difference? Note the calls to action. They’re all a muted grey and equal on the visual hierarchy. There’s nothing more appealing about “SHOP” than, say, “STORY.”

Plus, the call to action isn’t specific, which is not conducive to a personalized shopping experience. Will you be shopping for boxers? Briefs? Trunks?

2. Transactional emails

Transactional emails are based on visitor/customer behavior. They’re “if this, then that” emails. For example, if a visitor adds something to a cart but doesn’t buy, send them an email. Or, if a customer hasn’t made a purchase in a month or so, send them an email.

After analyzing 100 million emails, Vero found that transactional emails perform extremely well in terms of open rate and click rate. Take a look at how transactional emails stack up against a traditional newsletter-style email:

Average click rates by campaign type

Experian took an even closer look, focusing on revenue. They found that, compared to standard bulk mailings, the average revenue per transactional email is 2–5x greater in all industries. In some cases, it’s 6x times greater than the industry-wide average of $0.13.

Here’s the data, sorted by the type of transactional email:

transactional emails transaction rates

Whenever a transaction takes place, an email is triggered. These high-value ecommerce emails are often overlooked as an opportunity to increase revenue.

Good example: Dollar Shave Club

Here’s an email from Dollar Shave Club to someone whose monthly package is about to be shipped:

Dollar Shave Club Email

Instead of sending a plain, traditional reminder that the monthly box is about to ship, Dollar Shave Club uses this transactional email to tastefully squeeze more money from customers. With the click of a button, more items are added to your box—and more (recurring) revenue is generated.

Bad example: Airbnb

Now, here’s a transactional email from Airbnb:

Transactional email from Airbnb

Plain and traditional. Is any vital information missing? No, all of the important information is there. However, the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell has been lost completely.

The final verdict on ecommerce email types

According to Vero, the “sweet spot” for ecommerce email types balances both promotional and transactional emails:

Email marketing sweet spot

What really matters is that your emails are tailored to the people receiving them:

  • Don’t send a 34-year-old man an email about your dress sale unless you know he purchases them regularly for a sister or wife.
  • Don’t send someone who frequently opts for more affordable options an email about your luxury products.

That brings us to the next topic.

Ecom email marketing’s ROI comes from retention and customer loyalty 

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective forms of digital marketing around. One driver of this is cost. 

Compared to channels like SEO, PPC, and social media advertising, you only need a good email marketing platform to get started.

Email marketing’s impact on ecommerce customer retention is another reason behind its cost-effectiveness.

Channels like Google Ads and paid social attract potential customers. They drive new revenue while the ads are active, but revenue growth halts once the ad spend dries up.

Effective ecommerce email marketing focuses on retaining existing customers and serves a growing desire for personalized communication.

As McKinsey authors put it:

Consumers don’t just want personalization, they demand it. With store and product loyalty more elusive, getting it right matters. Roughly 75 percent of consumers tried a new shopping behavior in the last 18 months, and more than 80 percent of those intend to continue with new behaviors.

Illustrated below are two fictitious companies, one with a 5% retention rate and the other with 10%:

Screenshot of customer retention graph

After five years of compounding growth, 2x higher retention equals more than 15x higher revenue.

How to improve the open rate of your ecommerce emails

You can have a high click rate but generate very little revenue. However, we can all agree that improving your open rate consistently is a valid goal. If you want to generate revenue, you have to deliver emails successfully and make them appealing enough to open.

A common misconception is that there’s a “best” day of the week to send emails. Vero busted that myth after analyzing 100 million emails:

Screenshot of graph about best day to send email

Similarly, there is no universally best time of day or best time of year or best subject line. It all comes down to your audience and your data. Experiment with different dates, times, subject lines, etc., to find out what works for you.

Why context is vital to email opens

The closest you can come to a universal rule is that your email must have context. Without it, internal spam filters go off, and your email gets ignored.

To show context, simply answer this question as quickly as possible: Why am I receiving this email? As Jimmy Daly, formerly of Vero, explains:

Image of Jimmy Daly

Jimmy Daly, Vero:

“Context is king when it comes to email marketing. Your customers should intuitively understand why they are getting your emails. Yes, they subscribed, but what behavior triggered the message? Did it arrive at that right time in their buying process? And what, exactly, should they do next?” (via Vero)

Take a look at this example from Mark Macdonald at Shopify, who received an email from Whipping Post:

Screenshot of email from Whipping Post

Context is quickly and clearly established. If your audience isn’t expecting to hear from you, open rates will suffer. That’s why transactional emails have such a high open rate—they’re expected, and the context is crystal clear.

The next-best solution is to explain yourself as quickly as possible. The longer it’s been since the last point of interaction (e.g., a sale, an email), the more important context becomes. Tell them why you’re emailing and remind them why they engaged with you in the first place.

Two of the best ways to provide context are to use segments and perfect your preview pane.

1. Segments

In Experian’s case study on Howard’s Storage World, they helped the company sort their loyalty program members into five segments based on activity. Then, the segments were sent a personalized promotion designed to re-engage them and encourage sales.

For example, “super members” were sent a $20 voucher. The result? Some 34% of the vouchers were redeemed, resulting in a $105,000 increase in revenue. Average spend was 16% higher than non-members.

Members who hadn’t shopped for over a year received a similar email. The result? Over 1,500 vouchers were redeemed, resulting in a $108,000 increase in revenue. The average spend was 37% higher than non-members.

Segmenting your audience helps you clarify context and communicate it more effectively. Instead of receiving a promotional email because “it’s spring,” they’re receiving a promotional email because they’re a valued customer or they haven’t made a purchase in 12 months.

2. Preview pane

Don’t wait until the email has been opened to provide context and explain why someone’s receiving your email. According to Convince and Convert, 84% of people 18–34 use an email preview pane. It’s your responsibility to provide context before the email is opened.

There are three ways to do it:

  • From Name. Who are you? How do I know you? For example, “Shanelle Mullin”, “CXL,” or “Shanelle from CXL.”
  • Subject Line. Be clear about the “what,” but leave a hint of mystery to intrigue your recipients.
  • Preview Copy. Provide context here. Why are they receiving this email?

The 4 Types of ecommerce emails

Next, you have to decide what types of emails you’ll send. Hexton explains it best:

Chris Hexton Image

Chris Hexton, Vero:

“Don’t get in over your head. Start simple. Start by looking at your funnel (from the place where someone first hears about you to the place where they become a customer). Look at the place where you’ve got the biggest drop-off.

Start simple by focusing on where you can get the most gains. Map out your 5–6 key journey points and then focus on the places where you’ve got the lowest conversion rate from one point to the next.”(via Marketing Optimization Podcast)

Email can go a long way wherever you have large drop-offs. Of course, every funnel and business model is different, so it’s impossible to name a specific email (or two or three) that everyone should focus on. However, there are a few that are typically high-value starting points.

Measure as close to the money as possible. Don’t focus on where you have the lowest open rates or click rates. Focus on where people are falling out of your funnel—where you’re leaking money.

1. Abandoned cart emails

If a visitor adds an item or two to their cart and leaves, you have a major opportunity. The intent is strong, right? That’s like going grocery shopping, collecting a week’s worth of food, and then leaving your cart on the floor and walking out.

Instead of hoping that visitors come back and complete their purchase later, take action. You can send them an email to remind them the items are there. Ask if they have any questions or need help comparing their options. Or even suggest similar items they might be interested in.

Example: BustedTees

When you add something to your cart at BustedTees and then return to the site, you’ll see a pop-up like this:

BustedTees pop-up ad

Notice the attention management here. “VIEW CART” and “CHECKOUT NOW” command so much attention that the concept of continuing to shop (“NO THANKS, I WANT TO KEEP SHOPPING”) is almost completely lost.

You’ll also receive an email like this approximately 30 minutes after abandoning your cart:

Screenshot of the BustedTees email you received after abandoning your cart on their site

The primary ask is that you visit your cart and checkout. Since people who abandon their cart are likely on the fence, BustedTees highlights their return policy to put minds at ease. They also highlight deals for anyone who may have left to compare prices.

Three to four hours after the first email, you’ll receive a second one:

Screenshot of the BustedTees email three to four hours after the first email

An offer of 20% off to complete a purchase you already started? I don’t have data from BustedTees, but I’m willing to bet this email sequence is quite effective.

2. Discount and sale emails

This is your traditional promotional email. How do you get more people to buy? You offer them a discount or put a popular product on sale. Seems simple, right?

It’s Valentine’s Day? Send an email offering a discount on jewelry, flowers, and chocolate. It’s Black Friday? Send an email announcing sales on your top products.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. Instead of sending batch emails, use segments. Does someone’s buying behavior indicate they’re single? Maybe skip that Valentine’s Day email.

Using segments, you can find out which holidays and celebrations are important to your audience. If someone hasn’t redeemed a Halloween coupon code in two years, stop sending them Halloween coupon codes.

Also, test whether your audience responds to 10% off–style discounts or $25 off–style coupons or “free shipping” offers. You can then segment your recipients. Don’t bother sending people who prefer $25-off coupons a 10%-off discount.

These minor adjustments can go a long way in terms of revenue.

Example: StickerYou

Screenshot of StickerYou Sale Email

You immediately know you’re receiving the email because the new year is approaching. The call to action is simple, straightforward, and high contrast. The offer is uncomplicated and tempting.

However, let’s say that free shipping is a $10 value. There are people who would respond better to a $10 coupon or a 5%-off discount. The value might be the same, but the way the value is presented can have a big impact.

Also, StickerYou could have used a more descriptive image to reinforce the seasonal theme. The bottle of wine is perfect, but the other items shown have nothing to do with the new year, which threatens the context.

3. Confirmation emails

Confirmation emails are a type of transactional email. Once an order has been placed, order confirmation emails and shipping confirmation emails are sent. Often, engineers and developers have control of these emails. They’re usually plain text and functional (like the Airbnb example above).

However, a Litmus points out, order confirmation emails can actually be quite lucrative:

Order Confirmation Email

There are three core confirmation emails you can optimize:

  • The initial receipt email.
  • The “your order has shipped” email.
  • The “thank you for choosing us” email.

While these emails must be primarily transactional (both for CAN-SPAM and integrity/branding reasons), they can be used to promote products.

Example: Etsy

Adii Pienaar, founder of Receiptful, which partnered with Litmus to analyze over 100,000 receipt emails, shared this example:

Etsy Confirmation Email

Etsy tastefully suggests other items from the shop where you purchased. Since you just purchased a product crafted by Janie, it makes sense that you might be interested in her other products.

The email still feels functional and transactional. Though it has the ability to generate revenue, it doesn’t feel like a promotional email masquerading as a transactional email. It’s important to find that balance before sending.

4. Recommendation and reminder emails

After the initial purchase, it’s your responsibility to keep customers coming back for more. One way to do that is to act as their personal shopper or concierge by offering recommendations and reminders.

There are four types of recommendations and reminders you can experiment with to re-engage previous customers:

  • Replenishment emails. Is a product or subscription about to expire? Remind them that it’s time to stock up.
  • Email recommendations based on browsing and purchase history. Have they been viewing a lot of t-shirts lately? Recommend some of the top t-shirts or t-shirts that similar customers have purchased.
  • Gift suggestion emails. What gifts would go over well on Mother’s Day? Christmas? What about an upcoming birthday? (There’s always an upcoming birthday.) Gift giving is hard, so take the work out of it.
  • Review request emails. What did they think of the last product they purchased? Remind them how much they loved it by asking them to review it and suggesting similar/complementary products.

Colin Nederkoorn from Customer.io shared an example of a gift suggestion email:

Image of Colin Nederkoorn

Colin Nederkoorn, Customer.io:

“One of our customers’ products is ideal for gifts, so people either buy it for themselves or they buy it as a gift, and they used Customer.io to target the people who had purchased it as a gift, and they offered them,”Why don’t you buy this for yourself now?”

They also did the inverse of that. For people who had bought it for themselves, they said, “Why don’t you go and buy this as a gift?” They got a great conversion from that.

It was around the holidays last year, and a bunch of people ended up buying who hadn’t visited the site in three months, four months, but they ended up buying that product as a gift for someone or for themselves.” (via McMethod)

Example: Warby Parker

Screenshot of Warby Parker Email

It’s not Warby Parker’s job to keep track of when their customers need new prescriptions. However, going the extra mile and reminding their customers of their upcoming need, they position themselves extremely well.

Joe might have purchased from Warby Parker 6–12 months ago. It’s easy to forget a retailer in that amount of time, right? Well, now Warby Parker has gained top-of-mind status and re-engaged Joe without much effort.

Of course, Warby Parker could have offered suggestions based on Joe’s last purchase. And since they know Joe purchased men’s frames last time, they could have removed the “SHOP WOMEN” button.

Want to win on ecommerce email marketing? Follow these best practices

Use these 12 best practices to build your ecommerce email marketing strategy. Take a test-assess-repeat approach to determine the optimal mix between tactics.

1. Use a welcome email series to build brand equity

Welcome emails are your first opportunity to build the brand-buyer relationship.

Deliver value, solve core challenges, and build trust and rapport. Then, send your personalized offer.

Take the welcome email series from ecommerce store Basic Piece, which focuses on building brand awareness and loyalty before driving sales:

Screenshot of Basic Piece welcome email

The sequence launches with a quick “thank you” before sharing a little about its founder and its mission to build buy-in.

Email two transitions from brand to product but still refrains from any promotional messaging.

The offer comes in email three. Basic Piece uses social proof (testimonials and a customer success video) to help build trust, then puts forth an irresistible offer: 25% off your first purchase.

Follow a similar sequence in your own welcome email campaign:

  1. First email. Thank you and brand messaging;
  2. Second email. Brand and product messaging;
  3. Third email. Product and customer messaging + irresistible offer.

2. Segment customer nurture emails to strengthen relationships 

Lead nurture emails should be segmented and highly personalized. Build lead nurture campaigns targeting your customer segments to lift conversion rates and create a more immersive customer experience.

First, capture the data necessary to segment audiences effectively.

Low-cost American airline JetBlue uses a creative email marketing style to reinforce its brand while requesting additional customer data. 

Screenshot of JetBlue welcome email

Once you’ve added depth to your customer data, segment audiences and distribute relevant content.

Sephora sends educational content based on customer preferences. This email shares a tutorial on a “no-makeup makeup” look with buyers who’ve signaled that they’re interested in more natural styles.

Screenshot of Sephora Educational email

Combine these approaches to ensure email content is suitable to each segment. Find a creative way to ask for additional customer information, then use that data to split customer types to make email sends more relevant.

3. Personalize promotional emails based on purchase history

Make promotional emails as personalized as possible to increase engagement.

Recommend products based on:

  • Previous purchases;
  • Browsing history;
  • Abandoned carts;
  • Customer profile data.

Sephora delivers personalized communications by pre-empting a customer’s purchase decision. In this ecommerce marketing email, they recommend a previously purchased item, knowing that the customer is likely to be close to running out.

Screenshot of Sephora Ecommerce Email recommending a previously purchased item

This tactic mitigates the risk that customers will shop around, and it makes customers feel valued, appreciated, and seen.

Promotional emails need not be entirely customized, however. Northern Trail uses dynamic content blocks to send a single promotional email but still target gender-specific audience segments.

Screenshot of Northern Trail Promotional Email

Use customer purchase and browsing histories to trigger personalized promotional emails with dynamic content blocks. Target multiple segments with a single send.

4. Recapture abandoned carts with price drop notifications 

Price is the classic sales objection. Your customers want to buy the item they added to their shopping cart, but they’re not willing to pay full price.

Recover these abandoned carts by sending follow-up “price drop” notifications when items go on sale, like Target.

Screenshot of Target Price Drop Notifications Email

The customer has previously viewed two items but didn’t purchase. Now that these items are on sale, Target sends a personalized price alert.

They go a step further and include a few personalized product recommendations based on that shopper’s browsing history.

Screenshot of Target Personalized Product Recommendations Email

Integrate your ecommerce platform (e.g., Shopify or Salesforce) with your email marketing automation tool (e.g., Mailchimp), to send automated price alerts when previously viewed items come on sale.

5. Drive revenue using cross-sell recommendations 

Drive key metrics like average purchase order and customer lifetime value with contextual cross-sell recommendations.

Cross-selling is recommending additional products that would complement what the customer is already buying.

In a transactional, single-purchase sales environment (such as the majority of ecommerce sites), the point of purchase is the optimal time for a cross-sell conversion.

Amazon is the king of cross-selling, leveraging sales data to create a “Buy it with” list, linking to related product pages. 

Screenshot of Amazon Cross Selling

Ecommerce subscription retailers can use renewal timing to automate cross-sell recommendation emails.

Dollar Shave Club, for example, generates revenue from both models.

Dollar Shave Club runs a cross-sell attempt at checkout for transactional sales:

Screenshot of Dollar Shave Club Cross-Sell at Checkout

They also incorporate cross-selling as one of their email marketing techniques, sending out contextual product recommendations a few days before a new subscription box shipment. 

Screenshot of Dollar Shave Club Cross-Selling Email

This also allows customers to take advantage of combined shipping, something you can capitalize on in your email copy.

Ensure your cross-sell timing is relevant. If a customer bought and received a pair of shoes in the winter, recommending a suede protector spray in the spring is too late.

6. Leverage FOMO in restocked product alerts 

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator you can leverage using restocked product marketing emails. Trigger emails based on a customer’s previous purchases or browsing history.

Sephora uses restocked product alert emails to capitalize on this kind of urgency:

Screenshot of Sephora restocked product alert emails

This email notifies customers when a specific product they’ve been viewing (or have purchased) comes back into stock.

They go a step further by labeling the product as “Limited Edition” to drive urgency. This encourages customers to think, “This item sold out last time, and it’s Limited Edition now. I’d better buy it before it sells out again.”

Sephora then recommends a series of similar limited edition and exclusive products to leverage this FOMO further.

Screenshot of Sephora limited edition and exclusive products alert emails

Automate restocked product alert emails. Use your email copy to increase urgency and drive impulse sales.

7. Celebrate relationships with customer lifecycle emails 

Lifecycle events, such as birthdays and purchase anniversaries, are great candidates for emails that encourage repeat sales and strengthen the brand-buyer relationship.

When customers receive this kind of email, they feel like valued members of your community rather than numbers on a spreadsheet. 

Dollar Shave Club uses anniversary emails to make email subscribers feel seen and to subtly influence a repeat sale.

Screenshot of Dollar Shave Club anniversary emails

What’s powerful about Dollar Shave Club’s anniversary offer is the surprise element. An email that simply says, “Get 20% off your next order,” doesn’t build intrigue.

By getting the customer to click through to see their gift, Dollar Shave Club increases engagement and site views. Getting email readers onto a landing page gives you more real estate to convince and convert.

When designing lifecycle celebration emails, take Dollar Shave Club’s approach and leverage intrigue and mystery to increase engagement.

8. Offer compelling incentives in win-back campaigns 

Reactivate stagnant accounts on your email list by running personalized win-back email campaigns.

Set an activity timeframe within your email marketing platform (e.g., six months), after which inactive customers will receive a win-back offer.

Make sure your offer is irresistible enough to compel customers to buy now. The right incentive, such as a discount code or new product, can influence immediate conversion and future re-engagement.

Instagram is a free platform for users, so it has no need for discounts. Instead, it uses educational content to win back stagnant customer accounts. 

Instagram Educational Content Email to win back stagnant customer accounts

Instagram reminds users of the value the platform offers and offers ways to reconnect. It also personalizes the message with a notification reminder, encouraging the user to open the app.

Instagram notification reminder that encourages the user to open the app

Run A/B tests to determine the optimal timeframe for running win-back campaigns. Does an email after three months of inactivity convert any better than after six months? 

Then, do the same for your offer (e.g., compare the results of a 20% discount coupon with a 30% discount). 

9. Make abandoned cart emails meaningful

In a meta-analysis of 48 studies, Baymard Institute found that the average cart abandonment rate was almost 70%.

You can take steps to reduce this rate at the point of sale. The same meta-analysis points to extra costs and forced account creation as the two biggest reasons for cart abandonment. 

Two solutions are: 

  1. Offering free shipping; and 
  2. Allowing buyers to check out as guests.

Some cart abandonment is unavoidable. It’s a natural aspect of the ecommerce buying cycle. Cart abandonment emails are your second line of defense.

Tom Krawiec, Head of Growth at ecommerce marketing platform Rejoiner, ran a series of hold-out tests to illustrate the impact of such emails on revenue growth.

We run a hold-out test to measure the value of a:

  • Group of cart abandoners who receive a cart abandonment campaign;
  • Group of cart abandoners who do not receive a cart abandonment campaign.

Ultimately, we want to compare these two groups of customers using a common metric—revenue per customer.

After 90 days, we compare the value of a single customer in the hold-out group (who receives no emails) vs. the value of a single customer in the marketed-to group. 

In one analysis, customers who received the email campaign drove 19x more revenue than those who didn’t.

Screenshot of cart abandonment hold-out test

Not all cart abandonment recovery emails are created equal. For a truly impactful email, you’ll want to include an offer that’s hard to refuse.

Huckberry’s abandoned cart emails include a free shipping offer, designed to counter the number one reason customers don’t go through with a purchase.

Screenshot of Huckberry’s abandoned cart emails

It’s easy to automate abandoned cart recovery in your email marketing software, but including an enticing offer can make a big difference. Use abandoned cart email campaigns to increase revenue per customer, but be sure to give shoppers a reason to hit buy this time. 

10. Keep customers updated with transactional emails 

Many different types of emails come under the transactional email umbrella, including:

  • Order confirmation emails;
  • Shipping updates;
  • Credit card expiry reminders;
  • Account registration requests;
  • Password reset emails.

All transactional emails should be timely, informative, and interactive.

Take this shipping notification email from MeUndies.

Screenshot of MeUndies Shipping Notification Email
Screenshot of MeUndies Shipping Notification Email that provides links for the customer to track their order 
Screenshot of MeUndies Shipping Notification Email with referral program
Screenshot of MeUndies Shipping Notification Email Footer where they can adjust subscription preferences or contact MeUndies directly

This example meets all three requirements:

  1. Timely. The shipping update email is sent as soon as the product leaves their warehouse.
  2. Informative. MeUndies confirms the shipping address and gives the customer an expected timeframe for delivery.
  3. Interactive. The email provides links for the customer to track their order, and in the footer, they can adjust subscription preferences or contact MeUndies directly.

Transactional emails can fulfill these needs and still include a promotional opportunity.

MeUndies includes a shipping notification email with a referral program offer: 20% off for a friend and $20 off for referring them.

​​Use automated transactional emails to keep buyers updated, and to subtly influence additional purchases.

11. Craft sincere post-purchase thank-you email copy

Post-purchase thank you emails can help nurture the customer relationship, and because they’re automated, they don’t put a lot of strain on internal resources.

But that doesn’t mean you should just leave it at “Thanks”:

Screenshot of AllBirds Post-purchase thank you email

Stand out from a crowd of bland, automated thank-you emails and include “why”.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s thank-you message comes across as more meaningful while subtly reinforcing their value:

Screenshot of Abercrombie & Fitch Thank You Email

Thank-you emails can also be an opportunity to influence a second purchase by providing a personalized discount code.

This email from MacPaw finds the balance between a genuine thank-you note and a new sales opportunity. 

Screenshot of MacPaw Thank You Email

Craft sincere thank-you emails and tell customers why you value their purchase. Influence a second purchase with incentives, which is especially important for first-time customers.

12. Use review requests to influence future purchases

Around 78% of shoppers rely on customer product reviews when assessing an online purchase. To gather this gold dust, you’ll probably need to ask for it.

Request customer reviews via email post-purchase, and make sure that:

  1. The process is easy;
  2. There’s something in it for them.

This review request from CarGurus makes it simple for customers to leave a quick review and carry on with their day.

Screenshot of CarGurus review requests email

Simple requests like this are more likely to obtain buy-in, and customers can always leave an optional long-form review as well.

This email from LSKD demonstrates the second principle: providing incentives that make it worth the customer’s time.

LSKD review requests email with incentives

A standard review gets buyers 10% off their next order, but photo and video reviews (which ask more of the customers but are better for converting new buyers) get bigger rewards.

Ask for product reviews between a few days and a week after the customer has received their product (while it’s still top of mind). Make the process simple and worthwhile from the buyer’s perspective to enhance engagement.


If you aren’t getting the ROI you’d expect from ecom email marketing, it’s likely because you need to move away from batch-and-blast ecommerce emails that end up in spam folders.

Instead, follow your data and use strategic emails to plug the holes money is leaking from.

Use the ecommerce email marketing techniques we’ve discussed here to drive revenue, influence brand loyalty, and increase customer retention. Remember that your priority, above all, should be to enhance your brand-buyer relationship.

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Want to win at ecommerce email marketing? Cultivate a brand-buyer relationship