Retail and email marketing go together like chicken and waffles, french fries and ketchup, or cake and ice cream. Sure, each alone is more than adequate, but together—they’re undeniably effective.

Retail email marketing is the process of using email to drive sales, awareness, and loyalty to your brand. It’s one of many marketing levers a business can use to engage with customers. However, retail email marketing delivers a few substantial benefits (more on that soon) that other channels can’t claim.

This guide breaks down everything you need to know to get started with retail email marketing. Here’s what we’ll cover below:

  • Benefits of email marketing for retailers
  • Retail email marketing strategies
  • Tips for sending better retail marketing emails
  • Top retail email examples
  • Free downloadable retail email templates
  • How to get started

Benefits of email marketing for retailers

Email marketing is a logical extension of any retail business. Your customers are already checking their inboxes for your brand’s shipping notifications, account password resets, and receipts—marketing is the next natural step.

Here are a few substantial benefits of using email marketing as a retailer:

Drive sales

You can make around $38 for every dollar you spend, which isn’t hard to imagine since it costs less than a penny to send emails (with Twilio SendGrid) that could lead to sales worth hundreds of dollars.

Build relationships

Your customer might not be ready to buy yet, and that’s OK. Email marketing can help nurture your relationships with recipients, leading them through a buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration to decision-making. Email campaigns can also help recent customers become recurring customers, brand loyalists, and advocates. 

Spread awareness

Email users check their inbox multiple times a day (or at least weekly), making it easy to keep your customers up to date on the latest and greatest information. Whether you want to drive registrants to an upcoming event, tease an upcoming product launch, or let customers know about store closures, email is a reliable way to disseminate information quickly.

Make customers happy

Your customers want to receive your emails. According to our 2020 Global Messaging Engagement Report, email is the preferred channel for business-to-consumer communication globally (followed by SMS). Plus, email is an opt-in channel—your recipients get to choose whether they want to receive your messages. 

Analyze your data

Unlike more traditional marketing methods, email is measurable. You can gather data on opens and clicks to see your customers’ likes and collect valuable insights for your brand. This could inform future marketing strategies, or it could change the entire direction of upcoming product lines.

7 retail email marketing strategies

You can engage your customers with various email marketing strategies. You may find that one strategy works best for you, or you might decide to use all of them—that’s for you and your data to decide. Here are a few of our favorite retail email marketing strategies:

  1. Welcome emails: Make a good first impression. When a brand-new recipient subscribes to your email list, set expectations and start the relationship on the right foot with a top-notch welcome email.
  2. Newsletters: Email newsletters give you an excuse to communicate with prospects and customers on a consistent basis. Use a newsletter to provide updates on new products, discounts, seasonal promotions, store hours, and more.
  3. Discounts/promotions: Offers and discounts are the most click-influencing and memorable elements of an email. Discount by at least 40% to be perceived as more legitimate.
  4. Product announcements: Let your customers know when you release a new product—it’s an easy opportunity to find your first buyers without spending money on advertising.
  5. Abandoned cart emails: Customers abandon over 77% of digital carts. Follow up with those shoppers and convert them into buyers with abandoned cart email campaigns.
  6. Seasonal campaigns: Retail products and offers often shift with the season—let your customers know what’s going on and what to expect during specific seasons and holidays.
  7. Cross-sells and up-sells: Introduce your customers to other items they might be interested in buying based on their purchase history.

Retail email marketing tips & best practices

Design with intent

Well-designed emails help users engage with the content and find what they’re looking for. They ultimately drive your subscribers to read and take action.

Collect consent

According to GDPR, your subscribers must be informed of how you’ll be using their email address. Your customers submitting an email address for shipping notifications or creating an account on your website doesn’t give you automatic rights to send them marketing emails.

Automate where possible

Create targeted automations to send your subscribers the right email at exactly the right time. 

Personalize with data

Send content that’s hyper-relevant to your recipient. Bulk email sends may be appropriate for some campaigns, but you should be collecting and using data to send personalized content to your subscribers—and that goes beyond just using their first name in the subject line.

Set up a preference center

Give your customers a chance to opt-in and out of what they want to receive from the get-go. They may want to hear about product announcements, but they don’t care much for your weekly newsletter. They might prefer quarterly emails instead of monthly emails. Implement a preference center to let them decide.

Track your email metrics

Your email program isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Regularly check your data so you can make adjustments to your campaigns. For example, if your data suggests unsubscribes are on the rise, you may want to adjust your content or decrease your frequency.

Take a multichannel approach

Your communication channels shouldn’t operate in silos. Make email a single part of a holistic multichannel communications program. This could include social media and SMS campaigns, as well as voice and video.

Clean your list

Regularly scrub your list to remove unengaged recipients and better segment your engaged audience. This will help you maintain your deliverability.

Place your unsubscribe button in plain sight

Don’t hide your unsubscribe button. If recipients want to unsubscribe from your emails, help them do it—it’s often for the best. If you don’t, they’ll likely just hit the “spam” button instead, and that’ll damage your sender reputation.

Retail email examples

Plae—Emme is back

Plae’s campaign featuring the Emme kid’s shoe is a great retail email example. The email has a simple, clean design that makes the objective obvious. It shows the shoe in use, lists a few unique qualities of the shoe, highlights 3 popular styles, and then prompts parents to “Shop Emme.” With a single CTA, subscribers only have two options: start shopping or keep looking through their inbox.

Minna—Cherry Cacao is here!

The “Cherry Cacao is here!” email campaign is the perfect example of a product announcement. They don’t bog readers down with every essential detail and ingredient in this new flavor. Instead, they feature a colorful image of the product, tease out a bit of information, and encourage readers to click the button to learn more.

Cowboy—it’s automatic

Cowboy’s email featuring their brand-new bike uses a clean, elegant design that draws all attention to the automatic characteristics of the bike. It uses an interesting image followed by a short section of copy and a product image—plus, it introduces social proof with the 4.5-star rating beneath the product. Everything draws subscribers to “See the bikes.”

Free retail email templates you can customize

Building a great email template from scratch can be challenging, especially if you don’t have any experience with design. That’s why we created a few free retail emails templates that you can download and use in your own campaigns.

These retail email templates feature easy-to-edit designs and drag-and-drop modules that let you customize the template for your own brand and use cases in minutes. Here are a few of our favorites:

Retail Email Template #1

Use this template as a product announcement or to send out free samples. Place your product front and center, follow it up with a bit of copy, and then finish it off with a few callouts and a strong CTA.

Retail Email Template #2

Have multiple products and discounts you want to feature? Use this template to highlight them all while maintaining adequate white space. Each section gives you room to feature product images, captivate with captions, and drive toward your CTA buttons.

Not quite what you need? No problem—we have an extensive archive of free email templates that you can download and use.

Start sending better retail emails

Email marketing can be one of the biggest drivers of your retail business—it just takes a little know-how and strategic thinking. Give the tips and strategies in this guide a try to see how retail email marketing can move the needle for your business.

Want more tactics and best practices for improving your email program? Check out our Email Marketing Getting Started Guide. It’s loaded with everything you need to know to start and scale effective email marketing campaigns.



Jesse Sumrak
Jesse Sumrak is a Content Marketing Associate at Twilio SendGrid focused on writing killer content and producing captivating webinars. A writing zealot by day and an ultramarathon runner by night (and early-early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.