There are two types of people in this world. Those with “inbox zero,” and then people like me.

screenshot of full inbox

This is a real-life screenshot of my current inbox. I know, I know it is bad! But here’s the thing: most of these are promotional emails that go right into my “Promotions” tab. Yes, I do open some of them, but only if they are super appealing to me.

This might seem discouraging for all you email marketing ecommerce folks out there, but it is likely a challenge you are already aware of. Being a marketer in the ecommerce industry is not an easy thing. The space is like New Years Eve in Times Square—it is jam-packed! Yet, email can’t be ignored. In fact, 80% of retail marketers indicate that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention.

So how can you stand out against the flood of other emails loading up your target customer’s inbox? Here are 11 ways to improve your email marketing for ecommerce—and make those message un-missable!

1. Make your subject line POP

The first few tips are ALL about email subject lines. Why? Your email subject line is like the cover of your book. It needs to be super gripping and compelling to convince that person with 27,000+ unopened emails in their inbox (aka me) to open yours. In fact, 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone, according to Convince&Convert.

So how can you make your email lines open-worthy? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Think outside of the box, and get creative with your copy!
  • Use simple, understandable language (no big words, please).
  • Use ALL CAPS when appropriate.
  • Use exclamation marks to show enthusiasm.
  • Put the BEST highlights of your email in the subject line…
  • … But leave a little piece unknown to get them wanting more

Bed Bath & Beyond crushed it with their email subject line below. Their nice and exciting email copy instantly caught my eyes, with the all caps “YESSSSS!,” the writing style, excitement about Fall (who doesn’t LOVE Fall?!), and, of course, putting a 20% coupon on the table. They also left me wanting more with the “Get your first look” text, which is exactly what you need to do to make me open that email.

ecommerce email subject line from Bed Bath & Beyond

2. Use emojis in your subject line

Another great way to hook people into your emails is by making your subject lines visual through the use of emojis. Brands using emojis in their email received a 56% higher open rate than those that did not, according to Experian.

This is even MORE critical for those in the ecommerce marketing industry because there are SO many emails being received from other ecommerce companies. But scanning through my own inbox, I noticed only a few use emojis. This tactic is definitely something to consider.

When you’re using emojis, it is critical to make them relevant. Take a look at the examples below.

ecommerce email subject line Etsy

ecommerce email subject line Joss & Main

They both work, but Etsy did a really great job of making the emoji relevant to the copy.

3. Personalize your subject lines

Last email subject line tip, I promise (they are just that important!!). One way for ecommerce marketers to really make their emails stand out is my making them completely about your customer. What better way to do that then using your customer’s first name in the email subject line? Emails that include the first name of the recipient in their subject line receive a higher click-through-rate then those that don’t, according to HubSpot.

I know I instantly noticed this Lord + Taylor email below. I immediately wanted to know what I’ve been missing! If using an email marketing tool, this is likely quite easy to do in an automated way as well. So make your subject lines about your customer, and you’ll see your click-through-rates go up right up after hitting “send.”

ecommerce email marketing personalized subject line

4. Send a welcome email!

Moving on from subject lines, let’s dive into the content of the email itself. These “welcome emails” bring in a whopping 320% more revenue than other promotional emails in the B2C industry. And what could be easier than saying welcome!

To do this well, make sure to use big, bold text, include a call to action, and have a stunning image and overall design. Check out the email below from Rent the Runway.

ecommerce welcome email example

What better way to be welcomed than by a beautiful smiling human? Then, as I scrolled down, I saw the CTA.

welcome email CTA

I love how pleasant and not overly pushy this ecommerce CTA is because it is important to remember this is a “Welcome” email to a new customer so making a great first impression is critical!

5. Use videos thumbnails

I could sit here and provide a long list of statistics about how important video marketing is, but even more important is embracing all of the places you can use video in your ecommerce marketing efforts. What better way to make your products come to life than with video?

The best way to do this is by simply including a linkable image with a play button (which resembles a video) in your email that then links to your website where the video lives. Why? Many email providers do not allow for in-email video playback. And why not? Configuring it this way gets your shoppers one click closer to purchase.

ecommerce email marketing thumbnail video example

6. Make each subscriber feel special

As we have been discussing, it is so critical for ecommerce marketers to stand out. Another great way to do this is by making your email subscribers feel truly valued and special. There are many ways to do so, but one great way is through special offers and deals. For instance, check out the example below from Fabletics.

VIP offer from Fabletics

Due to my “VIP” status, they offered a pair of leggings for only $10—what a steal! Finding fun ways to do things like this for your business will not only help you convert customers through email, but it can also help you create returning and even loyal customers.

7. Instill FOMO in subscribers with a limited-time offer

Who gets FOMO when they are invited to an event they cannot attend because you end up sick at home or have another obligations? I know I do.

It’s possible to create FOMO for your brand offerings, especially for all you ecommerce marketers out there who have products that people want on SALE. Clearly putting your items on sale makes them more attractive and more “sellable,” but it is also so critical to partner your sales offering with an expiration date to get your shoppers buying before they get distracted.

ecommerce email subject line with limited offer

So how can you do this effectively? Here are a few quick tips:

  • Make sure your subject lines include FOMO verbiage. like “Hurry up!” or “Act fast!”
  • Include the discount in your subject line.
  • Give a hard deadline of when the sale or special offer ends.

ecommerce email with limited offer

8. Celebrate the seasons!

Who doesn’t love a change in season? It feels like a fresh start or a new beginning. It’s a time to go crazy over pumpkins, aggressively bake holiday cookies and cozy up with hot cocoa, or bust out your dusty cleaning supplies to prepare for spring. Whatever the occasion may be, tie it to your ecommerce email campaigns to relate to your audience in a way that we all can. This is such a great thing for ecommerce marketers to do because typically businesses in B2C have products related to different seasons and celebrations.

Take the example below from an email I received from Crate & Barrel.

Crate & Barrel Halloween email

Crate & Barrel Halloween email with copy

I love everything about this, from the fun and spooky Halloween decor to the enticing copy. It surely got me in the mood to shop to create a similar vibe in my own home.

9. Turn new customers into returning customers

The thing with ecommerce that many of you are all too aware of is that many customers are one-time customers. It’s the best customers who are the ones that come back again and again. So why not create an ecommerce marketing campaign that turns your one-time customers into lifelong customers?

How can you do this? Take a page from DSW’s book by building a special VIP club that is FREE to join.

DSW VIP email

Build a neat, concise, and thoughtful list of the exciting perks joining the club will offer them, similar to the one below. Think along the lines of providing free shipping or providing certain discounts or rewards every time they shop. Anything that will get your audience willing to shop more works well!

10. Educate your subscribers

There is something to be said about not always being salesy and just showing off your products in every email. If you can provide your audience with substantial and useful information to guide their future purchases, it is going to leave them with a much stronger sense of brand recognition and admiration for your ecommerce company.

Take the example from Zola, a wedding planning website that makes revenue through their ecommerce wedding registry store. Rather than just encouraging folks to set up their registries, Zola sent along a very compelling and well-designed guide on flatware for a bride or groom new to the flatware buying game. As someone who just recently had a wedding, I must say this is a super helpful resource!

Zola email

11. Pay to get to the top

I know, I know—your marketing budget it tight! But, as we have discussed, your audience has an inbox over-populated with other ecommerce marketing emails so to get your most important messages noticed, it may be worth throwing in a few bucks to get to the top of inboxes.

“Gmail Ads are one of the more intriguing opportunities Google has given advertisers to reach people where they spend a lot of their time online—in their inboxes,” says WordStream founder, Larry Kim. “You can reduce costs by optimizing several aspects of your campaign, reach your own (and a new) audience, and measure post-open success.”

Take a couple examples below from ones that hit my inbox recently. I especially love one from HelloFresh where the subject line is short and sweet with a special deal for first time customers.

examples of paid promotion email subject line views

Make your email marketing an ecommerce success!

While being an email ecommerce marketer comes with many crowded challenges, these tips should be sure to set you emails apart from the pack.