When and how to send your next promotional email

As a marketing professional, you understand that your goal is to promote something—an event, a product, and a special occasion, to name a few. But you also know that one of the top reasons people unsubscribe from a brand’s emailing list is due to too many promotional emails. 

unsubscribe example

Source: MarketingSherpa

While consumers prefer to receive promotional content from their favorite brands via email, “too much of a good thing” exists. That’s why it’s important to know how and when to send your promotional campaigns.

What makes promotional emails different from traditional ads is that your readers are looking for something of value. Sure, while you may think that value is a coupon code, your consumer is going to be asking, “why is this relevant to me?” So, to make the most of your next campaign, you’ll want to know exactly what goes into a great promotional email.

The anatomy of a great promotional email

Knowing what goes into a great promotional email is what leads to the success of your campaign. The body of the message may seem like an essential aspect of your piece—but before your reader gets that far, they have to want to open the email. This means your team needs to put effort into knowing each part (not just the offer).

That's why we've created an outline of a great promotional email.

The subject line and preheader text

The subject line and preheader text are the very first bits of information your reader sees in their crowded inbox. That's why you need to carefully craft a subject line that catches the reader's eye. You then need to follow it up with preheader text that makes them want to open your message.

subject line and preheader example

Source: Campaign Monitor

Remember that your subject line and preheader text do not allow you much room (50 to 60 characters per line). Make the most of this limited space. Get creative and capture the reader's attention. Entice them, make them want to learn more. 

In the above example, the email’s subject line instantly addresses a pain point. Then it follows with a catchy preheader that entices—even if the reader has 1,000 subscribers, this email suggests they could gain more if they click and read.

The body

Getting subscribers to open your message is only the first step. Now you need to keep them engaged long enough to read through your message.

That’s where the body of your email comes in. This part of your email should include multiple components, including:

  • Text

  • Images

  • Videos

  • GIFs

  • Links/clickable buttons

Some choose to go with plain text emails. We don’t always recommend this, as reading a plain message can get boring. The best way to keep your reader engaged is by using a combination of text and imagery. This helps keep the reader’s eyes moving. 

The call-to-action (CTA)

A crucial piece of your promotional email is the CTA. Obviously, the goal of these emails is to promote a product or service—to do that, it’s important to encourage your readers to take action. That’s why you need a CTA.

Your CTA should be prominent and actionable, so your readers can find it and interact with it. Take adequate time to optimize it properly.

LinkedIn promotional example

Source: Really Good Emails

How to optimize your promotional email

Now you know all the right pieces to a great promotional email. But there’s more. To make the most of these pieces, you’ll need to optimize each properly. 

Optimizing your promotional email subject line

While it may seem far-fetched to optimize a subject line, all marketing teams should practice this. Despite the brevity of a subject line, it holds tons of power. 

For instance, almost 70% of consumers will report an email as spam based on the subject line alone. Another 47% said they open an email based on the subject line. 

To properly optimize your promotional email subject line, consider these tips:

  • Leverage words proven to boost open rates, like “available,” “congratulations,” and “exclusive”

  • Remove words that trigger spam filters, like “lowest price,” “clearance,” and “perfect”

  • Include a number

  • Consider an emoji

  • Test, test, test

Optimizing the body content of your promotional email

When optimizing the body of your email, make sure to optimize the text and design appropriately. 

Optimizing the text may include:

  • Applying SEO best practices

  • Using shorter paragraphs

  • Splitting text up into bulleted or numbered lists

  • Following a design that leads readers from the header to the CTA

Other ways to optimize your body content for success would be:

WANDR example

Source: Emma

Optimizing the images in your promotional email

While pictures are part of optimizing your promotional email, remember that images should also be optimized as well.

Optimizing images is easier than you think. Keep in mind they should be:

  • Relevant to the topic

  • High-quality

  • Accompanied by descriptive alternative (alt) text in case the image doesn’t render correctly

Optimizing your promotional email CTA

Optimizing your CTA is essential when trying to drive engagement. Here are a few simple tips for creating a compelling CTA:

  • Focus on a single action for readers to take

  • Make it prominent and visually distinctive

  • Use actionable words and a sense of urgency

  • Use terminology that encourages action (rather than demands it)

  • Use buttons, as they’re more effective than hyperlinked text

Knowing when to send your next promotional email

Knowing when to send your promotional campaigns is just as vital as properly optimizing the content within it. However, there’s no right answer on the best time to send it. 

Our friends over at Campaign Monitor recently did a study into email marketing benchmarks. During their research, they found that certain days of the week helped brands hit specific email marketing benchmarks. 

Campaign Monitor example

Source: Campaign Monitor

These numbers are helpful—but knowing when to send genuinely depends on your audience. And how do you find out what your audience wants? Through A/B testing. 

3 Types of promotional emails you should consider

Are you lacking ideas for your next promotional email? Here are three examples to help spark your creativity. 

1. Announcements

Brand announcements, like product launches, are great promotional emails that should be part of your regular rotation. 

While these emails are designed to encourage a sale, they work as informational pieces to help influence a reader in whether or not they want to make a purchase. Remember, you aren’t telling them to purchase—instead, you’re giving them the best information and enticing them to take action. 

jaybird example

Source: Campaign Monitor

2. Coupons and special offers

Everyone loves to feel special. Use coupons and other offers to help make your reader’s day and encourage them to click through to your website. 

Not convinced? Emails that include coupons have a:

  • 14% increase in overall open rates

  • 34% increase in total unique clicks

  • 27% increase in transaction completion rate

  • 48% increase in revenue per email sent

Philosophy example

Source: Campaign Monitor 

3. Contests/giveaways

Looking for a new way to encourage reader engagement? Consider adding a content/giveaway campaign into your promotional email rotation. If your contest is appropriately optimized, then it will be relevant to your consumers’ needs while encouraging them to click on the CTA.

Apto skincare example

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

As a marketer, promotional emails may seem like second nature. However, they often get the short end of the stick when compared to other types of marketing emails. 

Not sure where to begin? Make sure you follow our guidelines for creating and optimizing great promotional emails.

And if you need some inspiration for your next campaign, consider adding one of these to your rotation:

  • Announcements

  • Coupons/special offers/gifts

  • Contests/giveaways

Ready to create beautiful emails, increase subscriber engagement, and build your audience? Request your live demo with Emma today.

About the Author

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our

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