chapter 6

Converting Subscribers into Customers

Even though having visitors opt into your list gives you permission to market to them, you have to regularly provide your subscribers with value—via discounts or good content—if you want them to stick around and actually open your emails.

Since not every subscriber is ready to buy, it’s important to include a healthy amount of nurturing emails along with promotional emails. Nurturing emails provide subscribers with relevant content that keeps them interested in the brand. Promotional emails are more sales-oriented and often drive the reader to purchase. But first, let’s start with the basics.

The Anatomy of a Good Email

With billions of emails being sent and received every day, it’s important to take the time to make sure your email stands out. Below are 5 key elements to consider when crafting your communication.


More and more email recipients are opening their emails on mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets. It’s vital that your emails are responsive to the size of the screen they’re displayed on. Quality email marketing platforms will provide previews and testing capabilities so you can see your email on desktop and mobile.

Subject Line

Your subject line is the first true contact point when it comes to email marketing. This is what’s going to get the recipient to open the email. It’s important to remember that the goal of your subject line isn’t about getting the recipient to go to your blog or to buy a new product. The goal of your subject line is to entice the recipient to open your email, no more, no less. That might sound easy, but cutting through the noise can be a challenge.

  • Keep your subject line to a maximum of 50 characters.
  • Be useful and as specific as possible.
  • When possible, use local references the recipient can relate to.
  • The word “free” often triggers spam filters, try “percent discount” or “this week only.”
  • When possible, customize the sender to a person’s name rather than a company.

Body Content

Keep it short and make it visually appealing. Start off by ensuring the recipient understands how they can benefit - whether it’s a great offer or quality educational content. Only use graphics if they add value to your email (avoid funny GIFs, include clean product images). A detailed HubSpot analysis shows that while people say they like graphic emails, text-based email perform better. Instead of simply including images, use bullet lists to change the visual dynamic of the email. Try and keep your bullet list to 3 points; anything more runs the risk of information overload.


Now that the recipient has opened your email, understands the possible benefit, and has a few bullet point details, it’s time to get them to take action. Your email content may have multiple messages but focus on the primary action you want the recipient to take. Multiple action items can distract and confuse. A few other points to keep in mind:

  • When possible, use a button graphic instead of a text link.
  • Use action words and incorporate urgency “Download Now”, “Get Started Today”, “Continue Reading.”
  • Make your call-to-action visible early in the email rather than making your recipients scroll too much.

To take your recipient straight to the checkout process, use Shopify's email buy button. This is a great strategy for time-sensitive sales or when you're creating a sense of urgency. Recommendation emails with the buy button may also offer a more enticing action than simlpy asking the recipient to learn more.

Day and Time

Numerous email analyses from HubSpot have indicated that most email opens take place mid-morning on weekdays. Aside from that general rule, it’s important for you to learn your audience and identify traits through testing.

Keep in mind the occupation of your core audience members, teachers won’t be on their emails during the day as much as a marketing professional. It’s also important to remember the time zone your recipient is in. You might be sending your email at the right time but your recipient might be receiving it in the middle of the night.

Nurturing Your Email List

As you start growing your mailing list, you need to make sure you're staying in touch with your subscribers. The last thing you want is to build up a great list, not email them for months, and then have them either not open your emails or unsubscribe because they’ve forgotten all about you and why they joined in the first place.

When you send valuable, content-rich emails to your subscribers early on, they’ll be more likely to open up your promotional emails in the future, click-through and potentially convert.

You have three options for keeping your subscribers interested in your business and nurturing them into potential customers.

Subscriber newsletter

Consisting of industry information, trending blog posts and non-sales product updates, your newsletter is the easiest way to maintain mindshare with your audience. Your emails will preferably include a mix of high quality content that has independent value outside of your products, but still has sales and conversions in mind.

This option is best for businesses in a niche where there are always new things to talk about on a consistent basis. This is also a good option if your content is topical, current or trendy. While your sales may not skyrocket from the newsletter, brand awareness and recognition will benefit.

Drip email sequence

The second tactic is to send members of your email list a series of emails, commonly referred to as a ‘drip campaign.’ Written and designed ahead of time, these emails automatically send over a period of time with the intention of nurturing and nudging the recipient towards a purchasing action.

In practice, the sequence will look something like this:

Email 1: Send subscriber the incentive you promised when they opted in: the discount, free guide, link to a download, etc.

Email 2: Would be sent a 2 or 3 days later, following up with the subscriber, asking how they liked the incentive in case they’ve yet to use it or have forgotten about it.

Email 3: After a few more days, this email would let subscribers know about some products and services that will be of interest based on the free incentive they received.

...And so forth. You get the idea.

You’ll want to have a good ratio of content to promotional emails in your sequence for best results. As always, test your email frequency and mix of messages to discover what works for you.

RSS to email

The third option is great for store owners that actively create content for their blog. Most email marketing services allow the option to have emails automatically sent out to your email list every time a new blog post is created, using your blog’s RSS feed.

If you’re creating content daily or several times a week, you need to be careful using this option as you don’t want to overwhelm your subscribers’ inboxes.

Some RSS to Email options allow you to automatically send a “weekly digest”. This sends your email subscribers a weekly roundup of all the blog posts of the past week. This is a much better option if you post content to your blog on a more frequent basis.

Sending promotional emails

The ultimate goal of email marketing is to increase sales and repeat purchases in your store. So after collecting emails and nurturing your list, it’s time to start sending promotional emails to entice people to purchase. Shopify lets you embed Email Buy Buttons in your promotional emails to take customers straight from email to checkout. The less clicks, the more likely customers are to purchase.

Here are some ideas for emails you can send to market your business and products.

New products and services

When you have a new product or feature to share, your email list is a great way to broadcast it. These announcements keep your list in the loop — plus, the prospect of something “new” is always an enticing proposition.

Sales emails

These emails are direct and to the point: their sole purpose is to make your subscribers aware of a sale. Whenever you put a product on sale or plan to have a store-wide sale, it’s a good idea to let your subscribers know, especially if you’ve built a relationship with them.

Subscriber-only discounts

Whether you send a regular newsletter or set up a drip campaign about special promotions, you can always include discount codes for your subscribers to boost their motivation to make a purchase. Offering a feeling of exclusivity and membership is a great way to introduce emotion into your marketing.

For your ‘exclusive offer’, generate a single discount code that can be used an infinite number of times, but is only available for a limited time. If you do this, make sure to mention in your email copy that the discount code expires on a certain date. This type of limited-time offer creates a sense of urgency that encourages subscribers to purchase something now rather than waiting until later.


Holiday & seasonal promotions

A more traditional form of email marketing is to notify subscribers of special offers based on upcoming holidays or the time of year. You might want to let your subscribers know about a Black Friday sale, an after-Christmas sale, or a spring clearance sale. You can also remind people about upcoming holidays like Mother’s Day.


Social media contests & giveaways

An email list can also be leveraged to give a nice boost to your social media presence.

Let’s say, for example, that you’ve invested in advertising to drive traffic to a landing page and build up your email list, but you don’t yet have as many social followers as you’d like.

To achieve your goal of increasing your social following, you can hold a giveaway. Once the contest is underway, send an email to your subscribers letting them know that they can enter the draw for a free product or gift card by liking your Facebook page or whatever social platform you're working on.

This strategy helps to engage your email subscribers in yet another interaction with your brand, which can not only help those subscribers move down the funnel closer to a purchase — it can also help your subscribers spread the word about your products to their own friends and followers.

Exposing your brand to the social media networks of your email subscribers can help your brand reach even more people and draw them into your email list.

Milestone emails for birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions

Sending a milestone email is a mix of both a nurturing and promotional email. To do this, you will need to collect more information from your customer when they opt-in, such as their date of birth, if you are interested in sending something like birthday emails and promotions. Other milestones could simply be an anniversary for your business or a special occasion.


Next chapter

7. Ecommerce Transaction Emails You Should Be Optimizing

6 min

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