Level Up Your Promotional Emails: Basics, New Trends in 15 Examples

Did you know that customers who buy products through email marketing spend 138% more than customers who don’t receive offers via email?

This is why you should think about sending more promotional emails.

What is a Promotional Email?

Promotional emails are emails advertising a product or a service for the end goal of increasing conversions.

Promotional emails are targeted towards current and potential customers in order to move them through the sales funnel or a successful marketing funnel.

Promotional emails usually include discounts, holiday sales, special offers, reduction codes, etc. But there are other types of promotion emails.

The types of promotional emails vary according to the email conversion intended.

The type of conversions depends on the goal of the sender.

Conversions usually mean selling a product or a service, but can also mean downloading exclusive content, signing up to a newsletter or referring the product to a friend.

Promotional emails are easy to plan and send in theory,  but in practice, you will find that there are many elements to account for.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of planning and creating an email promotion.

We will also provide you with a curated list of all the different types of promotional emails illustrated with multiple examples.

How to Create and Write Promotional Emails?

Segment your email list and Target your offer

The number one rule in email marketing is to send the right message to the right person. And promotional emails are no different. If you want your promotions to be successful, to catch the attention of your user and to resonate with them, you need to send the right type of promotion to the right email segment.

Email marketing segmentation is when you divide your email list into sub-segments based on one or multiple segmentation criteria.

Email promotion segmentation criteria can be:

  • Sociodemographic characteristics: These characteristics can be divided into 3 sub-categories, which are demographic criteria (age, gender, weight, etc.), socio-economic criteria (profession, social category, revenue) and geographic (place of residence, workplace: customer’s geographic location ).
  • Psychological: You can segment your email list based on your customers’ shared personality traits. These traits can be difficult to observe, but they are indicated by the individual’s interests, hobbies, opinions, values, etc. There is data that can help you understand more your clients and potential clients, such as their public activity on social media (liked pages for examples).
  • Behavioral: usually considered the most pertinent characteristic for promotional emails. It is about the customers’ purchase history (how many times did they purchase from you, which products did they purchase, how often do they buy from you… )

When it comes to promotional emails, you want your message to be as targeted as possible. You wouldn’t want to send back to college emails to older, retired customers.

Here’s how you can successfully segment your email list (we gave a very basic example simply to showcase the segmentation process) :

  1. Choose one or more email marketing segmentation criteria ( example: age and gender )
  2. Collect data regarding the selected segmentation criteria (collect the age and gender of all your subscribers/customers)
  3. Divide your email list based on the criteria ( organize your email list by age (ascendant) and gender)
  4. Choose and Target the email segment that best fits your email promotion message and goals (To promote your new female sexy lingerie line, you want to target females over the age of 18 )
  5. Personalize your email promotions accordingly (more about this later)

Stand Out of the Crowd with Your Email

Promotional emails can get boring for the people who receive them all the time.

Remember that you are not the only one sending promotional emails to your audience.

Even if a customer is loyal to your brand, there is still a chance that they get distracted and forget about your offer, or simply skip it when scrolling in the endless inbox of unopened emails.

That’s why you need to stand out from the crowd of marketing emails, and here is how:

Create a compelling Subject Line

This comes as a no-brainer if you want to increase your open rates. Create a catchy promotional email subject line that resonates with your audience and makes them want to know more.

If your promotional email includes a sale or discount, make sure to mention those words in your subject line. A study shows that by simply adding the word “sale” to their email subject line, they increased open rates by 5%.

You can also add emojis to your subject line to make it pop out and grab the attention of your customers. In fact, 56% of businesses who used emojis in their email subject lines had higher open rates.

Another great way to get your email noticed is to add a personalized name tag in the subject line, which can help you increase email open rates by 29%.

You can read up all about creating the perfect subject line for your emails here.

We have put together a list of promotional email subject line examples, that can inspire your next campaign:

  • This deal is LIT—and it ends today (popular terms used by young people + creating a sense of urgency)
  • Get 97¢ school deals before they’re gone. (mentioning the very low price in the subject line which makes anyone want to know more about the deal + activating the FOMO- fear of missing out )
  • Giveaway Time 🌴🎁 (short and straight-to-the-point + emojis carefully selected to give an idea about what the giveaway is about)
  • Frame Like the Experts − A Guide to Framing Concert and Band Posters (gives the subscriber a promise of the benefit that will occur if they open the email)

Design a Beautiful, Eye-Catching Email

Its important that the email you send out looks good. If you send a plain text email, your customers will not go through the trouble of reading it, and no one will take advantage of your offer.

Design a cool email template that highlights your offer and catches the attention of your readers.

Here are some key points that you need to pay attention to when designing your promotional email:

  • The layout of your promotional email: Your email layout should be clear and logic. Start with the most important information you want to communicate to your followers. This headline should be short, big and bold. Following the inverted pyramid structure used by journalists, continue developing your email layout.
  • The colors and fonts used in your promotional email: The colors and fonts used in your promotional emails should be coherent with your brand colors. This will enhance brand recognition in the minds of your customers.
  • How your promotional email will look in different devices: Not all customers use the same type of device or look up their emails in the same email client. This is why its imperative that your emails look the same on every device (PC, Android, iOS, Tablet, etc.) and in every email client (Gmail, Outlook in all its versions, etc). Using a pre-designed promotional email template from a drag and drop email editor is the best solution, especially if you don’t have an email developer.

Diversify Your Incentives

For most of us, promotional emails are a synonym of discount emails. However, that shouldn’t always be the case. Promotional emails can be much more than that.

As we mentioned in the definition of promotional emails (see above), promotional emails are emails sent to advertise a product or a service and to lead the reader towards a conversion. This conversion doesn’t necessarily have to do with buying the product.

When it comes to choosing the best type of promotional email to send, you need to understand your target customer’s motivations and interests. That way, you can come up with the best incentive that would resonate for them.

Based on the data you collect about your current and potential clients, you can determine if they care more about price, quality, social standards, self-esteem, etc.

Maslow categorizes human needs in a pyramid starting from the most basic physiological needs to the most complex levels of self-actualization.



It is your objective to determine in which level of the pyramid your target audience is situated when it comes to your product or service, and to shape your promotional email message accordingly.

Let’s say your target customers are focused on financial security and are still in the second level of the pyramid, then your incentive should be based on a low price and discounts

For example: back to school shopping season can be a stressful time for parents who are trying to make ends meet. All they care about is reducing costs and getting the best deals.

Therefore, your promotional email campaign should highlight your low prices and exclusive sales.

Types of Promotional Emails

Before you send out a promotional email, you need to come up with a thorough strategy with your marketing team. Remember that promotional emails should be part of a whole email marketing strategy and not sent randomly on the spur of the moment.

Start by defining your objectives and budget, and create a complete email marketing strategy, taking into consideration the different stages of the customer journey and planning ahead for special occasions campaigns (such as holiday email campaigns).

Here are some examples of the emails you can include for your promotional email campaigns.

Sales, Special offers & Discounts

These emails are a great way to boost sales, win back inactive customers and convince hesitant buyers to go through with their first purchase.

In the examples below, we will showcase the different types of discount emails that you can send, while highlighting the key takeaways from each template example.

Coupon & Voucher Emails

Subject Line: Fresh picks you need in your life and a coupon you don’t want to miss!


Here’s why this email works:

  • The coupon is in dark blue, contrasting with the rest of the email color palette, which puts the focus of the email on it: the first thing customers see is the coupon.
  • The reduction 20% OFF is written in big letters.
  • “Offer expires 8/11/2019” : Offer limited by time, creates urgency and pushes the reader to act fast before the coupon expires.
  • “Shop online or Get Coupon”: Giving two options to the customer to redeem their coupon online or in the store.

Gift Card Emails


Here’s why this email works:

  • The gift card is colorful, big and in the center of the email: right away, the user knows what the email is about.
  • Email copy is short and straight to the point. Without needing to write long detailed paragraphs, this simple email is very effective in communicating the promotional offer to the customers.
  • The call to action button is in a different color than the rest of the email background, which makes it stand out. The reader knows exactly what is their next step is.

Contest emails

Subject Line: $500 is a BOOtiful Thing


Here’s why this email works:

  • Using a GIF to catch the attention of the customer. The animation makes the email more fun and memorable.
  • The play on words in the email copy is on point, from the subject line to the email text. The email was sent during Halloween season and the email copywriter and designer knew how to utilize that and come up with a promotional email in theme.
  • The call to action button: Ready, Set, Review! can be used a summary for the whole email. Even if a customer didn’t read the email text, they could easily understand that its about a contest.

Exclusive Promotions

This type of promotional emails can be sent to your VIP Customers.

You should reward your most loyal clients by offering them an exclusive promotion. This will make them like your brand even more and feel more and more connected. They will feel cherished and special.


Exclusive Promotions can also be sent to a specific segment of your email list, based on a criteria or a particular situation. For example, you can send exclusive promotion emails about gardening tools to customers who exclusively bought plants in the last week.

Here is an example of an email promotion sent excursively to the customers who visited the website, when it was down. This company created a promotional email targeted specifically to the website visitors, offering them a 24h Free Shipping as a compensation for their technical issues.


Limited time offers

Subject Line: Just a Few Hours Left of Our Biggest Sale


Including a Countdown Timer in your promotional emails makes the recipients on edge and motivates them to beat the clock and take advantage of the promotion.

If you want to know how to embed a countdown timer in your email templates, take a look at this guide.

Mysterious offers


Mystery offer emails are great because they stimulate the curiosity of your potential customers, who will not be able to resist clicking on your CTA button to discover their mystery gift.

Subject Line: Get an Amazon gift card from storEDGE!


Holiday Promotional Emails

Seasonal promotional emails are very effective. People usually wait for the holiday season to benefit from the sales, giveaways and freebies.

Holiday seasons can become very hectic and overwhelming. Therefore, its better if you plan your promotional email campaigns beforehand.

Here’s a calendar of The Biggest Holidays for Email Marketing in 2019, that can help you choose the holidays you want to target for your next campaign.

Subject line: Simplify your holiday shopping, but keep that handmade touch of delight.


Subject Line: No flowers, but alllll of the chocolate


Refer A Friend Email

Referral emails are a win-win, for both you and your client. This type of promotional emails will help you acquire new prospects, for cheap. Another way to do a similar campaign is by launching an ongoing employee discount program and have that also extend to employees referring friends.

Subject Line: Get $5 off for every friend you refer.


Promotional Emails That Provide Value to The Reader

What if you want to send out promotional emails but you can’t afford to lose some margins on discounts or special offers.

Luckily for you, there are other ways you can promote your products and services.

Here are some examples of promotional emails were used to provide real value for the recipients, while advertising the brand’s product in a subtle and clever way.

Subject Line: Smiles Davis*, Your Fall Guide to Your City is Here!

*Notice how they used the personalization tag in the subject line.


Here’s another example:


Wrapping Up

So there you have it.

You can always come up with different promotional emails and messages, but if you don’t send your offers to the right audience, choose the perfect timing, email design and email copy, your campaign will never be as effective as you would expect.

Follow the guidelines mentioned here and don’t be afraid to experiment with different promotional emails and surprise your audience.