The 5-Step Guide to E-Commerce Email Marketing Strategy
By Seray Keskin Content Marketer
@ Sleeknote

If you’re anything like the rest of us, your inbox is full of promotional emails asking for your immediate attention. There’s a flash sale here and a newly released collection there…

How many of those emails manage to get your attention? And which of them are really interesting for you?

If you’re a regular blog reader, you know that email marketing generates on average $38 for every $1 you spend.

Even though email has the highest return on investment, you can’t expect to reach those results without a solid email marketing strategy.

With e-commerce brands fighting for attention in users’ inboxes, you need to get your emails opened, stand out in the crowd, and stay relevant to your subscribers.

How do you achieve all those small goals that lead to higher conversions?

That’s what you’ll learn today.

Here’s our five-step guide to creating a killer e-commerce email marketing strategy with examples from top brands.


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 →

Table of Contents

1. Collect Email Addresses

2. Send Targeted Email Campaigns

3. Get Your Emails Opened

4. Master the Art of Email Copywriting

5. Engage Your Subscribers

1. Collect Email Addresses

First things first.

You need to build an email list of highly interested leads and grow it every day. Doing so will give you valuable subscribers who are willing to learn more about your products and offers.

Many e-commerce marketers believe that the only way to collect visitors’ email addresses is through generic popups that have no benefit for users. But that’s not true.

In fact, there are so many ways you can collect leads by combining different channels with your on-site campaigns.

One of my favorite list building strategies is converting visitors with a personalized offer that can be unlocked after submitting their email.

Here’s how Fabletics does that:

Fabletics Get Started

The company offers visitors (who haven’t signed up yet) an exclusive price on their homepage.

When you click “Get Started,” a quiz pops up and asks you about your preferences, style, and size information.

Fabletics Quiz

As the last step of the quiz, Fabletics asks for your email address in exchange for an exclusive offer:

Fabletics Exclusive Offer

This way, the company gives you a strong incentive ($99 value) to sign up. They also get to know you better, so on your next visit, they can greet you with personalized product recommendations.

The key to converting more visitors into subscribers and more subscribers into customers is to meet them where they are in their buyer’s journey.

Even if you build an email marketing strategy for all your buyer personas, they will still have different needs and questions.

To target and convert your subscribers better, you need to send them highly relevant emails that they can’t say no to.

The best way to do this is to start segmenting your email list while collecting leads on your site.

Fabletics asks for your interests and preferences so they can segment their list and send out hyper-targeted email campaigns.

Luckily, you don’t need to create a whole quiz to segment your new subscribers.

Ask your visitors the most important questions while collecting email addresses and don’t overwhelm them with too many input fields. 

Here’s a simple yet effective campaign example by minimum:

minimum Exit Intent Campaign

A segmented email list is a must for creating targeted email campaigns, which brings us to our second step.

2. Send Targeted Email Campaigns

Now that you’re growing your email list with different user segments, you’re ready to build an email sequence.

How and when you send your emails can have a tremendous impact on your conversion rate.

If you send the right emails at the right time to the right people, you’ll make the most of your marketing efforts.

That’s why you need a bulletproof email sequence that captures the users at the right stage of their journey.

Here are 11 of the most important email types you need for your e-commerce business:

  1. Welcome Email
  2. Curation Email
  3. Engagement Email
  4. Referral Email
  5. Discount Email
  6. Cart Abandonment Email
  7. Order Confirmation Email
  8. Upsell/Cross-Sell Email
  9. Re-Engagement Email
  10. Survey Email
  11. Customer Appreciation Email

Send a discount email too late, and you lose a potential customer. Send a survey email before the subscriber gets to know you, and you might not get a second chance.

Take the example of referral emails. If you ask someone to recommend you to their friends ten minutes after they signed up for your email list, or if you don’t give them a reason to do it, don’t expect them to speak well of you.

Here’s a timely referral email example by Bombas:

Bombas Referral Email

The company builds their referral email around the benefit you’ll get upon recommending Bombas to your friends.

It’s simple: Refer a friend. Get free socks.

They open the email with a humorous tone and explain the process, step-by-step.

Bombas wouldn’t achieve good results from this email if they sent it right after you subscribed to their list. But instead, they wait until you engage with some of their emails.

Building a well-timed, logical e-commerce email sequence is a must for engaging your subscribers and getting more customers. 

But make sure that your email campaigns meet subscribers where they are in your sales funnel so you can convert them with relevant offers.

3. Get Your Emails Opened

You’re growing your list on autopilot and have implemented a new email sequence. 

Now comes the tricky part: How do you get those emails opened?

As you may have guessed, the key is writing eye-catching email subject lines.

Since you have little time to stand out in your subscribers’ busy inboxes, you have to write attention-grabbing email subject lines…

And using persuasion triggers is the first step to achieving that.

If you’re wondering how to do that, we gathered 11 research-backed triggers that will motivate your subscribers to open your emails:

  1. Personalization
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Curiosity
  5. Utility
  6. Numbers
  7. Social Proof
  8. Urgency
  9. Reciprocity
  10. Salience
  11. Liking

Feel free to play around, test, and combine these triggers. (Check out the Further Reading section to learn more about how to implement them in your email subject lines.)

Writing compelling subject lines can be tough. But exceptional e-commerce brands take this seriously (and so should you.)

Here’s a brilliant example by REBEL8:

REBEL8 Email Subject Line

This subject line works well because it evokes curiosity and gives the reader a compelling reason to open the email.

Another brand that uses the curiosity trigger is Curioos:

Curioos Email Subject Line

In addition to triggering curiosity, the company also uses personalization to increase their chances of getting opened.

Some triggers work for some brands, whereas they fail miserably for the others. 

Split testing is a powerful tool for marketers who want to guarantee high conversion rates. Always be mindful about your options and use split testing to find out what works best for you.

If you want to improve your email open rates, reading what the research says can be a good idea.

Maybe the problem lies in the time you’re sending your emails or the length of them.

Get help from the data, to begin with, and test different options to find your ideal email length and send time.

Finally, consider the reasons why your emails may not be reaching your subscribers’ inboxes and work on possible solutions.

4. Master the Art of Email Copywriting

The easiest and quickest action you can take today to enhance your email marketing is improving your email copy.

Email copywriting goes beyond writing good subject lines—it’s about optimizing your overall angle, tone, and call-to-action (CTA).

Mastering email copywriting overnight might seem like an impossible challenge, but luckily, you can always get inspiration from top e-commerce brands.

Take this example by Dollar Shave Club:

Dollar Shave Club Email

Instead of bragging about their products and features, the company frames the email around the value customers get when buying their products.

They address a common problem among their target audience (regular shaving costs) and position their products as a solution.

Dollar Shave Club starts with a benefit-driven headline and incorporates humor in their body copy.

Using humor in your emails can improve your open rates and help your subscribers associate your brand with positive feelings.

Witty wordplay is a tactic you can use to make the reader smile (and hopefully click through your email.)

Here’s how BarkBox uses humor in their subject lines:

BarkBox Humorous Subject Line

And they keep the same tone in their email copy:

BarkBox Humorous Email

Make sure your wordplay is easily understandable and it fits your overall brand voice.

If humor is not your cup of tea, try using our favorite email copywriting method: storytelling.

Writing story-based emails helps you stand out among your competitors and build long-lasting relationships with your subscribers.

And they’re easy to create by following these six steps:

  1. Increase opens with a curiosity-driven subject line;
  2. Capture attention in the first sentence;
  3. Tell a story;
  4. Transition into your CTA;
  5. Close with a CTA; and
  6. Include a funny visual element.

A strong CTA is a must for all types of emails, including story-based ones.

If you managed to grab your subscribers’ attention and make them read through your email, you need a powerful finishing touch to give people a reason to click your CTA buttons.

Go beyond the generic “Click Here” buttons that can’t drive readers to action, and write short, relevant, and intriguing email CTAs, instead.

5. Engage Your Subscribers

Our approach to e-commerce email marketing is not about quick fixes and temporary solutions.

Rather, it’s about minor improvements and actionable steps that will give you long-term benefits.

Adding a compelling CTA to one of your emails is surely a positive development. 

But for a sustainable email marketing success, you need to keep your subscribers interested and engaged in the long run.

Give people a valid motive to stay on your list. Otherwise, they’ll have at least one big reason to unsubscribe from your email list.

To reduce list churn and keep your subscribers interested, try sending out newsletters on a regular basis.

Make sure your email list is segmented, so you only send relevant newsletters to relevant segments.

Coming up with new ideas for your e-commerce newsletter can be hard. 

That’s why I’ll give you seven newsletter ideas that are ridiculously easy to replicate:

  1. Product Updates and News
  2. Limited Editions
  3. Holidays
  4. Invitations
  5. Resources
  6. Digest
  7. Best Of knows how to use Newsletter Idea #1 by updating their subscribers regularly about the changes in their online store.

In addition to sending updates about new product releases and collaborations, they also create company update newsletters to keep their subscribers interested.

Here’s one of the emails I recently got from them:

Bando Sizing Update

And this is what the email looks like:

Bando Sizing Email

In the remainder of the email, the company explains the changes they made and ends with a CTA button that reads “Shop New Clothes.”

A month later, I received a similar type of email from them with the subject line “Now Accepting Afterpay!”:

Bando Afterpay Email

The company updates me about another site-related development and much like in the first email, they end with product promotion:

Bando Product Suggestions

Even if you’re sending out company-related or technical updates, you can still find a way to engage subscribers in your newsletters and send them to your site with a purchase intention.

If creating newsletters is too big of a step for you, start by improving your transactional emails, instead.

Your transactional emails, containing order confirmation or shipping information, are like a goldmine waiting to be tapped.

In fact, transactional emails get 8 times as many opens compared to promotional emails.

Make sure you upsell, ask for referrals, invite customers to leave a review, or answer a survey in your transactional emails.

Following up on your prospects and customers is also the key to create engagement with email marketing.

That’s why abandoned cart emails work so well and why you have to have them on your online store.


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 →


That was everything you needed to know about having a good e-commerce email marketing strategy.

If you want your emails to reach their full potential, a solid email marketing strategy is a must.

Take inspiration from our research, as well as the examples from top e-commerce brands. Feel free to test their strategies on your site and find out what works best for you.

Always remember to send relevant emails to the right people. Otherwise, you’ll lose your subscribers never to return again.

Did I miss any important step? What’s your secret to email marketing success? Leave a comment below.