Designing a Promotional Email: The Spotlight Template

Focus your copy and your customers will focus with you

At Mequoda, we call any promotional email that features a single product a Spotlight.

The idea behind this email is that the publisher is shining a spotlight on one product instead of trying to sell a bunch of things at one time. There are plenty of benefits to featuring one item, for example:

  • Creating a promotional calendar that aligns with the topics of your email newsletters
  • Better conversion tracking from email because there’s only one product to track
  • The ability to track different calls to action and copy and see which one performs best for a single product
  • More creativity when testing specific vs. non-specific subject lines
  • Easy A/B tests on copy
  • Room to support your promises with customer testimonials
  • Focus, focus, focus from your subscribers

A non-spotlight promotional email template reminds me of Gordon Ramsay on Kitchen Nightmares. In every episode he does three things: spits out their food, freaks out about how unorganized their cooler is and tells them to chop their restaurant menu down to only a few items.

The reason is because buyers need focus. Having 50 items on a menu only confuses and distracts restaurant guests. Cutting it down to 10 things focuses not only the guest, but also the chefs. Be responsible for only so many ingredients and dishes, and you can excel at all of them. Try to do them all, and you won’t. Here’s an example of an unfocused promotion (no offense, Nat Geo).

The same goes for email. Throw 10 products at an email subscriber and you don’t have the space to talk about each one. The subscriber doesn’t know what to look at first, so leaves by closing the email.

But give him one thing to pay attention to, and not only do you have the ability to add more detail and “reasons why” they should buy, but the customer can quickly determine if the product is of interest and either close the email or keep reading and click through. The one-product spotlight email allows you to be more dynamic every time you send one out.

Let’s take a look at some examples of good Spotlight emails.

Download a FREE copy of Best Email Subject Lines for Selling Premium Subscriptions and Memberships and discover an extensive list of email subject line frameworks that are consistently proven to sell and boost revenue for publishers.

Book Spotlight

This book spotlight email from Ceramic Arts Daily hones in on Clay: A Studio Handbook and doesn’t let go right down through the last word. After the initial push and calls to action, they offer a great testimonial on the book, and then a Q&A section to wrap it up. When else do you get to give a subscriber so much value about one single product? That’s why spotlight emails outperform promotional emails often, especially on higher-priced items where buyers require more information to make a decision. As Don always says, the more money it costs, the more copy you need.

Magazine Spotlight

This Knitting Daily promotional email for Spin Off is unique. If you quickly scanned the whole thing, you’d think that it’s selling multiple products. That’s because below their main graphic and introduction, they have multiple sections and promotional links. The thing is, every section promotes a subscription to Spin Off, they just highlight a new feature, like the two free gifts, and the access to free patterns.

And here are all those fun little bits below, that make this email so dynamic. No matter how far you scroll, you’ll end up with a link back to the page where Knitting Daily wants you to subscribe. Instead of highlighting many products in one email, they feature, well … features!

Download a FREE copy of Best Email Subject Lines for Selling Premium Subscriptions and Memberships and discover an extensive list of email subject line frameworks that are consistently proven to sell and boost revenue for publishers.

Event Spotlight

SIPA hosts a lot of events, so they could easily send an email with an event listing … but they didn’t. This email from SIPA for their Fall Publishers Roundtable is written as a letter to their members. It gives a short introduction, then introduces the event and gives a couple of quick take-aways. There are several links to register or learn more, plus bios of the roundtable moderators (one of them is our own Don Nicholas!). The email, written like a letter, is sent from the personal email address of Luis Hernandez, Vice President of SIPA. Every link in the email is a call to action for one single product – the Roundtable.



Sale Spotlight

A sale email isn’t actually much of a spotlight because it offers a discount on so many products; however, the way Black Belt does their sales  is by focusing in on a single type of product. One week they might have a sale on all DVDs and one week, like the one below, they focus on books and e-books. The email itself doesn’t distract or confuse the subscriber because it’s not promoting many different products, it focuses on the 25% sale. The sale, in effect, is the “product” being promoted. As a bonus, at the bottom of the email, they have a list of all their free ebooks, just in case 25% off just isn’t enough.

I could do this all day. There are of course spotlights that sell videos, ones that sell items from your sponsors, etc. Publishers who allow and encourage their editors to write a 500-1000 word love-fest about each product on their site will be very happy with this email template.

Tell me how you’re using Spotlight templates in the comments!



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