16 Awesome Email Marketing Campaigns & How to Run Your Own

Consumers love connecting with brands via email, and it’s a channel that continues to provide ROI. In fact, for every $1 spent on email marketing, marketers receive an average of $42 in return (HubSpot State of Marketing 2020). 

Not only is email not dead, but 78% of marketers have seen an increase in engagement on this channel over the course of the last year. As we strive to connect with our prospects and customers and provide them with value, our email marketing campaigns must resonate.

Inbound marketing is an ongoing process as marketers meet buyers in whatever stage of the journey they’re in. Keep in mind that not everyone is ready to buy from you at this exact moment

That’s why email is such an important channel. 

Through email, you’re able to stay top-of-mind by providing communication to their personal inbox, and you can do it at scale with marketing automation software.

1. Identify your goal for the campaign.

Figure out the outcome that you want:

  • Is it to clean up your list?
  • Promote a new product?
  • Follow-up from an abandoned cart event?
  • Stay top of mind with your audience?

Different email campaigns will have different outcomes, requiring different tactics to get there. Once you determine the purpose of your campaign, you can then create the targets you want to hit. Include specific metrics in your goal so that you can determine if your campaign was a success based on quantitative data.

2. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer persona.

After you’ve identified the outcome and the goals you want to hit, you now need to strategize how to get your buyer persona from A to B. Some things to ask yourself might include:

  • How did they subscribe in the first place?
  • What matters to them?
  • How can this campaign provide value?

3. Build a targeted list and define enrollment criteria.

You know who you’re targeting and what you want them to do. From there, you must build the segment. Thinking about your buyer persona, what properties do they all have in common? How does your CRM describe those properties?

Your software is smart, but it’s not smart enough to automatically know which recipients you’re sending to. Will the recipients receive the emails at the same time, or is there certain criteria they have to meet before they are enrolled in the sequence or campaign?

4. Determine the timeline you want the campaign to run.

You may be running a seasonal campaign that only requires one or two emails, or you might be building a long-term top-of-mind nurturing campaign. Tailor the length of your email sequence to the length of the buying cycle and stage the persona is at in the buyer’s journey. In other words, deliver the right message at the right time.

5. Plan your emails and follow-ups.

Over the course of the campaigns timeline, you may want multiple touch points. You may also even consider follow-ups based on the actions that each recipient takes. Plan these emails out, outlining the core message and take-away for each email.

6. Write click-worthy subject lines.

The subject line is the gate keeper of the rest of your email. Your buyer persona will not be exposed to your content unless they first click the subject line. With that in mind, use this precious real estate for copy that compels them to read further. You can do that by:

  • Piquing their interest
  • Promising value
  • Opening a loop (that will be closed in the body of the email)
  • Using your unique voice to start the conversation
  • Use personalization

7. Create your brand assets.

Intentional and well-placed imagery can increase click-through rates, so put thought into not just what you want to say but how you want to say it, using visuals to support your message.

8. Include clear calls to action.

Don’t confuse your email contacts by providing too many options. For each email you send, there should be a single action that you want the reader to take. Then, in clear, direct language, instruct them to take that action and set expectations for what will happen when they do.

9. Always provide a way for them to opt out.

People who don’t want to read your emails don’t belong on your list. Keeping them only skews your bounce rate down and increases the number of people marketing your emails as spam. Besides, according to CAN-SPAM guidelines, you should always provide a way for them to opt-out of email if they no longer want to receive communications from you. Typically, this opt-out link lives in the footer of each email you send.

10. Monitor your metrics.

As the campaign runs, take notes. Are your open rates and click rates what you expected? What went well vs. not well? Are you on track to hitting your goals with the campaign?

The more you pay attention to the data, the more you can understand what’s working and what’s not for your audience, leading to more effective campaigns in the future.

16 of the Best Email Marketing Campaign Examples

If you’re reading this, you probably have an email address (or two, or three …). In fact, you’ve probably been sending and receiving emails for years, and you’ve definitely received some questionable deliveries in your inbox.

Whether they were unexpected, uninformative, or had a subject line tHaT wAs fOrmAtTeD liKe tHiS, we bet you didn’t hesitate to direct them towards the trash, right?

While email has managed to stand the test of time, many marketers have failed to update their strategies since its inception. So to ensure you’re sending modern emails that warrant some of your recipients’ precious time and attention, we’ve compiled a list of effective email examples to inspire your next campaign. 

1. PayPal

There are a couple things we love about this email example from PayPal. Not only is the opening copy clever and concise, but the entire concept also reflects a relatable benefit of using the service. Think about it: How many times have you been in a situation where you went out to dinner with friends and then fussed over the bill when it came time to pay? By tapping into this common pain point, PayPal is able to pique the interest of its audience. 

paypal email that reads "good food. good friends. good way to split the bill" and a call to action below that reads "learn about sending & receiving money"

2. ModCloth 

Great companies are always evolving, and your customers expect to experience change. What they don’t expect (because too many companies haven’t lived up to this end of the bargain) is to be told about those changes. That said, this email from ModCloth serves as a refreshing change of pace. If you’re going to change the way you communicate with a lead or customer, give them clear, fair warning so, if they aren’t on board, they can make the necessary adjustments to keep their inbox clean.

modcloth email that reads "we're making changes to our email program" with the option to change email preferences and promotional material underneath

3. Tory Burch

Did you see that? Did you see it move? Pretty cool, right? This small bit of animation helps to separate this email from Tory Burch from all of the immobile emails in their recipient’s inboxes. They also leverage exclusivity by framing the promotion as a “private” sale. Often times, this type of positioning makes the recipient feel like they’re specially chosen, which encourages them to take advantage of the special opportunity they’ve been presented with. 

tory burch email with animation with curtains that pull back to reveal text: "tory burch online only private sale up to 70% off"

Inspired by these examples? Check out HubSpot’s free email marketing tool and start creating your own campaigns.

4. Zipcar

This example sample comes courtesy of my coworker who started signing up for Zipcar, got busy, and had to abandon the form. As a result, the email calls her back to the website with some lighthearted copy that nudges her in the right direction, and also reminds her of the value of using Zipcar — being economical and helping the planet.

If your site visitors are abandoning shopping carts or landing pages, use your email marketing in this way to remind them they have some unfinished business on your website!

zipcar abandonment email that reads "your wheels are waiting. yoo hoo. just another friendly nudge to say that zipsterhood is right around the corner." Below, there's a link to finish the application.

5. RunKeeper

RunKeeper makes an effort to reengage lost users with this friendly, informational email. By highlighting their app’s most recent changes and benefits, the copy works to entice recipients to give the app another chance. Small inclusions like the “Hi friend” greeting and the “You rock” closing makes the content feel welcoming and less aggressive. 

runkeeper elite email that reads "hi friend, runkeeper elite is looking pretty fresh these days and we'd love for you to give it another try" with details on what has changed and a call to action to "renew elite"

6. Litmus

Here’s another great example from Litmus of animation being used to create more interesting email marketing design. Unlike static text, the swipe motion used to provide recipients with a look “under the hood” of their email tool is eye-catching and encourages you to take a deeper dive into the rest of the content. Not to mention the header does an excellent job of explicitly stating what this email is about.

litmus email with animation that reveals code behind an image underneath a headline that reads "share emails and inspect code - ever wished for an easier way to share emails? Tried in vain to see how that responsive design works under the hood? now you can"

7. Loft

This email from Loft aims to demonstrate their understanding of your crazy, mixed-value inbox. In an effort to provide you with emails that you actually want to open, Loft asks that their recipients update their preferences to help them deliver a more personalized experience. This customer-focused email is super effective in making the recipient feel like their likes, dislikes, and opinions actually matter. 

loft email example that reads "happy inbox, happy life - we want to send you the style news that you can actually use. all you need to do is manage your preferences." in an attractive vertical layout

8. UncommonGoods 

You’ve heard it a million times (and a few thousand of those times may have been from us): You should create a sense of urgency with your calls-to-action. That’s what makes a lead take action, right? Well, this email from UncommonGoods succeeds in creating a sense of urgency by focusing on the value of acting now. 

Instead of saying, “Order your Mother’s Day gift NOW before Preferred Shipping ends!”, this email asks, “Don’t you think Mom would’ve liked a faster delivery?” Why yes, she would. Thank you for reminding me before it’s too late — I don’t want to be in the dog house because my gift arrived after Mother’s Day.

uncommon goods email that reads "don't you think mom would've liked a faster delivery?" along with shipping promotion that reads "send gifts home in time for mother's day"

9. JetBlue

Confession: We have a serious email marketing crush on JetBlue. And they continue to deliver their lovable marketing in this cheeky email campaign that aims to humorously reengage customers. Every element from the header, to the three witty points, to the actionable, contrasting CTA work together to create a lovable campaign that’s promotional without being pushy. 

JetBlue email that reads "it's our one year anniversary. we've been emailing for 365 days now" below, it reads "it's OK you didn't remember this one-year mile(high)stone" and "a traditional first anniversary gift is paper - hello plane ticket! but since you did forget it was our anniversary, this trip's on you"

10. Bonobos

It’s simple: If you want people to engage with your emails, give them a reason to do so. This clean, minimalistic, and easy-to-click email campaign from Bonobos creates an interactive experience that encourages the recipient to take action.

The structure of this email aims to cater to those who don’t have time to waste scrolling through pages of shorts that may or may not be in stock in their size. By providing a direct pathway to what they’re looking for, Bonobos creates a seamless online shopping experience.

bonobos email with a large image of a man in an adirondack chair above a headline that reads "select your size and get 25% off all shorts"

11. Amazon Local

This email from Amazon Local is short and sweet, with just one CTA: click through this email to tell Amazon what you like and dislike. That way, the deals they send you going forward can be more in line with what you’re likely to actually want. What’s wonderful about this experience is not just that they asked, but also how consistent the experience is from email to landing page. Take a look at the email below, and the landing page that follows.

amazon local email marketing that reads "you're one click away from personalized deals - improve your amazonlocal experience by telling us what you like and dislike."

 
Notice how the language in the email above, “like” and “dislike,” mirrors the language in the buttons below? This is a simple way to get feedback from your email recipients to provide more personalized offers in their inbox, thus increasing the chance of a high clickthrough and offer redemption rate.
 
amazon local deal preferences that reads "what kinds of deals do you like" along with a list of options that you can rate like, neutral, or dislike

12. Focus Pointe Global

Focus Pointe Global provides focus groups so regular businesses can get some meaty market research. While research is known for being a little complicated, this email is impressively simple. All of the information you need to know to determine whether you want to participate is called out in bold, and extremely short explanatory copy follows it.

What is the survey about? What do I get for taking it? How long will it take? Where can I begin? You can figure this all out pretty immediately. All emails should aim to provide such clear instruction.

focus pointe copywriting and cta email that includes section for topic, incentive, length, and spots available along with a cta email that reads "start survey"

13. Harpoon Brewery

My friends at Harpoon are so thoughtful, aren’t they? This simple, timely email really does feel like it’s coming from a friend, which is why it’s so effective. In an age of email automation, it’s easy for email campaigns to feel a little robotic. And while I’m certain that this email was, in fact, automated, it feels really human.

If you’re looking to strengthen the relationship you have with your existing customers, consider taking the time to set up a quick email like this to let them know you’re thinking of them. 

harpoon brewery email with a photo of the staff that reads "happy birthday carly from your friends at harpoon"

14. Bonafide

HubSpot customer Bonafide uses this email in one of its lead nurturing email series, and it’s a great example of a principle so many email marketers forget. Your inbox recipients don’t always remember who you are! 

Take a look at the callout in orange — the first paragraph of this email tells the reader why they are being contacted. With the amount of inbox overload we all suffer, reminders of this nature are critical to preventing deletions and unsubscribes. 

bonafide email that reads "you downloaded our step-by-step guide to internet marketing a while back and I wanted to follow up with you and see if you had any luck implementing any of the strategies contained in the eBook"

15. Rip Curl

“JOIN THE REVOLUTION.”

That’s quite powerful, wouldn’t you agree? Rip Curl, an Australian surfing sportswear retailer, combines urgency and our psychological need to be part of something to create an email headline that jumps off the page. This positioning is designed to lead people to believe that there’s a “revolution” taking place and it’s their turn to get in on the action. At the end of the day, people want to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves, and this email aims to motivate them to do so by purchasing this sleek watch.

ripcurl email that reads "join the revolution - searchgps watch exclusive subscriber release" underneath a banner of a watch under water

16. J.Crew Factory

For many of us, when it comes to wrapping gifts, the struggle is real. J.Crew Factory recognized this problem, and then created this email to serve as a solution for those incapable of pulling off a Pinterest-esque wrap job: gift cards. The email offers up two different says to pick up a gift card — in store or online — in an effort to avoid excluding anyone. 

They’ve also included a map of the nearest store location at the end of the email to lower the purchasing barrier even further. 

j.crew factory email that reads 'if your wrapping looks like this, you may want to get them a gift card' with an image of a bad wrapping job barely concealing what's obviously a backpack

Clearly, marketing campaigns come in all shapes and sizes. Cultivate a healthy list, write great subject lines, deliver valuable content to your recipients’ inboxes, and you’re on your way to hitting your email marketing goals.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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