Growth Marketer Academy: Episode 20 – Use Email to Get More Sales from your eCommerce Site (without spending more on ads) – Part 2

This is the second in a 2-part series about how to effectively craft an eCommerce email that converts.

If you’re running any business, but particularly an eCommerce site, and NOT using email marketing, you’re leaving easy money on the table.

But it’s not all about sales and promotion blasts.

That’s right. To maintain your audience and NOT end up in the dreaded SPAM folder, you need to engage with a variety of helpful, relationship-building emails.

It’s not all about sales and promotion emails.

Sending email blasts without a strategy is ineffective no matter how well-designed your emails are.

No two customers are alike

you need to target and personalize your message.  

Start with stages in a customer’s purchase lifecycle segment your email list accordingly.

Target customers using specific email campaigns & triggers at each stage This will increase the likelihood of conversion.


Send potential buyers an email series that focuses on building trust to win their first purchase

Use a different series to incentivize existing customers to buy from you again.


Sound like a lot of work?

I’m not going to lie – it’s no cakewalk


Good news! You can automate most of these emails.

Turn your emails into an invisible round-the-clock sales team.  

Stage 1 – Potential & First Time Buyers (Interested)

Most people take time to make a purchase.

98% of visitors won’t buy on their first visit to an eCommerce store. (

Online shoppers shop around

They ARE considering your competitors.

If you can get their email address, score!

Welcome potential customers into your family

Establish a link to your brand culture

Nurture them towards an eventual purchase.

1. The Welcome Email Series

The welcome email is super important.

It’s the first exchange between your business and a potential customer.

74% of consumers expect a welcome email

SO you can expect 4 times more opens

and 5 times the click-through rate of other promotional emails.

welcome email click rates bar graph

How to craft a great welcome email:

Keep it brief

Include great visuals

Do some (or all) of the following:

karen millen welcome email

Hello! And Welcome to the Family!

The first thing readers should see is a friendly greeting.

This makes readers feel appreciated.

Test out phrases such as “welcome to the family” or “thanks for subscribing”

Virgin America uses a pun to brand their welcome message.

Virgin America welcome email


Introduce yourself


This is your chance to sell yourself or your brand

Share your brand story

Let people know what makes you different or special.

Identify the reasons why someone should shop from you rather than a competitor.

Food52 does this by letting readers know what motivates them.

Food52 welcome email


Set expectations


Let recipients know about the type of content (and frequency of emails) they can expect from you.

This can be the difference that gets your emails in the inbox instead of the spam folder.

Gilt gives a clear direction of what to expect from them.

Gilt welcome email


Provide incentives


Incentives motivate action.

Reduces the level of risk associated with trying out your products.

Can help turn an on-the-fence window shopper into a loyal customer.

Gap offers an incentive right away rather than indoctrinating recipients into their brand culture.

Gaps welcome email with 25% off offer

Incentives don’t always have to mean discounts.




Get social


This should be low on your priority list

Still, remember to add links to your social profiles at the end of welcome emails.

Some customers will prefer to interact on social media.


2. Lead nurturing email series

A one-time welcome email MAY be enough to get SOME shoppers to buy from you.


A majority will still require further hand-holding.

Use a few emails to warm leads until they are ready to buy.

IMPORTANT: Keep these messages non-promotional.

Be helpful

Establish yourself as the source of useful info or tips 

Show you understand the problems potential customers face.

When they’re ready to buy, you’ll be the first name that comes to mind.




Anyone can (and should) educate leads.

Positions you as an authority and influencer in your niche.

People trust (and buy) from those perceived as experts.

Men’s grooming line Beardbrand uses education to not only help their customers solve challenges but also place their product in context.

Beardbrand lead nurture email

Determine the type of content that aligns with your product and relates to your audience.

Ask yourself the following questions:


Create a video or detailed how-to guide.

Provide a curated collection of links to existing how-to videos on YouTube


Offer a checklist for a related activity.

Remember: keep the focus away from your products


Continue with your story


Expand on your brand story

How your business got started

What drives it today.

Share stories from your employees to humanize your brand


Include testimonials from existing customers.  

Sharing reviews and testimonials from your customer’s peers can



Entertain your audience


Just because you’re sending automated emails doesn’t mean they have to sound like them.

People relate to a brand with personality.

Be funny

Be cool

90% of purchase decisions are made subconsciously driven by emotions

So take the time to win some hearts.

JetBlue sends lead nurture emails that are fun to read from start to finish.

Jet Blue lead nurture email

Your lead nurturing email campaign should have a defined timeline.

The optimal length will largely depend on your industry and target audience.

Pay close attention to how you space your nurturing emails.

For example, your timeline may look something like this:

Each email in this segment should build up, or ‘soft-sell,’ your final offer.


All nurture campaigns should end with a promotional email

Ensure people make that elusive first purchase.

3. Promotional email series (for first-time buyers)

Your nurturing campaign should have convinced people to trust you.

Nudge them over the finish line with an email that compels a purchase.

Here are a few types of promotional emails you can test:


Coupon emails


These emails are relatively straightforward.

Offer the recipient a unique promo code flat discount on any product they purchase from you.

Everyone loves a good bargain

Joy promotional email doscount

Including a reason for the offer

(like JOY has here)

improves your conversion.

They’ve set a time limit on their discount

Create action urgency.

Note: Don’t have to give a discount:

Free shipping

Free with purchase add-on

Bonus loyalty club points


Browse abandonment email


Instead of offering a general discount, send a personalized reminder.

Use marketing automation tool to log & trigger a page when someone visits a product page but doesn’t buy

Send them a reminder about it.

Retail clothing brand PacSun sends reminders to shoppers based on the product category they browsed on their website.

Pacsun promotional email

Make it even better: add a quick discount to fast-track purchase.

This is, of course, a close cousin to the cart abandonment email.

4. Cart abandonment emails

Cart abandonment = when shoppers add items to the checkout cart but for some reason never complete the purchase.

It’s hugely common for first-time site visitors to browse before buying.

Between new site visitors and returning visitors, almost 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned.

75% abandon their cart with the intent to return

Business Insider reports that this costs online retailers $4.6 trillion in sales every year.

View abandonment as an opportunity.

You can’t fully recover every penny lost

BUT you can win back some sales.

For a cart abandonment email to be effective, you first need to understand why shoppers leave a purchase mid-process

The reasons are many and varied:

why online shoppers pay without leaving graphic

Cart abandonment email series lets you address a variety of pain points

Convince customers to return to complete their purchase.  


Time is of the essence


72% of all customers who buy from a cart abandonment email do so within 24 hours of cart abandonment.

They don’t need an incentive, they just need a reminder.

Your first cart abandonment email should simply bring back customers to check out.

Offering a discount at this stage =unnecessary

No need to eat away into your profits.

Chubbies Shorts makes this process fun and easy.

Chubbies abandoned cart email reminder


  1. A high-quality image of the product
  2. A CTA with a link that leads directly back to the checkout
  3. A way to reach your customer support in case they need help


Take that reminder one step further


Next in the series of cart abandonment emails = an ‘advanced’ reminder.

State your company’s value-add right at the start.


Remind shoppers you offer free shipping


about your no-questions-asked guarantee.

Remind them about their cart AND about how awesome you are.

ASOS’s cart abandonment email

Offers a simple reminder about what’s been left behind mentions a few points about how purchases involve minimal risk.

asos abandoned cart email reminder


The discount cart abandonment email


If none of the above emails work, your customers are price-sensitive.

A discount might push them to complete a purchase.

Decide: How much loss are you willing to take to make a sale?

Typically, you need to offer at least 10% to be effective.

Add an element of urgency to your discount.

Levis cart abandonment email example:

Levi's abandoned cart email

Stage 2 – Repeat Buyers (Engaged Customers)

With your first sale comes great responsibility.

You’re 60-70% likely to sell to an existing customer vs. 5-20% for a new prospect.

Email beats out all other marketing tactics for customer retention.

40% of an eCommerce store’s revenue is created by 8% of customers.

That 8% is repeat customers – they’re hugely profitable!

Yet eCommerce stores devote 80% of their budget to customer acquisition.

The bulk of your profits will come from getting customers who have bought from you before to buy again and again (repeat customers).

There are two types of existing customers:

  1. Fresh customers
  2. Occasional customers

Let’s break down the type of emails you’ll need to retain each of these types.

1. Fresh customers

Customers that have purchased from you recently.

They’re engaged

At the perfect point in their acquisition cycle for certain key touches.


Post-purchase good vibe emails


Keep shoppers engaged after they’ve made a purchase

Lay the groundwork for further purchases.

Start with the basics: order confirms

Average open rates for order confirmation emails is 70% vs. just 18% for regular email marketing campaigns

Also: tempt people back on your site with upsells and cross-sells.

Convert a one-time buyer into a repeat customer.

Start recommending your other products while a customer is waiting for their first product to ship.

Barkbox uses order confirmation receipts as an opportunity to promote their gift option.

Barkbox order confirmation email

Recommendations at this stage can work, but be careful about a few things.

Order confirmation should be informational.

Recommending a few products is just a secondary bonus.

Recommendations should be personalized and relevant to what the customer bought.


don’t show customers who bought a razor blade recommendations for swimwear

Limit recommendations to no more than 5

Don’t draw attention away from the main purpose of the email.


The review us email


Editors Note: It’s against Yelp review policy to solicit reviews. To be in compliance with the Yelp platform, instead of asking for reviews, tell your customers “check us out on Yelp!”

Asking for a review helps you in lots of ways.


Here’s how to make the most of these emails:

Send these emails a few days after customers receive their item.

The purchase experience is still fresh in their mind

The opportune moment to collect a glowing review.

Let customers know their feedback is valued.

People tend to reciprocate the kind of treatment they receive.

Telling customers their opinions matter increases the number of reviews you collect Drives customers back to buy from you again.

The easiest way to invite a repeat purchase.

Make customers feel they’re getting something in return for doing you a favor.

A discount provides this feeling


Encourages customers back to your store to spend on you again.

Example email from Warby Parker

Warby Parker order confirmation email

2. Occasional customers

It’d be great if customers bought repeatedly and frequently.

But, this is the exception rather than the norm.

Most of your customers will be occasional.

This group of customers is at risk of becoming unengaged.

To drive sales from this group of customers, your approach should be:

Remind them that you exist (brand awareness)


Mix such messages with special promotions.


The loyalty reward email


Customers like to feel exclusive and special.

This is why brands launch new products with a limited stock:

To make the first round of customers feel special

And create buzz.

Mimic this with loyalty reward emails.

Provide a ‘special’ offer to your customers

Mention why they have received it.

Example: Dressabelle’s loyalty reward email

Encourages ongoing brand engagement

Encourages spending (you’re only XX points away from a bigger discount)

Dressabelle loyalty rewards email

The goal with these emails:

Make your customers feel like royalty and tell them how thankful you are for their business.


The birthday email


Pretty self-explanatory

Make the customer feel special and appreciated

Opportunity to encourage them to “get themselves the gift they really want”


Could be a flat fee off a customer’s next purchase

Fixed % discount

Free shipping

or a free gift.

Festive spirit = more open to spending

Even if it wasn’t their intent to visit your store.

In case a customer was busy during their birthday

Send a gentle reminder to let them know they can still get the deal.

Consider “celebrating” other occasions like Anniversaries and holidays.


Company update email


Avoid being overly promotional.

If all that occasional customers see in their inbox from you are product recommendations and discounts, you’ll seem too profit-driven.

Send an info email as often as a promo

Fill customers in on what’s new.

Let them know about:

Chick-Fil-A drives excitement and engagement

Chick-fil-A company update email

Stage 3 – Lapsed Buyers (Inactive)

Losing a few customers is expected.

You must try to win back customers who have become inactive or dropped off the radar.

There’s very little risk and a lot to gain.

When a customer hasn’t opened an email or bought from you within a certain time frame, they are in the process of ‘lapsing.’

Common reasons for drop off:

Customers are sensitive to their reason

You need to create messaging that resonates with them to get them to reconsider buying from you.

1st: segment at-risk customers into two categories:

An RFM matrix can help you visualize and segment customers.

Here’s an example of how one looks (note: your time frame may look different).

RFM matrix

You’ll need to be more aggressive with lapsed customers than those deemed inactive.


The emotional appeal email


Everyone likes to hear they are missed.

It makes them feel special and valued.

Use this as a tactic to:

Use phrases such as ‘we miss you’ or ‘we’re sad when you are away’ in your subject line and email copy.

Once opened, give an irresistible reason for readers to visit your site.

Pinkberry achieves this by giving its inactive users a freebie.

Pinkberry emotional appeal email

Everyone loves free things.

If you’re unable to give away a small gift, you can


The ‘Hail Mary’ discount email


If inactive customers still don’t bite, you’ll have to up the ante.

Up until now, you’ve probably used small discounts here and there

Aiming to entice interested and engaged customers to purchase from you.

If you fear a customer may be lost, you may need to offer a discount so big that customers can’t help but act on it.

If you have to foot their bill, take the loss.

Get them reacquainted with buying from you so they end up purchasing other items.


The passive aggressive email


The previous emails may work on recently lapsed customers.

BUT if someone has been inactive for a long time, they have likely forgotten about you.

Sending an emotional or promotional email out of the blue will probably get you marked as spam.

It’s time to be passive aggressive

Let customers know they are about to be unsubscribed.

Ask them what you could have done better so that you can help other customers.

Remember to be gentle and unobtrusive like UrbanOutfitters does here.

Urban outfitter passive aggressive email

If customers are actually reading, they will probably feel a smidge guilty

May take the necessary steps to stay on your list.

This also brings your brand to the top of their mind.

If they truly don’t want anything more to do with you, at least you’ll get some valuable feedback.


Time to let go


Sometimes you have to accept defeat.

If after all of your efforts to re-engage, your customer still won’t open your emails, unsubscribe them

Send them one final email notifying them of this terrible news.

Leave them with a link they can use to get back on your list

(in case they change their mind)