Sales: What is the Recipe for Emails That Manage to Convert?

Publié le : 27 June 2018 par Adrien Guilleminot

This period is vital for e-commerce shops and retailers. So how do you design and write sales emails that will really engage recipients? Here are our tips (and best practices from Nature & DécouvertesSarenza, G-Star, etc.).

Between the rise of businesses conducting private, and “exclusive”, sales in addition to events such as Black Friday and French Days, the sales period is somewhat less crucial than previous years, though it remains an important time of the year for retailers and e-commerce shops of all types.

If there’s one period of the year where inboxes fill up fast, it is definitely during winter (January-February) and summer (July-August) sales. These are two periods during which distinguishing yourself in recipients’ inboxes, being relevant and engaging with your messages, and knowing how to recontact wisely are more essential than ever. 

How do you accomplish this? Here’s our step-by-step user guide to help you out: 

1. Before the kick-off date: take full advantage of FOMO

The sales, in the collective unconscious, are still: the doors of a major store opening in the early hours of the day, hordes of customers rushing through the aisles for items spotted in the scouting missions in days leading up, ripping items out of each other’s hands, and so on. Does all that sound fun or stressful? 

It doesn’t matter: the feeling of urgency and the fear of missing out on a good deal, a.k.a. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) represent the most powerful mechanisms at your disposal before the sales period. This cognitive bias, well known to marketers, can be described thusly: 

  • Promise: X% discount on _________ 
  • Observation: there won’t be enough for everyone 
  • Solution: consult the sales catalogue, figure out the details of the closest store, and get your shopping list ready beforehand 

Hit them hard right at the jugular (i.e., the subject line) 

“Before everyone else”, “first in line”, “be the first”, “don’t let it pass you by”, etc. The major brands are not writing poetry in their emails leading up to the sales; they get straight to the point. Hey people, this is no time for subtlety! 

Subject Preheader
ASOS Get your shopping cart ready before the sales 👕👖👟 Be first in line for your favourite items 
BRICE Time to make your move? 🕗 JT-minus 3 days until the sales! Get your shopping carts ready! 
LEROY MERLIN Time to load up your shopping carts!  Get ready for the sales ahead of time so you don’t miss out on a thing! 
TAPE À L’ŒIL T-MINUS 5 DAYS UNTIL SALES: make your choices before everyone else!  Don’t miss out on any of your favourite items 
RUE DU COMMERCE 5 DAYS UNTIL THE SALES: Get your shopping cart ready {FIRST NAME}!  Be the first one in line for great deals! 
LA REDOUTE 1 day before sales kick off: kicking anxious? Us too!  😍 Get straight to it: load up your shopping cart now so you don’t miss out on anything! 

Play with the promo to draw out interest

As we will see in a moment with the example of Hunter and their timer, sales emails are a great opportunity to use innovative formats. But you can also still be very creative with a “simple” GIF. Here’s the proof: 

(Click on the thumbnails to see the animations) 

Sales email: Example of a Fnac GIF
The Fnac inserts a bit of humanity into the very “numerical” universe of sales with a “poppy” animation 
Sales email: Example of a Moo GIF
The stationer Moo plays with the image of their products
Sales email: Example of a Sarenza GIF
Sarenza (see above) plays with the sense of urgency
Sales email: Example of a My Little Day GIF
My Little Day highlights the festive aspect of this sales event

Encourage window shopping: MATY’s example

Sales email: Example from Maty
MATY’s sales email (click to enlarge)

The subject gets straight to the point: a reminder of the date (2 days left), and a clear promise (pick out your items now). 

The preheader effectively states the offer (bookmark your heart’s desires) with the little “twist” of using the ❤ icon. 

The jeweller’s top menu is sufficiently light that it doesn’t distract attention from the main visual. 

The hero is also maximally effective: 

  • a reminder of the promise (Prepare for the sales) 
  • an indication of the discount (-60%) 
  • dates of the event 
  • colours that clearly cannot go unnoticed 

The copy allows itself a touch of military fantasy while remaining quite specific about the approach to follow. 

 The CTA plays the humour card and sends them to a landing page that reuses the principle elements of the email: colour scheme, guide to performing your reconnaissance and preparing your shopping cart. 

 In summary: an ultra-effective email, and one which ticks all the boxes of best practices: a single clear promise, maximum visibility, and a touch of persona.

Mix urgency and reassurance, like Sarenza

Sales email: Example from Sarenza
Sarenza’s sales email (click to enlarge)

The subject: a little bit of festivity with the emoji, to counterbalance the potentially stressful effect of the sales: a rather good decision, given the tone generally adopted by Sarenza. 

The preheader (Free delivery and returns for 100 days*: super service all year round with Sarenza!) immediately insists on the e-commerce shop’s principle element of reassurance: you are allowed to make mistakes—sales or no sales. 

 The hero adopts more or less the same approach as MATY (with a welcome GIF as well): how to get your sales shopping done without rushing, in three steps. 

 The copy goes furtherSarenza is taking advantage of the sales to highlight other convincing elements: their loyalty program (second promo effect), and four key reassurance points (free deliveries and returns, choice, and attentive customer service). 

In the end, this is an email that is promotional yet relational at the same time, and which reminds the reader of Sarenza’s strong points. 


2. During the sales: dramatize the changing of prices 

Although opened, read, and even clicked, a sales email doesn’t automatically convert. Consumers know that the discount period is long, and that with a bit of patience they’ll get an extra rebate…or they will simply run out of momentum. 

 Email marketing is rarely a one-shot strategy, and so you must consider your reminder strategy well in order to maximise its effects.  An illustration using the brand Hunter (the British equivalent of Aigle) and the denim specialist G-Star. 

The “tick-tock” effect with Hunter

Sales email: Example from Hunter (1)
Hunter’s sales email for the day of sales

Sales email: Example from Hunter (2)
Hunter’s sales email 4 days before

Only two emails, but precisely timed, the day of the sales launch and four days before. As a manufacturer of rain boots, Hunter doesn’t flood their recipients with a deluge of messages. 

The same redoubtable simplicity in the creation of both emails: focus on one detail, promotional message, CTA. Why make life complicated? The first message (which announces the beginning of the promotion) is almost disconcertingly sober. 

 The second is a bit more elaborate with the playful correspondence between the timing (48 hours) and the discount (-48%), and above all its opportune use of a timer ticking down the time remaining until the sales period has endedAll in all, a smoothly handled flash operation. 

G-Star’s multi-stage rocket

With G-Star, there’s a much more complex sequence, with no fewer than 8 emails for the winter sales period, from the day itself to 37 days in. But the clothing brand manages to increase the pressure relentlessly, thanks to a skilful oscillation between very terse messages and more detailed offers: 

  • 5 “express” emails (hero, title, subtitle) on the day itself, 5 days in, then 12, 23, and finally 30. 
  • 3 emails with selections of products on sale 2 days in, then 16 and then 37. 

In terms of design, G-Star remains coherent and consistent by keeping the same visual identity (superimposed red rectangle, thick fonts, white buttons with a black border), all while alternating images of models with the images of the product alone. Result: the emails stand out and rekindle interest without going all over the place. 

And an “escalation” of the messages which matches with the unfolding of the operation, thus following the theory of story arcs that we wrote about in a previous article: 

  • A punchy start (“The SALES start NOW”) 
  • more down-to-earth and calm follow-up (“Items you might be interested in”, “PROMOTIONS: more items added”, and “Jeans now on sale” for emails #2, #3, and #4) 
  • A reminder halfway through (“SALES: the clock is ticking”) 
  • A spectacular ending with the second discount email and the “It’s your last chance!” to round out the sequence 
    Sales email: G-Star Day Of
    G-Star’s sales email the day of
    G-Star sales email: 2 days in
    G-Star: 2 days in
    G-Star sales email: 5 days in
    G-Star sales email: 5 days in
    G-Star sales email: 12 days in
    G-Star sales email: 12 days in
    G-Star sales email: 16 days in
    G-Star sales email: 16 days in
    G-Star sales email: 23 days in
    G-Star sales email: 23 days in
    G-Star sales email: 30 days in
    G-Star sales email: 30 days in
    G-Star sales email: 37 days in
    G-Star sales email: 37 days in

    3.Beyond the sales: the occasion to give a little something extra.

    Sales don’t just mark a good opportunity for customers. It’s also an excellent time for brands to speak up and highlight other services that are more perennial and perhaps more engaging. 

     This is what has skilfully been done by the three retailers whose sales emails appear below: 

    • Nike, who took advantage of the “pre-sales” to generate traffic to their points of sale (in complete coherence with their omnichannel strategy) 
    • Brice, who motivated the recipient to open an account and consult their editorial content 
    • Nature & Découvertes, who highlighted their “gift engine”, shared kitty, and click & collect services 
    Sales email: Nike
    Nike in Web-to-store mode
    Sales email: Brice
    Brice pushes for the creation of an account and the discovery of their editorial content
    Sales email: Nature & Découvertes
    Nature & Découvertes slides in information on their click & collect, “find a gift”, etc.

    Aucun commentaire pour l'instant

    Quelque chose à dire ?

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    (Very) good news !

    Le meilleur de l'actualité email marketing rédigée

    (ou dénichée) par nos experts dans votre boîte mail.