Planning a sale? Discounts are great, but when you’re competing against millions of other online stores, “build it and they will come” isn’t a winning strategy. Instead, you can ensure the success of your sale by learning how to use email marketing to promote it.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best practices for marketing your sale via email, with real-world examples. I’ll also show you how you can use MailPoet’s WooCommerce segmentation features to create even more effective email promotions for your sale.
Best practices for promoting your sale via email
1. Plan a series of emails to promote your sale
There are a few major benefits to sending multiple emails to promote your sale:
- Increase the number of people who see it. If they miss the first email for whatever reason, they’ll see the next one.
- Have multiple points of contact. The more often someone sees your sale, the more likely they are to become curious about it.
- Build urgency. You can increase your emphasis on the limited-time nature of your sale with every email.
Personally, I recommend sending a minimum of five emails.
The first email should be sent a few days ahead of the sale. This email should explain what the sale will be, how to take advantage of the sale, and when the sale will happen. This is your opportunity to get people excited in advance of your sale.
Next, you’ll want to send an email on the opening day of your sale. This email will include a clear explanation of the discounts available and a highly visible call to action. You want to keep this email as short as possible. One or two sentences and a call to action button is often all you need.
The third email will come out around the midway point of your sale. As you might expect, this email will be more time-focused, reminding people that the sale is halfway over and encouraging them to act now so they don’t miss it. You may also want to include some reviews and testimonials in this email to win over anyone who’s on the fence about making a purchase.
Your fourth email will be a warning email. This one will focus entirely on urgency, letting people know that they only have one or two days left to act.
Finally, you want to send out an email on the last day of the sale, reminding people to act before the discount is gone.
If you’re running a particularly long sale or a sale that provides an extreme discount, you may want to run a countdown campaign. This is a series of emails that goes out every day for either the days leading up to your sale or the final few days of the sale.
If you choose this route, remember to keep your emails short and direct, showing that you respect your audience’s time.
2. Treat your subject lines like headlines
A subject line is to an email what a headline is to a blog post. If it doesn’t catch their eye, or if it gives away too much information, people won’t bother to read beyond it. With email, they might even delete it at a glance.
There are several strategies you can use to create an effective subject line:
- Pitch your sale. Tell subscribers what they’ll find in your email. For example, you might use a subject line like “Take a look at spring discounts from (company name)” or “Get 10% off almost everything in our store (details inside)”.
- Emphasize the benefit of buying your products/services. For example, if you’re offering a video course on fitness, you might use a subject line like “Get into the best shape of your life – and save 20% doing it”.
- Focus on urgency. Use your subject line to remind people that your sale won’t go on forever using phrases like “Limited time discount” and “Last chance to get 10% off”.
- Keep it short. Remember that mobile devices have limited space for email subject lines. We suggest limiting your subject lines to 50 characters.
- Build continuity. Use a series of subject lines with increasing urgency to build interest as the sale goes on. You might also want to use similar language in each subject line to make the email series feel like a cohesive whole.
For more ideas on how to create an effective subject line, check out our list of the best email subject lines we’ve ever seen.
3. Put a call to action in your preview text
Next, you’ll want to work on your preview text. You don’t have a lot of space here, especially if you want to optimize your email for mobile devices. This means you need to focus on getting them to take action, specifically to open your email. And the best way to do that is to ask them.
The best way to create this call to action is to use language that mirrors your subject line. Make the subject line and preview text work together to give subscribers information and an incentive to act. For example, if the subject line is “Save big with our spring sale”, you might write preview text along the lines of “Look inside for savings of up to 40%”.
You’ll note that this example also elaborates on the discounts promised by the spring sale. This further entices subscribers to open your email, since they’ve got a good idea of what they’ll find.
4. Perfect your copy
I’ve already covered the types of content you should include in each part of your email series; now it’s time to discuss how you can optimize that content to drive sales.
Namely, you’ll want to understand how to use the principles of persuasive writing:
- Reciprocity. This principle states that if you help people in some way, they’ll want to return the favor. You can use this when marketing a sale by reminding subscribers of how your brand has helped them before. For example, if you offer an email course about graphic design as an opt-in bonus and you’re selling video courses, you might say something like “We taught you the basic principles of design. Now, you can learn to build powerful social media graphics with our video course and save 15%, too.”
- Scarcity. The less of something there is, the more people want it. You can take advantage of this principle by mentioning that you have a limited number of products, especially if you won’t be creating another run of those products.
- Authority. People are more likely to listen to you if they consider you an expert in your field. You can take advantage of this by talking about your educational background, the number of years you’ve spent in your current field of work, or anything else that demonstrates your authority.
- Commitment and consistency. People like to maintain a consistent sense of identity and self-image. If you can write your copy in such a way that it reinforces a person’s identity, they’re more likely to pay attention to what you’re saying. For example, if you sell books about how to write fiction, you might say something like “You love writing. Now we can help you master it.”
- Liking. This one comes as no surprise: people are more likely to listen to you if they like you. Since your subscribers liked your stuff enough to join your list, all you need to do to take advantage of this principle is remind them why they signed up.
- Consensus. Also known as social proof, this principle states that if people know other people trust and/or like you, they’re more likely to listen to you. You can demonstrate this by talking about the number of products you’ve sold or by adding reviews and testimonials to your emails.
Most of all, don’t just write your copy once and assume it’s going to drive sales. At the bare minimum, you want to edit it for grammar and spelling. For even better results, you’ll want to edit for clarity and consistency of brand voice. You might even want to ask a colleague or trusted employee for feedback on the copy for your email marketing campaign.
5. Use high-quality images
Of course, the text isn’t the only important aspect of your email marketing campaign. Images, especially product images, can also make a major difference in the success of your email campaign. If your images are grainy or poorly lit, that difference might not be a positive one.
There are a couple of ways to get high-quality visuals for your email campaign:
- Pay for professional photos. Sometimes your best solution is simply to pay a professional to do this for you. However, if you have a lot of products or you release new products on a regular basis, this gets expensive fast, which leads us to the next solution:
- Learn how to take professional product photos yourself. This will take a lot of trial and error, but there are many tutorials about DIY product photos that can guide the process.
Most of all, remember that high-quality images aren’t optional if you want to grow your business. You can only choose whether you’ll invest money or time into getting them.
Visuals for service-based businesses
We’ve talked about product photos, but how can service-based businesses create high-quality visuals?
Well, you have three options:
- Stage photos of yourself and/or colleagues working. You can hire someone to take these photos or learn to do it yourself.
- Hire an illustrator to create branded imagery. For example, you might commission a piece that shows a cartoon version of you working on a computer.
- Turn your copy into imagery. Write your copy in a fancy font, throw it onto a colorful background, add a logo, and voila! You have a high-quality image you can use in your email campaign.
And these are only the ideas that came to mind at a moment’s notice. You may find other opportunities to create visuals that represent your brand.
6. Personalize your emails
Personalization isn’t just effective, it’s expected: 52% of consumers say they’ll look elsewhere if a company doesn’t personalize their emails.
There are two main ways to personalize the email campaigns for your sales:
- Use a person’s name. One of the simplest, yet most powerful, ways to personalize an email is to address your subscriber by name. You can add a person’s first and/or last name to the subject line and main text of your email. In MailPoet, this is done with shortcodes.
- Send customized emails to different segments of your audience. Segmentation tools let you create sub-groups within your list based on things like how long they’ve been in your audience or products they’ve purchased. We’ll talk more about this, and specifically how to use WooCommerce segmentation to customize MailPoet campaigns, later on.
You shouldn’t just be personalizing emails when you’re promoting a sale, either. Personalization can be an effective way to improve engagement with all of your emails.
7. Use visual cues to make your call to action stand out
Your email as a whole should be designed to emphasize your call to action. You can do this in a few ways:
- Use contrasting colors. For example, if the background of your email is white, you might put your call to action in a vibrant or dark color. You can even use a black button with white text.
- Use directional imagery. Things like arrows or images of people with their eyes or hands pointing are a great way to direct viewers’ eyes at your call to action.
- Pay attention to size. Your call to action should be large enough to stand out from your copy.
Remember, every part of your email should focus on directing people to your call to action.
8. Schedule promotions around your existing workflow
You want to send a series of emails to convince your audience that your sale is worthwhile, but you don’t want to overwhelm their inboxes. This makes it important to consider your existing email workflow when scheduling the email campaign for your sale.
There are a couple of things to consider here. First, you’ll want to look at promoting your sale in regular emails. For example, if you send a biweekly newsletter and you’re having a month-long sale, you might mention the sale in both newsletters sent out during that month. These updates can be separate from your main marketing campaign.
You also want to limit the number of emails you send in any one day. Personally, I avoid sending more than one email per day. This means that if I have a newsletter going out on a specific day, you should avoid scheduling promotional emails for my sale on that day.
Level up your promotions with WooCommerce segmentation
WooCommerce segmentation options
As a MailPoet user, you can take advantage of our integration with WooCommerce to create personalized campaigns for users who have interacted with your store in a variety of ways.
- Ordered a specific number of products
- Purchased specific products
- Purchased products in a specific category
- Total spent in your store
If you have the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension, you’ll also be able to access segments for each membership level on your site.
To send an email to a WooCommerce segment, create your email as normal. In the “Send” part of the process, click the “Lists” dropdown menu, then scroll down until you find the WooCommerce options.
After selecting one of these options, you’ll be asked to configure the details. For example, if you’ve chosen “# of orders”, you’ll be able to specify the precise number of orders someone must have made to be included. You can also segment groups who have made “up to” or “less than” a certain number of orders.
As you customize the segment, you’ll be able to see the number of people in it. Most companies don’t have time to create personalized copy for every user, so they can use this knowledge to determine what groups are most worth sending personalized emails to.
When you click “Save”, the segment will be permanently saved. This allows you to easily use the same segmentation settings for future campaigns.
How to personalize emails based on WooCommerce segmentation
The main way to use WooCommerce data to personalize campaigns is to create copy and imagery that emphasizes a customer’s existing relationship with you.
Here are a few examples of how this might work:
- If someone has purchased a specific product, you might say something like “Save now on complimentary products”.
- If someone bought a product in a specific category, you can say something like “Since you enjoyed (product), we thought you might enjoy this sale on (product category)”.
- You can send early promotional emails to customers who have spent a significant amount (say, over $100) in your store, saying something like “As one of our best customers, we wanted you to be the first to know about these deals”.
- If someone has made at least one purchase in your WooCommerce store, you can send an email saying something like “Save 10% on your next purchase from us”.
Remember that the most effective copy is often the most specific copy. For example, if you sell dresses, you might turn “Save 10% on your next purchase” into “Save 10% on your next summer dress”.
Final thoughts on how to promote your sale with email marketing
Most of the principles for creating a successful series of promotional emails for your sale is the same rules you want to follow every time you send an email:
- Treat your subject lines like headlines
- Use one or more principles of persuasive writing in your copy
- Use high-quality visuals
- Direct the subscriber’s gaze to your call to action with visual cues
- Personalize your emails with names and segmentation
- Schedule all promotional emails around your existing workflow
MailPoet users can also take advantage of advanced personalization through WooCommerce segments.
To learn more about how you can improve your WooCommerce marketing with MailPoet, check out the full list of our recently added WooCommerce features.