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4 Key Email Sequences Your E-Commerce Company Needs

June 30, 2017
Table of Contents

Email marketing is an under-utilized but very essential tool to use in your overall marketing strategy. Email is especially important if you have an E-Commerce company. It brings value to your company by updating your customers on the latest news, offering discounts on your products and motivating them to stay in your sales funnel.

What Is An Email Sequence?

Let’s start off by answering what exactly an email sequence is. It is a series of emails that companies send to their email lists. Each sequence has a different purpose and is sent to a specific segment of customers.

Related: Best Practices For Email Marketing Split Testing

There are many email sequences that companies use, and the number of emails in each sequence varies by the type of sequence you are sending. We will be highlighting 4 key email sequences that every E-Commerce company needs to be using and what value each series of emails will bring to your sales funnel.

The Welcome Sequence

The welcome sequence is the first few emails you will be sending your newest members who have opted in. Think of that new clothing brand online that you just signed up to receive a discount offer via email. The next 3-4 emails you receive from that brand would be considered the welcome sequence.

It is important to note that these emails are very brand centric and should explain who the brand is and set the tone for the relationship you will have with your customer. These first 3-4 emails will set the expectations for the ongoing email relationship. For example, this email may include wording about how customers will receive an email every Monday with a product of the week featured or that members will learn about the newest trends in fashion every week.

Most E-Commerce brands offer some sort of discount to entice consumers to sign up using their email. The email containing this discount will usually be the first email in the welcome sequence, and the the following 2-3 emails will speak to the brand and highlight different products that your company has. If your company doesn’t offer a discount, this first email will deliver the incentive that drove your customers to opt in.

Whether that is a free downloadable or free product, the first email you send should include this incentive. The email below is an excellent example of the first email in a welcome sequence. This email sets the expectations right away letting customers know they will be the first ones to learn about the new arrivals, events and special offers. In addition, the email also includes the incentive that inspired the potential customer to opt in (15% off for the first purchase) and it includes a CTA button inviting customers to shop now.


As the first impression, your welcome email sequence needs to showcase the best parts of your brand. It should include engaging and relevant content that will make potential customers want to pay attention to your emails and then lookout for future emails from your company. 

Related: Tactics to Grow Lifetime Value of an E-Commerce Customer

In addition, in the welcome email sequence, you want to try and capture your customers on all platforms. This means inviting them to like your social media pages, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts or pushing them to subscribe to your blog.

Promotional Sales Sequence

The Promotional Sales Sequence is the meat and potatoes of your email campaign. These emails will focus on the product or service you are selling, and the number of emails depends on the price point of your product and the length of your sale.

If your product or service is expensive, a longer sequence may be necessary as a more expensive product is a harder sell. On the other hand, if you have a clothing company that sells $30 t-shirts, your set of emails will be shorter since it is an easier sell.

Since sales can last from one day to a few months, your email pattern will reflect the length of your sale. For example, if you are having a one week sale you might want to email your customers every single day. But, if you are running a sale that lasts the entire month, you will want to space out your emails as to not annoy or bombard your potential customers.

Flash sales will include more emails in less time since the sale doesn’t last for very long. Below is an example of a sales email that is promoting a flash sale. As you can see, the sale is only running for 14 hours. This company will most likely send two more emails reminding customers that they have a few hours left to take advantage of this sale.


One of the best strategies in a promotional sales sequence is to use urgency and scarcity. The content of your email should include wording such as “We only have ten products left, don’t miss your opportunity!” or “This is the last chance to get in on this deal.”

Related: Why The One Key Email Metric You’re Ignoring is Derailing Your Campaigns

This tactic is excellent to use when your sale is almost over. For instance, if your sale is ending on Friday, send an email at 6am on Friday letting your customers know that the sales ends tonight at midnight. You should also send an email at 6pm announcing that there are only 6 hours left in the sale. The purpose of these emails is to spark a sense of urgency in your customers and inspire them to make a purchase. 

Abandoned Cart Sequence

Did you know? According to Barilliance, the global average rate for abandon carts was 77.24% in 2016. With over ¾ of people who online shop abandoning the products in their cart, using an abandon cart sequence proves effective to push these people to purchase their forgotten items. This sequence is a set of 2-3 emails that act as a friendly reminder to people who have left items in their cart and failed to make a purchase.

The first email in this sequence needs to be very friendly and should not be pushy. The tone of voice should be light. An example would be “Hey There! We see that there are still items in your cart!” This email should be sent out within in the first hour that your customer abandons their cart.

A second email will start to use urgency to try and get your potential customer to make a purchase. It will usually have wording around, “We can’t hold your items for much longer or there is only 6 hours left until the price increases.” This email should be sent out about 6 hours after the cart has been abandoned and act as a secondary push to get that sale.

As the third and usually final email in the series, this email should be sent out the following day of the cart abandonment. This email will focus on incentivizing your potential consumers. By offering a discount or free product, your customers are more likely to take the plunge and purchase the items in their cart.

The third email is a final tactic to win that customer back and lead them to purchasing your products. An example of a great final email in an abandoned cart series is shown below. It uses urgency as well as an incentive to motivate customers to make that purchase.


All three of these emails should have a variety of content including wording around letting them know they have items in their cart as well as new product offerings or news about your company. It is critical to incorporate interesting and relatable content in these emails to capture your audience’s attention and drive them to purchase.

Related: The Perfect Duo: PPC and Email Marketing

The industry average is about three emails in an abandon cart sequence, but this series of emails is increasing getting longer. It is important to start smaller and then build once you have refined your emails and they are converting well. If only one of your three emails is converting, continue to optimize the other ones to try and get a higher conversion rate. If you have a good rhythm and your emails are converting, then you can try and introduce an additional email.

Win Back Sequence

The Win Back Sequence or what we would call the hail mary is sent to those on your email list who are considered inactive subscribers. There are many different ways to qualify someone as an “inactive subscriber.” Some companies describe an inactive subscriber as someone who is no longer opening their emails or someone who hasn’t bought a product from the company in a while. Since acquiring new customers costs more than trying to get former customers to purchase again, it is important to utilize a win back sequence.

A win back sequence is a specific email campaign that is sent out to those inactive subscribers as a last ditch effort to win their business back. This set of emails should be 3-4 in length, and each email can utilize a slightly different tactic. The first email in this sequence should use a soft approach such as a ‘we miss you’ email. The next email should be sent a week later and include a small discount to try and recapture their business. The incentive offer is a necessary component of the win back sequence as this can help motivate your customers to return to the active subscriber list.

The re-engagement email below incorporates all of the important characteristics of a win back email. It includes content relating to missing the customer as well as an incentive.


A third email can then be sent a few days later with another bigger discount to further incentivize them to purchase. A fourth email can be sent as well asking the customer if they would like to re-opt into your emails. This fourth email is the last ploy to see if they are indeed interested in your brand.

The purpose of this email sequence is to get your customers to take some sort of action to move them from the inactive to the active list. If they were someone you categorized as inactive because they haven’t opened your emails and then they open one of the win back emails, they would be moved back to the active email list.

If after you send the win back sequence and there are still people who haven’t taken an action, then it is time to scrub them from your email list.

Update Your Email Marketing Strategy

Use the emails above as inspiration for your current or new campaigns. It is essential to use these 4 sequences as an E-Commerce business because your entire goal is to keep these customers in the sales funnel. Email is a fundamental component as they provide engaging content, highlight company news and offer discounts for products/services.

In addition, understanding your consumer’s behavior is an important aspect to be aware of while creating your email campaigns. According to EmailMonday, 54% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. Make sure your emails are mobile friendly because your emails will most likely be read on a mobile device.

If you aren’t utilizing email in your overall marketing strategy is it time to start! Take the first step and implement a welcome email campaign to begin sending your current and potential customers relevant content that will prompt them to continue to purchase your offerings.




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