10 Best Email Marketing Case Studies For Small Businesses

Email marketing is the name of the game. If you know how to ace it, you will be unstoppable in online sales. 

But it is not as easy as one thinks. It is a game of strategies and creativity.  Email marketing is also about understanding your audience. 

There are fortunes made over email marketing. Businesses are thriving on their email list generating millions of sales repeatedly. 

It is indeed a long game. You can go for email marketing tips, strategies and advice as much as you can but it is about being creative and thinking out of the box. 

Email marketing relies on how you are taking advice and using it as your own in your email marketing campaigns. 

That’s what these successful companies did. And reading the case studies with key takeaways might give you some fresh ideas for your business. 

So here are some of the best email marketing case studies for small businesses in 2022. 

Case Study 1: How MailiGen Increased Their Open Rate From 20% to 29% Just By Resending Emails? 

Mailigen is a company that helps companies to improve their emails, social media, and mobile marketing efforts. 

Mailigen’s case study teaches very important lessons about email marketing. 

That is by offering email marketing solutions, you cannot expect a high number of subscribers.  

Adapting A Creative Email Marketing Approach 

You cannot expect people to subscribe just by providing email marketing solutions. You need to be creative with your approach. Even uniqueness is not enough. 

The creativity you will require to put into your email marketing efforts needs to come from your deep understanding of your target audience. 

You have to remember that they are actual people with specific needs for a solution and not just numbers from your subscriber list. 

Mailigen, like other companies, was struggling to improve its email open rates. According to the industry average open rates, they were quite behind. 

So, the question is how did they increase their open rates from 20% to 29% in a short time? 

The company was very well practiced with a simple technique that you probably see most email marketers use, and that is – Behavioural segmentation. 

Email segmentation can dramatically improve email open rates as it caters to a specific need, inclination, or personalization of subscribers by customizing the email copy, design, and overall approach as well. 

So we get to the next lesson from Mailigen, which is about Utilizing behavioral segmentation to boost email open rate

Implementing Behavioral Segmentation 

Behavioral segmentation is about categorizing or grouping your email subscribers into distinct, relevant, and specific segments based on their behavioral patterns. 

In order to implement behavioral segmentation in your email marketing strategy, you need to first collect user behavior data. 

These behavioral data will be basically about : 

  • Type of content they prefer 
  • Specific kind of emails they usually respond to
  • Which kind of emails do they open most? 
  • Which emails do they engage with? 
  • What type of emails made them click through? 

The more you understand your subscribers, and their behavioral patterns, the better you will be able to segregate them. The deeper your segmentation will go, the better results you will get. 

Now coming back to Mailigen, they started with the subscribers who haven’t opened their emails either at all or rarely. 

Resending Emails 

They resent their emails with better and improved headlines. They also tried different subject lines to get better results, and well, they did! 

How does Mailigen Re-send Their Improved Emails? 

Step 1:  The first email they sent was about using the symbols in their email content with a subject line saying “ Make your emails stand out with symbols” 

Step 2:  Their email performed really well giving them an open rate of 20.5% dramatically better in comparison to the emails that have never been opened by those subscribers. 

The company wanted to further try these strategies to improve their overall email open rate, so they used the same behavioral segmentation strategy for their email list. 

As earlier mentioned, they tried a new subject line to increase the open rate, so this time the same email, with a slightly different subject line, was sent to their entire list. 

And this time they got a 29.1% email open rate, 8.6% more than earlier, basically this percentage is of those people who never opened the email earlier but this time. 

Key Tips To Learn From This Case Study

  • You cannot expect to get subscribers without getting a creative and unique approach to your email marketing strategy. 
  • Use behavioral segmentation to improve your email open rates. 
  • Focus on understanding the user behavior, the more you know, the better segmentation you can aim for. 
  • Resend your emails to segmented subscribers with the improved headline
  • Try and test sending emails with different subject lines to a collection of your subscribers to see what works best. 

Case Study 2:  How Most Of Obama’s $690 million Raised Online Was From Fundraising Emails? 

This is the most unique case study for small businesses as it is not coming from a business but rather a political campaign. 

It is to demonstrate the power of email marketing for reaching out, communicating, and converting. 

Ex-president Obama’s online fundraising for their last political campaign generated $690 million and most of the funds came from their emails. 

Their email campaign used a casual and conversational tone with their email subject lines. 

The most famous subject line that they tested was simply “ Hey” and another was “I will be outspent” and it raised $2.6 million just alone. 

And it wasn’t an accident. The marketing folks consistently tested different variations of emails with different subject lines. 

They came to know how powerful email marketing can be in getting a breakthrough. All you need is a perfect combination of an intriguing subject line and an engaging copy of the email. 

Tips To Take Away From This Case Study 

  • Use curiosity in your subject line to increase open rates
  • Try and test different variations of subject lines and email design
  • Make your emails casual and with a conversational tone 

Case Study 3: How Harry’s Collect 100,000 Emails In Just One Week 

It isn’t easy to pull off a massively successful email campaign, and these case studies so far are exhibiting the very same thing. 

Even with simpler goals, logistics get things messy. But there are few exceptions who play very smart, and that is something every startup or business needs to learn. 

And that’s what Harry’s pulled off by collecting 100,000 emails in just one week. 

What they did is used a landing page to collect this massive amount of emails in a week that was leading to their product launch. 

Harry’s is a shaving company competing against big brands like Gillette where the only way to sell more than their competitors, was to out-maneuver them. 

They ran a marketing campaign to drive heavy traffic to the landing page. On their landing page, they asked visitors to sign-up. 

What they really did great is using a referral system to incentivize or reward the people who are sharing the product. 

In this way, they were leveraging the available traffic to multiply the reach into double or triple more traffic, and then it went into cycles. 

Those people who referred their friends, family, or anyone else earned free products. Harry’s giveaway a whole lot of free razors in that particular week. 

But it worked for them very far from making any loss, it was a major success.

The cost of all those free razors or the marketing capital they spent was still way less than any broadcasting they would have been to do for their upcoming product launch. 

It was way better than traditional advertising methods because it cost less than that and it gave them more exposure than they might have gotten through traditional methods. 

More important, they were able to collect 100,000 emails which gives them a customer base to re-target without much customer acquisition cost. 

Tips To Take Away From This Case Study 

  • Using a referral system to reach a wider audience
  • Incentivize people to spread brand awareness and recommendations
  • Using giveaways to advertise and make a buzz.

Case Study 4: How Adorama Increased Their Average Order Value By 25% Using Personalization? 

Adorama, a camera and electronic retailer was able to boost its average order value by a whopping 25% using personalization. 

Every business or company very much aspires to inject such enormous sales boost through such minimum investment. 

So how did they do it? 

The brand was quite concerned about their emails as they suspected their messages to be suffering from viewer fatigue. 

That means,  it just became too common or casual for their subscribers to click on it or engage with it. 

So, the appropriate solution for too much generalization is definitely personalization, no doubt there. 

That challenge with their email marketing was to come up with a solution that speaks to their customer more personally or more directly without becoming too complex or detailed. 

Here are the emails they send to their subscriber before personalization 

Image Source: Marketingsherpa

Alchemy Worx CEO Allan Levy created different banners which were supposed to insert on the top of their broadcast emails. 

It was a nod to all those recipients who previously or recently purchased that particular brand such as Canon, Nikon, or Sony. 

In the banners, the copy says that the respective offer includes products for those particular brand buyers. 

It means that if a customer recently bought a Canon camera, the personalized broadcast email with the Canon banner will speak to them specifically. 

The marketing team uses the split test to this template with different brand-specific templates against their previous template without any banner, otherwise completely identical to them. 

They send the emails to massive dedicated recipients but the result was completely different in both cases. 

More personalized banner-specific templates take the user to a landing page with a customized collection of offers exclusively related to that brand. 

Here is the second personalized set of emails they sent : 

Image Source: MarketingSherpa

They are suggested or recommended according to a  particular brand. Whereas the other template was simply sent to a pool random assortment of products. 

For example, If the user is a sony customer, they will be directly sent to a page where sony items will be at the top-positioned to be suggested to them. 

Whereas a Nikon user will get to a landing page with all Nikon-preference products at the top.  

Levy explained that most photographers stay in their own brand-specific ecosystem, so the personalization really speaks to them. 

Their vice president of Marketing, Gvantsa Gren shared how finding an easier way to personalize their emails for their important customers was so effective in driving continuing success in bringing additional revenue. 

It was further explained how making things so simple and easy to do, makes all the difference to the customers and boosts their average order value. 

The templates that used customized brand banners at the top achieved an 18.25% boost in revenue per mailing frequency. 

Tips To Take Away From This Case Study 

  • Personalize your email design and copy.
  • Use email segmentation to get more email opens and click-throughs
  • Custom recommendations as per email segmentations

Case Study 5:  How FORGED Increased Their Email Open Rate By 60% Just By Doing This One Thing?

Borja Prieto, the Head of Growth in software platform company FORGED stated that due to their emails getting stacked in the Promotion tab of their recipients, their open rates have been reduced. 

They used to get an email open rate of 30% along with 10-15% click-through rates whereas instead of increasing, it spirals down to even lower. 

But with just a single change in their email marketing practices, it boosted to a whopping 60% open rates with 35% CTR. 

And all their team did was use plain text email along with a simple and easy call-to-action. 

That’s pretty much it! They changed their email design and copy to make it as simple as plain text copy with hyperlink CTA. 

Prieto further advised that using the plain-text emails sent from a real person within the company along with his/her signature, something like receiving a one-to-one email, would do the magic. 

She also stated that trying to send more personalized content to get even better results whereas using plain-text emails is the first step towards it. 

Tips To Take Away From This Case Study 

  • Use plain-text emails to send to your recipients 
  • Use simple and easy-to-click hyperlink Call-to-action. 
  • Try to make your emails look as if sent from one person to another, more personalized, and not look like marketing emails at all. 
  • Use a real-person email address with a signature within the company to send emails. 
  • Try to personalize your email copy and design to get better results. 

Case Study 6: How Voices.Com Increased Their Welcome Drip Campaign Open Rate From 22.49% to 27.42%?

Voices.com sends out emails to 50,000 each month through their drip campaigns. 

Their open rates weren’t bad but their team always felt to be winning on the low-hanging fruit. 

Jenna Hass, their Email Channel specialist collected all their email copy into one document and shared the screenshot, mentioning what each email looked like. 

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Voices.com, David Ciccarelli, seeing all these email copies like a chapter really gives a perspective. 

One has to see it as a chapter in a story. where some of the emails don’t seem to be in order and need to be fixed. 

Finding Solution 

So, the problem stood out to them. Now, it was about what they will do to resolve this and is there a better way to do it or improve it. 

Their team went for a two-hour session only focussing on their drip campaign. The start was about checking the purpose of the entire email sequence. 

The email sequence is supposed to build trust between the user and the brand, and then develop a relationship and educate the audience on how to get started. 

So, they figured out that there are changes that need to be made in service of the purpose they have set for this email sequence. 

Making Changes 

The first change they made which only took five minutes was changing the sender’s email address from generic to more personalized. 

So, where their earlier emails were sent by [email protected], they changed it to the personalized email address of their Customer Experience Manager Silvana Cordoba. 

Well, this single change which took only 5 minutes alone improved their open rates from 28.75% to 43.63% for their first email in the sequence. 

Their average open rate increased from 22.49% to 27.42% for their email sequence of four welcome emails. 

People tend to ignore messages from generic emails. Also, those ones often end up in the Promotions tab which people never check. 

Another Change they made evaluating their email sequence and its content whether it is syncing together as a story or not. 

They went through making a number of changes such as in many instances, they cut out some parts from emails and combined them into one. 

For others, they just edited it, making it more seamless and easy to read. 

They also found outdated terms, irrelevant content or context, old concepts, or mixed metaphors that needed to be changed. 

They put all the email copies into sequential order and read them in one go to assure that every email individually has stronger messaging and together it tells the story well from point a to b. 

They have also added stock images to all of their emails to make them visually appealing and give contextual meaning to every email. 

Tips That You Need To Take Away From Their Case Study 

  • Make sure you’re not winning over a low-hanging fruit
  • Don’t settle with your current results. Always strive to improve
  • Identifying the problems with your campaign 
  • Re-examine the copy of your email 
  • Emails in the Drip campaign email sequence must align and weave together 
  • Check your email sequence by reading it through from one to the last. 
  • Always send your emails from a personalized credible email address rather than a generic one. 
  • Use stock images to visually contextualize your email copy
  • Focus on improving the design of your email, especially in contrast to each other. 
  • Always edit and update your email copy once in a while to remove outdated terms, contextually-lacking content, irrelevant elements, etc. 
  • Make your email design and copy clean, precise, and concise. 

Case Study 6: How Soluna Garden Farm Boosted Their Sales More Than 500% Using Email Marketing?

It is impressive how Soluna Garden farm adapted to subscription products after its retail location closed in a pandemic increasing its online sales by more than 500% using email marketing. 

They are basically a small farm based in Massachusetts specializing in producing flowers, herbs, tea, and spices. 

But as per their co-owner Amy Hirschfeld, their sales went downhill when the pandemic started because they were a physical retail store primarily. 

Most of their sales were in-person, and not online. Their outlets or stalls in markets like Boston Public Market and other farmer markets were extremely down on sales. 

But as lockdown further strikes down those physical store options, they didn’t have any single retail outlet opened to sell their products. 

So, they adapted and started a new subscription-based product where they were offering farm products to customers including the older customers even during the pandemic. 

They marketed through an email campaign, and since we know that worked great, the only question is how they did it? 

How They Boosted Their Sales More Than 500% With Their Email Campaign? 

“ Without our email list, I’m not sure if we would have survived” – Amy Hirschfeld, Co-owner, Soluna Garden Farm 

What gave them a good start was their email list which they have been steadily growing over the years. 

Their email list included all of their regular customers to whom they were already sending consistent newsletters.

The first email they sent out was able to sell out what they would have sold in a season of in-personal sales, all thanks to email marketing. 

Their marketing team continued with it promoting their subscription-based product through emails. 

Very soon, they started gaining open rates of around 25% and click-through rates of more than 10%. 

This further motivated them to re-design their Farm’s website so it would be easier for their customer to not just know about the frame but also easier to subscribe. 

Hirschfeld very rightfully said that the story clearly states how remaining connected and staying in touch with online customers is valuable for businesses.

In the second quarter of 2020 during the pandemic, they had to close off their both retail locations but their online sales were boosted by 500%. 

This was only because they were able to reach out to their customers, and more new customers which they didn’t have earlier through their email list. 

According to the co-owner, Amy, without their email list, they wouldn’t have survived the pandemic far from making this many sales. 

Tips To TakeAway From This Case Study 

  • Keep growing your email list 
  • If you are a physical retail store, make sure your regular customers are on your email list. 
  • Keep sending regular newsletters or emails to your email list. 
  • Be ready to adapt to tough situations, that’s how businesses survive and thrive
  • You have to make the best out of the situation just like on their farm. 
  • Even if you are a physical store, use email marketing or online selling to some extent. 

Case Study 8: How Charity Waters Increased Their Donations By $800,00?

Most companies, especially non-profit organizations, and charities run their email marketing on the basis of ‘ set & forget. 

So, when some donate or make a transaction, they will be automatically sent a ‘thank you an email along with a thank you page where they are taken to. 

Even this email doesn’t really interact with the audience, just provides the transaction details and at best, it tries to get them an upsell. 

What Charity Water Did Instead? 

There is nothing essentially wrong with this approach but there is a better one, one where you really engage with the audience to build a long-term relationship. 

And that Non-profit organization, Charity Water did.  

They are doing extremely well with their email marketing strategies by taking an unconventional route altogether. 

So, instead of going traditionally as we mentioned as usual NGO or business work, Charity Water created an email campaign that was specifically designed to take their donors on a journey. 

Here’s how that email looks : 

Image Source: Money Journal 

 What happens with any charity is, that the journey of money coming from a donor’s pocket to its cause takes a lot of time until one sees the project completed. 

It is sent out to the partners in the field and used for supplies, permits, transportation, and whatnot. 

Then the project can take anywhere between 6 months to 1.5 years depending upon the size and scope of the project as well as the organization involved. 

But most charities keep the donors out of this whole process. But not Charity Water! 

Using their email marketing campaign, they consistently send the donors regular updates about where their money reached and how it is used. 

It also tells them the project on which they are spent on, how much progress it has made in its completion. 

In fact, they give them photo updates, and regular changes happening on the project site and people involved.

Why Does It Work? 

So, basically, they involved the donors and made them part of the story. More they know, they get connected with the project and the stories  

What happens is, that the donor becomes more aware and confident of his or her choice of donating. 

In fact, they are keener to donate again and make repeat donations. All this comes from the fact of how transparent the process is. 

Also, over these emails, the donors build a relationship with the project and their charity organization. 

So just by using the above methods and some more creative marketing efforts,  Charity Waters raised nearly $30 million in 2014 as per their annual reports. 

Tips To TakeAway From This Case Study 

  • You have to be creative and think out of the box 
  • You don’t need to go traditional, find your own way. 
  • Focus on building long-term relationships with your subscribers
  • Involve people in the process, and make them part of your story.
  • Make the process so transparent, that they become bound to trust.