You know that one friend who asks for a favor before even saying hello? We hate to say it but many ecommerce emails sound like them. 

Many merchants treat email marketing like asking for a favor. They make the faux-pas of promoting their deals and pushing shoppers to buy before even setting the context.

But, in reality, your emails are about building a relationship. 

Your automated emails need to be a conversation rather than just a one-way generic message that sounds like it’s been broadcasted to everyone. This is where a well-planned automated email sequence helps.

But, if you’re new to email marketing or if you just use the templated emails to send promotions and newsletters to your subscriber list, you might need a primer on automated email sequences. 

This extensive guide will help you understand email automation better and how you can make emails engaging — so that you get your subscribers to purchase from you.

Okay, so what’s an Automated Email Sequence?

An automated email sequence is a series of emails that is set up to be sent based on a specific trigger or time interval. Such sequences help you hold a conversation with your shopper and engage them over a period of time rather than just sending one email and hoping it sticks.

For instance, many merchants set up an abandoned cart sequence of 3 emails which are sent over a week to engage shoppers who have abandoned their cart to get them to come back and complete checkout. These emails use different tactics to convince the shopper to checkout— from discounts to building urgency over the product’s availability.

Types of automated emails you can set up (and brilliant examples)

1. Welcome emails

An automated welcome email is usually sent once a shopper subscribes to your email list or registers as a new customer on your eCommerce store. Such emails give you a chance to make a great first impression.

Many merchants use the automated welcome emails to get the shopper warmed up to the brand, introducing who they are, their product benefits, sharing tips and ideas, and creating a sense of community for the new shopper. eCommerce stores also use their welcome emails to set expectations and let shoppers know what kinds of emails they can expect.

Open Spaces is a brand that sells storage products for organized homes and offices. Here’s what they’ve done right with their welcome email:

  • The email gives shoppers a background of why their products are worth buying. 
  • They let shoppers navigate back to the store to shop from their collections. 
  • The email includes early access to a private collection, ensuring the brand wins brownie points. 
  • They display a few of their favorite products within the email.

open spaces welcome email

Casper is a mattress brand that has a light-hearted and compelling automated welcome email. You can get some inspiration from their email strategy

2. Cart abandonment emails 

Cart abandonment is one of the most popular automated email sequences. Merchants usually enable 3 emails for cart abandonment and incentivize shoppers to complete checkout with things like free shipping and discount codes. 

When crafting your cart abandonment email, here are 4 best practices you should consider:

  • Mention the product name.
  • Show the picture of the product in the email for instant recall.
  • Display the product price. Many merchants also show the retail price and the discounted price if the product is currently on an offer.
  • Show recommendations within the email to create more opportunities for clickthrough.

Casper’s cart abandonment email copy is stellar! They’ve stuck to their witty language and have even been able to make it sound witty by using a sleep-related pun. Casper also doesn’t try too hard with their email design. It’s minimal and clean— with their signature brand blue used to highlight important CTAs.

casper abandoned cart email

You might like: 31 high-converting abandoned cart email examples

3. Browse abandonment emails

A browse abandonment email works similar to a cart abandonment email. It reminds shoppers of a product they looked at before dropping off your eCommerce store.

Many merchants set up automated browse abandonment emails, usually for high-ticket items, to remind shoppers of products they were interested in.

These emails have an 80.9% higher open rate and a 50.5% higher click-through rate than traditional emails.

Hydro Flask has set up browse abandonment emails. They subtly highlight the benefit of their product within the first line in their email and then go on to remind shoppers about the item they were looking at. They also display products that are frequently bought with the item that the shopper was looking at.

hydro flask email sequence

4. Re-engagement emails

Almost every eCommerce store has found itself with a large list of lapsed or inactive subscribers. These email subscribers would be people who have bought once or twice a few months ago but never ended up coming back to shop again. 

If you haven’t set up a re-engagement emails for these shoppers, you’re losing out on big purchases. Re-engagement emails allow you to remind lapsed shoppers about your brand and get them to fall in love with you again. An automated email sequence to re-engage your shopper helps you gradually rekindle the relationship they had with your brand.

Merchants use different kinds of tactics within their re-engagement emails. Here are a few:

  • Many eCommerce brands remind shoppers about the rewards points they had earned previously.
  • Some merchants go value-first and share some tips and content that their shoppers would enjoy. This makes the shopper more eager to continue opening the brand’s re-engagement emails.
  • You can even be more subtle about your re-engagement by promoting your online community and encouraging these inactive shoppers to follow your brand on social media.

MeUndies successfully re-engages its lapsed shoppers by asking them to join their community online.

me undies email sequence

5. Sale Promotions

During holiday season sales like Black Friday and Christmas, many merchants set up automated emails to effectively promote their sale. 

A typical sale launch email looks like this:

  • 1st Email: You need to send a pre-sale hype email to build anticipation and excitement over the sale among your subscribers.
  • 2nd Email: When the sale is live, you can send an email, announcing the sale and letting subscribers know how long the sale is and the discounts available.
  • 3rd Email: Lastly, a few hours before the sale ends, you can send an email reminding subscribers about the sale and build urgency before it ends.

When setting up automated emails about your sale, you need to include the discount that you’re offering, how long the sale will run, and even display a few bestselling products they can buy during this time.

Withings sent an email reminding shoppers about their sale and using urgency to elicit a response. The email is crisp and well-structured, showing products that are on a discount. Since different products are discounted differently, the brand showed the discount that each item has.

writhings email sequence

Note: Unlike the other emails, a sale, new product, or collection launch promotion is usually crafted and set up for one-time communication. The rest of the eCommerce emails are triggered to send based on activities done by a subscriber.

6. New product or collection launch

Just like a sale promotion, many merchants set up an automated sequence of emails to hype their product or collection launch. Such emails let merchants introduce the product or collection, and explain the idea or benefits behind it, making subscribers eager to shop the product or collection.

Here’s a look into a typical product or collection launch email:

  • 1st Email: Many merchants start by hyping the product or collection, giving a sneak peek, and letting subscribers sign up to be notified about the launch. Some merchants even let shoppers pre-order the new product. 
  • 2nd Email: Leading up to the launch day, merchants talk about the benefits behind the product or collection and share why they came up with it.
  • 3rd Email: On launch day, you can reveal the product or collection, share some information about it, and push subscribers to browse and buy.

Nike’s marketing is as memorable as its products. Their product launch email about their new sneakers included a quote from their brand ambassador about why the product is great, gave statistics on the benefits of the new product, and showed different pictures of the product itself.

member access nike ecommerce emails

7. Post purchase follow-ups

Many merchants forget about their shopper entirely once they’ve placed an order. However, post-purchase communication is a crucial part of enriching your relationship with your customers. With the right email post-purchase, you can make your customers feel like you care and provide them with a positive shopping experience.

Many merchants have set up post-purchase automated emails that help their customers learn more about the product they bought, 

We created a post-purchase email sequence, complete with a timeline, to help you figure out how to set up yours:

  • 2 days after purchase but while the product is still not delivered: Keep the shopper engaged by sharing details about the product and get them excited to use it. 
  • 1 day after product delivery: Once the item is delivered, you can share tips on how to use the product, even sharing videos within your email.
  • 10 days after product delivery: Now that the shopper has had time to test the item, you can ask them to leave a review.
  • 20 days after product delivery: Use your post-purchase sequence to cross-sell other items that would pair well with the item that the shopper bought.
  • 1 to 2 months after product delivery: If shoppers need to buy the product again, a post-purchase email reminding them to restock can help you successfully bring back your customer and get them to shop the item again.

Note: You don’t have to replicate this sequence. Test out different types of emails within your post-purchase emails to figure out what fits for your shoppers.

Chewy sends a post-purchase email to its shoppers, requesting reviews by asking a friendly question: “What did you think of your recent purchase?” This pleasant and conversational copy is sure to help them collect reviews easily.

chewy email sequenceNot sure which post-purchase email is right for you? Read this guide on the 12 follow-up emails you should be sending.

8. Rewards emails

If you have set up a rewards program, you need an automated email sequence that makes earning and redeeming rewards a lot more fun. With an emails for your rewards program, you can set up emails for different activities that your shopper earns, celebrate milestones, and create communication that is solely about the shopper.

When setting up an emails for your rewards program, think of ways to gamify the experience. This could be through a meter that shows how many rewards your shopper has earned or by showing them how many points they need before unlocking a special offer.

DavidsTea set up a milestone email to celebrate anniversaries with their loyal shoppers, sharing stats on when the shopper joined the brand, how much product they’ve bought, and the product that the shopper favors. Sharing such intimate details makes the shopper feel important.

david's tea email sequence

How long should an automated email sequence be?

There’s no one right answer to this. The length of your email sequence depends on what works for your customers. You may find that your customers stop engaging with your abandoned cart emails, for instance, after the third email in the automated sequence but for a welcome email, they may continue engaging even on the fifth email.   

Understanding the right number of emails depends on a few factors—

  • Which email do customers stop engaging with?
  • Why do customers stop engaging with that email? Is it because they lose interest or because of the copy or tactic you’ve used in the email?

To understand the optimal email sequence length for your email marketing, you can look into a few metrics:

  • Which emails have higher clicks and engagement?
  • Which email causes higher unsubscribes?
  • If you are running A/B tests, which tactics used in your emails are better at engaging your shoppers?

How do you write a good automated email sequence in 2021?


Writing good emails takes a few golden rules and lots of copy editing. Here are 6 best practices we recommend: 

1. Keep a consistent brand tone and style

Your brand tone makes who you are, helping you come across more human and relatable. You can’t use a witty tone in one email and then change gears to sound compassionate and nurturing in another. 

It’s crucial to define your brand’s personality and tone— and then stick to it. This consistency across your emails can help you stand out among shoppers. In fact, presenting yourself consistently can help you increase your revenue by 23%

SEMRush’s guide to defining your brand’s tone is a great resource to help you define your tone.

2. Don’t bore your customers, keep your email short to avoid losing them

When was the last time you read a 4-paragraph email from your favorite brand? We don’t remember either!

The ideal length of an email is between 50 to 250 words. Any longer and you end up losing customers, making them click away from the email rather than getting them to engage further. 

Keep your email short and crisp so that your subscribers can grasp your message without having to spend an hour reading it.

3. Test different copy tactics like urgency and storytelling

Many merchants use different copy tactics to enrich their automated emails. These tactics help give you character to an email that would otherwise sound dull.

Here are some copy tactics you can try within your emails: 

  • Urgency: Build a need to take action by using urgency within your email.
  • Storytelling: Create a story around your brand and its products to make shoppers invested in you.
  • Benefit-driven: When talking about your brand’s products, you could use language that portrays the benefits of your products and solutions.
  • Clickbait: Many merchants use clickbait to build curiosity among shoppers. This tactic is usually used in the subject line to increase reads.

By testing different tactics, you can understand which one works with your email subscriber list. 

4. Personalize your emails 

It’s no secret that personalization helps you improve your email performance. In fact, personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates. With the right email marketing app, you can set up highly personalized emails. 

Here are a few ways to set up personalized emails:

  • Use first name parameters with your email to address your shopper directly.
  • Show product recommendations within your email based on the shopper’s browsing and purchasing trends.
  • Segment your subscriber list based on their shopping behavior and preferences to send more targeted emails. For instance, you could set up different kinds of emails for rewards for shoppers getting started with your store in comparison to shoppers who have been buying from you frequently.

5. Speak to customers like they are right in front of you

Your emails should read like a conversation. Customers can always spot an email that is ingenuine and written for the sake of it. When writing your email copy, write like the customer is standing in front of you. Would you use the words and phrasing you usually add to your email copy if that’s the case? 

When writing your emails, always avoid salesy language and overrun sentences. Keep your sentences short and casual. There’s no need to sound formal and “proper”. 

6. Test your live emails and constantly optimize

The secret of any high-converting emails lies in how well you optimize it over time. Test different strategies and use A/B testing to understand which subject line, tactic, button copy, button placement, and other elements within your email yields a higher result.

This allows you to continuously optimize your email strategy and improve conversions.

Keep your customers engaged with a well-written automated email 

Don’t be that person who asks for favors (sales)! Instead, reach out to your shoppers and make them care about your brand.

With a well-planned sequence, you can prioritize relationship building and continuously engage with shoppers rather than sporadically reaching out to them.

We hope this guide to automated eCommerce emails helps you engage folks and sell more 🙂

0
Comments to: 8 Must-Have Automated Emails (& High-Converting Examples)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *