Everything You Need to Know About Email Marketing for eCommerce - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Crafting emails that Convert

What kind of emails should I send to my customers/segments?

When a person signs up to receive emails, they want something in return. There has to be something in it for them, so figure out what your customer wants to hear from you.


Everyone loves to get a deal and fans of your product will definitely appreciate a promotion in their inbox. Try A/B testing email content to determine what works for your audiences.

New location

Opening a new location in Kelowna? It’s a great thing to let your subscribers know about. As your Toronto subscribers probably won’t care you needn’t flood their inbox with unnecessary notifications. Let all your subscribers in the Kelowna area know about the new store and invite them to the grand opening through location segmentation.

Event invitation

Email marketing is a fantastic tool to increase attendance at offline events. MailChimp is integrated with Eventbrite, making sending invites to (and gathering responses from) relevant subscribers for a launch event or exclusive appreciation sale simple and efficient.

Abandoned checkout

According to the Baymard Institute, 67 per cent of eCommerce transactions online result in an abandoned checkout. To recover these lost sales, create a personalized automated email campaign that gets sent to the shopper if they don’t complete their purchase. A good abandoned email campaign should incorporate a strong call to action and feature details of the items the user added to their shopping cart, product reviews, or discounts to help remove any lingering barriers to conversion. See here for our detailed breakdown of how to go about creating your own abandoned cart email strategy.


Use email to increase sales and build recurring clients by sending emails to customers that have recently purchased from you. Suggest complementary products (e.g.. Customers who purchased these sunglasses also liked this hat) Promote add-ons (e.g. Love your sunglasses? Great, now take care of them with the extended warranty.)

Request a review

Send your customers an email after they’ve received their purchase asking them to write a product review online. It’s an effective way to generate compelling product related content that can influence future customers and identify eCommerce improvement avenues. Be careful to tread carefully when offering an incentive in exchange for a review - this could affect the honesty of the review.


Everyone loves birthday gifts. Add an optional birthday field to your input when collecting subscribers, letting them know that they will receive a special birthday promotion. On their birthday, send them an offer that expires within 24 hours to 1 week of their birthday to enjoy as a special gift.

Wishlist promos

If you have Wishlist functionality on your site, this can be leveraged to increase conversions via email. (e.g. "Those pants that are on your wishlist are almost out of stock - buy ‘em now!" or "Those pants you love are back in stock.")

Automate Emails

Automating your emails to go out to customers throughout the various phases of the buying cycle requires an initial investment of time and effort, but pays off in dividends when your email marketing coasts on auto-pilot (for the most part).

Examples of automated emails throughout the purchasing cycle include

  • Automatically follow up with customers after a purchase and request a review
  • Recommend other products that they’ll love
  • Surprise your best customers with a promotion
  • Remind customers of the products they’ve left in their cart and encourage them to complete their transaction.
  • Re-engage inactive subscribers

In developing your email marketing strategy, take the time to set up automation. Once implemented, use your data to determine which automation emails work towards your objectives and which should be refined and adapted overtime.

Email automation facts all marketers should know
  • Revenue for B2B marketing automation systems increased 60 per cent to $1.2 million in 2014, compared to a 50 per cent increase in 2013. – VentureBeat
  • Email marketing technology is used by 82 per cent of B2B and B2C companies. – Ascend2
  • B2C marketers who leverage automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50 per cent. – eMarketer
  • Automated email messages average 70.5 per cent higher open rates and 152 per cent higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages. – Epsilon Email Institute
  • Over 75 per cent of email revenue is generated by triggered campaigns, rather than one-size-fits-all campaigns. Automated email campaigns account for 21 per cent of email marketing revenue. – DMA

Tips for increasing conversion rates

Segment your promotions

A one-size-fits all promotion isn’t optimized for conversions and therefore won’t convert as well as specific promotions, segmented for your different audiences. Segmenting your list can be as simple as grouping customers based on their past purchases:

  • Never purchased / New customer
  • 1 - 5 purchases / year
  • 5 + purchases / year

With this simple segmentation, you can now send three different emails that are all much more likely to convert.

  • New customer: Offer a discount off their first purchase (percentage off or free shipping)
  • Repeat customer: Offer a free item with purchase, as a thank you for their business.
  • Loyal customer: Make them feel special by offering them an exclusive sneak peak into a new collection and/or a discount on their next purchase.

Optimize for smartphones

As was outlined in Chapter 1, mobile is fast becoming the device of choice to peruse the internet, this is also true for emails. According to Hubspot, mobile use has increased 400 per cent since 2011 and 70 per cent of consumers aged 18-44 and 50 per cent of customers aged 45 - 60 are checking their emails on their smartphone.

How to optimize emails for smartphones:

  • Reduce image file sizes
  • Resize images by proportion of screen
  • Increase the size of links and Call to Action buttons
  • Consider reducing amount of copy

How to get your subscribers to open your emails

Spend as much time writing your subject line as you spend writing your email. It’s the deciding factor as to whether or not your email gets opened. Don’t let the subject line become an afterthought, allocate time for your writer to hone the subject line of your email marketing campaign.

Tips for writing a good email subject line
  • Keep your subject line short - 50 characters max
  • Make it personal - Use merge fields to customize subject lines with subscribers’ first names
  • Catch their interest - Give the recipient a reason to click and always deliver
  • Communicate your appreciation - Make your recipients feel valued through the messaging
  • Include a clear call to action - Use words that create a sense of urgency, like tomorrow.
  • Be conscious of send out times - Think strategically and determine the best times of day to achieve maximum engagement based off of your unique recipient profiles.
Subject Line Etiquette
  • Don’t resort to clickbait. Any boost to your open rates will likely be followed by an increase in unsubscribers.
  • Don’t use subject line generators. They might save time, but recipients will appreciate the personal touch.
  • Don’t use impersonal, one word subject lines eg: “Hi!”
  • Don’t mislead recipients with prefixes like “fw:” and “re:”
  • Don’t forget to spellcheck
  • Don’t include spammy words that can irritate recipients or flag spam filters. See here for an extensive list words to remove from your subject lines immediately.
Never Stop Testing

As with anything in the field of marketing, continuous testing to identify and assess the best keywords used or types of CTA to use is a must. Email management platforms like MailChimp can provide simple, user friendly ways to setup and manage A/B testing. For more detail on any of the above, check out our blog post dedicated entirely to best practices for email subject lines.

Use images

Images can bring your message to life in email marketing campaigns and are an effective tool to convert your marketing tactics into dollars. Here are some tips for using images in email marketing campaigns:

  • Keep image size small, so it doesn’t obliterate inboxes and take forever to load
  • Don’t forget Alt text
  • Keep the message clear and simple
  • Include offers or a call to action with your image with a clickable link

Still not convinced? Check out these email ROI stats:

  • Email marketing has an ROI of 3,800 per cent. – DMA
  • Nearly 1 in 5 companies (18 per cent) reported an ROI of more than $76 in 2014, which is three times more than 2013 figures (five per cent). – DMA
  • Emails triggered by behavior were responsible for 30 per cent of revenue in 2014, up from 17 per cent in 2013. – DMA
  • 77 per cent of Email ROI comes from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns. – DMA


With so many emerging digital channels and online platforms to choose from when marketing to your consumers, you can be forgiven for overlooking email marketing as an ‘old school’ approach. That being said, the power of email should never be underestimated.

Investing time into developing an email marketing strategy has shown itself time and again to have one of the highest rates of ROI of any medium in the strategic marketer’s toolkit. When managed well, email marketing provides your eCommerce platform with cost effective content delivery, flexible and powerful targeting (and retargeting) options and automation functionality that can help improve eCommerce conversion rates.

Whether you’re just starting out with email marketing or you have a well-established strategy, the content and approach outlined in this guide can help optimize your email marketing and improve your bottom line.