How eCommerce Marketers Leverage Email [And How You Can Too]

Categories: Email Marketing

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How can you ensure people open and explore the emails you spent hours writing and designing?? That’s the question on the mind of every marketer on Earth every time they create a new email campaign.

Below we’ll cover five actionable tactics in email marketing for eCommerce (that anyone in any industry can steal).

eCommerce Companies mostly use a mix of several of these in every newsletter to amplify their effect. They offer tempting discounts or secret deals, give personalized picks or thematic selections, reuse the contents of abandoned carts, and more.

But before we start, here are a couple of thoughts about the step that follows opened newsletters: redirection to your website. A successful flow through the sales pipeline will largely depend on the usability and speed of your site. So, apply Magento performance optimization tips if you use this platform, or check out some advice regarding another CMS to be ready for good sales.

But before we start, here are a couple of thoughts about the step that follows opened newsletters: redirection to your website. A successful flow through the sales pipeline will largely depend on the usability and speed of your site. So, apply Magento performance optimization tips if you use this platform, or check out some advice regarding another CMS to be ready for good sales.

1. Discounts, Coupons & Secret Sales

When it comes to incentives for making a purchase, the world has yet to come up with an idea better than a nice discount.

But – you should apply this means in a wise dosage. Otherwise, your profitability may suffer: your subscribers won’t react to other attractive offerings like new drops or limited editions waiting for the next price-cutting.

There are a variety of popular ways to attract prospects via emails:

  • Announcements about the start and finish of seasonal/occasional sales;
  • Special offers: secret sales for email subscribers or members of a loyalty program.
  • Personal coupons and promo codes.

What if I’m not in eCommerce? If you’re a business of any type that earns revenue, you can use this tactic. Whether it be event tickets, consultations, an audit, a piece of art – anything! Sales and discounts are a tool everyone can utilize, particularly through email.

The following image is an example from a Lancôme email. This email could’ve been sent in an effort to encourage users to buy something for the first time or re-engage them if they haven’t purchased in a while.


From a Lancome email

2. Abandoned Cart Emails

This is a common practice in email marketing for eCommerce to track unfinished orders and automatically send email reminders.

A handful of factors might hinder leads from making a purchase, and some of them are easily surmountable:

  • A person was distracted by a message or call while checking out (particularly if they’re shopping on mobile);
  • A user was disappointed by shipping details, additional fees, or other conditions and changed their mind;
  • A prospect decided to postpone placing an order to think more or wait for a discount.

By sending an email detailing the items that were left behind, you’ll be doing your customer a favor, no matter the circumstance. Your prospect will have at hand an easy way to revisit the commodities that originally caused interest.

What if I’m not in eCommerce? If your business doesn’t have a “cart”, you can still use this tactic. Many CRMs can send an automated email depending on the status of your user. Get creative! What’s the next step that would lead your audience to a conversion? Maybe it’s after they click on a webinar invite link but don’t sign up or they request a demo but never choose a date to meet. 

Here’s an example email from Levi’s (in the screenshot below). Its subject line said, “We saw you checking these out”. Inside I found the links to goods that I was about to buy before more important things interrupted shopping.


From a Levi’s email

Several tricks could help here:

  • Set auto sending close to the date of visiting the online store. There will be a better chance that products are still relevant. A couple of hours later or the next day is best.
  • Highlight an added value to improve the odds of your customer completing the order. Offer a little extra discount, cover the taxes, highlight free shipping, etc.
  • Notify subscribers about their liked items again when they go on sale.

3. Personalized Recommendations

Reciprocity is so meaningful in eCommerce. If you care about me, I want to do something good for you in return.

In other words, if a brand provides me with flawless service and hits the target with product recommendations, I am pleased and impressed. I want to purchase something not only because these commodities fit my taste but also because of subconscious feelings like “Wow, they really get me”.

Personalization is your ally on the way to success, while AI is a powerful tool to reach the needed effect. These programs can collect and analyze all the data from your store connected with every customer’s behavior (orders, search history, wish list, etc.). Based on this knowledge, such services give more precise predictions for your newsletters.

What if I’m not in eCommerce? Personalization is more and more accessible every day. If you don’t have the option to send a list of items selected for the individual, try personalizing your email newsletter. Imagine sending one newsletter, but each individual on your email list got their own unique set of content. Read more about personalized email newsletters

The screenshot below is the example from FARFETCH with an intriguing subject line: “Up to 70% off your favorite styles”. Any recipient would be curious (and hopeful) about the content of this email.


From a FARFETCH email

4. A Sense of Urgency and Scarcity

The use of both of these options is quite widespread, and some businesses blend them by saying that both time and items are running out.

You can encourage people to go to your online store ASAP in two ways.

The first: Urgency.

  • Clearly outline the time when the sale will end. In the screenshot below the email from Kendra Scott has the subject line “Our deepest discounts end today…” you can see: “Ends today at 11:59 PM”.
  • Set a countdown. This psychological “trap” provokes some rush and urges people to go and check out the store straight away.

The second: Scarcity.

  • If your email includes specific items that are on sale, you can highlight the remaining number left for purchases. People don’t want to miss out on a good deal if there is a limited number of deals available.
  • If it’s too complicated to show the actual number of items available, just include the message in your copy. For example: “There’s a limited number of discount items available! Get them while they last!

What if I’m not in eCommerce? Urgency and scarcity are tactics email marketers in all industries use every day. If you’re hosting an event, you could offer discounted tickets until midnight or offer only a limited number of discount tickets. If you don’t host events but you put out great written content, send out teaser emails leading up to the publication to build excitement, and then give only a limited number of people the option to sign up to read it early, or only release the full version to them. The options are endless!


From a Kendra Scott email

5. Creative Selections

Email marketing for eCommerce can still be unique and original.

One more proven way to grab one’s attention is to craft special selections or guides timed to special occasions: a nationwide or local holiday, Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the start of the new season, and so on.

Your sector itself prompts various ideas as well. For instance, lately, Williams Sonoma has sent its customers promotions with “backyard essentials” (see the screenshot below). There was drinkware, tableware, tablecloths and placemats, cookware, grills and tools, sauces and condiments, dining tables, décor, and more. Everything you need to throw an ideal outdoor party.

They could even take it a step further by sharing recipes or tips on styling outdoor décor. There is so much room for originality and going the extra mile.

What if I’m not in eCommerce? Give, give, give. And give more than just what you’re selling. Think about what information pairs well with what you’re selling. If you make money through consultations, give away ebooks chock full of information. If you make money through memberships, make sure they are receiving many personalized benefits.  


From a Williams Sonoma email

More Tips on Email Marketing for eCommerce

Emails remain one of the core tools in digital marketing. The key to progress is getting to know your target audience and providing better content as you learn more and more about them.

Write and test convincing and catchy subject lines, be consistent, and try new things.

If you stick to a strategy and measure your data regularly, you’ll keep the brand on point and learn insights that inevitably result in better sales.

Kate Parish - ecommerce email marketing
Guest post by Kate Parish!

Kate Parish is the CMO at the web development company Onilab. She has more than eight years of experience in eCommerce Digital Marketing. Kate’s strengths are SEO, branding, SMM, Magento PWA development, and online retail in general.

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