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The Art of Sending Promotional Emails

Erik Kangas
Erik Kangas

There's a balance to be struck to ensure your marketing is effective.

Promotional emails can often come across as gimmicky and uninteresting, but they can be a great tool for your email marketing and overall business strategy if you know how to use them. Promotional emails can be an amazingly effective means of reaching out to prospects and customers. But when used improperly, they can be off-putting and negatively affect your brand. Let’s look at some time-tested guidelines concerning the proper timing, content, audience and other tips that can help make your promotional emails more effective.

Manage Your Send Frequency

Emails can attract your consumers’ attention, but sending out too many communications too often can lead to them all landing right in email junk folders. It’s important to strike that perfect note where you maximize brand exposure without becoming a nuisance.

How many emails are too many? Consider your own experience with email marketing. How often is too often for you? A general rule of thumb is anywhere from once a month to no more than once per week. Every campaign audience is different, and yours is no exception. Review your own historical campaign trends and see if your email frequency correlates with the frequency of purchases, click-throughs, opens or unsubscribes. Keeping an eye on this type of data will help your emails remain in front of your audience without overstaying your welcome in their inbox.

Make Emails Informative and Offer Something Unique

There are few things more frustrating than wasted time, and this goes for reading emails as well. Offer your readers something interesting and informative. Make clicking through your communications worth the reader’s while. Give them a peek into new arrivals or perhaps offer a coupon. Hosting quarterly sales or rewarding clients for their continued patronage are helpful ways to draw attention and provide something unique to get those customers clicking.

Perhaps an old item is back in stock, a new item is in fashion or other customers have bought items that complement the last product they purchased. Regardless of the content, each email should justify why you’re reaching out and give a reason for the client to interact with that email. Make sure each email is worthy of a spot in their inbox.

Target Your Audience Appropriately With Segmentation

To target your audience, you must be able to cherry-pick information out of your customer data. By segmenting out your emails, you can adjust your content according to age, gender, location, job description, click-through rate, order history, date of last purchase, referral generation and more.

Customization helps you preserve the relevance of your message, garners better open rates and click-through rates, and delivers a stronger overall return on your efforts. According to MailChimp, segmented emails get 86 percent more clicks, 10 percent fewer unsubscribes, and 14 percent higher open rates.

An important statistic to note is that segmenting emails by interest group (anything from musical taste to hobbies or online habits) can increase opens by 11 percent and clicks by 72 percent. Segmenting can help you target loyal subscribers with reward offers or special re-engagement offers to those who have not purchased lately. The takeaway is that segmenting your email campaign has an undeniably positive effect on customer engagement.

Don’t Be Too Sales-y

Chances are you can recognize a spam email without ever opening it. Grammar, punctuation and over-promising text are all good indicators. So, it stands to reason that subject lines and text that follow these trends should be avoided. Develop these habits to keep your emails out of the junk folder:

  • Watch your text-to-image ratio. Spam filters will automatically junk emails that don’t have much text, so be sure you add enough text to keep your emails legit. A 60/40 text-to-image ratio is a good standard.
  • Clean up your email lists. If you haven’t interfaced with your current subscriber list lately, odds are your emails will go straight to the spam folder. Avoid wasted effort by making sure that your subscribers are current and active.
  • Watch what (and how) you write: Avoid using all capital letters, extra punctuation, and obvious clickbait phrases. Your email is likely headed straight for the spam folder if your subject line reads anything like: “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT WE’RE OFFERING THIS TIME!!!”

Perform Your Own Research

Although promotional emails have general golden rules that you can follow, the best way to get the most out of your campaign is to conduct your own research. For example, the standard time to send out emails is mid-morning during the workweek, but based on your product, service or customer base, there might be a better time. This is where A/B testing shines. By separating your subscriber list into two groups and sending the same e-mail at two different times, you create an opportunity to review click rates and use that information to identify the best time to send emails to your unique customer base. The same concept can be applied to both the content and the subject line of your email.

Promotional emails are a mixture of science and art. They require careful finesse and should be backed by good customer data and relevant content. Segmentation, A/B testing, customization and relevant calls-to-action can all help recipients connect with your communication and respond to it positively. Following general rules of thumb and performing your own client research can help you put together the most effective promotional email campaign and keep your subscribers engaged throughout the year.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


Erik Kangas
Erik Kangas Member
LuxSci founder Erik Kangas has an impressive mix of academic research and software architecture expertise, including: undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University in physics and mathematics, PhD from MIT in computational biophysics, senior software engineer at Akamai Technologies, and visiting professor in physics at MIT. Chief architect and developer at LuxSci since 1999, Erik focuses on elegant, efficient, and robust solutions for scalable email and web hosting services, with a primary focus on Internet security. Lecturing nationally and internationally, Erik also serves as technical advisor to Mediprocity, which specializes in mobile-centric, secure HIPAA-compliant messaging. When he takes a break from LuxSci, Erik can be found gleefully pursuing endurance sports, having completed a full Ironman triathlon and numerous marathons and half Ironman triathlons.