You know, so much has been said about the importance of email marketing.

And I’m sure you’ve heard all the stats already, for instance:

You’ve probably also heard tons of advice on how to make your email more attractive, actionable and converting, right?

But have you ever reviewed the newsletters you receive in your inbox?

That‘s what we decided to do today. So first, we asked our email specialists to take a look at their inboxes and tell us what they found in recent newsletters they’ve received – good and bad. Then we asked Yuri Kanuka, Head of Email Marketing at SEMrush, to select and review the most vivid examples of email marketing moves, both successful and not, and share his thoughts with our audience.

Yuri Kanuka, Head of Email Marketing at SEMrush

Intrigued? Keep on reading.

Example #1: Sprout Social


The email is simple and clickable. The design is easy to scan, and it doesn’t contain any unnecessary elements that could distract the recipient. Also, notice how, in spite of being so short, it contains three different ways for a user to click: two register buttons (one on the main image and the other at the bottom) and a link in the text.Let me focus on this option for a second. Text links are something I notice many email marketers forget about.

But according to research by Aweber, although buttons attracted more links initially, text links ultimately outperformed them 53 percent of the time. Nice, huh?

Example #2: Ecommerce Expo

Ecommerce expo

And what convinces me about this one is the personalization.

For one, it’s creative. The visitor badge with your name on it immediately evokes a sense of ownership.

It definitely beats the boring “Dear [NAME]” opener that so many companies use. And, on a side note, according to research by the Fox School of Business, they might be shooting themselves in the foot.

Here’s an excerpt from the research:

Given the high level of cyber security concerns about phishing, identity theft, and credit card fraud, many consumers would be wary of e-mails, particularly those with personal greetings.

So what eCommerce Expo did was turn the default personalization around and give the recipient an impression of almost being there. Brilliant.

One other thing worth noticing: there are three clickable areas in the email: ·The visitor card itself ·Text links in the copy ·A big call to action at the bottom

Example #3: Wix

Example #3: Wix

Notice how the clear B2B message of this email got a B2C styling.

Looking at the main image might suggest that the message came from a clothing company perhaps. Or another B2C vendor. But it’s a 100 percent B2B offer, and it’s well presented as that.

This email shows that B2B companies don’t have to take themselves too seriously. They can add a bit of humor and a little wink to their messages without compromising quality.

Example #4: Sephora

Снимок экрана 2015-09-21 в 19.44.49

This is a typical cart abandonment email intended to get you back to the site and complete your purchase. And you know what, it actually might.

For one, the sales message is very gentle – just a little nod that I have some stuff left in my cart. It even gives me a list of this stuff to make me more inclined to buy it. The other things I like about this one are that the site’s USP is gently reiterated in a little “pin up” note and the horizontal navigation bar, which matches the site’s navigation.

Example #5: Vero

Example #5: Vero

A big NO from me.

First of all, the picture distracts me from the actual content of the email.It’s too big, it covers too much of the email’s real estate and it pushes the rest of the content away from the reader.

In fact, it’s so big that you need to scroll to see the call to action.

Thinking about it now, it would probably be better if the button were on the image. At least then there would be some purpose for having it there at this size. But you know what really strikes me about this one? The irony that this message is all about email marketing best practices…. and it’s unreadable because of a design flaw. Phew.

Example #6: inVision


This is a nice, clean message with a contrasting and clearly visible call to action.

It's a typical digest email featuring various articles the company thought their audience would find worth reading. Note that each article features a custom call to action, instead of resorting to a default “read more” or something like that.

One other thing worth noticing about this one: its catchy subject line. And that’s achieved not only through words but also with the clever use of emojis.

I’ve actually been wondering about how they work in such a case myself. After all, their main benefit is that they’re short and they allow you to convey much meaning in a shorter space. But do they work?

According to MailChimp:

We don’t see a consistent positive or negative impact from using emojis at this point, but they’re still growing in popularity and stabilizing.

So… who knows really. But overall, I like it because it adds variety to subject lines. And here’s a bonus for using emojis in subject lines: since they’re not that popular yet, your emails have a much greater chance of standing out a recipient’s inbox.

Example #7:

Booking email

Even though there’s so much going on design-wise in this email, it’s not in any way difficult to scan or pick out what you might be interested in.

Take the search bar at the top. It contains animated an gif that immediately attracts attention.

The search bar itself immediately suggests the ability to search for your favorite destination. Of course it only redirects you to the site. Still, it’s a clever way to increase the click-through rate of your emails.

The “view this email as a webpage” option is another example of good design. Even though it’s positioned at the top of the page, where everyone can see it, it blends nicely into the background. So, in spite of being visible, it doesn’t distract users from the main content.

Simple but effective, isn’t it?

But what I particularly like about this newsletter is the reader’s feedback at the bottom: It’s just a simple scale rating dressed in emojis to make it easy to respond. Just click on the face that best represents how you feel about the message and you’ve provided solid feedback. It couldn’t be easier. Well done!

Example #8: Trello

Example #8: Trello

Absolutely NO. For one, look at the calls to action. They’re text-based, which of course isn’t a problem, but read their copy. It’s hard to call it creative, isn’t it?

Now contrast this with what inVision did – it placed a custom button with a call to action beside each article.

But there’s more. The default blue of the link ruins the whole email for me. I don’t know, I think they could have at least styled the link better and provided more creative copy for it.

Example #9: SEMrush


Okay, I’m going to be a little cheeky here and refuse to rate this one. This one is our very own and our first attempt to feature an animated .gif picture in a message. We like gifs in emails and wanted to try it for ourselves. Here’s the result.

Using a gif allowed us to show the tool in use, giving the recipient a sense of the product in action. And…it worked. (At least judging by the increased click-through rate.)

How About You?

Do you review your favorite newsletters to find out what works and what doesn’t? Or take a sneak peek at messages your competitors are sending? We think you should.

And, in fact, we might have just made it easier for you to do so with our new email tracking campaign! Simply click here and start tracking.

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Author Photo
Yury KanyukaEmail marketing strategist at SEMrush. Yury Kanyuka has five years of email marketing and marketing automation experience. With his team he increased SEMrush's email-driven revenue by 200% in one year.
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