Email marketing should be your #1 channel for driving sales for your online store. Plus, it’s a channel YOU own directly. Not Facebook, not Google, you.
Which means that it’s the perfect place to build a relationship with your subscribers and (hopefully) turn them into loyal customers.
And if you get it right, email can drive more than 30% of your store’s revenue. But getting started isn’t always straightforward. So here’s your ultimate guide to ecommerce email marketing for your Shopify store.
In this guide, you'll learn:
- What is ecommerce email marketing?
- Why should ecommerce businesses utilize email marketing?
- How to create an email marketing strategy for ecommerce
- Best email marketing campaign strategies for ecommerce sites
- How to automate your email marketing on Shopify
What is ecommerce email marketing?
Ecommerce email marketing allows Shopify stores like yours to generate sales and build relationships with subscribers through email.
A powerful email marketing engine uses a combination of automated emails and one-off newsletter promotions to drive engagement and build trust with customers and prospects over time.
But to have a real impact, you need to be intentional and consistent. You don't want to be that brand that just sends emails about sales and promos. Or worse, send emails so infrequently that people forget what your business does and why they signed up for your list in the first place.
Email marketing is a long term investment for your business, but it's worth every penny.
Why should ecommerce businesses utilize email marketing?
Getting started with email marketing can be overwhelming and time consuming. Which is exactly why so many other small business owners don't take the time to nail it.
But if you're not leveraging email marketing for your Shopify store, you're leaving money on the table every single day.
Because email marketing has the power to drive sales and recover abandoned carts while you sleep. Not to mention the fact that your emails are actually a way to build a connection and get your customers and subscribers excited about you and your business.
Here are a few reasons every ecommerce business should be using email marketing:
Drive sales 24/7
Automated emails (like welcome, abandoned cart, winback, and purchase follow-up series) have the power to drive sales for your Shopify store 24/7. Seriously. Whether you're sleeping, packing orders, or planning your next big project, once you turn on your automated emails, they do all the heavy lifting.
New visitor joined your list? Your welcome series will fire automatically. Just landed a first-time buyer? They'll get your purchase follow-up emails. You get the idea...
So if you're not using automated emails, it's time to get started. Then, once your automated emails are up and running, you can send regular newsletter and promotional emails to generate predictable revenue for your business.
Recover abandoned carts
It's no secret that cart abandonment is happening on your Shopify store all the time.
Luckily, abandoned cart emails can help you bring visitors back to your store so you can recover more revenue automatically.
Remember that your site visitors are busy and distracted. Your abandoned cart emails will help you save more carts and get more sales.
Launch new products and share discounts
Launching a new product? Running a limited-time promo? Your emails are the perfect place to share that.
And guess what: telling your subscribers about new products and discounts will lead to sales for your store (just remember you can't send promo after promo to your list).
But if you nail your product and promo announcements, you'll start to see the impact immediately.
Keep your customers engaged
Sending regular emails to your list is an amazing way to keep them engaged and build relationships.
Not only can your emails drive first-time purchases, but they can encourage customers to come back again and again.
Because if you send emails regularly, your subscribers will expect (and hopefully look forward to!) your messages.
How to create an ecommerce email marketing strategy
Now that we know why email marketing is so important, let’s talk about how you create an email marketing strategy for your ecommerce business.
First things first: you need to have have an email list.
Then, you should focus on automated emails, newsletters, segmentation, and getting your subscribers to open your emails.
Here's how you can do each of those things to create your own email marketing strategy for your Shopify store.
And just remember: when in doubt, put yourself in your customers' shoes. Ask yourself if the email you're sending would be helpful if you were receiving it. The answer should always be yes.
Build (and grow) your email list
You can’t drive sales with email if you don’t have an email list. So whether you have 5 contacts or 5,000, email list growth should be a priority.
Because the more contacts you have, the more sales you can expect to get with your email marketing campaigns.
Start with a welcome offer on your store. Something just like this:
And remember that what you’re offering as the incentive for your visitors to join your list will have the biggest impact on the number of signups you’ll get.
For example, if you told your site visitors you’d pay them to give you their email address, you’d probably be getting a ton of signups.
So when you’re thinking about what to offer, keep these benchmarks in mind:
- A signup campaign: Asking people to join your list to stay in the know (like the campaign above) will convert 1% of your traffic, on average.
- A coupon campaign: Offering a discount or something like free shipping will bump your conversion rate up to 5%.
- Enter to win campaign: And something like a spin to win campaign or the chance to win a specific product or gift card will convert 10% of your traffic.
These types of campaigns will help you turn your website traffic into contacts to grow your email list.
Nail your subject lines
You can spend hours writing what you think is the perfect email for your subscribers, but if your subject line isn't strong enough to get them to open your email, all your work will be for nothing.
That's exactly why you need to master the art of writing amazing email subject lines.
So your subscribers will open your messages, stay engaged, and follow your CTAs. The best way to get inspiration for your subject lines is to look in your own inbox and see what gets you to open emails from other businesses, whether they're in your industry or not. And if you see they've used the same email more than once, it's probably because it's really effective. So pay special attention to those.
Lean on email automation
Email automation can save you time and money if you take the time to do it right. Because automated emails don't require you to sit down and come up with a brand new message every single time, they're an extremely powerful lever when it comes to creating an email marketing engine for your store.
A few examples of email automation include:
- A welcome series
- An abandoned cart series
- A purchase follow-up series
- A winback series
...and that's just the beginning. When it comes to automation for your email campaigns, the sky is the limit.
Just keep in mind that you don't have to set up a series of emails to have an impact. So if launching a 3-part welcome series feels daunting, start with 1! You can always add to your automated emails over time.
The more important thing is that you start somewhere. Keep reading for more about getting started with email automation.
Send regular emails to your list
The most important thing to remember when it comes to your email marketing strategy is that consistency is key. You can't expect to send an email every 6 months and wonder why email isn't an effective channel for you.
It requires time and effort. And ideally you send one newsletter to your list every single week. It will help you stay top of mind and ensure your list isn't wondering who you are or what you sell when they come across your emails.
But, if once a week is too daunting at first, target one newsletter every month and work your way up to weekly emails. On top of your automated emails, this will give you a solid foundation for your email marketing strategy.
Don't forget about segmentation
Segmentation allows you to send targeted messages to certain subscribers on your list. For example, you might want to send a promotion to people on your list who have never purchased from you before, which means you'd want to exclude any customers who have made a purchase. Or you want to send a special note to your most loyal customers.
That's exactly what segmentation is for. And generally, the more targeted you can be with your messaging, the better.
You want to be sending relevant emails to your subscribers, and segmentation is the key to making that happen.
So before you press send on any newsletter you send, ask yourself if the message makes sense for the group of recipients you're sending to. This will help you boost engagement and getter better results with every email you send.
Best email marketing campaign strategies for ecommerce sites
There are SO many different ways to approach your email marketing.
So before you get overwhelmed, let's talk about some of the best email marketing campaign strategies for ecommerce sites.
1. Sign up for other brands’ emails
Here's a little secret. The #1 thing you can do to get inspiration for your own emails is to subscribe to other brands’ lists and find things you love about what they’re doing.
You'll get ideas for subject lines, promotions, and so much more by paying attention to what's working in your own inbox. Which emails do you open? Are there businesses you actually look forward to hearing from?
And by the way, the brands you follow definitely don’t have to be in the same industry you’re in (honestly, sometimes it’s better if they’re not).
2. Set up your automated emails first
The first step to getting started with email marketing is to set up your automated emails.
This is going to help you save time and drive more sales by having series that are sent automatically, so you can get sales (and build relationships with your subscribers) no matter what.
- Start with your abandoned cart emails: These bring customers with items in their cart back to your site to complete their purchase. Set up a 3-part series and you could recover 3-4% of carts for every email in your series (something we've seen over and over again with our own customers).
- Launch your purchase follow-up emails: This is the series that goes out after your customer makes a purchase. These are often overlooked, but are SO powerful when it comes to to driving customer loyalty (and building excitement!).
- Tie it together with customer winback emails: Trigger automated messages to past buyers who haven’t engaged with your business after a certain amount of time. These reminders can help you get repeat purchases.
3. Plan your calendar of newsletter emails
Automated emails are incredible because all you have to do is turn them on and they’re working for you. But newsletter emails give you the power of immediate reach and results.
Pro tip: align your newsletter emails to product launches and holidays. These are the perfect excuse to send an email to your list. You should shoot to send at least 1 newsletter every month, but ideally get to a point where you’re emailing your list once a week.
It shouldn’t take much thinking to come up with a reason to email your list. So, look at your calendar and start to map out what offers you can plan for in your email marketing calendar.
(And pssst...you can get our ecommerce email marketing calendar here. It's the perfect place to start planning your emails for the entire year, no matter what products you're selling.)
Automate email marketing for your Shopify store
Automate your email marketing using Privy.
With our deep integrations with Shopify and Wix, we give merchants the power to grow their lists and drive sales with email through:
- Popups and onsite displays to convert your website traffic and grow your email list
- Automated email campaigns to drive sales 24/7
- Professional-looking newsletters emails to bring customers back again and again.
We’ve helped 600,000+ merchants generate over $5.5B in sales with Privy.
And you can get started for FREE (no credit card required). Sign up in minutes and start growing your list and sending emails today.
If you take one thing away from this, it should be don’t sleep on email marketing.
Because when you finally start to invest it in, you’ll be wishing you’d started building (and growing!) your list and sending regular emails sooner.
Email marketing is a long term investment, but it’s worth every penny.