5 Creative Email Marketing Ideas to Try in 2017

Email marketing is still one of the best ways to reach your customers with a 3,800 percent ROI and $38 made for every $1 spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

However, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut with email marketing — you do your usual sales blasts and content pieces each month, but thinking outside that box takes more time; time that you don’t have.

That’s why we did the work for you to come up with five fun email marketing ideas to try this year.

Consider which ones would appeal most to your audience and put your own spin on them.

1. Video

Slowly but surely video is taking up a larger presence in our lives.

Incredibly, 300 minutes of video is uploaded to YouTube every single minute with 3.25 billion hours watched each month, according to Static Brain Research Institute.

You can take advantage of video popularity with email marketing this year. Instead of sending the usual text or image-based content, embed a video instead.

The key is making the video as easy to play as possible, which increases engagement metrics and overall value to the reader:

“If executed properly, one of the most successful video email method being used today is setting up your video to play as soon as the subscriber clicks the play button…,” says Holly Rollins, president of 10X Digital Inc.

Constant Contact makes it easy for you to add a video to your email in just a few simple steps:

constant contact video block

Just paste in your video URL and a clickable thumbnail will be added to your email:

Constant Contact email with video

Is your business new to email marketing? Try out a free 60-day trial of Constant Contact today!

2. Coupons

Coupons alone drive more than $29K, on average, in monthly sales for retailers according to a 2016 analysis.

However, these discounts are only valuable if your customers know they’re available, which is where email comes in.

Here’s how to make the most of your coupon promotion:

  • Personalize: Don’t just offer a generic coupon — include a personal message that expresses why you’re sending the coupon as a reminder of how much you value your audience.
  • Remove distractions: It’s fun to customize and design your emails, but too much can be distracting. This does the opposite of encourage clicks, and at worst, could drive potential customers away. Instead, choose one objective — in this case, highlighting a discount or coupon — and focus on that.
  • Vary your CTA by segment: There are many call-to-action options, not just Learn More, Browse, or Buy Now. The CTA for your top engagers, for example, could be to share the discount or deal via social, suggests Stephan Hovnanian, content solutions architect at Bambu. Play with CTAs among various segments to zero in on the best ones.

Here’s how you can set up a coupon in your Constant Contact account.

Constant Contact email with coupon

3. Letter from the CEO

Everyone wants to know that the top brass is thinking about them, especially your customers who spend their hard-earned money on your products or services.

For those on your email list who have yet to buy, this sort of email builds trust, loyalty, and authority with your brand — all of which are critical to driving sales.

The letter can be done on a weekly, monthly, or even quarterly basis. The topic can be fluid to match the priorities and changes of the business.

One month, the CEO could address a new addition to your service line up, followed by details on your latest volunteer project in the next one.

Tip: Keep the design simple for these emails. A template like Constant Contact’s “Basic Newsletter” works well.

Constant Contact business letter template

4. Sale preview

This sounds similar to discounts and coupons distribution, but it’s different in a few ways.

The first is that this type of email is meant to make your subscribers feel special — they’re getting an exclusive first look at this upcoming sale.

It’s also not meant to drive sales right away, but to build buzz around the upcoming event — whether online or in your store.

When designing your sale preview email, keep a few important details in mind:

  • Make it feel exclusive: Use words like, “Exclusive” (of course), “Just for you,” “For our top customers,” etc.
  • Focus your CTA on spreading the word: Whether that’s a discount code for your subscribers to share or simply asking them to post on Facebook or send a Tweet. If you go with the latter, make it easy for them by setting it up first. You can embed custom tweets and Facebook posts in your email like you do with your blog posts, removing friction and increasing the chances they’ll share.
  • Use images: Show off your product, but don’t be overwhelming. Choose your top 3 to 5 sales items to highlight with both images and text.
  • Segment your audience: Based on the products you’re highlighting, send personalized emails to separate groups. Your ability to do this will depend on how segmented your list is already; at the very least you can create two separate emails for current and potential customers.

Here’s a look at how Constant Contact customer, La Provence, sent a sale preview to boost early holiday sales:

Constant Contact sale preview email

5. Seasonal guide

Both B2B and B2C companies can take advantage of this one, even if your business isn’t necessarily “seasonal.”

“This is a great way to make a more personal connection with your audience and will increase the chance of your message getting noticed,” says Ryan Pinkham.

A seasonal guide can mean a lot of things, depending on your company’s product and service line-up. See below for a few fun ideas to try:

  • Seasonal marketing guide: Marketing or ad agencies could send a quarterly checklist and guide for analyzing content, email, and social data. Many already do something similar.
  • Seasonal style guide: Retail is the most obvious business for this email type. Focus on the styles of that season, including images of products you offer that fit within the various trends. Include helpful information, like how to pair a rain jacket with a classy pair of shoes, etc.
  • Seasonal health guide: Best for outdoor recreation/fitness/wellness organizations, this guide can include information about allergies in the spring or staying safe in the sun in the summer. Again, include products naturally within the content.
  • Seasonal tax guide: Perfect for tax accountants or other financial advisors. Simply outline important tax dates or create a free printable that subscribers can stick to their fridge for quick and easy reference. This is especially valuable for anyone who works with freelancers and contract workers, both of which have a variety of dates to remember.

Brainstorm what seasonal changes your customers care more about most and formulate an email around that. Test different topics, angles, content types and more.

Tip: You can find timely content ideas for each month in Constant Contact’s marketing and holiday planning infographics.

Try one of these ideas in your next email!

Don’t let yourself get into an email marketing rut. There are so many ways to format and present your content, there’s no reason not to experiment!

Ready to get started? Start with a free trial of Constant Contact’s email marketing.  

Already have an account? Log in to put it to work!

About the author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and MarketWatch and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

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