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How to structure and write great promotional emails

This article will be of great help to you if you want to write great promotional emails with high conversion rates. We take a look at email marketing stats, best practices, types of promotional emails and promotional email examples.

Email is one of the most effective ways to reach out to potential and existing customers. What makes it so great is its ability to reach out in a personalized way, promoting an offer that fits them specifically.

You can use promotional emails to remind subscribers about your services and products, as well as to introduce them to new offers and promotions related to your products.

What you will observe, once you have a solid strategy for promotional emails, is that your conversions will increase, leading to further business growth. Here are some stats to back that claim up.

Email marketing stats

While it may seem counterintuitive in the face of other platforms that have emerged in recent years, email marketing remains a very viable channel for marketers.

From its continually growing user base to its efficiency and effectivity, there‘s a reason why brands continue to utilize this tested platform.

  • In 2017, the total number of email users amounted to 3.7 billion people. In 2022, this number is projected to grow by 16%, reaching 4.3 billion.
  • 269 billion emails were exchanged every single day in 2017, and that is projected to grow by 23.8%, to 333 billion emails, in 2022.
  • Email is considered to be the primary customer acquisition platform for 81% of businesses with a digital presence.
  • Aside from that, 59% of marketers believe that email marketing drives the most return on investment among all other communication channels.

Email marketing trends for 2019

In essence, all marketing emails are promotional in nature. Whether it‘s a simple welcome email sent to new subscribers, or an email containing product recommendations for existing customers, such emails are designed to cultivate relationships while consumers go through their buyer journey.

It‘s also an excellent way to consistently keep your brand at the top of consumer‘s mind. It may not always be to directly sell, but the value provided by well-crafted emails bodes well for painting a good perception of your brand.

That being said, here are a few trends you can expect to gain even more momentum this year.


While it seems like the focus on more personalized experiences has been strong for the past couple of years, more deliberate attention is expected to be placed on personalization based on customer behavior.

And with the ever-increasing amount of data accessible to marketers, expect this to be a key element of email marketing.

Interactive content

Emails with interactive content—like games, quizzes and image carousels—will continue to rise in popularity. The allure of interactive content is that users are able to interact with the brand without leaving their email. So, whether it‘s promoting a new product or simply educating and entertaining customers, brands are looking to embrace interactivity even more.

Brand humanization

One of the best ways to build customer relationships is to make your brand relatable. It‘s no longer enough to offer the best value for money, consumers are also looking for emotional connections with brands. Tom‘s shows that even simple storytelling can be used in promotional emails.

Mobile optimization

Over 70% of users read their emails on their smartphones. This means that your promotional emails should be optimized for readability across multiple devices.

What are promotional emails?

Ultimately, a promotional email is an email that guides a potential customer through the different stages of the marketing funnel.

Here are the five key stages:

  1. Awareness. This is when prospects first become aware of your brand. As such, you should focus on showing how your products and services can bring value to their lives or business.
  2. Consideration. Here, you start building deeper relationships with prospective customers. At this stage, the consumer is looking to know more about the brand and its products. You should also get more information about the prospect, so you can provide solutions to their needs.
  3. Conversion. Here, consumers are ready to make a decision, so you should focus on highlighting your unique value proposition—that is, what makes it better than the competition.
  4. Loyalty. Closing a sale doesn‘t mean your job is done. You want to build on that sale by cultivating your relationship with existing customers, nudging them gently towards becoming loyal ones.
  5. Advocacy. A customer can be loyal, but it takes a special kind of connection to make them advocates. These types of customers are not only likely to purchase again, they‘ll promote your brand for you among their peers. Here, you can offer rewards to further build on their loyalty.

Understanding where your audience is in the funnel allows you to segment your list and send the right emails to the right people. This makes it more relevant and personalized to the recipients.

Types of promotional Emails

The great thing about promotional emails is that they are only limited by your imagination. Because the goal is conversion depending on where they are in the funnel, you have a lot of legroom for creativity.

Here are some examples of promotional emails:

Sales. These can come in many forms. They can be as simple as presenting products you believe to be relevant to the recipient, a special offer to select subscribers, or a combination of both as you can see below.

This type of email is sent to those who are already customers and are ripe to become loyal ones. As you can see, the offers are available only to IKEA FAMILY members, which highlights the value of being part of the exclusive group.

Special occasion promos. These are essentially the same as sales emails, but they take advantage of special occasions to push the recipient to action—as Bath and Body Works does below for Easter. This is perfect for those who are already past the consideration stage and are ready to make a decision. Sometimes, a special occasion is all consumers need to make one.

Limited time offers. This type of email provides a sense of urgency to the recipient by making an enticing offer available for just a limited time. As you can see below, consumers are potentially swayed by pointing out that the offer is only for today.

Nurture emails. These emails are designed to build relationships by providing valuable content. Here, you have plenty of opportunities to either educate, earn trust, or entertain. These types of emails can be good for those in the awareness stage, or for trying to turn customers into advocates.

In this promotional email example, List25 welcomes subscribers with content that’s educational, engaging and entertaining all at the same time.

The 9 (+1) Step Guide to Structuring and Writing Promotional Emails

1. Know your target audience

You can‘t send emails that resonate with your readers if you don‘t fully understand who your audience consists of. What inspires them? What motivates them? What are their goals and aspirations? What are their pain points?

Their demographic is only the first step to gaining an understanding of them. You should gather and analyze sufficient data to understand what their problems are and how your products can provide solutions to those problems. When you have a deeper understanding of your audience, you‘re able to provide a more personalized experience of your brand via email.

2. Add variety to your formats

To avoid monotony and increase your chances for conversion, you should vary how you format your promotional emails. Variation will encourage your recipient to open your messages because they won‘t contain the same thing every time.

Here are some ways you can change up your content:

  • Use graphics for B2C emails
  • Use text-based or formal copy for B2B emails
  • Use videos or GIFs to appeal to younger audiences and give emphasis to the content

3. Optimize the length and create a unique subject line

Speaking of subject lines, these are just as important as the content itself. Having a great promotional email is useless if the customer doesn‘t even notice your email in their inbox. If you have a poorly-written subject line, you reduce your email‘s chances of being opened.

Here are guidelines on making the subject line unique and at the optimal length:

  • Open rate declines when you go above 10 words because the entire subject line won‘t be visible to mobile users. Optimize your subject length by thinking about gadget users and how the subject will appear on a smartphone.
  • Add a personal touch to the subject line by including the receiver‘s name.
  • Avoid using overused and spammy words such as free, sale, extra, etc. Either your email will be immediately sent into the spam folder or your recipient will be the one to send it there. Especially if your customer is trying to achieve zero inbox.

4. Utilize informative preheader text by creating a great introduction and headline

The preview is one factor that‘s often overlooked in email marketing. As part of newsletter best practices, a compelling and well-written preview can prompt the client to open the email.

These are guidelines on writing a persuasive preview:

  • KISS (Keep It Short and Simple). When you create a short but interesting preview, the recipient will likely be interested to know more.
  • Summarize. Talk more about your subject but don‘t use the same words. Since the preview is limited, you should condense it so that the recipient will read the expanded version in the email itself.
  • Utilize FoMo (Fear of Missing Out). Appeal to the customer‘s FoMo by adding urgency in the preview.
  • Benefits. Talk about the value of your promotion from the get-go. If you‘re talking about a sale or freebie, indicate it in the preview.
  • Consider mobile. Again, the preview length should be short enough so that it doesn‘t get cut off on a mobile device.

5. Break up the body

After writing a compelling subject and preview, you need to think about composing the body of your email. You wouldn‘t want the customer to open the email, only to close it again after a few seconds. Make sure that the body of your email encourages conversion. Separate your content into parts so that the customer can easily read through the email, section by section.

Here are ways to craft the content of your email:

  • Make sure that everything is true to your brand.
  • Start with the information you talked about in the subject line.
  • Write short paragraphs instead of lengthy ones. Use the white space to create strategic pauses so that your customer doesn‘t get overwhelmed.
  • Use formats like heading styles, bullet points and content hierarchy so that the reader can easily browse through the email.
  • Highlight important parts with the use of bold fonts, bigger fonts or attention-grabbing colors (but be careful, as too colorful emails can be considered spam.

6. Don‘t forget your CTA

Sometimes, all you need to convert is to tell your audience what you want, which is why you always need to have a clear call to action in your emails.

Whether it‘s asking them to download an ebook, or simply to drive them to the landing page of your new collection, you need to tell them what you want them to do.

This is an excellent promotional email example because it combines a few key elements: compelling copy, an enticing offer, a clear promo deadline and a large enough CTA button. As well, the copy, imagery and offer all lead the reader towards the end goal.

7. Set a deadline

Speaking of CTAs and deadlines, it‘s important to note that setting deadlines works because it plays on people‘s FOMO (fear of missing out)—a psychological trigger humans can‘t help but respond to. An estimated 69% of millennials experience FOMO, while 60% of them make reactive purchases simply because of FOMO.

Even simply showing customers that stocks are running low can encourage them to act.

8. Deal with spam filters right away

You‘ve done the work, created compelling content and put the necessary CTAs in place. However, your email may be mistakenly flagged as spam and it may not turn up in your customer‘s inbox at all. Before you send your emails, make sure that you have taken the necessary precautions.

Here are some ways to deal with spam filters:

  • Use a sender name that‘s easy to recognize
  • Choose an email service provider or ESP that‘s reliable
  • Check if your email is blacklisted
  • Test before sending see if it will end up in the spam folder
  • Tone down on the variations of fonts and colors in your email
  • Make it easy for your client to unsubscribe

9. Track, test and measure the data

The work doesn‘t end with creating and sending your promotional email. You have to make sure that your email campaign generates the desired effect or output. The most effective way to make sure that your promotion email is delivered smoothly is to send tests to various recipients like colleagues, family or friends so you can determine the behavior on different devices and ESPs.

Here are ways to track and measure your promotional email campaign:

  • Create a unique link on your call-to-action
  • Monitor its performance using a link tracker
  • If the promo email is not converting well apply A/B split testing—try to change the copy or images and compare the conversion rates until you get what you are after

Bonus Tip: Optimizing Promotional Emails With Automation

Automation is a great way to simplify processes and send emails more efficiently. Not only does automation save time, it also saves you money and effort. You don‘t have to hire someone to send emails because the software will do it for you.

Here is an example of how you can use email automation:

  • Abandoned carts. If a customer has already added things to their cart but didn‘t check out before ending the session, you could trigger an automated email informing the customer of their abandoned cart.

Another great strategy is to combine segmentation data with automation possibilities. Here are some examples:

  • Product recommendations. Send emails containing products relevant to the customer‘s searches during their session on your ecommerce website.
  • Location-based campaigns or events. You can automate your email to send exclusive invites to people who reside in the area you‘re having an event in. You can tie this up with a related promo. For example, if you have a product launch, you can send an invite while also offering a special discount if they purchase during the event.

Best promotional email examples


The email layout is clean, and the message and CTA is direct and to the point, making it perfect for people who tend to skim their emails. And, once people actually do look more into it, the text is concise, enticing people to pay a fee to get flat rates on the two places they most frequent. There‘s also a sense of urgency at the end, indicating that supplies are limited.


Starbucks does a few things well here. First, their welcome email tells subscribers exactly what to expect from opting in. They also provide a number of options to help improve their customers‘ experience by managing their accounts, Starbucks card, and even encouraging them to join their loyalty program.

And, if that‘s not enough, social buttons are also clearly indicated at the bottom of the email, giving customers options to connect whichever their preferred network may be.


Clean design, tempting images and a strong call to action all tick off promotional email best practices. And because they understand their audience is conscious of healthy eating, they give them exactly what they want.

Final thoughts

As a recap, here are the things you need to keep in mind when it comes to promotional emails:

  • Emails require ample understanding of your audience to be effective. This understanding allows you to provide personalized and relevant content
  • Captivating visuals and strong calls to action are essential to successful email campaigns
  • Promotional emails can be utilized to keep the brand on consumers‘ minds, whichever stage of the buyer journey they‘re in

A well-thought-out email marketing campaign should be part of every brand‘s digital marketing strategy. As such, promotional emails should be optimized using the above tips to help increase conversion rates.

Which advice did you think was the most helpful? Comment your thoughts below and let us know what you think.

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