ecommerce email marketing

Do’s and Don’ts of Ecommerce Email Marketing in 2021

This is a guest post by content marketing strategist Zoe Devitto.

Are you going into 2021 with low open rates for your ecommerce email marketing campaigns?

What about sales? Are you still trying to figure out how your competitors are making money from a single email?

If you’re nodding along, you’ve probably picked up some lousy email marketing habits you need to toss to the curb and leave behind to burn in the dumpster fire of 2020.

And today, you’re going to do just that.

By the time you’ve read through this post, you’ll have a solid action plan for getting rid of the things holding you back and habits that will start bringing you the result you seek.

Ready to start making sales from your emails?

Let’s dive in!

ecommerce email marketing tips

Do’s of ecommerce email marketing

Here are some of the simple tweaks you can make to your emails today to boost open rates and conversions.

Create a great subject line

Take a wild guess on how many emails are sent every single day.

100,000? Nope.

1.8 million? Not even close.

105 billion? Ding! Ding! Ding! You’re on the money!

With so much information bombarding our inboxes daily (and no extra time to soak it in), the chances of your email getting ignored? Pretty darn high – unless you have an irresistible subject line.

In the world of email marketing, first impressions are everything. It doesn’t matter if the content of your newsletter is amazing when everyone is selecting your email and clicking on the Trash button.

With 33% of recipients opening emails based on the subject line, it’s time to whip yours into shape with these tips:

  • Keep your subject lines under 60 characters to boost your open rates.
  • Use an emoji or two to make your emails eye-catching and entice people to click.
  • Use the power of the fear of missing out (FOMO) to make your audience feel like they need to open your emails.
  • Keep your subject lines clear, short, and appealing to the needs of your audience.
  • Try personalizing subject lines with the recipient’s name to capture their attention.

Leverage exciting CTAs

Raise your hand if the following call-to-actions get you excited about opening up your wallet and swiping your credit card:

  • Learn More
  • Shop Now
  • Click Here

Boring, right? You probably had to resist the urge to open a new tab while reading that snooze fest.

While these CTAs should drive action to make a sale, the only action they might get is an eye roll.


It’s because we have seen these same dull CTAs for years. It’s not exciting; it’s not different. It doesn’t make someone want to go on a shopping spree.

What can you do?

Write CTAs which stand out in your reader’s inbox. Think about the problem you solve and the value your product gives people. Write a CTA that triggers an emotion and don’t underestimate the power of urgency.

Sure, your store is open all year round, but why should someone go shopping RIGHT NOW? If people know you’ll always be there, there is no sense of urgency around making the purchase. There is no “FOMO” to drive your audience to take action TODAY and not in six months.

Some examples for inspiration:

  • 50% off today only
  • Start my free trial
  • Stay clean (a great option for cleaning products!)
  • Get it before the weekend
how to sell through email

Keep your message clear

As mentioned earlier, billions of emails are bombarding inboxes every single day.

But that isn’t the only drain on our attention spans. We have instant messages going off on WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype, and Slack (to name a few). Social media notifications blow up our phones at least every hour, and then there is our workload.

With all the demands on our attention, we don’t have time to waste reading emails.

If you’ve managed to get someone to open your email, don’t lose them with a wall of text.

So curate useful content your readers can quickly absorb and keep your emails brief and your message clear. 

Have more to say? Consider creating an informational blog to educate and connect with your readers more extensively. Link to it in your email.

Want to see how ZeroBounce works? Give it a try!

Use targeted email lists

Okay, so you’re:

  • Writing irresistible subject lines
  • Keeping your email content short, sweet, and to the point
  • Using exciting CTAs which compel action

…But you’re still not seeing sales. What gives?

Your email list segmentation is a bit wonky.

It doesn’t matter if you’re ticking off all the ecommerce email marketing to-dos when you’re blasting out messages to the wrong people.

Segmenting your list helps you stay organized with your campaigns and send the right email to the right person at the right time.

It also makes writing subject lines and content so much easier because you’re speaking to a specific group of people and not your entire audience.

Here are a few ways you can dice up your email list:

  • Location: Running a campaign for your U.S. audience? Don’t spam the rest of your list from Europe.
  • Lead magnet: Send targeted emails based on the lead magnet they opted-in for and build on that pain point to close the sale.
  • Preferences: Ask your audience to select what topics they want to see in their inbox from you.
  • Interests: Send out emails about your 50% dress sale to those who have shown interest in that product.
  • Open-rate: Reward your loyal readers with a special offer.
  • Shopping car abandonment: Create an email sequence for this segment to remind your subscribers to complete the purchase.

Create an excellent user experience

How your emails look is just as important as the content. If your email formatting is an eyesore or as confusing as the U.S. election process, you risk losing your audience’s interest.

With most recipients spending 51 seconds reviewing emails, you have an incredibly short window to make an impression and hook people in with your campaign.

How can you improve the user experience (UX) of your emails?

  • Avoid overwhelming colors (I’m looking at you, fuchsia).
  • Use easy-to-read fonts, skip the script fonts that need a deciphering manual.
  • Break up the text with bullet points, short paragraphs, and headings to make your content scannable.
  • Don’t overload your emails with images (be selective) and don’t use outdated or pixelated photos. 
  • You can take visuals a step further by designing solid graphics that’ll add a whole new perspective to your emails.
  • Consider learning more about the principles and elements of good design.
increase email marketing sales

Don’ts of ecommerce email marketing

Now, what are some of the practices you should stay away from? Take a look below.

Don’t use a generic email address

The first rule of email marketing? Don’t hide behind an info@ or the biggest faux pas of them all: a @gmail @yahoo or @hotmail email address.


Email filters will think you’re a scammer and you’ll end up in the inbox no one checks – spam.

Then there is the credibility factor. Your readers want to know the real person behind the email. It makes you more trustworthy and people do business with people they know, like, and trust.

Wouldn’t you rather do business with  over ?

If you’re using an unbranded email address, chances are your audience won’t think you’re a legitimate business. Plus, branded emails with you added security and privacy, helping you bypass any spam filters and avoid the spam inbox.

Remember, first impressions are everything in email marketing.

Don’t forget the unsubscribe button

You can get into a lot of trouble by not giving your readers the option to unsubscribe. It’s an unlawful practice under consumer-protection regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act, and you might end up paying a hefty fine.

A $16,000 one for each email sent.


Where and how do you include the unsubscribe button?

Most email marketing platforms, like MailChimp and Flo Desk, automatically include the unsubscribe link at the bottom of your level, making it easy for recipients to peace out.

Besides, you should welcome those unsubscribes. You don’t want people who aren’t going to do business with you on your list. Instead, make room for your true fans who love your business and have the intention to buy what you’re selling.

Don’t buy email lists

Do you know how there’s a scandal every couple of months about this celebrity, or influencer buying followers and using bots?

It’s such a widespread problem that 57% of Instagram users have bought followers, comments or used engagement bots.

The dishonesty around these vanity metrics has led many companies who want to leverage influencer marketing to look at other things that can’t be faked so easily like engagement rates, click-through rates, and reach.

While these vanity metrics might give you the warmth and fuzzies every time you open Instagram, it’s an empty accolade.


Fake followers (even if they are real people) don’t equal paying customers.

The same goes for buying email lists.

Instead of spending money on fake fans who don’t care about your business at all, use that coin to run a Facebook ads campaign for your lead magnet.

Not only will you grow a list of engaged followers who have the exact problem you solve, but when you send off your marketing emails, you’ll see sales. 

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have 100 email subscribers who are paying customers than 10,000 who never open my newsletters.

email verification tool

Don’t be too promotional

Fun fact: People aren’t opening your emails to hear you promote your brand. They are opening your emails because there is something in it for them.

Whether that’s the latest industry news, quick tips for solving a problem, or some accommodation inspiration for their romantic weekend away.

Of course, it’s important to let your audience know what you’re all about, but no one likes being in a one-sided conversation.

Show your audience how you can fix their pain points. Make your emails about them.

Another thing to keep in mind is your sales funnel. If someone has downloaded your lead magnet, you don’t want to hit them with your sales offers immediately.

That’s icky, slimy, gross, and a quick way to convince someone to hit that “unsubscribe” button.

Before you ask for a sale, you need to nurture the lead and build a relationship with a non-promotional email sequence. You want to create that magical know, trust, and like factor, so when it’s time to speak about your products, your lead is primed to buy.

Don’t sound robotic

Do you know what’s dull? Boring, stuffy, corporate emails.

An overly-formal or technical tone is a major turn-off and will give readers a reason to ignore your emails, send them to the spam folder, or unsubscribe.

Remember, you’re writing to humans, so speak like one.

A casual, friendly tone will help you come off relatable and make the recipient feel like the message is personable. If you can appeal to your audience on that level, you’ll start to build a relationship, and people will look forward to reading your emails.

So next time you’re typing up an email, remove dull corporate phrases like: “We’re offering savings to our customers!”.

Swap that out for something more friendly and appealing like: “These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do with our 30% off flash sale!”

Which sentence captures your attention more?

The one that has you singing Nancy Sinatra in your head. You’re welcome for the earworm.


Ecommerce email marketing requires a solid game plan. The strategy of spraying and praying won’t help you build a loyal audience who cares about you and thinks you can solve their problem.

When you put your audiences’ needs first and start appealing to them on a personal level, you empower yourself to create email campaigns that get results.

Follow these ecommerce email marketing do’s and don’ts, and you’ll get yourself out of a low open-rate and zero sales funk in no time.

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Bio: Zoe is a content marketing strategist for SaaS brands like FollowUpBoss,, and more. On the personal front, Zoe is a pho enthusiast and loves traveling around the world as a digital nomad.