Five Winning Email Campaigns and Why They Were Effective

Marina Lazetic
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Running email campaigns can be a nightmare. Perhaps you have already experienced the horror of pressing send and your email disappears into the void? Open rates are low. Clicks are insignificant. You wonder, "Why bother writing all that content when no one reads it?"

Before you give up, consider this: according to research, you get $35 to $40 back for every dollar you invest in email. Despite what your experience might be or what the naysayers argue - email is evolving and growing massively. After all, what’s more valuable than direct access to someone’s attention?

But how do you get that attention and make your campaign successful? Let’s take a look at some of the winning email campaigns out there.

1. Tailor Email Campaigns to the Individual

Having someone join your email list might not be difficult, but keeping their attention can be. How do you do it? By offering content that is interesting to that one specific individual. How you do this depends on your business.

For example, Airbnb sends its users information about rentals in places they searched for. So if you look at places to rent in New York now, but you don’t book anything, Airbnb will send you an email with housing options in New York. Why? Because you didn’t book anything and they know that you are most likely still looking for a place to rent. They have a way straight to your heart because you are receiving the information that you need.

“We make use of data in every email that we send. Be it data from our wish lists, search trends, seasonality, there is a component of every email that is rooted within data.” - Jordie van Rijn, Former Head of Email Marketing at Airbnb

Besides highly personalized information, Airbnb does a couple of other things very well:

  • A consistent look, making the brand recognizable for consistent branding

  • A simple and clean design that is perfectly aligned to the design of their website

  • Strong, tailored messaging as a direct result of customer behavior on their site

  • Law intention CTA – “Browse Homes” - to get you back to the website

Yes, this strategy is very specific to this company, but the truth is - it works in any industry and with any business. If you provide highly personalized content to your audience they are more likely to act on it.

2. Create Helpful Email Campaigns 

Email campaigns are the best way to stay in contact with your existing customers and clients and keep retention high.

One of the most helpful emails in my Inbox at the moment is from Chase Bank. Chase runs an email campaign that gives consumers tips on how to make the most of their credit cards. Just yesterday I received an email with a list of tips on earning extra points to maximize rewards. Did they make me take action? You bet! In this email, I learned that if I use Chase for Lyft I get extra points. Guess how I’m paying my next ride? Knowing about this benefit impacted my use of the card directly.

So, what this campaign does well:

  • Emails are kept simple

  • Focus on one specific purpose

  • Clean and clear copy

  • Benefits of interest to the customer

If your business offers any type of bonuses to repeat customers, you can use email to encourage them to take advantage of it. This will also help them see you as a company that puts its customers first.

“It’s much more like a way to show that you really have the consumer’s back.” - Kristin Lemkau, Chief Marketing Officer at JPMorgan Chase

It might seem odd to spend a portion of your marketing budget on people who’ve already converted, but keeping them happy with your service means customer retention. It also means new customers and clients as your mailing list is more likely to recommend you to others.

3. Let Customers Speak

Speaking of recommendations - let’s talk about social proof. Good email marketing campaigns put to use the fact that 8 out of every 10 buying decisions are influenced by customer-generated content. This means that people decide to buy something if even complete strangers recommend it, as long as they have some shared interests.

So, for example, an online retail company, Uncommon Goods, does an excellent job with their Mother’s Day email campaign. Uncommon Goods email campaigns had the best overall average read rates at 16%, as compared to Red Envelope at 14% and Personal Creations at 13%. How did they do it? Well, here are a couple of things their campaign excelled at: 

  • They used the urgency principle to get people to buy from them as soon as possible

  • Careful design and choice of colors appeal to the reader’s emotions

  • They provided unique gift recommendations

  • Testimonials

The most helpful of all these elements was the use of testimonials. They highlighted what other customers have to say about them, about Mother’s Day, and unique presents they offer. With gift recommendations, customers submit testimonials that trigger an emotional response in readers.

4. Inspire New Possibilities

Let’s be honest - email can be a source of great stress and anxiety for many because we use it primarily for work. But that’s an opportunity too. What if in the pile of boring emails, yours stands out as the one that inspires...that transports the reader into a new world of possibilities?

There is one company that does this very well - Kayak. Their email campaigns focus on showing you all the possibilities for your next dream vacation. They use their emails to show you a wide range of possibilities and deals you can purchase to finally give yourself that deserved holiday.

What makes their campaign work:

  • Irresistible images and recognizable design

  • Information tailored to individual interests

  • A clear list of options and highlighted destinations and different prices

  • A large and clear CTA button

So, nothing out of the ordinary, you might say...but there is something specific about this campaign that makes it a winner - the wide range of options! If your company offers a range of services and products, consider designing an email campaign that offers these different possibilities to the customer.

5. Be Functional

For our last example of a successful campaign, let’s mention one that isn’t exactly the best looking one in the crowd. This one might need an improvement or two, but it still works. Warby Parker’s email campaign does not use attractive images to grab your attention. Instead, it takes advantage of different fonts to achieve its purpose - it uses functionality.

They send reminders when your prescription is about to expire and make sure to highlight the date as much as possible. After the expiration “warning” after getting your attention with urgency, Warby Parker directs you towards the selection of their glasses. 

So what works here:

  • Clever use of fonts and recognizable design

  • Clear CTA for renewal

  • Functionality useful to the customer

But there is something that they can improve on, such as the CTA for new frames. Their CTA is “Shop Men”... really? I am not interested in shopping for men, but I would like new glasses. How about “You Deserve A New Pair - Get It Now?”

Summary

Email campaigns are a great way to get connected to and stay in touch with your clients and customers. Keeping their attention is not easy but it is possible. All you have to do is decide what type of campaign makes the most sense for your business. Then think about how to tailor it best to serve the customer and sell the product too. 

Don’t try to impress. Stay honest. Stick to a clear, recognizable design and make sure your CTA is clear. A clear call for action makes it easier for the reader to engage with your campaign. By attaching a clear CTA to each new email, you're ensuring the content fits into your overall marketing plan, helping you to build a larger audience and convert more into clients.

Does your business need help with email campaigns? All our copywriters are also marketing strategists. Get in touch today.

Marina Lazetic

Marina is a certified copywriter and experienced researcher, passionate about understanding customer behavior and writing to move businesses forward. She is certified in content strategy and inbound marketing, and specializes in Instagram ads, Facebook, and email marketing. She edited two books and is published in academic journals and on Medium. If not writing, you can find her painting or acting!

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