You’ve been watching the calendar.
You’ve been watching your sales figures.
And as it slowly becomes clear that you aren’t going to hit your numbers, you start brainstorming. What discount to offer? What bonus to create?
You know you need a killer promotion to push you over the edge this month.
Promotions can be a great way to add an extra jolt to your monthly sales numbers, and email remains one of the best ways to communicate your offer with hot leads. Don’t miss out on this opportunity by sending a lackluster promotion email.
If your email is the weakest link of your promotion strategy, don’t worry. I sat down with Leadpages’ own promotions expert, Campaign Strategy Director Kat Von Rohr, to map out everything you need to know about promotions emails.
Kat has run more than 60 promotions for Leadpages, and has tested everything from the optimal length for promotions, how many promotion emails to send, and even which days of the week and month work best for promotions.
“We don’t have the same promotion that runs every single month at the end of the month,” Kat says. “We’re constantly innovating and coming up with things that will resonate with different parts of our customer base.”
The following is a proven system that Drip and Leadpages use in (almost) every promotion we run. If you want to be implement this system in your own promotions, download my swipe file. Based on the actual emails we use here at Drip, just fill in the blanks and you’ll be ready to hit send on your best promotional email yet. Plus, we also included a downloadable version of our perfect promotional email infographic, below, so that you can hold onto it and refer to it any time you need to write an email for a promotion.
Step 1: Craft Your Perfect Promotion Idea
Before you can write the perfect promotional email, you need to have a great promotion idea. Kat recommends coming up with bonuses or additional incentives instead of discounting your product. You should price your product at what it’s worth, not artificially inflate the price just so you can mark it down.
Instead, you can create extra incentives, offer a 2-for-1 sale, or run a last-chance offer.
If you can tie your promotion to a holiday or end of the month or year, that’s great. If there’s nothing special on the calendar, read Kat’s article on reasons to run a promotion—chances are, you can tie your promotion to something.
Most importantly, make sure you don’t run the same promotion every month. While it might work well for you the first time, or even the first few times, it will get stale eventually. Mix up your promotions every time you do them so that they appeal to different customers or different interests your target customer might have.
Step 2: Write Your Email
Now that you have a stellar promotion to drive readers to, you need to craft the email that will send them there. We have a specific formula that we use here at Drip. It’s so effective for us that we even created an infographic to make it easier for you to visualize and implement.
Keep in mind that your goal for this email is to get a click and drive traffic to whatever page or mechanism you’re using to make sales. Everything from your subject line to your sign-off drives clicks. Here’s how we do it here at Drip:
1. An eye-catching subject line
You know how important a great subject line is for getting your email opened. But when you have an important, time-sensitive promotion you want someone to know about, the stakes are even higher.
Kat recommends crafting a subject line that not only stands out in a crowded inbox, but even stands out from the emails you usually send. That might mean putting brackets in the subject that say something like “[Ends Tonight]” or “[2 Days Left!].” Reinforcing the urgency of the email is a good way to grab readers’ attention and get them to click immediately, instead of saving it for later.
Anything that grabs attention in the inbox is worth trying.
After you grab their attention, fill in the subject line by simply stating what the promotion is about. If you’ve come up with a compelling offer, just laying out what it is should be enough to get people to want to know more.
I love this subject line that DailyWorth sent on the last day of Marie Forleo’s B-School enrollment. It starts off with an attention-grabbing headline that gets straight to the heart of what potential B-School students want: they want to quit their day job. Then, they make clear exactly what the email is about and remind readers of the fast-approaching deadline.
2. Lay out your offer in a headline and short introduction
As soon as someone opens your email, you want them to understand the essentials. In the first 2 sentences, Kat says, you should outline what your promotion is about and when it will end.
Feel free to lay out the details of your promotion briefly. “I’m not trying to close the deal or get them to pull out their wallet. I just want them to click and check out the promotion,” Kat says.
This means you can have a short headline and a couple of sentences that explain what your promotion is all about, and don’t worry about including every single detail.
This example from a Drip promotion to Leadpages members shows how simple your introduction can be.
In this section in particular, tone is important. “A lot of people try to bury the fact that they’re actually selling something, and that’s the worst thing you can do,” Kat says.
Instead, she tries to be “blatantly respectful.”
How? Try to think of the way you would tell someone about your promotion in person. If you were at a conference, letting someone know about a great offer on your product, you wouldn’t yell at them. And always remember that “a respectful person doesn’t waste your time,” says Kat. “It’s a short email.”
Your word and formatting choices can also influence whether your promo email hits the spam folder. While your sender reputation pulls more weight with spam filters these days than your specific email content, you still don’t want to send anything with a spammy look or feel. Staying professional and respectful should keep you on the right side of the inbox.
3. Create an opportunity to click with a call to action
You’ve told your leads what your promotion is, but now you need to get them to click. You need a great call to action.
Actually, you shouldn’t use just one call to action. Insert 3–5 call-to-action opportunities for your leads to click to learn more.
Remember, this click is the entire reason for your email. Having multiple CTAs helps to ensure that leads can find the page you want them to land on.
Be sure at least one of your links is visible above the fold in your email, so that it shows up without a reader having to scroll to find it. (Test this on mobile, too.)
If the first thing in your email is a headline or an image, make sure it’s clickable. In fact, Kat has found that using an image with a text overlay as a link has helped to increase clicks in promotional emails for Leadpages and Drip. Try different CTA styles with a mix of images, in-text links, and buttons.
4. Restate your main points in bullet points
After you create an opportunity to click, reinforce your promotion details with different phrasing in bulleted form. Bullet points are easy for skim readers to digest, so if they missed something the first time, they’ll have a second chance.
Bullets can also be an opportunity to dig deeper into promotions with multiple bonuses. You might want to explain what each bonus entails, like Kat did in this Leadpages promotion email:
5. Reinforce the deadline and sign off
If you think you’re putting the deadline in your email too many times, good. That means subscribers will remember it.
Here at Leadpages and Drip, we’ve found that it only helps to provide a final reminder at the bottom. If your reader is skimming, it increases the likelihood that they’ll catch it, and even if they’ve read your whole email, you want to leave them with the all-important deadline.
Joanna Wiebe at Copyhackers even included a countdown timer before her signature in an email promoting her Copy School.
6. Use your P.S. to reiterate the details
Don’t miss out on the power of the P.S.! Not only is it a last effort to get your coveted click, but when people read quickly through your emails, the P.S. will likely stand out to them, ensuring it gets read.
“A lot of people read the headline and then scan to the bottom of the email,” Kat said. “Always add a PS that gives a reason to click that’s different from the body of the email.”
That might also mean a reassurance opportunity for those who still aren’t quite sure about your promotion. For instance, if you have a free trial period or a money-back guarantee, it might be effective to remind leads that there’s no risk involved in signing up.
In this promotion for Elite Blog Academy, Ruth Soukup uses her P.S. section to promote a Facebook Live session that will help answer lingering questions about the program.
Step 3: Send to the Right Leads at the Right Time
You have a great promotion and a great email, but there’s still one more crucial element before you hit send: getting it in the right inboxes at the right time.
First, you want to make sure you time your emails correctly. You should always start your promotion on whatever day of the week you normally get the best open rates.
At Leadpages and Drip, we often run promotions for about 4 days, ending on a Friday. Timing your promotion to the natural end of something (end of the week, end of the month, end of the year) will make people more likely to remember your deadline.
Then, time out your emails. You always want to send at least one email on the last day of your promotion, to remind leads of the fast-approaching deadline. Most of your sales will likely come in on the last day.
You also want to send an email on the first day of your promotion, and at least one in the middle somewhere. (The exception to this rule would be if you’re only running a 3-day promotion. It’s important to give your list a break between the initial announcement email and reminders.)
If this sounds like a lot of emails to send within a few days, you aren’t necessarily wrong—if you were mailing to your entire list, this could be a lot of emails. But if you segment your list to only the people you know are interested, you won’t have to worry about annoying your readers.
Obviously, always start by making sure that you don’t email existing customers about a new promotion.
Then, ask yourself who on your list saw your last offer. Kat recommends sending your promotion to people who have joined your email list since your last promotion.
If you know you have a promotion coming up that a subset of your list might be interested in, you could also segment by interest.
If you’re already tagging leads based on their behavior (such as downloading lead magnets or attending webinars), this might be easy for you.
But if you don’t yet have this kind of information, with a little advance planning you can still build a focused list of targeted promo recipients. A week or two ahead of time, publish a couple of relevant blog posts leading up to your promotion, tag the readers of those posts, and send the promo to an audience you already know will be interested.
For instance, if my bonus for my upcoming promotion is my Instagram marketing ebook, I might tag readers of my Instagram marketing blog post. Then, I would send my promotion to non-customers who read this post, letting them know how my ebook builds upon the article.
You could even use remarketing ads to let previous site visitors know that you’ve got something big coming, and ask them to opt-in if they want to hear more about it, like Leadpages did for Black Friday.
After your first email, use behavioral signals to determine which subscribers get your additional promotion emails. For instance, you could send a final reminder only to people who:
- Opened the email without clicking
- Clicked but didn’t buy
- Viewed the promo page (from any source) but didn’t buy
- Joined an early-interest list but didn’t buy
If you’re segmenting your promo list by clicks, you can set up a trigger link that will apply a tag to users who click on the promotion link in your initial emails.
Then, avoid mailing to customers after they purchase with a simple rule like this.
Now you have a complete formula for the perfect promotional email, plus you know you’ll be sending it at the best time and to the ideal segment of your list. Combined, you’ve got a system that will ensure success.
If you want to make it even simpler to send the perfect promotional email every time, be sure to download our promotional email swipe file. It’s based on the emails we send at Drip and Leadpages, so all you have to do is fill in the blanks and hit send. Plus, we’re including our promotional email blueprint infographic to help you remember each element of an effective promotion email every time you hit send.
Still have questions about the ideal language for promotional emails? Ask in the comments and the team and I will help you out.