I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, though I always had a slightly different format in mind. But after seeing this incredibly delightful and generous post by messaging app Drift, I knew I had to steal borrow their format (sharing is caring, right?).
If you’re like me, you have multiple email accounts: one for work, one for pleasure and — admittedly — one for newsletters and other spam. As you can likely empathize with, I get a buttload of emails every day. Of which I read very few.
Here are some reasons why I actually read an email:
- I have to. It’s either necessary for me to do my job or for me to function in society (i.e., “Your cell phone bill is overdue”).
- It’s from a friend or family member. (My grandma is legit tech savvy.)
- The email subject line is so gosh darn intriguing that I literally cannot not click.
- It’s from a source I trust, and/or the value is clearly indicated in the subject line or in the email opening.
That’s pretty much it. And a quick poll of a few of my team members revealed they shared my sentiment.
So, if you’re writing an email on behalf of your business (or on behalf of your client), it better fall into one of the above categories. Otherwise, it’ll end up in email heaven. Or if you don’t believe in heaven… email nothingness.
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled our (Unbounce’s) top-performing emails (based on open rate, click-through rate or other defined metric of engagement). AND WE WANT YOU TO STEAL THEM.
Here’s what’s included:
- Blog welcome email
- Re-engagement email
- Campaign follow-up email
- Holiday email
- Feature launch email
- Oops email
- Nurture track welcome email
Plus we’ve highlighted what made them so successful and provided actionable tips for translating what worked to your own emails.
And for your copy-and-paste pleasure, here they all are in a Google doc.
Get all of Unbounce’s top-performing emails
1. Start a conversation with your blog welcome email
This email was just one of the amazing things to come out of our two-week publishing hiatus. It’s the welcome email that is sent after someone subscribes to the Unbounce blog:
Subject line: Just another welcome email
We had three goals for re-working the blog welcome email: (1) inject personality, (2) get recipients to actually engage and (3) gain insights about what our readers actually struggle with as marketers.
Whereas our previous blog welcome email got at most one response per month, this email prompted 20 genuine responses in its first 30 days. Here’s one:
This one, too:
If that wasn’t enough, the email also sustained a ~60% open rate (multiple online sources state 50% is industry average for this type of email). We’d like to think it has something to do with our borderline self-deprecating subject line… but then, maybe we were just lucky.
2. Revive dormant contacts with a re-engagement email
After the release of our web series The Landing Page Sessions, we sent this email to our unknown subscribers. (Note: We define unknown subscribers as people whose email is the only data we have, and thus cannot determine if they are market qualified.)
The goal of the email was to get recipients to check out the first season of the show, which showcases our product in a delightful and actionable way.
Subject line: Wanna binge watch the Netflix of marketing videos? 📺
The result was a 15% open rate and a 12.8% click-through rate — meaning nearly 2,000 people in lead limbo checked out The Landing Page Sessions.
3. Follow through on promises with a campaign follow-up email
At MozCon 2015, the Unbounce team ran the first of many successful notetakers campaigns.
The basis of the campaign is this: We tell people we’re going to take notes and collect leads on a landing page; we furiously take notes for #allthetalks; we follow up with leads and send them the completed notes. The email below was the final step in this process.
Subject line: Here are your mozcon notes 📝
Firstly, I just want to point out that the image in the email is actually a gif, which is why it looks a little silly.
No, wait, still silly.
In any case, this email had a 74.8% open rate and a whopping 60.8% click-through rate.
We suspect it performed so well for two reasons: (1) it was a really cool campaign and (2) we were able to use imagery to draw a connection between the person behind the “Send email” button and the person dancing awkwardly at the conference.
4. Delight your contacts with a holiday email
This email had just two simple goals: (1) to delight the heck out of our existing contacts and (2) to let customers know about our revised holiday hours.
Subject line: A Little Gift, From Our Team to Yours 🎄
Caption: (BTW, if you want to watch the hilariously Canadian video, you can check it out here.)
Did it deliver? You betcha it did.
We sent this baby out to nearly 70,000 contacts, and ~15,000 (20.9%) of them opened it. Plus we got some pretty cheery replies, which is always a symbol of success here at Unbounce.
5. Speak to pain points and solutions with a feature launch email
This email was sent only to existing customers on our professional plans, with the goal of getting them to try out our then-new Dynamic Text Replacement feature.
Subject line: Just Launched: Make Your Landing Pages More Relevant with Dynamic Text
To find out what language people were already using around keyword insertion, the team dug into existing content on the web (blog posts, thought leadership content, community discussions, etc.).
In particular, they wanted to find out how performance marketers were defining the problem that keyword insertion helped to solve. The biggest takeaway revolved around “relevance,” so that’s what the email focused on.
And it seemed to pay off, with an open rate of 33.6% and a click-through rate of 7.4%.
6. Turn a negative into a positive with a delightful “oops” email
If you caught Stef Grieser’s talk at CTA Conf 2016, you might remember that some of our best performing emails are oops emails (that is, follow up emails we send after we mess up the original). Now, we’re not suggesting you screw an email up on purpose, but a mistake presents a great opportunity for humility and delight.
Take this email from our Customer Success department.
Subject line: Oops! I know you’re Gary, not <<Test First Name>>
As you might have gathered, we made an error with our Merge Tags that caused <<Test First Name>> to appear instead of someone’s actual name (*facepalm*).
We followed up with a delightful oops email, which had an open rate of 75.5%. Plus, it provided us with a second opportunity to present the content of the initial email (encourage signups for the webinar).
7. Engage with qualified leads with a nurture track welcome email
This email was sent to two distinct segments: contacts on marketing teams and contacts who work at a digital marketing agency. It was kind of a nurture email, but also kind of not. The goal was to engage with prospects in a super personable way and build rapport.
You’d think with what little spare time we all have, a shorter email would always outperform a longer one (best practices say so, at least). However, that wasn’t the case with the email below.
Subject line: Allow myself to introduce… myself.
Not only does this email have a 33.17% open rate, it gets a ton of thoughtful responses. Like this one:
And also this one:
Of course, not everyone was thrilled with the lengthy nature of this one, but the responses were mostly positive, so it’s an interesting thing to test in your own email campaigns.
Tips, tricks and takeaways
These emails worked for us, and I hope they work for you, too. Keep in mind the following pro tips though, before you go all copy-pastey crazy.
- Steer clear from generic subject lines such as, “Welcome to [company name]!”. Instead, think about how to leverage pattern disruption to cut through the generic garbage and get noticed.
- Have content that is both entertaining and highlights your product or service as the answer to your prospect’s pain points? Consider using it to nurture dormant or (according to our definition) unknown leads to get them re-engaged.
- If you have the opportunity, showcase that there’s a real person behind the email you’re sending.
- Once in a while (like during the holiday season) take a break from the sell, sell, sell emails and give your contacts something truly delightful, just because.
- Know your audience. For messaging that truly resonates, dig in and find out the type of language they use before writing even a single word of copy.
- Never overlook an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Oops emails are a great way to be transparent and build rapport with your audience.
- Use best practices as guidelines, but don’t shackle yourself to them. While keeping marketing emails short is generally a good idea, you also have to consider the context of what you’re hoping to accomplish.
What are your top-performing emails? Have any pro tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear ‘em in the comments.