Designing an Email that Sells by Kristin Huddleston @vision6

Designing an Email that Sells by Kristin Huddleston @vision6

Designing an Email Marketing Campaign that Sells

Commercial email marketing was expected to drive $63.1 billion in sales last year according to the Power of Direct Marketing study.

So, if you are looking for a cost effective way to acquire more customers, promote your business, and sell more products – email is definitely for you.

Here is a product email that I recently received from Mimco with a list of elements that make it so effective.


  1. Pre-header text: This text often appears as an extension of your subject line in many email clients. The pre-header text is also the very first thing readers see after opening an email so it draws your recipients attention, helps you get more opens and is very important if there is any image blocking.
  2. Logo and brand: Brand consistency is essential when creating a product email. Brand recognition generally provokes a certain amount of trust, thereby reassuring your audience that the email they have received is legitimate. It is also worth remembering that ‘brand’ is more than just having a logo. Ultimately it’s everything in your email, including the colours, imagery, language and tone that you use.
  3. Weblinks: Weblinks help you to drive traffic to your website or shopping cart. They also provide important signposts for recipients who may not be interested in your email but would like to visit your website.
  4. Urgency: Creating a sense of urgency is a very good technique for helping close a sale. I’m not just talking about the good old CALL IN THE NEXT TEN MINUTES ‘shouty’ sense of urgency either. It’s more about reminding recipients when sales end, when stock is running low or sharing the benefit of making a purchase sooner rather than later. Creating a sense of urgency can encourage recipients to act rather than setting the email aside.
  5. Calls to purchase: This is the most important (and unfortunately the most overlooked) part of any sales email. Make it easy for recipients to purchase your product or service. Don’t make them go hunting for an option to buy. Include buttons that take them straight to a shopping cart. Or if you don’t have a shopping cart, make sure you provide them with a stockist (commercial retailer or wholesaler that stocks merchandise), store locator or an option to buy via mail or phone.
  6. Relevant/tailored content: Make sure you are in-tune with the audience and environment in which you are selling. For example, this email is a seasonal email and it uses a combination of imagery, colours and language to create a theme that is relevant to the recipients. You can also tailor content by using event-related news, fashions, trends and your audience’s specific interests and preferences.
  7. Catalogue imagery and information: Like a print catalogue, a product email must showcase your ‘hero’ products and offers. There should be adequate information to prompt a purchase but keep it punchy enough to avoid clutter. Use images, colours and text styles to create an easily scanned structure while remaining conscious of potential image blocking issues.
  8. Getting attention with video or animation: A 2010 study by the Web Video Marketing Council found that 73% of marketers say that video-based email marketing is more likely than static content to generate higher conversion and purchase rates. In this email all of the umbrellas open and close so that recipients can see what they look like in both states. Animation and video are very engaging mediums and there are a number of ways you can use them to enhance your emails.
  9. Incentives: Providing recipients with free shipping offers, small discounts on future purchases, or the chance to enter a competition can spark their interest and also form a positive brand connection. I love the way that this Mimco email includes a competition that is really well targeted towards their audience.
  10. Social sharing: Use social media to help spread the word about your product. As well as including links for pre-filled tweets and status updates, you could offer an incentive, such as a discount, in an attempt to encourage your audience to promote you.
  11. Relate to your audience: Think about your prospects and customers. What are their tastes and preferences? What are the sorts of things they really care about? Do they have a lot of time to go through a long email or do they just want to know about any sales or specials? Always remain focused on the needs of your audience and let this guide you when designing your product emails.

Takeaway: A good product email (or series of emails) will showcase your products, provide information and help to facilitate sales.

Meet the author:

Kristin Huddleston

Kristin Huddleston

Kristin Huddleston is the Marketing Coordinator at Vision6 and has been working in the email marketing industry for 3 years. Prior to this Kristin worked in Marketing and carried out email marketing campaigns in both agency and professional services companies. Her role at Vision6 is to use integrated marketing communications to inform, educate and promote everything e-messaging to both clients and non-clients.

Connect with: Kristin Huddleston

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  • Jerry Flay
    February 14, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Kristin

    Just read your article – intrigued you do not talk about the importance of what shows in the preview pane in most common browsers – my thinking is that what get your email opened is a combo of sender ID and subject line, what gets it read is a combo of subject line and what shows inthe preview pane, and what makes it work is the overall content – especially when you have a single or principal call to action.

    Assuming you have a subscribed audience, sender Id should be the main brand recognition, shouldn’t it? And cluttering up the preview pane with links that possible deflect from the main purpsoe of the email seems to me all wrong?

    Really interested to hear what you have to say.



  • Chief eMail Officer
    May 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Hi Jerry…

    I agree that sender recognition is a key factor to getting your message open and read, but in my mind the number one goal of an email is to get a click. Thanks Dr. Flint!

    So with that being said, have a good CTA above the fold is crucial to generating conversion.

    Let me know if you agree.


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