The Best Email Marketing Campaigns to Increase Sales

Email is evolving, but it is still one of the most effective ways to reach and engage with an audience. 

You most likely know this, or you wouldn’t be here. 

But as more and more entrepreneurs catch on to this, it’s common to see business owners take it to two extremes: 

  1. Abusing the channel to the point where your audience is totally turned off by you, or
  2. Completely neglecting the channel altogether to the point where your audience forgets you exist. 

The happy medium is what you’ll learn today: How to effectively use email marketing campaigns to increase sales. 

We’ll dive into three different types of campaigns you can start utilizing right away, and what you’ll need to make them succeed. 

But first, just in case you fall into the “neglects email altogether” camp, or you need to be reminded of why it’s such an effective channel, let’s review why email is so powerful. 

Is Email Really An Effective Way To Do Outreach?

Think back to the last sale you made. 

The chances are high that at some point in your sales cycle, you used email to close the deal. 

“Marketers put a lot of emphasis on chatbots, Instagram influencers, and other new opportunities to reach their customers. But your contemporary communication methods shouldn’t distract you from one of the oldest and yet most effective messaging channels — email.” – Caroline Forsey

In an article by Hubspot, they cited that email generates $38 for every $1 spent. This equates to a 3,800% ROI.

Compare this to the 29% ROI of social media, and this makes email one of the most effective digital marketing options available.

In addition, a study by Smart Insights compared the organic influence of an email compared to a social media post. Take a look at the results: 

Social media is a great way to build an audience and showcase your brand. But when it comes to a conversion tool, email is by far more effective.

It’s not enough to simply get your product in front of the most eyes – you want your audience to take action. Based on the data, email is still the most effective way to achieve this.

We’ll now walk through successful email marketing campaigns that will:

  • Convert New Customers
  • Upgrade Existing Customers
  • Save Potentially Failed Customers

Let’s get started. 

Successful Email Marketing Campaigns (With Real Life Examples)

We’re going to walk through email campaigns that can become the heart of how you build and grow your business.

If you decide to do this on your own, it will take you months to perfect your campaign. 

It’s a lot of work up front. 

But keep in mind that as you build more products or expand your business to offer more services, you can easily replicate campaigns that you’ve already seen succeed. 

Regardless of what you sell, you’ll be able to integrate these campaigns into your sales process. We’ll show you examples as we go. 

The Prospect Campaign: For People Who Have Yet To Buy From You

This campaign is for nurturing potential customers. Your target audience is people who have yet to buy from you, but have shown interest in what you do. 

The metric we look to in order to determine their interest is whether they have submitted their email address somewhere on your website. This action demonstrates they are looking for more information or some kind of value from you.

With these emails, you’ll provide that value and cultivate trust. 

Case Study: How A Prospect Email Campaign Generated $3k/m In New Revenue

Meet Tim*, an InboxDone client who came onboard over 3 years ago.

Tim is heavily focused on stats and believes in the mantra “what gets measured gets managed” — so we knew his inbox manager would need to be someone who was data-centered with an eye for growth.

Tim runs an information marketing business with a focus on podcast and books. He received a surge of opt-ins after one of his interviews went viral. He wanted to capitalize on the boost of interest so he enlisted his inbox manager to write a brand new prospect campaign that highlighted the viral interview.

After a strategy call with Tim to discuss the end goal of the campaign, his manager set to work writing the six emails that would make up the campaign. The strategy was to offer as much value as possible upfront (for free.)

Each email highlighted and expounded on a different point from the interview in a lesson format to ensure tons of value was delivered every time. Since Tim’s manager knew that a hybrid campaign of automated and personalized emails produces the best results, each email also ended with a question, encouraging recipients to respond directly to the email and promising a personalized response (something easily delivered on since Tim’s inbox manager was handling his email replies too).

A PDF transcript of the viral interview was also offered as a gift in Email #3 in the followup sequence — an ebook with graphics and a Q&A/quotes section the manager had previously made as a lead magnet.

After a few (minimal) tweaks, Tim approved the campaign so it was ready to go live. The manager ensured the evergreen campaign would run both for current prospects and for any future prospects who found Tim through this interview.

As soon as the campaign went live, the responses began pouring in.

Tim’s manager qualified each prospect by asking a few targeted questions He then either directed the prospect to some relevant resources (blog posts and interviews on Tim’s site), offered some of Tim’s online courses, or sent the link to book a discovery call with Tim (for the few who qualified for this next step). Prospects were pleasantly surprised to receive a personalized response from an actual human, making the entire campaign a more influential user experience.

Tim’s manager also made sure to reference upcoming emails in the automatic campaign to add even more personalization and prep prospects on what to expect. Reminders were set for any prospects who expressed interest but weren’t yet ready to purchase so that Tim’s manager could follow up with them personally after the campaign had ended.

After the 6-email series, every prospect was automatically transferred over to Tim’s regular newsletter so that the relationship could continue to be cultivated and special offers announced.

Twelve weeks into the campaign, Tim shared that he never would have been able to keep up with the influx of emails if not for his inbox manager.

Tim’s love of stats revealed that the campaign his manager had both created and managed was now bringing in $3k+/month in additional sales between coaching and courses.

*Name has been changed to respect client confidentiality

The Repeat-Offer Campaign: For People Who Have Shown Interest In Your Product

These email campaigns are designed to make repeat offers after a customer or potential customer says no to an offer the first time.

Some examples of who might be enrolled in this type of campaign:

  • They made it all the way to the checkout page, then abandoned their cart
  • They’ve already made a purchase from you, and you have a similar product that you know they would also benefit from

These types of emails should earnestly ask: What stopped the potential customer from finishing their purchase? or, Don’t they want to make a purchase that aligns with their previous purchase and would benefit them in a similar way?

Case Study: How An Abandoned Cart Email Campaign Led To a 40% Increase In Sales Recoup

Meet Amy*, an InboxDone client who came onboard two years ago. Amy is a licensed counsellor who offers virtual sessions for her clients, as well as books and courses for those who are interested in continuing their personal development (outside of their one-on-one time with her).

We knew Amy’s manager would need to be well-versed in HIPAA policies and confidentiality procedures to ensure the psychological safety of her clients, as well as extremely empathetic due to the sensitive nature of some of her clients’ emails.

About six months in, Amy’s manager began to notice a high degree of abandoned carts. She knew this indicated either a poor user experience or a weak sales funnel.

Amy’s manager offered to created a follow-up campaign to make repeat offers for customers who did not complete the payment process. Amy was thrilled with the idea and also noted that she would love to incorporate more cross-selling — offering books/courses to clients and sessions to those who have already purchased her books. She knew existing customers were her lowest-hanging fruit, and yet she didn’t have time to personally follow up with each of them.

Amy’s manager decided a personalized campaign (using Gmail only) would have more of an impact than an autoresponder due to the highly-sensitive nature of Amy’s clientele. After writing a four-email sequence and turning them all into templates, Amy’s manager outlined the new process in an SOP (standard operating procedure) so that the entire process would be clear to Amy (and any future managers):

  • When an “Abandoned Cart” email is received, look up the client’s email in Stripe to view any previous buying history (note how many attempts were made to purchase and if it was due to a declined card)
  • If a declined card was the reason, send template titled “Would You Like To Try Another Way?” (email #1 in the campaign) to the customer, making sure to personalize the template as needed (especially if the customer has already made a previous purchase, make sure rapport is always being built).
  • Set a reminder to follow up with the customer 3 days later if no response.
  • If a declined payment is not the issue, send template titled “Can We Help?” (email #2 in the campaign), offering a few other troubleshooting suggestions. Set a reminder to follow up with the customer 3 days later if no response.
  • If there is still no response, send template titled “’Life-Changing Experience’” (email #3 in the campaign) that includes a testimonial about the benefits of working with Amy. Set a reminder to follow up with the customer 3 days later if no response.
  • If none of the above emails elicit a response, send the final email (#4) with the subject line “An Invitation For You”. This email includes a link to the next information webinar hosted by Amy, where she answers questions from prospects at a set time 1x/month (for anyone who isn’t ready to purchase yet but still interested).
  • Continue to personalize every email as much as possible.

Amy’s manager also created a similar campaign for cross-selling. Whenever a new customer purchases either a course or a session with Amy, her Manager sets a reminder to follow up one week later to ask about their experience thus far. She then offers the most relevant next step (whatever will most complement their initial purchase) with the associated link included (either a link to purchase a resource, or a link to book in with Amy).

Amy’s manager continues to track every abandoned cart email and sends her weekly sales reports, noting that 40% of abandoned carts now result in a sale once the follow-up campaign is implemented. This recoup of sales is more than enough to cover the cost of an inbox manager and Amy loves the direct impact that two simple campaigns have on her bottom line.

*Name has been changed to respect client confidentiality

The Customer Campaign: To Ensure New Customers Use And Benefit From The Product They Purchase

The effectiveness of email doesn’t end once you’ve made the sale. The customer campaign is designed to improve your customer retention rates. 

At this point, your customers should know your name when it appears in their inbox, and as a result be more inclined to open and engage with your email. The trust you’ve built over the course of the previous campaign should be one of the key drivers of success for these campaigns.

Some examples of how you can use customer campaigns to improve your retention rates:

  • Highlighting the benefits and features of the product or service they purchased
  • Offer related or “next level” products 
  • Following up on failed payments
  • Prevent future failed payments because a customer’s credit card is about to expire

As we mentioned earlier, these campaigns are time consuming to set up at the start, and require a level of human intervention even after they are launched. 

Case Study: How A Customer Email Campaign Saved $600 In Refund Fees

Meet Seth*, a newer client who has been using InboxDone for 6 months. Seth runs a membership site filled with forums and mini-courses and knows that the key to his business is getting customers to engage with the forums, subsequently prolonging retention and creating life-long fans. 

We knew Seth’s manager would need to be very people-oriented (since community engagement would be a huge part of the role), as well as able to discern when/why a current member might be struggling and how to preemptively add value.

Seth’s main concern was refunds and cancellations. His acquisition was strong, but his churn rate was high and lowering the number of cancellations/refunds per month was his biggest focus. For Seth, the overhead for refunds is higher than cancellations, so even if he could preemptively catch a customer before a refund was requested, he considered this a win.

Seth’s manager set to work creating a hybrid customer campaign: a mix of both automatic and manual emails. His manager set up a recurring campaign that aligned with each customer’s renewal dates. He wrote 10 emails that are sent out to each customer (in rotation) before every monthly renewal date. Each email highlights popular benefits of the course, announces newly-added resources and upcoming events, and shares a user experience story.

Seth’s manager coupled this campaign with more personalized emails (as well as direct messaging inside the forums), which he sends out at regular intervals to existing customers. He asks how their experience in the membership community is going, if there is anywhere they feel stuck, and asks for feedback about the service overall. 

By preemptively reaching out to clients, Seth’s manager was able to “save” several would-be cancellations by pointing customers to resources in the membership site (that they didn’t know existed), or just by starting a conversation with someone who was struggling. 

After running the numbers at the end of the first month, Seth concluded that his manager has saved him over $600 in what would have been refund fees. He had also seen repeat instances of relationship-building with clients who he knew were on the fence when it came to renewing their membership. As soon as this ROI became clear, Seth quickly upgraded his plan to increase the time his manager could spend building relationships with his customers.

*Name has been changed to respect client confidentiality

Now that you understand the types of campaigns, we’ll discuss what you should have in place before you begin implementing email marketing campaigns. 

What Does It Take To Run A Successful Email Marketing Campaign?

Keep in mind that the three parts of a successful email marketing campaign must co-exist. You can’t have one without the other two. 

To sum it up, successful email marketing campaigns happen when you build systems, then follow up. 

Here’s what we mean and what you’ll need in place to build successful email campaigns of your own.

1. Automation

You need a tool that will automate your campaigns. This is also referred to as a drip release or autoresponder sequence.

The degree to which you customize this campaign is up to you. Your autoresponder should have the ability to run triggered rules based on how advanced you need to be.

For example, when you sign up for Facebook, you receive an email from Facebook on how to get started, how to upload a profile picture and how to find your friends. 

It would be humanly impossible for a Facebook employee to sit at a desk and manually send a “welcome” email every time someone signs up for a Facebook account. 

While you might not get thousands of sign-ups a day, manually reacting to inbound interest or manually following up on failed payments is not a valuable use of your time.

That’s the beauty of email automation, you can set up the email once, and as more people continue to meet the trigger you defined, the email will continue to be sent to them without you ever having to lift a finger.

We discuss different email softwares that have this capability here.

Some frequently used options are: 

2. System/Knowledge Base

You can – and should – automate emails, but only to a point.

Here are some examples of the danger in too much automation:

Imagine a customer receiving the fourth email in a prospect sequence encouraging them to buy a product they just purchased the day before.

Imagine a customer receiving an upsell request email after they have expressed dissatisfaction with your product and asked for a refund. 

Without systems in place, your emails can run rampant and ruin your reputation if you aren’t careful.

The emails that get sent back to you will be as dynamic as the audience you’ve sent them to. This is why it’s so important to maintain a systematized knowledge base that houses things like:

  • Common response templates
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Rules that un-enroll prospects and customers from a sequence (some of this can be automated too)

With this in place, you can easily pull responses from your knowledge base, personalize them for the intended recipient, and send in seconds rather than minutes. 

As you may have already begun to realize, many of these functions will require the intuition of – yes – a real, live human being. The third element is perhaps the most important. 

3. A Human Being

The key thing to remember with all of this is that there is a human being on the other end of your email campaigns, and if they engage with your email, they will respond to you with a human response. 

For example, let’s say you are running a failed payment campaign. Your automated email goes out to the customer letting them know their payment type has failed. 

They might respond and say, “Yes I can’t pay this month, can I pause my subscription?”

An automated drip release won’t have the intuition or empathy to respond in a customer-centric way. A human being, on the other hand, will. 

A human being might say, “Of course, but we could also offer you three months for the price of two. Would you be able to afford that?”

This email could be the difference between a lost customer and a very happy customer. 

As your business grows, so too will the number of campaigns you are running. 

You’ll need human intervention to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks, emails are being sent and received at the right time, and responses to your campaigns are being measured in a human way. 

Are You Harnessing The Full Potential Of Email In Your Business?

If you are a business owner reading this, you are probably thinking to yourself – “I know I should be doing this. I just don’t have the time.”

That’s where we come in.

In order to run these email marketing campaigns effectively, you’ll need someone who understands the products and services you offer, understands the subtlety of when to ask for an upsell, when to negotiate on a payment plan, and all the other very human parts of doing business. 

“We all know empathy is the right thing to do, but empathy is not just good for the world (and our own sanity). It can also bring a competitive advantage in business. Our ability to see the world from the perspective of others is one of the most crucial tools in our business toolbox,” said brand strategist and author Maria Ross. 

Our inbox managers are top of their class communicators who are not only experts in intuiting the subtleties of business, but they can set up, run and respond to the campaigns for you. 

If you are interested in applying for an inbox manager, click here to set up a discovery call.