Promotional Email Best Practices

Promotional email campaigns, traditionally used to drive sales, can be powerful tools and if created effectively they’ll help to:

  1. Stimulate demand for your product or service
  2. Persuade your customers to action
  3. Increase website traffic
  4. Drive new business
  5. Procure new customers

Opportunities like that aren’t easy to come by, so it goes without saying that you need to put in a bit of effort (as you should with all campaigns!) when sending out any promotional email to your customers or potential customers.

The main objective of sending a promotional email is to drive sales, but it can also be used to encourage sign-ups, downloads, registrations and so forth. When looking at promotional emails in the traditional sense (that is sales), the design and style of writing are all done with this explicit purpose in mind. This means that whoever opens your email is doing so either because they have a genuine interest in your offer at that time, or they like the price of your offer. That’s it. Unfortunately, due to the very nature of promotional emails, they generally see lower open rates; however, the subscribers that do open them have a very high chance of performing the desired conversion. Based on this information alone, you can see why it’s worth taking the time to optimize each of these emails you send.

Generally, the validity and life-span of a promotional email is short and it aims for immediate returns, which means that if you don’t garner a response from your subscriber more or less immediately, the value of your email is lost. This is yet another reason why it’s so important that the campaign is created effectively and has a hard to resist call-to-action.

The frequency of your promotional emails is something you need to take into consideration and here you can adopt an information-to-promotion ratio. Basically, your subscribers are more likely to take action on a promotional offer if you have already built a relationship with them through other types of messages, such as newsletters. Let your subscribers get to know you a bit before you start inundating them with promotions. Send them only newsletters for the first month or two before you send them sales letters, this way they will come to regard you as an expert in your field and trust what you have to say, and in turn have to offer. Although the purpose is essential to make money from your customers, don’t undervalue the long term relationship that comes from sending newsletters, they are the glue that binds you to your subscribers.

Email campaigns are almost always the first a potential customer will hear about your company, products and services. Since you only get one chance to grab your reader’s interest and make a great first impression, your content has to be exceptional. There are no two ways about it. Top-quality, expert content will ensure that your email leaves a lasting impression and the chances of them buying from you from the outset and certainly from any future promotions are much more likely.

Although there is no doubt that your promotional email campaign success will involve an amount of trial and error, there are a few steps you can take when planning the content that will help you reach your goal faster.

  1. If your subject line isn’t up to scratch then your message isn’t even going to get opened, so the first step you need to do is optimize this space. Subject lines, despite their seemingly diminutive form, can pretty much determine the success or failure of your campaign so before you do anything else, make sure you are happy with what you have written here and don’t forget to test a few options before you send any out en mass.
  2. Be warm, friendly, personal and welcoming in your message. In short, be real. The one problem of email today is that it’s faceless and if a message is written badly it can easily be misinterpreted by the person reading it on the other side. People will relate to you (and trust you) if you appear ‘normal’ to them. Don’t be afraid to tell them a little bit about what’s happening in your life.
  3. Pique your readers interest with teasers about what they can expect to read about or promotions that are coming up – which will leave them wanting more and looking forward to the next promotional email you send.
  4. Give them valuable information that they can take away with them. People like to come away from a situation feeling as though they have learned something new (which they can pass on to others) and are able to make an informed decision. An example here might be if your promotion is on garden furniture then do a review and price comparison with something similar which shows the great quality and pricing of your offer in relation to others.
  5. Offer something ‘extra’ with your promotional emails. This could be free shipping for orders over a certain amount, a coupon to use in one of your stores or online, a discount for future purchases. Some call it ‘sweetening the deal’, you get the idea.
  6. Don’t forget your call to action at the end of the email – you want your customers to act now – so give them a reason to do so and make it easy for them to make the purchase.

If you are new to email marketing and aren’t 100% confident in your writing ability, then look to outsource the content for your email campaigns, at least for the first few campaigns until you get an idea of what works and how. It’s such a vital element of any email campaign and there isn’t often a second chance to make a better impression. Don’t worry though – by following industry best practices and incorporating them into your campaigns, you’ll soon get the hang of it.


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