Growing a Subscription Brand With Email Marketing Campaigns


June 7, 2023

Leverage the power of email to grow. Utilize email marketing campaigns to build brand awareness and increase sales for your subscription business.

Woman making an email marketing campaign plan on her phone and laptop

Email may not be as sexy as Instagram, but what does every Instagram user need to create their account? An email address. Every consumer’s digital identity is tied to their email. In fact, Statista predicts a whopping 4.6 billion people will use email by 2025. That’s why, although it’s decades-old technology, email remains one of the most powerful marketing channels today.

Here, we’ll give a step-by-step breakdown of how to use email marketing campaigns to attract high-value subscribers, sell more subscriptions and ultimately build brand loyalty.

Gather Your Email Marketing Audience

The first step in executing an email marketing campaign is collecting email addresses. This requires convincing a consumer to opt-in to future communications from your business.  To do this, you have to offer a compelling incentive to the consumer.

One of the most common and effective ways to do this in the realm of subscription commerce is to offer an immediate discount code. This gives the consumer a clear reason to give you their email address, in tandem driving sales. In the case of subscriptions, many brands offer a subscribe-and-save discount to entice consumers to share their information and commit to a purchase.

During checkout is another great time to gather addresses for email marketing campaigns. When a shopper is checking out, you should give them the option of opting into future email communications regarding upcoming sales, new subscription programs and more.

Finally, if you ever engage with consumers in-person at events or through field marketing, that’s another golden opportunity to collect email addresses.

Subscribe and save example of email marketing campaign
Example: Grubhub’s subscribe-and-save offer


Make the First Marketing Email Count

After collecting an email address, it’s best practice to send an initial message right away to introduce your subscription business. This also helps set expectations for cadence and the types of communication you plan on sending.

While there are no specific guidelines for how many emails to send and what information to include in them, consumers are quick to report emails as spam when they’re sent too frequently. MarketingSherpa found that most users prefer weekly emails (60%) over daily emails (15%). Also consider the information you’re sharing with your audience. Is it useful in building a relationship with potential subscribers?

For example, a subscription fitness apparel brand might promise to send an email every Sunday with a workout and healthy recipe of the week. By doing this, they’ll build brand awareness and trust with the recipient — two valuable tools to have when trying to secure a new subscriber.

Regardless of what you have planned, be clear about your intentions from the get-go and stay true to your word. Telling someone to expect a newsletter once a week and then sending them product promotions every day is a fast way to lose a potential customer’s trust and their email contact.

Email Segmentation Is the Key to Success

Not every email will be a fit for every target, which is why segmentation is critical. There are many ways to segment — from demographics to transactional behaviors and more.

Most email service providers (ESPs) will have some type of segmentation tool. This helps you automate processes, although the exact types of segments they enable will vary. Better yet, your ecommerce platform or subscription application may already have a highly capable ESP available for easy integration, making it simple to sync communication across your website and email marketing campaigns.

Sendlane is a great ESP with regards to segmentation, allowing you to segment based on purchase frequency, shopping behavior, purchase motivation, browsing behaviors and more. It also automatically updates all your segments in real-time, which is quite helpful — especially when running multiple email campaigns at once. This allows you to stay connected to customers throughout the subscription lifecycle — before, after and during their time as a subscriber.

Track KPIs for Email Marketing Campaigns

When executing email marketing campaigns, it’s essential to keep a close eye on analytics to track success. The most important key performance indicators (KPIs) for email marketing are open rates, click-through rates (CTR) and unsubscribe rates. Most ESPs will provide these, so you don’t need to put a system in place to manually track them.

MailChimp email marketing campaign dashboard
Example: MailChimp KPI reporting dashboard


Open Rate

Your open rate does exactly what you’d think it would: It tells you how many people opened your email. This reveals a lot about both the relationship you’ve built with readers and the effectiveness of your subject line.

If your open rate is low, it indicates your readers are not as engaged as they should be or your subject line isn’t resonating. To increase your open rate, A/B test new subject lines and make sure your next email provides clear value to keep readers enticed enough to eventually become paying subscribers.

Click-Through Rate

Now let’s talk about CTR, which tells you how many readers clicked on a link in your email. If your CTR is high, you know your message is clear. If your CTR is low, you may need to adjust your message with a clearer call-to-action (CTA) or simpler verbiage. People want to read content written by other people, not robots.

If you believe the content or CTA aren’t the problems, revisit your customer segments to make sure you’re targeting the right readers.

Unsubscribe Rate

Lastly, let’s discuss the importance of monitoring unsubscribe rates. You should always aim to have your unsubscribe rate lower than your opt-in rate. Otherwise, you’re going to have a very hard time maintaining your distribution lists.

Beyond paying attention to the rate at which people are unsubscribing, you need to consider when they are unsubscribing. For example, if someone unsubscribes after receiving a newsletter or marketing email, consider revising the copy to avoid losing more readers.

Email Marketing for Subscription Success

Navigating the world of email marketing can be overwhelming for those who are new to it, but email isn’t going anywhere, and it shouldn’t be ignored. It is one of the few digital channels that gives marketers full ownership of their message.

Take advantage of this benefit by carefully crafting email marketing campaigns. Use the guidelines above, and your subscription program will receive the brand awareness and customer loyalty you’ve been working towards.

Discover how to build brand loyalty beyond email marketing campaigns. Click here to learn trending stats in subscription retention.

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