Content Marketing
12 Brands Show Us How Email Marketing is Done

12 Brands Show Us How Email Marketing is Done

September 8, 2022
7 min read

An essential aspect of nurturing new sales leads is email marketing. It’s a strategy that allows you to reach out to your prospects on a more personal level with relevant content.

According to a report by Salesforce, 49% of marketers claim that email is directly linked to the success of their business efforts. Direct Marketing Association also noted that there is a 4,300% return on investment when it comes to email marketing for businesses in the United States.

There is now no question that marketers should believe in the power of email.

Apart from being cost-effective, there are many reasons why email marketing can be a successful channel for businesses. A well-crafted email campaign is personal, action-oriented, and measurable.

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Quick Takeaways:

  • Email marketing is crucial to amplifying your general digital marketing strategy
  • Providing creative CTAs and emails will improve your click through rate across your website
  • Typically the email list is voluntary and talks directly to your clients or prospects

Get inspired to make awesome email marketing campaigns by these brands who know how to get the job done!

1. Drift – Break The Ordinary

This welcome email sent by Drift to people who subscribed to be part of their email list is genius. The campaign resulted in 75% open rate and a 25% response rate that are actual replies from their subscribers.

Its effectiveness lies in how short and straightforward it is. People are aware that emails sent by companies are automated, but this message seems to break conventions.

The wording is immensely conversational, more like a direct message on social media than a formal business communication. So it may be automated, but it maintains a personal touch thanks to its clever use of language that makes you feel as though you’re having a casual chat with Dave.

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2. PayPal – Be Clever and Relatable

PayPal’s email is clever and relatable, managing to effectively grab the attention of their audience. It’s no surprise to learn that people tend to read what they think is relevant and applicable to their lives.

As a marketer, you should find different situations that are connected to your services and your target market, and use it to your advantage. In this case, the scenario addressed was splitting bills with friends, something that used to be a pain.

By showing PayPal’s solution to this everyday problem, the company shows its customers that they know exactly how their products are being used.

3. BuzzFeed – Punchy Subject Lines and Preview Text

Of course, BuzzFeed is known for being the king of blog posting and content marketing. Many of their posts have become some of the internet’s most prized gems. But did you know that this company has equally awesome email marketing efforts?

BuzzFeed plays with phrases that go along with their email’s content. As seen in the photo, the punchy headline goes incredibly well with the preview text. This is a highly compelling strategy that’s great for arousing the interest of readers.

It’s simple, funny, and engaging. Take a tip from BuzzFeed and start writing email subject lines like you’re writing an article title, your email open rates are sure to improve.

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4. Litmus – Play With Moving Images

Animation is a great way to encourage your readers to interact with your message. Litmus is doing a fantastic job when it comes to incorporating animation in their emails.

In this campaign, they’ve used a swipe motion animation to mimic what their email tool can do. It’s as simple as that. The movement catches the eye of the reader and provides a deeper understanding of the message and how the audience can benefit from their product.

5. Kate Spade – Feedback is the Key

This particular email by Kate Spade is a sure hit, as it serves to be mutually beneficial for them and their customers. The data collected from patrons can help with planning and strategy, while that 25% off is a gift every customer can enjoy.

Ask your customers how they feel and get their insights into your services. Every customer’s feedback is important to determine brand direction and fuel business growth.

It allows you to build a foundation of loyalty within your marketplace. Customers will also feel valued if they can see that your brand understands the importance of their opinions.

6. Cook Smarts – Offer Something Useful

To create messages that engage your audience, you must see things from their perspective and offer something that adds value.

Cook Smarts does this in a very clever way. They generated a daily meal plan for their subscribers to help avoid the stress associated with figuring out what to eat. Its success lies in the fact that the content complements their product and encourages users to see what’s on offer.

7. Boden – The Sense of Urgency

If you’re one of their customers, wouldn’t you want to take advantage of this last chance sale by Boden?

The elements of this email compel readers to discover what’s in store for them. There is an obvious sense of urgency that’s portrayed by saying “last chance,” and that’s enhanced by telling the reader that they almost missed out.

Their call-to-action telling users “Quick-Clean Up” also gives the impression that the sale is a particularly good one where they can get large discounts.

8. Bonobos – Extend a Helping Hand

Bonobos knows what their target market needs. With a mix of fashion expertise and a bit of humor, they were able to make a style guide for men’s clothing. It’s a perfect campaign for email marketing, which appeals greatly to the needs of their audience.

This strategy works because your brand becomes a source of valuable information. Marketers need to understand what’s important to their audience and extend a helping hand.

9. Uber – Clear and Simple

Nothing beats a clear and concise message that resonates with your audience. Uber lets their contacts know about new offers like deals, promotions, and guides—all paired with a simple yet strong call to action.

The style used in the email is also very consistent with their brand and mobile app. The simple yet elegant detail complements their visual branding and serves to highlight their message more clearly.

10. Airbnb – First Impressions Last

First impressions last, and they play an important role in email marketing. It’s your first step to getting the attention of your target users. Remember, great impressions result in long-term outcomes.

Take a look at Airbnb’s welcome email. It is proactive and encourages immediate interaction. The visual elements are simple and give off a friendly vibe while the CTAs compel users to get started. It’s also very friendly for mobile users, which many brands still tend to ignore to this day.

11. Calvin Klein – Bold and Raw

theSkimm email marketing

Calvin Klein is constantly trying to live up to its “young” image. Compare CK to a brand like Tommy Hilfiger. Calvin Klein’s style and branding is, “provocative, modern, sensual and iconic.” Tommy Hilfiger’s branding is classic “preppy with a twist” American fashion. The two brands could arguably be targeting a similar demographic, but the tone they use to represent themselves is very different.

12. theSkimm – Stick to Your Identity

Research actually found that Millennials prefer email to other forms of communication from brands. While this may surprise some, there’s one company that has found tremendous success by solely engaging Millennials (particularly women) over email.

According to Tech Crunch, theSkimm has grown to more than 3.5 million subscribers worldwide – more than the number of New York Times digital subscribers – since its launch in 2012. But what’s most fascinating about theSkimm’s success is that it was achieved by rejecting many email marketing best practices and exploring aspects that are often ignored. Here are three unexpected lessons marketers can learn from theSkimm’s email strategy:

Emails Don’t Have to Be Short

When email consumption shifted to mobile, marketers assumed they needed to condense everything to fit within the smaller screen. But when you think about how people use their phones, shrinking everything doesn’t really make sense.

People don’t expect all content to fit within one snapshot on their phone screen. Instead, they expect to scroll. Because we’re all used to scrolling in apps (like Facebook and Instagram), email is no different. Scrolling isn’t a hassle, it’s simply how we navigate on our phones.

Although a recent study from Boomerang claims the optimal length of an email is between 50 and 125 words, a typical email from the theSkimm is between 800 and 1,000 words. Granted, one could argue that promotional emails will naturally be shorter than newsletters due to their purpose, the Madewell example below shows how both types of emails can be lengthy and still impactful.

On the right, a Thanksgiving promotional email from Madewell showcases various outfits for the holiday weekend. Although it is a visually-driven versus text-driven email, it is still lengthy and requires the reader to scroll almost the length of a full newsletter from theSkimm. Allowing the email to be lengthly lets Madewell tell a complete story instead of simply showing four small images of outfits.

theSkimm email marketing

Have a Voice

Retail is a visually-driven industry, and always has been. Since retailers are selling tangible products, it makes sense for them to lead with imagery. However because of this, most retailers have a distinct “look,” but not many have a unique “voice” or tone.

This is an interesting phenomenon, because tone has always been important in marketing and branding. Tone is expressing personality through vocabulary and it’s how your brand should make people feel when they read what you’re saying. But since many retail brands have focused so much attention on imagery, their tones have defaulted to become generic, with copy such as, “New Arrivals For You.”

Unlike most retail marketing emails, theSkimm’s are almost completely void of imagery, and because of this, they aren’t able to lean on visuals as a crutch to communicate its brand. theSkimm’s tone is the brand.

Let’s take a look at an example. The headlines below both cover the same story of Snapchat filing to IPO. One headline is from theSkimm and one is from The New York Times:

Headline #1

“What to say to your friend who overuses the flower crown filter…”

Headline #2

“Snapchat’s Parent Files for a Stock Offering”

Can you tell which headline belongs to theSkimm? Of course, headline #1. It’s immediately recognizable.

Put Social Sharing Front & Center

Finally, just because theSkimm engages their audience through email, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to extend their reach to social channels. However what theSkimm understands better than most other marketers is how their audience uses email and how they use social media.

Their target demographic is happy to receive content from a brand through email, but they typically share content with friends through social media. Because of this, theSkimm delivers its content via email and heavily optimizes it for social sharing.

theSkimm email marketing

Wrap Up

These brands have successfully executed email marketing campaigns in multiple ways. It took time and effort for them to produce these strategies and we’re pretty sure that decisions were based on actionable insights using target market data. Take note that you can always take inspiration from them, but a little experiment of your own won’t do any harm. Brainstorm with your team, get advice from experts, and never forget to include customer feedback in your decision-making process.

Don’t be afraid to innovate. If anything, rejecting industry norms can differentiate your brand and make your marketing stand out even more. The takeaway here is that email marketing will continue to evolve, so best practices that were true a year ago, may not necessarily still apply today.

Now, it’s time to start building your next email marketing campaign!

Do you want to use some of the marketing strategies seen here on MIG’s site but need some help or advice? What luck! Marketing Insider Group has a team of 35+ experienced writers ready to produce content for YOUR business. Check out our weekly blog content service or schedule a free consultation

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Giana Reno

Giana is the Director of Content for Marketing Insider Group, a top-rated Content Marketing Agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on all things MIG.

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