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By Thomas Law Updated on October 12, 2021

How to Write Epic Promo Emails to Skyrocket Sales (Plus Examples)

Mediocre promo emails won’t cut the mustard.

In 2019 alone, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received every day — and this figure is expected to hit 361.6 billion in 2024, according to Statista. In other words, if you want to cut through the noise and make sales, you need to learn how to write a promotional email that knocks peoples’ socks off.

But writing an effective promo email isn’t exactly straightforward.

How can you capture attention, engage the reader and compel them to take action with just a few words, phrases and images?

In this article, you’ll learn how to write a promotional email that converts readers into customers. Then, we’ll take a look at 5 real-life promotional email examples to see how the pros do it.

But first, what are promotional emails exactly and why are they important?

What Is a Promotional Email?

Promo emails are strategic marketing messages designed to drive sales and conversions (such as scheduling a call or signing up for a free trial). Highly effective promotional emails compel users to take a specific action immediately. 

Promotional emails are just one of many types of email marketing, alongside others such as welcome emails, re-engager emails and abandoned cart emails.

A promotional email launches into the sky like a rocket.

The Power of Promo Emails

There were 3.9 billion email users globally in 2019 — half the world’s population — and this figure is set to increase to 4.48 billion users by 2024, according to Statista. So, email is undoubtedly an important marketing channel.

If that isn’t enough, promo emails can generate an incredible return on investment (ROI).

In fact, according to The Data & Marketing Association, for every £1 (about $1.39) spent on email marketing, the average return is £42 — that’s a 4200% ROI. It’s no wonder a SaleCycle study found that more than 50% of respondents buy products from marketing emails once a month. 

Additionally, for many businesses, email is the main driver of customer acquisition and retention. 

According to data from Emarsys, 81% of small and midsize businesses (SMEs) rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel, and 80% of SMEs rely on email for customer retention.

All in all, a well-written promo email can drive significant returns for your business.

How to Write a Promotional Email: 10 Best Practices

Now that you know what promo emails are and why they’re so important to your marketing efforts, how can you write them effectively? 

Here are 10 tactics and best practices that you can use to increase your sales.

1. Include a Strong Value Proposition

First things first: Every great promo email has a strong value proposition.

A value proposition is a concise statement that communicates the key benefits on offer. Or to put it another way, your value proposition should clearly explain how the reader will benefit by taking action.

Here’s a great promotional email example from personal finance expert Dave Ramsey. This email places the value proposition front-and-center with the subject line: “[Name], you can reach your money goals.”

Promotional Email Example: Dave Ramsey

2. Use Benefit-Focused Copy

When writing the copy for your promotional email, it’s important that you focus on your offer’s benefits, not the features.

For example, when Apple first released the iPod, they didn’t highlight the feature, “storage for 1GB of MP3s.” Instead, they translated this feature into how it benefited customers: “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Email Promotion Tactics: Focus on the Benefits

3. Personalize the Subject Line

According to Lifecycle Marketing, emails with personalized subject lines generate 50% higher open rates than emails without personalized subject lines.

Probably the easiest way to personalize a subject line is to include the recipient’s name like eBay does in the promotional email example below.

Promotional Email Example: eBay #1

4. Focus on the CTA

Every email promotion should include a call to action (CTA) that drives users to click. CTAs should be compelling, clear and concise.

To continue with our eBay example, the CTA “Activate Now” prompts readers to take advantage of an offer.

Promotional Email Example: eBay #1

Here are some more examples of common promo email CTAs:

  • “Shop Now”
  • “Add to Basket”
  • “Buy Now”
  • “Claim 10% Off Now”
  • “Try for Free”
  • “Get Started”
  • “Learn More”

5. Use Social Proof

If your readers are hesitant to click “buy,” you can always reassure them with social proof.

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon in which people conform to the actions of others.

In the promo campaign letter below, expert marketer Derek Halpern harnesses the power of social proof by including compelling testimonials.

Promo Email Examples: Social Triggers

6. Make the Content Engaging

Whenever someone opens your email promotion, you’ve only got a few seconds to grab their attention and engage them.

Depending on your brand’s personality, you could use a funny GIF or write a curiosity-inducing short story. Alternatively, you could get straight to the point like the WordPress security plug-in Jetpack does in this promotional email example, which uses the subject line: “Last chance to save up to 70%!”

Promo Email Example: Jetpack

7. Use Images and Visuals

A great way to engage readers quickly is to use images and other visuals, such as GIFs.

Images can also communicate information faster than words — you know what they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Here’s a promotional email example from bags and accessories retailer Wardow that features a striking visual:

Promo Email Examples: Wardow

8. Focus on a Single Message

Unlike some types of email marketing, promo emails need to be focused to be effective. 

For example, a roundup email promoting your latest content offerings may include many different CTAs. However, your promo emails should drive home just one point.

Try to avoid making your promo emails overly cluttered or busy. Instead, ensure that every aspect of your promo email leads readers to click your CTA.

9. Experiment With Different Formats and Layouts

Ultimately, if you want to create the best promo emails, you need to experiment to identify the most optimal formats and layouts.

For instance, you could use text like in the social triggers email above. Or, you could include bold graphics, GIFs and videos. Perhaps longer promo emails resonate better with your target market. Or maybe keeping emails short and snappy will drive the most clicks.

Keep track of your email marketing performance to home in on what works best for your brand.

10. Make Emails Mobile-Friendly

In 2018, 52.2% of global web traffic was generated through mobile phones — and this number has likely risen since then. Plus, most reports on email open rates suggest mobile devices are responsible for at least 50% of email opens.

As a result, it’s crucial that every marketing email you send is optimized for mobile devices and has a responsive design.

5 Promotional Email Examples to Inspire You

Now that you understand how to write a promotional email let’s take a closer look at 5 different types of promotional email examples to inspire your efforts. Each of these examples showcases a different type of email marketing offer.

1. Time-Sensitive Offers

If you’re wondering how to promote a product through email, this first tactic works well.

Offering a time-sensitive deal is a great way to inject some urgency into your promo emails and compel readers to take action.

In the product promotional email example below, surf and snow brand Volcom urges recipients to open the email with the subject line “Last day of the sale!”

Promo Email Example: Volcom

Inside, there’s a lifestyle visual, on-brand graphics and straightforward copy that delivers a strong value proposition.

Also, notice how Volcom customized the promo code to engage their target market further.

2. Special Offers for Subscribers

Many brands create promo emails featuring special offers for email subscribers.

In this marketing promotion email sample, apparel brand Chubbies offers subscribers a 15% discount if they sign up to the brand’s rewards program.

This email hooks in the recipient with the subject line: “INSIDERS ONLY.”

Promo Email Examples: Chubbies

Chubbies uses a striking graphic to make readers feel like they’ve been invited to an exclusive club.

This email also does a great job of engaging readers with Chubbies’ signature cheeky voice and an entertaining “LIFE HACK.”

3. New Products

Although product launches don’t happen every week, be sure to send out promo emails whenever you have something new to offer.

This product promotion email from shoe brand Vivobarefoot calls attention to their new arrivals. It uses the subject line: “New Winter Arrivals | Feel the ground, not the cold.”

Promo Email Examples: Vivobarefoot

This email promotion features Vivobarefoot’s clean branding and an engaging visual. Plus, there are links to each product category included at the top to encourage people to visit the site.

It also features a good value proposition (“Feel the ground, not the cold”) that highlights the core benefit of the brand’s barefoot products.

The email also uses a simple and compelling CTA: “Shop collection.”

4. Themed Offers

Seasons, holidays and national events all provide good opportunities to create themed promo emails that engage your subscribers and drive sales.

In this promo email example, Jetpack promotes a Halloween-themed sale with the subject line, “🎃 Happy Halloween Sale!”

Promo Email Example: Jetpack 2


Although Jetpack’s products and services have nothing to do with Halloween, the brand has added a Halloween theme to the graphic, copy and discount code.

5. Giveaways

Giveaway emails provide a brilliant way to drive engagement, nurture leads and promote products and services.

Furniture store Joybird kicks off their giveaway email with the subject line: “Enter to win $2,000!”

Promo Email Examples: Joybird

This email emphasizes their value proposition in large letters: “WIN $2000.” And the CTA is highlighted with a big red button and simple copy.

Also, the graphic is strategically positioned to provide a clean space for the text to be read easily. And recipients can click on a product category that interests them most to start shopping.

Write Better Promo Emails 

Great promo emails can turn readers into customers on the spot. In summary, here are 10 tips to help you write better promo emails:

  1. Include a strong value proposition
  2. Focus on the benefits, not the features
  3. Personalize the subject line and content
  4. Create a strong CTA
  5. Include some form of social proof
  6. Make sure to engage readers quickly
  7. Use images and visuals
  8. Stick to one core message
  9. Experiment with different formats and layouts
  10. Use responsible design to ensure emails are mobile-friendly

Finally, promo emails are a great way to generate sales and conversions quickly from your existing mailing list — so start writing them today.

Thomas is a content marketing consultant and writer specializing in software as a service, ecommerce and digital marketing.
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