Emails. So many emails, finding their way to our inboxes every day: updates from our favorite blogs, recommendations from an online store we purchased from, reminders about events we signed up for, tips and tricks from that website we downloaded a whitepaper from last year, notifications that we have a new follower on twitter (woohoo!) and, unfortunately, a lot of stuff we never wanted and didn’t sign up for.
But have you really thought about the different types of emails you receive and why businesses send them?
Below are some of emails your business could be sending to keep customers informed, encourage sales or promote engagement.
One-to-many emails are just that, a single email sent from a single sender to many recipients. “Newsletter” might come to mind.
Marketers sometimes refer to these as “blast,” “bulk” or “broadcast” emails. And while still an important part of any email marketing strategy, this type of email can feel less-than-good to send.
The good news is that marketers don’t need to blindly blanket an audience with emails likely to be thrown away, or worse, marked as spam.
Today’s email marketing systems and marketing automation tools allow marketers to create very targeted lists and to send highly-personalized emails to recipients who have expressed an interest in their company or online content. Requests for specific information, previous purchases, website activity and page views provide information that allows businesses to send information that the user is more likely to engage with.
Not only are the emails personalized, they can also be incredibly timely. An email campaign can be created, sent and received in a matter of hours. This allows marketers to create messages that are nearly real-time and create a sense of urgency such as low inventory announcements or limited-time-only sales.
Bulk emails also allow companies to reach large groups of people more often with little investment in time and money. Aside from the ongoing investment in list building activities and the time it actually takes to create the email campaign, bulk email represents enormous cost savings compared to regular bulk mailing — think: printing costs and postage — or telesales campaigns.
Examples of one-to-many emails
- Promotional emails including special discounts, sales, holiday offers, event announcements, upgrade emails, invitations, new inventory announcements.
- Newsletters which are sent on some regular basis, whether weekly, monthly or other interval, and are designed to keep customers and subscribers informed of news and information. These do not need to be lengthy or long form; short digestible sections will do the trick. And remember that while the purpose of the newsletter isn’t to sell, it can drive readers to your site and encourage future purchases.
- Digests contain easy-to-read summaries or teasers of content (either your own or curated content) such as blog posts, videos, ebooks, white papers, reports or even a list of product updates. Think of digests as a way to include a roundup of information while avoiding bombarding users’ inboxes, reducing clutter and improving the likelihood that the email will be read.
- Engagement emails look for a response from the reader, such as leaving a comment on a blog post, requesting feedback or completing a survey.
As the name suggests, these emails are sent to a single recipient. They are sent after a user has taken an action (transactional) or can be used to inform a user when an event has happened (notification).
Do not confuse these one-to-one emails with the email you sent to Joe Prospect yesterday from your Microsoft Outlook account.
The emails we are talking about are still sent via some sort of email marketing service or web portal and rely on rules, templates and dynamic data to generate and deliver an email to the user.
Transactional emails are usually associated with e-commerce sites but they can be utilized by any business that solicits user signup or account creation and enables online account management. The emails are sent when a user does something such as makes a purchase or requests a password.
Examples of transactional emails include:
- Email confirmations
- Password resets
- Username reminders
- Purchase receipts and invoices
- Sign up confirmations
- Welcome emails
- Payment confirmation
- Shipping/tracking update emails
Marketers often rely on a web developer or IT professional to create these messages as part of a website’s functionality. As a result, transactional emails are typically developed with little thought to design or to marketing and focus exclusively on a specific function, such as delivering that purchase receipt or password reset link.
This is a big mistake. Users want these emails. Transactional emails can have an open rate eight times that of bulk emails!
That makes this type of email a great opportunity to build trust and create more engagement and drive additional purchases by blending marketing-related content such as calls-to-action or related offers with transactional-content.
These notifications can be initiated or triggered by either the sender or by the recipient and typically serve as alerts, notifying a user when an event has happened. For example, a user might select to receive notifications of new comments or followers on social media or a sender might set up reorder reminders and birthday messages.
Notification emails are also commonly used in inbound or content marketing. When a website visitor requests a piece of content, such as a whitepaper or checklist, by submitting information on a form, an email is triggered to make good on the offer and deliver the content directly to the user’s inbox. This email is a great place to present a related offer in order to reconvert a visitor and to learn more about his/her research, needs or problem.
Like transactional emails, notification emails are a perfect place to reinforce your brand through design as well as to include marketing messaging.
Examples of notification emails include:
- Registration follow-up emails
- Account change notifications
- Reorder emails
- Congratulatory emails
- Birthday emails
- Milestone emails
- Shopping cart abandonment emails
- Drip/Lead Nurturing emails
Remember, no matter what type of email you send, always provide value. Create content that users care about and are interested in. And remember, don’t overlook design and readability as well opportunities to include marketing information even in transactional or notification emails. Each email you send is an opportunity to maximize engagement and strengthen relationships with customers and potential customers. And though your recipients may have opted-in to receive emails from you, be sure to include an easy to find method for them to unsubscribe or manage their email preferences.