The Shopify Email Marketing Guide Part 2: How to Build Your List & Implement The Core Ecommerce Email Automations For Additional Sales

The Shopify Email Marketing Guide Part 2: How to Build Your List & Implement The Core Ecommerce Email Automations For Additional Sales

Welcome to part 2 of 4 in this Shopify email marketing tutorial by Ryan Turner.

Table of Contents:

Today we’re going to discuss building that all-important email list, and then how to use different automated email marketing campaigns from the 3 core automation categories to drive incremental sales.

If you missed part 1 in this series you can find the Shopify email marketing introduction here where we discuss mindset, the true value of getting email right for your store, and the kinds of results you can expect by implementing the strategies in this guide.

Building an Email List For Your Shopify Store

If you’re already selling on Shopify successfully then you’re already building an email list – even if you don’t realize it or aren’t using any kind of email marketing software.

Shopify already stores your customer contact information, and also marketing information for some of the prospects who haven’t bought from you yet. Many of these customers and prospects can be used in your future email marketing campaigns if you haven’t started them yet.

But there are faster ways to build up your email marketing database than just relying on what Shopify already collects for you.

In this guide, we’re just going to focus on the #1 most effective strategy that always works when implemented correctly. This is how many successful brands grow their lists by thousands of people every single day.

The Power Of Exit-Intent & Welcome Overlays

The strategy I recommend to all brands is using overlays to collect leads and build an email list. Overlays are commonly referred to as popups, although that’s not technically what they are.

An overlay simply gives a website visitor an opportunity to give you their email address in return for something of value to them. Examples include exchanging an email address for a discount coupon, or in return for some kind of free guide, content piece, or an educational newsletter.

Here’s an example from Root Science, an Organic skincare brand. This lead-generation overlay is displayed to new users on their first visit if, based on their mouse movements, they show an intent to leave the site with purchasing…

email opt-in example

That’s a classic example of using an exit-intent overlay to build an email list. If people want the coupon, they enter their email and get the discount in return. Or they can simply choose to ignore it and move on, without the overlay stopping them in their tracks or forcing them to interact with it.

Some brands use a different ‘trigger’ to determine when these messages show and who sees them. Instead of waiting for someone to leave your store, you can set these overlays to appear after a certain time period such as 30 seconds, or after a number of page views.

Using a tool such as OptinMonster or JustUno to deliver these email capture messages you’ll get almost unlimited control over who sees them, when, and how often. There are also lots of other ways to present your email capture offer – such as header bars, slide-in messages and more. These tools give you access to those, although overlays remain the most common strategy and are usually the most effective for building your list.

It is important to note that depending on which areas of the world you sell to, there are certain regulations such as GDPR that you’ll need to comply with when collecting email leads and marketing to them. Always check that whichever tool you’re using to capture email addresses allows you to comply with the various regulations that are relevant to your brand.

Overlays are the most effective way for most brands to capture more email leads from their current web traffic. So start with these if you’re not already using them.

And remember, you don’t have to offer a discount if that doesn’t fit with your brand. Content pieces, downloadable guides, and educational newsletters can all work well for lead-generation via overlays too.

Want to learn about other ways to build your list quickly? Great! We’ve already written a post on that. Learn about 8 proven ways to grow your list here.

Now we’ve got some ideas around how to effectively grow an email list, let’s look at a real hot topic right now and the main focus of this article… automated email marketing for Shopify.

The 3 Core Shopify Email Marketing Campaigns To Grow Your Sales On Autopilot

Here at our Ecommerce email marketing agency, brands often approach us because they’ve recently learned about the power of email automation to drive incremental sales.

But what are automated email sequences, and why are they so valuable?

Shopify email automations are pre-built campaigns which are triggered by specific actions someone takes on your website – such as purchasing a certain product, opting into your email list, or starting the checkout process but not finishing it. Once a person meets the criteria to start the sequence, they receive a series of personalized and relevant marketing messages automatically over time… without any effort from the brand.

The power of these email campaigns is that once they’re built, tested and switched on, you can rely on them to act like an invisible salesperson for your brand. They’ll continuously be marketing to people for you based on individual user behaviours and actions.

This all happens automatically, day and night 24/7.

Every Shopify store, without exception, can benefit from email automations. In this guide we’ll be covering the 3 most important ‘buckets’ these campaigns fall in to, which are beneficial to almost every brand and responsible for a large portion of your automated email revenue.

Understand that Shopify email automation is a huge topic, and I’ve lost count of all the different automations we’ve devised and implemented for our clients here at The Email Funnels Agency.

There are almost endless opportunities, many of which are specific to your brand and product line. However, the 3 broad types of automated email sequences that follow can help almost any Shopify store increase sales on autopilot. Inside each of these three buckets there are all kinds of variations and combinations you can build, and we’ll include some suggestions after discussing each core strategy.

In short, these are all proven to work. Try and think about how the core strategies and examples can be customized for your brand.

Choosing A Shopify Email Marketing Software

You do need a third party tool to get a comprehensive email strategy set up.

My recommendation to any Shopify store owner is always to use a tool called Klaviyo. This is what we use for all of our agency clients, and I believe it is the best solution available right now.

You can check out Klaviyo and get a free trial here (that’s our agency referral link).

Or just go to if you don’t want to use our link 🙂

If you’d like to research the world of Shopify email solutions for yourself then here are three options you can look at in the Shopify App Store which I have personally used:

There are others, and each tool has its own merits of course. However, my team has settled on Klaviyo as our solution of choice for building out comprehensive Shopify email strategies for stores of any size.

Connecting any of these tools to your Shopify store and syncing all of your lead and customer data is straightforward. Whichever software you decide to use will walk you through the integration in a few clicks.

Now let’s dive into those automations!

#1 – The Shopify Abandonment Email Automations: Cart Abandonment & Browse Abandonment

Here is your lowest hanging fruit, especially the abandoned cart series. If you don’t already have an effective, multi-step cart abandonment email sequence in place then do this first and aim to implement one ASAP.

Browse abandonment is also a large revenue driver for many brands.

So what is the difference between cart abandonment and browse abandonment?

Cart abandonment: Targets shoppers who started the checkout process and got far enough to give you an email address, but did not complete the purchase.

Browse abandonment: Targets users whose email address you already have in your database. This campaign is activated when people browse one or more of your product pages and then leave without starting the checkout process.

So cart abandonment shows higher purchase intent –  as people actually started to checkout – but lower volume, as it is triggered further into your funnel.

Browse abandonment has less purchase intent – someone just needs to view a product – but there is higher volume as this action happens more frequently.

Shopify Cart Abandonment Strategy

Research shows that on average just over two thirds of online shopping carts are abandoned. There are a lot of reasons people start the order process but don’t finish the purchase – including shipping costs, security and trust concerns, unanswered product questions, and many more.

If you can recover any meaningful portion of those sales on autopilot, you’ll see an immediate increase in revenue.

So what makes a good abandoned cart sequence for a Shopify store?

Here are some factors that go into an effective cart abandonment sequence:

  • Use at least 3 emails
  • Dynamically populate emails with the products in a customer’s cart
  • Try recovering sales without a discount in the first email, introducing a coupon later
  • Include social proof such as customer reviews
  • Address frequently asked questions and objections
  • Invite potential customers to reply to your emails with questions or concerns
  • Consider different messaging and incentives for new vs. existing customers, and high value vs. low value orders.

If you follow those points, you’ll be off to a great start.

Aim to space out your emails over the course of 2-3 days after someone abandons their cart, with the first email in the sequence being triggered after 30-90 minutes. Use some different focus points in each email, so you can speak to the various reasons people may abandon.

Here are some things you can choose to focus on or combat in your emails:  

  1. Price/shipping cost
  2. Social proof
  3. Overcoming objections
  4. Urgency, if you decide to incorporate discounting

And remember that you don’t have to rely heavily on discounting if that doesn’t fit your brand. In fact we recommend trying to recover sales without using a coupon in your first email.

Below is an abandoned cart email example from

It uses a little humour, reminds people what they were interested in, and offers a coupon – but only for new customers…

abandoned cart email example

Shopify Browse Abandonment Strategy

This is less involved than a cart abandonment campaign, as these leads have shown less interest in buying – they’ve only viewed one or more product pages.

Use a lighter touch with browse abandonment. Most brands do not use coupons, but simply one or two emails positioned as reminders of what someone showed an interest in. Use dynamic products to show each user the products they browsed, and consider adding in some bestseller recommendations as other alternatives.

The first browse abandonment email is usually triggered 2-3 hours after someone viewed a product and left without starting the checkout or buying.

Here’s a simple example from I Love Ugly

store browse abandoned recovery email example

Pro Abandonment Tip: Consider creating product-specific cart abandonment and browse abandonment emails for your best selling items. This way you can speak directly to someone based on exactly what they were interested in buying, thereby overcoming objections and answering questions related to the specific product or collection they’ve been shopping for. This will lead to higher conversions. You can also break out your cart abandonment campaigns to message or incentivize high vs. low-value orders, and new vs. existing customers in different ways.

#2 – The Non-Buyer Welcome & Conversion Sequences

This is another email automation category that can add a large volume of incremental sales for your brand every month. Once implemented effectively, don’t be surprised if these email sequences are your top revenue drivers in terms of total sales generated.

What are non-buyer sequences?

These automations deal specifically with email leads you’re collecting through various lead generation efforts. Earlier in this post, we discussed capturing leads using welcome overlays and exit-intent messages by offering a coupon, or a piece of content in return for an email address.

These same strategies can be used with footer bars or slide-in messages to capture email addresses. After opting in from one of these different sources, people will be walked through one of your welcome email sequences if they don’t purchase immediately – which most of them won’t.

These sequences can last as long as you like, but we recommend setting them up with multiple email touchpoints delivered over at least one week from the time someone gives you their email address. It is not uncommon to see welcome sequences that last much longer – a month or more in some cases.

In short, these sequences are designed to turn non-buyer leads into first time customers by educating, relationship building, using social proof, and highlighting the benefits of your products.

How to Structure Your Welcome Sequences for Non-Buyer Leads

The content and approach you use are going to be influenced by how you initially collected someone’s emails address.

So what are you offering them?

It could be a coupon for their first purchase or some kind of educational content piece. You could also be using both strategies simultaneously to collect leads in different ways in different areas of your site, so you’ll want multiple sequences.

It is important that your first email in each sequence – which is delivered immediately – gives people exactly what they opted in for. Start off on the right foot and deliver on your promise.

If someone gives you an email address in return for 10% off their first order, then just send them the coupon they need immediately.

Below you can see how start their welcome sequence. They’re not using a coupon, but instead a 10-day beard care guide to generate email leads from their website traffic.

So they just dive right in and give people what they asked for…


This sequence continues to educate people on the subject of beard care, and subtly sell the product line, over the following weeks.

Once you’ve fulfilled on your initial promise on Day 1 with an immediate email giving people access to their coupon code, free guide, or some other kind of lead magnet, you’ll want to build out the rest of your welcome sequence.

Remember that this sequence is designed to convert leads to first-time customers, so you’ll want to employ various strategies that can encourage people to make that first purchase and get over the initial trust hurdle. Spread these strategies out over several triggered emails.

Below are some email topics you can use over the first 1-4 weeks after someone gives you their email address. These angles will help you build a relationship with your prospects, and turn a healthy percentage into first time buyers.

Try to use various angles in your welcome sequence as different people respond to different messaging. Some will want to know in detail why your products are better than your competitors’ before they buy. Others are going to be all about social proof, and so showcasing real customers getting real results will be the best way to earn their trust.

With that in mind, here are some content ideas for your non-buyer welcome sequences…

  • Your brand story, mission, values, or why you started the business
  • Education. Like Beard Brand above, educate people on your market
  • Social proof. Leverage customer reviews, user generated content, and PR
  • Product focus. Demonstrate your products being used to get a desired result
  • Highlight bestsellers, or products that make sense as a good first purchase from you
  • Utilize new customer incentives such as discounts or other intro offers

With those six topics, you’ll have more than enough content ideas to craft a multi-step welcome sequence that converts non-buyer leads into customers. Each of the ideas above can be expanded on as needed in your market, but try to use as many different angles as possible in order to maximize conversions by speaking to people in various ways.

Pro Tips: Consider using different lead magnets, such as coupons or educational guides, to capture leads. With a separate welcome sequence for each, you can easily see how the two approaches compare in terms of generating new customers over time. You can also sync these non-buyer segments of your email list to a Facebook custom audience via Klaviyo – allowing you to re-target them with congruent messaging that matches your emails, remain top of mind, and ultimately convert more of these leads to customers. Pretty sweet!

#3 – Shopify Post-Purchase Email Automations, Upselling & Cross Selling

Now this is a huge topic!

What you decide to do from an email marketing standpoint after someone purchases will have a huge impact on the overall success of your email strategy.

As there are endless opportunities to build a relationship, get creative, and drive additional sales in the post-purchase phase, I’m just going to outline 4 different strategies you might want to implement or adapt for your brand. Each of these is proven, and has been used successfully with multiple clients of ours.

The Brand Indoctrination Strategy

The goal here is to reinforce the buying decision, build excitement for arrival of the order, and make people fall in love with your brand before they’ve even receiving anything in the mail from you.

Craft 2-4 emails which are delivered starting shortly after the purchase – an hour or so – and then spread the remaining emails out to fill the gap between someone ordering and actually receiving their items. It can be tough to know what to do in this grey area while orders are being shipped, so a great strategy is to just go all out thanking people, educating them on your brand and market, and building excitement.

Some ideas:

  • Show huge gratitude for putting their trust in your business
  • Remind them of your brand story and what you stand for
  • Use video of your products in action, or unboxing
  • Showcase customer testimonials and/or results from using your products
  • Educate and teach people interesting things about your market

This all builds huge brand trust and gets your relationship started on the best possible foot. And you’ll absolutely see additional sales from these emails, even though you’re not directly selling. You’re also getting people used to opening your emails, and enjoying them – this is great news for your longer term email strategy.

The Instant Upsell Strategy

The goal here is to immediately increase customer LTV using an irresistible offer. This is also great if you’re using a lot of paid ads and looking for ways to boost your front-end ROI.

The strategy starts 1-2 hours after someone orders. What you’re doing here is giving them a limited time to take you up on a customer-only special offer, that’s valid for 24-48 hours only.

The offer should be as irresistible as possible, and also relevant or complementary to the purchase they made today already. When you get this combination right you’ll see huge open rates, click-through rates, and a lot of people going ahead and making an additional purchase right then and there just hours after buying from you earlier in the day.

A two email sequence will do a great job of pushing these extra sales through if your offer is good. The first sent immediately, and the second sent 6 or 12 hours before the offer expires.

The Incentivized Video Review Strategy

Super simple and super effective. Set this up to trigger 1-2 weeks after a customer is expected to have received their order, and offer a generous coupon or gift card in return for a short video review taken using their smartphone.

Not only do you build up incredibly powerful social proof assets to use in your marketing and increase website conversions, but you get a lot of repeat purchases from the coupons/gift cards you give people for sending in their video review.

The Product-Specific Cross-Sell Strategy

Here we are taking a leaf out of Amazon’s book and saying to people “you bought ABC, so we think you’ll love XYX”

The goal here is to sell relevant, complimentary products to people on autopilot after they are expected to have received and had a chance to use the last items they bought from you. This is probably the post-purchase strategy with the most room for creativity. If you have more than a few SKUs then the scope for cross-sell ideas, product combinations and timings you can try based on what someone just bought is vast.

Think about recommending…

  • Products that are most often bought together
  • Bundles and collections you can up-sell or create
  • Product accessories and upgrades
  • Replenishment/re-order campaigns for consumables

The possibilities are almost endless.

Here is one simple example from Harry’s. If someone buys a certain razor, but not any personal care products to go with it, attempt to cross-sell gel and moisturizer…

cross selling strategy - email example

And that concludes our discussion of the 3 key email automation categories: Abandonment, non-buyer lead conversion, and post-purchase strategies.

There are of course a lot more Shopify email automations you can implement, but working in these three categories to start with offers massive opportunity to generate more sales on autopilot. For many brands these strategies contribute the lion’s share of their automated email revenue.

In part 3 of this guide coming soon, we’ll be discussing manually sent email broadcast campaigns, sales, and holiday promotions. So you’ll get a great idea of what you should be sending to your leads and customers each month, and how often.

Happy selling! And don’t miss the Part 3: Campaigns to Drive Incremental Sales & Build Relationships With Your Audience

This is a guest contribution from Ryan Turner. Ryan is an eCommerce email marketing expert and founder of The Email Funnels Agency. He helps eCommerce brands profitably grow sales, increase repeat purchase rates, and scale their businesses using the latest email marketing strategies designed specifically for online retailers.

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