Blog Post

Six types of foundational email campaigns

For our clients that are just getting started with marketing, email marketing is often the first tactic we recommend. It offers a direct line of communication to a captive audience that has already expressed interest in your business.

It can be hard to figure out an email marketing strategy, let alone write a compelling email. Below, we walk through six different types of email campaigns that we consider foundational to an email strategy. They are in order of sophistication — the campaigns at the bottom of the list require the right data and software to execute. For our visual learners, we also share some of our favorite examples. We hope this list inspires you to get started with campaigns of your own.

Transactional emails

In terms of content, transactional emails are the most straightforward. Think of these as any email that refers to the logistics of the conversion process. Purchase, subscription, registration, and shipping confirmation emails are obvious examples. Cart abandonment, asset download, product feedback requests, opt-in, and welcome emails are all also considered transactional emails.

Transactional emails are tied to a specific action that a customer has taken. They have subscribed to your newsletter, purchased your product, registered for your event, or forgotten their password. Because of this, we consider transactional emails to be a required first step in your email strategy.

Just because the main intent of your email is to communicate about a specific activity doesn’t mean it has to be boring. This is an opportunity to increase customer engagement. Transactional emails have the highest open rate. Creative copy and design are appreciated. You can also use this opportunity to provide valuable content or additional links — key word: valuable. Don’t be overly sales-y in a transactional email.

Dedicated email

A dedicated email is a one-off email sent with a specific message or call to action. Dedicated emails are particularly suited for promoting announcements: a new product, a major company update, or an event registration. A dedicated email often (though not always) communicates something that is relevant to your entire audience.

Where appropriate, the message from your dedicated email can be woven into nurture campaigns later on. This ensures that your audience doesn’t miss out on important information.


The focus of an email newsletter should be to inform, not sell. Newsletters are particularly suited for brands that want to create or curate a lot of content. For example, publishers, lifestyle brands, or bloggers should have their own newsletters that point to the latest content on their website. That being said, many brands in a variety of industries have news, blog, and other content that can be curated into a newsletter.

Your newsletter should be easy to consume — it is serving as a digest by either linking out to more information or summarizing it within the email. Once in a while, you can insert content into a newsletter that has a harder sell. But keep in mind that when people sign up for a newsletter, they’re not intending on signing up for a sales pitch.

Nurture campaign for prospective customers

If you have an email list of people who have expressed interest in your company but have yet to complete a particular conversion, you can run a nurture campaign. In emails for a nurture campaign, you nudge recipients towards additional opportunities to convert — weather that means signing up for a class, making a purchase, or donating to a fundraiser. You can run either a static (predetermined timeline with standard content) or a responsive nurture campaign. To run a responsive nurture campaign, you need an email marketing provider with scoring and segmentation features.

A nurture campaign implies that the email recipients are receiving a regular cadence of promotional emails. Keep this in mind when thinking about content and schedule.

While nurture emails for prospective customers are focused on promotion, you should get creative with content, design, and incentives. For B2C brands, incentives likely mean discounts, new item announcements, or additional information about your products. For B2B brands, incentives look like valuable content, events, or educational information.

Nurture campaign for existing customers

You can also include existing customers in a similar but separate nurture campaign. Again, a nurture campaign is a sequence of emails tied to particular stages of the marketing funnel. The intent of nurture emails for customers is to provide additional value and to entice them to engage further with your brand.

Ideally, these emails are crafted in such a way that they feel personalized or exclusive to existing customers. For example, in the below example Glossier, they knew that we had purchased their Moon Mask product and were following up to share a way to use it that was different from the package instructions. In addition, they also link to other products to purchase. Notice that the products they feature are from their skincare line, rather than their makeup line. We purchased a skincare product and are more likely to purchase another.

It is important to note that content and strategy for nurture campaigns for prospective and existing customers may overlap at points, and that’s okay! In some cases, a particular message (ex: a holiday sale) is likely relevant to both audiences. When creating your email content, ask yourself whether the information is appropriate and relevant for the intended audience.

Re-engagement email

There may be people on your email list who don’t engage with your website, software, or email campaigns at all. For those that once indicated interest but have since disappeared, you can see if they’d like to continue hearing from you or using your products.

While the goal of a re-engagement email is to draw people back to your brand, it can also be a way to solicit feedback or clean up your email list. If people aren’t interacting with you, ask them why. If people aren’t opening your emails, ask them if they want to unsubscribe.

Other types of email campaigns on this list may have multiple CTAs. In contrast, keep re-engagement emails simple and direct.

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