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Why your newsletter email list is the most valuable part of your Shopify business

August 11, 2020

Hana Drdla

Visiting any e-commerce website today, you are likely to be bombarded with a popup asking for your email. Why are companies so eager to get into your inbox? Let's talk about the value of having a customer email list, how you can get customers' emails, and what you should do with that list.

Email Marketing on Shopify

Why you need to capture emails

All e-commerce businesses have the objective of bringing traffic to their website, and to convert these visitors into buyers. The cost of bringing visitors to your website can be high. If you’re advertising on Facebook or Instagram, it’s actually quite expensive and you might be paying for every click you get on your advertisement. If that person actually purchases, you can determine your customer acquisition cost. This is, how much did I pay to get this person to buy from me?

Marketing costs money. When someone arrives at your website, you need to take advantage of the fact that you’ve gotten them that far, and capture them on your email list. This will allow you stay connected to that customer and start building a relationship with them. You can then bring them back to your site repeatedly at a much lower cost than before when you were paying for other marketing efforts.

On average, people make a purchase the 14th time they see or hear about your brand. This means that they’ve seen you on Instagram a few times, talked about you with a friend, seen you on Pinterest, and finally, on the 14th time they see you, they might decide that they’re ready to buy. It’s very rare that someone would visit your website, and purchase straight away. This is why it’s so important to stay connected to that person, and one of the ways we can do that is with newsletters. Newsletters allow potential customers to stay up to date with your products, your sales, and it helps to keep your brand at the top of their minds. When they think about a product, your brand comes to their mind first, and that includes when they're making a recommendation to a friend. Word of mouth is so important, and you don't want to be forgotten about when the opportunity arises.

To summarize, capturing a visitor’s email will allow you to have a cheaper customer acquisition. Sometimes people aren’t ready to purchase yet, so if they’ve made it to your website, you need to make sure that they’re going to come back again without you having to put a huge effort in to get them there. There is a much higher probability of someone becoming a customer or repeat customer at a future date if they’re on your email list.

How to collect customer emails

Most people will not voluntarily give you their email if they don’t see the value you might provide to them. You need to offer something in return. Your customers don’t exist to buy from you... you exist to help them. For this reason, should offer something such as a discount on their next purchase, the opportunity to win something in a monthly draw, or a resource. An example of a resource would be a free guide on decorating your home office or a free meal plan guide. It should be something that relates to your industry and can actually help the customer, while demonstrating your expertise or credibility.

There are ways of phrasing a discount that you’re offering that are a lot more convincing. Take how Recycled Firefighter offers its discount. Their email popup say, "Want a free Elastic Card Wallet with today's order?" Then it gives two options, "Yes, what's the catch" and "No, thank you". Who would want to say no to free product?

The most basic way of collecting emails is through a section on your Shopify store that is built into your theme. Popups can be extremely effective, especially if you use some convincing techniques like the Recycled Firefighter example above. I personally am not a fan of boxes that pop up immediately when I arrive to a website, because I haven't yet seen what the website is offering, or if I like the brand. Once the box is closed, your window to the customer is closed. The customer will not search for your email signup, so you want visitors to be interested and ready to sign up before you give them that option.

If you like the popup, I would recommend putting a delay on it of 10 or more seconds, so that customers can decide if they like your products at first glance before choosing to close that little box. You can also set popups to occur straight away, and then later again when the visitor clicks to another page, or attempts to exit the window completely.

Another email capturing method that I’ve seen to be very effective is a sort of popup that slides out from the side of the screen, and is a wheel that you can click to spin. On the wheel, you can see all the different things you could possibly win. This could include winning a discount, buy one get one free, or a free item. The key is that the person must put in their email to claim the prize. The reason that this is so effective is because people love gamification and they can clearly see what is available to win.

A personal experience where I gave my email because of one of these wheels, was on Freelancer At Work. I spun their wheel and won "Buy 1 Get One Free", which resulted in me making a purchase for myself and a friend. I don't think I'm on their email list anymore, but I did make a purchase as a result of that wheel.

Some Shopify Apps that have this feature are Privy and Spin-a-Sale.

This gamification of email collection sucks people in because in a time where we are addicted to the dopamine rush we get with notifications on our phones, we want to play and see what we’ve won. If you do offer something like buy one get one free, that gives visitors a huge incentive to become a first time customer.

What do I do with my email list?

Once you have direct contact with someone, they’ve shown interest in your brand and are more likely to purchase from you. While every business has different conversion rates, a pretty typical conversion rate on advertisements is 2%. While with emails, this could be around 15%, if not higher.

Newsletters should be sent out when you are planning to launch a new product. You want people to get excited about the product and know when it's ready to be purchased. You can also use holidays and big shopping events like Black Friday as opportunities to drive traffic to your website. You should send emails both before and during these events to bring visitors to your site. People are definitely willing to spend at this time and you don’t want to be forgotten about.

The leading tool for email marketing is Klaviyo. You can manage your email lists there, and set up different automatic email series. An example of an email series would be a Welcome series where when someone gives you their email, you automatically send them an email that says, "Thank you for joining our community. Please follow us on Instagram to stay up to date." Then 3 days later, you would follow up by offering them a coupon code if they like your Facebook page. Or you could have an email series in anticipation of an event. Klaviyo has a free plan for lists of up to 250 people.

Nowadays there are more lists you can have than just email. There’s direct mail by post, SMS and Facebook Messenger. The amazing benefits of these other lists, is that they have nearly a 100% open rate. This means that if you get a text message, you will most likely open it. This is contrary to if you get a newsletter in your email inbox, you may delete it before even opening it, depending on various factors. That’s not to say that email isn’t effective, because it absolutely is, but the other lists are worth exploring as well.

Effective Email Strategy

Here are things you want to consider in your emails:

  • Your brand voice: How do you speak with your audience on your website, social media, and through emails? Is the tone casual, or serious? This is something you want to keep consistent as part of your branding
  • Be a good guest: Remember that you are in someone's personal space (inbox) and they can kick you out at any moment by unsubscribing. Don't be annoying by blasting them with an email every day, and bring something to the table.
  • Offer value: Your customers are not a cash machine. Remember, Your customers do not exist to buy from you. You exist to help them. What value can you offer them in these emails, or how can you further connect them to the brand's values and mission.
  • Be vulnerable: Open up to your customers about the process of your work and of becoming a better brand. They will appreciate your honestly and it will create a more personal connection with your customers.


I hope it's now clear that having your customers' emails allows you direct contact with an audience that is already interested in your brand. This will make driving traffic to your website much easier during special events, and allow you to lower your customer acquisition cost.

A final point to show you the value of your email list: If your business really takes off and you want to sell the business or are looking for investors, they will likely ask you how big your email list is because they want to know how many people you have direct access to through their inbox.

Tags: shopify shopify 101 marketing

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