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What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Marketing is a journey, and your customers are your travel buddies.

You are the tour guide!

It’s your task to take potential customers all the way from knowing about your business to actually buying your product.

So how do you take them on that journey?

The answer is through the marketing funnel. If you’re involved in marketing, you’ve probably heard this term before without totally understanding it.

If that’s the case, this is for you.

This will help you know more about the marketing funnel specifically in the eCommerce industry.

We’ll go through each stage of the funnel and how to optimize them so you can have maximum conversions.

What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is a tool. It helps you plan out the steps that potential customers will go through until they make a purchase.

When someone hears about your business, they don’t automatically buy from you, right?

Before customers decide to buy, they think about it a lot before deciding to trust you. They go through the funnel. Some go all the way through and buy something, But there are also some who stop at certain stages.

The old-school marketing funnel is shaped like a cone. The top is usually brimming with a lot of people who have just discovered your business. Then, each stage acts as a filter. Those who make it to the bottom are the ones who actually bought. A marketing funnel follows the AIDA concept which stands for AIDA stands for Attention or Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.

When you have well-planned out funnels, you’re looking at growth. Salesforce shares that 68% of companies have not measured the effects of a funnel. The same survey also showed that 79% of marketing leads are not converted to sales. So when you don’t have a working funnel, you’ll have a tough time converting leads.

What is an eCommerce email marketing funnel?

We all know how important email marketing is to an eCommerce business. It’s basically a tool that uses email as a vehicle to move the customers through the funnel.

Compared to physical businesses, eCommerce businesses have an advantage. An eCommerce store can see the actual data of the customers going through the funnel.

For example, you get 1000 visitors in your website. There are 700 who move to the next stage and view products. Then, 500 visitors placed products in their shopping carts, but only 300 complete the purchase.

e-commerce email marketing funnel sample
Click to enlarge

Since you’re able to monitor this information, you can be flexible and adjust your funnel and marketing strategy accordingly.

This means that with a really good strategy, you can push more leads further down the funnel.

Benefits of building an eCommerce email marketing funnel

There are so many benefits of having email marketing funnels for your eCommerce business.

Here are just some of the best ones:

Steady supply of prospects and leads

You don’t have to worry about manually following up on leads. An effective funnel can give you a continuous stream of leads from website traffic.

Automatic conversion

Imagine if your prospects and leads were automatically converted into buyers.

You just need to set up your funnel. Make sure that each stage is fully optimized. If each stage is nurturing, interesting, and engaging, there is a bigger chance that your potential customers will make a purchase.

Ability to fuel customer retention

Gone are the days that customer relationships end at the purchase stage. There are even some emerging opinions that the funnel should be a bowtie shape instead. The funnel can be opened up again after purchase to focus on customer retention.

Existing customers also spend more than new customers, so it makes perfect sense to focus on them. When your email marketing funnel is set up, you can do this automatically. You can implement list segmentation to make sure that existing customers keep receiving relevant content.

The Stages of the eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel

In eCommerce, you have to turn website traffic into online purchases. It’s important to take the customers through each stage of the funnel. According to Klaviyo, a lot of eCommerce stores skip the steps in the middle and rely solely on awareness.

The eCommerce email marketing funnel still follows the AIDA concept but it also takes the modern bowtie approach into consideration.

e-commerce email marketing funnel sample

For simplicity, the funnel can be simplified in three stages.

  • Stage 1: Interested—These are people who have signed up for a coupon, a guide, or for your newsletter but they haven’t bought anything yet. The goal of this stage is to encourage them to make their very first purchase.
  • Stage 2: Engaged—The goal of this stage is to keep existing customers engaged and happy so they can buy over and over again. The customers in this stage are those who have bought either one or many products. Emails included in this stage are product recommendations, cart recovery flow emails, and even personalized ones like birthday greetings.
  • Stage 3: Lapsed—There are customers who will stop buying at one point. Sometimes, they even stop opening and clicking on emails. So the goal of this stage is to encourage inactive customers to buy again or at least open an email! To succeed in this stage, customer win-back flows are implemented.

First Stage: Interested

Consumers usually start their journey with a problem in mind. In this stage, potential customers gain awareness about your business and products.

Basically, this is your opportunity to build a good impression. This stage includes the use of welcome emails, lead nurturing emails, and promotions for the first purchase.

Most eCommerce businesses offer discount coupons, or other attractive content to encourage potential customers to sign up for their email list. After this, you have to sustain your customers’ interests by sending relevant and valuable content. Then, you have to deliver effective promo emails so they can finally go shopping.

Best Practices for Stage 1

Never forget to set up a welcome email. Did you know that subscribers who receive welcome emails are more engaged than those who didn’t? Remember, email marketing is very personal. It will help your customer relations when you give them a warm welcome at the start.

Best practices including writing punchy email subjects, and adding in some form of bonus.

Check out how Aritzia does it. They start of with a greeting. They also emphasize that they excel in customer service.

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Meanwhile, Bonobos is always producing great emails. This welcome email from them is no different. They give new subscribers a 20% discount plus free shipping for their first order. Talk about encouragement—it’s more than a little push for customers to finish their shopping.

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Nurturing emails are tricky but it works wonders. The goal of nurturing emails is to not sell something directly. This email from Harry’s is a really great example because it contains really valuable content that is related to the product. Plus, notice the lack of overselling.

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Second Stage: Engaged

When customers have already bought once, they are now in the second stage. The approach here is different. Your goal is to make them buy again and again. You might be saying hello to the next batch of loyal fans!

In this stage, you can set up different types of emails and flows. Aside from the repeat customer emails, you can also use cart recovery emails, special promotions, upcoming events, and even birthday greetings.

So how do you keep your customers engaged? You need a perfect combination of content and list segmentation. Well-written content can push conversions, but proper segmentation can help deliver the content to targeted subscribers.

Best Practices for Stage 2

Stage 2 is taking personalization to a whole new level. A simple birthday greeting already shows customers that they are appreciated, such as this sample from Facebook.

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Cart recovery flows are a must for all eCommerce stores. The truth is, an abandoned cart is another opportunity to make a sale. Klaviyo reports that in a three-month window, customers generated more than $60 million in sales from cart recovery emails.

This sample from Black Milk Clothing tugs at heartstrings! The image and the copy are on point at triggering emotions.

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Timing is another important factor when it comes to cart recovery. Some brands send a series of three emails at different intervals before letting go of customers.       

Sometimes, the purchase isn’t completed because of bad network connection, or some technical issues. Here’s an example from Adidas which expresses concern for the consumers.  

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Third Stage: Lapsed

There will come a time that your customers will stop buying from you. They will even stop clicking your links and opening your emails. So for this stage, your goal is to boost their inactive status and encourage them to buy from you again.

Re-engagement campaigns are useful for this stage. This includes the use of the customer win-back automation flow.

You can set up these campaigns to be sent to people who haven’t opened an email in a month or two. Another option is to send automated emails to customers who haven’t bought within a specific time period. Decide on your segments and use them to craft your content.

Best Practices for Stage 3

Best practices for this stage include sending out surveys, and asking the customers directly why they have stopped responding or buying. You can also offer an incentive for answering the survey. After all, their answers will help you assess your current strategies so you can improve.

How about exploring different promos or gifts to give away? There’s a chance that your current offers are not right for their segment. This example from American Apparel is simple and straightforward. It notes the customer’s absence and offers an incentive too!

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Meanwhile, Astley Clarke’s email is long, and has more information compared to American Apparel’s. However, this example includes a sense of urgency. The 17% off incentive is only available for the next two days. For avid shoppers, this is a good enough reason to add to their cart.

 What’s An eCommerce Email Marketing Funnel?

Some eCommerce businesses are not afraid of removing subscribers from their list after failed attempts at reconnecting. Don’t be afraid to make this move either. That way, your list remains clean and full of people who are actually interested in what you are offering.

Tips to build your eCommerce email marketing funnel

We’re sure that ideas are already running through your head. You’re probably excited and already thinking of possible emails to send out as part of the three stages of the funnel. But before you start, here are important and helpful tips for building your eCommerce email marketing funnel.

Map out and envision customer journey

Remind yourself of the reason why you are building your funnel—for continuous nurturing of your audience into buying customers. But the truth is, most leads or website visitors aren’t ready to buy right away. So a carefully crafted funnel will nurture them until such time that they are ready.

Sit down and visualize what a perfect customer lifecycle journey is to you. Start from the awareness stage until the actual completed purchase. Think of ideas of what to do in the middle of the funnel.

Here’s another tip. Remember the bowtie approach? Think beyond the funnel and add a customer retention strategy. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Brainstorm all you want, but simplify all your ideas later on.Remember, funnels don’t have to be complicated! You can make it as simple as you want in the beginning, and then just continue adding to it later on.

Create a lead magnet and welcome journey

Coming up with a lead magnet doesn’t have to be complicated! Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do your visitors look for?
  • What is the problem your visitors want to solve?

Then, think of how you can capture these leads. Ideally, your lead magnet should be attractive enough to bring people to you. Once they’re on your list, you need to impress them with a cool welcome journey. You don’t want them to regret signing up! Here’s how you can do it:

  • Share your best content!
  • Share your evergreen content.
  • Address their pain points and talk about how your product can help them

Work on retaining customers

Loyal customers are the life of an eCommerce business. Aside from buying more than new customers, loyal fans even help in coming up with user-generated content.

The key is to keep existing customers happy by providing them with quality service, helpful and relevant content, and fun surprises every now and then. It’s important that you keep adding value to your relationship with them.

So don’t put all your efforts into the early stages. Make sure you also have a plan to keep your customers. Here are some ideas you can consider:

  • Monthly blogs on relevant content
  • Share testimonials or feedback from other customers
  • Discount coupons to customers who have reached spending milestones

Automate everything

And finally, can you imagine having to go through the funnel manually? That will drive you nuts!

Thankfully, email marketing can be automated but still retain a personal touch!  There are also seven types of automation flows that fit into the three stages of the funnel.

Setting it up might take a lot of work in the beginning, but the results will be worth it. You can focus on other aspects of your business aside from converting leads.Focus on driving traffic to your site where the funnel will take care of them during their journey. Brainstorm other types of content that you can send to different list segments. The possibilities are endless—all thanks to automation.


Marketing has come a long way since the days of cold calling and telemarketers. Since email marketing is fairly accessible, all eCommerce businesses can be empowered to maximize their recurring revenue.




Digital Marketer

Ready to get started?

We’ve put together a handy-dandy eCommerce marketing calendar to help you forecast all the sale dates you’ll need to watch out for! It’s chock-full of major and minor holidays, perfect for your eCommerce brand!
Book a call

Ready to get started?

We’ve put together a handy-dandy eCommerce marketing calendar to help you forecast all the sale dates you’ll need to watch out for! It’s chock-full of major and minor holidays, perfect for your eCommerce brand!
Book a call