30 E-commerce Email Marketing Messages That Boost Sales

Examples of e-commerce messages that boost sales

Email can be a powerful marketing channel for e-commerce if you leverage it properly. If you think about it, a customer’s inbox is basically a distraction-free zone you’ve been invited into, giving you more opportunity to capture attention with highly-targeted offers than in any other digital medium out there.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the statistics on email marketing’s effectiveness and ROI are pretty incredible:

That’s a big deal, especially when you consider that email marketing is relatively cheap to deploy; all you really need is an email marketing service provider and content to send to your subscribers.

Email marketing also accounts for 7% of all e-commerce transactions, according to Shopify, making it one of the most effective marketing channels behind organic search. And while it is in some ways an aging medium, tech advancements in the way we use email marketing are making it more effective than ever.

Take, for example, email marketing automation, as well as our ability to segment and create personalized content. A/B testing is another great tool that can be used to increase the effectiveness of campaigns and to help marketers optimize for opens and click-throughs. Further data from the McKinsey & Company reveals that email marketing is over 40 times more effective than social media in engaging potential and existing customers.

Beyond the Blast

All of that said, if you take one thing from this article, let it be this: email has evolved. Sending general email blasts isn’t enough to drive engagement anymore. Customers want customized offers and experiences, and they want to feel more connected to brands.

For proof, look to the fact that marketers report a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns.

Customers want email, but they want the right kinds of email. As a result, segmenting lists and creating more targeted offers are key to boosting your e-commerce sales.

Ready to get started? Here are 30 specific types of campaigns that deserve a place in your email marketing strategy.

1. Welcome Email

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(Image source: HubSpot)

Why It’s Important: According to the teams at Hive.co and Campaign Monitor, sending a welcome email results in:

4x higher open rates compared to other promotional emails” and can “create a 196% lift in unique click rate.” If that’s not enough, welcome emails with offers can boost revenue per email by 30%, compared with welcome emails without offers.

What It Is: When a website visitor takes the time to sign up for your email list, they’re doing more than agreeing to future newsletters – they’re allowing you into the sanctity of their inboxes. That’s not a trust that should be taken lightly.

Instead, it should be celebrated with a welcome email. Kate Spade’s, pictured above, is fun and friendly, and highlights another great use of the welcome email: offering a unique discount code to drive sales among prospects who just made a conscious commitment to engage further with your brand.

How to Do It:

  • Keep your subject line conversational. Welcome messages should read as if they’re coming from a friend, not from a nameless, faceless marketing entity.
  • Use your welcome message to let readers know what they can expect from you, as well as how they’ll benefit from staying subscribed.
  • Include a CTA. Take this initial interaction opportunity to get subscribers to engage with you on a deeper level – even if your target action is something as simple as following your brand’s social channels.


2. New Product Teaser

(Image source: Stripo)

Why It’s Important: According to the team at Campaign Monitor, a teaser email “builds interest via curiosity. It’s the equivalent of a “coming soon” page on a website, it’s designed to intrigue and tantalize, leaving your readers eager to learn more.”

What It Is: If you’ve got a new product coming to market soon, take a page out of Apple’s marketing playbook with a teaser message like the example above.

Essentially, your goal here is to get subscribers – both new and existing – interested enough in your upcoming launch that they’ll stay tuned for more information (and, ideally, act on it once it’s provided).

As the Apple example demonstrates, teaser emails don’t have to be complicated. All they really need to do is spark the curiosity that’ll keep your customers engaged.

How to Do It:

  • Create a story for your product. Whether you use a single teaser message or a series, build a story that draws readers in and gets them excited about your upcoming launch.
  • Set a goal for your teaser. Are you aiming to capture new registrations? New leads? New pre-order sales? Figure out what you hope to achieve with your campaign, as well as how many of these individual conversions you expect.
  • Be mysterious. Give just enough away to pique readers’ interest and get them to take action (slightly more if you’ll be asking them to actually pre-order).


3. Product Launch Email

(Image source: Appcues)

Why It’s Important: The team at Emma, Inc. reports that “you can see an average open rate of over 70%. And you can see click-through rates that are 152% higher than one-off email messages”

What It Is: When your new products are ready to roll out, celebrate with product launch email campaigns.

In the example above, Grammarly highlights a brand new feature with a simple but informative illustration, they then complement the slick visuals with straightforward language that clearly explains this new functionality. According to the team at Appcues, “Grammarly opts to forgo breaking up copy through bulleted lists or other formatting tactics for a simple paragraph. By doing so, they keep the email short and easy to digest in one glance.”

How to Do It:

  • Stay focused. This isn’t the time to promote a future sale or give a company update. Keep your customers focused on the goal of product launch.
  • Include an exclusive promo offer. People like to feel special, and nothing makes subscribers feel more like they’re part of the “in crowd” than a unique offer that’s only available to them.
  • Make your new product’s benefits clear. Ideally, you’ve done enough market testing to know what it is about your offering that appeals most to your customers. Now’s the time to put that data to work by composing a message that emphasizes the value buyers will gain.


4. Cart Abandonment Email

(Image source: Optin Monster)

Why It’s Important: According to Omnisend, “sending 3 abandoned cart emails results in 69% more orders than a single email” and Oberlo notes that this type of email (particularly for e-commerce brands) is one the most effective ways of boosting revenue.

What It Is: These types of emails represent a huge opportunity, considering that shoppers who abandon items in their carts have already taken the important step of confirming their interest in the products in question.

Help them out by creating a cart abandonment email (or a series of abandonment emails) designed to gently guide them back to your website, as Dollar Shave Club did in the example message above.

How to Do It:

  • Most e-commerce carts have automated abandonment emails built-in, though you may need to a) turn yours on, and b) customize the look and feel of the message to match your branding.
  • Be sensitive about the timing and frequency of these messages. Customers abandon carts for all different reasons, and they may or may not welcome automated emails encouraging them to return and shop. Test the number of emails you send and your reminder intervals for best results.
  • This BigCommerce article from Klaviyo’s Brian Neville O’Neill provides some excellent tips and some more examples of how to format cart-abandonment emails in a way that engages your shoppers to return.

5. Partnership Promotions

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(Image source: HubSpot)

Why It’s Important: As HubSpot explains, co-marketing (or partnership marketing) gives brands the chance to leverage the audience of a strategic partner and increase your reach.

What It Is: Partnership promotion involves swapping lists so that both companies involved can score new leads and new sales for their brands.

In the example above, Birchbox and Rent the Runway teamed up to give Birchbox subscribers a special discount on the rental retailer’s service. It’s a brilliant partnership – both target similar demographics, but neither competes with the other. In this case, Rent the Runway is able to increase its exposure and subscribers with a value-add for Birchbox subscribers (and no potential loss to Birchbox’s business).

How to Do It:

  • Choose partners that don’t directly compete with your brand, but that still target the same demographics (as in the case of Birchbox and Rent the Runway).
  • Offer to handle the creative development yourself. You’ll find prospective partners are more receptive to your proposed promotions if you volunteer to create the message, set the timing, and send it from your account.


6. Customer Feedback

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(Image source: CampaignMonitor

Why It’s Important: Gregory Ciotti, writing for HelpScout, states: “Successfully utilizing customer feedback is a must for any business looking to provide users with the products they need. Feedback guides and informs your decision-making and influences your product roadmap. It’s also essential for measuring customer satisfaction among your current customers. Getting a handle on how customers view your product, support, and company is invaluable.”

What It Is: Rapha’s example above, published by Campaign Monitor, demonstrates another great use of email marketing – gathering feedback from your customers.

Gathering customer feedback via email works well for a few reasons. Your subscribers have already given you permission to contact them, which means they’re naturally more engaged than the broad audience you’d reach by publishing your survey on your website – and they’re more likely to have a vested interest in whatever you do with this information.

Make the customer feedback process simple by offering subscribers the chance to voice their thoughts with a simple survey.

How to Do It:

  • Use tools like SurveyMonkey or Qualaroo to administer your surveys.
  • Keep surveys relatively short. Few people will sit patiently in order to wade through a 30+ question quiz.
  • Remember the limitations of customer surveys. Customers may not know how they’d really respond to hypothetical prompts (such as, “How much would you pay for a product with [xx] feature?”), while relying too closely on survey data prevents you from understanding the nuance behind customer responses. Pair survey data with in-person feedback gathering, if possible.


7. Digest/Content Roundup

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(Image source: HubSpot)

Why It’s Important: The Skimm founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg used the content roundup format to build an email list of 3.5+ million subscribers that boasts a 40% open rate, all since 2012.

What It Is: Roundup emails themselves can take tons of different forms, from weekly collections of authoritative links to daily messages summarizing important news – a format popularized by The Skimm (pictured above).

Yes, setting up a regular roundup takes more time than tossing a welcome email template into your autoresponder. But if you do your roundup well and use it to provide genuine value to your audience, every message you send will become another opportunity to build brand affinity with current and prospective customers.

How to Do It:

  • Identify the authoritative blogs and websites within your industry, and then add them to an RSS reader.
  • Periodically, review the new content that’s been published and select the best pieces to include in your content roundup.
  • Make it a value-add for your subscribers. Anyone can compile a list of articles; why should your subscribers take the time to peruse yours? Weisberg sums this up with the basic thesis behind The Skimm: “We know our audience wakes up, grabs their phones, and checks email from friends and family. With the Daily Skimm, we recognized that email could be a powerful marketing tool to reach this demographic within an existing routine.”


8. Content Announcement

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Why It’s Important: “72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email,” according to Earnest Agency. Kick-off this sharing by seeding your email marketing messages with your latest high-quality content pieces.

What It Is: Publish a new piece of content recently? Let your subscribers know about it with a focused email blast, as InVision did with the content announcement message above.

But don’t limit this type of campaign to your own blog posts or guides. Use it if you publish a guest article on another website, if you’re mentioned in a PR piece on an industry site, if you put a new video up on YouTube, or if you’re involved in the creation of any other off-site content your audience will find useful.

How to Do It:

  • Make sure any content you promote this way stands on its own as a valuable resource for your audience. Your subscribers won’t be impressed by your middle-of-the-road efforts – and they certainly won’t share them.
  • It’s okay to promote individual content pieces multiple times via email. Not all of your subscribers open every message; mentioning your best content in several messages maximizes the chance that they’ll see it


9. High-Value Content

(Image source: Sumo)

Why It’s Important: Your email messages don’t always have to feature promotions or pitch CTAs intended to drive reader actions. Sometimes, it’s best to simply send helpful and informative content that your subscribers will find valuable – just as Nutrition Secrets did (pictured above).

What It Is: Sending high-value content helps your company in two ways: first, it reinforces your brand as an authority on your given subject matter. At the same time, you’re nurturing the leads on your list and keeping their relationship with you warm. That way, when you are ready to release a promotional message, your subscribers will be all ears.

How to Do It:

  • Think about what your subscribers need to know, and then send content that answers their questions. The more information you can provide, the more they’ll come to rely on your company as a source of expert information.


10. Social Notification

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(Image source: Campaign Monitor)

Why It’s Important: According to the team at Disruptive Advertising, email subscribers are 3x more likely to share your content on social media compared to other channels.

What It Is: Growing your business’s social presence offers a number of benefits, from greater online engagement to higher rankings in the organic search results. Score some easy wins in terms of total number of followers by tying your email marketing campaigns to your social media marketing efforts.

In the example above, Fruit of the Loom encourages readers to follow the brand on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, this isn’t the only way to integrate email and social. Send out messages whenever you have new content you’ve published exclusively to your social feeds, launch a social contest, or have a particular social post gaining traction within your community.

How to Do It:

  • Be on the networks your customers are most active on. This goes for all marketing, really, but you’ll waste time trying to get email subscribers to share your content on networks they aren’t invested in.
  • Target your most socially-shareable content. It’s unlikely that all of your content pieces will be well-suited to social promotion. For maximum effect, deploy this type of message only when you have something your social audience is sure to love.


11. Come Back Emails

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(Image source: Impact)

Why It’s Important: According to HubSpot, brands, on average, “lose 25% of their email list each year (to attrition alone),” making list retention and re-engagement a priority for every brand out there. According to that same article, while there’s many ways to re-engage with email campaigns, when it’s done right, “[it] can reduce list churn rates and boost incremental engagement.”

What It Is: Inboxes are crowded places; not every message you send will be read by every subscriber.

That said, if you’re looking to up your engagement, consider a “come back” message that reaches out to reactivate subscribers who haven’t interacted with you in the last 30-60 days or so.

Runkeeper’s message above shows a simple way to do this – let readers know you haven’t heard from them in a while and give them all the information needed to get them back up and running. Here, that’s helpful links, but in other cases, your message could include a special discount code.

How to Do It:

  • Be noticeable. Lee shares the subject line “This Is Not An Email From 2006” from a Digg re-engagement campaign as an example that caught his attention.
  • Be clear, but not needy. Let inactive subscribers know what they’re going to miss out on if they’re booted from your list, but don’t be so needy that they head immediately for the “Unsubscribe” button on their own.


12. Customer Retention/Lost Customer

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(Image source: Impact)

Why It’s Important: WebFX reports that “triggered emails have a 70.5% higher open rate than regular email marketing,” which clearly shows that sending emails that are triggered by specific behavior can be a huge win in terms of engagement, customer retention and, ultimately, conversions. Though the “behavior” that triggers the email can be defined broadly, there’s no doubt that a customer retention sequence can make a difference in energizing your list and driving conversions.

What It Is: Scrubbing your subscriber lists regularly is an email marketing best practice; readers move on, and sending messages to those who have stopped listening costs you money.

But before you pull the trigger on inactive subscribers, consider sending out one last campaign. This can be handled in a few different ways. In Sidekick’s case, as pictured above, the message includes a notification that inactive subscribers will be removed automatically, unless they take action to remain enrolled.

If this strikes you as too harsh, another avenue would be to offer a final discount code or call-to-action. If action isn’t taken within a certain period after sending, you can then confidently cut your inactive subscribers loose.

How to Do It:

  • Unlike a “Come Back Email,” a “Lost Customer” message is intended to be your final salvo in your subscriber relationships. Because this is your last chance to retain a subscriber, pull out your big guns. Offer the biggest promotion you can afford to do profitably, based on the benefits that are most likely to appeal to your subscribers.
  • Be firm, but clear. Whether you do this over a single message or a series of emails, be clear that you will be removing the subscriber from your list in order to prevent miscommunications.


13. Confirmation Emails

(Image source: Omnisend)

Why It’s Important: According to Chamaileon: “Confirmation emails have one of the highest engagement rates, with an average open rate of 65%, an average click rate of 17% and average order rate of 3.77%.”

What It Is: Confirmation emails are a necessary part of any online engagement campaign, whether you use them to confirm newsletter subscriptions, order completions, partner promotions, or other activities.

That said, your confirmation emails don’t have to be boring templates. Use them, Dollar Shave Club brilliantly does in the example above, to engage recent buyers after they’ve just made the purchase. Here, they let their customers know exactly what’s coming in their next order, when it’s scheduled to ship, and even gives them an opportunity to add other items to their order before it’s shipped, giving the customer a chance to pick up extra (related) items and Dollar Shave Club another opportunity to create a sale.

How to Do It:

  • Don’t be boring. Customers expect to receive confirmation emails, but they expect them to be dry and boring. Surprising them leads to greater engagement.
  • Build recommendations into your confirmation messages (either manually or using an automated tool).


14. Review Request Emails

(Image source: Qualtrics)

Why It’s Important: According to BrightLocal, “82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-52-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews,” and “the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.” With reviews being such an integral part of the consumer journey, brands from all industries need to give it their all.

What It Is: As in the example above, this email is simply a request that past purchasers review their items with feedback and ratings that can be published to your website.

One of the best ways to get these reviews is to use a service like Qualtrics that allows consumers and users to submit their ratings from within the app (as illustrated above). If you’d prefer a less automated approach, a simple text-based email that encourages customers to return to your site and leave a review after they’ve received their products may do the trick.

How to Do It:

  • Incentivize buyers to leave comments. This strategy tends to work best with in-person review requests, but can be communicated effectively via email as well. The key is offering a compelling enough incentive to get reviews, without giving so much away that the promotion becomes unprofitable.
  • If you don’t want to use a promotion, Brian Patterson, writing for MarketingLand, suggests making the request as personal-sounding as possible. “Have the email come from a real person’s email address (even better, have it come from a name they’d recognize, such as someone they worked with).” Further, he elaborates, “[h]ave the email written as a personal request from that same person.”


15. Referral Request Emails

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(Image source: Airbnb)

Why It’s Important: Nielsen researchers report that “92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising.” And according to Social Media Today, “60% of marketers say it generates a high volume of leads.” Referral stands as one of (if not the) greatest sales channel to master, being both the most effective and most reliable strategy for acquiring new customers.

What It Is: Given the statistic above, referral marketing deserves a place in every business’s email marketing arsenal. This can be done as a simple plain text message asking clients to refer you to others in their network, or as part of an incentivized program like Airbnb’s (pictured above), which encourages recipients to share the email or offer with their friends and family.

How to Do It:

  • Leverage reciprocity. People who feel they’ve received something want to give something in return. Rewarding both the referrer and the referee drives this effect to create successful referral promotions.
  • Keep things simple. If your referral scheme is too complicated, subscribers won’t take advantage. Need help getting your referral program set up? Buyapowa has customizable Refer-a-Friend software built to get you more customers.


16. Thank You Email

(Image source: Omnisend)

Why It’s Important: Magdalena Georgieva, writing for Hubspot, shares the following incredible statistics: “We took a look at 21 of our existing thank-you emails and found that, on average, they generated a 42% open rate and a 14% CTR. For comparison, we then looked at the generic marketing emails we’ve sent to one group of our buyer personas. The sample used here was larger — 131 emails — which, on average, generated a 12% open rate and a 6% CTR.”

What It Is: Once your subscribers have confirmed membership on your list (or taken any other kind of action you’d like to reward), kick back a simple thank you email – and, for best results – include a featured offer, CTA, or other suggested resource(s).

Alastin (shown above) did this beautifully, with an email that both gives thanks and offers a discount with the first purchase. Implement something similar in your email funnel – even if it’s just a plain text message showing your appreciation.

How to Do It:

  • Test, test, test. A thank you message is a perfect spot for an upsell or cross-sell CTA, but you’ll need to do some A/B split testing to determine which offers your buyers respond best to.
  • Keep it simple. Flatspot’s thank you is undoubtedly beautiful, but don’t skip this email structure if your design skills aren’t strong. Georgieva shared the following example of a plain text thank you email that’s proven effective for her team:


17. Top Customer Emails

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(Image source: Reddit)

Why It’s Important: eMarketer data suggests that “81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of targeted email.”

What It Is: If you’ve got great customers, reward them! Get inspired by Sephora’s VIB and VIB Rouge email messages, which offer exclusive promotions to customers who have met certain purchasing thresholds.

Depending on the way your business is set up, you could offer top customer promotions based on sales volume, order frequency, or some other metric, and you could structure your promotion to include special offers, store credit, or other exclusive promos.

As long as you’ve integrated your email marketing platform with your e-commerce system (assuming they’re different in the first place), you should be able to easily pull this data and segment your list accordingly.

How to Do It:

  • Determine what makes a top customer a top customer. In Sephora’s case, achieving VIB status requires $350 in purchases in a calendar year; VIB Rouge members are those who have spent $1,000 or more.
  • Implement necessary segmenting tools. If you track only online purchases, you’ll need a specific filter or trigger to inform your email automation program when a top customer threshold has been passed. If you sell both online and offline, you’ll need a system that tracks both.
  • Make people feel special. Besides the logistics associated with running them, effective top customer promotions are all about getting customers to buy into the status they’ve achieved. Treat your top customers well, and they’ll keep coming back for more.


18. Trending Topic Emails

(Image source: HubSpot)

Why It’s Important: According to HubSpot, “some of the best companies gain customer loyalty by becoming the go-to source for expertise on a given topic.” This allows a brand to demonstrate thought leadership and expertise in their chosen area and become their customers or subscribers chosen information source.

What It Is: Keep your customers up-to-date on industry news with trending topic messages, like the example above from Trulia that focuses on design trends.

Although trending topic messages are similar to the roundup messages described earlier, you can take this idea one step further by segmenting customers based on geography, industry, or other factors in order to ensure the news you deliver is of interest to the subscribers receiving it.

Remember, the more personal you can make your email content, the better.

How to Do It:

  • Choose an appropriate trending topic. Being controversial can earn you some quick views, but it isn’t the right approach for all brands. Pick a topic that’s likely to interest your audience and drive positive brand sentiment at the same time.
  • Be timely. Trending topic emails only work if you send them when they’re… well, trending. If it’s going to take you a week to get your blast and its associated creatives through your review process, go ahead and skip this one.


19. Holiday-Specific

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Why It’s Important: In 2019, US holiday retail sales hit over $729 billion, up 4% from 2018, according to Statista. More people are buying online than ever before, and holiday sales emails help you reach these consumers.

What It Is: Use the holidays to reach out to subscribers with special promotions, as Payless Shoes did for its Cyber Monday sale in the example above.

Remember, though, that the holidays represent a wealth of email marketing opportunities, so think beyond classic promotions. Celebrate silly holidays like “Talk Like a Pirate Day” if they suit your brand’s personality, or use your email messages to extend warm holiday wishes without including a promotion at all.

How to Do It:

  • Make your email mobile-friendly. Business Insider predicts that “US volume is poised to increase from $128.4 billion in 2019 to $418.9 billion through 2024.” It’s crucial you don’t frustrate these users with messages that only display appropriately on desktop computers.
  • Make it easy for customers to buy. Unbounce reports that “more than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy,” and suggests that using a buy-now CTA can improve your holiday sales email conversion rates.


20. Birthday/Anniversary Emails

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Why It’s Important: Campaign Monitor reports that birthday emails see a 481% higher transaction rate and 342% higher revenue per email than promotional emails. This means that marketing emails triggered by a customer or subscriber’s birthday are a fantastic opportunity to boost conversions and loyalty.

What It Is: In addition to marking the holidays, celebrate your subscribers’ birthdays or the anniversaries of them taking specific actions (like joining your email list in the first place). Just look at Puma’s stellar example above, celebrating a customer’s birthday with a 20% off gift. This helps develop the trust and appreciation your customers have for your brand, while also delivering a sales opportunity to you.

How to Do It:

  • Offer a special coupon code. Sephora does this in the example above by adding a special birthday offer that maintains engagement and encourages purchases.
  • Even if you choose not to include a gift, a simple note to a subscriber that celebrates a certain milestone helps to build brand affinity with your company.


21. Targeted Urgent Offers

(Image source: Sleeknote)

Why It’s Important: Hubspot has seen an email opt-in lift of 8% by introducing scarcity (in this case, a limited-time-only offer) into one of its free report download landing pages.

What It Is: There are plenty of different ways to drive email conversions with scarcity. A “limited time only” coupon code is one of the most common, but many brands also offer promotions that expire when the discounted item is out of stock.

How to Do It:

  • In the example above, Mack Weldon takes things one step further, coupling the urgency of limited stock with exclusivity in order to increase the urgency subscribers feel.
  • Though limiting your sales window could ultimately limit your total conversions, this type of email can be very effective when sent to the appropriate segment.


22. Industry News and Event Updates

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(Image source: HubSpot)

Why It’s Important: SmarterHQ suggests that “70% of [customers] prefer personalized emails over batch and blast communications,” and Campaign Monitor found that “74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.” So if you’re not customizing the messaging of your marketing blasts to match your audience, you’re leaving a lot on the table in terms of engagement and potential conversions.

What It Is: Informing customers about industry news and events provides value in keeping them updated, but with their sales announcement emails, The Bowery Presents takes things one step further by tailoring its promotions to the geographic location of the subscriber.

According to Hubspot, “[in] the email, The Bowery Presents pulled shows from New York venues – where I purchased tickets for many events when I lived there – for artists similar to the ones I saw live. And when I finally purchased tickets to see one of these artists in Boston? It re-personalized my emails to let me know about shows there.”

How to Do It:

  • Use advanced segmentation features to personalize your messages to feature the news and events individual subscribers want to see. Many experts predict that hyper-personalization is the future of email marketing.


23. Triggered Behavior/Remarketing Emails

(Image source: Campaign Monitor)

Why It’s Important: According to Moz (as reported by OptinMonster, “compared with a normal eCommerce conversion rate of between 2% and 4%, the rate for email retargeting conversions can be as much as 41%,” and according to ConversionXL, retailer Busted Tees saw a 390% return on investment on an email retargeting campaign that promoted the brand to recent shoppers and encouraged them to buy again.

What It Is: As with PPC remarketing ads, the purpose of a triggered behavior or remarketing email is to re-engage customers who have visited your site and left.

How to Do It:

  • Just look at cosmetics brand ColourPop, shown above, when someone signs up for email updates, visits the ColourPop website and views a particular product without purchasing it, they’re sent a retargeting email acknowledging that they noticed their interest and promotes other related products.
  • This could be an abandoned cart, a specific product they viewed, a form that was left mid-completion, or any other trigger your marketing automation systems are able to detect.


24. Social Call to Action

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Why It’s Important: Email can be used to drive the creation of user-generated content, which can be used in ads to get 4x higher click-through rates.

What It Is: Email marketing and social media marketing make a perfect pair. But beyond the social notification emails described earlier, you can also use your messages to drive engagement on your company’s channels.

Take Warby Parker’s email, pictured above. Here, the eyeglass innovator encourages engagement with the company’s Instagram feed – not just showing off their own snaps, but encouraging users to add their own with the #seesummerbetter hashtag.

It’s a smart move when you consider that “84% of millennials say [User Generated Content] from strangers has at least some influence on what they buy.”

How to Do It:

  • Come up with a hashtag based on a UGC campaign and encourage customers to share their content with you socially.
  • If you don’t have the audience yet to support such a campaign, consider partnering with influencers who can help kick things off with their followers.


25. Re-Engagement Drip Campaign

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Why It’s Important: We discussed re-engagement earlier, but what if you’re afraid a single message isn’t enough to re-awaken potential customers that you don’t want to lose?

What It Is: In this case, you may be better served by a sequence of targeted messages loaded into your marketing automation that goes out as a drip campaign after a specified period of inactivity.

Take a look at the example above from Webflow, the message is a great example of using numbers and a personalized message to reassure disengaged users that their product is continuing to grow and reassures them that the product is worth keeping and using.

How to Do It:

  • Map out a series of re-engagement messages, all of which culminate in a final “ask” for continued communication.
  • As with single “Lost Customer” messages, offer discount codes, promotions and more if your audience responds well. If they don’t, don’t be afraid to say goodbye.


26. Social Connection Emails

(Image source: Social Bakers)

Why It’s Important: Depending on the type of platform you run, notifying subscribers whenever relevant engagements are happening on your network can be a great way to boost connections. By integrating a live feed of your social media presents a great opportunity to use email to help your social media performance, and use your social media feed to help your email marketing performance.

What It Is: Here, Dunkin’ Donuts showcases their live social media feeds and directs their email subscribers to those same feeds to like and share themselves. In doing so, their email subscribers benefit from being filled in on relevant content they may have missed, and Dunkin’ Donuts benefits from engaging those subscribers and helping support their social media.

How to Do It:

  • If subscriber notification messages are likely to encourage your list members to return to your site, test different message styles and send frequencies. Some lists may prefer individual notifications, while others may prefer to see a summary of all the interactions that have occurred over a set period of time.


27. Product Education Emails

(Image source: Elastic Email)

Why It’s Important: According to Hannah Stacey, writing for Ometria, “It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that effective marketing ends with a customer buying something. The problem with this way of thinking is that it fails to take into account one major caveat: that retaining a customer is far more valuable in the long run than acquiring a new one. And when you start focusing on retention, a customer making a purchase actually marks the beginning of the process, not the end.” This is a very succinct explanation of how a customer purchasing something isn’t a one-off and presents excellent upsell opportunities.

What It Is: You’ve got the sale – now how do you follow up?

Sephora, the cosmetics giant, does this superbly with the on-brand, informative email shown above that shares a detailed video tutorial on how to accomplish specific looks using their products. At the same time, they’re promoting other products and categories, which presents an opportunity to engage and upsell these customers without making it the sole focus of the campaign.

How to Do It:

  • Build out a value-added series that shows customers how to use the product they’ve just purchased, touching on such important issues as safe use, assembly, storage, and cleaning.


28. Apology Email

(Source: Campaign Monitor)

Why It’s Important: Hopefully, you never have to use this type of email, but it’s better to have one in your back pocket than to find yourself scrambling to issue a hasty apology when mistakes occur on your end.

What It Is: In the above example, ecommerce player Fab.com sent out a prompt apology after spotting an error, which combined pictures of cats (both an internet favorite and the source of their initial blunder), a good sense of humor, and a 10% promo code to make up for it. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, the real mistake comes from not addressing it in a timely manner, which can lead to further confusion and frustration from your customers or prospects. Not only that, but it gives you a great opportunity to leverage the situation; making your email subscribers feel seen and turning things around into a win with a discount code.

How to Do It:

  • Don’t wait. Put together a template apology message now, leaving room to add in the relevant details later. You’ll be glad to have it in the unfortunate event it’s required.
  • Don’t be shy about including a discount code. Doing so can drive those customers who are now engaged to make a purchase — make it up to them and they’ll return the favor.


29. Cross-Sell/UpSell Email

(Image source: Neil Patel)

Why It’s Important: According to HubSpot, “It’s 5-25X more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.” And, those same, existing customers are “more likely to spend more and purchase more frequently.” As for the opportunities for cross-sell and upsell, your existing customers are, frankly, easier to sell to. In fact, by some estimates, “the probability of selling to existing customers is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.”

What It Is: Now, there are few people that aren’t familiar with music streaming platform Spotify, and most of us know that they make the bulk of their revenue through their subscriptions. But, as is shown in the example above, they actually have another revenue service — concert tickets. Based on a subscriber’s behavior (eg the music you listen to), Spotify will generate upsell opportunities with things like concert tickets and merchandise and seize cross-sell opportunities there. It’s a great use of marketing automation and customizing offers for Spotify users that can maximize engagement.

How to Do It:

  • If your site doesn’t use a renewal model, this type of message could easily be tweaked to pitch complementary products or to encourage past purchasers to upgrade the items they’ve already bought.


30. Social/Community Activism

(Image source: HubSpot)

Why It’s Important: According to a report by Nielsen, 66% of consumers are willing to pay a premium price from brands that demonstrate social commitment. In a study by Cone Communications, they found that 87% of Americans will purchase a product based on that company’s advocating for an issue they care about. What is becoming increasingly apparent, is that many of today’s consumers are just as passionate about the values and virtues of a brand as they are about their products and services.

What It Is: When it comes to social activism and fundraising messages, few organizations do it better than Charity water. Just look at the example above of a progress update. It offers a deep dive into the journey of a donation and shows off where it’s going and what it’s able to achieve. They use marketing automation to show their donors how impactful their donation is over time, complete with timeline, stories, and explanations of the work being done.

Whether you’re a charitable organization yourself, or simply incorporate social enterprise elements into your existing business, these types of messages share your brand’s message, while reminding customers what you value, what you do, and how they’re making a difference by being part of your mission.

How to Do It:

  • Don’t do good as a company for the sole purpose of sending out this type of message (and certainly don’t lie about your company’s charitable acts); doing so will come across as disingenuous and you will be caught (bad actors always are).
  • Do feature your good works as part of your company’s story in an authentic way that’ll resonate with your subscribers.




31. Order Confirmation and Receipt Email

(Source: Pinterest)


Why It’s Important: One word: Dopamine.

Among other things, Dopamine is a chemical that can help moderate pleasure in the brain, and is released during pleasurable situations like shopping. You might think that the dopamine in your shoppers’ brains is running highest when they receive their shipment from you. Not so, say the scientists. In fact, dopamine peaks during the anticipation phase. So right after the order is placed on your website, you can be assured that it is flowing freely.

That means that immediately post-order is a great time to send a big “thank you” for their purchase, a confirmation of what they’ll be receiving and when (along with some beautiful pictures to heighten the anticipation and reinforce their purchase), tips and tricks on how to use the product and more. It’s also a great time to present additional offers for discounts for similar products to encourage follow-on purchases.  Some brands include a “thank-you” discount coupon for a future purchase. While the dopamine is flowing freely, it is also a good time to ask your new customers to refer their friends to your brand, so be sure to include an invitation to your referral program in the footer.

Above, REI ticks almost all of the boxes: it features great use of whitespace, effective use of color for the CTA (“View your order details”) as well as plenty of options to keep the customer engaged with the brand, including:

  • getting support
  • encouraging membership
  • learning about the guarantee
  • promoting a member’s credit card

Note however that not all email client software is created equal, and sometimes your carefully crafted HTML emails can present poorly. There’s nothing wrong with using simple text.

This post from the Shopify blog shows how BarkBox does it, including the boring (but necessary) tracking and order numbers, confirming the shipping times, and also inviting the customer to purchase a gift for friends and family.
(Image source: Shopify)
What it is: When an order has completed on your site, and the customer’s payment has been confirmed, it’s time to send out the automatic order confirmation email to celebrate the purchase, confirm details, and reinforce the purchase decision.

How to Do It:

  • Build great-looking order confirmations using the templates provided by your email marketing platform, or leverage a platform like Conversio (formerly Receiptful) and build upon tools that experts have built to maximize open rates for these receipts.
  • Thank your customers for their order in the subject line. Include your brand and ideally the product name.
  • The body of the email – as always – is another opportunity to reinforce your brand.
  • Like Klaviyo suggests: Provide them with the important details such as an order number that will let them track their order (if possible) and estimated delivery date. It’s a good time to confirm the shipping address as well.
  • Show them a picture of what they ordered (not just the description) if possible, and include other order-specific information like sizing and color.
  • As with every other email: Include a CTA. Don’t forget that dopamine:  Present them with a discount coupon and invite them to make another purchase with you, or invite them to refer their friends to you. Make it easy for them to do either, including providing links that take them straight through to a personalized shopping cart (to make the purchase, with the discount applied), or referral program (with their personalized sharing link displayed).
  • Keep it bright and breezy, and avoid the “form letter” style of order confirmations.


What have we missed?

Certainly, there are a lot more than 31 different types of email marketing messages out there, so if you’ve got another type you feel deserves a spot on this list, we’d love to hear about it.

39 thoughts on “30 E-commerce Email Marketing Messages That Boost Sales

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  2. This article is extremely engaging and informative! I completely agree with you that email is one of the effective tools of marketing. Emails should deliver messages that appeal to the potential customers of a business organisation. Emails provide the business organisations an opportunity to capture the attention of the target group of people. I particularly liked the idea of product launch campaigns very much. You beautifully explained the concept of product launch campaign and usefulness in the article. With the help of this type of emails, the customers can come to know about new products and benefits. There are many people who make their decisions of purchasing products on the basis of product launch emails. Thanks for this article! Keep writing!

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  18. Emails should deliver messages that appeal to the potential customers of a business organisation. Emails provide the business organisations an opportunity to capture the attention of the target group of people.

  19. Truely said that E-mail is use to product or service. It takes time. You can’t expect to build your email list overnight. But mostly people don’t sees their mails on daily bases this was main disadvantage of E-mail marketing. Most of the people unsubscribes the handle.

  20. This is a great collection of practical tips for email marketing. What I find very important is segmentation, mobile-ready communication and analytics in email marketing. I guess that another important thing is the choice of the email marketing service provider. A good fit for me was GetResponse, but it’s good to test the choices that are available on the market to pick the right tool for certain businesses.

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