Learning from great email campaign examples will make you a better marketer, regardless of the industry you’re in. You’ll also get an idea for what you don’t want to do. Maybe it’s not right for your brand, or perhaps you can improve upon what others are already doing.
The thing is, no one format works for all audiences. That’s why testing and experimenting become so important. However, starting with a firm knowledge of best practices can help you succeed faster.
Plus, you might not know about the types of emails you could be sending your customers. Years ago, it was all email newsletters. Brands would send their subscribers a few paragraphs about news from the company and that was it.
Email marketing has become far more advanced and email marketing tools more complex. It’s also much more effective as a result.
Let’s deconstruct email campaigns and look at some prime examples of email campaign examples that work.
What is the definition of an email campaign?
An email campaign is a series of tasks you perform to collect emails from prospects and market to them through the email medium. It usually starts by putting a top bar or exit popup on your website to encourage people to sign up.
I created this one via Hello Bar in fewer than 20 seconds.
As you collect email addresses, you funnel them into your email management system, which allows you to send targeted emails to your audience. Your emails can inform, inspire, entertain, or provide other types of value.
Think of it as a cycle. You’re inviting people to sign up for your email campaign, then sending them things of value with the hope that they’ll reciprocate and buy your products or services.
What is an email marketing strategy?
Think of your email marketing strategy as the data and psychology behind your email campaign. It’s how you design your emails from the ground up to encourage conversions.
You might find, for instance, that you have a low open rate, which means few people are opening your emails. You could then A/B test some new email subject lines to increase open rates and gain more engagement.
Plus, you have to consider why your prospects want to hear from you. Are they interested in educational information? Do they want coupons? What are their pain points, wants, and needs?
Once you have that information, you can design and send emails that appeal specifically to your target audience.
What is an email drip campaign?
An email drip campaign is a series of emails bound together by a common theme or process. It’s kind of like an assembly line. You’re building up your prospects to nurture them toward a sale.
For instance, you might send a welcome email drip campaign to new subscribers. The first email welcomes them to the club and gives a little detail about your company and most popular products. The second might introduce your team or provide some pro insight.
Keep going with your welcome emails until you culminate with one that has a call to action to buy a product. You might offer a discount, a code for free shipping, or some other incentive.
What is an E-shot?
An e-shot is a short marketing email that many consumers find annoying. However, they’re differentiated from spam because they’re not unsolicited.
Following is an example of a car dealership e-shot.
It’s heavy on the images and low on the text. Most of them also have some sort of countdown (to create urgency) and very hyped-up prose.
Are e-shots bad? Not necessarily. Some consumers act on them because they like the deal, but not necessarily the format or structure of the email itself.
In my opinion, text-based email campaign examples always work better. They’re more likely to find their way into consumers inboxes instead of the promotions folder, and they’re readable for people who only accept plain-text emails.
As always, if you’re interested in creating e-shots, test them with your audience. People might respond favorably, in which case you can maneuver them into your email campaign on a regular basis.
How can I grow my email list fast?
You can absolutely grow your email list fast, but it takes effort — and sometimes financial sacrifice.
The average email opt-in rate is under 2 percent. That’s not good. However, you can boost your percentage by offering something of immense value right off the bat. A coupon code works nicely.
Lead magnets, such as e-books and toolkits, can also work. Try free shipping or a free gift with purchase. Experiment with different incentives to figure out what makes your audience tick. You’ll then see your opt-in rate skyrocket.
15 proven-to-work email campaign examples
Let’s get to the good stuff. We’ll go through some of the best email campaign types to pursue, and I’ll share email campaign examples I’ve stumbled across and admired.
Welcome series email campaign examples
A welcome email series helps make your new subscribers feel appreciated and wanted. It’s an introduction to your brand and your opportunity to show your generous, giving side.
What do I mean by that?
Your subscribers have given you something of value: their contact information. If you abuse it, they will turn against you.
Instead of bombarding them with e-shots and other marketing messages, talk to them as though they’re friends. Give them something generous, such as a free tool or a discount code that doesn’t expire.
Then continue to connect with them. Ask if you can help in any way. Provide them with multiple ways to contact you.
Let’s look at some of the best welcome email campaign examples I’ve seen.
Ikea’s welcome email exudes warmth and personality. It mentions the “Ikea Family” and invites you to join. There’s a small paragraph containing facts about the company, but everything else is geared toward the subscriber.
I love the last line in particular: “Are you ready to get inspired?” This email isn’t about selling products. It’s about making you feel safe, appreciated, and wanted.
I really like Amazon’s welcome email, and it’s no surprise this company gets it right. Unlike Ikea’s email, this one is more instructional. We have the stack of branded boxes, which reflects Amazon’s brand as a whole, and a list of things you can do now that you’ve signed up.
It’s also personalized, which is a big plus in my book. The best email campaign examples mention the subscriber’s name at least once, such as in the subject line or the body content.
I’m a big fan of Squarespace’s welcome email because of its minimalistic design. The subscriber has just signed up for a two-week free trial, so Squarespace gets right to the point. It gives the subscriber the information he or she needs to get started.
The last bit is the best. “We are here to help.” There’s a link to the help desk as well as photographs of people — either stock images or photos of real Squarespace customer support professionals. Either way, it’s a nice touch.
Welcome email key takeaways
- Use the subscriber’s name
- Focus on the customer
- Provide a few details about the brand
- List useful links
- Add tasteful images
Cart abandonment email campaign examples
Cart abandonment means that a customer has put items into his or her virtual shopping cart, then left the page. This happens for many different reasons.
Maybe the customer has found the desired products at a better price elsewhere, or maybe he or she just got busy.
The important thing is to re-engage that customer with cart abandonment emails. If the user simply forgot or ran out of time, you can remind him or her that those items are still available in the cart.
If you want to increase the chances of your prospect returning and buying, consider offering a percent-off coupon or a code for free shipping.
Following are some of my favorite cart abandonment email campaign examples.
If you want to see a really good cart abandonment email, check out Fab’s.
The copywriting on this page is excellent, from the headline to the call to action.
“Smile,” tells the customer that something good is coming. That’s always a positive thing. You want your prospect in a positive frame of mind.
Then it lets the customer know his or her desired item is still up for grabs. That’s followed by a call to action in a bright color: “Still want it?”
That same call to action is reflected in the big red “BUY NOW” button. That’s an effective psychological tool. It’s complemented by an attractive product photo and helpful information about how to get in touch with Fab.
You can also learn from Teefury’s cart abandonment emails. This is just the top segment, but it’s jam-packed with best practices.
It uses the same headline as Fab did above: “Still want it?” It’s another psychological hack. The word “still” implies that the prospected wanted the item at some other point in time, and might therefore still desire it.
But what really strikes me about this cart abandonment email is the literary/film references. The company is known for referencing pop culture, and it continues that trend in an email with references to “Lord of the Rings.” It’s even in the call to action with a play on words: “Grab Your Baggins.”
Glossier’s cart abandonment email gets it done, too. You have a humorous plea followed by a joke: “If you add things to an online shopping bag, but no one’s around to check out…does it make a sound?”
Plus, there’s a photo of a woman looking quizzically at the question above. That’s good marketing.
Then we get the punchline of the joke: “No. But it does trigger this email.” Your takeaway? Don’t be afraid to poke fun at your own email marketing campaign.
Cart abandonment takeaways
- Use images of the actual item(s) in the shopping cart
- Add other images that help direct the eye
- Incorporate humor and branding
- Incorporate positive imagery and words
Transactional email campaign examples
A transactional email doesn’t actually have to refer to an email that asks the customer to make a financial transaction. Essentially, this type of email simply asks the customer to do something. You might be nurturing the customer toward a future purchase, or you might be asking him or her to make a purchase now.
The important point is to focus on engagement. You want your subscribers to engage with the email in some way, such as by clicking on your call to action or forwarding it to a friend.
How do you boost engagement levels? You offer an incentive of some kind. It’s reciprocity in action. You want your subscribers to feel like they’ve received something of value, then respond in kind.
I love how Charity:Water’s marketing email makes it clear that they’re in partnership with their donors. They title the email “A Spring Member Exclusive.”
Both “member” and “exclusive” imply exclusivity, of course. That’s designed to make the relationship between Charity:Water and its donors feel personal.
Then the company shares its journey toward providing safe drinking water to the denizens of Cambodia. You’re invited to watch a full episode on the topic so you know where your donation dollars are being spent.
It’s also very nicely designed, which helps.
Starbucks is definitely no slouch when it comes to marketing emails. This one is based on the company’s loyalty programs, which allows members to earn stars toward free beverages at the coffee chain.
This transactional email campaign example is offering bonus stars to people who follow through on the call to action. Notice that this has nothing to do with an online activity. Starbucks is inviting people into their stores to take advantage of the offer.
The email itself is minimalistic and focuses exclusively on the offer.
In Airbnb’s email marketing campaign examples, you see evidence of the company’s specific branding everywhere. We have the Airbnb logo, the beautiful image of a faraway resort destination, and the signature blue color on all the major hot points of the email.
The company has decided to focus specifically on Bangkok, highlighting that there are more than 900 listings there. It’s a great use of a high number to encourage engagement.
Then, of course, you have the very obvious CTA: Book Now.
Transactional email takeaways
- Incorporate tasteful images
- Keep the design minimalistic
- Add an obvious CTA
- Make the message feel personal
Newsletters and promotions email campaign examples
Newsletters and promotional email campaigns are designed to integrate the subscriber with the brand and promote specific products.
Let’s take a look at a couple promotional email campaign examples to see what they’re doing right.
It’s hard to argue with the notion that Buzzfeed has cornered the market on niche email marketing. This one focuses specifically on animals. The headline — “Let the Cute Come To You” — is appropriately cutesie for the subject matter.
I also like the section that tells you when you’ll get the newsletter. Buzzfeed is clear on what the subscriber can expect from this newsletter.
Lots of companies, including Taco Bell, use sports and other events to promote their products. If you’re coming for a free Dorito taco, you’ll probably order something else, too — and pay for it.
That’s pretty genius, if you ask me, especially for a brick-and-mortar store. The only thing I might have added to this email is Taco Bell’s ability to let people order online and pick up at the store. That’s a value-added USP that could make this offer even more attractive.
Promotional email takeaways
- Set clear expectations for subscribers
- Use CTAs and headlines that are geared specifically to your audience
- Tie in your offer with a pop culture reference
- Consider the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell
Retention email campaign examples
Customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition. Maybe moreso. You want your customers to keep coming back for more.
You can use email to re-engage customers who haven’t been buying your products or engaging with your emails. The trick is to make them realize how much you value them.
To do so, you have to provide value in some way. We’ll look at a couple retention email campaign examples to see how it’s done.
Grammarly does an excellent job of retaining their customers through email campaigns.
First the email is personalized. This is essential for making the subscriber feel wanted and appreciated. It also shows that Grammarly is tuned into its audience.
Next, Grammarly doesn’t just beg the subscriber to come back or restart his or her subscription. Instead, the email focuses on a new Grammarly feature to entice the subscriber. It’s like saying, “Hey, your subscription just got better. Come see how!”
The CTA echoes the body content. Instead of a generic call to action, it says, “Get Grammarly for Your Browser.” That’s a nice choice.
Dollar Shave Club
The same is true of Dollar Shave Club. Remember when I told you that retention emails should provide something of value? That’s exactly what this email does.
It’s offering the wayward subscriber a free month of Dollar Shave Club. I like the copywriting here, too: “Still on the fence about Dollar Shave Club? That’s cool. While you’re thinking it over, try the Club for a month on us.”
Very cleverly written.
Retention email takeaways
- Offer an incentive to re-engage the customer
- Mention a new feature or product in which the recipient might be interested
- Focus on creating engaging copy that surprises the reader
Do not forget to keep growing your email list using Hello Bar
I’ve spent a lot of time on email campaign examples today, but I don’t want you to forget about email collection. It’s essential, after all, to collect emails if you want to create an email campaign.
This is easy enough to accomplish through Hello Bar. Sign into your account and select the option to grow your email list.
Next, type in what you want your headline and CTA to say.
Maybe you want to create a modal popup. You can select your theme, then customize the colors and text as necessary to make it perfect.
Of course, you can also create top bars to generate great results.
A/B test different options until you find the most high-converting combination of bars.
Email campaign examples aren’t difficult to create, but they’re hard to do well. Anyone can write a few words in an email and send it out to their subscribers, but it takes education and creativity to generate engagement and conversions.
These high-converting email campaign examples can help you do better in your own marketing efforts. Whether you’re writing a long-form email to long-term subscribers to thank them for their patronage or firing off an e-shot, focus on design, copywriting, the headline, and the CTA in particular.
You can grow your email list quickly with email campaigns, but you have to target your audience in very specific ways.
Start with welcome emails. They bring your new subscribers into the fold and make them feel wanted.
Next, try cart abandonment emails. If someone abandons a shopping cart in your e-commerce store, you want to bring them back. Personalize these emails with the actual item(s) if possible to jog their memories.
Transactional, newsletter, and retention emails can also help boost conversions. If you run all these email campaigns at once, you’ll generate more revenue.
Of course, don’t forget to continue to collect emails. You don’t want your list to fizzle out, right? As older subscribers drop off, you want to replace them with new ones.
What’s the best ROI you’ve ever gotten on an email campaign?