8 E-Commerce Email Marketing Best Practices To Boost Your ROI in 2021
By Emil Kristensen CMO
@ Sleeknote

There’s a lot to think about when running an e-commerce business.

Your marketing strategy is one of the biggest aspects. You can have an entire marketing strategy planned to the point to gain new customers. But what is that worth if you aren’t also working on customer retention?

Keeping up with your e-commerce email marketing best practices is the key to maintaining customer relationships that will generate ROI in the long run.

In this article, we’ll go over the most important e-commerce email marketing best practices for 2021.


Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

We’ve put together 11 email marketing resources to help you make more from your campaigns.

Whether you’re looking for good email examples or evergreen email subject lines, we’ve got something for you.

You’ll also get immediate access to 24+ other bonus resources, categorized in Notion for your convenience.

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Table of Contents

1. Send a Welcome Email

2. Use A/B Testing to Increase Email Open Rates

3. Personalize Emails for Your Audience

4. Create Well-Designed, Mobile-Friendly Emails

5. Offer an E-Commerce Loyalty Program

6. Send Promotional Emails to Subscribers

7. Use Automation for E-Commerce Email Marketing

8. Keep Your Email List Growing

Send a Welcome Email 

The first e-commerce email marketing best practice is to send a welcome email. When a visitor subscribes to your email list, they expect to hear from you. A welcome email is a great way to properly introduce your brand and tell the subscriber what they’ve signed up for.

What’s more, welcome emails have an average click-through rate of 86.03 percent. That’s five times more clicks than any other email.

I suggest sending a series of three welcome emails (once per day) before the subscriber lands in your regular email list. That way, you can show off your brand, set expectations, and even segment subscribers. 

Remember that a subscriber is most engaged right after opting in, so this is a great time to invite them to look at your products or services. 

If the subscriber buys something during these three days, you can opt them out of your email list because you will now want to include them in a different segment.

Here’s an example of a well-crafted welcome email:

Sierra Designs Email Example

Offering a small discount to new subscribers is an excellent strategy to get your welcome emails to convert.

To ensure your emails reach new subscribers within seconds, you can set up automation for your welcome series in your email service provider. 

Use A/B Testing to Increase Email Open Rates 

A/B testing allows email marketers to leave the guesswork behind and find the campaign with the best-performing elements. 

You can test every element of your email campaign. The most commonly tested elements are call to action, content, subject line, personalization, time of the day, and day of the week.

Whatever your hypothesis, you can test it in your emails. For example, if you believe a call to action that reads “Become a valued member” will work better than “Subscribe,” that’s what you’ll put to the test.

Once you know what you’d like to test, you can assign a percentage of your email list to each group. For example:

  • 10 percent: Control group
  • 10 percent: Group A
  • 10 percent: Group B 
  • 70 percent: Remaining audience

You can send a regular email to 10 percent of your audience while testing your first element on Group A and your second element on Group B.

When you find out the most successful element, you can send that version to the remaining audience.

Personalize Emails for Your Audience 

To get the best ROI and to keep your subscribers engaged, your emails must be interesting for your audience.

Most e-commerce stores have a variety of customers—each with their special interests. Oftentimes, it’s hard to stay relevant for everyone’s needs with one email.

That’s where e-commerce personalization comes into play. According to HubSpot, a personalized call to action performs 202 percent better than a generic one.

To leverage personalization in your emails, you can start by segmenting your list into standard demographics, such as age, income, and education. 

This is just scratching the surface, though. 

Knowing your subscriber’s psychographics helps you get data-driven insights to create incredibly personalized emails.

Psychographics include everything from personality and values to interests and lifestyle. A great stepping stone to finding your subscriber’s psychographics is by asking questions. 

In this email example, WestJet asks subscribers if they’re looking for flights or vacations. 

WestJet Email Example

With this information, they can send targeted emails that may be exactly what the subscriber is looking for.

Another technique is knowing the subscriber’s time zone. Then, you can use this information to send emails on certain days and times and get better results.

One study suggests that Tuesday is the best day to get higher open rates. You can also try sending emails in the afternoons for better open rates and aim for mornings to achieve higher click-through rates.

Create Well-Designed, Mobile-Friendly Emails

Every email you send should be responsive and designed to keep the user reading, especially on mobile. 

Why? Because Almost half (46 percent) of all email opens happen on mobile.

It’s crucial to optimize your emails for mobile phone screens and watch out for letters that are too small to read, images that don’t appear, any cut-off text, and so on.

Here are my favorite tips for designing mobile-friendly emails: 

  • Use images to make your emails appealing but at the same time make sure the text still makes sense without pictures. (Not all mobile devices display images by default.)
  • Keep your subject line between 20 and 30 characters.
  • Use pre-header text to tease what your email is about. 
  • Keep your copy short and to the point. Bullet lists and short paragraphs are great for consuming content quickly and effectively.
  • Write a straightforward and easy-to-understand CTA.
  • Leave enough margins for the reader to click the right button.
  • Test your email across different devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Here is an example of a mobile-friendly email:

Skullcandy Email Example

This email is easy-to-read, attractive, and the CTA is optimal and visible.

Offer an E-Commerce Loyalty Program

Loyal customers are your most important customers. They help your business grow and they’re some of your best marketers. 

Creating a loyalty program is an excellent way to show your appreciation and keep these customers coming back.

There are five types of loyalty programs, commonly used by e-commerce businesses.

Point-Based Loyalty Programs

Often used by supermarkets and large department stores, one of the most typical loyalty programs is the “earn and burn” point-based system.

Customers earn points by buying products, sharing product pages on social media, completing their profile, subscribing to a newsletter, and so on. When the shopper reaches a certain point, they can spend that amount in the store or use it as a discount.

Tiered Loyalty Programs

Tiered programs allow shoppers to move up in the program as they spend money or points. When the subscriber reaches the highest tier, they can claim the most exclusive offers.

Some tier programs even include a time limit. Meaning, if a member doesn’t make a purchase in two months, they go back to tier one. This encourages shoppers to make frequent purchases to climb the ladder. 

Perk Programs 

Perk programs simply give every member offers and discounts. It can help increase brand awareness and build a transparent relationship with your customers.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs include a mixture of the programs above—a combination of earn-and-burn, tiers, and perks, and they’re often used in e-commerce.

Subscription-Based Loyalty Programs 

Most shoppers enjoy loyalty programs because they are free and, even better, they help them get free stuff.

If you have an established brand, like Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can more likely pull off a subscription-based program. Your members will be more engaged with your brand and more willing to use their subscription since they’re paying for it.

Send Promotional Emails to Subscribers

It’s no secret that if you’re running a sale, you should let your subscribers be the first to know.

Promotional emails are important in maintaining a good relationship with your subscribers and letting them know about your offers.

You can inform your subscribers even before the sale starts to create hype or send your promotional email the moment the sale launches. 

Countdown timers are effective in reminding subscribers how much time is left before your sales are over. It’s especially handy for mobile users that open the email but don’t have time to place an order yet. With a countdown timer, they can know how much time they have left to shop the sale.

Countdown timers also trigger readers’ fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). The clock is ticking, so if they want to take advantage of the sale, they need to act now. 

Here’s an example of how you can drive urgency in your emails: 

The New Yorker Email Example

Notice how The New Yorker uses the headline “This Week Only” in this email. You can send a similar email on a Monday and have your promotion run until Sunday. 

Use Automation for E-Commerce Email Marketing 

Of course, you can do everything manually, but you would need to dedicate an unspeakable amount of time. As an e-commerce marketer, that time is better used in different areas.

Setting up automations is the most effective way to scale your email marketing. What’s better, you can use automation to send out any series of emails, including:

You can create multiple automated emails from your email service provider for each subscriber segment and improve your email conversions on autopilot.

Keep Your Email List Growing 

Email lists can shrink by 30 percent per year just from subscribers changing their email addresses. 

Any smart marketer knows that constantly growing an email list should be a top priority. One of the most effective ways to do so is using email popups on your site.

According to our internal data, the average conversion rate for a desktop popup is 3.11 percent, while a mobile popup converts around 5.8 percent on average. This means a lot of missed conversions if you’re not using a popup on your site.

Which Converts Better? Mobile or Desktop?

With Sleeknote, it takes minutes to create targeted popups. Take a look at this example you can easily model for your site:

Create a similar campaign


Like what you see? Load this high-converting template in our editor and customize it to the look and feel of your business.

Try it out

It doesn’t need to get more complicated than this.


Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

We’ve put together 11 email marketing resources to help you make more from your campaigns.

Whether you’re looking for good email examples or evergreen email subject lines, we’ve got something for you.

You’ll also get immediate access to 24+ other bonus resources, categorized in Notion for your convenience.

Download Swipe File Now →


Your e-commerce email marketing strategy consists of many moving parts.

As long as you keep up your efforts to get new subscribers, build relationships with your existing ones, and try different strategies, your email list will be healthy, and you’ll see a prominent ROI in no time. 

Are you following any of these best practices? Share your experience below.