Knowing how to build real, lasting relationships with your customers is crucial for creating a successful ecommerce brand.

In this article, we will take a page from the online coaching and education industry to see how we can make our customer relationships more personable – and profitable – using email marketing.

7 Ways to Build Relationships With Ecommerce Customers Using Email

1. Drop the “discounts everywhere” mindset.

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Yes, offering your customers a discount can create a sense of urgency and give your ecommerce sales a much-needed boost.

However, if every other email your customers get from you features a major discount, you may end up devaluing your product in their eyes, as well as cheapening your overall relationship.

Make sure that the majority of your emails focus on providing valuable information or entertainment to your customers.

Tell stories, share tips and tutorials for using your products, and make your customer feel like they are “in the loop” when it comes to you and your product.

If you want to use discounts, do so strategically by rewarding customer loyalty and offering referral bonuses to boost brand advocacy.

2. Make each action meaningful.

Build Relationships With Email

If you want to build strong relationships with your customers, you need to make sure they feel like their actions matter.

Did they just sign up for your email list?

Instead of simply sending them a discount code, congratulate them on joining your list and tell them why it’s such a big deal. 

Are they joining a bigger movement? Becoming a part of your company’s legacy? Making the world a more fun place to be?

If they filled out a survey…

In addition to offering them a 20% discount for their time, you need to tell them why their opinion matters.

Make sure to send your customers a “thank you” email after they complete the survey.

Here are some example questions you can answer in that email to make their support feel more meaningful:

  • How are you going to use the insights you just gathered? 
  • Who’s going to put them in practice – and when? 
  • When will they be notified of any changes your company made based on the survey results?

3. Share social proof everywhere.

Glowing Customer Reviews

Something the online education industry does really well (sometimes even too well) is showcasing all the amazing feedback they get from their customers.

Chances are, as an ecommerce brand, you don’t do nearly enough of that in your emails.

Here are a few ways to sneak social proof into your weekly newsletter:

  • Credibility-boosting statistics. Did your new customer just join an email list that’s already 20,000+ strong? Tell them that.
  • Glowing customer reviews. This one’s a no-brainer – but most ecommerce marketers skip it, opting to share product reviews only on their website. 
  • Photos of your product “in action”. Did a customer tag you in their Instagram story? Share that with your email list, pronto.

Photos of you and your team. Sometimes all the “proof” a customer needs is knowing there’s a human being behind the brand.

4. Get creative with your subject lines.

Relationships Webmarketing

If the subject lines of the emails you’re sending to your list always look the same (e.g. “20% off X product”), your open rates will eventually start to drop.

If you want to keep your open rates (and your email deliverability) high, take a page from the online coaching and education industry and get creative with your email subject lines.

Here’s how:

  • Play around with capitalization. Subject lines that don’t include capitalization tend to feel more personal.
  • Explore the potential of emojis. If your brand style allows it, include an emoji (just one!) in your next subject line and see how your customers respond.
  • Try a super short subject line. One-to-two-word subject lines are amazing pattern-interrupters that can give your email open rates a big boost.

5. Let your stories do the selling.

Build Relationships With eCommercee

Stories sell. Period.

As an ecommerce brand, a lot of your content will be focused on the visuals (e.g. product images).

However, this type of content does not build relationships with potential customers. 

You need to get them to care about your brand – and telling stories is the way to do that.

Here’s how you can incorporate storytelling into your ecommerce email marketing strategy: 

  • Always share your brand story in the first few emails you send to your new subscribers
  • Update your customers on the progress of your brand mission at least a couple of times per year
  • Showcase before-and-after stories from your favorite customers as often as possible

6. Make it a two-way street.

Build Relationships

If you want to build real, lasting relationships with your customers, you need to make your relationship a two-way street.

Don’t just send them email after email. 

Instead, invite them to actively participate in the conversation around your brand.

Here are a couple of simple ways to make your relationship a two-way street:

  • Invite your customers to share photos of your product in action on their social media 
  • Come up with a unique Instagram hashtag and invite your email subscribers to use it when they post
  • Send a survey to your existing customers to find out what you can do better – then let them know what changes you actually implemented

7. Don’t just leave them hangin’.

If you want to build real relationships with your ecommerce customers, you can’t leave anything to chance.

If they sign up to your list, you need to have an email funnel in place that introduces them to your brand, showcases your values, and tells them exactly where to go next.

If they buy from you, you need to follow up with insightful follow-up emails with product suggestions, tutorials, and next steps.

If they fill out a survey, you need to make sure there’s a “thank you” email waiting for them in their inbox.

Your Next Steps

Want to build real, lasting relationships with your ecommerce customers? 

Choose one strategy from this list, add it to your existing email marketing strategy, and test-drive it in your next campaign.

Then give us a shout on your favorite social media platform to tell us how it went!

Ieva Dalbina


Ieva Dalbina

Ieva Dalbina is a launch strategist & copywriter on a mission to help businesses work smarter, not harder. Launching soon? Her website is the place to be.

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