The words email marketing strike fear into the hearts of many small businesses. Where do they start? What do they say in all their emails?
But as a knowledge entrepreneur, you’ve got an unfair advantage. You’ve got a message that matters. And you know your audience cares about it.
What you need is a swipe file of email marketing campaigns that have been proven to work. And that’s just what you’ll get in this Kajabi guide.
Keep reading to learn 13 types of email marketing campaigns you can use to turn your subscribers into fans and loyal customers. We’ve included examples of each, so you know exactly how to set up your emails.
Get our PDF guide - 5 must-have methods for course creators to be effective with email
What is an email campaign?
An email campaign is a strategic set of marketing emails that a business sends to its email list to drive a specific action. Email campaigns are managed by the business owner with an email marketing software like Kajabi’s.
Two types of email campaigns
Email campaigns are sent in one of two ways:
- Email broadcast
- Email sequence
An email broadcast is a single email that promotes, announces, or shares something of interest to your audience. Email broadcasts are typically sent manually. You can schedule them in advance, but you must set them up each time you want to send a message.
Email broadcasts are perfect for sending an email on a specific day at a specific time. You can write them, upload them to your email service provider, and schedule them to be blasted to your entire list at the time you specify.
An email sequence is a series of emails that are built in advance and triggered by a customer behavior, such as signing up for your lead magnet, joining your course, or subscribing to your email marketing list.
Since the sequence is triggered by customer behavior, the emails in a sequence are sent asynchronously. Each subscriber in the sequence will receive emails at different times, based on the day or time they triggered the sequence.
The first email is sent immediately after the trigger event. The rest of the emails in the sequence are sent according to the schedule you set when you build it.
For instance, you could set up your sequence to have Email #1 sent immediately, Email #2 sent 30 minutes later, Email #3 on day 2, and Email #4 on day 4. The waiting period between emails is up to you — from a few minutes to a few days or even months.
Two looks and feels
When designing your email campaign, you can choose two different looks and feels:
- Simple text
Simple text email campaigns look like a personal email. There are no fancy layouts, images, or buttons. This type of email is perfect for long-form emails and for short messages that look like you sent them from your personal computer.
Note: “Simple text” is not the same as “plain text” emails. Plain text describes the earliest emails, which had no ability to include HTML coding on the back-end.
Simple text emails can include design elements, such as bold and italics. But they’re simple by design — to give the impression that you sent your email directly to the recipient without using your email service provider.
HTML email campaigns are designed to be eye-catching and engaging. They include banners, logos, headlines, images, and buttons. An HTML email can have the same look and feel as your website, creating a unique branding experience.
Is one better than the other? No!
You can use both simple text and HTML emails in your campaigns. Just make sure you create a consistent customer journey.
How do email campaigns help knowledge entrepreneurs?
One of the top email campaign benefits is that you can be attentive to your audience without having to work 24/7 responding to their actions on your website and in your emails.
Email campaigns allow you to design the perfect customer experience — creating the right messages and the right timing — and set it all up in advance.
Whether your business is large or small, it’s physically impossible to manually send out every email that needs to be sent to your audience. By building your email campaigns in advance and automating as many of them as possible, your business runs almost on autopilot. That frees you to support your students, market your business, and build more knowledge products.
What makes a good email campaign?
According to Smart Insights, the average open rate for email campaigns is almost 17%, with an average clickthrough rate of about 10%.
No matter where you’re starting from — whether you’re above or below these averages — your goal should be to continually improve your open rate and clickthrough rate. To do that, you need to be able to send the right message at the right time. And you need to create clickable subject lines, engaging email copy, and strong calls to action.
Right message, right time
People are busy. They don’t have time to open your emails and thoughtfully mull over every word. But they’ll make time if your email talks about something they care about.
A winter promotion in the middle of summer will likely flop. But a last-minute shopping promotion the week before Christmas — now that’s going to get people’s attention. It’s what they’re already thinking about, when they’re thinking about it.
Clickable subject line
Your message can’t help anyone if they won’t open your email. To get your email opened, you need to create a clickable subject line.
How do you do that? Here are a few suggestions for creating clickable email subject lines:
- Keep it short and to-the-point
- Put their name in the subject line
- Mention the big problem you’re addressing in the email
- Create curiosity
- Make a promise
- Make them laugh
- As a question
Easy to read and scan
Once they open your email, you need to make it easy for them to read and respond. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. If you want something to stand out, bold it. Use buttons and design elements to draw attention to your call to action.
Always remember, your subscribers are busy. Respect their time, and they’ll give you more of it.
Strong call to action
Tell people what you want them to do when they finish reading your email: click a link, hit reply, or complete a task.
The CTA gives your campaign a purpose. It tells the recipient that there was a good reason for opening and reading your email. And that keeps them opening your emails in the future.
Email campaign examples
Now, let’s look at 13 types of emails that you can use to sell more knowledge products, support your customers, and grow your business.
1. Confirmation email campaign
A confirmation email is an automated email that’s sent to someone who completes a transaction with you. Transactions that should receive a confirmation include:
- Filling out a form to access a resource or freebie
- Signing up for a webinar or video recording
- Scheduling a strategy call
- Buying a product
Notice that each of these actions draws the user deeper into your sales pipeline. At all costs, you must build on that trust and deliver as promised.
One of the best ways to do that is with a confirmation email that includes the information, links, and login credentials they need to take their next step with you.
For example, this confirmation email from Appsumo:
- Restates the title of the webinar
- Gives the date and time
- Includes the Zoom link
- Has a button to add the event to your calendar
Sometimes, there are no log-in credentials or links for you to share. Your subscriber has joined a list and wants to be sure you received their email address.
In this case, the confirmation email doesn’t need to be long. This example by Consulting.com shows how effective a short, no-frills email can be.
2. Welcome email campaign
When you walk into a local store, a clerk usually greets you, welcoming you to the store and offering to help you find what you’re looking for. A welcome email campaign does the same thing.
This is your first touch with someone who has joined your community, membership, or course. So you need to do a few things:
- Set expectations
- Build relationship
- Build trust
Here’s an example from a tech company that nailed their welcome email:
The subject line includes the user’s first name and welcomes them to the family. Putting the recipient’s name in the subject line has been proven to boost open rates. Adding the welcome message creates a warm, inclusive feeling that probably boosts the open rate even more.
This email makes a good template for any welcome email.
Start by thanking the user and restating your company’s long-term vision. This is your brand promise, and it should be stated repeatedly: on your website homepage, in your sales pages, and yes, in your welcome email as well. This is one of the ways you cement your value in your customers’ minds.
It’s especially important to do this now, immediately after a transaction. By restating your vision, you’re establishing that you’re still there for your customers, and you’re committed to delivering as promised. That builds trust and liking.
Next, tell people how to get started. Here’s where you’ll share login credentials, links, or next steps. I like that this email adds a button with a call to action. Even if the recipient is scanning your email, they’ll see that button.
Finally, end the email with some friendly housekeeping:
- What to expect
- How to get help
- Request a review
3. Onboarding email campaign
The welcome email is often Email #1 in an onboarding sequence. If you’re in a hurry, you may only create a welcome email that’s automated to go out after a transaction takes place. But you can easily add two or three (or more) emails to that automation to create an onboarding sequence.
An onboarding email campaign may include:
- An email offering an unexpected gift: something that surprises and delights
- A product or services email, describing all the ways your subscriber can work with you
- A “best of” email, sharing links to your best content
- Testimonial emails, telling success stories of your members and clients
- An offer email, promoting a product or other paid opportunity
Onboarding campaigns can be any length. Often, they’re just three days: a welcome email, a “best of” or gift email, and an upgrade offer. But your onboarding sequence can be as long as you want it to be.
This onboarding sequence by The Hustle, a newsletter published by Sam Parr, is a good example.
Email #1: Confirmation or welcome (sent immediately after subscribing)
Email #2: Free issue of Sam’s premium newsletter, Trends (sent 30 minutes later)
Email #3: Special offer on Trends membership (30 minutes later)
Email #4: Promoting a report that’s only available to Trends members (4 hours later)
Email #5: Story promoting information only available to Trends members (24 hours later)
Email #6: Asking for feedback (sent 6 weeks later)
This 6-email series is unique because it sends several emails on Day 1 and spreads the other emails out over time. On Day 1, when you’re excited about your new subscriptions, Sam sends you four emails teasing his premium newsletter, Trends.
This is a good example of how you can orient your new subscriber and invite them to upgrade to a paid product. Do as Sam does: tell interesting stories, share case studies, and tease information that’s available exclusively to premium clients.
4. Email mini-course campaign
This type of email campaign is actually a lead magnet. But instead of delivering it as a PDF download or a traditional course, you deliver each lesson in an email, one day at a time.
This type of campaign will help you build your business. Because you’re offering free training, it can attract new subscribers. And since it trains them to look for and open your emails every day, it can help you build a high-quality list. Then, once the mini-course is done, you can add sales emails that invite people to buy your full-length course or coaching.
There are two ways to use an email mini-course campaign: as a lead magnet or as a free gift after people subscribe.
Lead magnet: Promote the email mini-course as you would any lead magnet. Create a landing page and have people sign up for it. On Day 1, send them a confirmation/welcome email, and your first lesson. Build an automation that drips one email every day until the mini-course is done, and then a few promotional emails.
Free gift: Most onboarding sequences include a bonus or gift. A short mini-course is perfect for this. In your welcome email, add a P.S. that says something like, “As a bonus, I’m giving you my email mini-course on “topic.” Your first lesson should land in your inbox in just a few hours. Be watching for it!”
Here’s an example from White Label Comedy, with my notes in the margin, so you can see how they structure these emails. (I don’t want to steal White Label Comedy’s thunder, so I’m not including the entire email here.)
As you can see, this could have been a paid course. By giving it away for free, White Label Comedy comes off as heroes. But it helps them build their business as well:
- You get a taste of what they can do for you.
- You quickly understand that they’re experts at what they do.
- You’re more inclined to buy their courses or hire them because they’ve been so generous.
5. Announcement email campaign
An announcement email campaign is an email or series of emails that are sent before you launch a new product or event. The goal is to let your subscribers know it’s coming and to build anticipation and excitement.
This example comes from Chandler Bolt, founder of Self-Publishing School.
Your announcement email can be simple or fancy. Here, Chandler sent a simple text email, making it feel like a personal email sent just to me. But you could just as effectively add a countdown timer and a button to a registration page.
What matters most is to let your excitement shine through. Notice how Chandler does that in is email. He bolds sentences that he wants you to see. He uses all caps and hyperbole: “BIGGEST announcement in Self-Publishing School history.”
This email is designed to make you curious. So you can bet people are watching their inbox at the time he specified. Now matter how you design the email, focus on building anticipation, and you’ll get good results from this email campaign.
6. Alert email campaigns
Alerts are a great way to keep your subscribers and students engaged. They announce new products, events, and the release of new course lessons.
Alert emails are often one-time blasts that are built as needed. But if you’ve built a course that releases one lesson each week, you can build an automated sequence that coordinates with your course.
This type of campaign doesn’t need to be long or complex.
- Create a subject line that will stand out.
- Give the user the information they need.
- Include links or a button to click through,
This example, by SocialBee, was sent to affiliates to announce that their anniversary event was live. In this case, they include bullets to explain what the event is about, in case the recipient missed earlier alerts.
7. Product showcase email campaign
Product showcase emails allow you to feature a line of products, or specific products that are on sale or available now.
Whether you sell books, courses, or coaching, this type of email campaign will remind people about all your offers and could generate more sales without having to put together complicated funnels or marketing campaigns.
Author Melissa Foster does this in her email promoting her books:
We’re used to seeing this type of email from our favorite boutique shops. We forget that we can do the same thing with our knowledge products.
This type of campaign is usually a single email blast. It can coordinate with your newsletter, providing a unique format every few weeks or months. Or tack it on to the end of your onboarding sequence or minicourse.
8. Reminder email campaign
Reminder emails are vital if you do webinars, live training, or open your cart only during a launch event. But you can also use reminder emails to keep your students and clients engaged.
Here are some situations where you might use reminder emails:
- Your cart opening or closing
- Your event starting
- A download that’s only available a short time
- A course assessment that needs to be completed
Here’s a reminder email example from Todd Brown to subscribers who haven’t signed up for his workshop yet. For people who were on the fence, this reminder might persuade them to go ahead and sign up.
9. Newsletter email campaign
A newsletter is a fantastic way to engage your list. With one email campaign, sent on a regular schedule, you can keep subscribers and members updated on everything that’s going on.
Newsletters are often a mashup of other email campaigns, including:
- Content updates
- Product features
- And more
They may be free or paid. A free newsletter is usually sent to your entire email marketing list. A paid newsletter is sent to its own subscriber list.
Make your newsletter as long or short as you like. The Hustle, which we mentioned above, is a long-form HTML newsletter that features content and affiliate links. Bob Bly’s newsletter is a simple text email that includes a short essay and an occasional promotion below his signature.
Here’s how Bob lays out his daily newsletter:
Marketing Profs sends a weekly HTML newsletter that has all the bells and whistles. It includes:
- Links to content: articles, podcast episodes, infographics, reports
- Webinar promotion
- Masterclass promotion
- Community goings-ons
- Upcoming events
- Invitation to share
But there’s a middle ground between Bob Bly’s simple format and Marketing Profs magazine approach. The Smart Blogger newsletter is designed like a simple text email, but it includes a variety of sections:
- Links from around the web
- New and old links from the Smart Blogger blog
- An offer
- A sponsored promotion
- A student spotlight
- A quote from one of their articles
- A closing message
Newsletter campaigns are usually sent on a weekly or monthly schedule. Some are sent daily. Because each issue is customized with new information, this type of email campaign isn’t automated. It’s manually built just prior to sending it out.
That said, newsletter campaigns aren’t difficult to build. If you use an email marketing software like Kajabi’s, you can drag-and-drop content blocks into your email to create a beautiful, HTML email as quickly as a simple text email.
To know which format to use for your newsletter, start by deciding on the information you’d like to include. Choose a template that can be adapted to fit your design, or create a template that has your color settings and content blocks pre-built.
10. Content update email campaign
You don’t need to create a formal newsletter to share your content. Instead, build an email campaign that alerts your subscribers to your newest piece of content.
A content update email can share a blog post, podcast, video, book, or any other type of content. It may include:
- Feature image
- The title of your content
- Description of the content piece
- Button to click through
But it doesn’t have to have a lot of design elements. This content update from Brian Massey of Conversion Sciences, is a good example:
It has a long introduction that gets you curious about the topic of the article. Then Brian puts two text links: READ and LISTEN.
Below that, he includes a list of other articles from his blog. Notice there are no images or descriptions — just the title of each article, linked. And notice that it still looks great.
Content updates don’t have to be long, though. You can keep them short and to-the-point, like this example from Neil Patel:
11. Knowledge email campaigns
Some knowledge entrepreneurs create email campaigns simply to fulfill their mission of sharing knowledge.
Justin Goff is a good example of this. He writes a daily email that tells a story or teaches a business or marketing concept in a fresh way. There’s no link, no call to action. At the bottom of each email is an image of Justin holding a piece of paper with the takeaway he wants to leave with you.
This may seem contrarian, especially after telling you that good email campaigns have a call to action. But remember, a CTA doesn’t have to link back to your website. In Justin’s case, the CTA is a task or mental shift that will help this audience grow.
Always remember, there’s no one way to run your business. This type of email campaign, done regularly, will not only engage your audience, it will establish you as an authority in what you do.
Then, when you send a promotional email (#12 in our list), your audience is already engaged. They enjoy opening and reading your emails. Which means they’re already inclined to accept to your offer.
12. Promotional email campaign
Promotional email campaigns include product offers, sponsored messages, or special deals. When you’re launching a course or making an offer, whether paid or free, this is the type of email campaign you’ll send.
This type of email can be short or long. It can be simple text or HTML. It can be a one-time blast or part of a sequence. Think of it as a sales campaign delivered via email.
If you send one email, treat it like a long-form sales letter. If you create a sequence, include emails that coordinate and support your sales email. These emails may:
- Talk about the issues your offer solves
- Share case studies
- Tell success stories
- Share testimonials
- Explain your mission or “why”
For this type of campaign, you’ll want to map out the entire sequence in advance. Each email message should lead to the next. In every email, you must give your subscriber a reason to click through.
Here’s an example from Ted McGrath:
And here’s an example from Pat Flynn:
Here’s an one-email HTML promotion by PennyMac:
13. Feedback email campaign
The best (and possibly only) way to grow your business is to get feedback from your customers. That’s what the feedback email campaign does.
- Ask for information on the student experience in your course.
- Ask whether they’d recommend you to a friend.
- Ask for testimonials.
- Ask what they’re struggling with or would like to learn.
Here’s a great example from leadership trainer David Novak. Here, he’s encouraging subscribers to leave a review. He even links to previous reviews to show you what he’s looking for:
Here’s an example by Design Wizard, asking the user to fill out a survey.
Use one, use them all
To grow your knowledge business, you need a growing list of people who love what you do.
It’s through email marketing — sending the 13 email campaigns we’ve covered in this guide — that you’ll keep them engaged, so you can turn subscribers into prospects and prospects into customers.
The key, of course, is getting it done.
That’s why we designed Kajabi’s email marketing software to integrate seamlessly with your knowledge products and marketing pipelines.
Email marketing should be as simple as having a conversation with your audience. Our templates and drag-and-drop interface makes it so easy to build your campaigns, you can send single blasts and build complex automations in minutes.
Study the examples in this guide. Then create your own campaigns to grow your business:
- Email automations to welcome and onboard new subscribers
- A weekly or monthly newsletter
- An email mini-course
- Campaigns that showcase your products and drive sales
Not only will you sell more, your subscribers will become your biggest fans.
Find more blog posts by category: