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Our Top-performing Email Marketing Campaigns

At last count, there were 3.8 billion email addresses in the world.

And now that so many of us are working remotely - it certainly feels like it!

It’s time to cash in.

Email marketing is hard - but when you get it right, boy can it be effective.

We’ve embraced email as one of our primary marketing channels, and used it to drive our predictable revenue from $2.5M to $7M ARR last year.

Rather than boring you with an endless document full of email marketing best practices - we’ve decided to give you a glance, first hand, into Cognism’s awesome marketing emails.

Having said that…if you are after a basic overview, here’s our beginner’s guide to email marketing (it’s actually really good).

Scroll down for Cognism’s top performing marketing emails, and why they worked. 👇

Rekindle Nurture

Subject line: %%first_name%%, who’s buying right now?

Stats: open rate 49.11%, CTR 26.89%

This is why it works.


Less than 100 words.

When you’re landing in an inbox, do the recipient a favour. They don’t want to read your essay. They want their information in an easily digestible format.

It should only take a glance for the reader to understand your offer.

Engaging image

How do you create the perfect marketing image?

By creating a load of imperfect images, and trying them out. This is the essence of data driven marketing. Try everything, get everything wrong, try something else.

Measure it all, and improve.

The best ideas are built on the burial grounds of rubbish ideas - so don’t be afraid of trying something.

Clear CTA

Get your 25 free leads.

No frills or garnish.

Follow this link to get exactly what’s being offered. If it’s not exactly what’s being offered, prospects will feel cheated and will unsubscribe faster than you can say ‘false advertising’.

Have fun with your email outreach content, and be honest with the CTA.

Recycled leads

This campaign targets leads who exited a sales cadence. This is always a really valuable list of leads for the marketing team. They’re warm(ish), and if we don’t use them, they’ll go to waste.

Your cadence can be shorter, because these people already know what you’re all about.

If you’re running an email campaign to fresh prospects from a lead generation platform, run a longer cadence and provide more value before you make an offer.

We hope you've been enjoying...

Always show value before you make an offer.

Making an offer straight away is just annoying. You’ve already invaded my inbox (the marketing equivalent of a doorstep) - you’d better make it worth my while.

Even the offer itself should provide more value, such as the free leads provided in this example.

Tech campaign nurture

Subject line: Are you selling SaaS right?

Stats: open rate 44.86%, CTR 54.52%

This is why it works.


This email was immediately relevant.

If a prospect has downloaded some content from you, that’s valuable knowledge.

A marketer has to use all of the information at their disposal to market in a relevant way.

This email is basically saying ‘we know you are into this, here’s something similar’. You can’t go wrong with emails like these.

Also, collect information on your prospects. Over time you will develop a better understanding of your total addressable market.


It’s friendly!

Here’s the problem with marketing to non-marketers. It can feel pushy.

Always be providing value, always be positive. If you can position yourself as a helpful contact, prospects will be happy to keep you around.

The email is wrapped up with a bit of good-will. ‘Hope this is valuable! 🙂 ‘.

It’s like a lovely, warm, marketing hug.


Thought leadership

“We know that SaaS sales is unique in many ways and we wanted to share some of the tactics that have really worked for us over the last couple of years.”

This section of the email is written in fluent marketing. In English, this roughly translates to:

‘We know loads about the subject you’re interested in. You should hear more of what we have to say, because we know more about this than you.”

Of course, the second version is a bit less friendly (remember what we said about sentiment).

Prove your knowledge in the area and offer it to them. That’s thought leadership.

Closed lost ops nurture

Subject line: We made this mixtape for %%company%%

Stats: open rate 40%, CTR 10%

This is why it works.


This is a similar point to sentiment.

The ‘safe’ option in marketing is to create wishy washy content, and avoid upsetting anyone. The truth is that if your email annoys some people, but makes some people laugh, it’s engaging.

And engaging is always better than boring.

CTA options

Granted, this isn’t the best example of CTA options. But here’s the thinking.

Chances are this prospect hasn’t seen anything from you that resonates with them, yet. Offering a few options in your marketing email will boost the chances of that changing.

But don’t throw caution to the wind.

There’s nothing spammier than going mad with CTAs. Remember the rule: always be providing value. An extra CTA in your email demonstrates that you want to provide the right content. 10 extra CTAs demonstrates that you’re a desperate Dan.

Low commitment

Again, this email is dealing with recycled prospects. Which comes with an advantage and a disadvantage.

Advantage - these are high quality leads. They fit the ICP.

Disadvantage - they don’t want to buy...yet.

There’s still hope. You need to provide value and nurture. Hopefully things will be different in the future, and you’ll be there with open arms.

The best nurture campaigns are mutually beneficial, so provide value and only ask for their attention in return.

It’s a low commitment CTA, and this works wonders for recycled contacts.

Knowledge sharing

Subject line: A faster way to generate leads

Stats: open rate 100%, CTR 40%

This is why it works.


Emails with an emoji in the subject line see a 29% increase in their open rate.

They keep the tone of the email light, and help the marketer to express their sentiment. This gives the writer access to a different tone.

You need to know when to use them.

If you’re prospecting to the C-suite, be careful! Emojis aren’t for everyone, and can look unprofessional when sent to the wrong audience. This doesn’t mean never use them in a more professional campaign, just use them sparingly.


When buying a product online, most people will skip over the product description, and head straight for the comments.

The words of other consumers are more potent than the words of the seller.

They can be trusted. They can be related to.

Use them.

Putting a reference from an existing customer into your email gives it a backbone. Give it a try, and as always, if it’s not working, change it up.


A 100% open rate? Surely this cannot be?!

Better believe it.

Admittedly, we’ve only sent this email to around 40 people - but still…pretty impressive.

How did we achieve this?

We constructed a narrative. We segmented our leads based on how they engaged with our previous emails, and we built separate email chains. Here’s an example:

Hi %%first_name%%,

We hope you enjoyed the whitepaper you downloaded ‘The Ultimate Guide to Marketing’.

If you are after more amazing content, feel free to take a look at another one of our guides, ungated of course:

‘The Content Creator’s Handbook’

‘Paid Marketing Labs’


The prospect clicks the link most relevant to them. We track it. We put them into a new funnel. This is an automated email marketing workflow, in a nutshell.

The prospect gets more relevant emails, the marketer gets more info on the prospect.

Everybody wins.

So…how did we achieve a 100% open rate?

We sent the prospects an email that we knew they’d open - because it’s totally relevant to the other emails they’ve interacted with.

That’s data-driven marketing.

Get more marketing tips!

After more awesome email advice? Look no further than 'The No Fluff Guide to Inbound Marketing'.

It's overflowing with tips, tricks, and statistics. Including:

  • Drip email marketing
  • Content
  • Paid marketing
  • Email deliverability
  • Email marketing planning

And a bunch of expert insights on other topics. 

Click the link below to receive your free copy.

The No Fluff Guide to Inbound Marketing


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