Email marketing ties the customer relationship together for subscription brands.

We live in a world where it is easy to forget what happened less than an hour ago. Your customers receive many messages throughout each day, whether it’s from family, friends, or spam bots.

To break through the noise, online retailers, especially subscription eCommerce companies, must make it a priority to create meaningful communications for their audiences.

Email is one the best ways to connect with your customers. It’s also effective for driving more online sales.

With transactional emails touting more open and click-through rates, below are 5 types of emails to add to your marketing strategy.

1. The Welcome Email

First impressions matter. Similar to a first date, you want your customers to see you at your best. For most brands, this initial communication happens in the inbox after a consumer signs up for your newsletter.

The welcome email works as your virtual greeter. Consumers have expressed interest in what you have to offer. Now, it’s your turn to roll out the red carpet.

Use the welcome email to talk about your brand’s mission and values. Show off your latest products for the season. You can even highlight a happy customer.

But whatever you do, it’s important to give the subscriber what she expects. A welcome email explaining the history of your brand is useless if the consumer doesn’t care.

Offering incentives is an effective way to grab the consumer’s attention. Olivia Dello Buono, copywriter and social media enthusiast, on the Instapage blog, explains:

“If you promised an incentive upon signup, whether it be a guide, promo code or exclusive offer, this is the time to share it. You don’t want to keep your new subscribers waiting. And what better way for them to start diving right in and engaging with your content?”

In the example below, Birchbox offers its new subscribers a welcome gift—a 15% off coupon. Their team gives brief instructions on how to redeem the discount code along with a bold call-to-action button.

Birchbox welcome email

Birchbox welcome email with coupon

 Now You Try

  • Trigger the welcome email immediately after a subscriber signs up.
  • Consider what the consumer expects from the message.
  • Create an incentive to move the subscriber down the sales funnel.

2. The Cart Abandonment Email

SaleCycle reports that the global cart abandonment rate settles in at 78%. Yes, it’s possible that more than three quarters of your potential buyers leave their online carts.

Each buyer’s reason for leaving varies. Some consumers are just looking and aren’t ready to buy. Others had an issue with your shipping. It’s also possible that buyers are comparing your prices with competitors.

No matter the rationale, it’s up to your team to lure shoppers back to your brand. These consumers possess some interest in your products because they took the time to visit your site and fill up a cart.

Pique their curiosity once again with cart abandonment emails. These transactional emails play a dual purpose: (1) to remind consumers about their shopping experience and (2) to lead them toward the purchase.

Subscription eCommerce company, Blue Apron, achieves this goal in its cart abandonment email. The message starts as a reminder and gives the shopper $30 off his first delivery.

Blue Apron abandoned cart email

Blue Apron cart abandonment email


In these types of emails, you don’t want to bury your call to action. Janet Choi, director of marketing at, gives her insight:

“What’s interesting is that the calls to action in these emails all lead you to a signup page for the service itself (rather than blog posts or recipes), so their conversion goal is crystal clear: they want you to buy that first box.”

 Now You Try

  • Send a cart abandonment email focused on the shopper’s specific cart items.
  • Explain the easiness (or usefulness) of the product.
  • Add multiple calls to action that lead to the sale.

3. The Order Confirmation Email

It’s the simple and relevant email marketing campaigns that often get overlooked. As teams, we get so caught up in doing multiple tasks that we forget to optimize what’s already working for us.

You order confirmation emails probably need a little tender, love, and care. After the purchase, it’s easy to move on to another customer. But post-purchase messaging is just as (or maybe more) important as before-the-sale emails.

The customer has now placed all her trust into your brand to ship and deliver the purchased goods. Think about it: you’re making a brand promise. Your goal is to communicate gratitude and be available for questions.

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That’s what I like about the order confirmation email from Harry’s, the subscription razor company. The brand thanks the customer up front, provides an estimated date of delivery, and gives their contact information. The customer also sees an order summary.

Harry's order confirmation email

Harry’s order confirmation email

These transactional emails ease any worries plaguing the customer. They can sleep peacefully knowing their order is arriving soon.

 Now You Try

  • Thank the customer for the purchase in the order confirmation email.
  • Include an order summary with the purchase total.
  • Provide a few ways for the consumer to contact your team.

4. The Subscription Dunning Email

Payment collection is a major concern for many eCommerce subscription businesses. Whether monthly or annually, you’re waiting to virtually swipe the customer’s credit card.

But guess what? It’s not always easy peasy.

Your customers’ credit cards will fail. Sometimes, it’s because they forget to update their accounts with their new payment method. Other times, the existing credit card expires.

This credit card failure can result in delinquent churn. This unsavory cancellation happens when customers don’t take action to fix their credit card issues.

That’s where your team steps in. You’ll want to create a dunning email strategy.  In your delinquency lifecycle campaign, you will send multiple dunning emails reminding customers to update their payment information.

The basic approach is to send one to two dunning emails before the credit card expires. Then, an email on the day the card expires. And deliver the final email a few days after the card expires.

The copy and the call to action hold significance in the dunning emails as well. You want to give the customer a reason to reinvest in your product and state the next steps to continue that action.

This playful dunning email from Barkbox below nudges customers to check their billing details. If the information isn’t updated, then the customer can’t receive their next box of dog goodies. And no one can miss the green call-to-action button.

Bark Box dunning email

Barkbox update credit card email


Now You Try

  • Develop a dunning email strategy with timing in mind.
  • Use copy that expresses the product’s worth to the customer.
  • Insert a visible call-to-action button.

5. The Referral Email

The loyal customer is your brand’s best friend.  They understand the value of your product and can easily communicate it with others.

However, most online retailers take the wrong approach when asking for referrals from their brand advocates. They come with the intention to guilt the customer into taking action.

Or brands try to hide a blatantly obvious ask for something with frills. Consumers are smart and they see right through that nonsense.

An effective referral email aligns the brand’s intentions with the customer’s current actions and beliefs. You want to create an opportunity for the brand advocate to share their experiences with friends, not to peddle your products.

“It’s a well-established fact of psychology and marketing that people act in ways that are consistent with their identity. If you want somebody to take an action, one of the best ways to get them to do it is to help them see that it’s consistent with what they already believe,” says Visakan Veerasamy, blog editor at ReferralCandy.

When Stitch Fix expanded their services to men, their team sent the referral email below. It reminisces on the purpose of the brand and why the customer remains loyal. Then, it moves along to offering that same experience to the customers’ male loved ones. And the $25 referral credit doesn’t hurt either!

Stitch Fix referral email

Stitch Fix referral email

 Now You Try

  • Segment your email list with your most loyal consumers.
  • Write a referral email aligning the customer’s beliefs with your brand intention.
  • Offer a small gift or store credit as a sign of appreciation.

Send Delight to their Inbox

Email marketing is an integral part of the customer journey. You’ll want to nurture your consumers from sign up all the way through post-sale.

Transactional emails hold the key to adding value to your lifecycle campaigns. Work with your team to keep pushing the boundaries of your email strategy by getting inspired by the examples included in the post.

Are there any additional emails that subscription retailers should be sending? Please share in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!