How To Write Marketing Emails That Drive Sales

October 23, 2018

What constitutes an effective marketing email – one that drives sales? For many digital marketers and business executives, effective emails are those that get more ‘open’ and ‘click’ rates. But for online retailers, an effective, deal-closing email goes beyond clicks to bring more sales, more orders, and purchases. But the truth is; writing an effective marketing email sucks. From your choice of words and grammar, to subject lines and content, every aspect of your mail has to be meticulous – and it’s not easy to attain.

Then there’s the most painful part. The open rate of marketing emails is a motivation killer. Marketing emails are touted to have a one percent open rate. This means when you deliver 1000 emails, only 10 are guaranteed to be opened. But the good news is, email marketing is still one of the best means of making more sales online. And the statistics show that the future is even brighter:

A 2017 McKinsey report indicated that email is 40 times effective than social media for attracting customers. Email marketing commands an ROI of 122%, which is 4 times higher than other means of marketing, including paid search and social media. And to sum all up, Shopify Plus predicts that worldwide retail e-commerce sales will hit $4.5 trillion by 2021. If you’re an online retailer, these figures should wet your appetite by now.

If social media is the cocktail party, then email marketing is the ‘meet up for coffee’. The original 1 to 1 channel. Erik Harbison @ErikHarbison

So as an online retailer, you are left with one important assignment: to write the killer marketing email that will drive the sales you need for your store. And if that looks scary, that’s because writing emails is a difficult endeavor, and there’s no one size fit all. But we’ve got you covered. Sit back, relax, maybe grab a coffee, and let’s show you the hidden secrets to marketing emails that drive sales.

As an e-commerce retailer, all you want to achieve is sales, right? But the customer goes through certain stages before getting to your final Call to Action “Buy”. And to achieve this goal, you need to master these three steps:

  • Getting the customer to open your email
  • Engaging your customer with killer content
  • Closing the deal – selling

Getting the customer to open your email – The subject Line

Email Open Rate

Think of your subject line as your elevator pitch. Your subject line determines whether a customer should open or delete your email, and should be enticing, simple, and straight to the point. It should also give the customer an expectation of what the entire email is about. According to Loren McDonald, chief marketing officer of J.L. Halsey, a marketing technology and services provider,

The ‘from’ line is what recipients use to determine whether to delete an email. The subject line is what  motivates people to actually open the email.

But how many words are too long or too short to constitute a subject line? Research shows that 6 to 10 words are enough for an email subject line. The bottom line is, keep it short and simple. And always ask yourself “will I open this email if it was sent to me?”.

Engaging your customer with killer content – The body

Content is king, right? Not when yours sucks – especially when it comes to content for your email marketing campaigns. Introductions like “Dear Mr….” will discourage your customer. Make your introduction personal like “Dear Joe”. The entire message should be simple, short, and straight to the point. And as Lee Cloves puts it, “having a lot to say is never a good enough reason to actually say it”. And for your ecommerce marketing email, you don’t need a 2000 words essay to convince a customer to buy your product or visit your online store. Still not motivated? This stunning email example from Nokia will give you a sneak peak into what sales-oriented ecommerce email is all about:

Ecommerce Sales Email Example

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Not only is this email simple and straight forward, it depicts that the body of your email does not necessarily have to be only words, but you can include beautiful images of your products to keep your readers hooked. Who wouldn’t click on the “Buy/Shop Now” call to action on such an email?

In a world where customers emails are flooded with a lot of messages, making yours longer will only irritate the customer. And don’t send an email that sounds like you’re talking to a business executive.  Write an email body that’s personal. Take it like you’re communicating with your best friend. And your customer would love it.

Closing the deal – Selling


What do you tell the customer at the end of your email? And how do you put it? Just as it’s difficult to entice a customer through your introduction, it’s equally difficult to hook the customer till the end of your message and finally close the deal.

Your call to action should equally be simple and should tell the customer straightforward what you want them to do. Do you want them to buy your product? Say it. Do you want them to have a look at your online shop? Don’t hesitate. Customers will never click a call to action that is ambiguous in what it delivers.

Current State of Emails

Today, people have oodles of emails to deal with on a daily basis. The fact that someone has opted to be part of your email list should be a motivation. This privilege given to your retail business should not be wasted on things that would not bring value to your customer. And don’t do anything that will waste your potential customer’s time.

Don’t dictate to the customer, but try to know what your customer wants even before they think of wanting it. Anticipating your customer’s wants puts you in a good spot to always make a good impression, satisfy them all the time, and keep them coming back to your online store. Because as Richard Branson of Virgin Group puts it:

The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.

And to do that, you need to learn to write marketing emails that drive sales. With the tactics provided above, doing that would be a piece of cake. Go out there, excite the customer and build your online store.

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