Ideas For Creating Awesome Email Marketing Campaigns

Why do you subscribe to email lists? To find out about deals? Because their photos are ridiculously good? Maybe just because their emails are hilarious and crack you up every time? We all get some promotional emails in our inboxes, and it’s time to take note and start sending your own! Sending marketing emails is a great way of delivering urgent deals, limited time designs, giveaways, etc. straight to your customers. Here are some awesome email marketing campaign ideas and a few of the key factors that will make them stand out.

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First things first, what exactly IS an email marketing campaign? 

While email newsletters are typically geared towards getting information, content, updates, etc. to subscribers’ inboxes, email campaigns are geared towards making sales. Host of The Business of Becoming Podcast Lori Kennedy put it this way: “If you offer, ‘subscribe to my newsletter’ then your subscribers expect a newsletter, not promotional emails.” Email campaigns can also be a series of emails rather than one-offs. For example, for a week-long 50% off sale, Threadless might send the following series of emails throughout the week:

  1. Sale announcement (subject line example: Take 50% off! This week only!)
  2. Reminder email (subject line example: Don’t forget about 50% off!)
  3. Last chance email on the final day: (subject line example: FINAL HOURS for 50% off! ?)

Cool! So what makes an awesome email?

Think about the last promotional emails you opened, the ones you opened but quickly deleted, and the ones you scrolled right on by. People are bombarded by emails from brands; in 2016, Groupon alone sent 388 emails to subscribers (on average). Your emails must stand out. There are a lot of factors that go into making them effective. For example, more emails are opened on Tuesdays, making it a good send day. Here are a few tips you can use to beef up your emails and increase the chances of engagement.

Interesting subject lines

You can have the world’s best email, but it won’t do you any good if nobody opens it. That’s where subject lines can help. According to Convince & Convert and Hubspot, 33% of email recipients hit ‘open’ based on the subject line. Make them fun, funny, interesting, and for email marketing campaigns, communicate urgency

Clear “Call to Action” (CTA)

Think to yourself, “what do I want my customers to do?” Your emails must clearly communicate a purpose. If you want to promote a free shipping deal, make the deal clear in the copy: any writing on graphics, any text blurbs describing the deal, on the CTA button, etc. And make it easy for your customer to get to where they need to be. Is your deal free shipping on your collection of winter designs? Make the free shipping code clear and have the CTA button link directly to that collection. 

Images via Really Good Emails (1 and 2).

Have a voice

Nobody wants to read an email where it feels like a cut-and-pasted robot voice is trying to sell them something. Make your emails more human by giving them a voice! A great example of this is Girrlscout. Here’s an example of the order confirmation message she sends:

Granted, this is a confirmation email – not a campaign. But take note of how she’s turned what could have been a straightforward, dry email into a fun read by giving it some personality. Not only does it make it more fun to read – it strengthens her brand.


“Keep It Simple Stupid”…or, in this case, “Keep It Stupid Simple.” The average adult attention span is just about 8 seconds, so you need to keep the attention of your reader long enough to communicate your message clearly. By simple, I don’t mean make your emails boring; just make them clean and easy to navigate. If your email is going to have a lot of text-based blurbs, say more with less. Here are a few examples of emails that use stunning visuals and white space to keep their sale messaging interesting:

Emails via Really Good Emails (1 and 2).


A few campaign brainstorms to try

Here are just a few ideas for you to work with as far as email campaign brainstorms!

Limited time designs

One of the keys to a solid email campaign is sparking a sense of urgency, and it doesn’t get much more urgent than a limited time design. Send an email featuring a limited time design, product, or product color to your email list. If the design is around for a few days, send out an email announcing the limited time design, then another as a “LAST CHANCE!” email. You can add a design to your Artist Shop, then take it down when you want to cut off its availability. You can also urge people to Follow your Shop so they never miss out on a new product update. Our Artist Shop “new design added” notifications are combined within one email containing a collection of the newest designs a Shop owner has added. This allows your shoppers to view them all at once and click to purchase right away.

Special offers and promos

According to Mailigen, 22.6% of email subscribers do so to find out about offers and special deals. Whenever Artist Shops offers Free Shipping, sending an email with details about the free shipping deal is a great and direct way to spread the word.

Roundup for New Year’s

Between Instagram’s #2017BestNine and Facebook’s “Year in Review” videos, everyone likes to reflect on New Year’s – even brands! Behance started early this year, and last year our CEO Jake did a year-end review on the first year of Artist Shops. Sending a year-end email allows you to connect with and celebrate customers for supporting you. Not to mention, it’s also a great time to direct attention to some of your best performing designs over the 365 days, and maybe even to preview what the upcoming year holds. You can even make it out of custom graphics! Check out this year-end review we did in 2014 for inspiration:

Charity design updates

There are a ton of Artist Shops donating to charities (exhibit A.) But what actually happens to that money? Customers naturally want to know where their charity money goes, partially because, let’s be real, scams exist, but also because people want to see the results of their contribution. If you have a charity design, you’re an organization doing some good, or you’re a nonprofit, consider sending an email to customers showing how much was donated! Charity: Water does a great job with this. Even Uber does a great job of celebrating their employees by showing how many people they helped out (minus that kinda creepy comment in the first section…):

Image via Really Good Emails.

“Order in time for X!”

Until we have mail teleportation (?), we still have to deal with processing time + shipping time + Murphy’s Law = your order has arrived! Try an email campaign reminding people to order their products so they arrive in time for specific holidays. For people ordering gifts for others (or themselves), this is a great way to drive urgency, sales, and to push relevant products (ex. Stocking Stuffers for a Christmas shipping time email, Love-themed designs for Valentine’s Day, etc.) ColourPop recently did a stellar job of this (pun not intended) with an email that was both 1: timely for the Star Wars release as well as 2: urging people to order their New Year’s makeup early.

“Treat yourself” after the holidays

Try a post-holiday email campaign themed around the idea of actually getting what you want for the holidays, to treat yourself after treating everyone else, etc. This would be a good time to run a post-holiday sale and promote it with an email campaign over a few days.

Follow on Social

Sure, this isn’t a sales-based email. But if your goal is to rack up followers on social media, a marketing email is a great way to do it. Create an email geared towards getting people to follow you. You can also urge people to follow your Shop as well for updates whenever you add a new design.

Note that even though this email is simple and text-based, it’s still aesthetically pleasing, with a sleek, modern font choice and balanced layout (image via Really Good Emails).

Custom thank-you email

This isn’t a marketing campaign, but sending an email thanking your customers is a nice way of building your brand and building a relationship with your customers. If you have the time, you can get extra personable and do a little thank-you sketch for personalized emails! (Plus, that’s shareable and will get people talking/posting about you!)

If you have no customer emails

If you’ve made a few sales, great! You already have a handy list of emails in your Dashboard. But if you haven’t made any sales, how do you build that email list? Here are a few ways to start building an email list or add to your existing one!


Do a giveaway of a product (or a few) and require that people DM their email addresses to you so that “the winner can be notified via email”, perhaps run a Facebook ad, or you can even have a sign up section on your Facebook Page (side note: start a Facebook Page for your Shop and brand!) to gather emails.


Running Facebook ads with a CTA button prompting folks to sign up for your email newsletter, to get on your email lists for the aforementioned giveaway, etc., is an excellent way of getting your email signup message in front of plenty of eyes. This also gets you in front of Instagram viewers as well, since Facebook and Instagram are connected.

Friends & Fam

I know – nobody wants just their friends and fam to come to their show, they want fans too. But never underestimate your friends and fam as a starting point. This is also a great way to test out emails and get feedback from the ones you love before testing email campaigns out in the big bad world!

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Featured illustration by Katie Lukes

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