By Rachel Moore

Done right, email can be one of the best ways to re-connect with prospects who are dragging their feet through the buying process, you’re hoping to attract back to your site, or you just want to keep in touch with. Done even just a bit haphazardly, email can also be one of the worst ways to irritate your contacts, drive unsubscribes, and damage your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy source of information. Chances are, you’ve received more emails than you can count that fit into the category of “haphazard” - or worse, are just plain bad.

So what differentiates a “winner” from a “when will this company leave me alone” email? Following best practices can go a long way, but sometimes it’s not enough to stand out from the mountains of marketing email the typical user receives every day. 

Below, I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorite email marketing campaigns to use for inspiration when thinking about what to include in your next send. These messages and campaigns have taken things to the next level with click-worthy subject lines, actionable copy, thoughtful references, or useful information.

Follow best practices and take inspiration from these successful messages to keep your emails off the “email offenders” list for good.

 

Anthropologie

First up on our list is Anthropologie, the clothing store darling of wannabe artists, “boho chic” suburbanites... and me. In promotion of weekend-only sale, the company sent out this short and sweet announcement:

While it’s not clear from the above image, the original image actually included a GIF, as well.

Although the embedded GIF was a nice touch, the real winning element of this email was its subject line: short and to-the-point, but eye-catching and worded using language that would immediately resonate with Anthropologie’s target persona. The email message itself also took advantage of the concept of scarcity, providing a custom coupon code and stating the offer is “exclusively for you.” Taken together, the composite parts of this email add up to a winning message that is sure to garner opens and clicks for Anthropologie.

 

Vessyl

Vessyl is a still-in-development intelligent mug that tracks the nutritional composition of whatever you pour into it. Sounds awesome, right? That’s why I signed up to pre-order one back in 2014. Since then, Vessyl’s development has been delayed multiple times. I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for the company’s engineering team, but Vessyl’s marketing team is on top of their customer communication game:

Vessyl sends monthly emails to update pre-order customers on product development progress, ask for feedback, provide engineering updates, point people towards meaningful or important updates on their blog, as well as to provide regular timeline updates – or in this case, a quick note about a potential timeline update. This keeps pre-order customers engaged, and helps avoid the dreaded “I gave them my money then they disappeared” online shopping scenario. 

While delays are disappointing for customers that have pre-ordered, Vessyl’s constant updates help users feel they’re in-the-loop and truly involved in the product development process – not to mention keep Vessyl front of mind for early adopters who may be important product evangelists later on in the company’s lifecycle.

 

Capitol Hill Block Party:

A once-yearly event in Seattle, WA, Capitol Hill Block Party is a 3-night long music festival held every July that features local and up-and-coming artists. While tickets don’t go on presale until spring, the organization takes advantage of their email list of local music lovers to promote upcoming shows at some of the venues the Block Party will occupy come next July:

 

This is a great email marketing campaign tactic for seasonal businesses because it helps to maintain customer engagement and brand awareness even when it’s not buying season.

 

Keystone Technologies 

Keystone Technologies provides technology solutions and IT infrastructure services to senior living communities and organizations seeking to improve resident care and quality of life as well as impact important business metrics. We created this email campaign to follow up with contacts who requested more information about Keystone and its solutions:

Contacts who fill out the “request more information” form are required to specify what they’d like to learn more about. Depending on what they select, they are shown specific blog post links relevant to their topic of choice. This keeps the follow-up message highly relevant, personalized each recipient and their unique interests, and increases engagement with the email itself.

 

Hillary Clinton Campaign for America

The inclusion of this email is not a political endorsement for any one candidate – what it is an endorsement for is the combination of several different tactics to create a highly effective marketing email. This message was sent during the first Democratic presidential debate in 2015:

 

It gets a couple things very right. First, it’s short and to-the-point, as well as contains a clear call-to-action. Second, the subject line is highly actionable – and because of when it was sent, highly newsworthy, as well. Third, the email sender name is very recognizable, and the tone of the message makes the text feel like it was personally written by the former president. As a freestanding message, this email accomplishes the task of garnering opens, clicks, and ultimately donations very well.

 

Zipcar

Daylight savings time: the day when your sleep schedule gets just a little screwy, you rotate your mattresses (this may just be me), and you inevitably end up very late or very early for one thing or another. Zipcar agrees – which is why they sent members this reminder to “spring forward” and change their clocks:

 

While it was simply a nice reminder, Zipcar took this email a step further by managing to include a reference specifically targeted to their persona (young urbanites – aka the “brunch set”) as well as to their car-sharing service with the line “Then get some rest so you won’t be late to brunch in the morning (or your Zipcar reservation.” The end result is an email campaign that was not only helpful for recipients, but was helpful for Zipcar, as well.

 

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C organization, crafting effective email campaigns is essential for maintaining and growing relationships with your contacts. What techniques have you used in creating effective emails? Let us know by tweeting us at @smartbugmedia.

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Rachel Moore

About the author

Rachel Moore was formerly a Senior Consultant and Team Leader at SmartBug Media. A HubSpot alumna, Rachel uses her 7+ years of experience as a marketer and neuroscientist to help clients develop innovative strategies to achieve and exceed their business goals. Read more articles by Rachel Moore.

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