One off email campaigns: When do they work, and how should you do them?

Ok, so you’ve got your email newsletter set up and, no doubt, by now you’re seeing a significant surge in traffic. However, there are times when even your regular mailer doesn’t provide the time, space and focus needed to promote or explain a particular aspect of your business. That is where the one off mailer comes in.

What’s the difference?

As the name suggests, a one off mailer is an email that is sent to your subscribers a single time only. This differs to a recurring email template such as a newsletter, which is sent out at the same frequency every week, month, etc. and designed to look the same albeit the changing content presented within it each time. 

Now, we know what you’re thinking: if you’ve already got a regular newsletter why opt for a one off mailer?

Well, because it is the most direct and economical means to highlight an aspect of your business that is deemed important but is very much of the moment or time dependant. If the message is only going to be conveyed once, why spend on costly marketing as even social media channels, arguably the most instant form of communication, often require paid promotion and targeting to get people to even notice your content. 

Another benefit of the one off mailer is that it adds variety to your content schedule. This also breaks up the gaps between your regular newsletters, helping to further engage your subscribers by promoting or reminding them about the products and services you offer. 

When to go “one off”

While there are endless examples out there, the one off mailer can be split into three main categories, which are as follows:

Sales oriented

When it comes down to it, all customer communications are sales oriented in one way or another. So what we really mean by this term is those emails that can be directly linked to driving transactions and even measured for success using analytics tools. This includes hero campaigns, for example a flagship product launch, through to arguably the most upfront of all marketing campaigns the sales, offers and promotions.

For many retailers, the sale season is a make or break part of their financial year and without question deserves more than a footnote in a newsletter. Individual emails announcing the launch, further reductions and close of a promotional period are a must for any e-commerce site and tied in with the right piece of content, the one off mailer can provide a speedy transition from pitch to click through to order. 

Brand building

Unlike sales oriented emails, brand building is less quantifiable but then again that is not really the point. These often lack a transactional thrust because what you are really trying to sell is the brand itself by creating an image of the business that will encourage subscribers to continue shopping with you over your competitors in the long run. One off mailers that support this type of brand building can cover everything from the heritage of the business to how your products are crafted, partnerships with charities to a recent award win. If there’s an unique angle or story to your business this is the space in which to share and enthuse about it to your customer base.


Your customers have subscribed to your emails because they want to stay informed with what’s happening at your business. While you may already send out newsletters, there are occasions when a piece of news content warrants more than simply a mention and can be better explored using a one off mailer. This could be for a number of reasons: perhaps it is an important event that you wish to promote; the business has gone through a merger that will have repercussions as to how it operates; or there has been a change to policy that affects the customer experience. Whether it is celebratory or more serious in tone, a one off email gives the topic the weight it deserves and will help prevent customers from feeling that they have not been properly informed.

How to do it right

Staying on brand, use the one off mailer as a chance to do something different with the graphic design compared to your regular newsletters. It needs to stand out, whether it is the colours used, a different type of font for the headers or a whole new layout, so spend some time thinking about how you want it to look or better yet get a professional design team to do the work for you.

Similarly, you can have a bit of fun with the copy provided it fits within the scope of your “house” style. Writing a punchy email subject line is an art form in itself with a one off mailer a good time to test out something different and see how it affects factors like open rates. If your subscribers are more responsive to a pun then why not give the people what they want? Afterall, it means more people opening your emails and discovering your products.

How you present your email will also depend on the type of products or content you’re attempting to drive people to. Say you have a new product launch, a one off mailer should be there to drum up excitement so that your subscribers click straight through to the product and are compelled to purchase. You can also use a single subject email as a means to drive traffic to underperforming areas of your site, for example a product category. Together the design and copy can tell a story or provide some inspiration to reignite interest.

Taking this a step further, incorporating editorial content such as blogs into your emails helps build your authority as a brand. For example, a one off mailer that provides a user guide to getting the best from your product will appeal to those who have purchased from you before and will likely encourage them to keep coming back. Importantly, it also allows you to market your products in a more subtle manner, providing a more informed user journey that feeds from email to blog to product. 

Implemented correctly alongside a regular newsletter, the one off mailer can dramatically enhance the user experience. That added layer of interaction, insight and inspiration is something that will not go unnoticed by your customers and will not only lead to a short term lift in sales but also translate to long term brand loyalty. It’s also a case of not underselling your business. If you know you are the go-to for a particular product or service then to not properly communicate that story using low cost channels such as one off mailers is an opportunity wasted.