4 Characteristics of Effective Ecommerce Newsletters

The days of the boring one-size-fits-all email newsletter are long gone. But if you’re still sending them out, it’s okay! We’ve got you covered.

There are ecommerce companies doing newsletters well — and you can learn a lot from what they’re doing. Read on to find out how Lowes, J.Crew, West Elm, and Exhale Spa approach their newsletters.

1) Lowes: Inspire Customers With Ideas

As a home and garden store, Lowes targets a massive market of potential homeowners, contractors, or helpless DIYers looking to make home improvements. Since the skill level runs the gamut from beginner to expert, Lowes capitalizes on the booming world of DIY and creativity through their blog and newsletters filled with “creative ideas.”

Instead of simply selling their products with discounts or promotions, Lowes inspires your creative juices with things you feel like you just “have” to make. Not only do their newsletters link to creative ideas, they deliver an entire tutorial of how to make these crafts, what you need to buy (including links to those items on their site of course), and what level of difficulty each project might entail.

So, what can we learn from their actual newsletter strategy? Here’s what Lowes is doing differently to make their newsletters stand out:

Give subscribers options: They have 4 different options to choose from, including signing up for their daily transactional emails (discounts, deals, sales and such), their weekly tips and tricks, their monthly digest specifically for contractors, and their print guide.


Not too much, not too little: They ask  customers what they want to read and deliver it at non-invasive intervals (weekly or monthly).


Marketing Takeaway: Lowes isn’t bombarding its subscribers with a daily email that will simply get lost with all the others. They’re allowing customers to determine how much and what kind of content and emails they wish to receive, which in turn, empowers the customers to be crafty or handy on their own terms and thus, more likely to make those purchases.

2) J.Crew: Capitalize on Seasons and Events

While J.Crew engages in a daily newsletter to its customers, they have several templates and tactics that help keep things interesting for the audience. As usual, you’ll see lots of discount emails and subject lines with either a percentage or dollar amount off. That said, their seasonal or event-triggers are effective tools to get readers to click.

For clothing, consumers are more likely to purchase during the changing of seasons or prior to a special event like a wedding, party or holiday. At the turn from Summer to Fall, J.Crew sent several newsletters with the season as a focal point. Here’s one of the their more recent sends with the subject line, “Weather says, it’s time for a new coat.”

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Marketing Takeaway: By centering their newsletter strategy around seasonal changes, J.Crew leverages a sense of urgency in shoppers and reminds them there’s a reason they can shop. In this email, they’re also showing three different coat options with discount shipping reminders and a link to the entire coat collection for those who want to browse it all.

3) West Elm: Personalize Products of Interest

From the outside, West Elm’s daily emails could look just like any other retailers’. But, they work because they’re personalized. If you shop or browse on West Elm, you’ll notice that with many of their emails, there’s something just for you. Not always, but that’s what makes this work even more effectively. The “Picks For You” section appeared at the bottom of one of my latest emails from West Elm.


At the top of the email was a standard 70% sale announcement on marked down items. I opened it because of the major discount offer, but I also opened it because I’ve been spending a bit of time on their site looking for new bedding. I haven’t bought anything because I’m waiting for a sale, so in this email, they’re capitalizing on my prior searches by displaying three items I’ve looked at.

Marketing Takeaway: When working on driving some sales from your general newsletters, do what you can to weave in some personalization, especially if you’re able to automate those products.

4) Exhale Spa: Weekly Offers to Reel In New Customers

Exhale Spa uses their weekly update email wisely by delivering on a wide range of content, deals, and simple nurturing updates of their subscribers. One of the best ways to use a weekly email is to present offers for other services or products your current customers may not know about yet. These can be new or old, but the beauty of having a line to your buyers through email is to get new items in front of them.

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By offering a discount, you’re including the customer as an insider, and since the world of health and fitness lends itself to repeat purchases, you could come away with a lot of revenue from just one email.

Marketing Takeaway: Deliver fewer emails on a weekly or even monthly basis if your products or services are more of a luxury item. Also, be tactful when announcing new products by spacing them out in your newsletter calendar and offering a discount for first-time buyers.

What makes your newsletters effective or ineffective? We’d love to hear what you’ve tried.


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