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Writing an Incentive Email? See These Email Examples and Best Pra…

Every marketer is looking for ways to improve their email performance metrics. Your metrics not only measure your work as a marketer, but they also reflect the success of your business.

Incentive emails are one way that you can increase your opens and improve your conversion rates without investing in new marketing solutions. It’s easy to add incentive emails to your marketing plan, and there are limitless ways to manipulate them to your needs.

Before you get started on your next campaign, review this guide to incentive email examples and best practices that’ll help you succeed.

What is an incentive email?

An incentive email is a broad term for email campaigns with incentive offers to drive business. They might be part of a welcome email campaign or they might be part of an abandoned cart campaign. Practically any marketing campaign you craft can contain an incentive email.

The key characteristic of incentive emails is that they have an offer. You’re not just sending an email that reminds customers about products they like or updates on your business. You’re sending an email with the explicit purpose of driving business, either through customer acquisition or customer retention.

Some of the most common types of incentives that brands use in emails include:

  • Bonus reward points
  • Buy one, get one
  • Coupons
  • Discount codes
  • Free shipping
  • Gift with purchase
  • A month of subscription at no cost
  • Referral codes

Marketers use incentives to encourage people to purchase their products or services, but do incentives work to drive new business or do they just cost your business money?

What are the benefits of incentive emails?

Over 100 years ago, Coca-Cola distributed the first coupon. Since then, things have drastically changed in the marketing world, but one thing remains the same: Coupons work. Now coupons and discount codes arrive directly to your inbox.

While it may seem counterintuitive at first mention, there are measurable benefits to using these incentive email examples and best practices, like:

  • Acquiring new customers: a solid 80% of consumers will purchase from a new brand if they receive an offer or discount code when they would’ve otherwise abandoned their cart. This makes incentive emails one of the most effective types of email campaigns, both in conversions and ROI.
  • Retaining loyal customers: over 90% of people who purchase from a company indicate that they’re more likely to purchase from that company again in the future if they have a discount code. This is an excellent strategy for improving customer retention.
  • Increasing impulse purchases: discounts and coupons encourage 66% of consumers to make purchases that weren’t already in their plan. This can work for both customer acquisition and customer retention, making it a “double hitter,” so to speak.

Incentive emails allow you to connect with your subscribers. And, by using the right email tracking tools to measure the success of your incentive email campaigns, you can make critical improvements to future marketing efforts.

Best practices for your next incentive email campaign

Crafting a successful incentive email campaign is more than just sending an email with a discount code in it. You need to know what your goals are and create a solid plan to execute them. What makes a successful incentive email, though?

With incentive email examples and best practices, you can build a marketing strategy that’s more than successful. You’ll incorporate email marketing best practices with ecommerce discount techniques to grow your brand.

Before you dive into incentive email examples that work, review these best practices:

  • Refer to your incentive in the subject line: Using the word “free” in your subject line leads to 10% more opens than emails without it, and implying a sense of urgency can increase your open rates by 22%. That makes your subject line a crucial part of your campaign.
  • Use a compelling CTA that highlights the offer: How you display your CTA matters. A button-based CTA can increase your click rates by 28% when compared to using a link-based CTA, while making small changes in the language you choose can boost rates anywhere from 14% to 90%.
  • Include links to featured or popular products: Product emails are a great way to increase your customer’s lifetime value. Purchasing products from an email encourages people to spend up to 138% more than those who don’t receive the email. Include a variety of links to drive traffic.

Your subject line is one of the most critical parts of your incentive email campaign, so spend the most time editing and revising it. You also want to spend some time to decide where you want to send your subscribers when they click your CTA.

4 incentive email examples for your next marketing campaign

Crafting an engaging incentive email can make a significant impact on your campaign metrics. From your subject line to your CTA, each component serves a purpose. Check out these four incentive email examples and best practices to boost your conversion rates.

1. Lyft crafts a subject line that highlights its offer.

The reality is that, without a solid subject line, your subscribers won’t even read your emails. It’s that important, even when you’re offering discounts. Lyft uses the subject line, “10% off rides until January 30[.]” Not only do they call out the discount they’re offering, but they add a deadline for urgency. This can persuade people to purchase more quickly if they’re on the fence.

Highlight your offer in the subject line and add a sense of urgency. Pro tip: including the offer in your subject line is key, but you can exponenti

Source: Really Good Emails

Pro tip: including the offer in your subject line is key, but you can exponentially boost the power of your incentive email subject line by adding a sense of urgency and elements of personalization, like your subscriber’s name. You should also employ tactics like list segmentation and send-time optimization.

2. Uber Eats includes a bold CTA with its incentive.

After your subject line, your CTA might be the second most important component of your incentive email. The most common approach is a simple CTA like “shop now,” but don’t box yourself in with the same thing everyone else uses. Uber Eats uses their bright green CTA to call out their incentive: “Take $5 off[.]” Bold colors, especially green and orange, draw attention to your button.

A bold CTA should be an important component of an incentive email.

Source: Really Good Emails

Pro tip: it’s a good idea to do some A/B testing with your CTA buttons (and your subject lines, for that matter). With testing, you can determine the most effective colors, words, and shapes for your CTAs. You can also find out where your button is most productive in your email.

3. National Geographic directs people to popular products.

The goal of incentive emails is to convert your subscribers to customers. That’s why you want to send emails that highlight some of your most popular products. By including products in an incentive email, you’re making it simple for people to go directly to your store with their discount or coupon. National Geographic includes two incentives, plus links to their popular product categories and a vibrant CTA.

 Highlight some of your most popular products in your incentive email.

Source: Really Good Emails

Pro tip: this is a great choice for recent site visitors who might not have added anything to their cart. You can send product emails that highlight “recently viewed” items and include a discount code that expires quickly to encourage a purchase.

4. Blue Apron capitalizes on the word “free” in its subject line.

As with mentioning discounts in the subject line, the word “free” is an excellent way to get subscribers to open your emails. Compound that with an upfront CTA that calls out the offer again and a list of potential products, and you’ve got a high-performing incentive email. Blue Apron uses the subject line, “Get 4 free meals with your first meal delivery!” This is an example of an incentive welcome email.

Use the word “free” to get subscribers to open your incentive emails.

Source: Really Good Email

Pro tip: combine multiple techniques and email marketing best practices to improve the ROI of your incentive email campaigns. This will not only boost your open rates, but it’ll also increase your conversion rates and, potentially, the lifetime value of your customers.

Wrap up

Creating incentive emails is a lucrative way to connect with your subscribers and convert them to customers. Incentive emails show your customers that you appreciate their business, and it encourages them to keep coming back. Before you start crafting your campaign, review these three key takeaways:

  • You can use a variety of different discount codes and coupons to find the sweet spot between cost and value.
  • You can incorporate incentive emails into numerous parts of your automated and transactional email campaigns.
  • You can use incentive emails to drive traffic to specific landing pages or products that you want to focus on.

The most effective incentive email campaigns will use a variety of best practices and email marketing techniques that lead to opens, clicks, and conversions.

Looking for an email marketing platform for your incentive emails? CM Commerce has the tools you need to grow your ecommerce store through email campaigns.


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