A survey of how to email effectively to new, returning and lapsed customers

Kevin George, Email Monks

Kevin George is head of marketing at Email Monks

Email marketing today is all about sending relevant emails to the right people at the right time. Email marketing, if leveraged properly, can be a powerful marketing channel for your e-commerce business. Rather than sending generic bulk emails to all your customers, sending specific, targeted lifecycle emails is important in order to improve ROI, especially for your online business.

The use of emails continues to see growth in the business world and among customers, especially in e-commerce activities. According to a study by The Radicati Group, including both business and consumer users, the number of email users will grow from 2.6 billion in 2016 to over 3.0 billion by 2020. Also, email marketing is considered to be a key part of marketing strategy of every e-commerce business as it shows better ROI than SEO, social media marketing, and content marketing.

If you are running an e-commerce business, you need to define a strategy and send well-timed lifecycle emails to your customers. The e-commerce lifecycle consists of the following set of emails, for:

Email Monks lifecycle

Welcome Email for New Customers – It Can Be the Beginning!

A welcome email is the first email that you need to send after the subscriber opts to join your list. This email ideally needs to be triggered immediately after the customer joins. It is good to send a series of emails with the first and second email introducing your brand, followed by the third mail subtly asking the subscriber to make a purchase.


Take a look at this email from One Kings Lane. It welcomes the subscriber with a friendly introductory note. This is a great example of eye-catching design and clear call to action (CTA) with links to the website. It is a simple way to introduce your brand and offerings to draw conversions.

One Kings Lane welcome email

Source: Really Good Emails


First Purchase Emails for New Customers – Acknowledge!

Once you have crafted your brand image and made your customer familiar with your brand aspects, draw them towards making a purchase. Ideally, this email should be sent after a mail or two of introducing your brand. Giving a discount for their first purchase is the key to getting them visit your online store again and eventually turning them into loyal customers.


Public Desire’s welcome email is a great example of this. It has a discount offer and CTA right at the top of the email, highlighted once again at the end. By giving such offers, you have a good chance of making the customer come back for the next purchase.


Public Desire email

Source: Really Good Emails

Cart Abandonment Emails: Bring Back Existing Customers

For those who are already purchasing from you, keeping a track of their purchase behavior is necessary. Customers give you signals when they intend to buy from your online site or abandon a transaction. These customers are your potential customers and you need to send them cart abandonment emails to retain the purchase.


Have a look at this email from MCM. By sending this follow-up cart abandonment email, the brand will either win the order or know the reason why the customer does not want to buy, thereby proactively improving the buying process. This will leave a great impression on the buyer about your customer service.

MCM Cart abandonment email

Source: Really Good Emails

Browse Abandonment Emails of Your Existing Customer

An effective browse abandonment strategy invites the customers who have expressed purchase intent to come back to the online store. You need to measure the intensity of the purchase intent and then decide the probability of the customer purchasing the product.

Customers who have looked at an item for more than once, looked at different items in the same category, or searched for a specific product on your site, may purchase from you in the near future. Offer discounts and suggest similar products to improve sales.


This personalized email from HydroFlask reminds the customers of what they were searching for and encourages them to reconsider buying the product. While it has suggestions for other products, it also nudges them to move ahead with the purchase.

HydroFlask Browse abandonment email

Source: Really Good Emails

Send Feedback Request Emails to Existing Customers

Asking your customers for qualitative feedback on their shopping experience is an important part of the e-commerce email lifecycle. It is crucial for strategizing your future email marketing plans.

This email from Joyus asks customers to rate their service by giving a feedback. The purpose of the email is very clear and the CTA is evident, making it easy for the customers to respond.

Joyus Feedback email

Source: Really Good Emails

Send Promotional Offer Emails to Existing Customers

Based on your customer base, sending promotional offer emails to your list is a critical part of your email lifecycle. Analyze the buying cycle of a set of your loyal customers and provide them with monthly subscription boxes, promotional bundles, and product recommendations. Provide them with ways to save money in the form of a refer-a-friend campaign, loyalty programs, and sale opportunities to improve sales and ROI.

Take a look at this perfect example of promotional offer email from Legacy Box!

Legacy Box Promotional offers

Source: Really Good Emails


Send Win-back/Re-engagement Emails to Lapsed Customers

Your subscribers and prospects may stop opening your emails and stop shopping from you after a while. To keep your ROI and sales up, you need to build effective re-engagement campaigns to make these dormant customers active again. You need to send a series of re-engagement emails with a coupon, discount or free gift, asking them to return and make a purchase again.

This win-back email from Surf Stitch provides discounts and options for its lapsed customers. As a result, customers are either likely to purchase again, change their preferences, or choose to opt out of their email list by unsubscribing.

Surf Stitch Reengagement email

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrapping Up

Lifecycle emails for the e-commerce industry can not only keep the subscribers/ customers engaged but also drive customer retention. Do you look forward to implementing email marketing in your e-commerce business? Make sure you choose the right strategy that suits your business and send the right message at the right time.


EmailMonks is an email design and coding company, specializing in crafting email templates.