Want to reach more people? Get familiar with these 3 types of marketing emails


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Email marketing is one of the most accessible and efficient ways for small businesses to talk to their existing customers. But how do you ensure the email campaign you worked hard to create is a successful one? The first step is knowing what type of marketing email you’re writing before pushing send.

Marketing emails fall into three buckets.

  1. Promotional
  2. Transactional
  3. Relational

Knowing the difference can take a lot of the guesswork out of email marketing. Let’s go over what each type means, and when to use them.

Promotional emails

Promotional emails are what most people think of when they hear the phrase “email marketing.” Their purpose is to make an offer to your email list. For example, a florist might send an email letting customers know about a half-off sale on bouquets of roses ahead of Valentine’s Day. The idea is to provide information that’s valuable to your customer, while also generating sales for you. In addition to discounts and sales, promotional emails can be used to share a report your firm authored, announce a new product release, or share details on an upcoming event or webinar you are hosting.

Transactional emails

Transactional emails form the backbone of customer service in the digital age. That email order confirmation customers get when they buy a product from you? That’s a transactional email. They also include things like receipts, coupon codes and password reset links. Back to the florist example, a Valentine’s Day campaign that includes an emailed coupon code for 50 percent off rose orders completed online has a transactional element. Transactional emails are a great way to show that your brand can deliver, while also giving customers a feel for your brand voice and values.

Relational emails

Relational emails are all about engaging the people who subscribe to your email list, and building a relationship with them. (Relational. Relationship. Starting to make sense, right?) Relational emails include welcome messages sent to new subscribers, outreach out to customers with an inactive account, general company updates or a customer feedback survey. It’s important to remember that the focus of relational emails is to grow a relationship, not make a sales pitch. View these interactions as an opportunity to talk to the customer, and share a little more about your company.

It’s not a question of whether you will use these email types, but when. Think about how your firm can work within these categories to provide a better experience for newsletter subscribers.

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