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7 Shopify email marketing tactics for e-commerce

Rudi Eihenbaums profile picture

Rudi Eihenbaums

Sep 16, 2022

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Running email marketing campaigns for your Shopify store is no easy feat, we know. As a small business owner, you’ve got to grow your email list, create compelling copy, track engagement levels, manage campaigns—and all while navigating your growing e-commerce business. It’s a lot! 

It’s worth it, though—email marketing returns $42 for every $1 spent.

Your e-commerce email marketing strategy should help you personalize communication with your buyers, drive more sales, and build a loyal customer base. However, if you’re here, then there’s a high chance you’re not seeing the results you’d initially bet on.

So, take that “Hi, <first name>” subject line you’ve been umming and ahhing over and kick it to the curb. We’re about to flip your email marketing on its head and show you a whole new perspective—ready? 

If you’re ready to tap into the power of email for your business, here are seven proven Shopify email marketing tactics to skyrocket your success. Let’s get started.

Email marketing tactics worth inboxing

From segmenting your email list to creating quality content—there’s a ton you can do to land in people’s inboxes with a bang, win those click throughs, and get some organic growth going on your email list. 

1. Populate your email list via your Shopify store

First up: get more people to join your email list—without them, you can’t drive email revenue. Growing your email list is a lengthy process, but once you build a sizable list, it can become a key communication channel. 

So, what’s the best way to beef up your email sign-up numbers and expand your subscriber base? 

Frank Kosarek, Head of Sourcing here at OpenStore, chats through his secrets to email list growth with Tatiana Birgisson, Head of Marketing: 

Frank: “The secret to boosting your email list lies in creating quality content as a lead magnet. You can attract huge traffic by creating valuable content—in the form of articles, videos, blogs, and how-to guides—that solves your target audience’s pain points.” 

Tatiana: “In my experience, the lowest hanging fruit is to encourage customers joining your email list during the checkout flows within Shopify. It's a no regrets move to give your customers the best chance at continuing the relationship with you.”

Frank: “So true! Plus, once you’re driving  a high volume of users to quality content, consider gating it with an email capture.” 

Email capture modals—otherwise known as newsletter subscription pop-ups—are a great way to do this. Just make sure that the modal is cancellable and doesn’t disrupt the site experience: including easy-to-navigate exit options and page load speeds

Actually, Chameleon is a great tool for no-code website modals that you can split test and optimize as often as you like, without having to rely on a developer.”

Approaches to building your mailing list

  • Homepage modal pop-ups: to collect more emails and to offer a discount. You can add a homepage pop-up like Triangl, and encourage sign-ups by promising exclusive offers and discounts. You’ve worked hard to get visitors to your site, there’s no harm in nudging them to continue the conversation. 

Triangl modal pop-up showing deals
  • Website checkout: another great way to collect customer emails is through an opt in or out subscribe option on the checkout page, like Mahabis. This enables you to share regular updates on discounts and deals with customers you know love your product.

Mahabis checkout page email signup
  • Website navigation: you can also place a sign-up form somewhere on your Shopify store, like in the footer. Here’s how Chaos entices visitors to subscribe to its mails—both on the homepage, and in the footer of every other website page.

Chaos Club website module for email signups

It's crucial to identify opportunities for potential customers to share their email. In building your list through these methods, you’re identifying existing and potential customers who’ve interacted with your brand.

You can then segment these users depending on where they came from, and create email marketing campaigns to speak to each cohort individually.

2. Keep customers in the loop with automated email marketing

Get automated flows to do the hard work for you; it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Automation is a key stepping stone to levelling up your email marketing strategy and multiplying your customer retention rate. Automating your email sequences is a huge opportunity to put your email marketing efforts on autopilot, and create as much of a passive income for the business as possible. 

Automated email campaigns simplify the task of personalizing the buyer journey from the get-go. Strategically decide the frequency of emails to avoid any spam complaints, and you're all set to leverage your automated workflows. Tatiana Birgisson, Head of Marketing here at OpenStore, shares her insights on mailing frequencies:  

“For a business with a small subscriber base of 20,000 people, it may make sense to invest judiciously in standing up automated and triggered flows and focus campaign frequency to special events or weekly. 

For other brands, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, it may make more sense to increase email frequency with strong segmentation and then overlay SMS capabilities.

If you pick a great ESP provider like Klaviyo, this is all automatable.”

Popular automated email campaigns for Shopify businesses

  • Welcome series: add new subscribers to your list, incentivize them to buy, and set the expectations for receiving your emails.

  • First-time customer series: start your relationship with a new buyer, congratulate them on their purchase, and request a review.

  • Order update series: inform buyers about the status of their order and any new deals to encourage another order.

  • Customer nurture series: target interested visitors, share educational content to establish your brand authority, and offer a discount coupon.

  • Cart abandonment series: entice abandoners to complete their purchase by a series of 2-4 emails for preset intervals.

  • Browse abandonment series: encourage your window-shoppers to complete the transaction.

Tatiana explains more: “My favorite, less common flow, is the browse abandonment automation which pulls your potential customer to complete their transaction. Unlike other flows it does require some code on your website but is worth the extra investment.” 

Email marketing campaigns for Shopify: new subscribers, decrease cart abandonment, encourage reviews, send order updates, educate, and decrease browse abandonment

Don’t get discouraged if your email nurture sequence doesn’t produce immediate results, the OpenStore team explores this more:

Frank: “Oftentimes, successful email marketing takes multiple touchpoints over the course of months (or even years). Rest assured that every time you send a new communication, you’re raising awareness about your brand and moving your audience just a little bit closer to making that next big purchase event.”

Tatiana: “Just make sure your awareness building ROI outperforms the unsubscribe impact.”

Automated and triggered emails can help you win new customers, retain old ones, and engage with inactive subscribers, all while you don’t have to do a thing. 

3. Segment, target & personalize email lists

A ground rule for email marketing success is segmenting your email list

Customer segmentation allows you to divide your target audience into smaller groups based on specific characteristics or engagements. So, instead of using a one-size-fits-all email marketing strategy, you can deliver more targeted emails and achieve better results.

For example, let’s say Sandra had a pair of headphones in their cart, were about to check out, their Uber eats order arrived, and they abandoned your cart for ramen noodles. It happens.  

What option do you think is more likely to generate a click? 

  1. Email subject: Don’t forget to complete your purchase with us 

    Preview text: We noticed you didn’t finish your order, you can finish it now by following these steps….

  2. Email subject: Sandra! Get your 🎧 by Friday if you order before 10:00pm 🎶

    Preview text: Here’s a 10% off code to make your music sound sweeter: SANDRA10

Hopefully you’re yelling option number two from behind your ramen. 

The easiest way to segment your audience is to treat the process as a conversion funnel where you divide your subscribers based on their activity levels. Frank and Tatiana chat this through: 

Frank: “Start with the highest volume of users who have shown engagement with your brand. 

From there, map your “mid-funnel” – users who have browsed product detail pages, added items to their cart, and even started the checkout process. 

At the end of the funnel, you should have a rolling list of past customers and how long it has been since their last purchase.”

Shopify email marketing conversion funnel

Tatiana: “Nice point, Frank. In my experience, the bigger your email list, the more sophisticated you can get with segmentation including enriching your customer list with third-party data to create novel lists. 

Another avenue for segmentation is by customer value: your VIP customers, your at-risk of churn customers, or your high AOV customers.”

Frank: “I’ve never tried that avenue, but I can see why it would work! You can also create a segment based on how subscribers discovered your brand or their shopping patterns. 

If a group of users tends to reorder more often, you can create more targeted campaigns to continuously improve their lifetime value.”

OpenStore suggests: Remember to sanitize your email list regularly to focus on your subscribers and deliver value-packed content. This will also help your open rates, and dodge those spam reporters. 

4. Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly

Fun fact: over 40% of consumers check their email using a mobile app. 

Email marketing in a mobile-first world means responsive design, skimmable content, and mobile-friendly features. Your buyers are always on the move, and if you want to win their attention, mobile optimization should be a top priority.  

Best practice for responsive email marketing campaigns

  • Optimize subject lines and preheaders: when your mail pops up in an inbox, these two elements—alongside the email address—are what convince readers to open your mail, or send it packing to spam. 

    Make your subject lines short—up to 30 characters or around five words—and intriguing. This is your hook. Next, you can use the preheader text to spark some curiosity.

    Spice things up with an emoji. Research found that subject lines with emojis have a 56% higher open rate. They save space. And, they add flair to your brand and your customer’s inbox. Win 4×.  

  • Use concise and convincing copy: you want to aim to keep your emails short and naturally sweet, as we heard from Frank:

“Few people will want to read a text-heavy message. Make well-designed email templates that only use words when absolutely necessary. The key is to make your customers feel positive about your brand before purchasing, and text alone is rarely the most effective way to do that.”

  • Make it click-friendly: white space is a powerful tool when you’re creating responsive emails for mobile. Leave space for your users to click and scroll; highlight your CTA buttons to ensure they stand out. Leave space for thumbs! 

  • Make it worthwhile: ask yourself why the reader should care to read on. What kind of content can you share that’s compelling or provides value? This could include: how-tos, customer testimonials and usage stories, promotions, whatever tickles their pickle. This becomes much easier when you segment your list—which we’ll get to later on. 

  • Test your emails for different screen sizes: ensure every element pops, just like your designer intended. Responsive design can bring in almost 15% more unique clicks from mobile users: 

Responsive designs are effective on mobile users, where the increase in unique clicks from 2.7% to 3.1% represents a 15% increase in actual clicks

5. Provide value, not sales pitches, with Shopify email marketing

Businesses often make a big mistake with their email marketing campaigns when they only focus on promotional content. Your email marketing strategy for e-commerce is not limited to selling; it’s equally about delivering value for the readers—as we heard from Frank and Tatiana:

Frank: “Companies that understand their target demographics interests and values can use email to share genuinely valuable thought leadership that conveniently features their products. 

Even though email subscribers may know that the communications are intended to promote the brand, they’re still likely to engage because of the lifestyle recommendations surrounding the promotion.”

Tatiana: “One really fun campaign that outperformed our Black Friday Cyber Monday email campaigns with promotions was the "12 Days of Christmas" series which featured one of our products and how to use it. You can get really creative with emails and your lists will appreciate the effort.”

You can win your lists’ attention and respect in many different ways:

  • Tell your story: 77% of people buy from brands that share the same values. Use emails as a medium of communicating your brand story with the world and get more clicks than ever. Here’s an example from Allbirds.

Allbirds welcome email: welcome to the flock
  • Share resources: whether you're showing the behind-the-scenes view of your manufacturing process or sending knowledge-based blogs, sharing valuable resources is another way to show subscribers that you care about their time. Take a page out of Gymshark's book for this tactic.

Gymshark email example: sharing a blog about Mel Douglas

Email marketing is all about connecting with your customers. Your focus should be on sharing insights and information that encourages a reader to open your mail instead of sending it to junk as soon as they get it. 

6. Do your (email marketing) research

Planning an email marketing campaign for your Shopify store involves many moving parts. Before you get to the implementation stage, you have to set the proper groundwork for your strategy with ample research. 

Let’s look at everything you should know to create the best email marketing strategy:

Industry CTR: find out the ideal clickthrough rates for your industry. What’s the standard click-through and conversion rate that your competitors are hitting with their email campaigns?

Open rates: understand how likely your subscribers are to open your emails. This will give you a benchmark to measure your progress from the bottom to the top. 

A/B testing: test and assess different components of your emails with customer segments to pick the best combinations. A few things you can A/B test are: 

  • calls-to-action,

  • graphics & colors,

  • subject lines, preview text,

  • personalization features, body copy, visuals, 

  • structure & content order.

Email marketing platform: choosing the right email marketing platform for your campaigns is essential. Your email service provider should be equipped to handle your marketing requirements within your estimated budget. 

You also want to find the best Shopify email marketing apps to enable you to manage email campaigns no matter where you are. Klaviyo and MailChimp are two of the highest reviewed apps on G2 for their USPs.

Compliance laws: while shaping your email strategy, don't forget to factor in compliance laws like GDPR and CAN-SPAM to ensure you’re meeting your legal responsibilities.

Send times: identify the optimum time of the day to send your emails for maximizing your open rates and, eventually, the CTR. Analyze this for different regions if you're operating worldwide. 

OpenStore dive into send times for us: 

Tatiana: “If you've picked a contemporary ESP they probably have a "smart sending" feature where it'll automatically send the email at the right time. Pretty cool. Klaviyo has a great, easy-to-use feature that we love here at OpenStore.”

Frank: “Yes, we love that tool here! We’ve found that communications sent mid-week tend to be the most opportune time to cut through the clutter. The best manual way to figure out the optimal send time is to test: try varying the time of day and day of the week you send an email blast for a significant volume of emails, and let the data speak for itself.”

This research is essential to ensure your email marketing efforts produce the best outcomes. Doing this initial legwork can set you up for greater success in the future. 

7. Analyze results & optimize  strategy

Your email marketing strategy doesn't end with executing your plan. The final piece of the puzzle is reporting on your progress.

Tracking your performance—such as delivery and opening metrics—will give you a clear picture of what's working and what's not. You can then use this information to quickly iterate your strategy and double down on the tactics that work well. 

Tatiana shares a solid metric to benchmark your email marketing strategy against:

“A good rule of thumb is that if your email/sms isn't driving ~20% of revenue, take a closer look at what you have set up because there's likely opportunity to further improve it.”

Here are some more metrics that can give you a clear estimate of your success:

  • Open rates: this metric tells you the percentage of people opening your emails to estimate your active subscribers—and how well your subject lines are working.

  • Bounce rate: your emails might never land in your subscribers' inbox if they've marked you as spam. The bounce rate uncovers this number, and the average for e-commerce is 0.19%! You can also keep a tab on your deliverability rate to see how many subscribers you’re reaching. 

  • Return on investment: this metric is an overall assessment of the success of your email marketing—from newsletter design to email content. If you're driving sales with every mail, your CTAs, color scheme, and copy are working their magic. Even though email is close to free, don’t forget the costs of the software and your time building the emails.

  • Trackable links: are links that are assigned a unique ID that can be read by analytics software, like Google Analytics or Amplitude. Trackable links help you determine where incoming website traffic is coming from.

Evaluate your email marketing campaigns against your sales goals to understand your progress. Once you find what’s working, you can easily revise your strategy to focus on your strengths.

Why is email marketing important for e-commerce businesses?

Email marketing for Shopify businesses allows you to engage with your buyers and personalize their pre and post-purchase experience. Building an email list and keeping subscribers engaged can help you increase relevant traffic, build greater brand awareness, and achieve higher sales. 

Let's look at some of the most significant benefits that you can tap into by adopting Shopify email marketing.

Build ongoing customer relationships

Picture this: your Shopify store is attracting decent traffic, and a few visitors even put some products in their carts. It’s looking like a sure deal—but then they exit your site at the last step, and abandon their cart. How do you ensure that they return to complete their purchase, or even remember your brand? 

Simple—with email marketing. 

Email is a profitable and effective avenue to create and nurture customer relationships—47% of marketing professionals believe that email marketing is the most effective lead nurturing tactic. It allows you to interact with an existing or potential buyer directly and nudge them towards a buying decision. 

Think of personalized coupons, sale announcements, and abandoned cart reminders—emails are the key to encouraging your subscribers to engage with your products and brand. 

Achieve a greater return on investment from email marketing

Email marketing for Shopify promises a higher ROI than most other marketing channels. That explains why 64% of e-commerce brands consider email the highest-performing tactic in their marketing strategy. 

Email marketing enables business owners to:

  • establish a direct line of communication with buyers,

  • send transactional emails to win repeat orders, and

  • upsell and cross-sell through automation.

In doing this, email empowers you to acquire new customers at a lower cost and turn one-time buyers into loyal customers—ultimately maximizing your ROI.

Tatiana shares a fantastic use case for this at OpenStore: 

“Our biggest acquisition to date didn't have any automated or triggered emails. Standing that capability up, the attributed revenue represents 15-20% of sales in a given month. And we don't do anything extra for this each month. It's the gift that keeps on giving.”

Eradicate dependencies on third-party algorithms 

While developing your presence on social media is essential, it shouldn’t be your only channel for reaching your audience. Social media leaves you susceptible to the uncertainties of algorithms and updates. 

Instead of relying on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter (now X) to reach your target audience, use email marketing to facilitate customer engagement. 

Your email marketing strategy creates a reliable and stable source of engagement and traffic for your business. 

Wrapping up

Email marketing is a must for accelerating your Shopify business growth. You can spread the word about your brand, engage with your buyers, and drive more sales. 

Shopify owners will likely struggle with email marketing because you’re wearing 100s of hats. Hopefully you’ve found this guide useful, and can begin to optimate and optimize your email marketing strategy to work better for you. Happy sending!

Sell your Shopify store in a snap

Is email marketing taking too much of your time? Consider selling your business to the trusted e-commerce experts at OpenStore. Apply for a free, no-obligation offer. We will get back to you within 1 day.


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