Communication channels—such as Slack and other alternatives—have transformed how we use email, but email marketing remains a crucial channel for marketers to drive awareness, acquire customers, and improve customer lifetime value through retention at scale.
But how does email marketing work? How does your email marketing strategy complement your marketing funnel? How do you build an email list and what types of emails do you send to your subscribers?
In this guide, we’ll discuss what email marketing is and why it’s important. We’ll also cover the different types of emails to send to your audience and share tips to help you build and grow your email list.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that businesses use to communicate with their target audience through email. It involves using email marketing software to send different types of emails to your subscribers with content that helps them move through different stages of their buying journey.
Different types of emails include promotional emails, newsletters, welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, customer feedback surveys, and transactional emails.
Here’s a snippet from our Field Notes newsletter that we share with our subscribers once a week:
It uses a direct benefit subject line that touches on a pain point that most B2B marketers struggle with and a framework to help them communicate their work at an executive level.
This and other types of emails used in email marketing campaigns offer a unique approach to building relationships with subscribers that goes beyond immediate sales.
Benefits of email marketing
Through email marketing, you go beyond short-term gains and invest in cultivating lasting connections, ultimately reaping the benefits of a loyal customer base.
In contrast, other channels like online advertising often focus on driving quick conversions among ready-to-buy customers.
Email marketing prioritizes long-term relationships. It allows you to connect with subscribers who are not ready to buy yet, enabling you to scale customer acquisition efforts over time.
By nurturing these relationships through strategic email campaigns using an email marketing platform to help you automate this task, you gradually convert website visitors into subscribers and leads, leads into loyal customers, leading to sustainable growth, and improved customer lifetime value.
How your email marketing strategy complements your marketing funnel
Email marketing services help you bridge the gap between the initial interactions your website visitors have with the content you publish and conversions. It helps you tailor your interactions with your audience by building trust and guiding potential customers through the different stages of their buying journey until they convert.
Here’s how your email marketing strategy complements your marketing funnel:
Here, your target audience isn’t aware of the problems they’re dealing with and they’re not ready to buy from you.
Publishing blog posts, hosting a podcast, or creating videos that are relevant to your target audience helps improve brand awareness and earn the attention of your target audience.
If you already have a decent amount of subscribers on your email list, email marketing complements your content marketing efforts by helping you distribute content directly to your subscribers through email newsletters with links to content you’ve published.
If you host a podcast or a webinar, email helps you notify your subscribers and provide them with a link to join your event. Once they sign up for your event, they join your email list and become part of your audience.
In addition to that, if a subscriber signs up for your gated content, you can request that they share it with their colleagues and friends who might find it relevant to expand your reach. Here’s how Mailmodo does it:
At this stage, your target audience is aware of the problems they’re dealing with and is actively looking for solutions to these problems.
Since you’re already publishing content that is geared towards solving the challenges they have, email marketing comes in to help you nurture them by providing them with additional information that helps them make informed decisions.
Email marketing also allows you to segment your contact list and send targeted emails to specific segments highlighting how your product solves their problems, through webinar demos, case studies, testimonials, and comparisons to showcase your value proposition.
Segmentation allows you to deliver content via email that addresses specific objections your subscribers have, answers their questions, and helps them make informed buying decisions.
At this stage, prospects are ready to take action, which is either signing up for a trial or picking a plan that suits them. For leads who signed up for a free trial, email marketing helps you influence their decision and drive conversions:
This email from Miro has clear and compelling call-to-action buttons that encourage recipients to take action based on how they intend to use the tool.
If you’re in e-commerce, send personalized emails with exclusive offers, discounts, limited-time promotions, or new product recommendations based on their interests and preferences.
After conversion, email marketing helps you nurture customer relationships and build customer loyalty. Send post-purchase emails to thank customers for their purchase, provide order confirmations, give shipping updates, and offer additional resources or support.
You can also use regular email newsletters with product updates and exclusive loyalty rewards to keep customers engaged, encourage repeat purchases, and foster long-term loyalty.
Email marketing also helps you turn your satisfied customers into brand advocates and promote customer retention by sending out surveys to collect feedback from them by asking for reviews and testimonials.
7 types of marketing emails
There are several types of emails commonly used in email marketing campaigns. Each type of email serves a specific purpose and you can strategically employ it throughout different stages of the customer journey to achieve your goals.
Here are some common types of marketing emails:
1. Welcome emails
This is the first email that you send to new subscribers as soon as they sign up to acknowledge them, set expectations, and introduce your brand or product.
In addition to setting expectations, Litmus gives their subscribers an opportunity to manage their email preferences based on how often they want to hear from them, making it easier to manage their inboxes.
In addition to this first email, send a few more to share your best content (based on the reason they signed up) before you start segmenting your new subscribers based on how they engage with your emails.
Your welcome series of emails help you make a good first impression by affirming to your subscriber that they’ve made the right choice to subscribe.
These are regular emails that you send to your subscribers weekly or monthly with educational content, updates, and industry news.
Newsletters help you build brand authority, engage your audience, and keep them informed about new and upcoming features.
3. Promotional emails
Promotional emails help you highlight products and services to help you convert your subscribers into customers. They include limited-time offers, discounts, and deals that entice your subscribers to buy from you.
Promotional emails are an important part of your email marketing workflow. Integrate them into your email marketing calendar to help you align them with other types of marketing emails you send to your subscribers:
4. Abandoned cart emails
When a buyer adds items to their shopping cart but doesn’t complete the purchase, you send them an abandoned cart email to remind them to complete their purchase.
These emails typically include the abandoned products, a call to action, and sometimes an incentive to encourage the customer to complete the purchase.
For example, you might use a tool like Retainful—an email marketing automation tool—to send dynamic coupon codes and shortcodes to personalize your abandoned cart recovery emails and encourage customers to return to the store and complete their purchase:
5. Customer feedback emails
These emails help you collect feedback from your customers to learn about their experience with your product or service.
6. Re-engagement emails
These are emails that you send to inactive or dormant subscribers on your contact list to rekindle their interest in your brand.
Inactive or dormant subscribers are those who have not opened your emails or clicked on a link in your emails for at least 90 to 120 days.
They may also be customers who signed up for a trial or paid for your product and have stopped midway:
Re-engagement emails may also include personalized offers, reminders of past interactions, or exclusive content to entice your recipients to re-engage.
7. Transactional emails
These are triggered emails that your customers receive after a specific action such as order confirmations, shipping notifications, or password resets.
For example, when a customer clicks the “checkout” button and completes their purchase, they receive a shipping confirmation email.
While the primary purpose is transactional, these emails also offer an opportunity to include personalized recommendations or cross-sell/up-sell suggestions.
Email marketing tips to improve engagement
Here are some effective email marketing tactics you can employ to maximize the impact of your email campaigns:
1. Segment your email list
Your subscribers want to engage with relevant content that delivers a personalized buying experience. So when you tailor your email campaigns to match the preferences, needs, and behaviors of different segments, your subscribers are more likely to interact, click, and convert.
Through segmentation, you can send emails at the right time while optimizing your email campaigns based on each segment’s specific interests, needs, or buying patterns.
For example, exclude customers who have recently bought from you after a promotional email campaign to avoid inundating them. On the other hand, include those who have shown interest but haven’t yet converted.
Segmentation also allows you to personalize your email content beyond using your subscriber’s first name to send relevant product recommendations and exclusive offers, both of which capture the attention and interest of your subscribers.
To segment your email subscribers, use relevant criteria such as demographics, geographical location, preferences, and buying patterns to deliver highly targeted and personalized content.
2. Conduct A/B testing
A/B tests help you uncover patterns, preferences, and behavioral trends that influence how your subscribers engage with your email content.
It involves creating two or more versions of an email, each with a single variable change such as subject lines, content, visuals, or call-to-action buttons to provide data-driven insights and optimize email content.
The data and insights you collect allow you to refine your content based on actual performance data. This way, you deliver engaging and effective content messages to your audience.
To run an A/B test, randomly split the audience and send different versions of your email to each group to identify which variation performs better.
For example, testing different email subject lines helps determine which ones are opened more, while testing different call-to-action buttons helps you identify which ones generate a higher click-through rate.
3. Optimize your emails for mobile
Your subscribers won’t always open your emails on their desktop computers, so you need to create and send mobile-optimized emails that are visually appealing, have responsive layouts, and readable fonts.
Optimizing your emails for mobile devices also offers your subscribers a seamless user experience, leading to increased open rates, click-through rates, and overall engagement.
In other words, it makes it easy for them to take action.
You can optimize your emails for mobile with a platform like Moosend that comes with a drag-and-drop email editor, promising beautiful email templates with the click of a few buttons.
If you’re not well-versed in HTML, don’t worry. Moosend’s email editor requires no prior HTML knowledge.
And if you’re not one for design, there’s an extensive library of email marketing templates that can help you generate the best outcome for your brand. The templates are fully customizable and mobile responsive.
4. Optimize your email delivery time
Sending email campaigns at the right time helps you align with your subscribers’ routines and preferences, making it easier for them to see, open, and take action on your emails.
For example, sending a customer feedback email right after an interaction with your new customers helps you collect more feedback while the experience is fresh.
Similarly, your customers are more likely to take action if you send an email within 24 hours of abandoning their shopping cart.
Since you’re not the only one sending emails to your subscribers, timing also helps you space out your email campaigns to avoid email fatigue that comes with sending a large number of emails.
Optimize your email delivery time by creating an email marketing calendar with the different emails you want to send off. Space out each type of email to avoid crowding your subscriber’s inbox.
5. Clean your email list
A clean email list ensures that you only have subscribers who are interested in your brand and are actively engaged with your content.
It also helps you maintain and improve email deliverability and sender reputation. Internet service providers and email filtering systems consider open rates and spam complaints when determining the credibility and deliverability of emails.
Cleaning your list regularly increases the chances of your emails landing in the primary inbox instead of being flagged as spam. This, in turn, improves the visibility and deliverability of your emails, leading to higher engagement rates.
How to build an email list
Building an email marketing list is crucial for the success of your email campaigns. Here are some effective tips to help you grow your email list:
1. Use opt-in forms on your website
Place opt-in forms strategically on your website, such as on the sidebar, header, footer, or as pop-ups.
To increase the number of sign-ups on these opt-in forms, offer incentives like exclusive content, discounts, or freebies to encourage visitors to subscribe. Here, Moosend uses both a header and a popup as opt-in forms:
2. Use relevant lead magnets
Create valuable lead magnets such as e-books, guides, checklists, or templates that provide relevant and useful information to your web visitors.
Offer these resources in exchange for email addresses to attract subscribers. Here’s a link-building email template that we offer marketers looking to build more links to their content:
3. Promote your content on social media
Share the events you’re hosting on your social media channels to help you expand your reach and get your social media followers to sign up. Take a look at how Drift shares its webinars and other live events on Twitter:
4. Run contests or giveaways
Run contests or giveaways where participants enter by providing their email addresses. Make the prizes valuable and relevant to your audience to attract qualified leads. For example, our recent partnership with Semrush had a giveaway with three prizes:
Notice how Alex asks for a referral at the end of the email? His request appeals to the recipient’s altruistic tendencies, which compels them to share the details of the event with their friends and colleagues.
This way everyone who registered for the event learned about hiring subject matter experts and had an equal chance to win any of the prizes in the giveaway.
5. Optimize your email sign-up process
Streamline your email signup process to make it easy for visitors to subscribe. You don’t always need to collect all the information you need from your web visitor in one sitting, so minimize the number of required fields.
When deciding the number of fields to include in your sign-up forms, consider the value of the content you’re sharing with your web visitor.
A simple checklist or email template might not need you to ask about their company size and their role:
The free roles and responsibilities template has a couple of additional questions with drop-down buttons so the subscriber doesn’t have to spend time thinking about what to write.
Building an email list takes time, but once you start implementing these strategies consistently, you will grow a high-quality and engaged subscriber base. Strategies of email validation and relevant address additions will support the email list building.
By understanding how to build an email list, selecting the right types of emails to send, and leveraging email marketing within your marketing funnel, you now have some clarity on how to run a successful email marketing campaign.
As you implement what you’ve learned in this guide, keep in mind that email marketing is an iterative process.
Monitor and evaluate the performance of your email campaigns to see whether they’re contributing to the objectives of your content strategy.