How To Build A Highly Targeted Email List For ECommerce

Rukham Khan
Rukham Khan

Published on

November 9, 2018

This is a guest post by AnandSrinivasan, founder of Hubbion.

There are between 12-24 million eCommerce stores in the world today. The sheer dominance of Amazon and the competition between the thousands of stores in every industry has contributed to one of the biggest challenges in the online commerce market - margins.

Regardless of their size, eCommerce websites suffer from poor margins. A study published by MarketingSherpa pegged the average gross margin for small sized eCommerce stores at around 30%.

While this is not small by any measure, it is worth pointing out that online stores spend a significant amount of money on advertising. The high cost of customer acquisition has meant that the net margin for eCommerce stores is often just a fraction of the gross. Not surprisingly then, over 80% of eCommerce websites fail within the first few years.

The high cost of customer acquisition has meant that the net margin for eCommerce stores is often just a fraction of the gross.

Failure in eCommerce could, however, be avoided if you chose the right marketing strategy that would bring down your marketing expenses and thereby help you increase your net margins. In this context, building an email newsletter for eCommerce is a fantastic strategy.

There are two reasons why building an email list for eCommerce works wonders. For one, growing a newsletter is organic and does not cost nearly as much as advertising. More importantly, newsletters let marketers reach out to their audience several times. This makes it possible to increase order frequency and the average order value, thus helping a business increase revenues.

But having said that, a mailing list is only as good as your subscriber acquisition list. A highly targeted email list of 10,000 subscribers is perhaps a lot more profitable than a generic list of 50,000. It is hence absolutely important for marketers to focus on building a highly targeted mailing list for their eCommerce business.

Let us take a look at a few strategies you can use to build highly targeted email lists.

Create Multiple Lists Based on User Behavior

The size of your mailing list is important. But what is more important is how targeted your list is. Marketers routinely make the mistake of building a master list of subscribers acquired through various strategies. This is primarily done in order to maximize the reach of each of their newsletter campaigns. The trouble with this strategy, however, is that email campaigns that work well on subscribers acquired through one strategy may fail to engage subscribers acquired with another strategy.

For instance, let us assume that you successfully got hundreds of new subscribers through a coupon marketing campaign. These are typically subscribers who are price-conscious and love to be alerted every time you have new offers and discounts.

These customers may however not respond well to new product launches or industry news reports. Sending one too many of these emails is likely to increase unsubscriptions among these customers.

In short, it is important to create separate mailing lists for subscribers acquired through different marketing strategies. It is very possible that you have subscribers who fall into more than one list. That is perfectly alright as long as you don’t bombard these subscribers with multiple emails at the same time.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is by far one of the most effective strategies to build a targeted mailing list for eCommerce businesses. This strategy makes it possible for marketers to target niche audiences. For instance, a blog post on the topic, “What to look for while buying an iPad online” targets an audience that is looking to purchasing an iPad. Once you target visitors with a blog post focused on such a niche topic, it is possible to capture this lead using a highly relevant lead magnet.

Here is an example of how Shopify uses an infographic to capture leads for their dropshipping focused site, Oberlo.

[/caption]Oberlo Source: [caption id="attachment_1948" align="alignnone" width="1198"]

The first step in using content marketing to build a mailing list for your eCommerce business is to find the right demographic to target. The consumer is not always the buyer. For instance, if you sell sports shoes for men, your target buyer is not only the young men in their 20s or 30s but also their loved ones who could buy this as a gift.

The next step is to figure out the purchasing intent. A customer looking for sports shoe discounts could be visiting more than one store but their purchasing intent is high. On the other hand, a visitor looking for tips to run fast may not be purchasing your shoes right away. But this is an audience that may be nurtured to become loyal customers over time.

Once you have identified the right audience and their purchasing intent, you may craft suitable content and create lead magnets for them. Here is an example of how the content is tightly integrated with lead magnets, keeping the two points above in consideration.

Lead magnet

Source: VeryWellFit

Video Marketing

ECommerce marketers tend to prefer text or infographic based content over videos since they rank better organically on search. From a conversion perspective, however, video marketing is highly effective.

Videos help tie in content marketing with social media. They provide a visual affirmation of the product and help in achieving two specific objectives - build virality around the product, and trigger conversions.

Videos are especially popular among eCommerce sellers who offer unique or innovative products or solutions. Take a look at this viral video from DentGoalie that explains the product proposition through visual content.

Product Proposition

Source: Facebook

The tricky part with video marketing is converting viewers into subscribers. Traditionally, marketers look at YouTube to grow subscribers who may then be marketed directly through the platform. This does not, however, work since the subscribers are not highly targeted.

One way to build a niche mailing list for eCommerce is with the help of annotations or through the video description section on YouTube. For instance, a video about “how to find the cheapest running shoes” could include a link to a mailing list for discount coupons. However, it is important to include a call to action to these mailing lists from within the video for viewers to click the relevant links and subscribe to your mailing list.


Using advertising sounds counter-intuitive as one of the reasons we recommend email newsletters for eCommerce is to bring down advertising costs and thus improve margins. However, the truth is that advertising provides marketers with a lucrative channel to reach a highly targeted audience.

Advertising a mailing list is a lot different from advertising a product. Very few product categories are impulsive enough for a prospective customer to buy on their first visit to a store. In most other cases, it is essential to nurture a client through multiple touches before they are ready to purchase.

Advertising a lead magnet is extremely useful since it helps build a targeted following that may then be nurtured over time to convert.

Lead Magnet

It is worth pointing out that some advertising channels work better than others. While Adwords can help you reach a targeted audience with high intent to purchase, it can be quite expensive when you are looking to build a mailing list.

Facebook users, on the other hand, have low purchasing intent. However, it is easy to target a very niche audience based on their demographics or interests and acquire them for cheap using this channel. Also, with tools like Facebook Lead Ads, you could easily convert engaging users into subscribers.

Lastly, if you need to focus more time and energy on marketing, you can hire a team of experts to manage the technical aspects of your WordPress site. One such service is provided by WP Buffs.

Are you an email marketer who has tried these strategies outlined above? Share your favorite strategy and what works or doesn’t work for you in the comments below.

Author bio: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. Their email finder service helps businesses find the right email addresses of the prospects they want to reach out to. You can reach Anand @

Author Bio

Rukham Khan

Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.


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