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Email Marketing

Email Marketing 101: Understanding Campaigns

To reach more customers, more reliably – start by knowing which type of campaign will help you achieve your goals

In our last Email 101 installment, you got to know the who, what and why that drive successful email marketing strategies. That means you’re almost ready to kick off your email marketing strategy: creating your first campaign. By now, you should be ready with the following:

  • A list of contacts
  • An understanding of your audience
  • A goal for your first email marketing campaign
  • (Bonus) Ideas to grow your list of contacts

Understanding email marketing campaigns

Email marketing takes many forms. Naturally, yours will depend on your goal, and that’s the beauty of it. With a well-managed contact list, sending the right information to the right people is powerfully streamlined, and 100% in your hands. That begins with a campaign.

An email marketing campaign is a planned set of individual email messages sent over a specific (ideally, strategic) time period with a specific goal in mind.

That’s because every customer is in a different stage. Some want information, others need incentives to take action, and some just want to keep in touch. This is why email can be so powerful – because it gives you the ability to reach different audiences with the message they need. Add-in the power of automation (which comes standard with many providers) and you’re making a big impact. That said, when you’re just getting started, the sheer variety of what you can do with email can feel overwhelming – so we’ll get you started with 5 of the most popular types of email campaigns members are using.

Welcome Emails

Any email marketing campaign should consider the various stages of your customer’s journey, more often than not, that starts with a “hello” – your welcome email.

Whether a subscriber joins from an opt-in page, a sheet of paper, or at the point of sale – it’s a good idea to set the stage. Your welcome email can take many forms (as always, influenced by your goals).

While a single welcome email is a great starting point, it doesn’t make a “campaign”. A series of emails is the mark of a true campaign – giving you the opportunity over the course of 3 or 4 emails to really give your customer or prospect a guided look at what you’re all about. But it doesn’t have to be an aggressive sales message. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Some of the most effective welcome emails begin with a survey, to learn some basic information like their birthday (great for promotions further down the road), background, and an idea as to what the customer hopes to gain from receiving your emails.

Tips for your welcome emails:
  • This is your first impression, don’t forget that!

  • Showcase who you are and what makes you tick

  • Say thank you

  • Offer a gift or incentive the customer can use right away

Consider these examples:

Flower Fix

Type of business: Local DIY flower workshop

What to notice: Simple design, minimal text, and an offer that can be used immediately


Type of business: No-contact car repair

What to notice: Longer design, actionable information, recent news, and a small piece of the company story.

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Post-Purchase Email Campaigns

Long-term success means providing your customers with value that keeps them coming back. Good communication is a large part of that loyalty, and post-purchase emails are a great way to supercharge it. No matter what product or service you’re focused on, a post-purchase email campaign can be an incredibly powerful tool to turn new customers into loyal customers. In some cases, your welcome email(s) might be included in a post-purchase email campaign.

Retention matters – and email can help

While typical conversion rates vary from industry to industry, Paul Farris points out in Marketing Metrics that repeat customers have a 60% to 70% chance of buying again. This means less margin lost to marketing, special offers, and outreach and makes customer retention a perfect goal for email marketing.

Tips for your post-purchase emails

These days, the average consumer expects a confirmation email and will often check their inbox immediately to verify the details of their order or appointment. Meet their expectations and ease their mind with a follow-up ‘Thank you’ email that includes relevant details.

After the purchase, it can be very helpful to check-in with your customers to learn about their experience. This is also a great time to request an honest review or to invite a customer to join your customer loyalty program.

Your existing customers should be your most profitable customers because you understand what they’re interested in. This also means you can offer complementary add-ons or recommendations with a post-purchase follow-up.

No matter what a customer has purchased – it probably has a lifecycle. Whether that means re-ordering or scheduling a service, appropriately timed post-purchase emails can be a fast, easy, and low-maintenance way to keep a constant trickle of repeat business.


This is your most basic form of email marketing and is a little different than your typical email campaign. It doesn’t require automation, it often doesn’t use advanced targeting or segmentation, and it doesn’t end. Unlike your welcome emails or a re-engagement campaign (covered below), a well done newsletter is something that keeps your customers in the loop and informed – even entertained. Most of all: it’s not forced. If you’re not ready to send something with some value, don’t rush it. Keep it low on sales, and heavy on helpful information and imagery like product updates, project photos, ‘behind the scenes’ insights and more.

Why a newsletter is great for any kind of business:

  • Keeps you top of mind
  • Builds loyalty and familiarity
  • Provides valuable information
  • Motivates and inspires customers to purchase

Tip: Take notes!

Whether you’re sharing common questions asked by other customers or a particularly novel approach to a problem – it all starts with a simple note. Make a note of anything you do that could be scaled-up to help more customers and encourage your team to do the same!

Promotional campaigns

For B2B and consumer-facing businesses alike, promotional campaigns are often a central email marketing tactic. In fact, you probably have one (or more) in your inbox this very moment. Because promotional emails are so common, the trick is to stand out as best you can. Many times, promotional campaigns are referred to as an email “blast” because they frequently target a larger portion of your audience – but this doesn’t have to be a rule! Think a specific segment of your customer base will be interested in a specific offer? Try it out – remember: email is cheap.

Planning a promotional campaign? Consider these tips:
  • Send something with a seasonal spin

  • Add humor

  • Add a limited-time offer

  • Announce a new or updated product

  • Offer freebies – like a guide, tutorial, or download

  • Offer a refer a friend discount or promotional code

Re-Engagement Campaigns

Re-engagement campaigns can be an incredibly powerful tool for any kind of business. Put simply: this is an email sent to customers you’re not quite sure about. People change jobs, businesses change focus, contacts change email addresses, and people change names. Re-engagement emails help account for this while keeping your business top of mind.

Example: “Do we still have the most accurate information?”

Whether you’re making sure you have the right point of contact or checking-in on a customer’s interest – one simple fact of email marketing is that a portion of the list hasn’t opened one of your emails, gotten in touch, or made a purchase in quite a while (3+ months, depending on your product). A re-engagement email can help determine if they’re still a good prospect, while also offering an incentive to bring them back. If they’re not interested – it’s a valuable opportunity to clean up your list.

Tips for your re-engagement email:
  • Make sure you get your segments right, nobody likes getting an email that wasn’t meant for them

  • Remember: sending a single email isn’t a “campaign” – try to think up a series of emails that encourage your customers to act. This could be as simple as:

      1. “We haven’t seen you in a while”: with some information on what’s new or how you’re continuing to improve.
      2. “Welcome back discount””: offer your customer a discount they can use right away to entice them to re-engage
      3. “How can we help?”:  if customers still aren’t engaging, it might be time to offer something like a survey to better understand the kind of information they want and an option to update their preferences. 

So you have a campaign in mind. What now?

Now that you have a list of prospects, a goal in mind, and an understanding of what you can accomplish with an email marketing campaign – it’s time to move forward with your strategy. So, what next?

Start brainstorming! With a few distinct groups of customers in mind, think about what problems they might be encountering this week, next month, and further down the road. Where can you help? By coming up with 3-5 ideas you’ll be fully prepared to launch your first campaign with our next installment of Email Marketing 101.

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