eCommerce email marketing: What to do with that email list (besides let it gather dust)

Email lists are legendary.

Imagine pushing a button on Friday afternoon, then checking your store on Monday to see hundreds of sales come in over the weekend.


It’s not a fantasy. There are hundreds of stores out there with such magical powers.

But it doesn’t happen overnight. Just because you have a list of people who bought from you, doesn’t mean you can just send products their way. You need tact and strategy.

In this post, I’ll teach you:

  • How to use your email list to market your store
  • What types of emails get the highest open rates and conversions
  • Email marketing tools to help you along
  • A bit about retargeting and swapping audiences (this section is a fun one!)

Note: This post assumes you’ve already started capturing emails. If not, go check out this post!

In memory of Mighty Ducks, let’s get dangerous!


How to use your email newsletter to market your store

It’s the age old question: What the heck do I send to my email list?!

I understand. I’ve experienced the same struggle for my own eCommerce email lists. I’ve sent things that completely flopped - almost no opens and zero sales. 😢

But I’ve also experienced the reverse, like the magical weekend promotion we talked about in the beginning. And the difference between the two is night and day.

What made the difference?

  • Remembering there’s a person on the other end of those automated emails. You need to write like you would to a friend, not to a robot. Sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget in today’s highly digital world.
  • Knowing what those people care about. This is another reason it’s so important to know your audience. If you’re selling to single moms, for example, they probably want more free time to themselves. Speak to their pain points and desires.

Those two simple things are at the core of all strong eCommerce email marketing strategies.

That’s all well and dandy… but what do you actually send them?

The 5 types of emails that get the highest open rates and conversions

We’ve already revealed nine emails you should be sending to your list. But I’ll discuss five of the most important ones here.

Let’s start with the first email you should send your list when they sign up:

1. Welcome emails

Welcome emails are an easy way to connect with your audience and build a deeper relationship. They allow you to set the tone for your relationship with your customers.

When done right, a welcome email will increase the engagement for all future emails. They build trust, are opened and read more, and have been shown to generate 8X more revenue than other emails!

Here's a guide to writing stellar welcome emails (with examples).

2. Personalized emails with product recommendations

According to Marketing Land, personalized emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates than regular bulk emails. But what counts as “personalized”?

Of course, you can add someone’s name to an email. But some research suggests this actually hurts conversion and open rates. (People seem to think it’s spam or identity theft.)

Instead, personalization means adding personalized product recommendations based on previous purchases. Amazon does this almost too well.


(Side Note: Amazon can get away with using names because they’ve already build tremendous trust.)

Because these recommendations are based off items I’ve bought or recently viewed, they’re highly relevant. (I actually bought Ernest Hemingway’s book from this email.)

If you want to learn how to do this, skip to the tools section where I mention Conversio.

3. Giveaways

Everyone loves a good giveaway. These types of emails tend to have the highest engagement rate. After all, if it’s free, it’s for me!

Unbounce created an in-depth case study about Incentivibe, who used giveaways to increase their conversions by 700%. They sent an email which landed on this page:


If you're not sure what to give away, here are a few ideas:

  • Cash money, baby!
  • Free products, especially your best sellers
  • Vacations. Everybody wants a free trip to Bora Bora! (Or maybe that's just me)
  • Store credit. (Although not as many people will be interested in this one)
  • OTHER store's products. In fact, you can partner with non-competing stores in a similar niche to create an even more awesome giveaway!

4. Abandoned cart emails

On average, 69.23% of people abandon their shopping cart. (Online, of course. Although a lot of people leave their carts in the parking lots. So aggravating!)

How much would you make if you could recover even a third of those sales? How about two-thirds?

Well, Business Insider found that roughly 67% of abandoned carts can be recovered. Of course that varies wildly across industries and levels of talent, but it’s good news nonetheless.

So what makes a good cart recovery email?

Here are the keys:

  • Remind them what they left behind (duh)
  • Great copy (i.e. not just “Hey, come back!”)
  • Include images of the items they left behind
  • Offer a discount if you can afford it
  • Reserve their items in the cart (assuming you have enough stock)

And that’s it! Here’s a great example of an abandoned cart email by Grove:


Check out 12 more great examples in this post by Shopify.

Oh, and skip to the tools section where I talk about Conversio to automate your cart abandonment recovery emails.

5. Post-purchase emails

Did you know that reviews increase your eCommerce conversion rate?

In fact, user-generated content increases conversions an average of 163% across all industries.

What does that have to do with post-purchase emails?

With an average open rate of 70.90%, they are prime time to get product reviews!

That's not all. Your receipt emails are the perfect time to:

  • Ask for product reviews
  • Offer a discount code to incentivize future purchases
  • Promote cross-selling opportunities
  • Link to a post-purchase survey to get customer feedback
  • Share a referral code
  • Promote your social profiles
  • Let your customers share their purchase on social media

Ready to offer amazing receipt emails? Check out Conversio in the tools section below.

3 eCommerce email marketing tools

Here at Bold, we LOVE tools. Apps, plugins, and software are the backbone of every great online shop (and we’re not the least bit biased 😜).

So what are the best tools for your Shopify store’s email list? Let’s take a look:

1. MailChimp

MailChimp is a free email marketing platform where you can store emails and send campaigns to your list. It features an intuitive, easy to use drag and drop builder.


While MailChimp lacks some advanced segmentation and automation features of other more robust platforms, it’s an easy, cheap, quick way to start capturing and sending emails. It also integrates very easily with Shopify.

Need help understanding Mailchimp? Melyssa Griffon, blogger and entrepreneur coach, created a super helpful MailChimp tutorial.

If you’re looking for something a little more advanced than MailChimp, here are some other email platforms that play well with Shopify:

Not using Shopify? You might want to switch. Here’s why.

On to the next tool!

2. Conversio

Conversio (formerly Receiptful) is a nifty tool that strives to be “The all-in-one Marketing Dashboard for your ecommerce store.”

Here are some of the features they offer:


With Conversio, you can send receipt emails with product suggestions and a prompt to review. It also lets you send custom abandoned cart emails and create awesome newsletters.

3. PixelPop

PixelPop helps you build your email list with free popups and banner ads.

Here’s a 60-second explainer video:

While not for email marketing per se, this tool will help you capture emails and stop visitors from leaving with an exit-intent popup.

Should you use popups on your store? We cover the topic thoroughly in this post.

That’s enough about tools though. Let’s talk about something a little more in-depth…

Remarketing and sharing email lists

Remarketing is a cool marketing tactic where you use your email list to advertise your products to similar people.

It looks like this: A visitor lands on your site, that visitor is tracked via a cookie, they see your ads on other sites, then click on those ads and return to your website.


It works like this:

  1. Upload your email list to Facebook or Google Adwords
  2. Create a campaign to similar accounts
  3. Profit

Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Here’s a guide to remarketing with Google AdWords and here’s a guide to remarketing with Facebook.

Remarketing is awesome because it lets you find more of the people who are already buying from you.

And then there’s sharing an email list with a partner.

Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting you give your emails to someone else!! This section is about getting other people to advertise your products to their email list, and vice-versa.

This strategy is a bit more complex than most because it involves trust, outreach, and relationship building.

It starts by finding a website owner in a relevant but non-competing niche. To do that, search Google for a keyword that relates to your niche. The broader the better.

For example, if I’m selling puppy products, I would Google “pet blogs”.


The very first result is a whole list of pet blogs! Open a Google sheet and track the URL, name of the author, and contact info of each blog. About 10 to 15 is a good number to aim for.

Once you have a list, reach out to them with an email list this:

“Hey, [Their Name]!

I’m a HUGE fan of your blog! [Insert something you like about their blog, like “Fido is so cute!”]

I’m reaching out because I happen to run a store selling [related products].

I think your blog is a perfect fit for our newsletter! I have a proposal; would you mind promoting our products to your email list if we promote your blog to our list?

Either way, keep up the awesome work. :)


[Your Name]”

If you reached out to all 10 to 15 people, you should get at least two or three responses. Maybe more if you’re very genuine!


And that’s all for now, folks! I hope this cleared up the best way to use your email list. Don’t let it gather any more dust! Send an email today!

Want to learn more? Check out this guide to email newsletter templates!

Over to you: What emails will you send your audience? Leave us a comment below!

Want to know what's new?

Get the knowledge and inspiration you need to build a profitable business — straight to your inbox.

Bill Widmer

Written by Bill Widmer

Bill is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO consultant. He's run several stores and worked with many well-known brands including A Better Lemonade Stand, SaleHoo, and Lifehack.

Related Articles