“What makes email marketing exceptional?” sounds like a rhetorical question, or one that can only be answered in a vague, subjective way. Still, we can answer it, thanks to Marigold Engage by Sailthru’s brilliant Strategy & Optimization team.

The team has created a benchmarking tool that quantifies the millions of emails we send every single minute. They look across our entire client base and compile the open, clickthrough and conversion rates for every message sent. We all already know what constitutes a good marketing email: crisp, beautiful, user-friendly, relevant. This tool allows us to go beyond that, identifying the best of the best, and then passing that knowledge onto our customers to help inspire their own email marketing programs.

Each quarter, we share some of those star performers. While we can’t disclose specific figures around, we can pass on insights about what made these eight examples of email marketing exceptional. Here’s a preview:

Personalize Beyond Products Like NASCAR

NASCAR sends a Weekend Recap to its active subscribers every week. This one was all about promoting February’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Las Vegas with content about the rules and racing wunderkind Hailie Deegan. There’s a lot we like about this newsletter, such as its simple layout, bold photos, and copy optimized for clickthrough.

But what made this one of Q1’s best examples of email marketing was the use of dynamic personalization. NASCAR created a lot of Las Vegas-centric content and sent different combinations to different readers based on their own individual interests. Brands frequently conflate personalized email communications with product recommendations. While the two do go together, NASCAR demonstrates that product-free emails can be just as personalized.

Re-Engage With Purpose Like Squarespace

We love a good winback campaign. However, we’re obsessed with those that go beyond targeting a customer who hasn’t engaged in a certain timeframe. Squarespace looks at the big picture and tries to understand why someone lapsed, and uses calendar milestones to re-engage.

It’s not always an issue of disinterest. In this case, the customer’s account was deactivated as a result of an expired credit card. Squarespace sent this email in early January and it has a certain simplicity — “Make it happen in 2019” — that works well with the self-improvement theme of any new year. Re-engaging with real purpose behind the message proves to be far more effective than broad attempts to revive users that simply lapsed in email or browse activities.

We also like that the email creative focuses on the customer completing the single action of updating their information. Once a customer does take action, Squarespace can then nurture them even further for the long haul with targeted, personalized content and lifecycle messaging.

This was just a teaser. For more brilliant email marketing tactics from brands like Equinox, The Sun and more, download the guide here.