On the surface, email marketing appears to be quite simple.  You type up an email, click send, and wait for the orders to start rollin’ in…  Pretty easy right?

Well, if you know anything about running effective email promotions, then you know it’s not quite that simple.  In fact, a lot of thought needs to go into your email campaign before you even start to draft the actual email(s).

In this article, I’ll walk you through the 4 key ingredients you should include in EVERY email promotion you run to your subscribers.  I recommend you use this as a checklist to make sure you have all your bases covered before you start writing your emails.

The 4 key ingredients are:

  1. Special Offer
  2. Story
  3. Call to Action
  4. Deadline


Now if you leave out one of these does that mean you’re destined to fail?

No.  It’s possible to run effective promotions without one or two of the ingredients.  However, it’s best to include them all to significantly increase the number of subscribers who respond to your promotion.


1. Special Offer

The first step in creating your promotion is to clearly define your special offer.  What exactly are you going to offer your subscribers?

One of the most common special offers is a discount on your existing product or service.  Another offer is a bundle of 2 or more of your products and/or services at a price less than the sum of its parts.

But your special offer doesn’t always need to be a discount. There are other ways to structure offers.

For example, if you own a high-end restaurant, you could host a luxurious  $200 per person special event with only 20 spots available.   $200 per person is certainly not cheap in my book.

But to the right audience — and depending on the food and wine you’re serving — it might be a very attractive offer.

Then once you have your offer, it’s time to craft your story…


2. Story

Most successful promotions have a story behind them.  Stories engage your subscribers on an emotional level, give them background about the offer, and provide a reason why you’re making such a good offer.

Without a story, you’re at a severe disadvantage because you’re  forced to rely on logic alone to persuade your prospects.  But armed with a story, you can connect on an emotional level, which is so much more powerful than any logical offer. Plus, the story helps to justify the discount or special deal.

For example, if you’re a physical trainer and you promote a free “New Year’s Resolution” training session during the first two weeks of January, then you’re going to have a much higher response to your promotion than if you simply offered a free training session without any story around it.

In this case, the story is about how it’s a new year and you’re offering a free session to kick start your New Year’s resolution.

The reason for the offer doesn’t need to be elaborate or complicated. You might give your existing customers a special offer simply because you want to thank them for being your customer.  And that can be reason enough for a promotion.


3. Call to Action

Even with an amazing special offer and a solid story, you still need a call to action.

If you don’t provide crystal clear directions for how to take advantage of your promotion, then you’re going to miss out on potential sales.

However, the call to action in your email shouldn’t be to hire you or purchase your product. It should be much more specific and require less commitment.  Think baby steps in your email (if you’re familiar with “What About Bob?”)

Your call to action should be the most immediate next step people need to take from within their email inbox. For example, the call to action may be to click on a link to visit your website. Or, maybe you want people to reply to your email. Or, you may want people to call you at a specific phone number.

Be very clear and specific about exactly what you want people to do. Try to put the first call to action early in the email, so people see it right away. And then repeat the instructions at least once again in the email.


4. Deadline

Most people are procrastinators.

So if you want to generate more sales and leads with your email promotion, then you must use deadlines. Your deadline can be either time-based or quantity-based depending on your offer.

An example of a time-based deadline is when you provide a discount that is available for only a certain number of days. And when the time is up, the offer expires.

An example of a quantity-based deadline is when you only have a certain number of spots or items available. For example, if you are an art dealer, and you have 5 paintings from a particular artist, you could run a promotion around selling those 5 paintings. The limit of 5 paintings creates urgency for your prospects to act quickly to take advantage of your offer.


More Email Marketing Best Practices

If you’re interested in learning even more email marketing best practices, then I encourage you to claim your copy of our new CD, “How to Attract Customers on Demand: The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Email Marketing.”

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