In-Depth Tutorial: “You’ve Been Gifted” Email Spotlight Framework

RecipeLion Clubs Gold Club

Who doesn’t want to feel special? And when it comes to email marketing to sell your products and services, treating prospects specially can make all the difference in how they perceive you and your brand—and, most important, whether they will buy from you!

RLC Gifted Spotlight

With this Template Tutorial, we’ll dig into the “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework that uses a special technique to grab prospects’ attention and lead them to a purchase. “Spotlight” is a term we use for types of email sends that are fully marketing-focused—shining a “spotlight” on a particular product or service for sale. And we have a broad array of frameworks that have proven successful in selling all sorts of products and services.

Here, we’re featuring RecipeLion’s version of the “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework—an email marketing effort that offers prospects to join the RecipeLion Gold Club. is one of Prime Publishing’s many niche websites—a free community-oriented website that offers recipes, cooking tips, e-cookbooks, and more. But beyond this free site—which hosts ads from specialty marketers—lies the exclusive, ad-free site called RecipeLion Clubs with a richly organized library of custom cookbooks, cooking videos, and cooking magazines available only to premium members.

While some RecipeLion subscribers will stick to the free site, Prime recognized the value to stepping up its game to offer a members-only website with exclusive offerings. The “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework is just one effort that has helped RecipeLion boost revenue, profits, and—especially—customer retention.

Let’s take a look at RecipeLion Club’s version of the “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework, and we’ll rank it based on our checklist of core components that can help you connect with prospects and make the sale!

Email “From” Address

RLC from email address

There’s a knock at the door, a package on the porch, a letter in the mailbox, a phone call, an email—and you want to know, “Who is it?” Just as with postal mail, email that doesn’t clearly identify the sender is likely to wind up in the trash.

One of the advantages with RecipeLion is that these email recipients are already subscribers at some level, so they should already be on the recipient’s white list. Publishers working with Mequoda follow our best practices for audience development and subscription marketing, and only use highly qualified, opted-in email names for their Spotlight marketing efforts. So these emails aren’t cold calls—they’re emails your prospect pool has already opted in to receive; they’re expecting you.

RecipeLion Gold Club meets expectations with this component of the “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework by identifying their brand in the display name and including the full email address with the RecipeLion name.

Testing Ideas

Want to make your email feel even more personal? Put a real name to the “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework. Make this part of your testing efforts. Including a real person in the “from” section of your email gives the email an added personal dimension; your prospect will feel like this is a one-to-one communication—and that can help enhance engagement and get that email opened. Example: “Addie Gundry, RecipeLion.”

Email Subject Line

RLC email subject line

The Email Subject Line really has just one job: get that email opened. You’d think that developing a compelling subject line would be easy; but a quick review of your inbox might indicate otherwise. Writing a subject line that gets the reader’s attention long enough and strong enough to get them to open the email is as much art as science. So, of course, the Email Subject Line does have a secondary job: don’t get the email deleted unopened—or worse, pegged as SPAM and sent straight to oblivion in the recipient’s junk folder. Or the real kiss of death for an email—getting blocked by an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

So how can you gauge the likely effectiveness of your subject line without doing blind testing? Well, there’s an app for that—or, more precisely, a web tool. Try out to help you rate your subject line before you hit Send. rates your subject lines on several criteria, including urgency, length, personalization, and potential SPAM terms—helping your subject lines meet basic industry standards.

Enter your planned subject line and you’ll get not only a score, but an explanation of where the subject line meets industry standards and how it could do better. This RecipeLion email subject line earned a score of 92 out of 100—not too shabby. You can keep tweaking your subject line until you reach a score of 100. And while it’s not a perfect tool, it does put you in the mindset of choosing your subject line with strategic intent.

The subject line in this RecipeLion email makes the recipient feel special; who doesn’t like getting a gift? What’s the occasion? Why them? They have to open the email to find out. And if they do, the Subject Line has done its job.

✓ RecipeLion’s Email Subject Line—sweet as honey!

Testing Ideas

If you’re not testing, you’re selling your product short. Try different approaches to enhance the personal-feeling nature of this “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework. Examples (all score 100 out of 100 with the free online rating tool):

  • You’ve Been Gifted Today: 500+ Recipes!
  • “[FIRST-NAME PERSONALIZATION], claim your gift today!”
  • Your gift is waiting for you now!
  • RSVP now and claim your gift!

Email Pre-Header Text

RLC email preheader

So, what’s Email Pre-Header Text and why should you care? Email Pre-Header Text is that short copy that shows up in your email box after the subject line. Many marketers overlook or ignore this essential component of marketing emails. Email Pre-Header Text gives your recipient a sneak peek at what’s inside the email—another enticement to open the email, on top of your compelling subject line.

Just like the Email Subject Line, the Email Preheader Text has one job: get readers to open that email. That means the copy has to connect to the subject line, continuing to encourage the recipient to open the email.

For the Email Pre-Header Text in RecipeLion’s version of this “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework, the appeal of this offer is effectively presented. And for anyone who loves to cook—and the recipient must enjoy cooking, since they signed up for RecipeLion—the prospect of more than 500 recipes is too enticing to ignore!

Remember when Twitter limited you to 140 characters? They had a good idea going there: keep it short and sweet. We like to keep our Email Pre-Header Text to less than 140 characters—that’s including spaces. That’s because email clients may cut off longer copy, and your message along with it. Stick to 140 characters or less, and you’ll be laser-focused in your Email Pre-Header Text copy. RecipeLion’s Email Pre-Header Text in this effort is 103 total characters—well under the limit!

✓ RecipeLion serves up a winner with their Email Pre-header Text!

Testing Ideas

You have a little more space for copy with the Email Pre-Header Text than you do with the subject line, so there are more testing opportunities. Examples (all are fewer than 140 characters, with spaces):

  • “You’ve been gifted digital cookbooks, recipe videos, and cooking magazines!”
  • “[FIRST-NAME PERSONALIZATION], claim your 500+ printable recipes.”
  • “Get exclusive access to our premium digital library of kitchen-tested recipes!”
  • “You just scored more than 500 printable recipes!”

Spotlight Nameplate

RLC Spotlight nameplate

Another important component of an effective marketing email is the Spotlight Nameplate that appears at the top of your email. Like a masthead, it reinforces your brand and gives the recipient a visual cue of the importance of the message in the email.

We recommend you identify the segment or type of email in the nameplate; this makes it easier for users to manage their email preferences back at the website with a corresponding segment that is clearly named. The Spotlight banner immediately identifies the category of the email, saving you the pain of global opt-outs. Users like choices.

Tailor your Spotlight banner to your product; make it readily identifiable and keep it consistent. This is not really a time for subtle artwork: make your statement so the recipient knows what they’re getting—just like RecipeLion has done.

Make sure your Spotlight graphic speaks clearly and to the point. And don’t bother testing this element. In this case, consistency is the best policy.

✓ RecipeLion passes the taste test on the Spotlight Nameplate!

Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline

RLC Spotlight headline and sub-headline

For RecipeLion’s version of this “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework, the Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline follow best practices:

  • The headline tells readers “You’ve Been Gifted…”—reinforcing the “You’ve Been Gifted” message in the Email Subject Line!
  • The headline tells readers just what they can expect—lots and lots of recipes!
  • The headline lists the number of gifts by type awaiting them—cookbooks, videos, magazines, oh my!
  • The headline is a hyperlink to the corresponding order page back at the website. While it’s not a Call to Action (CTA), it’s definitely enticing.
  • It’s already in blue and underlined to make it super-easy for the reader to click through to claim their gifts.
  • The sub-headline brings in the CTA, underscores the quality of the library, and promises instant access—it doesn’t get much better than that!

All in all, these components work well for this “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework.

✓ RecipeLion’s Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline—easy as pie!

Testing Ideas

Testing headlines and sub-headlines can be important parts of a continuous-improvement email marketing program. Best ideas here involve dramatically different copy that follows the same formatting rules—bold and blue (or red for a more dramatic effect) with the headline as a hyperlink to the order page. Examples:

  • Headline: You’ve Been Gifted: Instant Access to hundreds of delicious kitchen-tested recipes!
  • Headline: R.S.V.P Now: Claim your gift of instant access to our premium digital cooking library!
  • Headline: You’ve Been Gifted! What will you do with your 385 cooking gifts?
  • Sub-Headline: Your gift expires tomorrow…don’t miss out on instant access to hundreds of printable recipes from our premium digital library!

Spotlight Images

RLC Spotlight image

In RecipeLion’s version of this “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework, the images give the recipient a sense of the magnitude of recipe sources available to them, with the RecipeLion name prominently featured in the graphics. Tie it all up with a bow, and it certainly feels like a gift!

BONUS: Click on the image and it takes you right to the order page for the RecipeLion Gold Club!

✓ Cheers to RecipeLion scores for their images in this Spotlight!

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for Spotlight imagery should include widely different treatments—to get breakthroughs, you have to test things that are dramatically different. Tweaking this component might result in incremental gains—or losses—so the world’s your oyster when it comes to testing. Examples:

  • Try an image with a table, laden with freshly made dishes—almost too many to count.
  • Try an image that shows a typical member tapping into that premium digital library with a kitchen abuzz with cooking and baking.
  • Try using the club logo instead of the benefit items.
  • Or try matching images to copy throughout the Spotlight, to emphasize the variety (and quantity) of recipes awaiting them.

Spotlight Salutation

RLC Spotlight salutation

Think of the last time you got direct mail with a letter that said, “Dear Friend…” Did you feel all warm and fuzzy? Probably not, because that basic salutation has been overused. The intention is there, but it just seems to ring hollow. Don’t overlook the salutation; try to connect with the reader. Sure, they know it’s a marketing email, but if you just drop an offer into an email and don’t make an effort to connect with the reader, they’re going to disconnect. Keep them from hitting delete by taking the time to try to connect—after all, you did begin by telling them “You’ve Been Gifted.”—so make every word count, including your salutation, to keep your prospect reading…and hopefully buying!

✓ RecipeLion’s engaging salutation in this “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework is in good taste, connecting with the reader as a “home cook.” Well done!

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for Spotlight salutations can include personalizing it or flattering the reader. Examples:

  • Dear Home Chef,
  • Dear Aspiring Home Chef,

Spotlight Body Copy

Now, the real “meat” of email marketing efforts is the copy and images throughout the body of the message. Here’s a review of each section

Introduction RLC Spotlight body copy introduction

Right after the salutation, this Spotlight reinforces that the reader (being a home cook, aspiring home chef) deserves nothing more than all access to a treasure trove of recipes.

It also breaks down the Gold Club membership cost to a monthly payment that’s designed to be delicious—with an order form hyperlink on the side.

General Benefits

RLC Spotlight General

Right after the introduction, a sampling of the cooking collections available when they join the Gold Club are presented in a long-numbered list, designed to impress. It samples the breadth of the content available to the reader—while also showing that this is just scratching the surface of what’s available when they join.

Specific Benefits RLC Spotlight body copy specific

Now, the copy discusses the irresistible recipe for the RecipeLion Gold Club, and the bountiful benefits of joining. It answers the basic questions prospects are likely to have: What’s it like? What will I learn? Then it takes a playful approach to covering some of the most popular areas of cooking, liberally lacing in alliteration to sweeten the deal. The engaging text is designed to, um, whet their appetite for more.

Description of Product Components RLC Spotlight body copy product

Next, readers get a full list and descriptions of all the components of the RecipeLion Gold Club—that way, they can continue to mull over the offer. In this case, there are six detailed bullets that cover each component of the Gold Club. There’s also a relatable cost comparison to put the offer into perspective. Here, the copy compares the membership fee to the cost of a monthly latte; you want to speak your prospect’s language.

Benefit Review RLC Spotlight body copy benefit review

This section appeals to a home cook’s needs, responsibilities, and concerns. It alleviates guilt (you don’t always have to cook from scratch) and promises creative problem solving (hosting events). The copy is crafted to both solve common cooking concerns for the prospect while offering them an opportunity to elevate their culinary creativity.

OFIEs and Calls to Action RLC Spotlight body OFIEs

OFIEs—Mequoda terminology for “Order Form In Editorial” (OFIE)—are ads that appear within the body copy, as interruptive elements that highlight the product and the offer. And OFIEs always include call to action buttons and links, so prospects can quickly get to the order page to place an order. OFIEs are a combination of benefit copy, offer copy, and imagery.

Best practice is to include OFIEs about every 300-400 words within body copy, so that a reader will always see one when scrolling—especially important with long-form copy. You always want to have opportunity calling on the reader’s screen.

Finally, we also include an OFIE after the final copy, just below the P.S./P.P.S.

✓ RecipeLion’s Spotlight body copy really fits the bill when it comes to following best practices!

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for Spotlight salutations can include personalizing it or flattering the reader. Examples:

  • Introduction copy—repeat the invitation offer right in the first sentence: “You are special, and you are invited to join an exclusive club of aspiring home chefs.”
  • Try using urgency copy such as “This invitation expires in 48 hours.” Or “If you don’t respond, we’ll have to give your spot to someone else.”
  • Test the OFIE: Try testing OFIE headlines, copy, and imagery—it can make a difference!
  • Test long-form copy vs. short-form copy—it’s an age-old debate in direct marketing, and you can quickly find out how your audience responds.

Spotlight Closing and P.S.

RLC Spotlight body closing

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for the Spotlight Closing and P.S. can include further personalization and easy ways to order. Examples:

  • Try inserting a handwritten signature for the signer of the email message—for security reasons, it’s alright to use a computer-generated script-like font vs. the person’s actual signature.
  • Include an order page hyperlink somewhere in the P.S. or P.P.S. copy.


Success is served! RecipeLion has performed well with their version of the “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework, gaining more members for their Gold Club to boost revenue, profits, and retention.

Here’s a performance checklist for you to use when you try the “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework:

Mequoda’s “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework Checklist

Element Criteria Done?
Email “From: Address Connect with your readers!
Email Subject Line Make the case to open the email.
Email Pre-Header Text Convey the sense of the offer.
Spotlight Nameplate Good brand reinforcement.
Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline Make offer and benefits compelling.
Spotlight Images Show off your product.
Spotlight Salutation Make a connection!
Spotlight Body Copy Craft a compelling message.
Spotlight Closing and P.S. Finish off with a personal approach.
Put a Call to Action in your P.S.
OFIEs and Calls to Action OFIEs every 300-400 words.
Calls to Action throughout.
Every screen should have an order page link.
Test, test, test! One element at a time!

Bottom Line: If you want to boost revenue, profits, and retention—just like RecipeLion—follow their recipe for success and test your own version of this “You’ve Been Gifted” Spotlight Framework today! Gain more paying customers, clinch more sales, and boost your brand affinity, too!


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