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10 e-commerce emails to master for a more successful online store

Illustration of a large laptop with an envelope on the screen and an alert in the corner. Next to it is a person holding their smartphone.

Email might have recently celebrated its 50th birthday, but it’s never been a more essential part of your e-commerce strategy. Email marketing isn’t just about alerting customers to a flash sale or your newest product release; it’s also about ensuring they feel informed and supported after they’ve made a purchase.

Ordering, shipping, and delivery are all touchpoints that provoke anxiety for customers, especially when shopping with a brand for the first time. But with the right e-commerce email sent at the right time, you can build stronger relationships with your customers, increase lifetime value, and boost sales.

In this blog, we’re going to cover the 10 emails which are must-have additions to your e-commerce email strategy. Let’s dive in!

What is e-commerce email marketing?

E-commerce email marketing is the practice of sending order updates, promotional messages, or educational content to existing and new subscribers to build customer loyalty and drive more traffic to your ecommerce store. It involves the use of email marketing campaigns and automated workflows to provide customers with a continuous flow of valuable content that drives customer engagement.

Some common e-commerce email marketing efforts include welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, order tracking updates, and more. The success of these campaigns depends on several factors, such as the quality of the copy, the timing of the email, and whether it’s been personalized to the individual customer.

Why email marketing is key to ecommerce success

Email still attracts high engagement

In the age of DMs and short-form video, it’s easy to view email as a throwback to the 90s and dial-up internet. Yet email continues to exhibit strong ROI for businesses. According to Oberlo, every $1 spent on email marketing sees an average return of $40 – significantly higher than channels such as SEO or paid ads.

Most importantly, the appeal of email isn’t restricted just to older generations. Over half (58%) of Gen Zers check their inboxes multiple times each day, while over 30% like to receive emails from their favorite brands multiple times per week. In sum, email is still a strong asset for your e-commerce marketing strategy.

Email enhances the post-purchase experience

When so much attention and marketing spend goes into securing conversions, it’s not uncommon for the post-purchase experience in e-commerce to be overlooked. But the quality of the post-purchase experience is one of the biggest determining factors in whether a one-off purchase turns into repeat shopping behavior. If new customers feel ignored or neglected by a brand after purchasing, it’s unlikely they’re going to feel loyalty toward them.

Post-purchase emails are a specific type of e-commerce email marketing campaign that is triggered once customers have placed an order. These emails act as touchpoints that guide customers through the post-purchase experience, such as providing order confirmation and shipping information, thanking customers for their purchase, and asking for feedback. This ensures that customers feel supported by a brand and are more likely to re-purchase.

Email kickstarts new purchasing journeys

Just because a first-time customer purchased from you once, it doesn’t they’re going to do so again. When so many retailers are vying for consumers’ attention, brands need to make a concerted effort to stay on their customers’ radars to avoid being forgotten.

Brands can’t expect customers to always take the initiative and visit their storefront; they need to give them a reason to engage and check out their latest offerings. A thoughtfully curated email with a compelling subject line is the perfect piece of content marketing to provide some inspiration for fresh purchases.

Your checklist: 10 essential e-commerce emails

1. The welcome email

The welcome email helps to create a favorable impression on customers and set the tone for what they can expect from your communications.

When a customer completes an action like creating an account, joining an email list, or signing up for a loyalty program, they expect some kind of acknowledgment from the brand. This gives welcome emails some of the highest open rates at 30.45% – 202% higher than regular email campaigns!

A good welcome email should accomplish the following:

  • Thank subscribers for joining.
  • Introduce your brand identity/voice.
  • Encourage customers to explore your online store.
  • Prime customers to open future emails.
MECCA welcome email.

Here is a welcome from beauty retailer MECCA for shoppers who sign up for their Beauty Loop loyalty program. Rather than trying to pack their email with copy, MECCA offers a thank you for signing up and a quick summary of the program. The icons at the bottom of the email provide handy links to Beauty Loop rewards, free shipping policy, and the MECCA price promise to encourage customers to explore their website.

2. The order confirmation email

We don’t really need to explain why this one matters. If your customer doesn’t get confirmation after purchasing, they don’t know whether their order has been received or not. An email landing in their inbox helps to put their mind at ease and avoid your customer service team being inundated by requests for updates.

A strong order confirmation email should include the following:

  • An order summary/total.
  • How long it will take for the order to be shipped.
  • Links to your customer service channels.

If the order confirmation is for in-store pickup, make sure you include details about how long it will take for the order to be ready and where they need to pick it up from.

Email from Nordace with a shipping estimate.

Travel retailer Nordace makes sure the customers know how long it will take for their order to be dispatched and who they need to contact if they want to make changes to their order before shipping.

3. The shipping dispatch email

Your customer has placed their order and is eagerly awaiting its arrival. If a customer isn’t aware that their order has been shipped, they might assume that something has gone wrong and their order hasn’t been processed. Sending an email confirmation that their order has shipped is a great way to touch base and tell customers to get ready for their order to be delivered.

Moreover, a reliable flow of post-purchase emails helps to build trust and confidence in your customers that your brand has everything covered – and they will soon have a package awaiting them on their doorstep!

Dollar Shave Club email giving customers the option to add to their next shipment.

Because shipping confirmation emails see such high open rates, they also present a great opportunity to add value via product recommendations that complement what the customer has ordered. Dollar Shave Club’s replenishment subscription executes this perfectly in their shipping emails by informing their subscriber of the shipping date for their next box, while also recommending ‘add on’ products they can add to their order before it ships. This is a great way to boost average order value while enhancing convenience for the customer.

4. The shipping delay email

An e-commerce business can do its very best to avoid shipment delays, but the unexpected can always happen. From extreme weather events to technology outages, there are a million ways that shipping can be disrupted which are totally outside of a brand’s control.

But you do have control over how your business responds. If there’s no indication of potential delays before a customer places an order, you need to inform them as soon as possible – before a parcel is late and they start peppering your team with support tickets.

Your shipping delay email should outline the reasons for the delay and when your customer can expect an update (in the case where it isn’t possible to provide a new estimated delivery date). This provides reassurance and shows that your brand is committed to resolving the issue. In fact, shipping updates receive some of the highest email open rates in e-commerce at 62.37% – a clear sign that consumers are desperate for delivery information.

Email from BoxyCharm alerting customer that their shipment is delayed.

As a curated subscription service, beauty subscription box BoxyCharm is more vulnerable to shipping delays than other kinds of e-commerce businesses. Their email explains the delay and tells the customer when they will receive a tracking update, helping to alleviate frustration and confusion.

5. The delivery confirmation email

Although not part of every e-commerce brand’s order and delivery workflow, it’s a good idea to alert your customers the moment their order has been dropped on their doorstep.

Delivery confirmations are automated emails that are triggered when the courier confirms the delivery of a package via an app, meaning the customer is notified in real-time.

Some customers are anxious about porch piracy, and may want to retrieve the package as soon as possible. If a customer experiences a failed delivery, a delivery confirmation email allows them to identify this as quickly as possible and reach out to the brand to resolve it, rather than finding out days later.

A confirmation email from American Eagle.

American Eagle’s delivery confirmation emails provide an order summary of the items delivered and instructions for what customers should do if they cannot find the package. It also provides links back to the website for more browsing, turning them into sophisticated cross-sell emails.

6. The ‘thank you’ email

No online order is complete without a heartfelt ‘thank you’ from the ecommerce business for purchasing. Thank you emails are a great addition to your email marketing toolkit because they provide the opportunity to ask your customers how their new purchase is working out.

Thank you emails are especially important for technical or high-value items where customers are making a bigger investment, as consumers will expect to offer a higher level of customer service. Reaching out post-purchase shows that you genuinely value your customers and want to ensure they are happy with their purchase.

Thank you email from Status Anxiety.

Leather goods company Status Anxiety has done a great job of creating a thank you email series that’s catered to the products they sell. Because they specialize in functional products like handbags, luggage, and accessories, it makes sense they wait a couple of weeks before checking in so that customers have time to test out their new purchase. They incentivize customers to leave a review in exchange for 10% off, as well as encourage them to reach out any time with questions.

7. The cart abandonment email

The abandoned cart is an unavoidable scenario in e-commerce. Even when you minimize extra costs, offer hassle-free returns, or optimize the checkout process, there’s always going to be a percentage of shoppers who simply aren’t ready to commit to a purchase in that session.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should kiss those potential customers goodbye. Sometimes, all it takes is a little nudge in the form of a cart abandonment email to get them back on track. According to Salesforce, 17.6% of abandonment emails resulted in a conversion – that’s almost a fifth more sales through this single email marketing strategy!

Cart recovery emails work by capturing customer details that are entered into the checkout or a sign-up form, allowing brands to follow up with email subscribers or potential customers later to remind them of items left in their shopping cart. This simple piece of automation will result in a triggered email once a certain amount of time has passed, usually within a few hours or the following day. More complex cart recovery emails may also sweeten the deal with incentives like free shipping, discounts, or freebies.

A cart abandonment email from Flo and Frankie.

Family-owned apparel boutique Flo & Frankie adds a personal touch to their abandoned cart email by signing off with the owner’s name, turning it into a friendly reminder rather than the feel of an automated push email.

8. The smart discounting email

There’s nothing wrong with using promotional emails to drive sales – so long as you’re going about it the right way.

What’s the difference between ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’ discounting? The former is about creating promotions that drive customer loyalty and customer lifetime value, while the latter is focused on short-term sales goals that discourage impulse buys and prime customers to wait for the next discount code or clearance sale.

For this reason, smart discounts require a bit more strategic thinking than a quick and dirty ‘50% off storewide!’ that goes out to everyone on your mailing list. What sets smart discount emails apart is two things:

  1. Targeted email campaigns designed for a specific segment of their customer base.
  2. Rewarding customers with the highest levels of brand loyalty.

This ensures promotional emails involving discounts will add value to your brand and encourage customers to engage in shopping behaviors that benefit your brand in the long term.

Sephora is a master of ecommerce email marketing strategy and offers a weekly selection of travel-size products that shoppers can access by spending a certain amount per order. This helps to boost average order value while reserving these perks for high-value customers.

Email from Sephora offering a smart discount.

9. The ‘back in stock’ email

Products selling out is a nice problem to have, but only if you can maintain customer engagement until a SKU is replenished. Otherwise, there’s a high chance that consumers will go elsewhere to find a similar product.

Back in stock emails are a clever piece of email marketing that’s highly targeted at shoppers who have manually added themselves to a waitlist or spent a lot of time on that particular product page. It helps to drive buyer urgency to snap up a product before it sells out again, which is a great way to boost sales.

There are several ways that brands can go about creating back in stock marketing campaigns. The simplest approach is to send one email to your entire mailing list. This works best for bestselling core products which see high purchase rates year-round, as shown here by apparel brand Uniqlo:

Email that a sold out item is back in stock.

A more sophisticated approach is to segment your emails by targeting them at specific customers. Sephora does this by giving its Rouge VIP members priority access to popular products that have just been restocked. By targeting its most loyal customers in these email marketing campaigns, Sephora adds value to its loyalty program while kickstarting a new purchasing journey for repeat customers that are easiest to convert.

Email from Sephora that a product is back in stock.

10. The Re-engagement email

Past customers should never be written off simply because they haven’t purchased from you in a while. Sometimes, all it takes is the right email at the right time to grab their attention and funnel them back into your e-commerce store.

The advantage of targeting your existing customers is that you have a purchase history to hand that tells you what kinds of products a customer is most likely to be interested in. This allows you to create personalized email campaigns with compelling product recommendations based on previous purchases – and even a targeted discount to sweeten the deal.

Re-engagement emails are also an opportunity to ask customers about their email preferences. If they’re being inundated by multiple emails each week, there’s a good chance they might be tuning you out. Consider asking them if they want to update their preferences to receive emails less often.

These email templates are the foundation for building a powerful e-commerce email marketing strategy that boosts customer retention and creates more positive post-purchase experiences. By perfecting each of these templates, from the welcome email all the way to the delivery confirmation, you can feel confident in your brand’s ability to deliver a streamlined customer experience.

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