Notification emailsWe’re all familiar with notification emails, even if they are usually the messages we delete the most often. They can, however, be a very effective marketing tool.

So, why are we inclined to delete them? It depends largely on the service from which they’re being sent. For example, Twitter will email you if someone mentions you in a tweet. That’s great, but they also inform you by way of an app notification, so, the chances, are, the latter will get to you quicker than the former. This of course comes down to preferences on behalf of the user; if you’re happy to receive app notifications as opposed to emails, you’ll usually have the option to turn the latter off.

But, as a marketer, how can you use notification emails effectively if this is the case? Well, there’s a few things to consider before getting started:

What’s your goal?

What do you want to achieve from sending subscribers notification emails? The most obvious one we can all make use of is the automated ‘welcome’ email which people receive after signing up to a mailing list. The notification in this case is to confirm they’ve been added and the goal is to welcome them into your world.

If you’re thinking about implementing notification emails, consider why you had the idea in the first place and whether or not they will really benefit the recipient.

Types of notifications

We’ve covered the ‘welcome’ notification, but what else can you send? Such messages can actually be grouped into two categories:

  1. Summary notifications. These can be sent daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. The aim is to summarise what has happened in the intervening period. Consider it a digest for those subscribers interested in more of a birds’ eye view of your company’s activities.
  2. Instant notifications. These are sent as soon as something happens. That may be after joining a list or purchasing a product or service. The subscriber is informed straightaway about the activity they have performed and reminded why it benefits them.


As always, this blog post would be nothing without an example. This time, I’ve picked eBay because I’ve always admired their notification emails – particular when it comes to their ‘item ends soon’ messages. They’re among the few I don’t instantly delete, because they offer tangible value.

Firstly, they’ll tell me about a specific item I decided to watch and remind me that it’ll be ending soon. I nearly always forget I’m ‘watching’ something on the auction site, and the reminder has often prompted me to get involved with the auction itself.

eBay’s notifications have evolved over time and their current iteration is pleasingly to the point. That hasn’t stopped them inserting the odd upsell tactic, mind.

Let’s look at the subject line:

Email subject line

We’re forever extolling the virtues of creating a sense of urgency with email marketing, and eBay are in a perfect position to do just that. I’d better act quickly if I want to have a chance of owning this lens!

Onto the above-the-fold stuff, and it’s all good:

Email body

Once again, urgency is the theme, here. It doesn’t get more urgent than ‘hurry’ and ‘get it now’. Great, simple copywriting to open the email.

The call-to-action could perhaps be a little clearer, but most of the image and text above is clickable, which is the main thing. They’ve provided every piece of information I need to make an informed decision whether or not to click through, although the likelihood is I will, just to remind myself of the item.

They’ve even taken the opportunity to remind me of their mobile app’s existence.

Talking of opportunities, here’s how the rest of the notification email looks:

Email upsell

They also list ‘similar picks’, ‘check out the most watched’ and ‘more items from this seller’ further below. This results in a pretty big email, but it doesn’t matter in this instance. There’s nothing there I don’t want to see; I’m encourage to delve further into the email itself and the landing pages lying beyond.

Crucially, they finish the email here:

Email footer


Which leads me onto a nice conclusion. If you’re going to implement notification emails, ensure it is easy for people to change their preferences. Not doing so could lead you into hot, spammy water!


Main image courtesy of Master isolated images /


Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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