Email marketing for retailers: Why is it important and how to go about it?

Various studies show that the global retail market is growing at an enormous scale.


Source: Statista

Hundreds of new brands fight for their space in the retail world every year. However, if you want a tighter grip over your existing customers and are looking to attract new ones, you need to utilise tried and true marketing strategies.

A robust email marketing strategy can push your company to the forefront of your industry/niche.

In this article, we will be discussing why email marketing is the best strategy for the retail business, the do’s and don'ts that you need to keep tabs on and some popular types of emails used by retailers.

Reasons why email marketing is effective for retailers

Here are the top reasons why email marketing is effective for retailers:

1. Email helps to deliver the best ROI

Unlike other businesses, retail needs a unique strategy in which multiple channels need to  be synced together.

However, email marketing should be the central part of any strategy as it directly links to customer acquisition and conversion.

Let us take a look at some statistics that prove it:

  • 72% of customers prefer to receive promotional content through emails.
  • Email marketing helps to drive more conversions than any other form of marketing channel.
  • The ROI for email sI average out to be 44%. 
  • A message is five times more likely to be seen in emails rather than in popular social media channels like Facebook.

2. Easy way to connect with mobile customers

Studies have shown that 52% of US cell phone owners access their emails from their phones. That’s three out of every five email messages being opened from a smartphone.

Another report from Forrester has indicated that:

And with the boom in the number of global smartphone users, it makes complete sense to connect with your customers on their mobile devices.

3. Email marketing is cheap

If your retail business is spending more on product promotion than development, it means something is not right in your business.

It is essential to choose an effective way to reach out to your audience that is equally captivating and at the same time, cost-effective.

By choosing email marketing for communicating with your target audience, you are not only cutting down your advertising cost but also saving time on other aspects of your business.

4. Easy to customise and integrate other marketing strategies

One of the main reasons email marketing is so effective is its versatility. Marketers can employ a variety of marketing strategies to ensure that the most suited technique is used while sending emails.

Marketing messaging can vary from simple to complex, depending on the type of strategy used.

In a study conducted by Retention science on 139 marketers, it was found that:

  • Nearly 44.9% of US online retailers used personali sed product recommendations.
  • 31.5% added customer name and unique welcome messages.
  • 27.6% added shopping cart reminders.

5. Drive sales by sending online coupons

Research has indicated that 27% US online shoppers subscribe to newsletters to enjoy the benefits of discount coupons and save money.

Another study done by Deloitte confirmed that more than 27% of online shoppers in the US sign up for emails to get discounts.

According to, 64% of internet users in the US have printed a coupon from an email.

Needless to say, using coupons in a marketing email can increase the number of responses to your emails.

6. Easy to share

Compared to offline marketing methods like posters, billboards, and flyers, emails are easier to share. The content within an email can be forwarded with just the click of a button.

This means that you can reach more customers through references and can grow your mailing list in a compounded manner.

7. Helps to build credibility

Email marketing enables you to communicate with your target audience and build trust by continually sharing and providing useful content through email campaigns.

Dos and Don'ts for retail email marketing

Here’s a quick checklist that tells you what to do and what to avoid when starting your email marketing campaign:

(Do) keep your business in the minds of your subscribers

Make sure to send a welcome email immediately after your subscriber signs in. Welcome emails help to cataly se their excitement and joy after they’ve taken the first step.

(Do) build your email list

Building a high-quality email list is essential to reach out to more customers and to keep your existing customers engaged.

You could add a signup form asking subscribers to opt-in to receive emails. It might take a longer time, but you are guaranteed to end up with a high-quality list. Additional techniques like regular email list scrubbing can help you keep a high converting email list.

(Do) segment your list

Segmenting your email list and selectively sending your marketing email to different target groups is a sure shot way to ensure that your customers look forward to receiving and opening your emails.

(Do) personalise your messages

Studies have shown that personalisation is important to ensure success when it comes to email marketing. Customised emails have shown to increase the open rate by about 26%

(Do) use email automation

Email automation tools are an excellent way to time your messages, pre schedule them for important dates and send them to a segmented group of audience.

(Do) make use of analytics

Analytics are important when it comes to understanding the results of your campaigns and to gain significant insight into the behaviour of your customer. This will in turn help to target your ads better.

(Don't) make your new subscribers wait for you.

Be prompt with your newsletters and emails. Your customers do not like waiting too long between emails. And in a world where timely actions matter, they might end up being on your competitor’s list. 

(Don't) buy an email list

While it may be highly tempting to buy email lists to kick start your marketing campaign, chances are that it might not turn out as you expected. Besides, you might end up targeting the wrong set of customers resulting in poor reception and reduced open rates.

(Don't) send the same marketing email to everyone in your list

Ensure that you do not send the same emails to everyone on your list. Sending irrelevant information can drive away even the most loyal customers. Customise your content based on what works best for your targeted demographic.

(Don't) send a generic email that speaks to everyone

As a marketer, you need to remember that none of your readers likes to be treated as just another email address. Sending generic emails will bring down your open rates and eventually reduce conversion rates too.

(Don't) send inconsistent emails

While sending marketing emails, make sure that you stay in touch with the subscribers consistently. Sending a one-off email could negatively affect your brand reputation.

Types of emails used by retailers

Here are some email types that have been successfully used by popular retailer brands.

1. Welcome emails

Studies show that when a user first visits a website, they might not make an immediate purchase. However, if they have an interest in your brand, they may be willing to sign up for a newsletter.

A welcome email will make them feel welcomed and connected.

Check out this example from Seafolly which is an Australian swimwear company, welcoming new subscribers with an email that displays their apparel.

The welcome email is designed to ensure that subscribers instantly feel a warmth and connection with the company as soon as they open the mail.

Business 2 Community

Source: Business 2 Community

2. Cart abandonment email

In the year 2019, the global cart abandonment rate was 77.8%. This poses a huge challenge for retailers.

Sending a cart abandonment email to your customers can be an excellent solution for this.


Source: FreshWorks

A study conducted by VWO reported that if the products that are left in the shopping cart are offered at a lower price, 54% of shoppers are most likely to purchase them.

3. Anniversary or birthday emails

Let's accept the truth. Everyone wants to feel special on a birthday. This is the main reason why several retailers send birthday or anniversary emails to their customers. With an automatic mailing programme, you can ensure that the dates important to your customers are never missed out.

The following is an excellent example of an anniversary email from Helzberg diamonds. With a minimalist design, the message is clear and crisp.

Email tuna

Source: Email tuna

Having saved the anniversary dates of their customers, Helzberg diamonds sends out an automated mail that reminds customers to engage with their brand.

4. Review email

These types of emails are the best in improving the online shopping experience of your customers.

Sending a review email after shopping will help you to determine:

  • Whether the shopping process went smoothly.
  • Did the product meet their expectations?
  • Is the customer happy with the service?

The following is an example of a review email from Macy's. The company sends out an email to the customer as soon as a purchase is made.

Smart mail

Source: Smart mail

5. Order update email

Order update emails, including delivery notifications, shipping notifications, etc. are the ones that have maximum open rates. This is because they contain the information that the customer wants to know.


Source: Amazon

The above is an example of order updates from Amazon.

Final Words

Email marketing is the most potent form of marketing techniques for online retailers. And it works best when both the recipient and the sender are benefited by it.

If you want to make the most out of your retail sales, the best way is to give your customers what they are looking for. Make sure to send them well-targeted emails offering something of value.

Check out some of our ready to use templates that can get you started with your retail email marketing campaign.