Here’s a look at how a selection of the UK’s biggest grocery stores are currently making use of email marketing.

And for more on this topic read our posts on how online grocers are attempting to attract new customers, and a comparison of Ocado and Sainsbury’s ecommerce sites.


Registration email

I’m quite loyal to Sainsbury’s for my grocery shopping, but its ecommerce and digital marketing efforts have been a bit of a let down thus far.

Upon registering an account with Sainsbury’s I received a text email that confirmed my login details and gave some ‘HINTS AND TIPS’ for shopping online.

The thinking behind the email is sound – confirm my new account and walk me through my first order – but the execution is quite poor.

It would be very easy to make this email more attractive and easier to read.

Click to enlarge

Another issue is that the sender displayed as ‘’ while all subsequent emails came from ‘Sainsbury’s’.

Welcome email

This is a much better effort than the previous email.

An attractive image and copy that welcomes me to ‘easy online shopping’, along with several CTAs urging me to ‘shop now’.

Further down there is a video and a list of reasons that explain why I should shop with Sainsbury’s, which helps to convert new customers.

Nectar Card

The following day Sainsbury’s sent an email encouraging me to sign up for a Nectar card, which acts as the retailer’s loyalty scheme.

It does quite a good job of explaining the benefits of the scheme and where my points are accepted.

The incentive

Three days after registering with Sainsbury’s I still hadn’t bought anything, so the retailer sent me a voucher for £20 off my first online shop.

It comes with the caveat that I have to spend £60 (excluding delivery) and sets a three-week deadline, but it’s still a generous offer.

Around a week later Sainsbury’s sent a reminder email that was even more direct and to the point – ‘Enjoy £20 off’.

It clearly lays out how I can redeem the voucher in an ‘easy’ three-step process and again lists the reasons to shop with Sainsbury’s.

Personally I think this is quite a powerful incentive and it’s probably enough to get me to place an online order.


Registration email

Here’s a look at the subject line from Ocado’s email messages.

The registration email is a vast improvement on the one I received from Sainsbury’s, though I’m not a fan of the ‘Import your favourites’ CTA.

This is a service that Ocado pushes quite hard as it makes the shopping process easier, but as I’ve never shopped for groceries online it means nothing to me.

On the plus side the positive quote from Jane is an effective conversion tool, and lower down the page there’s a good three-step guide to shopping with Ocado alongside a bold CTA.

Reminder email

Two days after I registered Ocado followed up with an email reminding me to place an order.

Assuring me that ‘Shopping has never been easier’, Ocado went on to suggest that I should try browsing its range for inspiration.

I like this email – it’s to-the-point and has a clear CTA.

The incentive

Around a week after I registered Ocado came back with a £10 off voucher to get me to start shopping.

The retailer also uses this opportunity to reiterate its Low Price Promise, which guarantees your shopping will be cheaper than at Tesco.

Lower down the page it describes a three-step process for redeeming the voucher.

But truth be told, Ocado includes this £10 discount for all new customers on its homepage, so this email is just reiterating that offer.


Registration email

Tesco’s registration email is very similar to the one I received from Sainsbury’s.

A plain text email that just confirms my login details and the phone number for customer services.

There’s no CTA and the subject line is ‘’. Seems like a missed opportunity to me.

Welcome email

Three days later I received another welcome email which I didn’t find to be very persuasive.

The design is quite text-heavy so the bullet points fail to catch your attention.

Also, although it includes three quotes from customers, the font makes them difficult to read and the anonymity diminishes the impact.

And as a new customer, the middle quote doesn’t really make sense:

“Love the vouchers the exchange part just makes them brilliant.”


Discount retailer Lidl doesn’t do ecommerce so its email strategy is instead geared towards giving people reasons to head in-store.

Lidl’s newsletter arrives every Monday and Thursday, and uses the same basic template each time.

The header features the #LidlSurprises hashtag – a brand campaign we’ve written loads about already – and the greeting is always ‘Hello Lidlers’.

This is followed by details of the products currently being sold dirt cheap in Lidl’s stores – mangos for 69p each, melons for 99p, flowers for £3 a bunch, cabbages for 49p etc.

The range of products is always quite random but then so are Lidl’s stores, so while these emails are simple and formulaic they help to remind recipients of the retailer’s low prices.

In conclusion…

If I had to choose which of these brands had the best post-registration email marketing, I’d have to opt for Ocado.

The pureplay retailer has the most consistent and user-friendly design, though its incentive for new customers could be more compelling.

In comparison, Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s registration emails are plain and functional, and feel like a missed opportunity.

As well as simply confirming my registration details, this is a chance to sell the benefits of the service and improve the chance of a conversion.

You need only look at Ocado’s registration email to see what Sainsbury’s and Tesco should be aiming for.

Lidl is a different case altogether as it doesn’t have an ecommerce site, but its simple newsletter has a clear layout and serves to remind people of its low prices.