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6 Types of Marketing Emails Every Ecommerce Business Needs to Be Sending

Email marketing can feel like a personal relationship. 

There’s a high when your new subscriber joins the list. Then a honeymoon phase when they open your first few emails and click through to your website.

But in time, the magic fades, and so does their engagement. Eventually, there’s a breakup, and your unsubscribe rate takes another hit.

What went wrong?

I’ve got some bad news. If you’re sending the same new product or discount email over and over, then it’s you, not them

When asked their reason for unsubscribing from a brand’s email list, people consistently said they were getting too many irrelevant and repetitive emails.

Want to bring that email magic back and rekindle the flame with your subscribers?

Then you need to put them first. Balance your promotional messages with other types of emails. Not only will it alleviate the repetition that’s chasing potential customers away, byt many of these email types actually outperform product or discount-only messages on virtually every measure.

Here, we’ve gathered a list of the types of emails you should consider sending to your customers and subscribers, along with some examples to get you inspired.

What are the most important types of marketing emails?

Ecommerce stores that use automated emails drive nearly 16x more orders per subscriber than regular “batch and blast” emails, Mailchimp reports. That’s why taking the time to set up email sequences is so important.

An email sequence — also called an email cadence, flow, drip, or nurture program — is a series of automated emails sent at preset time intervals or triggered by a particular action.

Eventually, your email sequences will be filled with a variety of high-performing email types. Companies with advanced email marketing programs often have dozens of automated sequences running at the same time. But that doesn’t happen overnight.

For small ecommerce brands with competing priorities, it makes sense to start with the most critical types of emails, then add more to the sequence as bandwidth allows.

Here are some common high-performing email types, grouped by their importance.

Critical

Important

Nice to Have

Of course, these aren’t the only types of emails you can send. But they are the six foundational emails that give small businesses the best results. And the best part? Most of them can be fully automated, freeing you up to focus on growing your business.

How will each of these email types help you grow your business?

The ultimate goal of an email sequence is to grow revenue. But each type of email plays a different part in achieving that goal.

1. Abandoned Cart Emails

70% of ecommerce carts are abandoned, costing online businesses between $2 billion and $4 billion every year.

That’s a huge potential leak in your sales funnel. 

All is not lost, dear marketer. Abandoned cart emails have a high open rate of around 45%. And on average, they convert almost 11% of those lost sales.

That means for every $10,000 in left in abandoned carts, you can recoup $1,700 with an automated email. 

For every $10K of products left in online shopping carts, you can recoup $1.7K with an abandoned cart email. Click To Tweet

But even the carts that never convert have value. They teach you tons about those shoppers so you can continue to market to them with personalized content and product recommendations. 


What should be in your abandoned cart email?

A common tactic for brands is to include an offer of free shipping in their abandoned cart email. This makes sense; 55% of people leave their cart after getting hit with unexpected costs like shipping.

But it’s not the only way to go. You can send abandoned cart emails without cutting into your profit margins.

Check out this example from the direct-to-consumer beauty brand Glossier

There are no additional offers. But the bold image attracts attention. And the copy — just 16 words —  pokes at a common fear: losing one’s bag. Then they playfully reassure that they know right where the bag is and tell you how to get it.

Screenshot of an abandoned cart email from Glossier.

2. Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are your first chance to make a great impression. They set the tone and expectations for the relationship.

Plus, welcome emails are powerful. 

They have a 4x open rate and 5x click-through-rate compared to standard marketing emails. Not to mention, someone who opens a welcome email will read 40% more content on your website over the next 180 days.

Even still, almost half of the brands out there don’t send them. That gives a serious leg up to those that do.

What should be in your welcome email?

It’s natural to foster those warm and fuzzies in your welcome email. You’re in the honeymoon period, after all.

But it’s also a chance to set expectations. Will you send emails weekly or monthly? Will they feature exclusive content? New products? Super-secret discounts? Be specific, be helpful, and build anticipation.

This is a great time to start segmenting, if you can.

Segmenting an email list means grouping subscribers by demographics, location, and product or interest preferences. It allows you to make your emails more relevant. 

For instance, did this subscriber join your email list after reading a blog article about snowboarding? Featuring relevant products or another article about snowsports will go a long way toward increasing open and click-through rates.

And remember, inboxes are busy places. To avoid the automatic unsubscribe, offer value — again, in the form of a discount or interesting content.

eXO Skin Simple does this by providing an exclusive discount code for new subscribers. Also, notice that they’ve made it very clear how easy it is to use the code.

Screenshot of a welcome email from eXO Skin Simple

3. Order Confirmation Emails

At their core, order confirmation emails provide customers with important information — their order number, when their product will ship, and a receipt of purchase, for example. If you sell your products on Amazon, they’ll take care of the confirmation email, so you might consider sending a post-delivery confirmation instead.

These are typically the first emails a brand will automate, and they’re usually transactional in nature.

But they can be so much more. 

Confirmation email open rate is a whopping 70%, so you have the shoppers attention. The confirmation email is a chance to turn that one time buyer in a repeat customer.

Considering that repeat customers spend  2x that of first-time buyers, that’s a pretty valuable goal.


What should be in order confirmation emails?

Start with the basics. Include an order confirmation, a ship date, a receipt, and any other details that will tell the buyer what’s going to happen next. Give them reassurance that they’ve made a good choice. 

But don’t stop there. This is the chance to win a new brand evangelist. 

Is your product amazing? Your service awesome? Your price the best? Then use your order or delivery confirmation email to ask for a referral or review. People are 4x more likely to buy when referred by a friend.


Small brands have an advantage here, as their requests can feel quite personal. Like this one from Suyi, a jewelry brand that sells their products on Amazon.

screenshot of an order confirmation email from Amazon

You may also consider a confirmation email as a chance to sell add-on items. If you use an email marketing platform like Klaviyo or Mailchimp, you can automatically feature product recommendations tailored to each individual customer.

Unsurprisingly, Amazon is the king of product recommendation emails. Here’s an example.

Screenshot of an order confirmation email from Amazon Kindle

4. Newsletter Emails

It would be amazing if your brand was always at the top of your customers’ minds. Then when they needed to make a purchase, they would come right to you without shopping around or comparing prices.

Of course, that’s usually not how it works. And that’s where your email newsletter comes in handy.

A newsletter is a chance to maintain a spot in your customer’s consciousness. When done well, it builds a sense of community and loyalty. 

It’s also an opportunity to connect with your most valuable target market: repeat customers. Repeat customers represent just 8% of ecommerce site visitors but are responsible for 40% of all revenue — but if you’re only sending your customers product emails, those unsubscribes will keep rolling in.

What should be in a newsletter email?

A newsletter has two jobs: sell to those who are ready, and remain top-of-mind with those that aren’t. To accomplish this, you’ll want to pair valuable content with product information. 

If you have multiple audiences, segmenting your newsletter list will improve performance dramatically. One report revealed a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented newsletter campaigns. 


Campman, a small online retailer that competes with giant companies like REI, is a master at using their newsletters to create a community. In each email, there’s a curated collection of content and product offers. All center around a timely theme — like winter adventures, for example. They also include a beer review and a song of the week, since their core customer is also interested in those topics.

Screenshots of Campman's newsletter

5. Birthday Emails

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like getting those personalized birthday emails from my favorite brands. Even if they are automated. 

It turns out, those happy little emails pack a huge punch. Birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate, bring 342% more revenue, and yield a 172% higher click-through rate than standard promotional emails. 

What should be in birthday emails?

This is the time to be completely focused on your subscriber. It’s their big day. And of course, a little birthday gift, like a discount code, goes a long way.

Screenshot of a chart from Experion showing the effect of various discount offers on birthday emails

If you really want to get a great response, make that gift a surprise. Experian tested the response of several offers and found the highest revenue came from mystery offers.

The brand Spartan Race Series is all about fitness and activity. So they play that up in their birthday email copy. The 20% discount is a nice gift. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have turned down the chocolate lava cake, either.

Screenshot of a birthday email from Spartan Race Series

6. Win-Back Emails

On average, 66% of marketing email lists are inactive. That’s not just a loss with those shoppers. Inactive subscribers can affect your sender score, making your emails spam folder fodder for everyone. 

That’s where the win-back email, or reengagement email, comes in.

A win-back email sequence is cheap compared to acquiring brand new customers. And you already have some data about your subscribers, so segmenting and personalizing is much easier.

What should be in a win-back email?

First off, know that one email likely won’t do it. While about 24% of your dormant subscribers will open the first win-back email, 45% will open one thereafter.

Use caution, though. Sending too many emails can land you in spam jail. A good start is to create a two- or three-email sequence.

You’ll also want to test timing and messaging that’s specific to your relationship with the customer. For example, if your product is a ready-to-cook meal delivery service and your customers typically buy every week, then a win-back email after 2 or 3 weeks of inactivity is appropriate. If your newsletter is sent monthly, you might wait for 3 or 4 consecutive months of non-engagement.  

Next, segment your dormant email list and offer a personalized note or deal. Personalized emails net 6X higher transaction rates!

Finally, think FOMO (fear of missing out). Sure, this shopper hasn’t opened an email or bought a product in a while, but do they really want to be kicked out of the club?

Here’s a good win-back email from on-demand internet radio provider Stitcher. They highlight the improvements to their platform that have been made since last contact. They also let us know to expect some very personalized podcast recommendations in the near future.

Screenshot of a win-back email from Stitcher

Product and discount-focused emails are a time-tested method for brands to grow sales. But send too many of them and you’ll lose subscribers to email fatigue.

Mix up your email sequence with a variety of interesting, valuable, and high-performing email types. 

Email is an important tool for ecommerce marketers. To get a crash course in other important topics like content creation, distribution, and measurement, sign up for our email series, Content Marketing for Growing Brands. You’ll receive 6 lessons on content marketing right to your inbox.


Feature image provided by siora-photography

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