How to Use Email Marketing to Keep Customers Coming Back

How to Use Email Marketing to Keep Customers Coming Back


This is a guest post by Joshua O’ Connell, VP of Partnerships at Zoey, an eCommerce platform. In this post, Joshua expalins how email marketing is an important part of your eCommerce business. 


In my years working in eCommerce, I’ve learned that many merchants mis-judge the level of effort of building and running a store. Many think the biggest milestone is getting their new store live. In reality, once you’ve launched your store (a major accomplishment no doubt), you’ve officially reached Day 0. Now comes the hard part: How do you draw customers in, and keep them engaged?

Many merchants can ultimately master the first part: They figure out ways to get people to pay a visit to their shop.

If that’s you, congratulations! You’ve made it this far.

Now, it’s time to use the right tools to ensure that your customers (and potential customers, too) become engaged with you and your site. Email marketing is an incredibly powerful tool in that toolkit – one study shows that for every dollar spent a merchant will see an astonishing $44 in returns. Today I’ll share with you some of the most important aspects that will ensure your audience keeps coming back.

Build Your List Effectively

Most eCommerce sites by now have email capture forms somewhere on the site to get people on their email list. However, it’s not enough to passively collect email addresses anymore. You need to be more aggressive, and it doesn’t hurt to offer an incentive to do so. Here are some tips for building your email marketing list:

  • Explain what they’ll get: Will your customers get coupons or special subscriber-only offers? Will they get lifestyle content that helps them see your products in action? Make your subscribe call-to-action more enticing by teasing what’s to come. This will encourage more opt-ins than a simple “Subscribe Now” message.
  • Place it front and center: Just putting a form in your header or footer isn’t enough anymore. Have a checkbox during registration allowing customers to opt in. Add a checkbox in your checkout process to join the list (if they’re that far, they’re probably more likely to say yes). Add a pop-up when someone first visits your site, or perhaps one when they go to leave your page.
  • Think outside the site: Look for opportunities outside of your standard website opportunities to build your list. Capture emails physically if you have a store. Partner with other websites to build lists together and display your brand through other sites’ email marketing lists. Set up contests and giveaways that can help you drive attention.

Bring Customers Back

The customers who actually click “Complete Order” at the end of your checkout are the ones most likely to return, since they’ve already bought from you. Just behind them are the ones who place an item in the cart and don’t complete the transaction. Email marketing can help engage these audiences well – most platforms nowadays have the ability to generate emails targeting these groups. If you’re not using them, you’re missing out on maximizing the opportunity to generate revenue from this group of customers.

  • Abandoned cart: These emails will contact a potential customer, usually within 24 hours of a site visit, reminding them of the items they placed in their cart and enticing them to return. It could be a straightforward email, or perhaps it includes an offer to seal the deal (I don’t recommend including an offer in this email all the time, but at the right times it can be helpful).
  • We missed you: You can set up automated email marketing campaigns that contact a customer when it’s been a window of time since their last order. For companies that sell items that get replenished periodically, this email can be a boon to remind customers to come back.
  • Based on your history…: Some sites implement recommendation services as a way to help drive additional customer interactions. You can then take that data a step further by sending customers a follow-up email showing other items that they may be interested in based on their purchase and browsing history. This takes it out of the site and brings it right to the inbox, and can be very helpful in driving ancillary and supplementary purchases.

Keep Your List Engaged

Customers get inundated with emails. It can be difficult to stand out in a full inbox, but you can rise above the fray in a variety of ways.

  • Consider the content: If you are providing consistent value in your email marketing, such as lifestyle content, a newsletter or special offers, your customers are more likely to open and engage.
  • Keep it consistent: Some people have a standard schedule; others only send emails when there’s something special happening. Your email marketing will be something your customers will come to expect, and will even be looking for it if they’re engaged. That said, always keep your promises about frequency. If you say monthly, don’t send weekly. You will only frustrate your subscribers and cause them to tune out.
  • Offer something every time: If you’re using the recommendation services, embed products that are relevant. If you’re offering lifestyle content, recommend products that go along with it or are shown in the content. If you’re offering a coupon, share products that could be used with that coupon. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to expose your email list to what you have to offer.

Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

Most importantly, keep trying new things. Most email platforms today will let you A/B test subject lines. Try different ways of grabbing attention and see what your customers respond to – learn from your customers to identify the best ways to reach them.

One thing to remember, regardless of your approaches, is to stay on brand: If you’re a luxury clothing company, you may want to think twice about how emojis come across, for instance (it may work, or it may not). Your email marketing campaigns are one of the most visible and direct extensions of your brand, so it’s a way to reinforce and strengthen it when done correctly.


In his time on the web, Josh O’Connell has worn a variety of hats in the eCommerce field, including time as a developer and running a web development agency. Today, he is Vice President of Partnerships at Zoey, a SaaS-based ecommerce platform. Read our post on Zoey’s blog on ’20 Easy Ideas to Delight Your Customers.’


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