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July 8, 2022

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11 MIN.

How to Run a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing is one of the best online marketing channels at the disposal of marketers. Whether you want to increase awareness or drive sales, turn to email!



How to Run a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing is one of the best online marketing channels at the disposal of marketers and business owners. Whether you want to increase brand awareness or drive sales, email is the way to go. 

The question now becomes: How can I create and send emails that engage my audience and drive sales?

To answer that, we have created this in-depth guide on how to get started with email marketing campaigns. But before we do that, let's look at why email marketing is important. 

4 reasons why email marketing is important

Why should you bother adding email marketing to your list of marketing channels? Here are some solid reasons: 

Email is cost-effective

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective online channels for businesses to reach their target audience, engage with customers, and promote their products. Compared to traditional marketing channels like billboards, print ads, or TV media, emails are less expensive. Emails can also be as inexpensive as you need them to be. As your business scales and the number of subscribers grows, you can increase your email spend. Depending on the email marketing service you choose, you can spend anywhere between $0 to $1000 per month.  

Email delivers high ROI

According to the Direct Marketing Association, for every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. If we compare email marketing to a popular online marketing channel like PPC, we see why email marketing is great, especially for small businesses on a tight budget. For every $1 spent on PPC ads, there is an average return of $2. This means that email marketing offers 21x more ROI than paid advertising. 

Email allows you to reach more customers

More than half of the global population uses emails. Figures from Statista show that there are over 4 billion email users and this number is projected to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025. This means that your target customer is most likely using email. So email marketing offers you a cost-effective way to reach more customers with ease. With email, you can easily spread the word about your brand, products, and services to customers. 

Email makes it easy to send personalized messages

Customers are bombarded daily with advertising messages. To stand out and make your brand easily recognizable by customers, you need to show them that you understand their pain points. This is where email and personalization come into play. Email allows you to craft personalized messages and experiences that are unique to each customer. Some stats to show the importance of personalization:

  • 80% of customers are more likely to purchase products or services from brands that provide personalized experiences
  • 91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers specific and relevant to them.
  • Offering email subscribers targeted and relevant content can increase revenue by up to 760%. 

How to get started with email marketing

Email marketing is very easy to start. All you need is the right email marketing software and marketing strategies. So in this section, we would see the steps you need to take to start an email marketing campaign. 

1. Define the objectives of your campaign

Before you start an email campaign, you need to have defined objectives. Your objectives answer the question: “What do you want to achieve with this email marketing campaign?” It also helps you decide the type of email you will send and the actions you want your audience to take when they open the email. 

Your objectives should be aligned with your business goals. Here are some key objectives you can set for your email campaigns:

#Objective 1: Sales

The ultimate goal of every business is to increase product (or service) sales and drive revenue. Whether you are an eCommerce business, SaaS company, or Brick and Mortar store, you need sales for your business to grow. Email offers a quick and cost-effective way to promote your market offerings. 

Email is also very effective for driving sales. A McKinsey study showed that email is 40 times more effective for driving sales than platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

Here is an example of a sales email from Motorolla. In this sales email, Motorolla offers customers up to $250 off on a spring sale.

example of a sales email from Motorolla

#Objective 2: Lead generation and nurturing

Email marketing is a powerful tool for generating and nurturing leads. With the right strategies, you can build an impressive list of prospects who will become loyal customers and ambassadors of your brand. 

When sending emails, you shouldn't just sell to prospects, you must also give them reasons to keep coming back. That means nurturing new leads and even old customers. 

Lead nurturing emails allow you to influence customer decision-making and also sell the idea that it's best to buy from your brand. Without nurturing, subscribers might decide to purchase elsewhere or not shop at all.

Here is an example of a lead nurturing email from Postable. Postable sends a lead nurturing welcome email to new subscribers. The brand offers subscribers a 20% discount on their first order. This serves as an incentive for new leads who are still on the fence. 

Lead generation and nurturing

#Objective 3: Customer retention and loyalty

Studies show that it is five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer. Also, increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits from 25-95%

With the right type of emails, you can provide a better customer experience which can help you reduce churn and get people to keep coming back to your brand. 

#Objective 4: Generate website traffic

Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to increase website traffic. In fact, you’re 6x more likely to get traffic from emails than from tweets. You can generate traffic from emails by sharing snippets of articles in the email body and then encouraging subscribers to read the full versions on your website. Or use calls-to-action in promotional emails to direct subscribers to sales and landing pages. 

Here is an example of a promotional email from Kampgrounds of America. The call-to-action “Explore Now” directs users to their website. 

Customer retention and loyalty

#Objective 5: Understanding your audience

The better you know your audience, the more effective your marketing messages will be. Email marketing offers an easy way to get detailed information on your audience. You can do this by sending feedback or survey emails.

In the example below, Cometeer's CEO sends a survey to subscribers in order to get feedback on the customer experience with his brand. 

Understanding your audience

2. Build a targeted email list

An engaged email list is one of a business's best assets. This is because your email list belongs to you and you have complete control over it. You don’t have to worry about algorithm changes – whether from search engines or social media that can affect your brand reach. 

But it's one thing to have an email list, and another thing to have a targeted email list. 

What do I mean?

Regardless of your industry or niche, your business will have several types of customers, each with unique characteristics and pain points. To ensure that your email campaigns have maximum conversions, you have to send them to the right people. This will be done by categorizing your subscribers into targeted list segments based on factors like location, gender, age, preferences, and interests. 

In this example, Costa sends a targeted email to customers who have bought their coffee at Holborn station.

Build a targeted email list

The brand effectively uses a discount for customers around that location to drive coffee sales. 

There are several ways you can build your email lists:

Use embedded signup forms: Embedding sign-up forms in high-traffic areas on your website such as headers, footers, splash pages, and sidebars is a great way to get new subscribers. 

Embedding sign-up forms

Use pop-ups and overlays: The average conversion rate of pop-ups is 3.9%, with the top-performing pop-ups converting at almost 10%. These stats show how effective pop-ups are at converting website visitors into subscribers. 

Examples of effective pop-ups are welcome and exit-intent pop-ups. 

Here is an example of a welcome pop-up from Bonobos. This popup greets visitors to the website within the first 15 seconds of them visiting the landing page. 

example of a welcome pop-up from Bonobos

For an effective welcome pop-up, include a strong call-to-action, offer discounts, and tell the visitor more about your unique selling proposition. 

Your goal with the pop-up is to offer visitors value in exchange for their email addresses. 

Here is an example of an exit-intent pop-up from Ryan Robinson. Ryan uses the headline “Hold on!” to capture the attention of visitors before they leave his website. 

example of an exit-intent pop-up from Ryan Robinson

Exit-intent pop-ups are also very effective. According to Conversion Sciences, brands can save 10-15% of potentially lost visitors with an exit intent pop-up. The premise of an exit intent pop-up is that it offers visitors that are about to leave your website a reason to remain on the site or submit their email details. 

Use social media: Some ways you can use social media to grow your email list

  • Share links to your landing and opt-in pages on social media. 
  • Use social media to promote your newsletter. Feature an excerpt of the newsletter content and include a CTA at the end directing people to subscribe to learn more. 
Use social media

  • Use social media ads to promote your email list. For example, Facebook lead form ads are a great way to get users to subscribe to your email list.
  • Include a link to sign up for your email list in your bio
  • Run a social media contest. And as part of the requirement to join the contest, ask participants to offer their email details. 

Use sign-up sheets: Brick-and-mortar stores can also build an email list even without a website. During the checkout process, you can ask shoppers to write down their email details on a sign-up sheet. But make sure that the shoppers know they will receive emails from you so they don’t report you as spam.  

3. Select your email campaign type

Depending on your business objectives and target audience, there are different email types you can send. Here are some of the most popular email campaign types you should know:

Welcome email campaign

When someone signs up for your email list after visiting your website or store, they have given you permission to communicate with them. And the best way to acknowledge this is by sending an automated welcome email immediately after they sign up. It's also important to note that 74% of subscribers expect to receive a welcome email after they sign up. 

Welcome emails allow you to set subscriber expectations. In a welcome email, you will detail what types of emails you will send and how often you will send them. Setting expectations will let the subscribers get excited for what is to come and also prevent them from getting surprised by your content in the future – which is usually where most spam complaints come from. 

Here are some things you can include in your welcome email:

  • A greeting: Welcome subscribers by saying ‘Hello!’. Also, appreciate them for signing up to your email list.
  • An introduction: Tell the subscriber more about your brand, your value propositions, marketing resources, and your best offers. For example, you can share an interesting blog article that new subscribers will find interesting.
  • A gift: Including gifts and discount offers is a great way to start a new relationship with subscribers. 
  • Next steps: Don’t leave anything to chance. Direct your subscribers on the next action to take after reading the email. This can be as simple as asking them to decide on their email preferences/frequency or asking them to follow you on social media. 

Here is an example of a great welcome email from Food52. 

example of a great welcome email from Food52

Lead nurturing drip campaigns

Your email list will not be profitable if you are not regularly nurturing the leads in your list. To convert leads to prospects, you need to continually nudge them towards making a purchase decision. This is where lead nurturing drip campaigns become useful. 

With an effective automated drip campaign, you can take subscribers through all the stages of the buyer's journey until they become paying customers. Overall, the goal of lead nurturing is to build a relationship with subscribers while guiding them towards making a purchase. 

A lead nurturing email sequence is automatically triggered when a lead takes a particular action. For instance, once a customer adds an item to a shopping cart, the lead nurturing email sequence might include a limited-time offer, a list of related items, a purchase reminder, or a discount code.   

Here is an example from Thrive:

example from Thrive

In Thrive’s email, they highlight their products and nudge users to start shopping by offering 25% off. 

Not all lead nurturing emails have to be promotional. It can also be educational. By teaching your subscribers a helpful skill or imparting knowledge, you provide more value. And when they are ready to make a purchase, your brand will be the first to come to mind. Here is an example from Framebridge:

 example from Framebridge


Newsletters are one of the most popular types of email campaigns and are usually non-promotional. Brands use newsletters to share industry news, company news, tips, product updates, employee or customer spotlights, special offers,  FAQs, resource roundups, etc. 

You can send newsletters on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. And they are effective for building a long-term relationship with subscribers.  

Here is an example of a newsletter from Humbleteam highlighting all the company achieved in 2021.

Promotional emails

Promotional emails are used to promote your product, service, or brand in general. These campaigns are usually short and let subscribers know about the products you offer and the benefits they will gain from making a purchase. 

Promotional emails are very visual. You need quality visuals of your product to grab the reader's attention. You also need to use a solid email copy and strong CTA to encourage them to make the purchase. You can use testimonials, reviews, and discounts to increase conversions. 

Compared to other emails that usually have lower stakes, your subject line plays a crucial role in the success of your promotional email campaign. First, your subject line should stand out from the hundreds of similar emails in customers' inboxes. Second, it should be persuasive enough to make them want to open the email. For instance, you can use a subject line like.  “[WEEKEND ONLY] Get this NOW before it’s gone…”

Here is an example of a great promotional email from Baboon. Not only do they show amazing visuals of the product, but they also offer customers mouth-watering value; ‘Shop Now, Pay Later’. 

example of a great promotional email from Baboon

Re-engagement emails

These emails are sent to subscribers who are inactive to get them to start engaging with your brand once again. 

There are a lot of reasons why people might stop engaging. 

  • You send too many emails and subscribers are getting irritated. 
  • Your emails aren’t relevant to what the subscriber is interested in.
  • Your subscribers are interested in what you share, but they got busy and forgot about your emails.

You can send re-engagement emails to get the subscriber interested in what you have to offer again. In your re-engagement emails, you will reinforce the value your brand offers. 

Example of a re-engagement email from Airbnb.

Example of a re-engagement email from Airbnb

Here are some strategies you can use in your re-engagement emails: 

Offer incentives where applicable. Example from GoDaddy. 

Example from GoDaddy

Highlight new benefits and features of your product. 

Highlight new benefits and features of your product

Use FOMO. Show the subscriber what they are missing out on.

Show the subscriber what they are missing out on

And finally, use emotion in the re-engagement emails to connect with the subscriber. 

use emotion in the re-engagement emails to connect with the subscriber

The five examples I have mentioned above are the main types of email campaigns you can send. Here are other types of campaigns you can send based on your business objective:

  • Cart abandonment campaigns: These are emails sent to customers after they put items in their cart, but leave without making a purchase. 
  • Holiday email campaigns: These types of emails are sent during the holiday season. Brands usually give a lot of discounts and special offers during this season. 
  • Invitation emails: Used to invite subscribers to events, webinars, parties, etc. 
  • Seasonal campaigns: These emails are sent during specific times in the year. For example, sharing gift ideas to subscribers during Valentines. 
  • Testimonial request emails: These emails are used to collect feedback, reviews, and testimonials from subscribers. 

4. Send emails at the right time

To see maximum engagement and conversions, you want to send your emails when your audience is most likely to see them. You don’t want to send out an email campaign when your subscribers are sleeping. Your email will get lost under a huge pile of emails the next morning. 

The most effective way to find out the best time to send out emails is to look at your data. First, look at the location of most of your audience. You should put into account your audience's time zone before scheduling the email. Another thing to look at is the specific days and hours when your audience is most active. 

If you are just getting started with email marketing and have little data, a report from CoSchedule shows that the best days to share emails are Tuesday, Thursday, and Wednesday. And the best times to send an email are Tuesday at 10 am, Thursday at 8 pm, and Wednesday at 2 pm.

Best practices for creating a successful email marketing campaign

Here are some important things to keep in mind when creating email marketing campaigns:

Write personalized and thematic subject lines

Your email subject lines should have some degree of personalization. For example, you can mention the subscriber's name in the subject line to grab their attention. 

What do I mean by thematic subject lines? 

This is using subject lines relating to a particular topic. For instance, if it is a Christmas weekend, you can use subject lines that talk about Christmas. You can reference things that people do on Christmas, like gift-giving. So your subject line can be “Need gifts for loved ones? 30% off on next purchase”

Avoid using a no-reply email address

To build a solid relationship with subscribers, opt for a valid email address that users can actually respond to. An email from a personalized email address encourages feedback and engagement from subscribers.

As your company grows, you can set up your inbox to filter auto-forward subscriber responses to customer care representatives. No-reply emails are only suitable for transactional emails like buying or shipping confirmations. 

Write conversationally

While it is important to sound professional in emails, you mustn’t sound impersonal or cold. You also don't want to use business jargon that would confuse and alienate your readers. Avoid complex languages and leave out acronyms. It is best to craft emails with the voice of a friend or a trusted adviser. 

Make your email skimmable

Your subscribers might get discouraged if they open your email and see huge blocks of texts. Instead, structure your emails in a way that subscribers can quickly get the gist of the email by just skimming. Here are some ways you make your email content more skimmable:

  • Keep your email paragraphs short
  • Add in relevant graphics to break up texts and attract the reader's attention
  • Use bullet points and lists
  • If the email is very long, throw in headers
  • Put your email central messages in bold texts
  • Leave some white space to make your text flow easily.

Have a compelling CTA

Your call-to-actions (CTAs) are an integral part of your email. It explicitly tells the reader what to do after reading your email. Your CTA should be short and must stand out from the rest of your email. The reader should be able to spot it with a glance. 

Instead, a lawn care company uses straight-forward CTAs in its promotional email to urge subscribers to buy fertilizers from its website. 

They also used a compelling subject line: Lawn Season is HERE!

Have a compelling CTA

Customize your emails for mobile screens

A lot of people use their mobile devices to check emails. So you must optimize your emails for mobile readability. If your subscribers have a poor user experience while reading your emails, you will have a high bounce rate. 

Some tips to help you optimize email campaigns for mobile: 

  • Use live text instead of text embedded in graphics because voice assistants can read live texts. This will make your text available to disabled people.
  • Rethink your subject lines. Subject lines on mobile devices only show 20-30 characters. 
  • Used optimized images. If you use heavy images, your email will take time to load especially when the subscriber is in a place with spotty internet.
  • Use alt text in case images don't load
  • Font size matters. Avoid using fonts that are difficult to read. Research fonts that are readable no matter the mobile device. For example, Times New Roman Arial, and Calibre are fonts that work well. 

Regularly A/B test your emails

To see success with your email marketing campaigns, you need to run regular A/B tests. By testing different versions of your emails, you will find out which ones have the best performance. This will allow you to learn more about your audience – the content they like to see and how they engage with your email. All this data will be used to improve your future campaigns. 

Here are some key metrics you should pay attention to when A/B testing:

  • Open rate:  This is the percentage of people that opens a specific email. Your open rate offers insight into the effectiveness of your subject lines.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): This is the percentage of people that click on the links in your email. A low CTR could mean that you are not sending relevant offers to your subscribers. You can boost CTR by segmenting your email lists and using a clear CTA.
  • Bounce rate: This is the percentage of addresses in your email list that do not get your emails. Tracking this metric will help you monitor the health of your email lists. You can reduce bounce rate by requiring a double opt-in from subscribers. 

Here is an example of a double opt-in confirmation email from Beneath Your Mask.

example of a double opt-in confirmation email from Beneath Your Mask

After the subscriber confirms their email, they are sent the welcome email. 

the welcome email
  • Conversion rate: This is the percentage of subscribers that completed the desired action in your email. For instance, making a purchase or registering for an event. This metric helps you determine if you are achieving your campaign objectives. 
  • Spam complaints: This metric looks at the percentage of people that have reported your email as spam. Sending emails to people who haven’t given you permission, making your unsubscribe link hard to find, or sending out generic email blasts can cause you to end up in the spam folder.
  • Number of unsubscribes: This shows the percentage of subscribers that have opted out from receiving your emails. A high number of unsubscribes could mean that your audience does not find your email messages relevant to them. 

Monitoring these metrics will show you a solid picture of the performance of your email marketing campaigns. 

Wrapping up

Email marketing is an effective way to build relationships with customers, promote your product or services, and drive sales. If you are not making the most of email as a marketing channel, you are missing out on opportunities to help grow your business. 

The tips and best practices in this article will help you start creating successful email campaigns in no time. 

the writer


Copywriter @Iconosquare

Hi! I'm Marvellous, huge fan of Iconosquare as a product, and determined to help experienced social media marketers thrive in the various aspects of their career.


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