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If you’ve worked in marketing long enough, you’ve probably been asked one of these questions:
Odds are one of those questions might have sent you back to the drawing point.
At that point, you probably asked yourself one of the following, too:
And that’s why you’re here. You’re an email marketer, and you need examples to follow.
You’ll find all that here, plus a smattering of templates to help you act on your inspiration.
… then execute your own email marketing better with these free templates:
To summarize it in three letters: ROI.
Few marketing channels deliver greater measurable value than email. It’s a direct line to customers and leads they’ve opted into.
And if you’re searching for tools to help organize and execute better email marketing, get started with CoSchedule. It’s the ultimate all-in-one marketing management platform for planning and executing everything you need to get done.
Plus, it integrates with key email service providers like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor, so your marketing team can have full visibility of every email you deliver on one comprehensive marketing calendar.
Before digging into each example newsletter below, here’s what each will be evaluated on:
This seasonal email from Nike is just in time for summer. The design is simple, the copy is minimal, and overall, it gets right to the point.
The CTA buttons prioritize the Men’s section (likely based on my demographic info when I joined their list), but were I shopping for family (say, kids), those options are presented, too. With its sand-like background color, it also invokes beach imagery.
Visually, this email relies on sharp photography and creative product layout. That, combined with concise copy, leads to a crisp and uncluttered design that keeps the focus on the product.
Here’s what you’ll need:
For such a simple email, there’s a little bit more happening here than it appears.
Creative clothing and decor retailer Threadless has a strong visual brand. That comes across in their email marketing.
This email starts with striking imagery and an intriguing value proposition (new designs). It doesn’t waste time providing the CTA button to check them out, either.
Beneath that, a giveaway offer smartly shows how their prize products might look in a living space. The “Last Chance!” copy helps build some urgency, too.
The next content section shows how their shirt looks on someone actually wearing it. Plus, it incorporates a quote from the artist who designed it.
This last portion at the bottom includes something creative that’s easy to miss, too. Instead of generic “UPDATE YOUR EMAIL PREFERENCES” copy, it reads “GET BETTER EMAILS.” That puts the recipient first and offers a benefit rather than a command.
Threadless has exceptional visual design. Even if your company doesn’t, there are still a few things you can take away from this.
This Pennsylvania-based agency sometimes sends emails that are written like full blog posts. Ordinarily, you might think this goes against best practice, because no one will read the post on your site if they can get it in their email.
But, is that a problem as long as they’re getting your content?
That appears to be the logic here, because instead of sending readers somewhere else to read, they smartly link out to a call to action (turning three clicks from email to blog to CTA down to just two, from the email to a landing page).
In-line images even use directional markup like they would in a blog post:
Then, once they have the reader hooked, they let them know, “Hey, our agency can help you execute this.” It’s a great example of offering enough information to be helpful, but leaving enough out to where one might want some assistance.
This is simple:
Effectively, instead of using email to get blog traffic, you’re creating the same content and cutting out a step between the reader getting to your site and actually converting. That’s smart.
Plain text doesn’t have to be plain. This example from Hot Jar uses appealing fonts and color coordination to make a simple email promoting a podcast episode look great.
Below, they tempt listeners to click with a free t-shirt offer (and use some simple visual styling to make things look a little more interesting):
David’s mugshot even uses a color filter effect to make it stand out.
There’s not much to this one but it works exceptionally well. Even if you’re not a design wizard, you can still make your plain text emails look anything but boring.
Then, when creating an email in your email platform, use those colors on your buttons and background styling.
Here’s another example of an awesome plain text email. It keeps things skimmable by using single-sentence paragraphs and getting right to the point (this especially makes reading on small phone screens easier).
This is even more simple than the Hot Jar example before. Simply use a color that’s used in your logo or branding, and adjust the color of your link highlighting and buttons in your email service provider. Keep your copy tight and concise, and you might be surprised how much better your email looks.
This email from Nintendo makes creative use of an embedded GIF. Not only does it look cool, but it ties in well with the Nintendo Labo’s marketing tagline:
Directly beneath that is a CTA with a cardboard-like texture, invoking the Labo’s cardboard design:
Next, it shows off some things that can be created with the Labo:
The last call-to-action is for a contest that plays off creativity and gets the reader engaged:
You might not have the brand recognition of Nintendo. But, don’t let that stop you from turning this awesome email into actionable inspiration:
BRB, I need to order a Labo now.
Here’s another example of plain text being anything but plain. By using a stylish yet understated header, an interesting font that fits their tech-centric aesthetic, and a little bit of color (borrowing the pink shade from their visual identity system), the Verge makes their daily email update look awesome.
There are a few things going on here that can easily be replicated:
As this email from Google demonstrates, sometimes less is more. If you have something specific to share, sometimes focusing on that one thing is the way to go, rather than weighing down your email with extraneous content.
If you have something important to share, or something that’s a priority to drive traffic toward, send a simple email promoting nothing else but that one thing. One headline, four sentences, and a button should be all you need.
Welcome emails don’t have to be complicated to be effective. This one from Starbucks is visually appealing and clearly communicates when the recipient can expect.
If you don’t have welcome emails set up for new subscribers (whether a single message or a conversion-optimized email flow), create one. Get started with Scott Cohen’s guide.
You might have an awesome offer that your audience wants to act on, but just not right now. This example from entertainment media subscription service Humble Bundle gives recipients the option to be reminded about the offer, rather than having to take action right away.
Clicking the Remind Me link directs users to the same landing page as the offer button on the left, but prompts this pop-up:
Clicking the link ensures you’ll get a follow-up email.
Create a call-to-action that’ll either send your email again at a later date (before the offer expires) or adds recipients to a list segment to receive a reminder. Here’s how to use click segmentation in each of four popular ESPs:
This is a bit of a complex process, but essentially, you want to get someone who clicks that button to get added to a segment that will send them a reminder email. If you have an automation expert at your company, work with them to get this set up.
Email newsletters often link out to multiple articles in a straight line. Lifehacker breaks theirs up using content blocks of various sizes to make it more visually interesting.
Note the block for sponsored content here, too:
This is as simple as creating a newsletter design that uses content blocks of differing sizes. Don’t go too overboard, but starting with a single column width for your most important content, then including ads, sponsored content, related link, and other content in smaller boxes beneath that is a good start. Limit yourself to two or three different formats.
The best email marketing often feels like a conversation. This copy from LeadPages nails it. The message opens with a relatable anecdote, then leads into what the email is all about.
Write your copy as if you’re talking to an actual person. If you’re struggling to break the grasp of corporate-speak from your copy, start with this great guide from Copyblogger.
Want to get people to open an email? Imply they might have a problem they’re unaware of, then offer a solution. This email from Zapier uses a little bit of empathy to soften the blow, too, relating the fact that the writer themself struggles with that same problem. Nobody wants to feel like they’re the only one.
This email follows the classic Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) copywriting formula:
That’s it. From the headline to the CTA button, this email moves through all three stages concisely.
CTA button copy like “Read More” and “Click Here” are common and, well, boring. This email from Trello uses much better action-driven copy that’s unique and relevant.
Avoid the temptation to write boring button copy and think of something more interesting. But, don’t jump to something creative for creativity’s sake. Make sure you’re asking people to do something relevant to the task at hand.
For example, if you were writing a button to drive email signups, instead of “Signup Here,” you could try something like “Be Smarter” or “Learn Our Secrets.” Something that implies a benefit for the recipient.
This email from Copyblogger mixes up different types of content to hook readers in and give them what they want. It opens with a nice conversational intro:
Followed by a clean and crisp CTA:
And additional content blocks with new and related articles:
Note that the button copy encourages engagement by asking recipients to comment in addition to reading.
Follow this email content format:
Together, each of these elements:
Bonjoro does a great job of giving their emails personality. The copy is brisk, light, and conversational. Their graphics are well-designed and aren’t afraid to have a little fun. It’s all understated yet crisp, dabbling in humor without going overboard.
Check out this header and intro copy:
Followed up with an embedded video:
And a graphic that works in some nice Mario fireballs and fun copy:
This is great because it shows off the company’s quirks while sharing valuable info.
Let your company’s personality shine through in your email copy. Whether that’s light and fun, or authoritative and serious, make your emails sound like who you are. This video from Pixel Ink does a great job explaining how to understand brand tone and voice:
And this video guide from Copyhackers explains how to edit email for tone and voice well.
Men’s shorts company Bird Dogs aren’t afraid of getting NSFW. Not an approach that works for everyone, but works extremely well for reaching their audience. Here’s a fairly tame example of their sense of humor:
And their creative approach to product naming conventions:
Shorts aren’t the first thing most people think of when they think about … well, anything, ever. Unless you’re getting dressed for a summer day, most of us don’t care that much about shorts.
So, if you have a product that’s mostly utilitarian, or just something that’s not super jump-off-the-screen exciting, make it not boring. That can be as simple as writing loose copy that feels like it came from a real person, to making full-blown comedy what you stake your brand on (you need to be good if you’re going to go this route).
If you subscribe to lots of email newsletters (and most marketers probably do), it can easy to forget who or what exactly some things are that end up in your inbox. While Mozilla is extremely recognizable, you might not be familiar with their IRL Podcast.
So, they smartly include explainer boilerplate copy at the end of their email promoting each episode, reminding you what this specific thing from Mozilla is all about:
If you send emails to promote a recurring content series (like a podcast, YouTube show, or something else), include something at the end reminding recipients what it’s all about. This will help build awareness around your series or show and help people separate those emails from your other newsletters, offers, and general email content.
Book Riot packs a ton of information and value into their events newsletter.
The intro copy is fairly standard:
Followed by some sponsored content (an easy way to monetize your list):
After that is an extensive listing of book-related events:
Including more events for touring authors:
Plus events that are upcoming:
The way they keep this all from getting too repetitive is to break up the formatting in each section. Each one looks distinct, and the events are listed in order of priority.
Then, at the end is a well-designed CTA graphic:
Overall, this packs tons of content into a well laid out newsletter.
You can cram a lot of content into an email newsletter without it feeling like too much, as long as the visual layout is broken up to be easily skimmable. Organize content into groups and give each section its own formatting style.
Want to get people engaged with your email? Make it fun and interactive. That’s exactly what Microsoft does with its rewards quiz emails. Each email features quizzes around a different theme, giving recipients a chance to earn Microsoft Rewards points they can redeem for prizes, coupons, offers, and more.
After the opening question (which typically features some striking photography) there are a few more chances to win points, too:
Many email service providers integrate with quiz platforms that make creating newsletters like this easy. If you’re a MailChimp customer, consider using Fyrebox:
What if you have different tiers of customers who might be interested in similar yet different products from you? One option is to include two CTAs side-by-side and let them choose which offer is most interesting.
In this example from Adobe, there are two different versions of Photoshop with identical pricing, but with different feature sets aimed at different needs.
Try offering two similar yet different products in one email to the same audience. This can help identify which is more popular, or just increase conversions by giving recipients a choice in which product to go with (rather than deciding the offer they got didn’t fit their needs).
If you’re looking for more learning resources on email marketing, there are tons on the CoSchedule Blog. Continue your learning with these posts:
Email Marketing Reading Library:
And don’t forget CoSchedule makes managing email marketing easy on one comprehensive marketing calendar. If you’re ready to give it a shot, start your free trial now:
Which examples most inspired the next campaign you’re planning to launch? Drop a comment below and start the conversation.
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