If Charlie (of the Chocolate Factory) used email marketing, he’d have reached the factory much sooner.
Email marketing is equal parts awesome and lucrative, which is exactly what makes it such a golden ticket.
Companies all over the world realize that, in a shifting digital landscape, email marketing is still the best way to reach your audience right where it counts:
In their inbox.
And in order to help you get the 4400% ROI that email marketing provides, we’re taking a look at 30 profitable email marketing campaigns to see what we can learn.
Let’s go, hit that ‘Send’ button!
1. The Big Email Marketing Leagues: Amazon
Amazon has an amazing ongoing email marketing campaign that makes the most of user information and buyer journey.
From the first “Welcome” email which doesn’t contain any salesy stuff…
… to upsell and Black Friday deals (after you’ve made purchases) that know exactly what we need:
They’re constantly collecting information and using it to personalize emails for the recipient, staying in touch (multiple emails after making a purchase), and keeping the emails straight to the point.
Amazon knows their customers buy out of convenience, so there’s no “fancy stuff.” Just show ‘em the money!
2. BuzzFeed Keeps Emails Fresh
Look, regardless what we think of BuzzFeed (are they a site about politics or cat gifs? Maybe both? Nobody knows.) – they get results from their newsletters.
Because they cover different audiences.
They have so many newsletters that even they have to filter which ones to recommend. From politics and daily news to DIY and life hacks and cooking – there’s something for everyone.
And they know exactly what to recommend to whom because of email list segmentation.
Additionally, they know when to let images and headlines speak for them. Long intros and copy are reserved for editors.
Everything else is pure BuzzFeed fun.
3. PayPal Knows the Pain Points of Their Audience
PayPal realized how often people use their platform to share money between their friends and family, so they introduced a new way to split the bill.
Now, how are they going to promote it?
With email marketing, of course, and copy that reminds everyone of how fun it is to go out – but how un-fun it is when you have to split the bill.
Their service can help!
The trick of this campaign is that PayPal first makes the recipients relate to the situation, and then offers them an easy solution.
It’s as simple as it gets – and it’s profitable!
4. Make Them Feel Special like Tory Burch
There’s nothing we love more than feeling special, and the folks at Tory Burch understand it.
In fact, to show us just how special we are, they’ve integrated a gif with the motion of doors opening to say that we’re invited to a private sale.
With huge discounts.
Now, we’re definitely honoured. The gif makes us entertained. And since there are discounts involved, our next move is to click through.
It’s a tale as old as time, but it works great with email marketing!
5. Offer Something Extra like Starbucks
We all love coffee and Starbucks wants to be everywhere so email is a natural fit. But what would make us want to subscribe to their newsletter?
In Starbucks’ email marketing campaign case, they’re going to provide additional value if we visit them online.
Starbucks’ email campaigns offer news on coffee promotions, but they also offer news about discounts and a loyalty program.
So instead of just serving us with content, Starbucks makes the emails valuable to customers. Who can say no to 50% off mocha lattes?
6. WordStream: Targeting Professionals
No professional wants to crowd their inbox with a thousand newsletters, which is why WordStream keeps their emails direct and focused on actionable advice.
The copy is entertaining, and it segues into an article that’s chock-full of value for anyone who wants to advertise needs.
This email marketing campaign formula has been working for them for years, and it helps that they make business fun.
7. Headspace’s Email Marketing Campaigns Motivate
Headspace is a meditation app, and they put their customers’ needs at the forefront of any marketing effort.
After the New Year, they rolled out an email marketing campaign offering subscription discounts:
With this kind of product, the tone is important, and they set it with appropriate illustrations and copy. To motivate their users even more, they offer a discount.
After all, it’s time for new resolutions. So why not make one subscribing to their product?
8. Unfinished Business? Learn from Zipcar
Customers abandoning carts is never a good thing, but it happens. What determines the outcome is how you’ll respond to it.
In Zipcar’s case, they send a friendly email reminding customers of unfinished business at their site:
While email marketing campaign templates are a good stylistic choice, they’re not necessarily what’s needed when customers are abandoning carts.
It’s much better to approach them peer-to-peer, with friendly copy showing the people behind the business.
It may be tugging at their emotions a little, but humanity is never bad for business.
9. Amaroso: Another Way to Approach Cart Abandonment with Email Marketing
If your product is tantalizing, put it at the forefront of your email marketing campaign directed at people who’ve shopped around but didn’t make a purchase.
That’s exactly what Amaroso is doing with their two-step campaign:
The first image is sent to shoppers an hour after they looked at products. The second is sent a few days later, just to remind them of Amaroso’s presence and amazing products.
After all, customers may have just been distracted, and they’ll appreciate the heads-up.
10. Show Understanding: Be like Loft
Loft gets a lot of points for being understanding of their customers’ inbox situation:
This automatically makes email subscribers like Loft more.
After all, they’re showing that they value their customers by asking them about their mailing preferences.
11. Skip Straight to Action like Bonobos
What’s the use of beating around the bush?
Bonobos know what their customers want: awesome clothes. That’s why they serve emails like this one:
The CTA direction here is very clear: select your size – pick your item – apply the discount. Bonobos didn’t write a lot of copy; instead – they offered a button to click on to go forward.
That’s all it takes!
12. Peak Design: Say Hi to Your Customers
Welcome emails are incredibly valuable, from showing your product offer to showing your brand’s personality. Ultimately, that’s what customers will stick around for – even if you raise the prices.
Peak Design covers all the important aspects: cool products, brand mission, values, and of course – actually saying hi.
13. Announce with Flair: RipCurl
Creating a sense of urgency is a big deal in sales and marketing. However, creating a sense of being a part of something immense is even more important.
RipCurl, for example, makes a bold announcement:
The time isn’t running out, but readers still get a sense that it is. And they need to get the watch. Everyone wears watches during a revolution.
14. The Art of Up-Selling: Bavsound
When Bavsound customers purchase audio upgrades for their BMWs, they get an automatic up-sell email recommending them products that go well with what they’ve purchased.
This is a great example of upselling with value. It’s not done randomly, but complementary. Forget about seeing ads selling you the exact thing you just bought; these emails use personalization and automation to sell you something you still need.
15. J.Crew: Treat Loyal Customers like VIPs
Perks are great, but there’s nothing like receiving an email marketing campaign where the head of the company is talking directly to you because you’re one of the most valuable customers.
In this J.Crew example, you can see how they’re putting exclusivity to work by giving their subscribers the first glance at a new collection.
16. Be Contrary like Huify
Would you ever write the following words in the subject line: “We dug through crap for you…”
Chances are, you wouldn’t. But Huify would:
Huify is doing everything right with their copy and placement, but the best thing they’re doing is acknowledging that a lot of content is… well, less than stellar. And that subject line gets a lot of attention in crowded inboxes – it got a 37% open rate.
17. Go Smooooooth with Copy like Cuyana
People don’t just buy the products – they buy the lifestyle. That’s why evocative copy can go a long way towards making people buy your product sooner.
And when exquisite copy is paired with quality products and tantalizing images, we’ve got ourselves a Cuyana-level email marketing campaign.
18. Know When They’re Running out of Your Product like Rockin’ Wellness
If you’re selling perishable products, know when your customers will be running out of them.
And then send them an email reminding them that they should get them replenished, just like Rockin’ Wellness did.
19. Missguided: Reactivation? No problem
If your customers aren’t active lately, get in touch with them to see what’s up.
Make sure you add an enticing offer and focus on what you want to express with the message.
20. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold: The Limited
When something doesn’t need to be explained, but it’s still a Big Deal – do like The Limited did and increase font size:
Joking aside, increasing the font size and using bold visuals can go a long way towards getting the attention of your customers. And then all you need at the end is a CTA button with a good offer.
21. Kate Spade: Experiment
In the era of standardized email templates, the folks at Kate Spade did a great thing by experimenting with the format:
This not only caught attention, but it showed personality as well.
As since there’s a discount involved, you can bet the CTR was higher than the Empire State Building.
22. Solve Your Subscribers’ Problems in Your Email Marketing Campaign
We have to take another look at J.Crew because they’re just that good. A big part of the B2B newsletters’ appeal is problem-solving. And when it’s applied to B2C, it works great!
And who’d say no to a personal stylist?
23. Check Deliverability, in a Cool Way
There are some companies that just do email marketing right, and Bonobos is one of them.
The visuals are fun, and the CTA can provoke a great answer from subscribers. After all, there’s only one choice.
This is actually a re-engagement email masked as email deliverability check, and we’re loving it!
24. Tiffany & Co: Sell the Wish, not the Product
Do we buy engagement rings because they’re beautiful, or because we want them to signify something greater?
By reconnecting products to romance, Tiffany & Co reach the hearts (and wallets) of many subscribers. There’s even an option to send gift ideas in the red bar!
25. Referrals with Starbucks
Email marketing campaigns can be used to encourage subscribers to refer their friends, as well. All it takes is a good offer, and a beloved product:
26. Need More Info?
If you need more information from your subscribers, there’s no need to be creepy. Just follow Overstock’s birthday example (and then give them a birthday gift when the time comes):
27. Loft and the Meme Potential
Loft uses pop culture right with their email marketing campaigns, and so should you.
Use them; you’ll make your subscribers laugh, and if you can make them laugh, you can make them do anything.
28. Pinkberry: Don’t Ask What Your Subscribers Can Do for You
Show them what you can do for them, just like Pinkberry.
Instead of sending a survey to re-engage their inactive subscribers, give your subscribers a reward.
29. 1Password: Sounds Just Like Home
Just because you’re an unsexy, but highly useful password software service doesn’t mean you can’t stir up positive emotions of home, comfort, and safety:
Only 10% of sales is about the actual product. The remaining 90% all about the benefits and the goals that your customers will be able to achieve with your product.
30. If All Else Fails, Be You
Just kidding. Personality is always a good idea in email marketing campaigns, especially if there’s a person at the forefront of your brand.
After all, bots aren’t reading your email. Humans are. And they want to connect – with nice shoes, courses, software, and people.