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Post originally published March 2016, updated April 2020.

Email marketing is a hot topic as we move into a new decade. It has many marketers scratching their heads and asking just how relevant this digital marketing strategy really is in a world that prioritizes social media.

While social media has exploded in popularity over the last few years, our recent study asked small businesses where they saw their most significant opportunity to build brand awareness, and social media took first place, with content marketing and email marketing taking a close second and third, respectively.

Here’s the thing: While social media’s definitely on the rise, it still doesn’t provide brands with the same marketing potential that email marketing does. For well over a decade, email marketing has been the number one channel to generate the highest return on investment (ROI) for marketing teams. Currently, email marketing generates $38 in ROI for every $1 spent—that’s an ROI rate of 3800%.

When compared to email marketing, other forms of digital marketing simply can’t compete.

  • Paid Advertising has an ROI of 200%. This means that for every $1 spent, marketing teams earn $2. – SmallBizGenius
  • Affiliate Marketing has an approximate ROI of 1900%, meaning that, for every $1 spent, marketers earn approximately $19. – AM Navigator

As for the average ROI for social media marketing, marketers have found it rather challenging to find a proper way to quantify this data because there are so many moving parts that could contribute to this number.

While these numbers play a vital role in deciding which marketing channel to utilize, many other statistics help prove just how beneficial email marketing is, compared to other channels:

  • Email is proven to be 40 times more effective at new customer acquisition than social media. – McKinsey
  • Email marketing has the highest conversion rate at 66%. – DMA
  • Seventy-two percent of consumers prefer to receive their promotional content via email, compared to the 17% that prefer promotional content on social media. – MarketingSherpa

Email marketing is the clear winner when it comes to the best digital marketing channels. Read on to discover nine emails that every modern marketer should be sending.

Chapter 1

How do you attract customers through the different types of email?

As an email marketer, you’ve probably heard it said that the money’s in the list. That’s true. But how do you attract those customers?

Here are three easy hacks you can start implementing today.

1. Attract the right kind of audience.

To get the most out of your list, build an audience that needs your product or services. You can easily do this by creating a buyer persona and crafting a lead magnet that’s targeted at that specific audience, which ensures that you’ll create the exact types of email they need.

2. Personalize your emails.

Research shows that, of all types of email, segmented and personalized emails drive the most revenue. This is why personalization should be a critical component of your email marketing strategy. By using personalization in all the different types of emails you send out to your list, you increase engagement and conversions.

3. Give them an irresistible offer.

In this age of data, marketing has become much easier than it was 10 years ago. With the right data, you can craft an offer your subscriber can’t refuse. Data-driven offers are more relevant to your customer, making them irresistible.

Chapter 2

Welcome email

A welcome email to new customers and subscribers is an easy win.

You’ve got a captive audience in the form of people who’ve taken an active interest in your product or service, and you’ve got a reasonable amount of space to get a few tips or messages across. But, before anything else, be sure to thank them for signing up.

Source: Really Good Emails

Keep it casual.

Welcome emails should be energetic and easy to read. You’re bringing a new member into your virtual world, so make it warm and inviting by using a conversational tone.

Give a perk.

Membership has its privileges, right? So give your new subscribers a welcome gift like a discount, reward, or perk of some sort (even in the form of free content, like this guide).

Give them some next steps.

Reinforce their interest in your product or service by letting them know how to take advantage of it. Offer links to tips, training, user groups, surveys, and customer support.

Chapter 3

Email newsletter

Sending regular email newsletters is a powerful way to keep people up to date with the latest events, news, and promotions. It’s also a great way to drive your customers back to engaging with your site.

Create a plan.

It can be a challenge to create content for your email newsletters, and those due dates always seem to sneak up on you. Be sure to have a planning calendar ready to plug content in as needed.

Make it snackable.

People tend to skim and scan their emails, so include bite-sized chunks of info in your email newsletters: bold section headlines with 2-3 sentences of copy. That way, it’s easier for them to find content that’s relevant.

Mix it up.

Don’t just offer a laundry list of news. Offer varied media—videos, images, screenshots, guides, how-tos, and more. Need help? Check out this list of 50 ideas for your next email newsletter.

Chapter 4

New product announcement

Your existing customer base can be an exceptional driver of new revenue.

Let them know when you’ve got new products available. They’ve already proven their interest in your offerings and the best evangelists will even help you spread the word via social channels and word of mouth.

Stay focused.

The goal here is to build excitement about new product availability. Drive people to your site to learn more and, there, you can use a call to action to purchase or subscribe.

Include images or screenshots.

Unless you have an incredibly loyal audience, just telling people you have something new isn’t enough. Entice them with compelling images or screenshots to spark a desire to see the full range.

Consider your links.

To maximize the sales and revenue you get from your email marketing, make sure you drive people to a specific page on your site that shows them all the new arrivals and gives them an easy path to purchase.

Chapter 5

Testimonial email

Customers can learn a great deal from other customers. Testimonial emails are an easy way to facilitate that.

This type of email can offer customers new ways to use products, tips for success, and an overall “temperature check” of your client base.

Seek approval.

Securing the express approval from customers to use their quotes, feedback, and photos is important.

Consider your design.

These emails are more fun and less informational, so you want something that stands out. Highlight the best quotes you can find, include eye-popping images, and create an energetic tone.

Create a path.

Keep in mind that the goal is for customers to learn something, because, if they do, they might want to learn more. So be sure to include a link to additional testimonials, case studies, and tutorials.

Chapter 6

Tips and training email

You want your customers to get the most out of your products and services, so help them out with simple ways for them to learn and improve.

Concentrate on content.

You need to offer something that helps subscribers solve a problem or improve in some way. Tips can be proactive, reactive, or a combination of both.

Mix your formats.

People’s learning styles vary, so switch up your formats. Create some videos and infographics, write a how-to guide and find an expert for a Q&A column. Be creative!

Send at regular intervals.

Since these emails offer valuable content, your subscribers should get them at regular intervals. Consider a Tip of the Week or Case Study of the Month type of message.

Chapter 7

Re-up email

Don’t let your products or services go interrupted.

Sending an advanced email to remind customers that it’s time to reorder or resubscribe is very easy to do. Automate this one and be sure to set an alert for a follow-up too.

Be clear and concise.

The purpose of this email is strictly to encourage your customers to replenish a product or renew a subscription, so make the experience as simple as possible. Include obvious CTAs with clear copy.

Talk yourself up.

Just because they’ve ordered or subscribed before doesn’t obligate them to do so again, so let them know what value they’ll get in return. You could even offer a discount or perk for re-upping in a specific timeframe.

Mention usage or purchases.

Be sure to include what was ordered in the past, so they can reorder the same thing. Or use this as an opportunity to upsell; if they’ve maximized their usage, perhaps they’re ready to upgrade.

Chapter 8

Upgrade email

Once your customers have learned the value of your product, they might be tempted to move forward with the next level of service.

Send an email outlining the benefits of a new product or service-level to see if they bite.

Source: Really Good Emails

Start with a trial.

The try-before-you-buy phenomenon works. Once your customers get a taste of a more powerful product or system, they often won’t want to return to a more basic one.

Include testimonials.

Customers want to validate the decision to upgrade, so include quotes from other customers who’ve been there before.

Keep it short.

Customers don’t often enjoy being marketed to when they’ve already bought in, so keep this email concise and include a link to a landing page with the harder sell.

Chapter 9

Survey email

Surveys help you collect valuable information you can use to improve both your products and the customer experience.

Take care up front to craft a survey that’s going to give you the data you’re looking for, then set up an email to send it out. Consider including some kind of incentive to encourage responses.

Include an incentive.

If you’d like a customer to take the time to fill out a survey, you need to offer a reason. Perhaps that’s a discount on a future purchase, a code for free shipping, or entry in a contest.

Make it easy.

Be sure your email contains an obvious, clickable link or button that leads to your survey and make sure that it only takes a few minutes to complete. GetFeedback offers surveys that allow anyone to create engaging, mobile-ready surveys.

Give a reason.

Tell your customers why you need this information. Customers are more likely to help when they understand the purpose.

Chapter 10

Win-back email

The win-back email is a campaign you send to customers who haven’t purchased from you in a while in an attempt to get them to re-engage with your products.

Giving dormant customers an offer that they wouldn’t normally receive gives them an extra incentive to come back to your site.

Automate it.

No need to spend time sending these manually. As long as you have certain information, like the customer’s last purchase date, it’s easy to set this up as an automated campaign that goes out in a given timeframe after their last purchase.

Include compelling images.

Although it’s useful to offer readers 20% off their next purchase, they may not have an immediate need for your products. Encourage them to click through by including beautiful images that may stir their impulse buying habits.

Chapter 11

Emails every marketer should send: an example

They say nothing teaches better than an example, so let’s take a look at an example of these types of email that every marketer should be sending: the welcome email.

Most of the lessons you’ll learn from this welcome email can be used in any other email type you send out to your subscribers.

By following these tips, you’ll notice an increase in the way subscribers engage with your email.

The welcome email is, by far, the most commonly sent email of all and could potentially win you a lot of lifelong customers. Miss the mark and you will give your subscriber an opportunity to unsubscribe immediately. So how do you get the welcome email right?

Here’s a classic example from Wynd:

Source: Really Good Emails

What makes this a very effective welcome email?

It’s visually appealing.

Many times, marketers make the mistake of not investing in the design of their welcome emails. Remember, your welcome email is the first impression of you that subscribers have. If you fail to impress with a welcome email, it’s highly likely they won’t open your subsequent emails.

It highlights the benefits immediately.

People rarely read emails word for word. They usually scan them. That’s why you should make sure to highlight the benefits of being in your inner circle. By highlighting the benefits, you build up suspense, making your latest subscriber look forward to opening your next email.

There may be many types of email every marketer should be sending, but one common thread is present in them all: the benefits must always be highlighted.

It makes an offer.

Your welcome email is the first and sometimes only chance to make an offer, so it’s essential to craft one that’s irresistible.

Wynd does this well by offering a free filter for the first purchase of $99.00. They also pitch other products at the bottom of the page, increasing the psychological desire in the customer to buy.

They use it to build trust.

In many cases, first-time subscribers who receive welcome emails from you have only come to learn about your product/service. That’s why you need to include plenty of trust boosters in your welcome email. Again, Wynd nails this one by showing the publications and companies that recommend their product.

You can create the same effect by adding a testimonial or a review from a satisfied customer in your welcome email.

They make it easy for the subscriber to follow on social media.

A welcome email is the best place to drive social media engagement with your brand. Your newest subscriber will still be excited about what you have to offer, and they will probably want to investigate your brand more and see what people are saying about you. What better way to do that than by following you on social media?

It uses great imagery.

Images are a powerful way of conveying a message. They are also a great way to get a subscriber interested in your offer. This is why you need to be sure to include a relevant image or two.

Make sure, however, that your images enhance the message you’re delivering and aren’t distracting.

Chapter 12

Bonus tip: How you can automate these emails

When utilizing email marketing, you want to make sure you’re simplifying the day-to-day process, not adding to it. That’s where email automation comes into play.

Email automation is the process of setting up automated email campaigns that are sent out after a subscriber triggers a certain action. For example, if a new visitor to your website decides that they want to sign up for your email list, then the action of signing up would trigger your welcome email campaign.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Automated email campaigns can be created for just about any email campaign type, including:

  • Welcome emails
  • Thank you emails
  • Feedback requests
  • Product updates
  • Blog updates
  • Event invitations/reminders
  • Win-back emails
  • Birthday/anniversary emails
  • Activity updates
  • Shipping updates and more

The opportunities for creating automated email campaigns truly are unlimited, so make sure you’re taking advantage of automation today.

Chapter 13

Wrap up

Email marketing is a proven way to attract and retain customers.

Get started now with these nine email types that can help your business attract and retain customers. Curate and cultivate your email marketing list well, then watch the revenue rise. By sending out different types of email newsletters, you keep your customers engaged and interested in your emails.

The following are the critical points you need to remember:

  • Email marketing is your best bet when it comes to marketing success.
  • Every marketer needs to employ the nine types of email noted above.
  • Segmentation and personalization are key in successfully implementing your email marketing strategy—for all types of emails.

Ready to start really beefing up your email marketing strategy and maximizing its effectiveness? Then be sure to check out our infographic on some of the top email marketing best practices.

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