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9 Email Types to Grow Your Business

Email marketing is an excellent way to build relationships, engage with potential customers and increase sales for your business.

In fact, 74% of marketers who use email consider it the best distribution channel for their content and studies show that for every $1 spent email marketing typically returns $42.

By sending a mix of different types of emails, you can keep your subscribers engaged and your open rates high. In this article, we’ll explain why variety in email marketing matters and outline nine email types that you can use in your marketing efforts to help grow your business and engage your subscriber list.

Table of contents:

Nine types of emails to grow your business and engage your list:

  1. Welcome email
  2. Discount or special promotion email
  3. New offer
  4. Newsletter emails
  5. Survey email
  6. Referral email
  7. Abandoned cart
  8. Exclusive content emails
  9. Reorder and upsell email

How sending different types of emails keeps your list active and engaged

Unlike social media channels, which do not guarantee that your message will always reach your followers, email marketing is not subject to ever-changing algorithms. Once a subscriber chooses to opt in to your email list, they’ll consistently receive the content you send as long as you don’t end up on an email blacklist

Given that your customers and sales prospects are likely to see your content, it’s important to ensure that your emails are engaging and resonate with the varying needs of your customers. To accomplish regular communication, many marketers rely on repeatable types of email marketing templates to stay in touch with their list. 

While repeated email messages work well for informing and captivating new customers, sending the same type of email over and over again throughout a customer’s journey will cause them to lose interest. If they feel like they’re frequently getting the same type of information with minimal added value, your open rates will decrease and people will begin to unsubscribe. 

By sending a mix of announcements, company news, recommendations for products or services and transactional emails, you’ll be more likely to attract new subscribers, conduct lead nurturing and generate sales from your list.

Nine types of emails to grow your business and engage your list

Here are nine different email types you can send to your list to keep them interested and engaged with your business.

1. Welcome email

Welcome emails are one of the most frequently open and read emails that you’ll ever send. This is because you are speaking to newly engaged customers who are eager to connect with you.

The content of your welcome email(s) should familiarize your new subscribers with your brand, set expectations and get them excited about being a part of your inner circle.

Also, it isn’t too early to offer a discount or promote a specific offering within a welcome email. Welcome emails can generate up to 320% more revenue compared to other promotional email types, so you can certainly take advantage of the high open rate from your first email to make a targeted sale.

The details of your welcome email and whether it’s part of a larger email marketing campaign series depend on your brand messaging, your target audience, your specific product or service offerings and your content marketing strategy and goals.

Regardless of your industry, follow these best practices when crafting your welcome email: 

  • Thank your readers for subscribing to your list. This shows appreciation and humility and makes your new customers feel personally welcomed and important. 
  • Clearly define your emails’ value. This might include exclusive content, early access to new products or services, or special deals and promotions. By telling your readers what’s to come, they’ll understand exactly what value they’ll be getting in return for staying subscribed. 
  • Set appropriate expectations. You can do this by telling them about the type of information you’ll send and how often. This will help to build anticipation and get your readers used to a set schedule, such as a weekly newsletter or a monthly rundown of trending new products or services.
  • Ask them to take the next step. Whether it’s completing their online profile, whitelisting your domain, or logging into their account, you should encourage your customers to take immediate action. This will help to get your new customers or leads to engage with your product or service before the excitement of something new wears off.

By including these elements, you’ll be able to kick off your relationship on the right foot. Here’s an example of a successful welcome email by Virgin America:

Key components:

  • On-brand appreciation. The email starts out with a striking visual that says thanks in an on-brand way.
  • Communicates frequency. It communicates that they’ll send regular updates and special offers.
  • Communicates value: It reminds the subscriber that by staying on their list, they’ll receive the best possible price.
  • Gives the next step: It provides a call to action of what the reader should do next.

For more great examples, check out our guide to writing welcome emails.

2. Discount or special promotion email

This is an email that includes a discount, coupon or some other special offer that you send out to subscribers as a “thank you” for being on your email list. Offer emails tend to have high open rates.

Not all business models include offering sales and discounts, but it’s good practice to occasionally send out some sort of special offer that’s exclusive to email subscribers to make them feel special and show thanks for staying loyal to your brand.   

Ideally, the discount or special offer generates sales and drives support. To ensure your special offer email is successful, be sure to add an element of urgency or scarcity to the offer to inspire your subscribers to act now and not miss out. Here are some examples of ways to do that in your email subject line and email preheader text::

  • Flash sale: Today only
  • Subscriber exclusive discounts
  • Early access to a new offer
  • Limited spots available
  • Free gift for first 50 registrants
  • Did you catch our last minute deals? There’s still time…
  • Ends April 15th: Shop now.

Here’s an example of a special promotion email by Headspace:

Key components:

  • Opens with the specific offer or discount. They immediately highlight the key offering of getting 40% off of your first year. 
  • Explains value to the user. They clearly state that if you buy in, you’ll “increase compassion, positivity and make new friends”. 
  • Gives the reader a reason to act. By setting an end date that the offer expires, the reader knows that they only have so much time to take advantage of this massive discount.

3. New offer

New offer emails can include several things, including the launch of a new product, a limited-edition release, a special promotion, an upcoming event, or the option to pre-order a product.

Regardless of what your new product or service is, your subscribers should be the first to know. Email subscribers are some of your most engaged customers, so sharing it with them is a great way to show your appreciation for them being on your list.  

When creating an announcement email, do these three things:

  • Clearly communicate the features of the offer so that your readers know what you’re talking about.
  • Explain both the features and benefits of the new product so they understand how it relates to their needs and why they should be interested.
  • Finish with a call-to-action (CTA) that communicates what they should do next if they’re interested.

If your new product or service isn’t coming out for another few weeks, you can still leverage your email list to build excitement and interest. For example, you can allow those on your email list to pre-order or get on a waitlist. You can also include teasers through video trailers, product previews and other engaging content.

When launching a new offer, it’s best practice to email your list about it more than once to build up anticipation rather than sending a standalone email. Here’s an announcement drip email marketing sequence you can follow to make sure your audience is interested and excited about your new product or service.

  • Email 1: Announce that something new is coming and ask if they’d like to receive updates.
  • Email 2: Announce specifically what is coming and ask if they’d like to keep receiving updates.
  • Email 3: To the segmented list that showed interest, share more details and include a CTA. This could include signing up for a waitlist, pre-ordering, or saving their spot by registering early.
  • Email 4: Share an informative email that relates to your new offer and how it may help your subscriber. Tell them the next email they receive will be the official launch email.
  • Email 5: Officially launch the offer and invite them to join, purchase, or otherwise participate.

Segmenting your list according to new offers is an effective way to learn more about the kinds of offers that are interesting to your various customer groups. 

Here’s an example of an engaging new offer email by the mattress company Casper:

Key components:

  • Introduces the new product in plain language. There’s no room for confusion: it’s a mattress for dogs. It’s a clean layout with no distractions from the main announcement.
  • Entices with engaging copy. They use personal language that speaks to their dog-loving audience.
  • Adds social proof. They call attention to their award-winning engineering team, sleep studies and world-class testing.
  • Includes call to action. They invite subscribers to get the mattress and make a purchase. 

4. Newsletter emails

Of all the different types, email newsletters are an effective way to both conduct lead nurturing and maintain a relationship with your audience. However, creating a newsletter that people actually read can be a project of its own.

Before jumping into sending a newsletter, it’s worth doing some market research. Explore your industry to see if newsletters are a common practice and if they are, dig deeper into learning more about what they include and how often they’re sent.

A common mistake marketers make with newsletters is trying to cover too much. This could unintentionally overwhelm your busy readers and cause them to skim the email or forfeit reading it at all. When creating your newsletter, it’s best to stick to a specific niche topic that interests your readers. Once you decide on that core theme, you can play with the type of content you share.

Here are a few great resources you can include in your newsletter:

  • Helpful infographics or statistics
  • Industry news or insights
  • Product-related videos, blogs, or other content
  • Map of store locations and hours 
  • Event invitation or recaps
  • New product announcements

Whether it’s to increase sales, retain clients, or support lead nurturing, an engaging newsletter can be a helpful marketing tool for achieving your goals.

Here’s a great example of a newsletter from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream:

Key components:

  • Provide helpful tips that their customers can use. They highlight delicious milkshake recipes that use Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and how to prevent freezer burn on your ice cream.
  • Showing their brand values. They also educate their audience on things that align with their brand values.
  • Create sales opportunities. The footer includes information on how to connect and where someone can make a purchase nearby. 

5. Survey email

Your email list includes some of your most engaged leads, making it a goldmine for conducting market research and receiving feedback via surveys. The people on your email list can provide insights into what they’ve enjoyed, what they’ve disliked and what they’d like to see offered in the future. It can also reveal why people haven’t made a purchase yet.

In the body of your survey email, make sure to thank your customers for filling it out and explain that you’re sending it with the goal of serving them better. Make sure to provide an estimate of how long the survey will take so people know if they have time to complete it. Because feedback benefits you more than your reader, it’s also worth offering a small incentive for their time.

Before you send market research or feedback emails, discuss with your team what information would be most valuable to learn. Doing this now can help shape which questions you ask and who you contact.

For example, if you’re looking for feedback on a new offer, you should send a survey email to subscribers with a purchasing history. If you’re looking for insights on how to make current offers more appealing, those who haven’t purchased yet may have valuable ideas.

The questions you include will depend on the insights you hope to gain and your current business goals. Here are some standard questions that can help guide what to include in your market research or feedback survey:

  • What problem does [the offer] solve for you?
  • How do you use [the offer] in your life or work?
  • How well does [the offer] meet your needs?
  • What features or changes would you like to see in the future?
  • What do you like [most/least] about [the offer]?
  • What made you choose our brand over other options?
  • How likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend?

Here’s an example of a market research survey request by Airbnb:

Key components:

  • Say thanks. The email refers to the customer’s past purchases and thanks them for their loyalty.
  • Explain the purpose. The email explains that they’d like their feedback and that it’ll help make Airbnb better for both them and future guests.
  • Make it clear that it’s quick and easy. The email says the survey only takes three minutes. 

6. Referral email

Referral emails are a great way to generate word-of-mouth marketing for your business. By asking past happy customers to refer your business to their network, you can build customer loyalty and attract new customers.

It’s worth noting that referral customers aren’t the same as routine new customers. Referral leads tend to convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels because they are often referred by their friends, family, or another trusted source. This means that because they’re already fans of your business before they buy in, they tend to purchase more often and show loyalty throughout their buying journey.

Referral emails also pair well with feedback emails. You can segment your list by survey results and ask those who were likely to recommend your brand to a friend to proactively refer your business to their network in exchange for a reward or an elevated status.

In your referral email, it’s best practice to include these key points:

  • Thank them for their positive feedback or customer loyalty.
  • Explain that you’re asking for a referral.
  • If relevant, highlight past successes and positive reviews you’ve received.
  • Make it clear if and how they’ll earn rewards if they successfully refer business to you (i.e. your friend’s purchase gets you 20% off).
  • Offer a template or social sharing buttons that make it easy for them to pass the information along.

Here’s a template that a service-based business could use:

Hello [Customer Name],

I’m so glad to hear you’re happy with the results of working with [Your Company Name] so far. It’s been a pleasure working with you and I’m so pleased you’re already seeing results.

Since things are going so well, I was wondering if you have any friends or colleagues with comparable needs who might benefit from our [product/service]. I’d love to help them achieve similar results.

If you participate, we’d be excited to offer 15% off your next purchase. Simply paste the below message into a new email or social email post to quickly and easily pass the message along.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

[Your Name]

7. Abandoned cart

An abandoned cart message is targeted to customers who add an item to their online shopping cart but leave before making the purchase. Across a range of industries, an average of 88% of online shopping orders are abandoned or not completed.

Thankfully, if you have the right website tracking tools and customers are logged into their accounts, you can send automated emails that remind them to complete their purchase so you can recover those sales. Here is a list of common reasons people decide to abandon their cart:

  • They get sticker shock from additional fees such as taxes or shipping and handling.
  • They didn’t trust that it was a secure checkout page.
  • They didn’t see their preferred payment option. 
  • The checkout process was confusing or had too many steps.

To send a compelling abandoned cart reminder that inspires people to go back to your website, follow this email structure:

  • Write a short and direct subject line that refers to their cart. 
  • Open with a few friendly sentences that remind them that they haven’t finished checking out.
  • Add images and descriptions of items they left in the cart.
  • (Optional) include a special offer such as a discount, free shipping or a bonus gift with their purchase.
  • Add a relevant review, testimonial or other social proof.
  • End with a checkout button or other call to action that leads them back to their cart.

Send anywhere from two to four abandoned cart emails and A/B test which style has the best conversions.

Here’s an example of an effective abandoned cart email sent by Society 6.

Key components:

  • Email inspires action. It tells the reader that their cart is waiting for them, but only for the next 48 hours.
  • Offers a discount. By offering 30% off, Society 6 incentivizes them to return to their cart.
  • Engaging visuals. The images remind the reader what type of items they were browsing.
  • Increases appeal and decreases risk. It mentions that every purchase pays an artist, which is appealing to those who shop at Society 6. They also mention their return policy, which helps remind readers that their purchase is low-risk.
  • Social proof. The footer with logos helps show that their offers are established, recognized and celebrated. 

8. Exclusive content emails

Exclusive content emails are great for building relationships and giving your subscribers insider tips, tricks and resources that might be helpful to them. It shows that you’ve given a lot of thought to what they care about and how you can help them.

Here are some examples of exclusive content that might interest your list:

  • Checklists for common procedures or practices
  • How-to content that gives step-by-step tips and tricks  
  • Fun freebies that relate to your reader
  • Sneak peeks and behind the scenes
  • Helpful summaries of industry news or reports
  • Calendar of curated events or training
  • Manage an exclusive online community or forum

By offering valuable exclusive content, your subscribers will know they can turn to you for interesting, relevant and helpful information that connects with their life and needs. Here’s an engaging email by Asana that shows how to create content that connects with your readers. 

Key Components:

  • Friendly message that provides context. This email empathizes with the user and offers to share exclusive content that will help them with their needs.
  • Unique, curated content. Because Asana is a communication and project management tool, this email is filled with valuable tips that might help a manager keep their team on track.
  • Think outside the box. Although Asana isn’t a music tool, they acknowledge that everyone can appreciate a great playlist to listen to as they work. 

9. Reorder & upsell email

Reorder emails are an effective way to re-engage past customers with offers you know they’ll like. By sending an email that includes an offer to something they’ve purchased in the past, you might remind them that it’s time to buy again. 

Reorder emails can also aim to upsell by offering upgrades, extra accessories, or other useful items that could improve their experience with their past purchase. 

Here’s an example by Dollar Shave Club that invites subscribers to add-on to their purchase.

Key components:

  • Estimated renewal date. Although Dollar Shave Club is a membership service, non-membership brands could still include a date of when they anticipate customers will need to replace or replenish their order.
  • Upsell when the customer is already expecting to make a purchase. People are less resistant to upsells when they’re already committed to making another purchase.
  • Suggests related products. By recommending certain products, you can help the customer explore options they might be interested in and increase the purchase order.
  • Easy, casual language. This makes it feel like changing their order is effortless, so why not throw in something a little extra.

Final thoughts

Managing your email marketing should be a combination of growing your list as well as keeping your current subscribers interested and engaged. By sending different types of emails, you can keep the conversation going by offering varied and valuable content.

Your marketers should send consistent emails that thank your subscribers, add value to their lives, ask for their engagement and promote your product or service.For an all-in-one email marketing solution, use Mailigen to send beautiful emails that connect with your audience and generate sales for your business.

9 Email Types to Grow Your Business
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