Email is often underestimated and neglected as a customer-oriented marketing channel. A properly planned and perfectly implemented email campaign provides a wide variety of opportunities that you should not miss out on, particularly when it comes to the e-commerce sector.

With transactional emails, newsletters, and other marketing emails either as standalone emails or integrated into the email automation workflow, you can target specific customers to establish a more personal relationship with them.

Not only will you remind customers of what your company can offer them, but you will also be building trust and showcasing your services in the digital arena.

You shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to win over new customers and reinforce the loyalty of your existing ones with your entertaining and informative email content.

This article is a step-by-step guide on how to plan, create, send, and optimize your email campaigns for your online shop according to the latest legal standards.

Table of Contents

  1. Email marketing strategy: The essentials
  2. GDPR: Pay attention to data protection
  3. How do I acquire email subscribers?
  4. E-commerce email campaign ideas along the customer journey
  5. Get personal in transactional
  6. Send productively!
  7. The evaluation: Testing your email campaign
  8. Now it’s your turn!


Email marketing strategy: The essentials

Before you send a large number of emails to your customers, it’s important to define your email marketing objectives. After all, to build a house you need a solid foundation. Your objectives will be your foundation.

By writing emails without a solid strategy, you run the risk of sending campaigns that aren’t relevant, and which will result in a low click rate and skyrocketing unsubscribe rate. And you don’t want this. Do you? 🤔

The key question you should be asking yourself here as an e-commerce company is: What do I want to achieve? Your objectives could include:

  • Winning over new customers
  • Increasing sales
  • Receiving reviews and feedback
  • Boosting customer loyalty and communication
  • Providing customers with information (about special offers, new products, etc.)
  • Introducing your company and your unique selling points

KPI Framework

Of course, you don’t have to pick just one of these aspects. In view of the many different possibilities in the field of email marketing, however, it is beneficial to have just a few clearly defined objectives. Concentrate on those most important to you. This will allow you to utilize your resources efficiently and mean you won’t waste unnecessary time creating email content that provides no added value.

Instead, ensure that your email campaign is perfectly tailored to your needs. Follow a clear objective that you can naturally adapt, modify, or realign over time.

GDPR: Pay attention to data protection

The basis for every email marketing campaign is the email contact list. That said, you should still be aware that a long list of recipients doesn’t guarantee success. Most importantly, you should avoid buying or exchanging email address lists. This is a huge mistake for legal and economic reasons.

According to the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) implemented on 25 May 2018, if you send out newsletters to recipients who haven’t explicitly consented to receive them, you will be liable to prosecution and run the risk of facing substantial fines. No fines = happier you (and your pocket).

For this reason (and others, really), you should acquire explicit consent from your potential email subscribers. This is possible in various ways, including using double opt-in. With this process, the user actively registers using an email subscription form and confirms his consent once more via the follow-up email.

Subscription Confirmation Email

Another benefit of this process is the receptiveness of your subscribers. The more interested people you have on your list, the higher the opening rate will be, and the more likely they will be to purchase from your shop.

With this prior knowledge, you can build a functional email list that focuses on the users’ interests, thus turning them into potential customers. Handy, heh?

How do I acquire email subscribers?

Now that you are aware of the legal prerequisites and have given some thought to the content of your newsletters, all you need is loyal subscribers.

As a first step, you should make your website visitors aware of the option to subscribe to your email campaign. You can do this by implementing subscription widgets, which can be placed strategically in visible locations. At this point, you should only request the most important information such as the customer’s name and email address so that you don’t scare them away.

Mailjet Newsletter

The second step involves informing your fans and followers about your newsletter via your social media channels and email signature.

Include enticements that will convince those who are still undecided about the added value of your online shop newsletter. Possible offers can include:

  • Discounts
  • Coupons
  • Exclusive content (ebooks, videos, etc.)
  • Advance information about events

E-commerce email campaign ideas along the customer journey

As an online shop, there are many many types of emails that you could send out. In order to make the most of all email marketing potential, we recommend integrating marketing and transactional emails along the customer lifecycle.

The benefit of focusing on the customer journey is that it allows you to deduce current customer needs, create individualized content, and make targeted contact.

Here are the email campaigns you should use in different situations:

1. The welcome email

No matter what, first impressions really count. When welcoming a new “member” of your email list, send him/her a welcome email containing valuable content. This is a great opportunity to:

  • introduce your company and your products.
  • make the subscriber aware of your social media channels.
  • provide an overview of what type of emails you will be sending.
  • indicate important links.

What you want is to convey a positive and trustworthy first impression, which will make your new subscriber look forward to receiving more.

Welcome Email

2. The classic newsletter

Once you’ve won over new subscribers, you need to make sure they stay in your list by providing them with valuable content.

Naturally, the exact content depends on your business model and customers. As an ecommerce company, you can offer the following newsletter content:

  • Promoting your own products
  • Guides for your products
  • A behind-the-scenes peek of production
  • Parts of product roadmap
  • Customer interviews

Penguin Newsletter

Do make sure, however, that your newsletter is not too salesy. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can only sell through your newsletter. Sending out newsletters that are too pushy will cause people to unsubscribe from your list.
Instead, ask yourself the following questions and create your newsletter accordingly:

  1. What interests my readers?
  2. What questions might they have?
  3. What problems are they currently facing?
  4. How, specifically, can I help them solving these problems?

3. Special newsletters

In addition to your regular newsletter, you can create email campaigns for special events. These can be for holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day, as well as seasonal events such as the Tour de France, the World Cup, the Olympic Games, and Oktoberfest.

You could even, for example, showcase your expert knowledge in the form of useful tips and tricks, or make readers aware of special offers. Make sure, however, that it all ties back to your company.

Nokia Mothers Day NL

4. Order and shipping confirmations

While you can send out marketing campaigns at any time, transactional emails are triggered by customer action. These include, for example, newsletter subscriptions, invoices, and purchase confirmations.

As an e-commerce company, your main objective is obviously to promote sales in your online shop. Once a customer buys something, you should first send them an order confirmation and then an email receipt. Once the purchased product is dispatched, you can then send them a shipping confirmation.

Transactional emails tend to have higher open rates, as customers already expect to receive your communications and look forward to receiving their purchase.

Make sure you leverage on these emails to make your customers aware of other items, special offers, and links. This is the best time for you to upsell. Don’t miss the chance. 😉

Order Confirmation

5. Customer surveys

Show your customer that their opinion is important to you by sending them customer surveys and other feedback emails. Give them the opportunity to evaluate you. This could target individual products, the entire shop, the service, or all of the above.

Customer surveys are absolutely essential for you for the following reasons:

    1. To check if your communication with customers is clear and coherent.
    2. To obtain and guide the attention of your customers.
    3. To strengthen customer loyalty.
    4. To inspire you with new product ideas.

Headspace Survey Email

6. Shopping cart dropouts

Has your customer halted a transaction or left an item in their shopping cart? Remind them with a friendly email! This gives you an additional option to show them similar products and offers, or provide them with buying incentives through discounts.

Dote Abandoned Cart Email

Don’t give up on any customers! You can send a personalized email to inactive users. This allows you to find out if they are still interested in your services and remind them about your unique products.

If you succeed in winning the customer back, you can surprise them with a “Welcome back” email. You can make a good impression here with the aid of discounts or coupons.

if you don’t receive any reaction following several messages, then it may be best to part ways and remove the contact from your list. Yes, we know it’s always hard to let them go… 😔 but it’s best for everyone this way.

7. Individual customer letter

You can engage your customers in a more personal manner and develop a friendly relationship with personalized touches such as a birthday email with coupon.

Think about whether you would like to show appreciation to particular customers – after all, loyalty should be rewarded! For example, cheaper account upgrades are a possibility here.

While we’re on the topic of rewards, you may want to provide incentives for customers and subscribers who recommend you others. Make it easy to recommend your website and shop, and show your appreciation for each customer gained this way.

Nike Birthday Email

Get personal in transactional

Since transactional emails are sent to single users, you can make the most of email personalization.

By addressing your customers personally, you strengthen your relationship with them and create familiarity. This also has a positive effect on the recipient’s perception of your service quality, as he will feel valued. Keep in mind, that today’s customers expect to be addressed personally and in a timely manner.

Surprise your contacts with creative and helpful content, even in transactional emails. Make the most of each chance you have to make contact to strengthen the relationship and make them aware of further important resources offered by your company.

To obtain this, use colors and logos that your customers are familiar with, to emphasize your authenticity. Importantly, respect email design best practices, especially for transactional emails:

  • Use a descriptive and enticing subject line.
      • Be brief.
      • Use a clear call to action.
      • Surprise recipients with an innovative design.
      • Keep the focus on your brand.
      • Correct layout: stick to the right width.
      • Use several hierarchy levels (headings, fonts, etc.).
      • Make sure content is displayed correctly on all devices.

Personalised Email

Send productively!

We’ve all been there: marketing emails clog up your inbox with information about things that you’re not even interested in. When companies send standardized campaigns to their entire contact list, they run the risk of being perceived as irrelevant.

It’s far better to segment your contact list. Tailor your campaign to the recipients’ interests to achieve a higher opening rate and conversions.

It’s useful to create lists based on parameters such as place of residence, gender, and buying patterns. This allows you to touch upon your customers needs in an ideal manner.

Or, you can let your users decide for themselves. In this case, the customer can decide which topics they would like to receive emails about.


The evaluation: Testing your email campaign

Even the most successful email campaign can be improved. So you need to keep testing your performance.

Which email subject line has the best opening rate? Which links and call-to-action buttons generate the most clicks? Which email content was uninteresting for your subscribers? Ask yourself these questions and adjust your content accordingly.

You can use A/B testing to compare different types of content and then see which alternative was received most positively by your customers.

You can use a tracking function for a step-by-step breakdown of if and when an email has been opened, and which links and widgets were used. With this knowledge, you can improve and adjust your future campaigns.

A/B Testing

Segmentation can also be carried out based on this evaluation. You can send personalized email content and build an optimized list of newsletter subscribers.

Now it’s your turn!

You are now ready to make the most of email marketing for your ecommerce company. You know you need an effective email marketing strategy, how to create and manage email lists, and which types of emails are just waiting for you to use them.

Mailjet offers you all of the email functions and tools that online shops need for this purpose. Don’t miss any more opportunities for your ecommerce business.

Read more: Split Testing Email Campaigns