The competition for customers’ inbox is fierce. To survive and thrive, businesses need to maintain brand awareness and show appreciation. 

Your emails are not just about promoting products/services or recovering abandoned carts, they are also about creating lasting impressions and establishing healthy, strong, long-term relationships with your customers by showing appreciation.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”  – Voltaire

We all want to feel appreciated and special. Your customers are no different. Hence, showing your gratitude or saying thank you shouldn’t happen only once a year, just around the holidays or only when they make a purchase. In fact, up to 60% of customers will stop doing business with a brand they feel is indifferent to them. Thus, a simple customer engagement email will help create a positive brand reception and customer experience. 

This article covers the following topics on customer engagement emails:

  1. The essence of customer engagement emails
  2. Why should you send customer engagement emails?
  3. 10 types of customer engagement email (+ subject line examples) –
    • Show Gratitude
    • Say Thank you
    • Special offers
    • Seasonal/holiday rewards
    • Milestone emails
    • Birthday gifts
    • Anniversary emails
    • Engagement emails
    • Customer reviews
    • Early access email

Ready to dive in?

Did you know that highly personalised customer engagement emails can have the same impact as showing gratitude in person? Moreover, sending thank you emails can also help increase customers’ lifetime value and humanise the relationship with your target audience.

Customer Engagement Emails 101

Customer engagement emails are a type of marketing email every marketer must send to express gratitude and reward all their customers (not just the loyal ones) for their continuous support. They also play an essential role in your onboarding email series

By expressing gratitude to your customers (or email subscribers), you will strengthen your relationship with them, boost engagement, drive more traffic to your website, increase conversions and, of course, generate more sales and deliver an outstanding customer experience securing your audiences’ loyalty and trust.

Different circumstances require different ways of showing appreciation. Hence, you cannot craft customer engagement emails without a clear goal and purpose. 

The purpose of customer engagement emails can vary such as – Thanking:

  • people for being loyal customers
  • customers for choosing your products/services
  • subscribers/customers for referrals
  • customers for their feedback/reviews
  • people for their patience while working on their query
  • subscribers/customers for participating in a survey

… and much more.

The goal of customer engagement emails range from – 

  • boosting customer confidence
  • converting first-time subscribers to customers
  • re-engaging inactive subscribers
  • winning back dormant customers
  • validating customers/subscribers decisions and/or choices
  • grounding customers’ concerns
  • thanking customers/subscribers for their support and loyalty
  • reinforcing your relationship with customers/subscribers
  • promoting relevant special offers and… more.

The Importance Of Customer Engagement Emails

If you walk into a mom-pop shop, there is a chance you will hear “thank you” from the staff at least once be it because you bought a product or simply for visiting the store. Such social exchange in person creates rapport and a sense of reassurance gaining the customers’ trust.

Nonetheless, the pandemic changed everything for businesses, customers and marketers. More and more people have moved from physical (offline) shopping to online purchasing. 

Unlike offline shopping, however, purchasing products/services online can arouse a certain level of anxiety with customers. It’s harder for customers to remember actual human beings exist behind a brand’s online presence. You cannot make eye contact, flash a smile and shake a customer’s hand over the internet. 

Yet, you can still show your gratitude and appreciation. This is why customer engagement emails are important. They can be just as impactful as face-to-face declarations of thanks if, of course, they are executed correctly.

If you are wondering when you should send customer engagement emails, the answer is quite simple – anytime. You don’t need to anchor these emails to a particular holiday or event. Yet, doing so could increase their effect and impact.

These nine events can serve as guidelines to help you remember when you must send customer engagement emails – 

1) after a sign up/opt-in;
2) post-purchase;
3) after an event;
4) on the subscriber’s/customer’s birthday;
5) on traditional holidays;
6) on an anniversary;
7) after hitting a milestone;
8) when customers/subscribers leave a review; and,
9) on referral.

Lastly, remember that customer engagement emails are user-action based. With the right email marketing software on your side, you will be able to set specific triggers and automate the whole process ensuring the right content reaches the right people at the right time.

Express Gratitude

Showing gratitude and appreciation to every new subscriber or customer is amongst the most effective methods of customer retention and the best way to strengthen your relationship with your target audience.

Flatspot, for example, created a great layout with clear call-to-actions (CTAs), straightforward copy and a special perk – “10% off your next shopfor their customer engagement email to welcome new subscribers and show its gratitude – 

3 Subject Lines To Show Gratitude

Did you know that 69% of recipients report emails as SPAM solely based on the subject line?

Your customer engagement email’s subject line (as with any other type of email campaign) is the first thing recipients will see. It’s also the most powerful element of any email marketing campaign and the biggest factor as to whether your recipients will open and interact with your email. Thus, you need to make sure your gratitude will be seen from the get-go. Here are three subject lines examples for expressing gratitude –  

  • “We are grateful you joined our newsletter! Have a special perk…”
  • “You picked us – Thank you!”
  • “[FirstName], Thank you! We’re happy to have you as a customer.”

Say Thank You

Welcome emails are among the most-read types of emails landing in the recipients’ inbox. They have 50% higher open rates, 5 times more clicks and generate 3 times more revenue per email compared to any other type of email campaign. You should seize the opportunity that such high performing emails present and show your appreciation to your subscribers/customers by also saying “Thank You!”.

This customer engagement email from Bliss is the perfect example of a welcome-thank you email combination. From the inverted pyramid layout to the strategic placement and colour of the call-to-action, the brand has certainly ticked all the right boxes for an effective and impactful customer engagement email. 

The subject line – Welcome To Bliss! Instant Offer Inside” – creates both curiosity and urgency that recipients will not be able to resist.

Aside from expressing gratitude to new subscribers, you should also thank customers (both new and old) for their purchase(s) just like Light In The Box is doing.

The email summarises all the key information a customer needs with relevant call-to-action (i.e. view the status, contact us) making the email body concise and to-the-point rather than text-heavy. Moreover, instead of just saying thank you and moving on, the brand offers an incentive (i.e. a surprise reward) for customers’ product review. It’s the perfect customer engagement email.

3 Subject Lines To Say Thank You

The top five ingredients that make the perfect subject line are curiosity, urgency, a tempting offer, relevance and novelty. Thus, your Thank You email subject line must incorporate all of them if you want your customer engagement email to stand out in recipients’ cluttered inbox. Here are three subject line examples to get you inspired – 

  • “Thank you for your order! Find a surprise reward inside.”
  • “A great purchase. We have a special gift for you.”
  • “Thank you, [FirstName]! We are glad to have you as a customer.”

Special Offers

Gaining new subscribers/customers is a challenge on its own. Keeping them happy and satisfied is yet another challenge. 

A happy, appreciated customer is a repeat customer. Therefore, rather than simply saying thank you, use your customer engagement emails to offer your target audience a special offer to show them they are indeed appreciated and special to you.

Benefit Cosmetics has done a brilliant job with its customer engagement email. From the subject line – We ❤️ you… Here’s 20% off + FREE shipping – where the brand utilises a heart emoji to emphasise their fondness of the recipient and make the subject line stand out with two compelling special offers to the stunning email layout that repeats the promise of the subject line, Benefit Cosmetics has been very clever and strategic in turning what might come across as a regular sales email into a beautiful, enticing special offer that evokes a sense of belonging (i.e. friends & family sale). 

3 Subject Lines For Special Offers

  • “Share the love! Refer someone and get 30% off”
  • “A special offer to say Thank You – 25% off + FREE delivery”
  • “Only For You: A special offer + a surprise gift! Unwrap inside”

Seasonal/Holiday Rewards

I don’t really like gifts or rewards, said no customer – ever. 

Unlike birthday campaigns which happen only once a year, seasonal/holiday emails allow you to reach out to your audience and show your gratitude by offering them something special on a special day.

A marketing calendar is quite rich in various holidays like Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day and so forth. Each one presents an opportunity to reach out to your audience and make them feel appreciated and cherished.

Email Monks, for example, took customer engagement emails to the next level with their St. Patrick’s Day campaign by utilising gamification.

With seasonal/holiday customer engagement emails, marketers can choose from a diversity of designs, subject lines, imagery and gamification elements to make their appreciation email stand out and strike a chord with the recipients to ensure retention and loyalty.

Another brilliant example of showing appreciation through seasonal/holiday rewards in email campaigns is Terrain’s customer engagement Christmas campaign.

The business offers a special holiday reward to its customers to show its appreciation by giving them a treat to say thank you for sharing a merry season with us  in the form of a 15% discount. Spectacular design layout, clear call-to-action, relevant imagery and prominent headlines – all components of a great customer engagement campaign.

3 Subject Lines for Seasonal/Holiday Rewards 

  • “Thank you for choosing [brand name]! Get your [holiday] reward”
  • “It’s [holiday] season and WE like to treat YOU with a special gift”
  • “Temperatures are rising, our prices are falling! | Get your seasonal reward”

Milestone Emails

Milestone engagement emails do not require marketers to wait for special occasions or holidays to engage their audience. Celebrating milestones can happen at any time. Whether it’s your brand’s anniversary or your customer’s anniversary, appreciation emails will help you share your gratitude and excitement as well as build an even more personal relationship with your target audience.

Take a look at’s milestone engagement email, for example.

The business celebrates its 11th anniversary with a fun, entertaining campaign that not only gives a face to the brand but also shows its gratitude to its customers. Despite it being the company’s milestone, the brand has put the customer in the middle of the celebration. 

Furthermore, to enunciate their gratitude, the brand offers a special milestone offer – 25% off everything – all week” + a special discount code.

Another brilliant example of a well-written and superbly designed customer appreciation email celebrating a milestone comes from Allbirds – 

The campaign might not have a special reward or offer but it still achieves the set goal – thanking the customers for their support and continuous loyalty.

3 Subject Lines To Celebrate A Milestone

  • “We’ve reached a new milestone. Thanks a million!”
  • “5 Years! Thank you for being a loyal customer!”
  • Trello: “Get Free Gold To Celebrate 10 Million Users!”

Birthday Gifts

Another way to show your gratitude and appreciation to your subscribers/customers is by reaching out to them on their special day – a.k.a their birthday – with a birthday gift.

Nasty Gal, for example, sent its birthday girls the most visual-centric happy birthday email with the perfect relevant imagery of a model sporting a Nasty Gal outfit and plenty of balloons for ambience. The copywriting is superb and catering to the brand’s young demographic. 

Another spectacular example of a perfect birthday email comes from Sephora.

The uber-personalisation, enticing offer (a FREE gift), relevant imagery and two clear prominent CTAs make this happy birthday email extremely attention-grabbing. Moreover, it makes it clear to the customers/subscribers their loyalty is highly appreciated as, unlike other brands, it does not offer a discount but a FREE gift.

3 Subject Lines For Birthday Emails

  • “A GIFT for you! Happy Birthday, [FirstName]!”
  • “[FirstName], Happy B-day! Don’t let your 25% off discount expire”
  • “Happy Birthday from [your brand’s name]! We have a gift for you”

Anniversary Emails

Birthdays are about the person. Holidays are about the public. Anniversaries are far more momentous as they celebrate two parties coming together. It could be the first day someone subscribed to your mailing list or the first time they placed an order (or the 10th). Whichever the case, there is something worth celebrating and showing gratitude for.

Celebrating anniversaries unique to your subscribers/customers will help you establish a stronger relationship with them and humanise your brand’s presence. 

Bonobos have done a brilliant job with its anniversary email campaign – 

The brand is offering subscribers 20% off their next order simply for being on their mailing list for a year (hint: special discount code is oneyear). This way, Bonobos is not only showing its gratitude but also attempting to convert long-term subscribers (that have not yet purchased) into customers. Smart, concise, on-point, appreciative and enticing – a winning combination for a customer engagement email.

3 Subject Lines For Anniversary Emails

  • “Our one-year gift to you!”
  • “Happy Anniversary, [FirstName]! Do you want to know what your gift is?”
  • “Congratulations, [FirstName]! You earned the One Year badge.”

Engagement Emails

A lot of brands chose to reactivate dormant subscribers/customers with discounts or special sales campaigns. Yet, only a few would take a different approach to engage their audience. This is where engagement emails come into play.

Not all subscribers are ready to convert into customers. Beardbrand knows that and uses customer appreciation emails to engage their email list with content rather than going straight in for the kill – salesy copy.

First, the reader meets all the known famous brand faces and reads their thank you message evoking a sense of belonging (you are part of their community) – 

Then, rather than sending them to a product landing page, the brand invites the reader to its blog, gently guiding them through the sales funnel by offering informative, relevant, entertaining content – 

It’s the perfect customer engagement email focused on the reader instead of hard-selling something the recipients are not yet ready to purchase.

3 Subject Lines For Engagement Emails

  • “[FirstName] – 40% off your favourite products, right now!”
  • “Only 5 items left! Buy now & get 50% off”
  • “A special discount to welcome you back to the fold”

Customer Reviews

People trust other people’s recommendations. It’s just the way it is. Therefore, your prospects/leads will trust customer reviews more than they’d trust well… you. Thus, make sure you collect as many customer reviews as possible. 

Tradegecko’s appreciation email, for example, is quite simple. The brand shows its gratitude by thanking the customer for being a superstar then kindly asks for their feedback. Notice how the copy is kept sweet, concise and fun? 

3 Subject Lines For Customer Reviews

  • “[FirstName], see what our superstar customers think!”
  • “Why are customers raving about our product [service]…”
  • “[FirstName], did we win your trust?”

Early Access Email

Another effective way of showing customer appreciation, aside from unique sales campaigns, is offering your target audience early access evoking a sense of exclusivity.

Elf Cosmetics, for example, has done a stellar job with their early access email campaign – 

The brand’s prominent headline – jump the line – offers the recipients early access to its upcoming sale before anyone else.” The offer is extremely easy to claim – click a CTA and visit a landing page. 

3 Subject Lines For Early Access Emails

  • “Don’t miss your early access exclusive offer!”
  • “Subscriber/Customer Exclusive: You are on the nice list – 30% OFF for you!”
  • “Skip the line – Get your early access NOW”

Final Thoughts

You want to convert subscribers to customers? Re-engage inactive subscribers? Win back dormant customers with special offers? Promote a loyalty program? 

Your customers are your brand’s lifeline. Without them, your business is for nothing. Their loyalty deserves to be rewarded. Thus, customer appreciation emails are the perfect way to do all of the above and effectively nurture your connection to your audience as well as build strong, long-term relationships and, of course, draw them back when they have doubts.

The opportunities to show your audience you appreciate their loyalty and to say thank you are countless. Yet, the most important thing to remember about customer engagement and customer appreciation emails is that they are about the customer (or subscriber), not about you – so don’t get too salesy or start bragging about how awesome you are.

What type of customer engagement emails are you sending?

Highly recommended further reading – 

1) Writing Marketing Emails 101
2) Email Design Trends 2021
3) Subject Line Mistakes To Avoid
4) Email Marketing Campaign Checklist (PDF version here)

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