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9 email marketing ideas to use for your next campaign

These email marketing campaign ideas came from my inbox, and you can adapt them to your business.

By Steph Knapp · August 26, 2022
Hero image with an icon of an envelope representing email

It doesn't matter how much you enjoy your work—working in the same format or topic can send you into an inspiration slump. That's why I sometimes take to Gothic novels to see what they can teach me about creating a narrative throughline in a blog post. And most recently, I took to my own inbox to try to come up with some fresh email marketing campaign ideas. 

9 email marketing ideas you can use

When I look for good email examples, I start by considering what the email is trying to do in its simplest form. That way, I can apply it to any industry or company. Here are a few of my favorite ideas from recent email campaigns—I hope you can find some inspiration in them.

1. Product education

How do your products fit into your customers' everyday lives? Paula's Choice, a skincare brand, recognizes that some of their customers are chasing clear skin, so they stepped in to offer advice. 

An example of a product education email, where Paula's Choice Skincare shows subscribers how to pop a pimple

This email is a prime example if you want to repurpose blog content into nurture emails. The email is educational first and promotional second. The content is easy to scan, and Paula's Choice doesn't mention its products by name (only by image). There's also a link to related content if the subscriber wants to explore the topic further. 

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

  • Explain a routine or use case with one of your products in the mix.

  • Highlight a real customer's "day in the life" with your SaaS as a step in their workflow.

  • Educate non-profit subscribers about the steps in your organization's work.

2. Specific prompt

Email marketing can be a two-way conversation. While your emails should mainly serve subscribers, you can also use them for research. Software review site G2 noticed some listings didn't have as many reviews, so they sent an email asking people to share their experience with those tools. 

An example of an email campaign with a specific prompt from G2, asking people to review software

The brand needs user input to be helpful, so they identified a specific shortcoming and set out to solve the problem. G2 sent similar emails a few times to ensure they got as much feedback as possible and directed click-throughs to a page to review applicable apps

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

  • Find products with fewer reviews and ask customers to share their thoughts on the specific item.

  • Ask users to share testimonials based on a particular benefit or use case.

3. Reward program milestones

Pizza Hut knows progress is satisfying and that it's nice to have something to work toward. At the top of their promotional emails, the pizza brand includes a "Hut Rewards" tracker to give a preview of upcoming loyalty program freebies. 

The header of an email from Pizza Hut, showing the subscriber's rewards balance

Including the progress bar within the email answers the question "what's in it for me?" before subscribers even ask. It also gamifies every promotional email. 

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

  • Remind subscribers about your loyalty or referral program rewards.

  • Show SaaS account usage to congratulate their progress or make them aware of their account billing limits.

  • Keep subscribers updated on your fundraising progress.

4. Webinar series

Planning a webinar takes a lot of work, and more isn't always more. Take Hootsuite's TikTok webinar series as an example. Instead of creating one mega-webinar on the topic, the social media scheduling tool promoted a series of webinars on specific sub-topics. 

An email from Hootsuite about a webinar series they're hosting, with links to each webinar in the series

Breaking content into shorter segments makes it more approachable. The email and landing page also help subscribers decide what they want to tune in for

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

  • Send a content roundup about a topic or common question.

  • Create a free drip email course. Bonus: tag subscribers who engage with your announcement email to use for future email segmentation

  • Promote snippets from a single existing webinar across multiple emails.

5. Social validation

Social proof about your company can encourage people to buy. Social validation about your customer's impact can encourage them to act. 

Amazon sent an email with the subject line, "Ever wonder if your reviews are getting noticed?" Then, they included supposed views and likes of past reviews. To finish it off, they have a recent purchase to review. 

An email from Amazon, asking the subscriber to rate a product

It's worth noting that there are no specifics about the view and like count, so they may be made up. However, at a glance, it could be enough to make people think their efforts are needed and worthwhile. 

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself:

  • Let customers know their reviews help other buyers and that you appreciate their sharing.

  • Send stories related to specific causes or projects a customer has donated to.

6. Project updates

Your organization's success depends on your customers, so involve them in your progress! Tennessee State Parks sent a newsletter on various park projects that used donations. 

An email from Tennessee State Parks with an update about a project they were working on

The email showed subscribers exactly how the organization uses contributions before asking for more donations at the bottom of the message. Giving a behind-the-scenes peek instills confidence about how they use funds and builds excitement about improvements to look forward to. 

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

  • Send "behind the scenes" photos or quotes from your team during product development, a new launch, a company goal, feature updates, or other projects.

  • Tell subscribers about your company wins, and thank them for being involved.

7. Weekly questions

Your newsletters can be informative and fun. Monday.com's newsletter has a comic-strip feel with a cartoon and a weekly question. 

monday.com's weekly email question and cartoon

The cartoon and question serve two purposes. For starters, it's approachable. The weekly question is an incentive to keep coming back, though. The answer to each week's question is in the following week's newsletter, which means you need to open another email for the conclusion. 

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

8. PR highlight

Media features are a big deal that you can use to support your email marketing campaigns. Recreation.gov mentioned their recent Today Show feature in an email promoting the organization's mobile app. 

And email from Recreation.gov showing that they were featured on the Today Show

Adding the recognizable Today Show logo is a simple way to add social proof to the promotional message. No recent PR? No problem. You can bring attention to previous media features. 

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

9. Product category self-segmentation

eCommerce brands, especially ones as large as Chewy, have huge product catalogs. Presenting product categories in your eCommerce email marketing helps subscribers find the right product fit. 

An email from Chewy showing subscribers products from a variety of categories

The pet product website sent an email with five different dog treat categories with a call to action to shop each. The simple email helps customers find relevant products and allows Chewy to tag subscriber preferences for future promotions. 

How to use this email marketing idea for yourself

  • Highlight products within categories to familiarize subscribers with your inventory.

  • Share different use cases or jobs-to-be-done.

  • Send stories across different customer segments, regions, or non-profit causes.

Ideas for email marketing are everywhere

Constantly creating is tough, but you don't have to do it alone. You can look to your inbox for inspiration, or even take a new approach with story-based email marketing. A community to learn from and lean on also helps, so try joining some Slack groups for marketers to learn about new email campaign ideas—and get started on your own.

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