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To grow your ecommerce business and get ahead of the competition, basic email marketing campaigns won’t be enough. 

Find out why automated emails need their place in your ecommerce strategy and discover five email automation techniques you can set up today. 

Email is one of the most powerful tools in your ecommerce marketing toolbox. In a recent consumer survey by Cheetah Digital and Econsultancy, 73% of US-based respondents reported to have purchased a product or service from email.

But the way in which consumers react to email has changed. Generic email blasts have less and less impact. Timely, personalized, hyper-relevant emails are the order of the day.

“But I don’t have the time to personalize all those emails!” I hear you say. 

Relax. This is where email automation comes in.

How automated emails differ from email marketing campaigns

A woman looks at her phone and screen as she builds an email automation for her Selz ecommerce store

So, what are automated emails and how do these differ from regular email marketing campaigns?

Automated emails are hyper-personalized emails that are sent automatically when a predefined condition is fulfilled by one of your email subscribers. This condition can be a specific action a contact carries out while on your ecommerce website (e.g. abandoning a cart, visiting a certain page, etc.)

Email automation falls under the umbrella of marketing automation but as the name suggests, relates specifically to email. To set up automated email workflows, it’s best to use an email marketing service like Sendinblue that has both automation and on-page event tracking features. 

In comparison, regular email marketing involves sending a promotional message to a large number of contacts via an email blast (or email campaign). But this kind of ‘one size fits all’ mass email will only get you so far.

What really drives an ecommerce sale is the perfect offer, sent to the right person, at exactly the right moment. Automated emails are one of the best ways to achieve this – with minimal effort on your part.

A man checks email on the go, one reason email automation is so valuable for small business advertising

How automated emails will grow your ecommerce business

As we’ve just mentioned, automated emails help you nail down the timing and relevance that’s needed for successful ecommerce email marketing.

What they also do is provide scalable, repeatable processes for your growing business. You’ll save time on manual labor and create a better customer experience.

Now let’s take a look at five email automation tactics you can start using right now to grow your ecommerce sales.

1. Abandoned cart emails

The abandoned cart email is a classic use-case for ecommerce email automation. If you’re a regular internet shopper, chances are you’ve received one of these before.

The concept is straightforward: One of your email contacts adds an item to their cart on your site but leaves without purchasing. You send an automated email (or series of emails) to the contact in a bid to get them to complete the purchase.

With the average cart abandonment rate sitting at 77.73%, ecommerce stores are right to go chasing after these could-have-been sales. After all, the act of adding an item to the cart is itself an indication of high purchase intent. But it’s important not to come across too pushy or intrusive either. 

Ask yourself why that contact abandoned the cart.

  • Was the price too high?
  • Was it because of shipping costs or duration?
  • Do they need more information?
  • Are there concerns about the return policy?

Now think about how you can address these concerns in the abandoned cart email. A discount code or free shipping might be exactly what your contact needs to complete the purchase. Or maybe they just need reassurance that you accept returns on this item.

Here’s an awesome abandoned cart example from Society6. See how they create a sense of urgency by putting a time limit on the cart.

Abandoned cart email automation example from Society 6

2. Personalized promotional offers

Email automation is your partner when it comes to sending time-sensitive, personalized promotional offers. 

You choose the format (% off, free shipping, discounts on specific products/categories) and the trigger conditions. For example, offering a VIP discount to your most loyal customers once they’ve completed a certain number of transactions on your site.

Birthday emails are an example of a simple, yet highly effective automated email for ecommerce (if you know your contact’s date of birth).

In general, people are more likely to treat themselves with an unplanned purchase on their birthday. A personalized birthday offer tailored to your customers’ interests can lead to an easy sale. Plus, the gesture will be remembered, creating positive brand sentiment.

To get you inspired, take a look at this birthday email example from Puma.

Birthday email automation from Puma as digital marketing inspiration for your Selz headless commerce store

3. The product category follow-up email

To catch your subscriber’s attention, your email content needs to speak to your subscribers’ needs and interests. 

When your email provider offers page tracking as part of its automation feature, this kind of personalization is easy to put in place.  

Page-tracking software lets you send a targeted email to your contacts based on a visit to a specific product category page, or after buying a certain item, like shoes or cosmetics.

What’s great about the product category follow-up email is that you can catch your potential customer when purchase intent is high (i.e. they’re either thinking about buying or they’ve just bought and might be interested in related products).

Here’s how to get the most out of your product follow-up emails:

  • Include recommendations for related products (e.g. “You may also like…”)
  • Offer a discount code to encourage repeat purchases
  • Include helpful information that addresses common questions about your products or services
  • Add a survey to learn more about your customer’s interests and buying habits
  • Ask for a review of a recent purchase
  • Let them know about your loyalty program (if you have one)
Email automation recommendations for future purchases is a great way to optimize sales for your ecommerce store

4. Automated email list segmentation

Targeted emails create a heightened awareness of your product and give you increased visibility in the inbox. The more inbox interaction you get, the better your email deliverability and conversion rates. 

Another tactic for more precise email targeting is to use automated email list segmentation.

This means setting up automation workflows that automatically separate your subscribers into different email lists according to behavior that you’ve chosen to track.

Let’s take the example of a subscriber browsing the shoes category on your site. 

You can set up a marketing automation workflow that’ll send this subscriber to the list ‘Interested in shoes’ after visiting the shoes page. No need for any manual sorting.

Woman selecting shoes in a local store who learned about the shoe sale with Selz advertising services

Segmenting your contacts according to what you know about them makes it a lot easier to create relevant email content.

Then, once on this ‘Interested in shoes’ list, the subscriber receives an automated email sequence promoting shoes. Yet another example of how to make automated emails do the heavy lifting for you when it comes to ecommerce promotional emails.

5. Welcome email special offers for new subscribers

Welcome emails have an astounding average open rate of 82%. For an ecommerce owner like yourself,  this represents a huge potential to sell.

Welcome emails are automated emails that get sent out whenever a subscriber signs up to your newsletter or other promotional email offers.

These emails are an important part of the customer journey. They’re often the first point of contact between a potential customer and your brand so you need to make a good first impression. 

If you don’t have an automated welcome email yet, we recommend setting one up ASAP because you can totally use it to capitalize on sales opportunities. Here’s how:

Greet new subscribers by including a special offer in your welcome email such as a discount code or free shipping. You can even advertise this as an opt-in incentive on your email signup form. 

Make sure you include instructions on how to use the offer and mention an expiry date to create a sense of urgency.

See how True Citrus uses a simple discount code in this welcome email example.

True Citrus welcome email automation shows how valuable a welcome sequence can be when you start a small business with Selz

Maximize your ecommerce sales with automated emails

You’ve just learned five email automation tactics that can help turn your ecommerce site into an automated conversion machine.

Now that you know how email automation can streamline your email marketing and create a better customer experience, it’s time to set up your own automated workflows.

The good news is that the barrier to entry is low on this one. There are plenty of email marketing services offering email automation – even for the smallest of budgets. 

Email automation is one of the many growth marketing strategies for ecommerce. Don’t miss out on this easy-win opportunity to maximize your sales.

About the author

Emma Fanning

Emma Fanning is a content marketing specialist at Sendinblue, an all-in-one digital marketing platform for small businesses. Emma writes about digital marketing related topics on the Sendinblue blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.