Basic ECommerce Email Marketing Strategy & Automations (“SET IT & FORGET IT”)

Recently Email marketing helped us bring in around $230K in revenue for one of our clients in the eCommerce industry. Another fun fact is that we did not follow any advanced or deep Email marketing strategies for revenue generation. The Email marketing strategies were very basic and simple and would mostly fall in the category of “set it and forget it” method.

Based on my experience of executing the emails at the basic level, I learned a lot of new things about email marketing for eCommerce which helped me improvised my email strategy from time to time. So, I decided to share the email strategy that I used for one of my clients to bring them success.
Note: This article will not cover anything but the automation part.

Email marketing strategy for ecommerce

BASIC: Welcome Email Automation & Follow up

Check for duplicacy

  • When a user joins an email list, check the email list across other email lists on the system for duplicacy. If the email already exists then delete the email otherwise keep it.

Fire Welcome email on a trigger

  • Because we are talking about set it and forget email automations, in this case, set up a trigger for the welcome email to fire on the condition that when a user subscribes to any email list. You can set the Email automation to fire within an hour of subscribing to the list.

Isolate the user

  • While the user is a part of the welcome process, you do not the user to receive any other email which is ahead in the funnel.
  • To avoid that, add another tag called “isolate” or “exclude” and when you send any broadcast email, exclude the users who are undergoing the welcome process.

Follow up Email

  • Once the user has been excluded from receiving the email for the next 24 hours, send him another email after 24 hours. This email could be about your best selling products.
  • For the follow-up emails, you can take clue from different micro-conversions and segment users based on the data.
Welcome Email from GSuite Google

Welcome Email from GSuite Google

Abandoned Cart Emails


  • Send this email when a user adds a product to the cart but does not checkout.
  • Do not send the email immediately as often a user might take the time to checkout. The basic rule of thumb here is to analyze your data of the time gap between new users and returning users in checking out.
  • Returning users usually check out with a few minutes while a new user might take time even up to days. So, you could have a different email waiting time for new users and returning users.
  • Abandoned cart emails take the highest priority among all the emails.

Product Interest Targeting

  • Target users based on their recent product visits on the website.
  • Be careful that a user might visit a lot of product pages and you do not want to send an email for each of the product visits.
  • In that case, send emails based on the highest sessions with a recent product.
  • However, you also need to be careful that some users might qualify the above criteria and then go add to cart and from there on, either leave the cart or make a purchase.
  • Thus, it is important excluding the users who are a part of the welcome email, abandoned cart email, or purchase email. Otherwise, a user might receive multiple emails at the same time.

Search Intent Targeting

  • Target users based on the search performed on the website.
  • Not all the users who search on your website could be intending to buy a product. So, it is also important to have other signals of confidence which can qualify the user closer and deeper to purchase funnel.
  • Another signal that you can use is session duration. If the session duration is above average session duration and the user has performed a search, then send a search intent email.
  • However, you also need to be careful that some users might qualify the above criteria and then view a product, go add to cart and from there on, either leave the cart or make a purchase.
  • Thus, it is important excluding the users who are a part of the welcome email, product view email, abandoned cart email or purchase email.
Search Intent Targeted Email From QUora

Search Intent Targeted Email From QUora

Loyalty Emails

The journey that starts with the welcome email gets nurtured the most at the loyalty emails. Besides, it also gives a feel of families to the users.

Life Events

  • Life events could be a reason to shop more. Events such as birthday, anniversary, valentine’s day, etc. should have a personalized coupon and reason to shop.
  • Life events emails should supersede all the above emails.

Feedback & Review Emails

  • Feedback and review emails could be another email opportunity to engage with the user.
  • Set up a trigger to send an email to the user after product delivery and their delivery experience. Some users might have complaints about their products received.
  • Review email can be sent after a week of the purchased product, though it also depends on product usage, asking the consumer their experience about the product usage.

ADVANCED: Up-Sell Email

Setting up automation for up-sell emails could be tough as it requires a lot of data digging and learning. However, it is good to give them a read and keep on the back seat for the future.

Extra discount upsell

  • Up-sell email leverages the fact that around 70% of the users check their purchase receipt online. The purchase receipt touchpoint can be used to upsell other products
  • Offer an extra discount on related products in the email receipt. This idea points to products such as “recommended products”, “People also bought” etc.
  • This email automation though falls in the set it and forget it category, however, might require a bigger backend system if you have so many products, categories, and subcategories
  • At the basic level, you can generate a personalized voucher of “x% discount on next purchase within x days”
  • Extra discount upsell can be easily automated through purchase receipt email. Here is an upsell email from Make my trip for travel insurance
Upsell Email Example

Upsell Email Example

Bundle Products

One time Items

  • Bundle products email is another email upsell strategy that especially targets high AoV users. These are very highly profitable emails. However, for these emails to work properly, you should have enough data and users in your account to upsell bundle products.
  • One example of bundle products could be someone buying entire cycle gears and accessories instead of buying just the cycle.
  • You also need to analyze what products and/ or categories are favorites for users with high AoV.

Subscription Box

  • For items that are not a one-time purchase, instead of bundle products, you can offer a subscription box. For example, Hello Fresh in Canada offers dinner cooking ingredients along with recipes as well as a part of the subscription box.
  • For a cosmetics company, you can offer a subscription box with How-tos according to skin type or season.
  • Bundle products or subscription boxes can also be easily automated through purchase receipt email or at the beginning of a quarter or year.

Cross-sell Email

Cross-sell email is almost the same as upsell email however, it tries to promote from other relevant categories often termed as sister categories.

  • Upsell and cross emails are of the highest priority as the user has just made the purchase so it is important to exclude the users from any other email automation that’s going on in parallel.

Winback Emails

All the above email strategy and automation for an Ecommerce company will fail if the users are very non-engaging. That’s why it is important to keep the users engaged. Winback emails try to bring back the users who have stopped engaging with the brand. Though engagement also depends on the brand and the product.

Someone who buys groceries online from Hello Fresh might be much more engaging than someone who bought a diamond ring for his/ her engagement. Thus, not only win back email but the entire email strategy and automation also depend heavily on the product type. Before proceeding with the win-back emails, it is important to categorize users based on their engagement and here is how I categorize for my eCommerce client:

  • Engaged: visited in last 7 days
  • Recently engaged: visited in 7-15 days
  • Active: 15-30 days
  • Inactive: 30-59 days
  • Disengaged: 59 days and above

Based on the engagement level, you should frame your email. Here is an example of win-back email from Skip the dishes:

Winback Email from Skip the dishes

Winback Email from Skip the dishes

Buy Back Emails

Buyback emails are just like prepaid mobiles. The only difference is you recharge your mobile every payment cycle and buyback emails work as replenishment emails for re-orders.

  • Monitor the product used every cycle. The best way to do is to use Cohort Analysis to monitor product usage and ordering.
  • Estimate an average usage time and send the buyback emails around that time period.

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