4 Creative ways to write promotional emails that get results

Writing promotional emails isn’t the same as writing messages to your friends. 

The goal of promotional emails is to drive action among your subscribers—whether it be a purchase or a simple click-through.

While traditional and promotional emails both share some of the same components, they need to be approached differently. That’s why, before we dive into writing tips, we want to cover the components of a good promotional email. 

The anatomy of an excellent promotional email

Most emails share the same parts, but promotional emails have a few pieces that hold more weight than others. That’s why it’s essential to take time to understand the anatomy of an excellent promotional email. 

Subject line/preheader text

A subject line and preheader text is especially crucial for promotional emails. Take a look at this screenshot of an average Gmail promotions tab:

A subject line and preheader text is especially crucial for promotional emails. Take a look at this screenshot of an average Gmail promotions tab:

Source: Gmail

No matter how many times you go through and empty this folder, it always seems to be overflowing. In this instance, we had just cleared it less than a month ago, and already well over 600 messages are waiting to be gone through. Of course, this doesn’t include those we’ve already opened and removed. 

With so many messages flooding inboxes, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. 

That’s why subject line and preheader text is critical to writing promotional emails. This is the information that will either capture your reader's attention and get them to click, or have them move your message right to the trash folder.

Branded header

One part of a promotional email that doesn’t often appear in others is a branded header. This can be found at the very beginning of your message. It’s often filled in with HTML and a brand’s logo — for those of you who don’t use preheader text, consider taking advantage of this.

In the below example from Shoe Carnival, not only do they have a branded HTML header, they also include a text header at the top so readers know what the message is about — even if the HTML components don’t render correctly.

Shoe Carnival email example

Source: Gmail

Body

The body of your email is what your reader will go through. As a marketing professional, you already understand how important body copy is — but here are a few points to remember: 

  • Keep it short and simple

  • Use different formats — text, images, videos — to keep your readers engaged

  • Make it relevant to their needs

Signature

Promotional emails don’t often include a signature — even though they play an essential role in building a relationship with your subscribers. Your readers want to know who’s sending them information, so include a professional, warm closing at the end of your email. 

Not sure a signature is acceptable for promotional emails? Think again. Here’s a great example from Alaska Airlines:

Alaska Airlines email example

Source: Campaign Monitor

This is an excellent example of an email sent by a company or organization (as opposed to an individual).

4 tips for writing promotional emails that get results

Understanding the anatomy of a good promotional email is just the beginning. Now it’s time to start the planning and drafting process. Here are four tips for writing promotional emails that get you the results you’re looking for. 

1. Choosing the right format

Promotional emails come in several different forms, although you’ll need to decide between these two: plain text or HTML.

Plain text emails have a traditional look. They’re typed out, and instead of using images with links to dedicated landing pages, they use text with hyperlinks. 

HTML emails, however, are coded messages that give you more creative freedom. The good news for marketers looking to design unique, beautiful HTML email templates is that you no longer have to be a wiz at coding. There are plenty of email service providers available that have drag and drop editors to help you design beautiful messages.

Below is an example of two well crafted emails. One is plain text and the other is HTML.

Victoria's Secret email example

Source: Gmail

While there’s no right answer when it comes to format, consumers prefer to read through HTML emails — mostly because they don’t have to read through walls of text.

Know your audience and choose the format that best suits their needs. 

2. Establish a relationship with readers

Your ultimate goal may be a sale — but your consumers want a solution to a problem. When it comes to content, 39% of consumers said they prefer brands that make their emails less promotional and more informational.

They’ve come to you for a reason, so show them you have their needs in mind. Establishing a relationship with them isn’t difficult — especially when it comes to promotional emails. Instead of blindly sending out the same message to everyone on your list, be sure to personalize content to their needs. 

Start by offering readers the option of filling out a detailed preference center. This way, you can send the most relevant content, rather than promotions that don’t suit their needs. 

Start by offering readers the option of filling out a detailed preference center. This way, you can send the most relevant content, rather than promotions that don’t suit their needs.

Source: Really Good Emails via Medium

3. Catch the reader’s attention

Engaging copy is something all emails should include, especially for plain text emails. But with HTML, you have the freedom to create truly interactive content that keep your readers engaged longer. 

In this example from TWO UK, readers are encouraged to decorate the Christmas tree to their liking. They have the choice of using blinking or twinkly lights — or a “BAH! HUMBUG” option should they not want to decorate the tree at all.

TWO UK email example

Source: Really Good Emails

These components can be used alone, like TWO UK did, or they can be used together as a way to break up large blocks of text.

In this example from Trunk Club, the images help break up text, which gives readers the freedom to skim.

Trunk Club email example

Source: Really Good Emails

4. Make your call-to-action (CTA) compelling and actionable

You know your email needs to have a CTA somewhere. After all, how else is your subscriber supposed to take action? Depending on how you format your email, your CTA may come in the form of hyperlinked text or an easily-identifiable button. 

CTA example

Source: Campaign Monitor

Although having any form of CTA is better than having none, studies show that the button format does increase overall click-through rates. 

Why? Two words: Content prominence. In the example above from our friends at Campaign Monitor, the reader’s eyes are automatically drawn from the title of the page to the CTA. Sure, they may skim over the body of the text, but they won’t be missing out because they’ll be inclined to read the full story. 

Another great example of CTAs done right can be seen in this promotional email from Saje Natural Wellness:

Another great example of CTAs done right can be seen in this promotional email from Saje Natural Wellness:

Source: Really Good Emails

Readers’ eyes are drawn from the title to the CTA. 

What makes this CTA stand out among the others is the fact that it encourages readers to take action. It doesn’t tell them to. Many CTAs use hard language, such as “shop now,” or “download now.” Believe it or not, those phrases come off demanding. Readers want to serve their own needs. So, when writing promotional emails, don’t make people feel forced. Encourage them to act.

Wrap up

Writing your promotional emails doesn’t have to be challenging — especially if you keep these four tips in mind:

  • Choose your format

  • Build a relationship with readers

  • Catch their attention with visuals

  • Make your CTA compelling and actionable

Still formatting emails for desktop? Update your campaigns to work across all devices. Here’s everything you need to know about formatting your emails for mobile.

About the Author

Emma Email

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​​ powerful automation and personalization features, you can create and send email campaigns that reach the right customer at just the right time. It's email marketing that works for you.

Visit Website More Content by Emma Email
Previous Article
5 best educational email templates for higher ed
5 best educational email templates for higher ed

Are you an email marketer focused on higher education? Looking for the best educational email templates? Fi...

Next Article
Effective email writing tips for beginners
Effective email writing tips for beginners

Writing a marketing email isn't the same as sending a message to a loved one. With these email writing tips...

Want to engage your audience and grow your brand? Try Emma’s robust, easy-to-use product today.

Get a Demo