Everyone writes blog posts that outline and illustrate the tactics you should be using to drive people to join your email list, but few take the time to actually help you understand how to nurture leads once you have them.

It’s a pretty common problem for a lot of people who decide to start investing time, money, and energy into growing an email list—they don’t really know what to do with the emails once they have them.

In ecommerce, email addresses are hugely valuable. Every person who fills out a form on your website is a potential customer. The problem is, they aren’t all interested in buying from you right away.

To move them down your funnel and closer to conversion, you have to regularly communicate with them. You have to nurture leads over time until they’re ready to buy. That’s where email marketing comes into play.

Email campaigns, when executed correctly, can help you build trust, overcome objections, and drive action.

So the question is, what kind of emails should you be sending? You can’t send subscribers the same offer or promo code email over and over again and expect them to be motivated to buy. It won’t work. You need variety. So, where do you start?

Here are 7 types of emails you can send to nurture leads toward conversion:

1. Education Emails

The first type of email you should be sending is the education email. Education emails are probably the most underutilized type of email that ecommerce brands send to prospective customers. Why? Because they require you to develop original and thought-provoking content that your subscribers will find valuable.

The primary goal of education emails is not to sell products—the goal is to educate and leverage yourself and your brand as an influencer in whatever industry you’re in. The goal is to build trust with your subscribers and convince them that you know your industry and your product category better than anyone else.

Education emails usually coincide with blog posts—that is to say, the blog content you’re creating on a regular basis can be incorporated into your emails.

Here’s an example of an education email from Beardbrand:

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It’s not easy to throw together an education email. You have to be thoughtful and strategic. It can take a lot of time and planning to develop content that aligns with your products and relates to your audience.

To start creating education emails for your list of subscribers, think about the following questions:

  • Who are my ideal customers and what do they care about?
  • What problems do they have? Can I share insight and knowledge that could help?
  • What category does my product fall into? Can I create an education series that aligns with that category (ex. beauty, fitness, food).
  • What are the top questions my customers usually have when it comes to using my products? Can I turn those answers into blog posts and email campaigns?
  • What blog content do I already have that I could be repurposing into education emails?

Once you have answers to these questions, create some thought-provoking content and send it out to your subscribers. Again, remember—don’t make the focus about your products. Add subtle call-to-actions and links in your email, but let the content shine over everything else.

2. Customer Story Emails

A lot of times if someone signs up for your email list but hasn’t actually purchased from you, it’s because the trust isn’t there yet. They haven’t fully decided that your products are right for them.

It’s your job to convince them that buying from your website is the right decision to make.

But here’s the thing: you can’t do it alone. If the people who land on your website don’t know your brand well and are hesitant to buy from you, nothing you say is going to convince them.

To build trust with them, you need to show them stories, reviews, and quotes from other people who have already purchased from you before.

Instead of sending an email that offers a welcome promo code to new subscribers, consider sending them an email that offers the promo code AND includes a handful of testimonials from happy customers.

Because of the nature of ecommerce, your potential customers can’t walk into your store, they can’t pick up your products, and they can’t speak with you face-to-face. As a result, a lot of the people who land on your website are cautious about giving you their money.

Emails that include customer feedback and stories help you address any objections they might have.

3. Behind-the-Scenes Emails

Another way to build trust and help potential customers get to know you better is by sending emails that offer a behind-the-scenes look at your operation.

For example, instead of sending a promotion email to subscribers, you could send an email that:

  • Introduces them to your employees
  • Shares a video of your origin story or mission
  • Gives them an idea of how your products are made
  • Helps them understand your entire operation and where they fit in
  • Shows them what a typical day looks like at your business
  • Helps them understand what has to happen in order for a product they order to arrive at their doorstep

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Example of a video that could be included in an email campaign from Shinola

Again, the purpose of this type of email is to build trust with subscribers and get them to the point where they feel comfortable or excited enough to finally buy one of your products.

4. Survey / Feedback Emails

The best way to find out why a subscriber isn’t buying from you is to ask. Qualitative feedback can be incredibly valuable in ecommerce, but you won’t get it from people unless you take the time to ask them the questions you want them to answer. Survey emails are much more common post-sale in ecommerce, but pre-sale surveys can give you a unique opportunity to understand what your subscribers are thinking and what’s holding them up from purchasing from you (product quality, confusion, lack of trust, no social proof available, can’t find the products they are looking for, etc.).

Interested in giving this one a try? Here’s a template you can use:

Subject: Can I ask you a quick question?

Hey ________,

I wanted to reach out to you personally to thank you for joining our list to receive updates from [your company name]. I also was wondering if you could help give me some honest feedback. I noticed that you’ve been on our list for [number of weeks] now, but you haven’t taken advantage of any of our offers or specials.

Can I ask why not?

I’m not looking to sell you here, I’m just obsessed about getting feedback from people who could help make my business and products better.

What do you say — would you be willing to send me a quick reply back with your thoughts?

I would greatly appreciate your help!

Thanks again,

John Smith

If you can use this template or something like it in a way that makes people feel like you aren’t being pushy, you’ll find that you can get some really amazing feedback from people—feedback that can help you improve and grow your business. It’s also a great way to show subscribers that you appreciate them even though they haven’t purchased anything from you yet.

5. New Product Emails

Another great way to regularly keep in touch with subscribers is to email them every time you add a new product to your store. In addition, you could also be emailing them each time a popular product comes back into stock after being sold out for a long period of time.

New product emails can show subscribers that you’re still committed to coming out with products that meet the needs and requirements of your audience—this is another great way to build trust and prove to non-customers that you listen and respond to feedback. Some of your subscribers might not have purchased from you yet because they know you’re working on a product that they want, and they’re waiting for you to release it.

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Email example from Bose

ProTip: To really go the extra mile, keep track of what products subscribers are looking for when they sign up. When you create an email list subscription form on your website, include a field that asks subscribers if they are looking for something that they couldn’t find. You could also put up a landing page for a soon-to-be released product, and use a pop-up to get email addresses from anyone who wants to be updated as soon as the product goes live.

6. Expiring Offer Emails

In order to drive subscribers toward conversion, you still should be sending them enticing offers every now and then. To drive action, create email campaigns that include urgency factors. Urgency factors are things like:

  • Offers that expire in 24 hours
  • Countdown widgets that show how much time a special offer lasts for
  • Quantity graphics that show how much inventory you have sold or how much remains in stock
  • Any other copy or graphics you can think of that help people understand that if they don’t take advantage of the offer now, they’ll lose out on the opportunity.

Urgency is a psychological tactic that a lot of ecommerce brands use to drive action. For more psychology-backed tactic ideas, read this post from our blog.

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Urgency email example from Kate Spade 

A word of caution: make sure to mix this type of email campaign in with the other types mentioned in this post. Remember, if your subscribers haven’t ever purchased from you before, even after getting special offer emails, it’s likely because they don’t trust you or know enough about you yet. Use different types of emails to strengthen and nurture the relationship.

7. Holiday-Themed Emails

The final type of email you should be sending to nurture leads is the holiday-themed email. Most online consumers expect to get a lot of emails during specific holidays, so it’s a good opportunity for you to reach out and continue strengthening the relationship again. You can send offers and special deals that relate to the holidays, but you can also incorporate a lot of the other ideas mentioned in this post into a holiday-themed email. For example, you could show subscribers how your team works during Black Friday. You could also send them testimonials from happy customers who purchased last year during the same holiday (ex. someone who ordered and got their product just in time for Christmas). If you’re looking for inspiration, we recommend checking this study by Omnisend about the best performing subject lines for Black friday campaigns.

Use the holidays as an opportunity to connect with your subscribers and celebrate milestones throughout the year with them. Be thoughtful with your emails and help subscribers understand that your brand is better and different than all the other ecommerce brands that will be fighting for their attention during the holidays.

Over to You

What other types of emails do you send to leads on a regular basis? Any ideas that you didn’t see on this list? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

  • Rob Wormley