Madeline Osman
Personal and professional blog of Madeline Osman
September 30, 2013 by admin

Promotional Emails – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Whenever I check my emails in the morning, I experience what we in the industry call email fatigue. Email fatigue is when you are overwhelmed by the same company sending you promotional emails at an excessive rate. The company I currently work for, Groupon, is infamous for it’s past actions of doing just that. Nowadays, they send between 1-2 each day, to people who have opted in, and encourage people to search the online Marketplace for other offers. 

At my old job at Student Life Marketing and Design in Iowa City, I helped design and construct multiple email templates. I did some analysis by checking the Mailchimp open rates and where people clicked, and discovered what was working and what wasn’t. Our emails were sent on a weekly or monthly basis, but no more than that.

I have a few suggestions for Email Marketers, based on my limited but relevant personal experience:

1. Don’t send emails more than once a week

Take Express for example. I love them and their clothing to death, but this is a little suffocating.

2. Have something to say – don’t just send an email for the sake of doing it

This is a better example of Ulta’s multiple weekly emails. It has a call to action to purchase and a decent coupon – but they do the same thing all the time, with different coupons and products. I don’t even open their emails anymore. If I wanted to buy something from them, I would just open the latest email, take the coupon code, and ignore the rest. Ulta could benefit from more limited, specific emails.

3. Alternate your message

On the flip side, Panera always has a fun and engaging email experience. They alternate between promotional coupons (my favorite, because Panera doesn’t send them often), recipes, new items, and charities they’re sponsoring. All good PR for the company.

In general, no email campaign should focus on just one thing, especially percentage off coupons. Sometimes I wait until the next sale or promotion email, because I know it’s going to happen, before buying something I probably would’ve paid full price for.

4. Lure them in with a discount

This is the best way to get a new customer on your email list. Just don’t fatigue them once you’ve got them!

5. Make it personal

When someone is signing up for your email list, find a way to capture their name and use it in your campaign. Nothing is sweeter to a person than their own name – use that to your advantage.


I would love to hear some arguments to the contrary, or other suggestions… Leave your thoughts or links to articles in the comments!


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One Response to “Promotional Emails – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

  1. Ryan Kopf says:

    #6. I will hate a company if I click the unsubscribe link and it asks me to “login” to unsubscribe. I will hate said company forever and throw lemon grenades at their headquar… forget I said anything. Yes, unsubscribing is good.

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