10 Masterful Email Marketing Campaign Examples

10 Masterful Email Marketing Campaign Examples

Billions of people send and receive emails every day. As a result, email has become a pillar of digital marketing.

Whether you’re a retailer or a services-oriented company, implementing an email marketing strategy can be a smart way to reach your target audience. In fact, email marketing often sees a higher click-through rate (CTR) than social media. The return on investment (ROI) is fantastic, as well.

But how do you make the most of your email marketing campaigns? This article will walk you through the ins and outs of creating an effective marketing campaign for your company and provide some examples from well-known companies.

What is an email marketing campaign?

An email marketing campaign is the process of sending personalized, mass emails to current and prospective customers to promote a company and let them know about new products or services, special discounts, or other updates. These emails usually have a clear call-to-action button.

An engaging email can compel customers to take a variety of actions—from making a purchase to signing up for a rewards program—and can help you develop what will hopefully become an ongoing relationship with them. A successful email campaign can help drive traffic to your website or online store and build community around your brand.

Email marketing campaigns often work best when you’re working with a large email list. It’s important to remember that you should send emails only to those who have voluntarily signed up to receive your communications, however.

Email marketing campaign types

As you set out to create an email marketing campaign, here are the eight main types you might consider.

Email newsletter

An email newsletter is a regularly occurring email sent to your subscribers to share news about your company. It’s a space where you can get creative with your content. Your newsletter could include multiple, varied articles—from informative and educational pieces related to your industry to news stories about your business to event calendars so your customers know what you have coming up.

Many companies often use a template to create and send these digital newsletters, giving them a professional and streamlined look.

Acquisition email

Acquisition emails are used to create leads and grow your customer base. These emails are sent to potential customers who might be interested in your company, whether you’re offering a specific product or are a service-based business. Maybe they’ve recently subscribed to your email list for the first time. Perhaps you’re re-engaging customers you haven’t heard from in a while. Or maybe you’ve purchased a targeted email list.

Cold emails can be a tough sell when you’re contacting people who aren’t expecting to hear your sales pitch. You want to engage them with a warm tone and speak to exactly why they might be interested in your business. While you’re trying to compel them to opt in and subscribe to your emails, also make sure there’s an obvious way for them to unsubscribe or opt out.

Retention email

As one of the most common types of email marketing, retention emails target existing customers with the goal of re-engaging them and encouraging them to remain loyal to your brand with additional or future sales.

Retention emails are designed to increase a person’s engagement with your company. For example, you might consider sending a personalized coupon, exclusive content, or something else that makes them feel appreciated and valued.

It’s one of the more effective forms of email marketing, as it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire one. In fact, it costs about seven times as much to obtain new customers as it does to retain them. It’s smart to make retention a big part of your email marketing plan.

Promotional email

A promotional email is fairly straightforward. You have something you want to promote—for example, a special event, new services offered, or an upcoming sale—and want to spread the word about it by emailing everyone on your company’s email list.

This differs from a retention email, though, as it’s sent to your entire email list, not just the customers you’re hoping to retain.

Cart abandonment email

Everybody does it: casually shopping online, sometimes even adding items to the cart without following through on the sale. The good news is that many e-commerce sites save these abandoned carts so customers can return to them at a later time.

Sending a reminder email about following through on these purchases can be a simple way to trigger a user’s action. In fact, the conversion rate in 2021 for cart abandonment emails was over 18%. Sometimes, your customers just need that extra push, which could be your follow-up email.

Survey email

If you’re interested in getting customer feedback on your products or services, you might consider sending a survey questionnaire to your email list. This information can be useful to learn about what’s working well for you and areas that could be improved. Sending your survey by email is also a cost-effective way to obtain this feedback.

Many customers might have opinions about your business, but don’t have the opportunity to share them or maybe aren’t comfortable reaching out. These email surveys are a great way for them to remain anonymous while sharing their thoughts.

By reaching out to customers seeking their opinions, you’re showing them that you value their opinion and that they can have an impact on the direction your business is going. This further establishes the community you’re building around your brand.

Welcome email

When new people sign up for your business’s email list, sending a personalized welcome email can put the relationship on the right foot. It’s a great way to create a strong first impression with subscribers and immediately engage with them.

This onboarding email can let subscribers know more about your company—such as your mission, values, and overall message—and what types of emails they might receive from you and how frequently you might send them. It can also encourage them to interact with your brand in the way you prefer, for example, by checking out your website, following you on social media, shopping on your e-commerce site, or booking an appointment. It might also introduce them to any special programs you offer, such as memberships or rewards programs.

Upsell and cross-sell email

Upsell and cross-sell emails focus on customer retention and cost a lot less than it does to build a relationship with a new email subscriber. With a 61.7% open rate, these post-purchase emails are an easy way to increase your company’s revenue. They also have a 9.7% CTR and 9.16% conversion rate, meaning the majority of those who move from email to your website are making a purchase. The key to sealing the deal? Personal recommendations.

An upsell email encourages customers to buy an updated or more expensive model of your products or services. A great example of this is the mobile phone market—phone companies often target customers who bought older models to try to upsell them on a new one.

Meanwhile, cross-selling emails showcase a range of products and related items. Using a mobile phone as an example again, a company might email its customers trying to sell them on updated phone plans and accessories, like wireless headphones, memory cards, cases, charges, or even tablets and other devices.

Email marketing campaign purposes

Here are four reasons establishing an email marketing campaign for your company is important.

Awareness

Email marketing is a great way to build brand awareness. While you’re promoting your products and services, it’s also about establishing your identity as a company.

You can do this through the tone of your copywriting and the subject line, colors, formatting, fonts, and graphics you use. You can also match your email to the landing page of your website for continuity in branding and use an email template that customers will recognize.

Traffic generation

If you’re looking for an affordable way to generate traffic to your website, email marketing is an easy and inexpensive way to drive people to it. Companies of any size can afford it, and most midsize businesses spend anywhere between $9 and $1,000 monthly on email marketing. It all comes down to the size of your budget.

No matter what you spend, though, it’s bound to increase customer engagement—either on your website or social media—and drive potential sales. Whether you spend $1 or thousands of dollars, you can still enjoy a strong ROI. Remember, for every $1 spent, you can expect a return of $36, on average.

Nurturing conversion content

Nearly 80% of all marketing leads won’t translate into sales. The primary reason for this is that companies don’t properly invest their efforts in lead nurturing. Lead nurturing emails with targeted content designed to convert these contacts to customers can have a significant impact on sales.

Companies can nurture leads and inspire consumer action in various ways, including personalized touches like personal recommendations, email list segmentation, educational and informative content, and even entertaining content.

Sales and revenue

Ultimately, your email campaign is all about improving your company’s sales and increasing revenue. Every email, no matter which type you’re utilizing, should have a clear CTA that inspires your email subscribers to click through and become customers.

Even if they’ve already completed a purchase with your company, you might consider sending them an upsell email, suggesting newer or improved models of the product or service they purchased, or a cross-sell email, targeting them with related items and accessories that could improve how they use the original product or service they purchased from you.

10 best email marketing campaign examples

Now that you know a bit about email marketing, here are some stellar email marketing examples from companies producing successful, strategic campaigns. These case studies can provide some inspiration for your own email and content marketing strategy.

On

On is a Swiss running shoe company that uses personalization and automation in their email marketing campaigns to connect with running enthusiasts throughout the world. When paired with top-notch, patented running technology, this is a recipe for success.

As runners travel the globe, On offers downloadable running maps that they can select as they visit other cities. Once they’ve chosen a map, it automatically arrives in their email inbox. Not only does it offer an interesting route for a run but it also highlights restaurants, shops, and local destinations to check out along the way. The company bases these suggestions on data collected on each customer based on their purchases and interests.

As you can see in the example below, these emailed maps are fun and engaging without being too salesy and transactional. They’re informative and useful while providing subscribers with a sense of adventure.

On

On also uses its email marketing to foster a sense of exclusive community so runners feel as though they’re part of something special. For instance, when friends refer runners to check out the company’s shoes and other athletic products, the company sends a personalized invitation to that runner to learn more about On. The person who referred that runner then picks up cool swag and other perks, and the company builds its email list.

This particular email is an example of a retention email. While not overtly salesy, it re-engages the customer with the brand. These email campaigns have directly impacted sales—the company has seen a 20% jump in e-commerce sales driven by their email marketing.

Adidas

Adidas has long been an iconic global brand. It uses dynamic content sent through personalized emails to rise above similar brands. In fact, since 2015, Adidas has grown at an average rate of 17.6% each year, while Nike’s growth has been about 6.8% annually.

The company’s e-commerce sales have been one of the driving forces behind this significant growth, and their sales have increased largely thanks to innovative email and digital marketing.

The key to their successful email marketing campaigns has been personalization. As they reach customers across the world, they send millions of emails targeting the specific interests and tastes of people on their email list with matching content and offers.

To create this targeted content, the brand reviews all the data they have available, such as location, language, product interest, and purchase history. From there, they suggest other items for shoppers and even new sports and lifestyle changes. This was especially successful during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when most people weren’t shopping in stores and many companies needed to reach customers in new ways.

In the example below, Adidas uses minimal text in making recommendations specific to shoppers, and there’s no mention of pricing anywhere in the email. It relies on the product image to draw the customer in and pique their interest in this promotional email.

Adidas

Uber

Uber is a ride-sharing app known for its straightforward, simple, and easy-to-use nature. Naturally, their email marketing campaigns adopt this same tone and style.

Since they’re dealing with customers who are likely on the go, they get right to the point of what they’re trying to communicate with an easy-to-understand CTA—usually a link so those interested can learn more about Uber’s promotions. The language they use is simple but effective.

As an app, they also understand that their customers are on their phones. A lot. So, all emails they send are mobile-friendly.

Uber

This promotional email shows how good Uber is at email marketing. It gets right to the point of touting a sale on its annual Uber Pass membership and has an understanding of whether that subscriber might be interested in the deal. The minimalist email design also forces the app user to focus solely on the message.

Airbnb

Email marketing is integral to the success of Airbnb, a behemoth in the online home-sharing space. Among its many roles, it’s used to retain customers who browse listings, facilitate communication between guests and hosts, and promote anything new with the company.

At the heart of most of their email campaigns, though, is the goal to inspire its users to book their next trip. This is done using strategic email formatting that relies heavily on painting a picture—using an actual picture of some interesting or exotic location—to show users what their next travel experience could look like.

Often, these emails are personalized to touch on each user’s individual interests, whether it’s European jet-setting, exploring bikeable cities, or immersing in local history. The site uses all the data it collects to get to know its users and tempt them with the perfect getaway tailored just for them.

The below retention email is the perfect example of this, from the email subject line to the CTA. Airbnb takes what it knows about the subscriber—namely, where they live—and offers them an escape from their everyday life by suggesting other cities to experience. It uses attractive images to draw in the reader with a minimalist design and minimal text. The large, easy-to-access CTA buttons draw the email subscriber to easily click them and browse the platform.

Airbnb

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is a popular media website that has also mastered the art of curated email newsletters.

It’s created more than 20 niche newsletters, each one catering to the specific interests of its readers—pets, entertainment, health and beauty, politics, and more. These emails are one of the media outlet’s top drivers of traffic and have high conversion rates.

While the content itself is excellent, the company’s approach of reaching different segments of readers is smart and lends to the significant email open rate. For the most part, the company uses automated emails, a low-effort way to reach readers, boost web traffic, and improve engagement.

The below image shows the range of available BuzzFeed email newsletters. There’s truly something for every interest. The media company understands how to use personalization and email segmentation to reach its audience. And the best part is that their subscribers opt in for it. Selecting their desired newsletter shows Buzzfeed what their interests are, making it easy to target these interests with other emails.

Buzzfeed

Starbucks

Starbucks uses its emails to build brand loyalty and foster relationships with their customers. One of the primary ways the coffee giant does this is through its generous rewards program. The company uses its email marketing to point its email base in the direction of this program, building awareness of the freebies and special offers available to only the most loyal customers.

While each Starbucks email about the rewards program doesn’t use an exact email template—no two look exactly alike—they all keep the language simple and their email copy short, have strong CTAs, and motivate customers with graphics and images.

The below Starbucks Rewards promotional email is a great example of what the company does best. It uses a strong image to entice the email subscriber to place an order and minimal text to really let that image make its intended impact. The text that’s included in the email is strong and intentionally selected to convey the company’s message.

Starbucks



Patagonia

Patagonia has long made headlines for its environmental activism, which has always been a core value of the company. The clothing company’s innovative email marketing strategy not only directs consumers to its products but also promotes its mission and inspires shoppers to do better for the world.

It’s a lofty and worthwhile mission to use its email reach to support independent retailers, environmental issues, and grassroots activism. And their customers—many of whom share those same values—appreciate the company for it. Patagonia really wants to engage its users on these issues and send them content and information they can use rather than focusing solely on sales.

In these emails, Patagonia relies on personalization to drive matters home. The brand also builds relationships with their customers and relies heavily on user-generated content, often showcasing customers using their products in real life.

The below email example showcases the company’s dedication to ecological activism and supporting small business. It encourages its email subscribers to shop local by highlighting an independent retailer that shares the same values as Patagonia. This retention email isn’t hard-selling Patagonia’s products but instead reinforces its mission and identity to re-engage subscribers.

Patagonia

Headspace

Headspace guides users through mindful meditation and helps decrease anxiety and improve mental health. The company’s email campaigns reflect this mission through the use of soothing—but fun—colors and graphics and simplistic language that focuses on the goals and benefits of using the app.

This approach is especially effective in the company’s onboarding emails. The goal is not to simply welcome new users to the app but also to make the ideal first impression that showcases exactly how Headspace’s meditations and other tips can help users lead a calmer, happier life. The company uses personalized and engaging welcome emails to put new subscribers at ease and encourage them to start using the app.

The below email is an example of Headspace’s approach to onboarding new users. It’s encouraging without being intrusive and has a calming effect on subscribers who are interested in easing anxiety. As mental health treatment can be overwhelming for many people, this welcome email also relaxes new subscribers by using fun, colorful illustrations.

Headspace

Tuft & Needle

Tuft & Needle has introduced several standout email marketing campaigns. By focusing on personalized experiences, the company has increased its revenue generated by email marketing by a staggering 181%. The company uses available data to tailor emails to customers’ specific needs and interests.

The brand also puts an emphasis on cart abandonment, getting creative in emails to entice shoppers back to the website without coming across as overly salesy. They accomplish this through engaging and interesting copy, fun illustrations, transparency, and a gentle yet effective CTA.

You can see all of this at work in the below cart abandonment email example. It uses a quirky image and a playful tone in its copy—while avoiding any hard sales—to engage the shopper and lure them back to their website.

Tuft and Needle

Netflix

Netflix is known for providing users with suggested films and television shows tailored specifically to their interests and viewing habits when they’re signed into the entertainment platform. This hyper-personalization carries over into their email campaigns, as well. The company follows what users are watching—noting genre, type of programming, languages preferred, the show’s country of origin, and how long they’re watching it for, among other details—closely.

Netflix then uses this data to create personalized suggestions that are emailed to subscribers. By enticing subscribers with customized content they’re likely to be interested in, they’re more likely to log into the platform and watch one of the suggestions for them. This is how Netflix uses personalization and segmentation to drive traffic to their platform.

The promotional email example below shows how the company uses a simple but eye-catching design to share new releases specific to each subscriber’s interests. The text used is minimal, as well.

Netflix

Need a hand? Hire a freelance email marketing consultant

In this increasingly digital world, it makes sense to reach customers—both those loyal to your brand and new shoppers—through email marketing campaigns. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about email marketing, though. If you don’t have anyone in-house who can help you create innovative and engaging marketing emails, consider hiring an email marketing consultant.

Upwork’s platform can help you connect with the right person for the job. Search our platform to see how the best email marketing professionals can help you elevate your company’s email marketing campaigns.

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10 Masterful Email Marketing Campaign Examples
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