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The Complete Beginners Guide To Ecommerce Email Marketing Strategy: Best Practices, Templates, Ideas & Examples
Written by Ryan Turner
One of the most important digital marketing mediums is also one of the easiest to overlook.

In a world of influencer advertising campaigns and automated chatbots, it’s easy to forget that one of the least sexy marketing options is also one of the most effective.

We’re talking, of course, about email marketing:
ecommerce marketing roi by channel graph
Email has been around forever, and for good reason – it is one of the most lucrative marketing mediums at an Ecommerce owner’s disposal. It provides an astronomical return on investment, due in large part because the only cost (aside from monthly fees charged by email service providers) is the initial acquisition of a subscriber. Once someone has signed up to your list, you can market and re-market to them continuously.

Perfecting a winning email marketing strategy isn’t as straightforward as you may think, though. There are a number of things companies who achieve these staggering ROIs do differently from the average business owner. 

We’ve assembled this guide to shed some light on what a winning email marketing strategy looks like, from growing your email list to ensuring your emails steer clear of the dreaded spam folder. 

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about creating a lucrative email marketing system of your very own. 
Choose the Right Ecommerce Email Marketing Software for Your Brand
Choosing the right email service provider (ESP) for your business is incredibly important in crafting your overall strategy. 

There are a myriad of options available, all with their own unique set of pros and cons. Among the most popular email automation software options for Ecommerce are Klaviyo, Mailchimp,  ActiveCampaign, and Listrak

You’ll need to conduct some careful research into which option is right for your business.

Things to keep in mind during your search include:

-Pricing 
-Automation capabilities 
-Integration capabilities
-Ease of use
-Customer service

Here in our agency we have made the decision to only work with brands who use Klaviyo as their Ecommerce email marketing software. There are a few reasons for this, but primarily we feel that when it comes to email marketing for Ecommerce, Klaviyo is best option for the vast majority of brands we speak with. Having said that, if you choose not to use Klaviyo you'll still be able to apply what you learn in this guide and implement it using your Ecommerce ESP of choice.

Ecommerce Email Marketing Best Practices
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of what a successful email marketing plan looks like, it’s important to understand what you need to do – and not do – to avoid violating spam laws and getting your IP blacklisted as a spammer.

In order for your emails to reach the maximum number of subscribers, there are some basic best practices you need to follow. There’s a lot of literature out there on the subject so we won’t go too in-depth, but nevertheless pay attention to these recommendations to maintain a good sender reputation.

DON’T:

-Buy email lists
-Continue to email unengaged subscribers, or blindly mail your whole list
-Trick people into opening your emails by concealing your company name
-Use spam trigger words in your subject lines
-Use curse words likely to trigger spam filters in your email copy
-Clutter up your email with videos or un-optimized images 
-Include attachments or embedded forms in your email
-Blindly rely on Ecommerce email marketing templates being given away online

DO:

-Test your emails on multiple devices before sending them 
-Include a visible, easy-to-access “Unsubscribe” link
-Keep your email lists clean by removing dormant subscribers and hard bounces
-Provide a “View in Browser” link so everyone can see your email as intended
-Proofread – spelling errors and grammar mistakes reflect negatively on your brand
-Offer valuable content that your subscribers will want to open time and again
-Plan out your schedule well in advance, including plenty of value add non-sales content

In addition to appeasing zealous spam filters, you want every single communication you have with your subscriber list to reflect positively on your brand. Use a unified font and color scheme, keep your content useful, relevant, and interesting. Only send an email when you have something valuable to say or share.

If your emails aren’t getting opened at a good clip (MailChimp reports the average open rate for Ecommerce emails is 15.66%), take a hard look at your subject lines, email frequency, along with who you're actually sending to. All of these factors can have a significant on whether or not your subscribers open your emails... Especially the latter! Sending emails to huge audiences who have not shown any interest in your brand for some time is one of the biggest causes of poor email open rates.

Smart Email List Segmentation for Ecommerce
As we’ve mentioned, relevancy is the name of the game when it comes to email marketing. You’re competing with countless other contacts and brands in the inbox, and the only way to truly stand out is by sending emails that speak directly to your recipient.

You accomplish this by breaking your master list of subscribers into sub-categories, or “segments.”

There are a million different ways to break up your email list, depending on your niche and business, but to start, we’re going to focus our attention on the most universal subscriber types, and show you how to identify them. 

Potential Purchasers

This segment of your list is going to be comprised of people who have expressed some sort of interest in your product but have yet to actually follow through and make a purchase. 

We could theoretically sift through every email subscriber to manually identify who exactly fits into this category, but thanks to automation, we don’t have to. Instead, we can create a few rules within our ESP to identify this group for us. 

Here's how Klaviyo configures this segment to give you an idea of exactly who it’s targeting...
ecommerce segmentation for email subscribers in Klaviyo
This segment (which Klaviyo has pre-configured for all its email clients – pretty sweet!) is going to hone in on members of your list who have recently interacted with your company, either via email or on your website. We know they’ve done so because, like most ESPs, Klaviyo tracks this information for us. 

In this case we’re creating a list of conditions that are most indicative of someone who’s strongly considering making a purchase. They’ve either viewed a specific product on your website, clicked one of your emails, or been actively clicking around your website at some point in the last 30 days. (This last point is especially important to note because it means your company is likely still fresh in their minds.) For whatever reason, though, they have yet to purchase from you, as evidenced by the fact that they meet the “Placed Order zero times over all time” rule.

This is powerful information to have, and you can already begin to imagine how it could be used to turn these warm leads into purchasers. You can target this segment with campaigns designed to specifically address the common concerns people have about purchasing from a new company for the first time. 

Put yourself in this group’s shoes: what prevents you from impulse-buying that trendy new product you saw on Instagram? Factors like price, perceived value, and site security can play a big role in determining whether or not someone ultimately decides to buy from you. By addressing these concerns while increasing desire for your products, you increase the likelihood of them ultimately becoming purchasers. 
Email Campaign Content Ideas for Your Potential Purchasers
Great email content to send this “on the fence” subscriber segment includes social proof in the form of product testimonials, information regarding product warranties or money-back guarantees, and imagery of your product in action. If margins allow it, you can also consider providing a one-time-use coupon code. 

These subscribers are this close to purchasing your product, and a timely email may be all you need to nudge them across the proverbial finish line.

Purchasers – Regular & VIP

While the above segment has yet to make a purchase, these two groups will be comprised of your past purchasers. Identifying these segments is fairly simple, as we’ll demonstrate using a Klaviyo account integrated with a Shopify store... 
setting up a customer segment in klaviyo
As you can see, creating rules to automatically identify the purchasers of your products is fairly easy to do. Simply set the “Placed Order” metric to at least once over all time and ensure that the subscriber is not suppressed (Klaviyo and most ESPs will flag a user as suppressed if they have either marked your email as spam or unsubscribed from your list before) and you’ll have a list of all recipients who have purchased from you before.


While this general segment is useful if you want to only target the subsets of your list who have not yet made a purchase, it doesn’t give us much information about the users in it. Individuals who have made one purchase of $9.99 are weighted the same as people who have spent $1,000 over the course of 30 transactions on your site, which isn’t really that useful from a marketing perspective. You want to encourage your recipients to continue to buy from you and to give the ones that do the VIP treatment.

How do you accomplish this? By creating rules to identify your most important email recipients – your VIPs. 

There are two basic ways to define who qualifies as a VIP: total revenue or number of purchases. It’s up to you to determine which segmenting rules make the most sense for your business, but we’ll show you how to set each up within Klaviyo.

VIP – Dollar Amount
vip customer segment in Klaviyo
Pretty simple, right? In this instance, we’re telling Klaviyo that anyone who has spent over $1,000 on our site and is not suppressed (i.e. can still receive our marketing emails) is a VIP.

VIP – Number of Purchases
vip frequent buyer segment in Klaviyo
Equally simple. In this case, anyone who has placed 10 or more orders on our site and is not suppressed qualifies as a VIP.

It doesn’t matter how you determine who qualifies for VIP status on your website, so long as you treat them with the care and respect your biggest customers deserve. These people have a clear affinity for your brand – make sure they know you value them as much as they do you!
Email Marketing Ideas for Ecommerce VIP Customers
You want to make this segment of your list feel special. Exclusive discounts and free gifts are great ways to do so, but there’s really no limit on how you can cultivate a great relationship with your most important customers. Consider automating a plain text email from the company CEO’s address thanking them for their repeat business or asking them for input on products you’re about to add to your website. These are simple campaigns you can implement to keep them engaged while making it clear that you are aware and appreciative of their business.

Specific Product Purchasers

There is one final sub-segment of purchasers that you will likely find useful in your email marketing initiatives: people who have purchased a specific item or items from your shop. 

Here’s how to create a segment of users who have purchased a specific item from your store. The “Items” field has been intentionally left blank – to fill it in, simply select the desired item from your catalog...
product based email segmentation
Email Campaign Content Ideas For Specific Item/Collection Purchasers
The better question here may be what not to send this particular segment.

Let’s say you run an online streetwear shop that sells men’s and women’s hats. You’d like to send an email promoting one of your best-selling women’s hats. 

Who should you send it to?

In the interest of keeping your emails relevant, you’ll want to exclude two segments from receiving this particular email: past purchasers of men’s items and past purchasers of the hat in question. These two groups are among the least likely to find an email promoting this style useful, which increases the risk of them either unsubscribing or flagging your emails as spam. 

To create these segments, simply follow the steps outlined above. Then when you’re selecting the lists and segments you’d like to send your promotional email to, exclude anyone in them from receiving the email.

Note: If your products are frequently given as gifts, you may want to dig a little deeper before determining whether or not a purchaser of a men’s item is indeed a man.  

Engaged Subscribers

One of the most useful pieces of information you can glean from your ESP is an understanding of who is actually engaging with your emails. Here’s one of the many ways we could define an engaged user based on Klaviyo’s rules...
engaged ecommerce customer segment
You’re free to customize this definition as you see fit, but assuming you’re emailing with some regularity, the rules in place here should work fairly well in identifying which of your subscribers are actually interested in what you have to say. 

Take a look at the individual rules to familiarize yourself both with how to set them up and the logic behind them. 

These rules tell our ESP (in this case Klaviyo) what a user needs to have done to be considered engaged. They need to be present in our master subscriber list (called Newsletter), they have to have opened an email at least once in the past 90 days, and they have to have clicked an email at least once in the last 90 days.

It’s important to note that we also stipulate that they have to have subscribed more than 90 days ago and that they have received at least 5 emails since doing so.

Why? 

Because without these two rules, we’re potentially not giving our subscribers enough opportunity to interact with our emails.

By including them, we’re ensuring that they’ve had ample opportunity to do so – if they don’t, they’ll become part of our “Unengaged Subscribers” list.
Email Content to Send Engaged Subscribers & Customers
By nature, engaged subscribers are going to be the people on your list most likely to interact with your emails. 

That doesn’t mean that you have carte blanche to email them every single day. 

The email strategy you’ve been employing is clearly resonating with them, so keep it up without overdoing it. Be consistent without being pushy and use the segmentation tips outlined above to maximize the relevancy of your emails.

Unengaged Subscribers

This segment is the inverse of your Engaged Subscribers segment. They’ve been present in the master list for the same amount of time and have received the same minimum number of emails, but they haven’t taken the minimum actions to be considered engaged: they haven’t opened or clicked your emails. 

Here’s what this particular segment looks like...
unengaged ecommerce customers segment
These subscribers might simply be uninterested in your brand, or they may even be spam traps. 

“Spam traps” can refer to any number of email address types that aren’t owned by real people. They look like real email addresses, but they were either created by an ISP to identify email spammers, were abandoned by real email users, are email addresses featuring typos made by real people, or they were completely made up by legitimate subscribers and don’t actually exist (how many times have you typed in some variant of “johndoe123@gmail.com” in order to access gated website content?).

It’s hard to identify spam traps because they look exactly like real email addresses. 

That’s why creating an unengaged list is so important – not only will it help you rid your list of uninterested subscribers, but it will also help you purge spam traps from your list, keeping you off of email blacklists.
What to Send Unengaged Subscribers - Content Ideas
Not every unengaged subscriber is a spam trap and you don’t want to treat them as such – these users might simply not have been sufficiently impressed by the content you’ve sent to merit opening and clicking on it. 

Nevertheless, you want to treat this segment with particular care, as repeatedly sending to known spam traps and accruing low open rates in the process can damage your sender reputation. This can ultimately result in your domain getting blacklisted, preventing you from sending any marketing emails. That’s not good.

We recommend excluding these segments from the majority of your email campaigns in favor of creating a specific automated email series designed to either turn these email addresses into engaged subscribers or purging them from your list entirely. We’ll cover all of that in our section devoted to automated email campaigns.
Growing And Maintaining a Clean Email List For Your Ecommerce Brand
Email marketing for Ecommerce is a numbers game: if you want to get any mileage out of your email marketing initiatives, you need to have a sizable email list. 

How do you do this?

With a smart popup form. 

Before you get disgusted by the prospect of a garish form popping up to cover your beautiful store, take a look at the results of this split-test conducted a few years ago. 
growing an email list with lightboxes
In this instance, the popup (lightbox) outperformed the traditional email signup form by a whopping 1,375%. 

Popups clearly work, and, when implemented thoughtfully, can help significantly grow your list without compromising your store’s appearance of functionality.

Choosing the Right Opt-In Form

As is the case when selecting the right ESP for your business, you’ll want to put some time into researching which service you use to build your email list. Most ESPs have a built-in popup form that you can customize for free, but we recommend investing in third-party applications that offer more robust functionality.

Optimonk and JustUno are two of the big names to be familiar with, although a quick Google search will show they’re far from the only options on the market. Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to make sure of two things when selecting a third-party service: it integrates with both your ESP and your website. 
optimonk homepage
Once you’ve made your decision and have a popup form on your website, you’re going to want to split-test it extensively. 

The testing options available to you will vary based on which popup from you select, but the most important factors to test include copy, call to action, image, and where and when it appears on your website. You may also want to test offering a discount or other incentive in order to get people to sign up, but that’s entirely up to you.

Getting people to sign up for your email is only half the battle, of course – you need to have an automated email or emails ready to send them once they do. We’ll talk about writing an awesome welcome sequence shortly, but first we’re going to strongly encourage you to require your new subscribers to confirm their subscription.

Sometimes referred to as double opt-in or dual authentication, this process requires users to confirm receipt of an email prior to adding them to your marketing list. Simply typing an email and hitting “enter” won’t cut it.

While adding a step to the sign-up process may seem counterintuitive as it creates friction by requiring users to take an additional step, it’s worth doing: this will help to keep your list clean of mistyped email addresses and spam traps. 

By requiring users to take this single step, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of you earning a poor sender reputation. This is great for peace of mind and also for your wallet, as most ESPs charge you based on the number of subscribers in your account. 

Note: When you create your popup, we recommend asking for your user’s name for personalization purposes. 
5. Must-Have Ecommerce Email Marketing Automations: Abandoned Cart, Welcome Series, Browse Abandonment, VIP and Re-Engage
At this point, you have a solid foundation for a winning email marketing system.

You’ve selected the ESP that’s right for your business, created an opt-in form, and have rules in place to automatically break your master list into various segments. 

Now it’s time to start building out the automated email campaigns (called Flows in Klaviyo) that will effortlessly make you money, beginning with arguably the most important of all: your Welcome Series.

There are a couple of terms you’ll want to be familiar with to make the most of the following recommendations. You’ll be using these to define your automated campaigns much in the same way you segmented your master list above. While they may vary across ESPs, their essential functions are the same.

Trigger: Anything that will prompt an automated campaign to be sent. A user entering a certain list or segment can trigger an automated campaign, as can certain actions (example: adding a product to cart or placing an order) and certain properties.

Example: A user subscribes through a popup and joins the “Newsletter” list, triggering a welcome email series.
email triggers for automations
Filter: Anything that prevents a user from receiving an automated campaign they would have otherwise received. There are a number of different filter options available, including actions, properties, and location, among others.

Example: You create a “Browse Abandonment” campaign to send to anyone who has viewed a product on your website 30 minutes after they have viewed it, but filter out anyone who has made a purchase since starting the flow. 
email automation filters in Klaviyo
Conditional Split: An in-flow check that determines whether or not someone receives a certain email. 

Example: You create an “Abandoned Cart” campaign, but only want to offer discounts to subscribers whose carts have a value over a certain dollar amount. You add a conditional before this discount email to ensure it is only sent to recipients with a high cart value. 

Time Delay: A pre-determined delay that is configured to space your emails apart within an automated campaign. 

Example: You want to give users a chance to complete their purchase before sending an abandoned cart email. You place a 30-minute time delay at the beginning of the flow, preventing anyone from receiving the first Abandoned Cart email until 30 minutes after they’ve entered the flow.  

Creating A Welcome Series - Technical

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what a basic Welcome Series constructed in Klaviyo might look like, complete with a trigger, time delays, and a conditional split.
welcome email marketing automation for an exommerce store
It’s pretty easy to see how these concepts actually work, isn’t it?

We’re telling Klaviyo what we want to have happen at every step of the way. Once someone subscribes to our newsletter, they’ll immediately receive a welcome email. A day later they’ll receive a more formal introduction to your company and products. A day after that they’ll get an email featuring testimonials about how wonderful your product is.

Things get more interesting after this third email, because now we’re employing conditional logic to ensure that the only people who receive our gift (typically a discount code) are yet to make a purchase after entering this particular campaign. 

As you can see, this is very easy to configure, but don’t let its simplicity belie its importance: taking steps like this will save you money in the long run. If someone has already purchased your product at full price, you have no reason to offer them an additional discount. 
Creating an Ecommerce Email Welcome Series – Content
The content you provide in your welcome series will largely depend on what you promise users in your opt-in form. 

If you offer a 10% discount in exchange for signing up, you had better follow through and send that discount the second they join your list. 

If you merely said that you would provide news, updates, and periodic sales, you have some creative leeway in how you go about cultivating your new relationship with these subscribers.

You’re free to configure this series as you see fit in terms of content and timing but remember that this often serves as your first real communication with your recipients. Make sure these initial emails do a good job communicating your brand’s voice, set reasonable expectations for future emails and look professional. 

TIP 1: Somewhere in the first two emails in this series, ask your recipients to whitelist your account by adding your email address to their address book. This will help guarantee your emails don’t wind up in spam.

Creating an Abandoned Cart Email Series to Recover Lost Ecommerce Sales
According to Barilliance, upwards of ¾ of total online shopping carts are abandoned each year. 

That is an absolutely astounding figure that should hammer home the importance of creating an Abandoned Cart series.

Luckily for the non-techie crowd, most ESPs have pre-built abandoned cart emails that you can enable at the click of a button. 

Let’s take a look at Klaviyo’s default setup...
abandoned cart sequence for an Ecommerce store
This campaign is triggered when someone has begun the checkout process on your website but hasn’t placed an order since doing so. Once four hours have elapsed (we actually like to use two hours), they’ll receive their first abandoned cart email, which will ideally contain the following content: 
ecommerce abandonment email default template in Klaviyo
This admittedly-unattractive email template is actually a beautiful masterpiece, because instead of “item.product.title”, your recipients will see the name of the product(s) they left in their cart, alongside a picture of the item. 

This content is dynamically generated so that it accurately mirrors what the recipient left in their cart. The email is complete with a CTA prompting users to return to their cart which, when clicked, will return them directly to where they left off in the checkout process.

When populated into a branded template, these personalized abandoned cart emails are highly effective and look great. 

Here's a real-world example email from Beardbrand that started out life looking like the ugly default template above.
beard brand abandoned cart email example
After that initial email is sent, you have a couple options available. You can elect to wait 20 hours to send one last reminder, as Klaviyo has done, or you can take it a step (or two or three) further.

We tend to see a 3-5 step abandoned cart email series perform extremely well for most brands.
3 step abandoned cart email automation
Let’s say that you decide capturing abandoned cart sales is worth taking 10% off the total cost. Rather than ending the series after two emails like Klaviyo’s default has done, you send a third email a day later with a discount code inside it in an effort to get people to finally make the purchase. 

If they still don’t purchase, you can configure another follow-up email or two, as we’ve done in the example above.

There’s no need to worry about your recipients getting overwhelmed by these emails, either, because your ESP will recheck your filters prior to sending the next email in a sequence. If at some point they fail to be met, the recipient in question will be removed from the email sequence. 

In this instance, were a user to make a purchase after receiving the second email, the “Placed Order zero times” rule would fail to be met, meaning they would exit the sequence without receiving emails #3, #4, or #5. 

Deciding whether or not to offer a discount is completely up to you, but we’d recommend not doing so immediately, as this will condition your recipients to always abandon their carts.
Next Up: The Browse Abandonement Email Sequence
Ever looked at a product online only to see it pop up on the sidebar of your Facebook feed minutes later?

It’s no coincidence – it’s retargeting. And it can be done via email just as easily as through social media advertising. 
browse abandonment series settings
This is how it’s built in Klaviyo. 

The flow itself is very similar to the Abandoned Cart flow, with two notable exceptions: it filters out anyone who’s started a checkout since starting the flow and anyone who has already been in the flow in the last 30 days.

The reason for the first filter is because you’ve already created an automated campaign to handle users who have started checkout but haven’t placed an order: your abandoned cart series.

The reason for the second filter is that you want to avoid emailing people excessively. Think how many products you view on any given Ecommerce site. It would be extremely annoying if you received an email every time you merely looked at a product.

Again, you’re free to build your browse abandonment email flow out as much or as little as you’d like. Many brands keep it to one email sent after 2 hours, others add in an additional follow up a day later.

Keep in mind where your customer is at in the buying process and tailor your email content accordingly. At this stage they’ve only expressed a passing interest in the product and could still be in the research phase. 

Also, in some cases a LOT of your subscribers can trigger this flow each day so you might want to refrain from using discount codes here if you don't want them to be too widely available. This sequence can absolutely drive substantial revenue without the use of coupons for most brands.

Here's a real world example email from I Love Ugly...
browse abandonment email template example
The VIP Customer Email Automation for Ecommerce Brands
We took the time to create the VIP segment earlier – now it’s time to put it to work with a VIP sequence. 
setting up the vip customer email series
Whenever someone is added to your VIP segment, an email can be sent letting them know that they’re now part of your VIP club and can expect to receive exclusive perks that aren’t available to other customers. 

Including a VIP discount in this series is a great idea (we’ve done so above), but there are really no limits to how it can be customized. Just go out of your way to let your most valuable customers know you recognize their loyalty, and them them something over and above what they're used to getting.

You can use a different sender name for these emails such as Brand Name VIP Club, or something that makes the email stand out in the inbox.
The Ecommerce Re-Engagement & Win Back Email Automations
It is important to put automations in place designed to engage people who were once interested in your brand, but have now gone cold. There are several criteria you can use here. The two main ones are:

- Customers who made a purchase but have not returned for XX days or months
- Subscribers who have stopped opening your emails for XX days or months

In both cases, the idea is to put a short automation in place that uses curiosity, humor, or maybe even a great one-time offer to bring people back and get them engaging with you again. Hopefully they purchase, but getting them opening your emails again is a win too.

The default Klaviyo setup for a Winback campaign looks like this, with the first message sending 75 days after a purchase if no other orders have been made since then. A follow up is sent 15 days later.
winback email series setup for ecommerce
Be as creative as you want with these emails. Especially if you're dealing with subscribers haven’t interacted (opened) in a while, which means the typical messaging isn’t resonating. 

You can experiment with subject lines and email content/offer, along with the actual layout of the sequence itself. Feel free to expand or shrink this flow as much as you’d like. However you do not want to keep email people indefinitely if they are not opening your messages.

However you build these flows, make sure you have a mechanism in place to easily identify the subscribers who make it all the way through the series without engaging (opening or clicking) an email. 

You’ll want to isolate these subscribers and clean them from your list. In the example below you can see the very end of a re-engagement series for subscribers who have not been active. We created a profile property called “Delete” and set it to “Yes”. 

If we want to suppress these profiles, we can simply create a segment of individuals who have this property on their profile and remove them at our leisure - once per month works well. This is a good practice to keep your list clean and responsive.
end of the re-engagement series
Additional Ecommerce Email Marketing Automations You Can Build to Increase Sales
What we've covered so far are just some of the basic automations you'll want to implement. This is a beginner guide after all.

These are proven and always drive results. However, there is a LOT more you can do with email sequences based on behavioral triggers, especially in Klaviyo, which really shines in this area. 

For other ideas, take a look at the Klaviyo flow library below. We'll also cover more advanced sequences in other articles and tutorials.
klaviyo email flow library
6. Email Marketing Newsletters, Broadcasts & One-Time Campaigns For Ecommerce Brands 
All of the email strategies we've covered so far are automated sequences (called flows in Klaviyo). This means they happen on autopilot and run in the background 24/7.

But even the most complete set of advanced email automations is only half of a truly comprehensive email marketing strategy for Ecommerce.

Your periodic, one-off emails campaigns are where you really let your marketing creativity shine through. 

There are two keys to a high-performing email marketing plan: consistency and variety. This is where manually sent, one-off campaigns come in.

You need to email your recipients consistently, so they recognize you and develop a relationship with your brand, and you need to vary up what you send them so that they don’t grow numb to your emails. It is not enough to rely just on the automated email sequences we covered earlier. They'll only take you so far.

The one-off campaigns you send to compliment your automations should fall into one of these four general categories:

- Sales & Promotions
- Education and trust building
- Brand story and social proof
- New releases and product recommendations
Sales & Promotional Email Campaigns For Ecommerce Brands
Of the four main campaign types listed above, these emails generally drive the most revenue because they’re incentive-laden and usually are sent out during or near peak shopping times: 

- Black Friday/Cyber Monday
- Valentine’s Day
- Mother’s Day/Father's Day
- July 4th
- Christmas
- Etc etc.

The aggressiveness of your mailing strategy during these times of the year will depend largely on the conditions of your offer. 

If your sale is a week-long event, you can space your emails out nicely over the course of the week. If it only lasts for 24 hours, you’re going to need to send out multiple emails throughout the day to get maximum mileage out of it.

Regardless of the terms of your offer, you’re going to want to pay special attention to how you determine the recipients of each iteration of your promotional email. 

Segmenting is your friend here. The second someone makes a purchase from you during these promotions, be sure to add them to a special segment, and exclude this segment from receiving any subsequent emails regarding your promotion. 

In certain cases, you’ll also want to exclude recent purchasers from the last few days if you're running a big discount. Don't sent a 30% off sale announcement email today to someone who purchased at full price yesterday.

Don't be afraid to be aggressive with attractive short term offers.

If you have a 48-hour sale, for example, you may want to send out four emails in total in addition a teaser announcement a day or two before:

- One on the morning of the first day announcing the sale
- A second email on the evening of the first day
- A third on the morning of the second day
- A last-chance reminder on the evening of the second day

In this scenario, you might want to screen openers of the first email from receiving the second email in the evening. While you obviously want to capture sales with these first two emails, their primary function is to alert users to the ongoing sale. You can hold off on creating urgency until the second day.

The 4 email timeline above works well, but some brands get a lot more aggressive than that during the really big promotional periods that don't last long. Multiple email sends per day are becoming common. It is up to you to decide if this fits your brand, but it will result in more sales.

There are a number of obvious sale opportunities built in throughout the year which are great for boosting revenue, but we caution against relying too heavily on them. You don’t want to condition your recipients to expect a sale from you – you want them to be infrequent enough that when you do decide to offer a discount, your audience is eager to take advantage of it. 

Here's a holiday announcement email campaign example from Ecommerce brand United By Blue...
holiday promo annoucement email example
Educational Non-Promotional Email Campaign Ideas for Ecommerce Brands
One of the biggest mistakes email marketers make in their campaigns is always trying to sell. 

While driving revenue is unquestionably the name of the game, sending emails that do nothing but show product photos next to “Buy Now” buttons grows old. Fast. You need to keep people interested enough in what you’re sending to continue to open your emails.

In many markets, Ecommerce brands have the opportunity to do this by providing value to subscribers in the form of educational emails.

These aren’t nearly as overtly salesy in nature, but instead attempt to convey valuable information on topics your audience is likely to be interested in. It’s not all fluff, either – when done right, there’s usually ample opportunity to subtly plug your products.

Let’s say you have an athletic wear shop geared primarily toward 25-45 year-old women. 

Instead of sending out yet another email promoting your workout leggings, you research and write a piece of content for your blog that details five yoga positions to help improve flexibility, and at the end of it mention that you just added three new styles of yoga leggings to your website. Then promote this blog post to your email list.

The focus of the email remains on providing education and value, but there’s still the opportunity for you to make a sale. This is a win-win strategy that will both make you money and keep your subscribers engaged with your content, while building brand trust.

Tip: To increase clicks through to your website from the email promotion, remember to post entire article on your company’s blog, and only provide a teaser snippet and a link to the full article in the email.
Social Proof & Brandy Story Email Campaigns
Showing them how other people feel about your products can do a great deal to alleviate any concerns they may have about buying from you. 

Social proof emails give you the opportunity to do just that. By sending these email campaigns, you can allay any misgivings a recipient will have about purchasing from you while simultaneously increasing desire for your products. 

Reviews are a no-brainer here, but photos of others actively using your product are a goldmine. These not only show that your product does indeed live up to the hype, but they help to create a sense of community that the recipient will naturally want to be a part of. 
Email Campaigns for New Releases & Product Recommendations
Another easy email to create content for, these emails help draw user attention either to new or yet-undiscovered products with a bit more focus than your general promotional emails. 

You can choose to focus on one specific item or an entire collection in these emails. 

Some ideas for you to consider include drawing attention to new releases, highlighting bestsellers, or recommending certain items/collections based on the time of year or past purchase behavior. 

Let’s assume the yoga pants used in the example above are the best-selling item on your website and that the same print is also available on a new sports bra you just released. You could easily create a laser-focused product recommendation campaign by creating a segment of yoga pants purchasers and sending them an email featuring the matching sports bra. 

Whatever angle you take in these types of campaigns, don’t be afraid to let your products take center stage – they’re the reason your subscribers signed up for your emails in the first place!
7. Ecommerce Email Subject Lines, “From” Names and Preheader Text
Another easy email to create content for, these emails help draw user attention either to new or yet-undiscovered products with a bit more focus than your general promotional emails. 

You can choose to focus on one specific item or an entire collection in these emails. 

Some ideas for you to consider include drawing attention to new releases, highlighting bestsellers, or recommending certain items/collections based on the time of year or past purchase behavior. 

Let’s assume the yoga pants used in the example above are the best-selling item on your website and that the same print is also available on a new sports bra you just released. You could easily create a laser-focused product recommendation campaign by creating a segment of yoga pants purchasers and sending them an email featuring the matching sports bra. 

Whatever angle you take in these types of campaigns, don’t be afraid to let your products take center stage – they’re the reason your subscribers signed up for your emails in the first place!
We’re getting into the nitty-gritty now. 

While these aspects of crafting successful marketing emails aren’t quite as sexy as creating automated segments and dynamically-populated content, their importance cannot be overstated. 

Why?

Because they play a huge role in determining whether or not people actually open your emails and see all the awesome content you’ve created inside. 

Subject Line

This is where you’ll be giving people an idea of what’s contained in your email. 

In theory, writing a subject line is easy. All you have to do is relay your email content, right?

Wrong.

You have to tie your subject line to the content of your email – in a way that stands out in the inbox. 

It isn’t enough to just say “15% Sale Happening Now” or “New Leggings Have Arrived” and call it a day. You’re competing with untold numbers of other emails for attention, so unless the recipient in question is absolutely head-over-heels for your brand, these drab subject lines are going to result in your emails going unopened. 

A much better approach is to hint at the content of the email without clearly defining what’s inside. Here’s a great example from The Pink Lily Boutique...

pink lily boutique subject line email
This naturally piques your curiosity and makes you want to know what exactly they’re talking about. Upon opening the email, you have your answer: it’s all about their boldest new styles.
pink lily product launch email
This email subject line works because it creates interest without relying on click-bait and the content is completely in-sync with the subject line. If the subject line literally talked about the content of the email – “A gorgeous black dress and sparkly shoes” – you can bet the CTR would have been much lower. 

Leaving a little to the imagination works wonderfully here. Asking a question in the subject line is another great strategy to boost open rates.

Preheader Text

Though not quite as important as the subject line, taking the time to add in preheader text can make your emails stand out in the inbox. 

Preheader text is exactly what it sounds like: the text that appears prior to the header section of your email. If you don’t create custom preheader text, it will automatically be pulled from the top lines of your email and deposited into your recipient’s inbox. As you can see, the results are usually pretty ugly.
bad preheader text example
Instead of a cohesive message, you get links, phone numbers, and a load of other unappealing data. 

Contrast that with this hilariously creative email from Chubbies...
a good email pre header from chubbies
They used their preheader text as an add-on to their subject line to both communicate what their email is about while grabbing attention. You probably won’t be able to get away with this same sort of tone, but it’s a great example of well-constructed preheader text just the same. 

From Name

Another term that’s exactly like what it sounds. This will tell your recipient who the email is coming from. 

While you’ll most likely want to use your company’s name, you may experiment with using a person’s first name in addition to that of your business. This can make your emails feel a bit more personal which can lead to higher open rates. 

“Brad @ Chubbies” or “Sarah | The Pink Lily Boutique” would be acceptable substitutions in the two provided examples.
8. Split Testing As Part Of Your Ecommerce Email Strategy
There’s only one way to determine whether or not your email marketing strategies are working, and that’s by testing extensively. 

You can split-test individual items, like email subject lines and body content, or entire automated campaigns comprising of 10+ emails. 

There are simply too many factors at play to be able to test everything, so instead focus on establishing general best practices and work to refine them. Subject lines, sending times, body content, and general tone are great places to start figuring out what your audience is most responsive to.

This is an advanced concept which is not worth looking into until you move beyond beginner level. In the meantime you'll be much better off focusing on the basics of getting your automated email flows set up, and creating a consistent campaign schedule.
9. Final Thoughts
While this guide aims to be as comprehensive as possible for the beginner, email marketing is an ever-evolving field that requires careful study to stay ahead of the curve. Participate in forums, stay up to date on what’s new in the industry, and subscribe to as many good Ecommerce brand newsletters as you possibly can to see what your peers in the field are doing - you’ll undoubtedly find some inspiration along the way.

We hope you found this guide enjoyable and look forward to seeing you in our inboxes soon. 
10. Working With An Ecommerce Email Marketing Agency To Have Everything Done For You Monthly
Putting this all into place - even the basics - is a lot of work. In particular the automation setup can have a lot of pain points and potential pitfalls.  Many brands like to work with a specialist done for you Ecommerce email marketing agency rather than taking care of everything in house. 

Here at the email funnels agency we only do email, only for online retailers, and only on Klaviyo. So if you'd like to have a comprehensive strategy built out and managed for your brand then don't hesitate to get in touch. We're proud to offer one of the best done for you Ecommerce email marketing services available anywhere online.
About Us
The Email Funnels Agency helps successful Ecommerce brands profitably grow sales using the latest Klaviyo email marketing strategies

Ryan Turner

Ryan is a 10+ year Ecommerce veteran and Klaviyo specialist
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The Email Funnels Agency helps successful Ecommerce brands profitably grow sales with Klaviyo email marketing
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