[List] The 5 best email marketing campaigns that are actually read

Is your email marketing campaign just not generating the results you expected? Maybe you can’t get enough opens, or maybe they just aren’t converting leads into sales?

Email continues to be a major form of marketing communications to prospects and customers. The fast and simple messaging approach this medium brings to our marketing mix ensures we get mass exposure to our key audience through minimal effort.

As we continue to find our email inboxes overrun with similar messages—all claiming to offer tips, tricks and other useful information that we can’t live without—the question arises. How do we launch effective email campaigns that break through the clutter to reach our targets?

While there is no one way to answer this question, it may be best to look at the broader email marketing landscape for best practices from successful campaigns to enhance email marketing efforts. Below, I’ve highlighted five creative email campaign examples that stand out in my crowded inbox. Each overview includes key learnings and an analysis of the elements you can incorporate into your own email marketing strategy.

The Hustle

You know that daily news email you signed up for and never read? If you can imagine the opposite of that, then you have The Hustle. Built upon the premise of providing a daily email with the latest news on business, tech and culture, The Hustle integrates just enough sarcasm, pop culture references and memes into a comprehensive email newsletter that you almost find yourself anticipating what new content they’ll come up with the following day.


While this newsletter thrives on curated email content, they bring a unique voice (they call it bull-shit free) to their brand, causing them to stand out among other curators. They mirror this voice across all their various media channels, including their emails, website and webinars, creating a consistent brand, no matter how you interact with them.

On a side note, I recently received the following email from The Hustle following a webinar I was unable to attend.


My favorite part of this email?

With the assumption that I’m likely not going to re-watch the webinar (because who really has 54 minutes during the workday to set aside for something like this), they included a few extra bullet points they know I’m more likely to read.

With that in mind, notice the copy below the video that reads TL;DW (“too long; didn’t watch”), which gives me 54 minutes of webinar content in a few bullets. Examples like this show The Hustle understands the market and what their readers want (and don’t want).


Similar to The Hustle, TheSkimm is also a daily news roundup of the previous day’s top headlines. While it may not carry the same edgy tone as The Hustle, TheSkimm still presents their message in a concise (hence the name “skimm”), punchy manner to provide you with the information you need, without the extensive time commitment.


In addition to the concise, direct writing, TheSkimm also benefits from two additional key features: 1) some of the best subject lines that encourage opens and 2) a clean email design that focuses on a primarily white color palette and easily guides the reader through the email.

Both of these email design best practices are key to ensuring reader engagement. No matter how great your content may be, if readers aren’t motivated to open your email and/or read the content, it is unlikely you’ll retain their subscription.


If you’ve ever used the Uber app, then you’ve been added to their email list. Uber joins the ranks of successful campaigns due to their email cadence and simple content.


Uber recognizes ongoing newsletters and other regular communications won’t resonate with an audience that relies on them for a ride home after a late night. Instead of weekly or monthly communications, Uber reserves their emails only for the items they know their customers want: app updates and free rides.

Given Uber’s ongoing sales cycle and numerous competitors, they recognize the importatance of only contacting their users when necessary. It also relies on the referral program and app store rank to bring in new prospects.


Much like Uber, PayPal does a great job of contacting you only when it’s truly important.

PayPal seems to have perfected the practice of sending concise, timely emails to announce their updates and other important user news. Their emails use a clean  template that properly integrates their blue and white color scheme. This simple design makes the email quick and easy to read.

blog-images3PayPal has always been focused on making online payments easier for consumers. Based on their emails, it’s safe to say they have brought this same messaging to their email marketing campaigns.


I’ll be the first to admit that including Buzzfeed in a list may be a bit of a softball, but who doesn’t love a good quiz on “which character from XXX are you” or 20 pictures of funny cats.


Before you skip this section all together, think about the unique aspect that Buzzfeed brings to your inbox: a fun, mindless break to your day.

In many ways, Buzzfeed has cornered the market on fun, easily digestible content that people enjoy because it breaks up the monotony of their workday. In fact, I’m sure many subscribers open each Buzzfeed email they receive because they understand what to expect from the brand—a fun 30-45 second article or quiz that allows their mind to briefly decompress. In today’s cluttered email marketing environment, this is a brand affiliation that many desire, but few achieve.

As you think about how you can expand your reach and better appeal to your audience, I would take a page out of Buzzfeed’s playbook to see how you can ensure your emails offer content is welcomed.


Although I mentioned earlier in this blog that there really is no one way to break through the email clutter (and I still believe this is the case), there are a few common elements that I think we should highlight from the examples above:

  • Voice: Each of these email marketing examples have established a brand voice that resonates throughout all their media channels. This unique voice serves as means of differentiation for these brands by moving them away from the generic corporate tone and style we find in numerous other emails.
    • Instead, readers benefit from a more personalized, everyday conversational approach that treats them less like another name in a list, and more like an acquaintance.
  • Cadence: Whether it is a daily email or communication strategy dedicated to specific updates or promotions, each of the identified examples has a clearly defined email schedule their readers recognize and understand.
    • This is a key element to a successful email campaign as it allows your readers to understand when and what to expect in your communications, both of which are extremely important in maintaining email subscribers.
  • Simplicity: I use simplicity to refer to both the writing style as well as the email design. From a writing perspective, each of these examples use common language and brevity to present their message.
    • While the copy integrates technical words from time to time, they’re only used when necessary.
    • From a design perspective, these examples integrate simple graphics and copious white space into their designs. Additionally, they contain a small, simple banner image and a colored footer, but otherwise rely on white backgrounds to drive the reader through the piece.
    • These are beneficial as they aid in pushing emails through to readers—thus avoiding spam traps—and creates a clean design that brings ease to the reading experience. Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to digest your message.

What works for you?

While the above is an introductory list, I would love to know what works for your emails as along with other examples you’ve seen that broke the email mold. Let us know in the comments or send us an email!

By Dan Earle – July 3, 2017

Email Dan Earle | Read more posts by Dan Earle

Posted in : Email Marketing

One Response to “[List] The 5 best email marketing campaigns that are actually read”

  1. Martha Says:

    Thanks for the cool examples. I’m also considering marketing automation with GetRepsonse, but I’m not exactly sure how is it different from email marketing? Any tips for a beginner?