It's not that your email marketing content isn't spectacular. But your subscribers may be wondering, "Hey, am I ever going to get the hook up? The insider deal? That little bit of extra-special love reserved just for me?"
The answer is yes ... well, if you can think of a cool deal to send them. I mean, the straight up X% OFF and BOGO deals feel a little stale after a while, don't they?
If they feel stale to you, chances are your subscribers aren't drooling over them, either. And if you're unsure, just take a look at your click-through rates; if they're stagnating or taking a nose dive, it's time to get creative with the deals you're sending to drive clicks and revenue. And as it turns out, social shares and forwards, too -- research shows that emails with a promotion or discount receive the most shares (34.7%) as compared with other types of email content. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.
So what kinds of promotions can you send? We dug deep into the recesses of our brains (and our inboxes) to come up with a list of creative deals you can use in upcoming email campaigns that will perk your subscribers right up. Take a gander.
10 Creative Deals to Send in Your Email Marketing Campaigns
1) Limited Supply
A successful promotion -- especially an email promotion that relies on getting someone to whip out a credit card when they're trolling through an overloaded inbox -- needs to instill a sense of urgency. What better way to create that sense of urgency than a dwindling supply? You can make that sense of scarcity even more pronounced using visual cues, like an inventory ticker or counter, to indicate how much of your supply is left and really light a fire under their tuckus. For a promotion of this nature, try targeting first time buyers or those who make infrequent purchases to get them more engaged with your brand; you've already established your value with return shoppers.
2) "Use-It-or-Lose-It" Credit
TechCrunch recently published the results of a Harvard research study on teaching incentives in which they found performance improved not when incentives were given after performance metrics were achieved, but when incentives were given up-front and could be taken away if performance metrics weren't achieved. This is the principle of "loss aversion" in which people, once they have something, don't want to give it up. Experiment with this concept in your email marketing deals, too.
For example, you might offer a "Use-It-or-Lose-It" credit that gets shoppers to, well, shop. There are two approaches you could take with this: you could either give a credit that's less than the cost of your products or services, ensuring you still generate some revenue; or you could trust that a one-time purchaser will return and make more purchases in the future, offering a credit that wouldn't require a recipient to dole out any of their own cash.
3) Give Away Your Expertise
Sometimes a valuable action isn't a transaction -- it's an activity that leads to a transaction. These are the types of deals that matter for businesses with longer sales cycles and/or higher ticket items. Instead of focusing on price, you need an opportunity to build value, and you can do that by giving away your expertise as opposed to percentages off. Offer free consultations, free assessments, free diagnostics, free tutorials, free whatever to get high-quality leads to the point where they're ready to make a purchase with you.
4) Send This Deal to a Friend in Need
Leverage your network's network (and by extension, expand yours) by incentivizing forwards and shares of your deals. This is particularly effective for segments of your database that are engaged with your emails -- they'll have high open rates and often, high click-through rates -- but aren't actually transacting with your business. In other words, they like you, but they're not ready to settle down in a house in the suburbs with you. But they'd totally set you up with their friend!
You can do this with any deal, but let's use the last promo idea to demonstrate the principle. Let's say you're offering a free consultation to optimize someone's blog, and this certain segment of your email list just isn't biting despite all the regular indications that they're qualified for this conversion event. Send them an email that asks them whether they know any friends who need a little help with their blog. Hey, if they do, they can be the hero that sends them access to a free consultation with an expert that can help them! And there's something in it for them, too -- if their friend books the consultation, they'll get a $50 credit to a blog-writing service to help keep their content machine chugging.
You get a new lead, your recipient gets to be a hero and some free blog content, and their friend gets help with their blog. That's a win-win-win right there.
5) Give Away Something Really, Really Valuable ...
... that doesn't cost a lot to you. Many businesses have access to these things, but they overlook them because, well, it's just no biggie to you. For example, a colleague of ours used to own a website that sold cigars, and he had access to some pretty fancy-pants lighters. His leads and customers loved them, so he sent an email to those people cutting them a deal -- buy a certain amount of cigars, and you can have one of the lighters for free. Kind of like a reward for being a great customer! Sometimes people just need that extra cherry on top to incite them to action.
6) Thanks for Sharing!
Referral bonuses are a fantastic incentive for current customers to share their love for your brand with their network. Thank those who share your email content by giving them a discount on their next purchase, or a credit for your site. You can even reward both the referrer and the person he or she referred by offering them both the discount or credit. This helps keep everyone engaged with your company and coming back for more and more purchases -- oh, and more referrals, too. If you're looking for examples of this type of deal, two companies who do this really well are Jetsetter and ModCloth; check them out!
7) Instant (or Eventual) Rebate
Offer an instant rebate (or depending on how long it takes, an eventual rebate) to incentivize recipients to complete a desired action. For example, you might offer cash back or a credit on an order when someone forwards that order confirmation email to a friend to show off their latest purchase. This incentivizes good behavior, and if you're offering a credit for that behavior, it encourages the recipient to visit your site again and get shopping!
8) Price Change Notification
For this promotion, you're at the mercy of your operations and finance department -- but if you don't leverage it when you have the opportunity, you and your leads are missing out! If something you're selling is going to increase in price, let your leads know now. If someone's considering purchasing your products or services (especially if a product is favorited or in their cart), an email alert that the price will increase but you'll be able to get them in at the lower rate will create a serious sense of urgency. Plus, it will separate those who are serious about making a purchase with you, and those who are just window shopping right now. Be sure to include the date at which the price increase will take effect so the proper expectations are set, and you have that extra little bit of urgency to help motivate a purchase.
9) Leverage Themes and Timeliness
Another way to use newsjacking principles to craft a creative promotion is by leveraging events or popular news items to get people's attention. This is how you can take flat, stale deals like 50% OFF or BOGO and actually get people's attention with them. For example, you've all heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, right? You may have even read it ... though may not admit it ;-) Many hotels are finding ways to tie it into their industry, offering romantic packages where couples can, ahem, live out their fantasies. You don't even have to go this far, though; you could simply send a "punny" discount, like a 50% OFF Shades of Grey promo, or a Two-for-One Valentine's Day discount.
10) Partner Hookup
Finally, don't forget to leverage your partner network for email promotions. Ask them if they're willing to send out your email promotions on your behalf, getting you access to an entirely new list, as well as giving you some credibility by receiving promotion from someone other than yourself. You could even work out a deal with partners in which your services are discounted exclusively for their audience -- just be sure that value is clearly communicated in the email -- to give their list a sense of VIP status. Making people feel like they're getting the insider deal in this way is another fantastic way to not only generate new leads and revenue, but also make your partner look great as a provider of these types of VIP hookups.
What other creative deals can you think of to send in your email marketing campaigns?
Image credit: Lomo-Cam
Originally published Aug 14, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016