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Email Marketing for eCommerce Stores: A Guide To Formulating Newsletters & Auto-Responders


As per a study by McKinsey & Co., email marketing is 40 times more successful than most social media channels like Facebook and Twitter combined. Even Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) 2015 Response Rate Report states that email marketing is 83% respondents’ first preference over popular marketing channels like, mobile, online display, paid search, telephone, and direct mail.

The stats clearly show how important email marketing is as a channel for B2B and B2C communication. Email marketing has emerged as a powerful art which, if mastered, can drive traffic, sales and profits for eCommerce stores. Apart from the monetary benefits, email marketing can also be a useful tool in directing meaningful engagement with your customers or clients. Far from spamming or ending up in the recipient’s junk folder, the thought behind email marketing is to be responsible in approach and informative in nature.

Let’s see how we can make email marketing more effective:
Since correspondence with customers occurs via two kinds of emails, transactional (which follow completion of orders, subscription, etc.) and non-transactional (promotional or newsworthy announcements about your business), it is important to optimize these key email marketing channels to get higher open rates, more CTR (clickthrough rate) and eventually more subscribers.

Let’s look at some important design and content guidelines and compare how these two categories of business emails can be managed, organized and maximized to get the desired results.

First up are auto-responders, which fall under transactional emails.

  • Auto-responders are quick, short and to-the-point automated messages sent from the store to inform or in response to an action taken or query by the customer.
  • Auto-responders generally range from welcome emails, order completion/cancellation to reminders about an abandoned cart to successful newsletter subscriptions. They are extremely important for online stores and entities as they form the most useful, efficient, reliable and prompt way of communication with the end client or customer.

Although, everyone knows the concept of an auto-generated response, but yet receiving one can be obnoxious if not done with some thought. Because auto-responders are meant to be prompt and auto-generated , they are not always successful in conveying to the customer the true and core values of a company. The customer must feel acknowledged not by a software but by a human on the other side. This can be done by customizing automated messages to deliver more than the mundane order information or any other run-of-the-mill shopping news. We suggest the following practices.

  • Add a human touch – Ironic to the idea of auto-responders, try to be unique and original and less robotic and formal. Follow a format, representative of your brand, while sending out replies. Since it is all about engagement, sounding too automated may put the customer off a bit.
Zappos adds so much warmth to the message that it is hard to believe it's auto-generated!
Zappos adds so much warmth to the message that it is hard to believe it’s auto-generated!
  • Draft responses for every possible query – It is very important to have a certain amount of foresight and guess what all possible queries a prospective customer may have. Having appropriate responses ready helps free up time to focus on other tasks. Pre-empt a list of emails that will be required for various customer interactions and prepare them beforehand. Check out the default emails that your store back-end provides you and rework them.
Such emails, with all the order information, come in handy both to the company & the customer.
Such emails, with all the order information, come in handy both to the company and the customer.

Moving toward newsletters, a non-transactional email marketing strategic tool, that enables a broad-spectrum interaction. When newsletters are regularly sent, companies can add value to their ventures vis-a-vis a substantial and connecting medium. The strategy applied here involves premium quality content and a cutting-edge design. Most importantly, they should be distinctly different from the way you approach your auto-responders when personalizing them.

Before delving into the finer nuances of launching a successful newsletter, let’s take a look at the basic details pertaining to newsletters that often get blurred between the lines, sometimes.

1. The content should be clearly and concisely worded, devoid of any jargon.

2. Use active voice with an action-oriented undertone.

3. Consider the subject line as the main entry point that encourages the subscriber to actually click and open the newsletter mail. Craft an enticing one that stands out and gets noticed, reducing the chances of subscribers ignoring it.

4. Give the newsletter an intriguing headline.

5. Include a call-to-action to enable two-way interaction. The call-to-action should be such that it fulfills your primary goal of sending out a newsletter and be relevant to the subscriber who has opted to receive one.

6. Give links to your various social media platforms. Also, hyperlinking the most crucial points, helps increase the clickthrough rate. Make sure that the links open in a new browser window to avoid even the slightest inconvenience of going back to the original mail.

Content & Design Guidelines for Newsletters:

  • Keep the layout in accordance with the content being delivered. For feature-oriented topics like lifestyle, cooking, parenting, travel, health, etc you can afford the luxury of having larger images and experiment with diverse color palettes and fonts. But, newsy newsletter subjects like current affairs and business, require you to have an easy-on-the-eyes design layout. With minimal photographs, just a slight color play, cleaner lines and absolutely no fluff, define the matter mentioned so that the reader can effortlessly scan and digest the contents. Just because you can present content in a detailed manner does not mean that the newsletter looks cluttered; optimal white space is a must.
Zappos knows exactly how to go about playing with images & fonts!
Zappos knows exactly how to go about playing with images & fonts!

Note 1: Since, regular customer or transactional emails are sent either in response or to inform about a recent development, design has a very minimal role to play. It is the message being delivered that is paramount.

  • Newsletters can be turned into personalized experiences enabling a marketer to be inviting enough for the subscriber. As a business owner, conduct surveys from time to time and ask your customers about their likes, interests and base your newsletter’s content on a more relevant foundation. Try to make the subscribers feel a part of a close-knit whole by sharing updates, latest news & offers, exclusive information about upcoming events or collections, etc. All this can help in building the email list, increasing and securing the already formed customer base, as well as gaining and converting first-time consumers.
Estella cares enough to inform their customers about a collection being back in stock and being open for pre-ordering.
Estella cares enough to inform their customers about a collection being back in stock and being open for pre-ordering.

Note 2: Regular customer emails, that also comprise auto-responders, leave very less scope for personalization. Humanizing regular emails is a limiting process as concision is the key. The maximum you can do to enhance customer experience is refer to the customer by their name and add that much-needed personal touch using an appropriate tone. 

  • Keep your marketing efforts as indirect as possible and sell benefits and experiences apart from products. The idea behind sending out newsletters is to go beyond the traditional methods and humanize the marketing approach. Try to be less salesy and more creative because remember newsletters are for the customers. But, as contradictory as it may sound, you can be flexible in implementing this approach as certain newsletters will require you to be more sales-oriented such as for introducing a new product range or promoting a new or existing one.
Tripoto knows just how to engage in a creative way. What better than a free trip!
Tripoto knows just how to engage in a creative way. What better than a free trip!

Note 3: The very basis of regular customer emails is to give required and to-the-point information loud and clear. Try to make the subject line informative and enticing. Moreover, while receiving such emails which are other than newsletters, a customer’s first instinct is to know what the message says more than anything else.


With streamlined email marketing efforts you can reap huge benefits and a positive ROI if given the right direction and undertaken with the right efforts. The above mentioned guidelines are to further polish and fine tune your email marketing undertakings to ensure maximum success rate and to gain a stronghold. Also, lets not be lackadaisical about basics such as spellings, typographical and, grammatical errors. These frivolities, if not paid attention to, can reduce all your efforts of having a kickass campaign to dust.

What all things do you keep in mind while formulating a newsletter or a auto-responder? Let us know in the comments section below.


With experience and expertise in the copywriting field that spans years, I am particularly conscious about organization, marketing value, and a good feel when I write. I love poetry, photography, good books, and coffee too!