Three Email Funnels Every E-Commerce Brand Should Have Set Up

Marketing funnels are key to the success of e-commerce brands. Getting your customer all the way from awareness of your product to the purchase stage is not an easy task. Modern life is highly distracting and consumers are overwhelmed with choice. Although it is now very possible for customers to make online purchases within seconds, there are types of purchases that require more consideration. This is where email funnels step in.

Did you know that 20% of your sales should come from your email marketing efforts? Yet, many e-commerce brands don’t have proper email funnels set up to attract, retain or reconnect with consumers. Language such as ‘email marketing funnels’ often seems to be something reserved for large corporations. However, the truth is that funnels, such as those we’ll be discussing, are highly useful for small and mid-sized businesses because they save valuable time and provide a smooth customer journey that doesn’t require a large team to operate. Here are three email funnels that we at Blue Cactus believe every e-commerce brand should have set up:

Lead Magnet

The lead magnet is the practice of giving away a product or service for free, or discounted, in order to gather contact information. This can involve almost anything – free consultations, free products, white papers, video training, etc. For most of our clients, we recommend offering a 10% discount for first orders as this is the simplest and yields impressive results. 


This email funnel does not only include the coupon code email that is initially sent to your customer. In fact, the power lies mostly in the emails that follow. The one that introduces your business to the customer, shows some of your brand personality and tells them all about your values and ethics. It should also include a sales email that highlights some of your top sellers, or products you really want to promote. We also recommend an educational email that tells the client something unique about your business. Perhaps something about your supply chain, sustainability goals or causes you support.

Abandoned Cart

There are all sorts of reasons why customers might begin to make a purchase but don’t complete it. Maybe they want to compare your product with other retailers or perhaps they simply got interrupted. This funnel can be a little trickier to set up, depending on the platform you are using. Many don’t capture and store this information as standard, but there are usually plugins and ways around this.

Ideally, the first email should be sent out 6-8 hours after the cart is abandoned because this is a respectful amount of time to leave before reminding the customer. An absolute must for your abandoned cart funnel is that each email should include a link back to the cart so that shoppers may complete their purchase. This is the ultimate goal with this email funnel. The content of the emails should reintroduce your business and communicate why customers should buy from you, over your competitors. If they haven’t returned to the cart the second email should go out a day or two later. A gentle reminder – ‘pssst…don’t forget your items.’

Two days later, a third email is your last attempt to convert the sale. For this, we recommend offering a final incentive. Here is a great opportunity to use the 10% discount you are offering to your lead magnets. If they take advantage of this they can then be moved over to that funnel.

Bear in mind that for customers who get all the way to the checkout it’s probably taken you a lot of leg work to get them there. Possibly you even spent money on adverts. So don’t lose them at the last hurdle. The abandoned cart funnel is a really good way to reach out to those who have begun to buy into your brand but might need to know a little more.

Post Purchase

Just as we were taught as children, we must not forget to show gratitude. So the last email funnel we deem essential is post-purchase. You’ll likely already have an automated receipt sent out through your platform, but your email marketing at this stage needs to be less about box-checking and more about developing that customer relationship. This is not only important for building loyalty but it might also help you to get referrals and great reviews.

Firstly, contact them immediately after purchase to thank them for buying your product. Remind them that you are a small business and what it means to you to have their support. Remind them of your credentials and values and use this opportunity to give them some more information about you. Whilst many customers might come to you because of your brand, reputation or ethics, it would be unwise to assume all customers know much about your company. Telling them now shifts them from the decision to buy into your product, and offers them the chance to buy into you, which is a longer-term relationship.

Secondly, is there anything else they may need to know about the product they purchased? Might they need help to use it? Direct them to any resources that might help them, such as your blog or online video tutorials.

Thirdly, don’t forget to send them a follow-up email after they should have received the product. Sometimes, this can be challenging depending on your shipping schedule but it is the best opportunity you have to get some feedback. Tell them you hope that they’re enjoying the product and encourage them to let you know if they have any concerns or queries. Far better they share these with you than with the internet. Sharing with the internet is the next thing you want them to do. 

Your last email should request a review. Thank your customer in advance and let them know how and why reviews help your business.

So, these are the three essential email marketing funnels that will help you to attract, engage and build relationships with your customers. Some might even help them complete sales or encourage others to buy your products. E-commerce businesses often spend so much time and energy on just getting customers to their website that it’s easy to forget about converting them once they’ve got there. We see it this way – you introduce yourself to your potential customer when they land on your website, email marketing is where you continue the conversation.

These conversations can work to ensure potential and former clients know about your brand, your values and all the things that make you special. Furthermore, good email marketing lets your customers know that they are special to you. So make sure you’re not just using your email marketing to get them to buy more, but are really communicating with them and demonstrating quality customer care.

Want more tips on how to take your purpose-driven e-comm brand rise to the next level? Download our Sustainable Marketing e-book.