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eCommerce Marketing

How to Build and Maintain a Winning Email List for your eCommerce Store

How to Build and Maintain a Winning Email List for your eCommerce Store

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

3 years ago


How to Build and Maintain a Winning Email List for your eCommerce Store

In one of our previous posts we talked about how to create interesting, engaging newsletters that can take your eCommerce store to another level. However a good newsletter is only as good as the mailing list you send it to. Creating a profitable email list is not rocket science but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind to make sure that your emails work to your advantage and bring customers to your store.


First things first... getting subscribers!

Having an online store actually puts you in lucky position – you have ample opportunities to put together good quality email list of people who really want to hear from you. So how do we proceed from here?

Ask them to subscribe.

Make sure your signup form is easily visible and that process of signing up is not overcomplicated. Studies show that when a subscribe form with multiple fields is replaced with a form with just one field the signup rate jumps dramatically, sometimes by as much as 200%. This means that you need to seek only the information relevant for your business from your subscribers-to-be, you probably don't need to know their mothers maiden name, fax number and favourite animal, but perhaps their gender and age bracket could be useful for segmentation (more on segmentation later). Remember to a provide short but clear incentive for signing-up ie. tell your prospects what they can expect when they subscribe. Two examples below are from Asos and Ryanair. Asos just wants to know your gender and Ryanair requires simply an email address. Note how short and sweet their incentives are. 


Nice, clean & clear by RyanAir

ASOS - the eCommerce masters at work
In comparison, the below form from M&S seems a tiny bit over the top. Sure, some of the fields are optional but will their clients notice that?


It would take more than a €5 discount to get most people to give up this much information.


Consider a pop-up form.

This one is debatable and you could probably find as many pop-up form opponents as advocates. The main thing is: if you decide to do it, do it right. Make sure that your pop-up is visually engaging and that you offer some type of reward for signing in – perhaps a discount code or some other promotion available for those who sign up.

Opt in/out during checkout.

This is great opportunity to generate a good quality list of people who are genuinely interested in your products. Be sure to include the line about subscribing to your newsletter in checkout process in your store. A common tactic used by many shops is to have this option pre-ticked (opt-out) so that it requires an action from a customer to actually un-tick it. 

Run contests

Another great way to get a big number of email addresses is by hosting a competition in your store. Let the word spread through social media and make sure that providing email address and opting-in for a newsletter is a condition to enter. Of course, you have to provide a prize but in the long run it will be worth it.

Email footers.

It's no harm to insert a newsletter sign up link in the footer of your email. You probably correspond a lot with your potential customers answering their enquiries so there is a good chance that you will get them interested enough to subscribe. 

How NOT to get subscribers.

Some of the following email gathering practices could bring your eCommerce business more harm than good. The following are the biggest email marketing no-no's:

  • Buying an email database from third party
  • Sending newsletters to everyone from your address book
  • Using offline lists – contacts from business cards, attendance etc. without clear permission
  • Keeping customers who opted out in your database
  • Not providing an unsubscribe option in your newsletters
  • Using “stale” lists – MailChimp recommends emailing your prospect within 3 months of obtaining permission. After 6 months the address goes stale – people could simply forget that they gave their consent – and bounce rate and spam report rate go dangerously up. 
  • Not cleaning up your list systematically

The bottom line is: never send a newsletter to anyone who didn't actively consent to it. MailChimp favours so called double opt-in i.e. sending an email to each new subscriber with a link to confirm their subscription. Once they click a link, they will be added to your list. This is a best way to ensure that there is no misunderstandings and keep your spam and bounce rate low.

What is spam and what it can do to your business?

It's hard to believe, but the global rate of spam emails is oscillating around 70%. But what is spam really? In short spam is an unsolicited bulk email. In another words it is sending emails to recipients who did not agree to receive them. Sounds innocent enough, but if your newsletters are considered and marked as spam it could have serious consequences for your business, such as:

  • damage to the reputation of your business
  • your domain and / or IP could go blacklisted. These lists are used by email providers to block emails coming from domains and IP known for spamming & all your future emails are quite likely to end up in spam folders
  • not only the email address you send your newsletter from, but all your email addresses could be blocked by your internet provider
  • it could lead to legal action and / or investigation by the Data Protection Office and serious monetary penalties & fines

Sending spam equals wasting your time and resources. In the long run, legitimate email marketing will always work much better than spam.

Why is segmentation important?

Segmentation means breaking up the list of your subscribers into smaller groups and sending targeted newsletter to each of these groups. It is a great way to increase your newsletters open and click-through rates. For example, if your online shop sells clothes you might want to send tailored (pun not intended!) emails to women and men advertising female & male clothes respectively. You might want to send an incentive like a discount code to customers who haven't purchased anything from you in the last 3 months. Or send more newsletters to your frequent shoppers than to other customers. The possibilities are endless and you could segment your groups according to many aspects such as:
  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • purchase habits
  • purchase frequency

This process might seem overwhelming in the beginning, but you don't need to create many segments at once. Start with one or two groups and develop more segments over time. Segmentation is a powerful tool so don't forget to use it.

Do you have any other ideas how to perfect your online store mailing list? How did you grow your list? Let us know in the comment section. Also, do subscribe to our blog!

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