Promotional email campaigns offer a low-cost opportunity to build relationships, tell your brand story and keep your customers coming back.
That said, if promotional emails don’t align with your business objectives or seem irrelevant and spammy to readers, they can also cheapen your brand.
The best promotional emails don’t feel promotional in nature. When it comes to promo emails like offers, discounts or giveaways, there’s so much room for creativity.
In this piece, we’ll dive into eight great promotional email examples that demonstrate the possibilities with your promo emails and why they’re effective. We’ll also share six quick tips to help you get the most out of your email marketing strategy.
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8 types of promotional emails and why they work
The end goal of all marketing is conversion. That doesn’t mean your email marketing should only consist of transactional emails. Even with ecommerce brands, the most effective email marketing strategies have a healthy mix of different types of email content.
The eight examples below show the wide range of promo emails you can send, followed by a breakdown of the tactics they utilize that make them successful.
1. New product launch
You’ve done the hard work of conducting in-depth market and customer research, creating a product that solves a real need and building interest and anticipation through channels like social media. Now it’s time to launch and (hopefully) make some sales with a product launch email.
Ceremonia, a clean hair brand rooted in Latinx heritage, uses several effective techniques for their product announcement email.
Here’s what we can learn from this promo email:
Benefits vs features. The email subject line and title (“Unlock your best hair days”) highlight what customers will gain when they use the product. By starting out with the benefit, Ceremonia hooks subscribers in and gives them a reason to open the email and keep reading.
Simplicity. Ceremonia’s minimalist branding and email design keeps the focus on the product. While the company may sell other products, this email focuses on just one, ensuring customers don’t get distracted and click away.
Clear CTA button. The black button is a stark contrast to the white background, which helps it stand out. Additionally, “pre-order” reminds customers that the product is not yet available but will ship in the future.
Sense of urgency. “While supplies last” is an effective incentive to leverage FOMO (fear of missing out). This can activate people on the fence or waiting to make this purchase.
2. Personalized welcome email
Sending a welcome email to new customers with a note from one of your founders or someone directly responsible for developing the product is a great way to kickstart your relationship with a personal touch.
Keep in mind, this might not be as effective for larger organizations. Veed.io is a small but growing startup, so this email feels genuine. While recipients understand this email is automated, coming from a large company may detract from the personal nature of it.
3. Abandoned cart or abandoned checkout emails
For ecommerce businesses, abandoned cart and abandoned checkout emails target customers who have demonstrated interest but need a nudge to complete a purchase. This is a great way to maximize revenue from already engaged consumers.
They’re also helpful in finding bottlenecks in the customer journey. For example, if a certain product is consistently abandoned, it might be helpful to revisit the product description, images or price (assuming it has positive reviews).
Similarly, a high volume of abandoned checkouts may signal that your checkout process is cumbersome and needs to be streamlined.
Everlane’s abandoned cart email has a minimalist design and employs several effective copywriting approaches:
Complimenting the reader. Much like scarcity and urgency, flattery can be effective when implemented in small, authentic doses. In this instance, readers were likely pleasantly taken aback by the email header “You have great taste”.
Humor. By addressing the somewhat self-promotional nature of the compliment, Everlane most likely brings a smile to subscribers’ faces.
In-depth product description. Instead of simply showing an image and the title of the product, Everlane dedicates the body of the email to selling the reader on why this product is special.
Subtle, non-intrusive CTA. Demonstrate thoughtfulness and creativity with your CTAs by mixing it up from the standard “click here”. This can lead to higher click-through rates and increased customer loyalty.
4. Show how to get started with your product or service
Getting people to sign up for your product is one thing. Getting them to actually use it can be a whole other task. Welcome emails showing subscribers how to get started are a great promotional email option for SaaS businesses, especially for those that offer a freemium model.
Unless your email subscribers actually start using your product and fall in love with it, there’s no way to turn them into a paying customer. Emails showing how to get started with your product are also important if your platform offers multiple features or products. Even if they’re incredibly simple to use, subscribers might not be sure which one to try first and the slightest confusion can lead to inaction.
Lastly, placing captivating images and screenshots of your product in action in your email can help people on your email list get excited about diving in.
5. Irresistible offers designed with your target audience in mind
Special offers tailored to your target audience, as well as segmenting your list, can go a long way in driving conversions.
Fifty percent off is clearly an incredible deal, but the way you position the offer matters a whole lot.
Flodesk’s customer base is small business entrepreneurs who value eye-catching and customizable email templates, along with beautiful design. Their email visuals highlight these priorities well.
The tagline and call to action also speak perfectly to the target audience and capitalizes on the fact that many people make New Year’s resolutions, but in a way that’s not clichéd.
If Flodesk wanted to take this email one step further, they could include social proof from other happy customers and how Flodesk has helped them reach their business goals.
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6. Reminder emails
Reminder emails can be used in a variety of ways. They’re a great way to build rapport with customers, help you stay top of mind and demonstrate your understanding of the customer journey.
This reminder email from Zapier not only provides helpful information, it also makes an upsell play to their paid plan. The subject line (“Your Zapier trial ends in 3 days”) is straightforward and, while it doesn’t obviously tap into urgency, nudges users to upgrade before they lose access.
Reminder emails for limited time offers that let email list subscribers know when a certain promotion will end, especially if it’s for a highly sought after item, can also be beneficial for your brand.
Putting the desires of your customers (e.g. to get a great deal) over your business’s revenue targets (e.g. selling a product for the highest price possible) can help instill trust with your customer base.
Lastly, reminder emails can be especially important during the holiday season. It’s a busy time and it can be difficult to remember to order gifts in time for them to arrive. Sending emails to remind people to keep shipping times in mind and when orders need to be placed to get them on a certain day is often much appreciated by customers.
7. Re-engagement or win back campaign
It costs significantly more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. That means customer retention (i.e. emails that help you re-engage with, and ideally win back, your inactive customers) is a key part of any successful email lifecycle.
Similarly to the Everlane example above, this “give us another chance” example from Dropbox combines humor, creative brand imagery and concise copy that highlights its best features.
It also plays cleverly on one of modern life’s most sobering fears, losing those treasured files and photos that we forgot to backup, but in a comfortable and non-threatening way.
8. Requests for feedback
Requests for feedback can help you improve your product and also provide relevant messaging for your marketing that resonates with customers.
The example above from tradegecko does two things well:
Clever, cheerful copy. As mentioned, making email subscribers smile (assuming it’s at no one’s expense) never hurt a business. Entertainment is a form of value. This is important in this case since tradegecko is making a request from the reader (leave feedback) so the simple action of making them laugh could be what pushes them to respond.
Acknowledging your loyal customers. A lot of revenue comes from repeat buyers, so making sure your biggest customers feel seen and heard is a simple way to ensure they stick around.
6 quick tips when sending promotional emails
There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to effective email marketing strategies, and it’s easy to let small but important details fall through the cracks. Below are six helpful tips to help you make the biggest impact with your promotional emails.
Send emails from an address that customers can reply to. Email marketing is essentially a conversation with your customers, and communication goes both ways. Avoid using “[email protected]” addresses and include a sender name when possible.
Always test your emails. Different email inbox providers (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook) and different devices all deliver varying email experiences. Testing your emails allows you to optimize them and catch any email formatting errors, which can lead to decreased click-through rates.
Segment your list. Relevant content is key to email engagement, and list segmentation is the cornerstone of this.
Double check your spelling and grammar. Typos are inevitable for even the most seasoned writers, but if you don’t catch them, they can tarnish your brand’s credibility. Most large organizations have strict QA processes for their email campaigns. If you’re a small or one-person business, consider asking someone to proofread your emails before sending.
Practice good email hygiene. Practice good email list hygiene by removing inactive subscribers. This will improve your email health (more engagement leads to better deliverability) and increase open rates and conversion rates. Improved email deliverability also helps you keep your emails out of spam folders.
Follow compliance laws: Be sure to include an unsubscribe link as required by law (i.e. the US CAN-SPAM Act and Europe’s GDPR).
When done right, promotional emails can help you tell your brand story, build a relationship with new customers, win back disengaged subscribers and help you attract more engaged readers to your email list.
Technically any email you send on behalf of your business is promotional in some nature. Similarly, email marketing is a long game. Therefore, great promotional emails don’t always result in a sale right away.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, remember that the best promotional emails are often very simple. An informative email subject line to boost open rates, a well-thought-out offer, beautiful imagery and a clear call to action are a great start.