Getting started with email design marketing | by Monica Galvan | Jul, 2021

Now that we’re beginning to understand how important email marketing is and how design plays a role, let’s discuss the different types of emails you might design.

1. Transactional emails

The most common and obvious type of email you will design for a business are transactional emails. For all online businesses, it’s important to have an automated email set up so that when someone purchases something on your website, they receive a confirmation of their purchase.

These types of emails are instant, they are sent immediately after a successful transaction online. They help build trust with your newfound customer. If you don’t send a confirmation email, the customer might think the order didn’t process correctly, or worse, they might worry your business is a scam.

Usually, these emails aren’t anything special when it comes to design, it simply repeats the action the customer just took. It might display the product or service name, quantity, price, date of purchase, there could be a link to track shipping if it’s a physical product. The key is to share the next steps with the customer. How and when can they receive what they just purchased? But you don’t have to just stop there.

When designing transactional emails, think about ways you can add the personality of the brand or business you’re designing for. This is where design and branding come in and can help uplevel these types of emails and make them stand out from the rest.

Here’s an example of an automated transactional email sent from Postmates for a food delivery order.

An example of a transactional email design from Postmates

Notice the logo displayed in the lefthand corner so we know it’s from Postmates. It clearly says “Thank you for your order” so we know our order is processed and our food will soon be on its way. There’s a relevant photo since we ordered ice cream, it makes sense to include a photo from the ice cream shop. We also have a summary of the order total, the last four digits of the credit card that was charged, as well as confirmation of the address the food that will be delivered.

2. Lifecycle email series

Equally important as transactional emails are welcome series or lifecycle emails. Lifecycle marketing helps guide potential customers through specific milestones in a sales funnel. These are a series of emails triggered by a single action. Usually, the purpose of these series is to nurture a cold lead and convert them into a customer but this isn’t the only strategy for using them.

An example could be when a user signs up to receive a coupon code for 15% off their first order. Immediately, they’ll receive an email with the code but they might also be added to a lifecycle series where over the course of a week or even 30–120+ days you continue to reach out via email. If they didn’t use the coupon code, you might resend it in a few days or weeks. Or maybe they do make a purchase and after a couple of weeks, you send reminder emails to entice them to make a second order.

Large companies have CRM (customer relationship management) teams with members dedicated to coming up with a strategy for lifecycle series. This is then shared with a creative team including copywriters and designers who design and write the emails to create a seamless experience from the first to the last email in the series. These emails series have a high ROI. Once they’re in place, they can continue to convert customers and bring in revenue like clockwork.

Here’s an example of a welcome email from Allbirds, a shoe company.

An example of a welcome series email from Allbirds

The top header image includes their logo, playful photography featuring their product, and a bit of personality in the copywriting. As you scroll down, we’re met with a “Welcome to the flock” message where we learn more about how Allbirds make their shoes and reminding us of their free shipping and free return policy.

3. Newsletter emails

Newsletter emails tend to not be regarded as highly as transactional and lifecycle emails. They don’t usually have the highest CTR (click-through rate) or generate revenue but they are important for brand building and nurturing a long-term relationship with a customer.

Newsletters don’t have to be boring, think of ways you can spice them up and make them relevant to the industry you’re designing for. There’s also no specific cadence to these emails, they can be monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.

These types of emails tend to be longer as they are a collection of curated information. Here is an example of a newsletter email, a snippet from Food52. Notice how this email is not at all focused on sales. Instead, it’s a collection of tasty recipes from the Food52 blog, with one featured large at the top but smaller accompanying ones just in case the first one doesn’t entice the reader.

An example of a newsletter email from Food52

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