In this guide
  1. Find the right shipping options for your ecommerce business
  2. 6 ways an influencer marketing strategy sells your products
  3. 10 ways to grow your list with ecommerce email marketing (with templates)
  4. Pros and cons of selling your products in an ecommerce marketplace
  5. Ecommerce KPIs and Metrics: The data that defines success
  6. How to promote a product with ecommerce marketing
  7. 7 keys for successful Kickstarter campaigns
  8. Increase your conversions with abandoned cart emails

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Issue #19

10 ways to grow your list with ecommerce email marketing (with templates)

Business Models Commerce Digital Products
8 min read

Despite everything that some online marketing evangelists may say, email marketing for ecommerce businesses is here to stay.

Just look at the numbers:

Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey

Seventy-two percent of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. – MarketingSherpa

A message is 5x more likely to be seen in email than via Facebook.Radicati

And the experts concur:

“The reason email is so much more effective at driving traffic and sales is because you get to take the conversation about your products and business to your customers’ most personal online space – their inbox.

While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for free content distribution and engaging your community, they're also noisy and your audience may not be on them when you post an update.

Email, however, gets seen every time”. – Mark Macdonald, Shopify

Custora, in fact, conducted a study that clearly demonstrated how customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last 4 years.

Yes, there is little doubt that if you aren't growing your list or leveraging your email marketing efforts, you're leaving money on the proverbial table.

However, as you may have realized, growing your email list as an ecommerce business is often easier said than done and requires more than just slapping an opt-in form on your home page.

I've worked with several big and mid-sized ecommerce businesses on their email marketing campaigns and I've seen what works best. So here's the effective, organic, and easy way to grow your list.

Download a ready-to-deploy sales-boosting ecommerce email template for your ecommerce business.

10 ecommerce email list building strategies that actually work

Okay, so with the importance of email firmly established, let's look at how you can grow your email list without resorting to clickbait tactics that make your brand feel like a pair of sweaty, unwashed socks!

1. Use opt-in forms the right way

Using opt-in form for ecommerce email marketing
Your opt-in form is the most important element for capturing email addresses, and their placement determines whether or not they'll convert.

According to a study by 250ok that reviewed how the top 500 Internet retailers collect email sign ups, the footer is the best place for the opt-in form.

And while the footer seems to be the popular choice, this doesn't mean you shouldn't have an opt-in form in your header or in at least one place above the fold.

Test out two to three different placements and see which one converts better.

2. Pop-ups work… they really do!

Yeahhh… I know.

Popups. We love to hate them.

But the truth is they convert.

Sumo analyzed 2 billion pop-ups (yep, TWO billion!) and found that the top pop-ups average a 9.28% conversion rate while some pop-ups see conversion rates as high as 50.2%. The average conversion rate for all pop-ups is 3.09%.

They're onto something because most leading ecommerce brands are leveraging the good, ol' popup.

Here's just a look at some of them:

Charlie Banana has a simple email-only pop-up. They don't offer an incentive which I feel is a miss but their “Aloha” is cheery and on-brand.

Charli Banana Pop-up

Pro tip: ConvertKit helps you create on-brand pop-ups easily and quickly. You can also customize how you'd like the pop-up to appear.
If you’ve not added a pop-up to your ecommerce store because you think they're annoying, I suggest you test it out and add one today!

3. Be on brand with your opt-in copy

While the placement of your opt-in form is crucial, your opt-in copy is equally important.

Your brand has a distinct personality and voice and when you're inviting browsers to sign up to your list, you better believe that they'll pay attention when you're speaking to them in a voice they recognize, like, and trust.

Burt's Bees plays on the “bees” branding and invites readers to “Join the Hive”! Simple, yet brilliantly on-brand.

4. Collect emails from the add-to-cart customer

One of the dangers of online shopping is the number of distractions surrounding a potential customer. The phone could ring, their toddler could spill milk on the floor, or their boss may walk in just as they're about to checkout that navy cross-shoulder tote.

That is why you should encourage them to sign up or create an account as soon as they add something to their cart or their wish list.

J.Crew does this beautifully. As soon as you click “Add to Wishlist”, the site prompts you to sign up.

J.Crew add to cart

5. Increase sales with every email capture

While email list building in itself can be a revenue generating activity since you'll be sending a variety of direct and transactional emails to subscribers, you can actually turn your list-building efforts into a revenue source too.

The Honest Company does this with FREE trial packs. They send you a free trial pack for their diapers or home care products and then, after the first month, put you on a monthly subscription.

The Honest Co email

Dollar Shave Club does something similar. They promote their $5 Starter kits on their home page and then prompt you to create an account with them.

Dollar Shave Club email

Every email capture equals a new customer!

Pro tip: Offer social sign-in as well. Facebook is usually the most common, but you can also use Twitter as an option.

6. Leverage list building with loyalty programs

Loyalty or reward programs are a great way to encourage repeat purchases and start segmenting your list into occasional buyers and frequent buyers.

Walgreens does this with Balance Rewards. You can sign up online or in the store and earn 10 points for every $1 that you spend.

Walgreens incentives

7. Offer irresistible opt-in incentives

Make opting in an attractive choice for visitors by giving them something that they'd love.

Free shipping is a top favorite as are discounts for your first or next order.

You can also think out of the {opt-in} box and offer a freebie that goes well with your product.

For instance, LunchBots offers a complete meal planning toolkit. Definitely something that their target audience of busy moms would love! They also have a more detailed pop-up that highlights their opt-in freebie as well and have a clear call-to-action too!

Lunchbots offer

J.Peterman offers a crowd pleaser: free shipping. Their brand is known for a distinctive style and voice and their opt-in copy (also on a pop-up, by the way!) invites you to become “a J. Peterman enthusiast…” Love that!

J. Peterman offer

8. Capture emails with content upgrades

Checklist content upgradeContent upgrades are a cool way to connect with your community and bump up those email list numbers, organically.

A content upgrade is a downloadable, bonus content. It is an exclusive-for-the-post, and readers can access it when they jump on your list.

If your business has a blog (and really it should!), then using content upgrades will be a shockingly simple way for you to grow your list while also segmenting them smartly. See Tip #10 for more about segmentation.

Even if you don't have a blog, you can use upgrades like a Resource Guide, a Checklist, or even Recipes on your product category or description pages.

Sadly, though content upgrades are most effective they're also grossly underused by ecommerce brands. So you have a BIG opportunity there!

9. Time-sensitive specials and giveaways are great for building your list

Deploy the psychological triggers of urgency and scarcity to turbocharge your list-building efforts.

A giveaway that ends in 48 hours or a time-sensitive special will help to not only build your list but also boost sales.

BarkBox offers a “This week only” special that brings in new subscribers and sales with the wag of a tail!

BarkBox Opt-in example

10. Segment and personalize your list like a pro

Finally, and most importantly, segment and personalize your email list right from the start. Even if you've had ONE opt-in form so far for everyone, after reading this post, take action and change that.

Use the power of automation and the beauty of tagging to tag subscribers based on the actions they take, products they buy, or their geographical location. ConvertKit makes it ridiculously simple for you to do so.

Segmenting your list and personalizing it will help you grow it faster because you won’t be losing as many subscribers each time you email them since every email will be relevant and targeted to who they are and what they want from your business.

Download your ecommerce email template to start building your list with your ecommerce business?

If your email list has stagnated or if you've been wondering whether you should jump the email ship altogether, take out some time this week to implement just one of these strategies and then use my ready-to-go welcome email automation to not only engage with your subscribers but also boost sales.

Download a ready-to-deploy sales-boosting ecommerce email template for your ecommerce business.


Prerna Malik

Prerna Malik is the founder of Content Bistro where she writes wallet-wooing words for entrepreneurs, online marketers and business owners who want a return on investment on the words they share. When she’s not whipping words into a frenzy of conversions, she’s baking cookies with her daughter.

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