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The Incredibly Practical Guide to Email Marketing for E-Commerce Brands: Part 1

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Everyone gather ’round, we’re about to tell you a story about email marketing for e-commerce:

Johnny is quite the ambitious young man. After college he started his own business: an online store that sells leather goods (like belts, backpacks, and wallets) to fashion-conscious guys. Six years later, Johnny’s company is quite successful.

But the startup phase was tough: 18 hour days, sleeping at the office, eating ramen every night for dinner. The grind was totally real. For a while, it looked like Johnny might have to give up on his dream of entrepreneurship.

How did he pull through? He discovered email marketing and it changed everything for him. It can do the same for your ecommerce business, too.

In this post you’ll learn exactly what you need to send successful email campaigns.

We have a lot of juicy information for you here and we’ve done our best to make sure every bit of it is extremely actionable. We want you to be able to use what you learn here immediately.

Sound good? Let’s get started with part one of our guide to email marketing for e-commerce brands.

Why Use Email?

We get it, you’re busy. You have products to sell, customers to keep happy, and company books to balance. Do you really need to spend time emailing your list, too?

Yes, yes you do. Here’s the truth: a stellar email marketing for ecommerce game plan will supercharge your business. Here’s why:

The ROI With Email Marketing Is Insane

According to Leighton Interactive, email marketing sees an average ROI of 3,800 percent. For all you mathematically challenged folks, that means that every dollar spent on email marketing makes $38 in return.

That alone should be enough incentive to jump on the email bandwagon. Especially when you consider the fact that email is 40x more likely to generate a sale than Facebook or Twitter. Forty times, people!

Quality Email Marketing Makes for Happy Customers

When email is used correctly, it allows marketers to build a relationship between the brand they represent and its customers. Your company can use it the same way.

Unfortunately, a vast majority of your organization’s website visitors will never return. That means all the blood, sweat, and tears you shed to get them there won’t amount to much. Not cool! But email can tip the scales in your favor.

When you’ve been given the keys to someone’s inbox, you can drive repeat traffic to your site with enticing incentives such as discounts, relevant content, and exciting company news. These regular mailings will create a delightful bond between your business and your customers.

Email Marketing + E-Commerce Is a Match Made in Digital Heaven

Finally, email aids just about every facet of e-commerce marketing. Does your business use content marketing? (If not, what are you waiting for?) A strategic email blast to your subscriber list can drive a lot of traffic to your blog post or video. This, in turn, will help your SEO.

You run a business so we can assume that sales are important to you. 38% of consumers admit that special offers (you know, discounts, BOGO sales, etc.) are the main reason why they join company newsletters. Use this to your advantage.

A large portion of your list does, in fact, want to spend money on your products. They just need a little push. Email them a special offer and you’ll likely see sales go through the roof.

Ultimately, email marketing allows your ecommerce company to engage its customers, which leads to success.

Tools of the Trade


To successfully use email to market your ecommerce business, you’ll need to invest in an email marketing platform. There are (literally) hundreds to choose from. But don’t worry, we’ve narrowed down the list for you. Here are the top contenders:


Are we biased? Absolutely! But we really believe in our platform and its ability to help your business. So we had to put ourselves on the list.

We offer our customers a lot of benefits including OpenGen technology that can increase your open rate by 50%; patent-pending Robly AI, which sends each of your emails at the exact time a subscriber is most likely to open it; and more.

You’ll also get access to eye-catching email templates, exit-intent popups, and a robust analytics dashboard. Plus, we have one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings out there. Prices start at just $15 a month after a free 14-day trial. Don’t take our word for it. Check out what our customers have to say.


MailChimp is a major player in the email marketing software game. Maybe the biggest app in the space. They’ve gotten to that point by offering a lot of bang-for-buck features.

Through their platform, customers can create beautiful emails (of course) as well as landing pages, Google and Facebook ads, and even printed postcards. They also offer over 300 integrations so you can connect your favorite apps to streamline business processes.

The service is free for up to 2,000 subscribers, albeit with reduced capabilities. Rates rise to $10+ a month after that.


Aweber is another platform worth considering. They offer many of the same features that most other email marketing softwares provide. Think slick templates, automation capabilities, and detailed analytics.

Customers seem to enjoy the intuitiveness of the service as well as outstanding customer support. If that sounds good to you, give Aweber a try for as low as $19 a month after a free 30-day trial period.


GetResponse has built a reputation for being incredibly easy to use. If you don’t consider yourself very tech-savvy, this may be a good option for you. The service offers a host of marketing features beyond just email including a landing page builder, image editor, and webinar platform.

It’s also an affordable option with prices starting at just $15 a month after a month-long free trial. It should be noted, though, that many of the fancy features can only be accessed by subscribing to the more expensive monthly plans.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is one of the fastest growing email marketing services out there. This platform is a good option for those who believe more is definitely more. They offer more than 400 customizable templates, a WordPress plugin, and a Facebook fan page app.

The entry level plan will run you $20 a month after a 60-day free trial.

Ultimately, the email marketing software you choose comes down to personal preference and budget — though each of the services mentioned has ridiculously affordable options. Our advice? Spend a little time researching each platform. Test a few since they all have free trials, then sign up for one and go for it.

Grow That List


You’re resolved to supercharge your e-commerce business with email marketing and you’ve chosen a platform to send emails through. Now what? It’s time to grow your list, that’s what!

Whether you have a small group of subscribers already, or have never used email software before in your life, these tactics will help your subscriber count explode.

Opt-In Forms

Let’s start with the most obvious way to up subscriber counts: opt-in forms. If you want people to sign up, you have to give them a way to do so, right? But where you place your forms will impact your subscription rate. Look to add them to these sections of your site:

  • The Header:

    Make it obvious from the very start that you have an email list. This opt-in form can be incredibly simple, with just a field, button, and one word: “Subscribe.”


  • The Sidebar:

    This is probably the most common spot for opt-in forms and it makes sense. The sidebar is a great place to accept emails because it’s easily seen, but doesn’t annoy visitors and get in their way. This space usually allows for more text, too. That means you can bust out your copywriting skills and craft a (short) sentence to entice visitors to sign up.


  • The Footer:

    This is another popular spot for an opt-in box. You may be thinking, “It’s way down at the bottom. Why would someone sign up there?” Here’s the deal: if a website visitor has taken the time to scroll all the way through to the footer, there’s a great chance they’ve enjoyed the content, making them a perfect candidate for subscription. This part of your site probably doesn’t have anything cool going on anyway.


  • The Checkout Page:

    BOOM! You attracted a website visitor and they spent money. Guess what? These are the perfect people to add to your list. You still need permission, of course, but if they trust you enough to give you their credit card number, they’ll probably be ok giving you their email too. You just need to ask on the checkout page. Make sure your opt in statement is clear. Let them know what they’re opting in to, and how often you’ll be sending them content.


  • Inside Blog Posts:

    Blog much? It’s a wonderful marketing tactic — it helps build a bond between a company and its web traffic; it improves SEO performance; and, when used properly, it can help build email lists. Place an opt-in form at strategic places inside your blog posts. If people enjoy your content, they’ll likely want to sign up for future updates.


  • Anywhere Else:

    Seriously, where else on your site does it make sense to place an opt-in form? Go ahead and put one there.

Popup Boxes aka Exit Intent Forms

Are we really advising you to place those incredibly obnoxious popup boxes on your site? The ones you swore you’d never add? We are, indeed. Why? Because they work.

Even if you’ve placed opt-in forms all over your site, there’s a chance that a visitor will miss it. Not so with pop-up boxes. They’re literally unmissable. There are plenty of apps out there that will enable you to use this tactic. Sumo is a popular one.

If this strategy makes you uncomfortable, we have two words of encouragement for you:

  1. First, get over it. You want to sell more products and make more money? Use a pop-up.
  2. And second, remember: most people who visit your site won’t ever return. If you tick them off with a popup box, well, they weren’t coming back anyway.

Feel better now?

Incentives and Lead Magnets


We’ve talked about making your email list visible via opt-in forms and popup boxes. It’s time to up the ante and give your website visitors something of value in exchange for their email address. An ethical bribe, if you will.

This can come in the form of discounts (e.g. coupons, BOGO sales, etc.) or lead magnets (e.g. a free ebook or checklist.)

An exclusive deal or discount for email list subscribers is a popular and effective tactic. We bet you’ve signed up to many a list in your day thanks in part to a 20% off coupon you were promised. Use this same tactic for your own e-commerce store.

Free content is another great way to accelerate list growth. Who do you cater to? What kind of content do those people find interesting?

Remember Johnny from the beginning of this post? Let’s use his leather goods business as an example. What content can Johnny create to grow his email subscriber count? Here are a few ideas:

  1. A style guide that notes trends in menswear. Many guys want to look good, but don’t have an eye for fashion. A style guide would be valuable to them.
  2. How about a list? Something like, “21 Packing Tips for Your Next Weekend Trip.” There are plenty of guys who would love to know how to fit more goodies inside the backpacks that Johnny sells.
  3. Finally, Johnny could create a report on RFID scanning and why his RFID blocking wallets are so necessary. That would be useful to much of his customer base.

We should note that your offer must correlate to the products you sell. Don’t offer a free nutrition plan if you sell candles. That just wouldn’t make any sense. You also need to offer something that your customers want. Which means you need to know who you’re marketing to.

Lastly, we recommend creating a killer landing page for your offer as well. It will increase downloads.

A Quick Note On List Segmentation

Your business likely caters to people in many different walks of life. Moms, bachelors, fitness freaks, sci-fi geeks, and more. They’ll all want different kinds of content. A successful email marketer realizes this and segments their list accordingly.

List segmentation is simply splitting email subscribers into their own distinct groups. That way you can send relevant content to each of them and make their experience with your brand feel more personal. We highly recommend you do this.

There are many ways you could divvy up your list. You could segment by gender, physical location, hobbies and interests, purchase history; the list goes on. The way you separate your subscribers just depends on the type of customers you cater to and your business goals.

Until Next Time

Well folks, that’s it for today. Don’t worry, we’ll be back soon with part 2 in this series on email marketing for e-commerce brands.

We encourage you to take what you’ve learned and start applying it. This is an “incredibly practical guide” after all.

Remember that email can be an extremely effective promotional channel for your e-com business. The average ROI blows just about every other marketing channel out of the water and, when it comes down to it, it’s what your subscribers want from your business.

Go ahead and choose an email marketing service if you haven’t already. Find the platform that works for you and don’t look back.

Lastly, use a few of the strategies we outlined to grow your list. Make sure you have opt-in forms placed strategically around your website and don’t shy away from popup boxes. They’ve been proven to work. If your business has or can create a lead magnet, use that tactic too.

We’ve shared a lot of information with you in this post and we have a whole lot more on the way. Stay tuned for part two of this guide. Talk to you then!

Jacob Thomas is a freelance copywriter and content marketer based in Bend, OR. His professional writing approach has helped numerous businesses gain more traffic, leads and sales. To contact Jacob, visit

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