Why You Need a Newsletter for eCommerce

Every eCommerce shop needs a newsletter or you’re leaving money on the table. Here’s how to build an effective email marketing strategy.

Why Email Newsletters Matter in eCommerce — and How to Build a Good One

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Email newsletters are essential for eCommerce businesses. is the one social network everyone is on. Everyone uses it! Email newsletters are an established way for you to directly engage with your customers. If someone signs up for your newsletter, you know they want to hear from you! A good email newsletter can make your store an eCommerce success.

Email is the original social media — everyone uses it.

If you are just starting out and don't have an email newsletter yet, clearly that's the place to start. Here's what we're going to cover in this article:

1. Choosing an Newsletter Platform for Your eCommerce Business

Shopify has its own email marketing app. You can integrate it with any mass mail platform like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, Sendinblue, Constant Contact, and others. All of these services do much much than newsletters; they also provide marketing automation features and other tools you may want to use at some point.

WooCommerce can be integrated with all of the above. There are also WordPress-specific mail services like MailPoet that work inside your WordPress/WooCommerce dashboard. Omnisend is an omnichannel marketing automation service that integrates with WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Shopify.

All of these newsletter services have free to incrementally more expensive tiers. Many will charge you based on the number of emails you send or the number of subscribers you have. You may be able to start for free or cheaply, but as you grow, your newsletter will increase in costs. However, sales from your booming subscriber base should more than make up your costs.

2. Getting Subscribers for Your Email Newsletter

Now that you have a newsletter, how do you get an audience for it? What's the best way to develop a solid base of subscribers?

Build Newsletter Subscribers with Landing Pages

Landing pages with lead magnets are the best way to attract subscribers. You should always make it easy for anyone visiting your site to get on your main mailing list. One way to do that is to link prominently from every page to your newsletter signup page. You might have a link in the footer, one or more menus. A subscription form in the footer of most pages might be good too — and preferable to an aggressive popup. Avoid those!

A landing page focused on driving visitors to your subscription form should explain the value of the newsletter. Why is it worth subscribing? What can we expect it will include? How often it will appear?

Here's a lead magnet (below) we have here at Commerce Journey. It includes an opt-in for our newsletter along with the offer of a free eBook:

The less marketing material, the better — no one wants to sign up for spam. But do make it clear if you will offer special promotions and discounts to your newsletter subscribers.

Build Newsletter Subscribers with Transactional Emails

Every time someone buys something or sets up an account, they get one or more emails confirming their action. They get invoices and alerts when an order has been shipped or returned. These are called transactional emails. You should brand them and add a call-to-action in them with an incentive to subscribe to your newsletter.

Transactional emails can be a quiet but powerful marketing channel in eCommerce. They reach people who have made purchases or created an account in your storefront. These are your existing customers who are already highly engaged.

How to Customize Your Store's Transactional Emails

In Shopify, you can code your own email templates for all notifications sent to customers, and you can install apps to make the process easier or add powerful email marketing tools. 👩‍💻

In WooCommerce, you can code email templates too and customize them within the WooCommerce settings area. You can also use a variety of plugins that allow you to edit your email templates without any coding. MailPoet has a great guide and tutorial covering all the options. 🔌

Get Subscribers at Checkout and Point-of-Sale

Your eCommerce storefront's checkout process might benefit from a newsletter opt-in. There's a plugin for this from WooCommerce. Third-party apps for Shopify offer similar features. Alternatively, you can use (or modify) a Shopify theme to add a subscription form to your checkout page.

Do you have a Point-of-Sale (POS) system for in-store or in-person purchases? This is a good place to collect newsletter subscriptions. POS systems like Square can do this. You can always ask people for their contact information in person, which can be a more personal approach.

Gain Subscribers on Social Media

Apart from opt-in forms on your site, you can add them to a Facebook page. A link to your subscription page can be included on other social channels or promoted from time to time.

Use Your Newsletter to Attract Newsletter Subscribers!

Finally, if your newsletter is truly fabulous, people will share it with their friends by forwarding it and recommending it. That's why every newsletter you send out should include a link with subscription instructions. If someone forwards your newsletter to a friend who likes it, a subscribe link will come in handy.

3. What (Not) to Include in an Email Newsletter for an eCommerce Business

Once you have created this essential marketing communication tool — your newsletter — what are you going to put into it? A good question to ask yourself is, “What would I want to see (or not see) in my inbox?” Imagine yourself as one of your customers and don't send what you wouldn't want to receive!

Do Not Take a Sales-Driven Approach

A good email newsletter for an eCommerce business is informational — it is not preoccupied with sales. Tie it in with your blog and overall content strategy. Publish things that help establish you as an expert authority in areas your target audience cares about. Your newsletter and overall content marketing should be helpful to subscribers! It's a place to offer sincere guidance to your customers and potential customers.

Do Not Spam Your Customers

A good email newsletter does not come out too often! If you are pushing newsletters at the same people more than once a week, even good content will seem spammy. A monthly newsletter is probably sufficient for most small to mid-sized stores. Make it clear during the signup process what subscribers can expect from you. Tell them what kind of content to expect and how often they will receive it. (For example, here is the Commerce Journey newsletter signup page.)

4. How to Measure the Success of Your Newsletter

Measuring the success of your newsletter is pretty straightforward. Are you growing in subscribers? Is your growth rate significantly higher than your unsubscribe rate? Do people stay subscribed for a long time? Does your open rate exceed 10-15%? (A common industry average.) Do subscribers click on links, and do they make purchases?

There's another, deeper way to look at marketing success. What if you refocus on the value of your relationships with your customers? Can you learn from them? What do your subscribers say about your newsletter, your brand, your products, and your services? You can ask them! Newsletters are a great place to post polls and surveys or to invite written responses or even calls.

5. Traits of Successful Newsletters

All good newsletters provide relevant content at a consistent rate to their target audience. Their design should be clean and uncluttered. They must be mobile-friendly.

If you succeed at meeting these criteria, your newsletter will be a success

Email newsletters make it easy for your customers to passively receive and engage with your content. You may or may not choose to drive sales directly with your newsletter. By holding the attention of your audience, you are keeping them engaged with your eCommerce business.

✉️ Do you have a newsletter attached to your eCommerce storefront? How has it worked for you? Tell us what you've learned! 💬

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By Dan Knauss

Dan Knauss is a writer, editor, speaker, and teacher. He's a long-time WordPress freelancer who enjoys helping people use digital publishing effectively. Dan also blogs about disability, neuropathy, neuromuscular disease, and medical research at