promotional email examples

7 Great Promotional Email Examples & Why They Work

Every day, our email inboxes receive an influx of automated emails, publicity, promotional offers, and newsletters, many of which get ceremoniously checked and deleted, often unread. Yet, the latest figures on email campaign returns on investment (ROI) speak for themselves.

According to recent data, the ROI on email marketing campaigns averages $42 for every dollar spent, so what sets the effective ones apart from all of the collective noise? The way the email campaign is crafted is key to its success.

Here are 7 great promotional email examples showcasing a variety of strategies and why they work.

1. RunKeeper

Attempting to re-engage users who have fallen away can be tricky, as it is crucial to reignite their interest without triggering their defenses. In this great example, RunKeeper has used a particularly light and friendly approach to highlight some interesting improvements and enticing benefits to reengage a lost user. 

Using terms like ‘Hi friend’, and ‘You rock’ are short-but-sweet ways to keep the content feeling light and welcoming. This language takes any sense of promotional aggression away from the message.

Why it works:

  • Light and friendly
  • Includes improved features
  • Outlines enticing benefits that may have not been previously considered
promotional campaign

2. Travis Mathew

Menswear brand Travis Mathew makes sure their customers know that loyalty is rewarded by offering excellent seasonal savings via direct coupon email marketing. When your customers know that you offer great savings and other offers on particular dates and holidays, they will often wait for your promotional discounts instead of heading for any competition.

Here, the clear star of the show is the phenomenal discounts on offer, highlighted boldly and with a clear call to action to follow. They also follow this attention-grabbing opener with specific examples of discounted products for anyone who isn’t instantly transported by the large font discounts.

Sending email coupons is a powerful way to attract new customers as well as keep your existing ones. Preempting the seasonal shopping trends such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Labor Day, Christmas, etc. is a great way to grab shoppers’ attention in time for their seasonal purchases.

Why it works:

  • Attractive, brand-specific design to showcase coupon offering
  • Huge seasonal savings offered in large font
  • Specific savings examples following upfront message for further conversion opportunity
email campaign example

3. Uber

Uber uses particularly direct language to get straight to the point. Their content tends to be brief, specific in information delivery, and with a very clear call to action (CTA). They always include a link that you can click on to learn more, but for most customers, concise messaging is ideal for this service. Uber knows that what their audience needs to feel the most is confidence in the reliability of their service, so short, sharp, confident messages are key.

Why it works:

  • Service-appropriate concise messaging builds confidence
  • Clear call to action
  • Links for anyone wanting further information
example of a promotional email

4. Birchbox

The subject line used for this promotional email is the key to its success: “We Forgot Something In Your February Box!” Birchbox didn’t actually make an error, of course, but it is a great way to grab the attention of their customers, piquing their curiosity as to what was missed, thus triggering their Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). 

They then go on to offer up a bonus discount code for Rent the Runway, a company that rents dresses that are in keeping with the tastes of Birchbox clients. Partnering up with complementary brands is a great way to bolster marketing success.

Why it works:

  • Complementary brand partnership
  • Unexpected additional discounts
  • Attention (FOMO) grabbing subject line

5. Spotify

Spotify knows that if they can just get their audience to try their premium service, the product will sell itself. Offering a free trial is a great way to increase conversions, as suggesting that people upgrade at cost upfront is usually too aggressive. 

This promo email gives a short, clear overview of the benefits of Spotify Premium, followed by a simple call to action that includes the word free – and who doesn’t love getting something for free?

Why it works:

  • Concise messaging for easy consideration
  • The most meaningful benefits to users highlighted
  • Offering those benefits for free to entice users to trial a product they are confident will sell itself
example campaign

6. HireVue

Email promotions aren’t always about offering services or discounts directly, they are also about indirectly promoting continued engagement, and when done right, can be highly effective. It is essential that a subscriber list remains largely engaged to avoid low open rates, aside from obviously wanting as many recipients as possible to love and use your products or services.

Here, HireVue has designed a wonderfully light-hearted, snappy email to re-engage users while clearing out any dead wood. The subject header is also a winner: “Saying goodbye is never easy to do … so, we thought we’d give you a chance to rethink things.” This is cleverly worded to avoid any sense of guilt or pestering. The “Don’t Let Me Go” button copy is an added stroke of genius – interrupting the readers’ pattern of thought with such an unusual, playful, and emotion-evoking phrase.

Why it works:

  • A guilt-free headline that evokes some curiosity
  • Warmly beckoning the audience back while simultaneously improving open rates
  • Using playful, unique wording as a pattern-interrupt 
email marketing example

7. J.Crew Factory

If you can solve two problems in one and design it perfectly, you’ve got a great promotional email on your hands. Here, J.Crew Factory has identified the highly relatable issue so many face with wrapping presents and combined a solution for it with a great savings opportunity. When you consider how challenging it can be to find a great gift for someone, they’re actually solving three problems: gift selection, cost, and convenience.

To add to the convenience, they’re offering up two options for purchasing gift cards, too. A map with the closest store location removes even more barriers to purchase. 

Why it works:

  • Solving a relatable problem 
  • Combining multiple benefits into one light, humorous message
  • Addressing multiple purchasing barriers succinctly 

Final thoughts

Promotional emails can be a highly effective way to generate revenue and retain existing customers, they just have to stand out and be cleverly designed. Focusing on brand-specific design, solving relatable problems, and keeping the content unique and relevant to the emotional context of the product or service is key to engaging your audience.  And be sure to implement email tracking to gather actionable insights you can use to improve your future campaigns.

When it comes to designing your own promotional email campaign, do your research and consider how your competitors are successfully engaging their audience. While you mustn’t mimic, there are some framework ideas that work within a particular niche for a reason.

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