What exactly does it take to create emails that will get readers to respond the way you want them to?
This is a straightforward question that is asked by virtually every email marketer and business owner on the planet (well, not all business owners, unfortunately).
If only the answer were so straightforward.
If you’re fairly new to email marketing, there’s no need to be scared. While the answer(s) may not be so simple, it is definitely not confusing, and it is certainly far from difficult, especially with the wide array of email marketing services available these days that make email marketing as easy as making a simple sandwich.
But while email marketing in itself can be convenient to pull off, generating results with it would need a little more concentration than is required to make a sandwich.
Generally, there are several email marketing practices you must put in place if you want your email marketing campaign to have any chance at being effective.
But how about actually putting these strategies into practice and seeing them generate results? How about seeing these strategies in action?
This intelligent curiosity is the exact reason I decided to compile a list of terrific and high-converting email marketing examples that generated results for their businesses.
These email marketing campaigns made use of the best email marketing practices in clever ways to derive conversions and motivate audiences. And if you add an email marketing CRM into the mix, you will be sure to get even better results1
Obviously, that’s what you’re trying to do. To help you achieve your goal easier, I’m going to analyze these examples and explain how they implemented the best email marketing practices to drive results.
This way, you don’t miss out on the effective email marketing strategies you must know for your business (in case you were never aware of them in the first place) and you get to observe how they can be applied practically.
So get your pens ready, and pick what you can (and what you must) from these 11 high-converting email marketing examples:
Starbucks’ email campaign to reward its customers is a great one to start from. Not only does it use the important elements that any high-converting email must have very efficiently, it also boosts customer loyalty, which is a must-have asset for any business.
The content of the email invites customers to partake in a draw with enticing prizes including a chance to win a Starbucks product for life. Hard to resist, don’t you think?
The major plus of this campaign is that it engages customers with a brilliant rewards program with a form of gamification. What’s more, it’s free. So any customer can participate. It’ll be very safe to assume that the campaign generated a lot more loyal customers for Starbucks.
So what best practices can we pick from the email:
The email’s subject line is pretty appealing and is sure to stand out in an inbox. Few people can see “You can win Starbucks for Life” and proceed not to open it. It sends an immediate message to the brain that the email contains something very valuable you shouldn’t miss. Who wouldn’t want to win Starbucks for life? I should note that Starbucks capitalizes on the power of its brand name to make this subject line effective.
The copy is engaging and very clear in its intent, all the things a good email copy must be. The first paragraph introducing the previous winners of Starbucks for Life employs a witty narrative that immediately catches the reader. The rest of the content clearly describes what will happen if readers interact with the email and also provides proof to seed the reader’s interest.
As an email marketer and business owner, engaging and effective content should be a priority. If you think that is not your specialty, then best employ a freelance professional to do your writing or use the help of a content writing tool.
The inclusion of testimonials from past winners of the draw is a very smart incentive. By reading those testimonials, customers will feel their chances of winning in the program go higher. It all becomes much more believable and real because they’ve seen proof from people like them. The encouraging stories from the previous winners will drive emotional responses and also increase the necessity to participate in the program.
The CTA stands out against the background of the email’s design. It’s immediately noticeable and pretty inviting to click. The copy on it is rather efficient too. “Join Now” is a clear instruction. It also has a subtle sense of urgency to it.
The email campaign is a recipe recommendation the New York Times sends weekly to people who subscribed to its New York Times Cooking newsletter.
This particular email was sent just days to the Atlanta Super Bowl and it graciously made use of this fact. By having a content theme around the Super Bowl, the email was able to add an extra level of relevance and excitement to its message.
High-converting tactics we can pick:
The main weapon of this email is its copy. It is so refreshing and exciting to read. With witty references and a casual, conversational tone coupled with a reassuring expert voice that obviously knows what it’s talking about, the copywriter makes sure the email is a must-read from the beginning to the last word.
The most particular reference is that of the Super Bowl in the first paragraph where the writer makes a play of words that talks about the event but also highlights different recipes and ingredients.
He does this through the rest of the email, adding clear instructions and valuable suggestions. Even as a non-subscriber, I’m sort of excited just reading the email, and I’m even tempted to get a subscription myself! Of course I’m interested in trying out some of those delicious suggestions! As I’m sure a lot of subscribers were.
The next best thing about the email is how links are embedded in the relevant keywords so readers can simply click and try out the recipes or meals. Apart from being a very engaging email, it’s also very actionable. Just looking at the red CTA words highlighted in the copy is inviting enough. Of course, the links lead to actual recipes or landing pages that have more information about the highlighted words, all in the New York Times’ inventory.
I have to say this style of email is particularly useful for advertising several products, services, or information at once.
Myprotein’s email was built to build its customers’ interest in a product and drive more sales for that product.
It was designed as a time-sensitive campaign and it’s no secret that adding a time-limit to your campaigns and offers is one of the most effective ways to drive conversions and clicks.
What to pick out:
If it wasn’t obvious already, the use of the element of urgency to trigger readers’ fear of missing out was everything about this email. The countdown format of removing 1% of the discount every 2 hours was particularly unique. That adds an even higher sense of urgency in my opinion. Customers know that the more time they waste, the lower their discounts drop. If this wouldn’t spur them into taking immediate action, I don’t know what would.
The Bump is a site that offers services to aid pregnancy and parenting. Its email campaign makes this list because it’s a brilliant example of a very vital email strategy:
The email above is a personalized message that describes that particular subscriber’s stage of pregnancy. Once users sign up to the site, they begin to receive regular, personalized emails like this example describing their pregnancy development stages and how they can deal with them. This is a powerful example of personalization.
Personalization entails that you send your subscribers content that are particularly relevant to them instead of sending generic emails. Generic emails would contain content that not all your subscribers might find useful.
Ordinarily, not having a personalization plan in mind for your email marketing campaign is a terrible idea. Because your email list would consist of diverse and different people, with different interests and mannerisms. Constructing personalized emails that are relevant to your subscribers’ interests is incredibly vital if you want any chance at gaining meaningful conversions.
For this reason, it’s important that you collect specific information from your visitors or customers through your opt-in or lead generation platform on your websites. Details like birth dates, age, and gender are info that would be useful when segmenting your lists and trying to construct more personal emails.
Other ways you could collect specific information from your customers include using online surveys, forms, platforms that track browsers’ behaviors on your website, and even your customer service.
Chatbot technology has helped to really simplify the process of improving customer feedback and relationship management. By using survey chatbots for your online survey strategy and adding live-chat software to your website, you would have fashioned a more engaging and convenient process for collecting information from your customers.
If you use an eCommerce platform, you should have or be able to integrate a tool that can track which products buyers purchased or intended to purchase. With cart abandonment software, you can track buyers who left their purchase and immediately remind them about their abandoned products.
With all these personalization tools at your disposal, it becomes a no-brainer for you to construct personalized email marketing campaigns that make your customers feel special and cared for like the email above.
When you send people exactly what they want or what they would like to see, instead of some random message or offer, you increase the chance of making them your loyal customers.
This is a follow-up email sent by Proof to leads who missed its webinar training.
What email strategies to observe:
Because this is a follow-up email, it means the email was sent to people who already signed up for the webinar. This means they would have already received an initial email to thank them for signing up and provide them with important details. In fact, usually, they would have received at least one or two more emails to remind them about the upcoming webinar.
What’s particular about this follow-up email is that segmentation was used to separate these subscribers from people who did attend the webinar.
Segmenting your list is a form of personalization and a vital part of any email marketing strategy. You can’t possibly send all your emails to everyone on your list without differentiating who actually needs to receive what and who doesn’t.
In the example above, it would have been awkward if people who attended the webinar received that same email.
The entire email is written in plain text. Plain text is proving to be a better conversion tactic than elaborately designed emails these days. Probably because consumers see the former as more genuine and personal and the latter as salesy.
Do understand that this strategy depends on the nature of your brand and products or services. If your brand or product is much visually oriented, or if you’re trying to pass across a message that needs the help of visuals, then feel free to use graphics and media intelligently. Key phrase: Intelligently.
The email certainly has chances of a high conversion rate, not just because it was targeted to interested leads, but also because it added the names of powerful brands to act as proof of the service’s quality.
This will further intensify the interest of readers. Seeing names like AirBnB, Dropbox, and words like “Silicon Valley” directly referenced is a major trigger for the email’s target audience.
This retail store sent emails to its customers inviting them to visit its brick-and-mortar location.
How this email boosts conversions:
Research has shown that many consumers, especially millennials, prefer to start the buying process online and complete it at an offline location. Based on this fact, it becomes imperative that any commercial service with a physical location implements an all-immersive and streamlined consumer experience with an omnichannel strategy.
This brand capitalizes on that by sending an email that encourages its audience to shop at its offline location. It also showcases this location with quality pictures.
The email advertises the brand’s products along with this invitation and adds CTAs to book the visit or complete some purchasing options. The result? Customers can simply order a product and fulfill the order at the offline store. Sweet and convenient.
It indicates the address and offline shopping hours, both of which are vital information, with engaging and well-outlined copy.
Adding discount strategies to improve product offerings in this type of email is a smart and effective strategy.
The most brilliant discount is the option to refer a friend and get $20 off. Getting customers to make a purchase and invite their friends is a great conversion strategy. People are more inclined to buy when a product is recommended by someone they know.
Casper sends a welcome email to every customer that signs up on its online store.
Welcome emails are a vital part of email marketing for any business. Surely, you don’t want your customers to feel neglected after they’ve expressed an interest in your brand.
A welcome email introduces your business to a new lead or customer and gives them an immediate idea of what you’re all about. A good welcome email will give readers an avenue to immediately engage with your business and purchase your products, like in Casper’s example below.
Related: You can also check out Flodesk’s welcome email templates if you want some great examples on how to do this well.
What’s great about this email:
The descriptions and words are very engaging and reassuring. Each sentence either promises a valuable service provides great proof or uses a witty and humorous reference that employs the company’s image and the reader’s pain point.
With such straightforward, convincing, and hilariously written copy, it’s a given that readers would get to the last word and feel more compelled to engage with the brand.
Naturally, CTAs are required to be as simple and straightforward as possible, but Casper’s slight exception to use a funny, engaging CTA (“Let’s Get Sleepy”) that still passes across the message does no harm. Readers would understand that it’s a link to browse the company’s products since that’s clearly what the email is all about.
What’s more? The CTAs invitingly stand out against the background and are immediately visible.
The title of “America’s #1 Rated Mattress Brand” is proudly included in the content. Great for them, I say, because it doesn’t take a lot more than social proof like this to get customers grabbing your products. The social proof in the first paragraph would immediately assure readers that they’re dealing with a quality brand. Being able to convince your prospects with your first few words gives you a priceless head start.
It’s really satisfying how conversion-optimized this email is, because it’s obvious that the major elements that could influence the reader’s decision were carefully thought off and smartly implemented.
Apart from the social proof and motivating copy, the brand also includes special aspects about its offerings that would be hard to miss. The 100-night trial and convenient return policy that they promise eases the decision to buy and adds an extra level of assurance.
The paragraph that name-drops the brand’s in-house staff builds a sense of transparency and quality assurance.
Over time, in your email marketing campaign, you would observe that there are a couple of inactive subscribers that provide little to zero engagement for your campaigns or business generally.
This isn’t encouraging for anyone. You want your email list to be as active as possible. Yet, those subscribers are no less important. Because they have been dormant for a while doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on them immediately.
First, you have to try and revive them. They can still be loyal customers that drive quality conversions. Send targeted emails to remind them about your business and even cleverly get them to make purchases. That’s exactly what Beardbrand does with this email.
Conversion tactics in the email:
The subject line is curiosity-piquing and effectively completes the first step to conversion on any email marketing campaign: opening the email.
People get barraged with multiple emails per day these days. With this type of onslaught and stuffy inboxes, it’s not hard to see why so many emails get ignored or simply reported as spam. But with captivating subject lines like “How fast can you grow?”, it’s pretty hard for that to happen.
Generally, your subject line shouldn’t only be interesting but relevant to your brand and the content of your email. You can also test your email subject line to evaluate its efficiency.
Disregarding this rule would send you to spam mail. Sometimes, in fact, your subject line doesn’t need to be extraordinarily catchy or anything of such, it just needs to be really simple, straightforward, and value-promising. In this case, the former works out for Beardbrand just fine.
From the first readable words after opening the email, the subscriber gets even more curious and interested in what the email is about. That’s a fantastic cue. The picture frame added to support the text format is inviting and explanatory as well.
Scrolling further down, the copy sustains this curiosity by asking a question. It then proceeds to feed the reader with valuable and exciting information, even adding some level of humor and wit to be more engaging.
What’s particularly interesting is the subtle way the email tells that subscribers how long they’ve been away from the website. How do they do this? Let’s dig into that if you don’t already get it:
By sharing the exciting info that human hair grows 0.5 inches per month, the brand calculates the sum of months the subscriber has been away and opens up the email with a sentence that references the number of months.
“Your beard grew 1.5 inches since your last visit.” 1.5 inches sums up 3 months. See how subtle and witty that was? I’m pretty sure that the target audience would have appreciated the effort.
The copy smoothly transitions from reminding the subscriber and solving a customer pain point to introducing the brand’s products as a viable solution.
Unfortunately, some customers can choose to remain dormant even after you’ve sent them a reactivation campaign. Multiple emails later, they could still choose not to engage your brand. It’s at this point that you know you need to let go of them, which I admit can be painful.
I’ve experienced it before. It wasn’t nice. But it had to be done. Your email list has to be fresh and active to prevent a waste of your efforts and resources, and to avoid the risk of being regarded as spam mail by inbox providers. Oddly enough, or not, removing inactive subscribers adds some sort of mental relief, which I think you would agree is always welcome.
Usually, inactive subscribers that haven’t unsubscribed from your list for a long time either don’t check their mail often, or they simply don’t bother to open your messages at all. It could be that they’ve just forgotten you and why they subscribed in the first place, and per some chance don’t get to see your emails (most likely because they’re not frequent email readers).
Either way, they’ve given you no choice but to part ways with them. But before you do that, because of the benevolent and very considerate business owner that you are (I do hope so), you can give them just that one last chance.
After all, there’s still that tiny teeny little chance they can become converts or loyal customers. And you can’t just throw that chance away.
So what do you do? You notify them that you’re about to part ways with them and let them choose if they still want to remain your customer like Framebridge does with their email.
Perks of this email:
The first sentence immediately grabs the attention of the subscriber and gets them wondering “what is ending?”
The rest of the copy proceeds to justify that opener and the email’s purpose by clearly and cleverly pointing out what the brand does, which would trigger a reminder of why the reader subscribed in the first place.
It goes further to explain the intent of the email and why it was sent(to know if they still want to remain on the brand’s email list). It then leaves the choice to the subscriber, but of course, imploring them to stay.
The email ends with a clear CTA that smoothly rounds off the purpose of the email. Of course, they don’t want the subscriber to go, the big orange CTA button proves that.
It’s ultimately up to the choice of the subscriber. If no action is made, then they would be removed from the list. Fair game, don’t you think? Also, a good way to remind people about your business and get them to recommit.
Cart abandonment makes up the highest loss of genuinely potential sales for businesses, eCommerce websites specifically. More than 75% of people abandon their shopping carts online. Why? Oh there are so many reasons, a major of them being that they’re just human beings who can change their minds any time they want, for no particular reason.
But more practically, a stressful checkout process, or an unexpected shipping fee, or even the fact that they didn’t really want to buy in the first place are good reasons why people might abandon their carts.
But 75% is a huge number, and you can’t let all those tantalizingly close conversions go to waste, so you use cart abandonment software to track these customers, and then you send email campaigns to remind them of their forgotten purchase and offer them another chance to buy it.
Or like Whiskey Loot here, give them very good reasons to buy it. And in turn create a very good chance of swiping a nice part of 75% into your conversion metrics
What helps this email convert:
The email gives the reader 14 reasons why they should buy. A lot of them are humorous, some of them genuinely valuable. But the message is passed across, and the subscriber is pleased with what they read.
Just the fact the email seems to be bothered about their reasons for not buying is enough to get any customer rethinking their decision to abandon the purchase.
The email goes further to provide much more valuable and inviting information by using a Q&A format that describes the product offering clearly along with its nice perks. There’s even an answer that says how to end the subscription, easing the customer’s decision to buy.
By addressing possible questions, the email clears major doubts the customer might have and gives them a very good reason to buy.
Giving customers the option to engage with your email address is a good move, in any regard. Some people might want to immediately send a message or ask a question without having to click to the site or find wherever your customer support options are.
It’s for this reason I disagree with some businesses that use “@noreply” email addresses for their campaigns. It’s almost like shutting off your business to the customer. They might not be convinced by your email content already. They need to be able to interact with your email if they wish to do so.
It’s the most immediate option to ask any questions they might have at the moment, which is always convenient.
Whiskey Loot doesn’t only make their email available to interact, they even implore the subscriber to ask questions and promise that it’s an immediately responsive customer service option.
Special occasions and holidays are sale-centric periods you can’t afford to miss as a business owner.
Christmas, New Years, Halloween, Black Friday, etc, even anniversaries and birthdays of your clients, for more personalized emails, are occasions to offer special discounts and drive more sales.
As a result, many companies get into the rush of running email marketing campaigns to capitalize on those periods and inform clients of their special deals.
A better way to engage customers in this regard is to notify your subscribers of exclusive offers in advance of these dates, way earlier in some cases.
It’s something like the “first come, first serve” rule. Usually, some days or even a day just before Black Friday deals for instance is when most businesses start sending their emails on discount deals. Imagine how many emails a customer receives in one day. Imagine how many emails get ignored.
By sending your emails well in advance, like Kate Spade here, who sent this Valentine’s day email to book deals in advance on the 22nd of January, you can beat your competitors, seal sales in advance for early buyers and make your brand hard to forget for your customers.
Of course to make this strategy very effective, your email campaign would consist of several emails in an email marketing flow. For those that don’t book immediately and get their deals in advance, you can continue to remind them even till the last moment, that’s if they’re the type that prefer to wait till the last second and start panic-buying.
The edge you have here is that you appeared first, and if your email marketing flow is well crafted, you will be more easily remembered. Subsequently, customers are more likely to point you out and click your email on a day when they might be receiving hundreds of emails. They might even search for your emails specifically, because, with a good email marketing flow, you’ve left a certain impression in their mind.
What makes Kate Spade’s early email convert:
I like how the email showcases product recommendations. It’s very easy to be unsure about what you want to get your partner for Valentine’s. Kate’s email solves that for you by suggesting different products that you can buy and under different price ranges.
There’s a CTA button that suggests you “see more” recommendations. If you don’t immediately see your choice, that button assures you still have a chance of finding one. Makes it very clickable I would say.
Also, the free shipping discount made visible at the top gives a strong incentive to make a purchase.
The email’s design is well, reminiscent of Valentine’s day. The CTAs are visible, consistent, and have clear instructions.
The copy in a concise sentence states what the email is about. The product recommendations are neatly laid out with nice designs and clear visuals to boot.
I would have to wrap this up by telling you that several of those strategies may or may not work for your email marketing campaign.
Well, they’re more likely to work for your good than vice-versa but you have to be sure of that possibility.
The reason is simple, your business is unique, with different features and services than other businesses out there, even the ones in your industry, so their practices might not work for you.
And if you’re conversant at any level with email marketing, then you probably already know about using A/B testing to determine if these strategies would work for you.
If you don’t, well it’s simple. With your email marketing tool or an integrated platform built specifically for that purpose, run two test campaigns, one with the original element you’re looking to change, and one with the changes already applied.
Whatever result comes with the higher numbers is your winner. This example from Campaign Monitor tested their CTA buttons.
Campaign B (the one on the left) turned out the winner by at least 10% more conversions.
It’s not much more complicated than that. A standard testing platform or email marketing tool makes the process understandable and straightforward.
What’s important to note though, whether you’re familiar with the idea of A/B testing or not, is knowing what to test.
Your testing strategy becomes more effective when you outline what you need to test because of course, your emails consist of separate elements that each generate their own effect. You surely were not thinking of testing whole emails were you?
Major elements that affect the conversion rates that you can test include:
So it is accepted I hope, that while the high-converting email marketing examples described in this article are very good inspirations and useful as frameworks on which to build your own strategies, you have to be sure to a certain level of their effectiveness before sending them off into the wild.
Then of course you could always simply just ask your customers directly what they will prefer to see from you, like Bespoke Post here:
Straight from the horse’s mouth. Pretty touchè, don’t you think? This way you boost your personalization strategy since several customers will definitely have different preferences. And you don’t have to waste time and effort on irrelevant emails.
This goes without saying, but getting your subscribers’ preferences doesn’t mean you can disregard your testing strategy. That stays vital as ever. There are some subtle changes you couldn’t possibly ask your subscribers about, like if they want the CTA button on the left or on the right of your page.
That strategy applies to their inner psychology. They really are not sure about it. They are not likely to be conscious of why a CTA’s placement influences their behavior. That is for you to discover.
An email preference message like Bespoke Post’s will target more obvious changes like the type of products they want to receive offerings on and even how often they like to receive their email.
So at the end of the day, you still have to find out what your consumers want, even if they are not very sure of it. Sounds strange? Well, welcome to business in the 21st century.
Author Bio: Martin Luenendonk is a 3x serial entrepreneur with a deep passion in digital business models and marketing innovations. He is the Founder at cleverism.com and founderjar.com
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