The 4 Different Types of Email Marketing – The Right Type to Maximize ROI

types of email marketing
There are four main types of email marketing including transactional, direct, relationship and automated email campaigns

The 4 Different Types of Email Marketing – Which One to Use Each Time for Best Results


Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses to reach out to their customers. It allows us online entrepreneurs and businesses to target specific audiences, provide relevant information, and deliver timely messages to customers. You can use email marketing can also be used to collect customer data and track the success of email marketing campaigns.

At its core, email marketing is the use of emails for promotional or informational purposes. Companies craft content in order to create personalized emails that engage customers and encourage them to take action.

According to research from the Direct Marketing Association, email offers an average return on investment (ROI) of $44 for every dollar spent – making it one of the most effective digital marketing tactics available. That is a whopping 4400% ROI!

Whether you’re just getting started with email marketing or looking to take your campaigns to the next level, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and strategies you need to succeed.

Beginning with the fundamentals, email marketing is about building strong relationships and understanding customer needs, interests, and conduct. This enables you to craft targeted and powerful campaigns.

Before you consider sending out messages, however, it’s important to know the different types available and when to use them. In this guide, we will delve into the four main kinds of email marketing: transactional emails, direct emails, relationship emails, and automated emails.

We’ll define each type, show illustrations, offer tips, and provide applications for all types. After reading this article, you’ll know which emails you should be sending out based on your business goals and how to employ them adeptly.

Types of marketing emails – A brief overview

There are four main types of email marketing: transactional emails, newsletters, promotional emails, and automated campaigns. Each type provides unique benefits that allow companies and entrepreneurs to communicate effectively with their subscriber email list in different ways.

Transactional Emails are triggered by user actions such as making a purchase or signing up for a service; they contain information like receipts or account activation information. Transactional emails help build trust with customers over time as they provide useful information specific to each individual’s journey with a company.

Newsletters are typically sent at regular intervals such as weekly or monthly; they contain general company updates and educational content that keeps customers informed about the business activity or industry trends. Newsletters help cultivate relationships between brands and their customers by providing valuable information in addition to promotional material.

Promotional Emails focus on promoting products or services; they often include discount codes or other offers that drive sales and conversions. Promotional emails should be tailored toward an individual’s interests so as not to seem overly aggressive or spammy.

Finally, Automated Email Campaigns are triggered by predetermined events such as reaching a milestone number of followers on social media; they can be used to send out coupons, thank-you messages, birthday wishes, and more on these occasions.

Automated campaigns help simplify the task of sending out repetitive messages while still allowing entrepreneurs to show appreciation for customer loyalty over time.

Different Types of email marketing campaigns – details

1. Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are triggered emails that are sent in response to a specific user action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a service. They are mostly automated. They contain essential information related to the action taken and are used to keep customers informed and engaged in their interactions with the company.

Examples of transactional emails include:

  • payment and order confirmation emails,
  • shipping notifications (where applicable),
  • account creation and activation emails,
  • password reset requests, and more.


Best practices for this email type include:

Customize messages with each customer’s name or other personal details where possible.
Include clear call-to-actions and links to relevant pages.

Avoid using too many coding languages or HTML elements so as not to get flagged for spam.
Follow local regulations about data privacy and email marketing.

Use cases for transactional emails include providing customers with information related to their purchases (e.g., order confirmations), alerting them of upcoming events (e.g., flight departure times), informing them of new opportunities (e.g., subscription renewals) or reminding them of deadlines (e.g., payment due dates).


Transactional emails are a highly effective marketing tool for businesses in any industry. These automated messages, triggered by a specific action or event, provide customers with immediate information and often include a call to action.

The uniqueness of this email lies in the personalization factor; it is an effective way to both convey clear information and create engagement with customers.

This is especially true for e-commerce and financial services companies as these industries rely heavily on customer interactions.

For e-commerce businesses, transactional emails can help drive sales and promote products through links and offers included in the message. They are also essential for order confirmations.

In the financial sector, they can be used to alert customers to fraudulent activity or keep them up to date on the latest changes in their accounts such as new payment due dates.

Regardless of the industry, transactional emails offer an easy way to deliver important content quickly and efficiently while deepening customer loyalty.

2. Newsletter (Relationship) Emails

Newsletter emails, also known as relationship emails, are automated emails that are sent periodically to subscribers and customers as part of a company’s sales or marketing strategy. They often include content such as new product updates, offers and discounts, educational materials, or company news.

Examples of newsletter emails can be:

  • promotional messages featuring special offers,
  • notifications about upcoming events or products,
  • feedback requests or surveys,
  • blog posts and articles,
  • customer success stories, and more.

The best practices for designing effective newsletter emails involve personalizing the message when possible with the customer’s name;

  • including a clear call to action like ‘view now’, ‘subscribe here’ etc.;
  • optimizing the design for mobile devices;
  • writing in a conversational style; including interesting visuals;
  • ensuring captivating subject lines;
  • personalizing links with tracking parameters and creating segmented mailing lists based on customer preferences.


Use cases for newsletter emails include:


  • retaining existing customers by engaging them through relevant content;
  • onboarding new customers by introducing them to your brand or product;
  • delivering personalized offers and discounts;
  • driving website traffic by linking to specific pages;
  • building relationships with customers by connecting on social media platforms and increasing awareness of a brand or product.


Relationship emails are an effective form of email marketing that focus on building and sustaining relationships with customers and potential customers. They don’t have to be tied to a particular transaction or action, but typically contain valuable data like industry news, business updates, and product details.


Delivered in a personalized, consistent manner, these connected series of emails are essential for creating brand recognition, deepening customer loyalty, and earning trust. Any entrepreneur or company looking to cultivate relationships with clients or prospects should make use of this method.

3. Promotional (Direct) Emails

Direct emails are automated emails sent to targeted recipients as part of a company’s marketing strategy. Direct emails are a great way to drive sales or generate leads. They are often used to advertise new products or services and can be personalized when possible with the customer’s name, interests, and other relevant details.

Examples of direct emails can include:

  • promotional messages featuring special and limited-time offers,
  • notifications and invitations about upcoming events,
  • reminders about expiring deals and other sales emails, and more.


What is the best use case for promotional emails?

Direct emails should be sent strategically as if too many are sent out it will reduce the impact of each individual message. Overusing emails can be annoying to customers and lead to them unsubscribing from future messages.


This is my personal experience with direct emails: there is no hard and fast rule about the frequency to of promotional emails. One email per week seems to work best for others twice every week works well. You need to test this with your subscribers to find the sweet spot.


Furthermore, sending emails sparingly increases the likelihood that people will open and read through the content. When planning direct emails, businesses should consider not just the frequency but also the timing of their messages, as well as how they can create new engaging content so that customers don’t become bored.

Entrepreneurs and businesses should focus on delivering quality content that provides value for their customers in order to maintain a positive relationship with them.

Additionally, businesses should offer an opt-out option on all promotional emails so that customers have control over what type of messages they receive from the company.

By following these simple guidelines, you as an entrepreneur can ensure your promotional email campaigns are successful and effective for both your subscribers and their businesses in the long-term. Needless to say when the users on your list are successful, you will have more success too. It’s a win-win.


Simply put, promotional direct emails are an email marketing strategy intended to reach a targeted audience, which is most often used to boost leads, sales and special offers.

They are known for their precisely segmented content, attention-grabbing headlines and actionable CTAs, making them the most targetted of the four types. Such emails prove especially successful in lead generation and customer retention endeavors, but businesses of all kinds can capitalize on their value and use them to promote products, services or offers.


Now the last but not the least of automated email marketing campaigns.

4. Automated email campaigns

Automated email campaigns are sequences of emails created using marketing automation software that are designed to reach customers with relevant messages at the right time. Automated campaigns use customer data points to customize each email in the sequence, making them more relevant and engaging for individual customers.

Examples of when to use automated emails include:

  • welcome emails sent to new customers;
  • re-engagement emails sent to inactive customers or a list that has grown cold;
  • abandoned cart emails sent when a customer adds products to their shopping cart but does not complete the checkout;
  • upsell emails sent to existing customers suggesting additional items they may be interested in buying;
  • account update notifications sent when a customer updates their profile or preferences.


The best practices for designing effective automated email campaigns involve:

  • ensuring that each message is tailored to the recipient by leveraging personalization tags;
  • clearly defining the purpose of each campaign upfront and identifying how it will help achieve business goals;
  • integrating triggered behaviors such as page view or shopping cart abandonment events into decision paths;
  • validating data accuracy such as email addresses, product information and prices etc.;
  • testing different variations of content and optimizing based on results; and,
  • only sending relevant offers or messages rather than overwhelming recipients with spam.


Use cases for automated email campaigns include:

  • driving repeat purchases by providing incentives for past buyers;
  • establishing relationships with existing customers by offering exclusive deals, coupons or discounts;
  • increasing web traffic by linking landing pages to newsletters or other forms of content;
  • onboarding new users by providing helpful product tutorials and educational materials about your company’s services;
  • collecting user feedback through surveys or reviews for improved user experience.


In summary, automated emails are a type of email marketing that are triggered by a specific action or behavior of a customer or prospect. They are pre-written and pre-scheduled emails that are sent automatically based on a specific trigger, such as a customer abandoning a shopping cart or signing up for an account.

They are tested, optimized, segmented and save time and resources. They are particularly effective as lead nurturing emails, customer retention, and upselling and cross-selling, but can be used by any business looking to provide relevant and timely information to customers and prospects.

Conclusion – Types of Marketing Emails

It is important to decide which type of email marketing works best for your business goals as an entrepreneur. We have discussed the 4 types of emails that can be employed in your business.

Direct emails can be used to advertise new products or services, provide updates on existing ones and personalize the message with customer details.

Automated email campaigns leverage customer data points to provide more relevant messages at the right time and can engage customers who are inactive or have abandoned their cart.

Newsletter emails are designed to build a larger audience with content that provides value and helps generate leads, while transactional emails inform customers about their purchase whilst building trust and reliability.

Ultimately, it is essential to consider what kind of marketing emails will be suitable for different scenarios, so you can make the most out of your marketing efforts.

FAQs – Types of Email Campaigns

How many types of email marketing are there?

There are four main types of email marketing: transactional emails, direct emails, trigger-based (automated) emails and newsletter emails.
  • Transactional emails include order confirmation/receipts, password resets, account activation notices and other automated customer service messages.
  • Direct emails are promotional messages sent directly to the email list of subscribers. These can be in the form of newsletters, announcements or special offers.
  • Trigger-based emails are automated messages sent based on a user’s behavior on your website (e.g., abandoned cart) or with an external system like a CRM.
  • Newsletter emails contain updates about your company’s activities, news and promotions. They help to keep customers informed and create brand loyalty.

However, these can be sub-divided different types of emails. You may hear of 10 or 12 types of emails but every email fall fall under these 4 discussed.

What is the basic of email marketing?

The basics of email marketing include:
  • Creating a list of contacts to send your emails to.
  • Personalizing emails with customer data.
  • Crafting compelling, engaging subject lines and content specific to each segment of your audience.
  • Measuring performance and optimizing campaigns based on collected data.
  •  Measuring performance and optimizing campaigns based on collected data.

Read more by clicking: Email Marketing for Beginners – A 10-Step Guide Email Marketing Tips for Beginners

What is the most common form of email marketing?

The most common form of email marketing is direct emails. Direct emails are promotional messages sent directly to the email list of subscribers. These can be in the form of newsletters, announcements or special offers.

What are the 4 D’s of email management?

The 4 D’s of email management are:
  • Discovery: The process of finding and understanding customer preferences across multiple channels.
  • Design: Developing an email campaign strategy that speaks to customers in a personal and engaging way.
  • Delivery: Setting up campaigns with automated or manual triggers to send out emails at the most effective times for maximum impact.
  • Data analysis: Examining customer behavior and using data insights to refine campaigns and improve performance.

If you have any questions on the different types of marketing emails you employ in your business, do not hesitate to leave them in the “Comments” section.

What do you think?

Written by Michael Allsworth

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Email Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses: 15 Tips For More Engagement

How to Build an Email List Quickly: 12 Strategies to Build Your Email List