Let me let you in on a dirty little secret that Google, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and the execs of every other hot marketing platform don’t want you know:

The returns you get from social media, PPC, video advertising and even organic content (if it’s not part of a broader strategy) are hot garbage compared to what you can make from good email marketing.

Now, pop quiz time:

  1. What’s the secret behind the organic growth of standout brands like BeardBrand and Bailey’s Blossoms?
  2. What marketing method offers a 10-20x better return than the “good” 4:1 return of a Facebook Ads campaign?
  3. What’s the one marketing channel you can totally own – independent of whatever BS terms big companies try to put on you?

 (I hope the title of this guide was a big hint)

Email.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

For proof of this, look no further than the three reliable sources below.

First, here’s Oberlo:

“For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42.”

Next, here’s McKinsey & Company:

“Email is 40x more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.”

Finally, here’s the DMA:

“One in five companies report an email marketing ROI of over 70:1 ($70 return for every $1 invested.. or 7000%)”.

If you’ve been around, you’ve heard all about the benefits of email marketing before. 

But let me ask you this: how much are you making from email marketing right now?

If it’s just a fraction of the numbers listed above, you have plenty of room to grow. Particularly when you think about the kind of returns you get from other channels.

Email marketing is something that a lot of businesses have trouble with. 

Whether you’re a struggling startup or a company with 1,000,000 square foot warehouses, you are letting predictable revenue slip through your fingers every month.

Some businesses blow their whole budget on sexy social media ads to keep new customers coming in. They work their asses off to increase “brand awareness” and gain deeper “market penetration” because they want to play “big brand”. 

And everyone acts like it’s the most perfectly normal thing to do.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

But they never realise that their business is taking on water like a rickety raft. 

Until you can plug those leaks and build a better boat…

…you’ll be stuck throwing money at these ad campaigns just to keep your business afloat. #poetdidntknowit

Getting new customers is great, but it can cost five times as much to acquire a new buyer than to keep an existing one. Doubling down on existing customers is faster, easier and more profitable.

And the best way BY FAR of doing that?

Putting a solid email marketing system to work for your business.

Alright, so now that you’re on the email marketing hype train, just click the link below and give me $99 to unlock the next part of this masterclass….

[CLICK ME]

Nah, I’m just kidding.

I mean I probably could charge for this.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailersme @ me

But since you’re already here, I SUPPOSE I’ll go ahead and lay out this system for free… 😉

You can learn a lot from reverse-engineering the strategies successful companies use to dominate their industry. 

In my 10+ years in the eCom space, I’ve seen the same three-tier system being used time and time again for winning more sales with email. 

And honestly – even getting one part of this system set up properly could be enough to revolutionize your business (read: more deposits in your bank account). 

These strategies can be used by pretty much any eCommerce business looking to level up their email game (read: you getting sales on autopilot). 

The principles of selling your products via this channel are the same across the board, whether you’re selling bird cages, bathtubs, sex toys, horse sedatives, coffins, or ethically sourced clothing from Mars. 

Dropshipping, made-on-demand, or manufactured in-house. 

Bootstrapped, Kickstarted or investor-funded.

Still not sure if you can make email work for you? Drop me a line here, let me know what you sell and I’ll hit you back with my thoughts.

🚨WARNING:

This ain’t gonna be some 500 word fluff piece (there’s enough of those on the internet already).

If you came to me for consulting (which would be awesome btw), this is the exact stuff I’d explain to you before we began working together. 

So, if you’re serious about making this happen for your business, then you should do one of three things depending on who you are:

Option One: I’m a hands-on DIY-er

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online RetailersThis is best if: 

  • 🔧You’re willing to try this yourself 
  • 😅You like getting your hands dirty
  • 👛You don’t have the budget to outsource the work

If this is you, set aside 30 mins right now to read this guide from start to finish. 

Give me this time and I’ll give you the keys to unlocking a brand new stream of revenue for your business – guaranteed. 

 

Option Two: I’m kinda busy (BUT I PROMISE I’LL GET TO IT)

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

This is best if:

  • ⌚You can’t spare 30 mins right now to read this guide in full
  • 📖You want to read through the system in full before committing
  • 💰You’re actually interested in learning about effective email marketing

If this is you, enter your email address into the form below

  • 📧 I’ll send the PDF version of this guide directly to your inbox as soon as it’s ready
  • 📋 PLUS a FREE BONUS “Email Audit Worksheet” you can use to see how your store stacks up. 

But for the love of God, don’t just let it sit there and gather e-dust.

 

Option Three: OH LORD PLEASE HELP ME 

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

This is best if:

  • ⌛You know you won’t finish this guide
  • 🥫The PDF version would just sit in your inbox like a can of kidney beans
  • 🤪You’re insanely busy and you’re already convinced you need this like yesterday

If this is you, let’s talk. 

Just book a call here and I’ll walk you through exactly how we can apply this system for your business.

If you don’t have time for number 1 or 2, I highly suggest you choose number 3. 

But hey – it’s your life 🤷

Since my goal is to make this into the best, most informative damn article you’ll ever read on email marketing, let’s set the scene.

Just like a college essay (but way less boring + you’re not the one having to write it), we’re going to tackle this topic in several parts:

 

Why Email Marketing Matters

👉 Start here if you’re new to email marketing & want to learn more about why email marketing NEEDS to be part of your eCom game plan. We’ll talk about:  

  • Why “Social First” doesn’t work in the long run
  • The key metric that will make or break your business (and how email helps you crush it)
  • Why owning your email channel sets you free

 

The Three-Tier Email Marketing System 

👉 Start here if you’re already sold on the value of email marketing, but need some structure to get you started. We’ll cover:

  • The three components of any effective email marketing strategy
  • What part of the system to focus on first
  • The real cost of bad email marketing – and how to calculate it for your business  

 

The Three Foundational Flows 

👉 Start here if you already understand how email marketing works, but want to make sure you’ve got these three critical flows in place. I’ll take you through: 

  • The essential flows you need to get in place on your store today to start capturing predictable revenue on autopilot
  • The order you should tackle these in
  • The key principles you should keep in mind when creating each new sequence

 

The Big Conclusion 

👉 Start here if you’re one of those people that likes to read how the story ends before they start reading. We’ll: 

  • Talk about your next steps should be
  • Lay out your options for implementing this system for your business
  • Recap the most vital info from the article

(And also unlike a typical college essay, this wasn’t written in a 8-hour writing binge and submitted 10 minutes before the deadline. More like over 8 sessions across 10 months)

Let’s get this started.

Why Email Marketing Matters For eCom Stores (And Like…Every Other Business You Want to Succeed With)

Done right, email marketing can: 

So if you haven’t been paying as much attention to email marketing as you should have before now… 

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Don’t worry.

Here’s your chance to get back on track.

The Not-So-Boring History of Email Marketing 

In case you’re curious: 

The first marketing email ever sent was by a guy called Gary Thuerk in 1978. 

Back in the dark days before 

  • internet browsers, 
  • chicken wings delivered to your door at the push of a button and 
  • 24/7 access to politics conspiracy theories

this plucky marketing manager was just trying to sell a couple of computers to a list of….

400 people…

But he ended up making $13 million in direct sales. 

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Now that’s what I call ROI 😎

What followed in the decades between now and then was anarchy. 

B2C marketers soon caught wind. They were very interested. 

Direct mail had long been a huge source of income for marketers, but email was exciting and new.

No more duking it out with all the other companies forcing their way through your letterbox. 

Instead, they could get in front of their prospects for pennies on the dollar. Big reach + low cost = HUGE $$$ for these companies. It was open season. 

Predictably, they latched on like there was no tomorrow. Even more predictably, It wasn’t long before the spammers caught on too. 

Before you could even blink, junk mail was an everyday reality (and constant headache). You’d check your email, see this trash, delete it, refresh, annnnnnnnnd….

🤮 More spam.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Bad practice was commonplace, but back in the day, that didn’t matter too much. Laws were looser, email was still a novelty, and the marketplace wasn’t yet jaded.

However, as people grew more used to the technology, people using spammy tactics and bottom-of-the-barrel tricks started to see smaller returns. 

Slowly, people were picking up on best practices. They figured what they needed to do to make sales, and they did it. 

Those best practices changed over time, but by and large, email marketing kept giving people returns.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Then along came social media. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, to more modern ones like TikTok. Users came looking for fun. 

Marketers flocked to these platforms in search of undivided user attention

But, as anyone who has used one of these sites can attest to, social media is like a party. 

And parties & marketers don’t really mix.

“Social First” Doesn’t Work in The Long Run (And Ruins the Vibe) 

Imagine a hot new nightclub opens up in your town. Let’s call it Hansel for reference.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Everyone wants to get in, but it’s super exclusive. Luckily, you know a girl who knows a guy who knows a different guy who knows the owner. So, basically, you’re a VIP.

You rock up to the club and it’s just as amazing as you hoped it would be.  

And hey, what do you know – your aunt’s cats and your brother’s hunting trip photos and a bunch of baby pictures are here. 

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Okay, kinda weird but hey the place is still hip and new.

The drinks are flowing, the music is pumping and people are having a good time. This is the place to be. 

Then one dude shows up and starts trying to sell people on his new “money making opportunity”

Maybe he catches the interest of a couple of people who are willing to join his downline… it’s a little weird, but he’s just one guy. Not enough to bring down the whole party ecosystem…right? 

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

But when he goes back to his weekly MLM meeting and tells all his MLM buddies about this GREAT new place to find prospects, the inevitable happens. 

Next week, you rock up to the club as usual… 

But instead of seeing all those beautiful people you had grown used to seeing, there’s a bunch of slimy MLM pushers canvassing your friends and fam. 

Cue the vibe getting killed and people moving to the new “it” spot. 

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

This might seem like a huge exaggeration, but oftentimes, this is exactly what happens to social networks. 

  1. People start using a site because it’s cool and all their friends are on it (and it’s a new outlet to show off their new baby)
  2. Marketers catch wind of a new place to hawk their products/services
  3. The first few people succeed because they’ve got good organic reach and ad costs are low
  4. Other marketers see their competitors succeeding, and, eager to get a piece of the action, push their way in
  5. Organic reach declines, ad costs go up, and people start to become desensitised to ads
  6. People either get overwhelmed with the amount of ads they’re faced with and stop using the service, or the network dials up ad costs to keep their audience engaged

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Email is largely immune to the social media death spiral we outlined above, for several reasons: 

1) People have a fundamentally different relationship with email than with social media. 

No one is using email because it’s cool. They use it because they need an email address – just like having a phone number or physical address (jokes on you btw – I live to snag cool email addresses). 

2) People have control over their inbox.
If they get sick of seeing a brand communicating with them, they can just unsubscribe

They don’t have this same control with social media (where you have way less scope to stop seeing ads and sponsored posts that bother you). 

  1. Assuming your deliverability is on point, you know your emails will reach the customer. No paying extra just to guarantee you show up in their inbox.
  2. Subscribers opt-in to hear more from you. That changes the whole dynamic. You’re not just hunting a cold prospect: you’re building a relationship with someone who’s open to listening.

Email marketing isn’t without its flaws. But having this channel in place is a hell of a lot better than the alternative. 

That’s not to say that you can’t succeed with social media marketing. 

Countless businesses have won big by using these platforms to fuel their growth. If you can get 3-5x ROI, then more power to you!

There’s also nothing wrong with using social media as part of an overall marketing strategy.  

But I’d argue that putting these platforms first is the wrong move when you’ve already got a solid base of revenue (low-to-mid six figures).

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is What Matters Most (Raise This + Acquire More Ad Spend)

Think of it this way: 

When you’re running ads on platforms like Facebook, it’s a customer acquisition game. You’re attracting eyeballs, clicks, and (hopefully) sales from people who didn’t know about your brand beforehand. 

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

(Leave retargeting to one side for the moment.)

If you can manage to turn someone from a cold prospect into a brand-new customer, you’ve already done the expensive part

We measure Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) on Facebook for this very reason. We need to know if the strategies we’re using are helping us land customers for a decent price. 

The important thing to remember about CAC is that it only matters in context. 

The higher your customer LTV, the more you can afford to spend on landing them (within reason – don’t go bankrupt servicing customers that might become profitable 5 years from now).

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers 

You can afford to spend $100 wooing a new customer if you know their first purchase will be for $1000. The opposite is true if your best possible outcome is selling a $3 fidget spinner. 

(RIP lil’ guys, you burned brightly)

Email Sequences Help You Maximize Profits & Revenues

Maximising the lifetime value of each customer you land is critical… 

And this is exactly where email marketing comes into play. 

You’ve done the expensive and difficult work when you turn a cold prospect into a first-time customer (or even just someone on the fringes, like a subscriber to your free newsletter). You have a chance to go from break-even to break-the-bank profitability. 

IF you take a strategic approach to: 

  1. Nurturing your relationship with them 
  2. Fostering buy-in to your brand
  3. Upsells, cross-sells, promos and having other key marketing pieces in place

You’ll dramatically increase customer LTV. 

Contrary to popular belief, the best place to build a relationship with your customer is in their inbox, not in their social feed.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers 

That’s why every good article about increasing customer lifetime value talks about email marketing (see here, here, here, here, or here for some evidence). 

Once you’ve got a solid flow of customers coming across your business every day, lifetime value is the primary driver of growth. 

Winning new customers is great, but we want to get as much value (read: money) from each relationship as we can. To do anything else is short-sighted. 

When you take customer LTV from $30 to $100, you can afford to spend more money to acquire them. 

To speak to the ancient caveman brain: You can afford to trade one of your wives for a really sharp stick IF that means you’ll be able to hunt bigger wooly mammoths……or for another wife.

That means you’ll be able to outspend your competitors, win more business, and capture more market share. 

No more worrying about ad costs spiking during the year: you’ve got the margin to handle it. 

And everyone else in your industry that got caught up chasing short-term wins? They’ll be left behind.

Owning Email Will Set You Free of the Social Media Ad Spend Roller-Coaster + Slot Machine

And finally, never forget: you don’t own your Facebook fans, Instagram followers, Snapchat friends, or TikTok hangers-on. 

For reasons outside of your control, you can lose your accounts on any of these apps overnight. Check out this story from Reddit:

  • $150,000 spent on Facebook Ads
  • 85% of their business coming from the platform
  • Banned for no apparent reason
  • No easy way to get the problem fixed

An absolute nightmare for any business owner. And the exact same thing could happen with any other platform you use, for reasons entirely outside of your control.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

But when you build an email list, it’s yours to keep. 

Keep a backup of that puppy, migrate from tool to tool as you need. With no more friction than figuring out how to use new software. 

An email list is an asset. Being able to market to that list is a privilege your business can only benefit from. 

Until you get serious about email marketing, you’ll lack this freedom. 

The Three-Tier Email Marketing System To Turn Six Figures Into Seven

If you want to build email into a six, seven or even eight-figure channel for your business, you need to do three things

  1. Get your foundational flows in place
  2. Build out a campaign calendar and run promos like clockwork
  3. Diligently track and test your emails so they make you more money over time

Together, I like to refer to these as The Trifecta of Effective Email Marketing. That’s because, like a pyramid, each level builds on the last.

I use this trifecta everyday in my business. 

I also used it back when I ran my own eCommerce store. It was a critical part of me being able to sell that store for a great price – the email list I’d built over the lifespan of the biz was HELLA attractive to potential buyers. 

But more importantly, I’ve seen each element of this system being used by the biggest, most successful email marketing eCom brands out there. 

So if you’re looking to scale your business using the low-cost, high-impact channel of email… you could do worse than try it out for yourself 😉

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

While businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from putting this system to work, I’ve found it’s most effective when you’ve already got a stable base of revenue in place (low-to-mid six figures in annual revenue).

Getting to this point is easier said than done, but if you can get this foundation in place, you’ll have a solid platform to build your system on. 

At this size, you’re not a startup anymore. 

You’ve made it past the tutorial level. Maybe you’re even dominating your niche with the help of a great product and some social media marketing wizardry… 

But just because you beat the first boss doesn’t mean you’re ready for the big time yet.

The Ultimate Guide to eCom Email Marketing For Ambitious Online Retailers

Email is a different beast. While many of the skills you use to succeed with paid advertising will help you with email marketing too, it’s not a perfect crossover. 

And if there’s one thing you shouldn’t do, it’s fail to take this stuff seriously. 

The Real Cost of Bad Email Marketing

Let’s take a simple example: 

Let’s say you’ve got a business that’s doing $20,000 revenue per month. $240,000 a year is decent – a solid base to build on. 

If you start any email marketing right now (or even do it badly), you could see a 10-25% monthly revenue bump within 6 months with a solid strategy. 

After 6 months, you could be making $25,000/month. Annualized, that’s $300,000 per year. A topline increase of $60,000 just for taking care of business. 

And believe me – getting these systems in place doesn’t have to be expensive. 

In my business, I look for ways to work out win-win arrangements with clients where I only get paid when they see results (i.e. I take a percentage of the upside). 

In the example above, every month that you skip out on getting this done is costing you as much as $5,000

And that cost gets even higher as your business scales. Even if you double or triple your bottom line, easy money will keep slipping through the cracks. 

No matter how big you get, you should sit up and take notice if 10-25% of potential revenue is vanishing before it ever hits your bank account. 

Because that’s what will be happening.

You can’t afford to keep waiting to get each level of this system firing for your business. 

Focusing on campaign broadcasts is great for sales in the short-term. But in the long run, you’ll end up missing out on tons of revenue you could have captured with a more automated approach. 

Covering this whole framework in detail would take a LONG time. 

If you’re anything like the eCom entrepreneurs I know, you don’t have time to read a 20,000+ word guide to every aspect of effective email marketing. 

With this in mind, we’re just going to focus on dialing in the first level of the system – getting your foundational flows in place. 

I’m talking about this first for a couple of reasons: 

  1. They’re “foundational” flows for a reason – you should get these in place before you stress out about running tons of campaigns and especially before split-testing every little variable.
  2. They’re universal. No matter what industry you’re in, you can put these sequences to work for your business.
    In contrast, the kinds of campaigns you’ll run for your eCom brand will differ greatly depending on your niche. For example, a lingerie brand is gonna take a different approach to a toothbrush company. 

So, without any further ado, let’s get started. 

Enter your email address into the form below to unlock Part 2 of this guide, where we’ll talk about the three key email flows every eCom store needs to supercharge their profitability, increase CLTV, and effortlessly scale their business.