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14 types of email marketing to experiment with

By Nicole Replogle · May 8, 2024
Hero image with an icon of an envelope representing email

Brand emails have come a long way from simple newsletters and discount offers. The types of email marketing are as varied as they are effective—but when you're planning an email marketing strategy, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible email types to implement.

In this article, I'll break email marketing down into four main categories: informational, drip, transactional, and promotional. Then, within each email marketing category, I'll explore a few types of email marketing (and share why they're important), so you can make educated decisions when building your own email marketing strategy.

What is email marketing?

Broadly speaking, email marketing is a type of digital marketing that takes place over email. Brands send email content—which ranges from newsletters to promotional messages to confirmation emails—to subscribers in an attempt to nurture leads and generate sales.

You need a dedicated and diverse strategy to reap maximum benefits from your email marketing efforts. The best approaches involve employing a sophisticated mix of the main types of email marketing (which are differentiated along the spectrum from informational to promotional).

Types of email marketing

Keep scrolling to learn more about each email marketing type—or click one of the links below to skip ahead.

  1. Newsletters

  2. Blog content

  3. Product education

  4. Seasonal emails

  5. Post-purchase drip emails

  6. Re-engagement emails

  7. Confirmation emails

  8. Welcome emails

  9. Abandoned cart emails

  10. Loyalty and rewards

  11. Product launch announcements and updates

  12. Co-marketing emails

  13. Special offers

  14. Event marketing emails

Email marketing types at a glance

Email category

Used for

Most common types

Informational emails

Educating and informing the reader


Blog content

Product education

Drip campaigns

Sending an automated sequence of marketing emails to nurture the subscriber

Seasonal emails

Co-marketing emails

Post-purchase drip emails

Re-engagement emails

Transactional emails

Responding to a specific action the customer takes (like subscribing or making a purchase)

Confirmation emails

Welcome emails

Abandoned cart emails

Loyalty and rewards

Promotional emails

Directly promoting products and services

Product launch announcements and updates

Special offers

Event marketing emails

Informational emails

The most straightforward (and least salesy) type of email marketing content is the informational email. If you've signed up for an industry newsletter or get email updates when your favorite blog publishes new articles, you receive informational emails.

This email marketing category is all about educating and informing the reader. Promoting your brand is secondary to that main objective. In informational emails, you're trying to provide value to your audience and demonstrate your authority in your niche.

Let's take a closer look at three of the most popular types of informational emails:

  • Newsletters

  • Blog content

  • Product education

1. Newsletters

Email newsletters are regular emails from a brand or content creator, intended to educate their subscriber list on an industry-related topic. They're a great way to demonstrate your expertise, share industry news, and build an audience.

Newsletter frequency varies by brand. Some email marketers choose to send monthly newsletters, while others opt for weekly or even daily emails. For example, Marketing Brew is a popular newsletter from Business Insider that's published every weekday. 

Screenshot of the Marketing Brew newsletter

The marketing newsletter covers industry news and trends in an entertaining, conversational tone. And most importantly, it's easy to skim and digest quickly—which matters for a daily email.

Or take a look at this example from Doist, a popular productivity platform:

Screenshot of the Doist newsletter

Doist's team sends monthly newsletters in a friendly, personal style. Email topics range from how to set up your to-do list app to tips for living a more productive life.

2. Blog content

If you're stuck on what kind of content to include in your informational email campaigns, why not use it as an opportunity to share your latest blog posts?

At Zapier, we regularly send emails sharing our latest blog content with subscribers. Blog emails are a great way to stay on your audience's radar, providing value and interest without creating fresh new email content from scratch.

Screenshot of a Zapier blog email

You might decide to send a new email for every blog post or generate a monthly digest with your blog's top hits. It's up to your preferences, blog publishing frequency, and overall email marketing strategy. You don't want to send your audience too many emails, though—so if you're active on your blog and also already sending a lot of other email content, it's probably best not to email your entire audience every time you publish an article. 

3. Product education

Another way to inform and entertain your audience is with practical information on how your product fits into your readers' daily lives. Many brands send information on how to use their product or service, while others highlight a use case or routine that involves their product. For example, skincare brand Paula's Choice gives practical advice on basic acne care.

Screenshot of an educational email from Paula's Choice

You'll notice that this email is almost exclusively educational. Paula's Choice products aren't even mentioned by name—just by image. Emails like these are a great way to build authority and trust with your readers while subtly demonstrating how your product can help them reach their goals.

When sending informational emails to your audience, it can help to have a dedicated app that simplifies the process. Check out our list of the best email newsletter platforms and software, or if you're looking for budget-friendly options for getting started, see our picks for the best free email marketing services.

Read more: 8 ways to automate email newsletters

Drip email campaigns

Drip campaigns are an automated sequence of marketing emails sent on a schedule. Unlike newsletters or other bulk informational emails, drip campaigns have unique start and end dates depending on when each customer enters the email journey. 

These automated email campaigns could start when a customer signs up for a service, makes a purchase, or registers for an event, for example. Then the emails "drip" into their inbox on whatever schedule you determine is best.

Below, I'll walk through a few popular types of drip campaigns:

  • Seasonal

  • Co-marketing

  • Post-purchase drip

  • Re-engagement

4. Seasonal emails

Holidays and seasonal changes are great times to send tailored email sequences to engage your audience. You might showcase products that fit the new season, like fall sweaters or outdoor gear for summer. Or your holiday marketing strategy could include sending gift ideas, shopping guides, and announcements for upcoming sales.

Screenshot of an email from Lion Brand Yarn

This example from Lion Brand Yarn suggests last-minute Christmas gift ideas using one of their crafting kits—and highlights their 30% off sale to sweeten the deal. Seasonal drip campaigns usually start with a kickoff announcement to start the season, then follow up with a few limited-time offers or sales along with seasonal shopping guides.

5. Post-purchase drip emails

While this email marketing type sounds like a head cold, it's much more pleasant. Post-purchase drip campaigns nurture your customers after they've bought from you. They go beyond a simple confirmation email with a tracking number or invoice—although they might contain this information, too.

Many brands use post-purchase drip campaigns in creative ways to educate the customer on the product, get them excited to start using it, and generally enhance the customer experience. 

This email from Peloton is a great example. While you're impatiently awaiting the delivery of your new exercise bike, Peloton invites you to explore their app—which offers plenty of home workout videos that don't need equipment. 

Screenshot of a Peloton email

This approach capitalizes on a new customer's post-purchase excitement and fosters brand engagement right away. Then, over the next few days, Peloton sends additional emails with tips and inspiration for new users as they wait for their purchase to arrive. 

6. Re-engagement emails 

Re-engagement emails are designed to recapture inactive subscribers who are in danger of unsubscribing (or "churning"). If a customer hasn't made a purchase, interacted with the company, or opened emails in a while, a re-engagement email could be a good way to connect with them. 

Some brands, like Panera, send an exclusive coupon to entice customers to come back:

Screenshot of a Panera email

This example shows that a drip campaign doesn't always involve multiple emails. Instead, this message drips into subscribers' inboxes a specified time period after their last purchase. 

Not only is it a good idea to try re-engaging those customers for potential future sales, but improving engagement rates can also boost your overall email marketing performance. The more unopened emails you send, the more likely internet service providers are to label you as a low-quality sender. In the best cases, re-engagement emails put you back on your audience's radar—and at worst, they at least help you improve inbox placement rates

Drip campaigns send your audience on an automated journey to encourage specific behavior (like making a purchase). If you need email marketing software built specifically to support drip campaigns, check out our list of the best drip campaign software

Read more: How to automate your email marketing

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are possibly the simplest category, and they're always triggered by an action from a lead or customer. As the name suggests, they can be sent after the customer completes a transaction (like a sale), but they also cover other scenarios, like a welcome email or abandoned cart reminder.

These emails aren't sent in bulk. Instead, they're customized to each recipient and contain specific information about the customer action or event that just happened. They're less about marketing your product or brand than providing an excellent customer experience (although some, like abandoned cart emails, can nudge a lead into becoming a customer).

Here are a few of the most common types of transactional emails:

  • Confirmation

  • Welcome

  • Abandoned cart

  • Loyalty and rewards

7. Confirmation emails

If your customer gives you their email address, you should be sending them a confirmation email anytime they make a purchase from you. These emails are simple, immediate messages meant to indicate that their purchase went through successfully. For example, check out this simple email from Clean Simple Eats:

Screenshot of an email from Clean Simple Eats

There's no need for flashy graphics or creative body copy in a confirmation email. Just include a short thank-you message for the purchase, along with an order number and any other relevant order details. It's also a good idea to include a link to view the customer's order history or a call to action (CTA) inviting them to continue browsing your site.

8. Welcome emails

A welcome email is the first email a new subscriber receives after they sign up or subscribe. Maybe they submitted their email in your online store, subscribed to your blog, or signed up for a free trial of your service (like in this example from Reclaim AI): 

Screenshot of an email from Reclaim.ai

This email is a great example of an informative and interesting welcome message—from the cofounder, which adds that human element right away. There's a quick overview of the brand's backstory and values, and then a list of quick tips for making good use of your trial. 

These emails are often the first impression your brand makes on a new subscriber, so they should be friendly, useful, and in your brand voice. For more inspiration on designing a welcome email that fits your brand, check out these welcome email templates for different business types.

9. Abandoned cart emails

If (like me) you love virtual window shopping, you've probably put a few items in your cart for fun, then moved on with your day. You've probably also received an email like this a few minutes or hours later.

Screenshot of an email from Archer & Olive

This message from Archer and Olive is a great example of an abandoned cart email. These emails are sent to potential customers who leave your website without completing a purchase. Most eCommerce platforms automate this process, so all you need to do is create a template that sends automatically when a prospect leaves any stage of the purchase process.

These emails shouldn't be pushy or long. Try using friendly, concise language that invites the reader to keep shopping—maybe by including social proof or a discount offer.

10. Loyalty and rewards emails

Unlike the other transactional emails we've looked at, loyalty and rewards emails aren't directly triggered by a customer action. Instead, they're triggered by a milestone, like an anniversary or reaching a new reward level. Many brands like to show customer appreciation by sending a celebratory message, like this one from Marvel, when customers reach a subscriber anniversary date.

Screenshot of an email from Marvel

These kinds of emails are a great way to make your customers feel valued and encourage them to stay loyal to your brand.

Because transactional emails are high-volume (and in some cases, deliverability is downright necessary), you should use a dedicated app for the job. If you don't already have an email marketing tool, check out Zapier's list of the best transactional email services to get started. 

Read more: How to automate your eCommerce business

Promotional emails

Like the name sounds, a promotional email is meant to promote your products or services. These emails are usually standalone announcements about new offerings, sales, or upcoming events. I'll explore each promotional email type below.

Keep in mind that there tends to be a lot of overlap between drip, transactional, and promotional emails—but they're still different enough to warrant their own category.

11. Product launch and updates

It's always a good idea to spread the word about new products or updates to your services. But don't be tempted to gush about every exciting detail—product launch and update emails should be short and to the point. Take this email from Adobe, for example.

Screenshot of an email from Adobe

This email has an attention-grabbing headline and stunning visual, with a prominent CTA button inviting interested readers to explore the product further.

You may even want to create a drip sequence to announce an upcoming feature or product, then send a few more emails to build excitement as the launch date approaches and finally arrives.

12. Co-marketing emails

When two brands work together to create mutually beneficial content, this strategy is called co-marketing. It's a great way to expose your brand to a wider audience and increase revenue for both companies. Co-marketing campaigns could center on a collaborative product or piece of content, like a webinar, online course, or ebook.

Email marketing is one of the best ways to promote your strategic partnerships. These emails are built to announce projects and encourage your audience to download the content, attend your co-marketing event, or shop the product—like in this example from adidas.

Screenshot of an email from Adidas

Co-marketing emails should clearly list both your brand and your partner and how you're teaming up. It's a good idea to keep the email itself concise, but feel free to include links to more in-depth details in case the reader wants to learn more.

13. Special offers

Another great way to capture your audience's attention and increase sales is to highlight any special offers, including sales and exclusive coupons. For example, here's a sale announcement from Grove Collaborative.

Screenshot of an email from Grove Collaborative

The best offer emails have pops of color and alluring product images (along with prominently placed discount information) to invite the reader to start shopping.

14. Event marketing emails

If you use events to market your brand and reach new audiences, it's a good idea to promote upcoming events over email. Some event marketing emails take the form of a drip campaign, including an announcement and reminders leading up to the event to give audiences ample opportunities to register.

This webinar announcement email from Airtable gets straight to the point. It includes the webinar topic and dates, along with CTAs that highlight the benefit you could gain from attending.

Screenshot of an email from Airtable

Of course, event marketing is easiest with dedicated tools. Check out Zapier's list of the best event management software.

Read more: How to automate your event marketing

Automate your email marketing

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of email marketing types your brand could (and should) be sending. Since your team only has so much time, it's a good idea to automate as much repetitive work as possible. That way, you'll have more time and creative energy to come up with the next great email marketing idea.

Using Zapier, you can build custom workflows—called Zaps—to connect your email marketing tool to the rest of your tech stack. Do things like consolidate your email list, set up triggers for drip campaigns, and even personalize email content with AI. If you want some more inspiration, check out our list of email marketing automation ideas. Or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

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Email marketing types: More of a guideline than a rule

Ask any five email marketing experts, and you'll get five different answers on how to categorize the different types of marketing emails. It's an ever-evolving and nuanced field—and your industry and audience can also determine how you differentiate between email types and decide which are most effective. 

But generally, it's helpful to think of your email content as falling somewhere along the spectrum from informational to promotional. You'll want to use a healthy mix of each email marketing type to effectively nurture your audience and generate sales in the long term.

Related reading:

  • B2B email marketing: Proven strategies + examples

  • eCommerce email marketing: A beginner's guide

  • Email segmentation: Why it matters + 13 strategies

  • How to choose email marketing software

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