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How to Increase Effectiveness of Promo Emails

All the necessary aspects + common mistakes and examples

Original illustration by A. Malyavina

Promo emails are an important part of email communication for online shops. EmailSoldiers has projects where 80% of all sales from the email channel are promotional. Because of this, it’s important to pay attention to when promo rates drop, and quickly figure out why that happened and how to fix it.

This situation is similar to a highschool relationship :) When you first get to know each other, everything is new and exciting, but in time, you don’t see eye to eye, and no gifts (or in our case, promo codes) can fix it and make someone open your texts (or emails) again.

When people break up, they often say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” In this case, this is completely honest: the subscriber just isn’t interested in your emails yet, and that’s okay.

To understand when it’s time to really do something, we need to look out for the following things:

  1. Open and click rate. The simplest of metrics, although the most noticeable and illustrative. If you see a steady decline — it’s time to act.
  2. Unsubscribe rate. Unsubscriptions are fine. People even unsubscribe from interesting email campaigns. However, there is a difference when the unsubscribe rate is quite high. It is believed that an unsubscribe rate should not be higher than 0,4%. If it is, something is probably wrong with the campaign.
  3. Falling sales after promo emails. Of course, it is necessary to pay attention to seasonal and special offers. It’s natural that in comparison with “Black Friday” other email campaign sales may look weak. Because of that you must pay attention to shared sales from all the emails and try not to cling to separate hot offers.

Now let’s see why promo rates may fall.

Reason number 1. High churn rate

Churn rate is a metric demonstrating the speed of losing subscribers from the base. It can be calculated with the formula:

Formula for churn rate
Image by the author

There are three main reasons why people unsubscribe from the email campaign:

  • They are irritated with the frequency of emails;
  • They are not interested in your offers;
  • They get too many emails as it is.

More about churn rate in this article

What to do if subscribers unsubscribe from promo-emails

Outflow of subscribers is inevitable, each of your email campaign will lead to the fact that someone will unscribe from you and that’s fine. Recently I’ve published a useful guide on subscriber reactivation on Better Marketing, you can read it here.

The main thing is that the contact base continues to grow, and for the base to grow it is necessary to ensure the inflow of new subscribers. Here is how you can do that:

1. Establish great lead generation

  • Set up a form to collect contacts and motivate the website visitors to subscribe. To do that, it’s important to understand what they may be interested in: a discount on their first order, some free material from you, etc. It’s likely that the readers subscribe because they are already interested in your content, and may not need additional stimulus.
  • Synchronize what you offer for the subscription and what the subscribers get as a result, because if you offer one thing in the subscription form and then send another thing, you will disappoint the readers and they will either unsubscribe or will not even understand what it was and will send the email into spam.
  • Start working with the subscribers as soon as they subscribe. If you just collect contacts and do not send them anything, your readers will soon forget about you or their mailboxes will become inactive and your base will be full of ghosts.

2. Make a subscription management center

A subscription management center or a subscription manager allows the readers to choose for themselves what emails they want to get and how often. For example:

Subscription manager in EmailSoldiers newsletter
Subscription manager in EmailSoldiers newsletter

You can leave the link to the subscription manager in the campaign footer. Then, instead of unsubscribing they will be able to reduce the frequency of emails or choose other interesting topics.

Reason 2. Irrelevant offers

If the reader keeps getting offers they aren’t interested in, they stop opening the emails. To meet their needs it’s necessary to do audience segmentation. It’s possible to do that with a pop-up while registering, like our client Puma does:

Pop-up we made for Puma
Pop-up we made for Puma

Thanks to this pop-up, it’s possible to allocate subscribers according to both age groups and interests.

Segmentation goes hand in hand with personalization. Personalization is what allows us to adpat email content to the interests of the readers. It is not enough just to put the name of the reader into the email to believe it to be personalized. If you initially segmented the subscribers according to their interests, then sending relevant emails is already personalization. If you include product recommendations in an email — it is personalization as well.

There are also categories of goods the interest to which fades naturally. For example, goods for newborns are bought within a year or two. After this period is over the subscriber should be moved to another segment.

Personalization is a good step, but making a subscriber wait for your emails is even better. Ideally, you want to become not only helpful but also a real friend to your subscriber.

One more example from PUMA. When they discovered a system error, they sent their readers an apology letter. The error was insignificant and most of the readers probably may not have even noticed it, but such concern and the email format caused unprecedentedly good feedback and the profit from the email was silmiar to promo emails for the whole base.

Reason number 3. Outdated addresses in the base

Sometimes it happens that the base is collected and nothing is sent for several years. As a result, there may be several millions of emails in the base but part of them are inactive, and others have already forgotten that they once subscribed to you. In this case, it is best to clean the base and come back to lead generation to collect new addresses.

What else can be done:

  1. To implement double opt-in. Implement DOI if you haven’t done it yet. DOI is a double confirmation of a subscription. It saves the base from being flooded with bots and randomly entered addresses. If there are too many of them, there will be errors in sending emails and mail clients may send you into spam.
  2. To validate the base. To filter out outdated and nonexistent email-addresses, it is possible to use Xverify service.
Xverify service
Xverify service

Reactivate the subscribers in time!

When the subscriber starts to lose interest in the mailing, it is still possible to get him back. But if he lost interest half a year ago, he would hardly want to read your emails again. This is why reactivation should be a constant automated process and not an email saying something like “you stopped opening our emails” once a year to all inactive subscribers.

When should the reactivation email be sent? It depends on the specifics of your business and frequency of mailings. You can read about it in detail in our article about reactivation.

Let’s summarize the point

For promo emails not to lose their effectiveness, it is enough to do 3 things:

  • don’t cling to dead subscribers;
  • always collect new subscribers;
  • keep working with your base.




We are EmailSoldiers — full-service email marketing agency. Here we share our experience and useful guides on digital marketing. Contact us:

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Anna Senkina

Anna Senkina

SMM-manager at EmailSoldiers. Read our marketing blog:

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