Promotional Discounts in eCommerce Email Marketing

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing promotional discount

Promotional Discounts in eCommerce Email Marketing

Giving Promotional discount for growing your subscriber list or driving store traffic – hype or bust?

This article is from the weekly series of posts about eCommerce Email Marketing Best Practices.

The focus of this week spotlight is on the role of promotional discounts in eCommerce email marketing.

As we discussed in earlier articles email has the highest ROI among all media channels. ( To get the value out of the email marketing, you must continually grow and keep you subscriber list up to date.

Offering an incentive to subscribe increases the opt-in rate by 61% but surprisingly only 35% use it. (1)

A powerful tactic of online subscriber acquisitions is to use in a Modal Light Box that displays a promotional discount and includes a short email sign-up form. Modal LightBox is a pop-up window that covers the dimmed page under the dialog window. The use of Modal Lightbox for subscriber acquisition increases the likelihood of signing up by another 30 % ( 2).

One of the big resistances from retailers is the fear of one-time purchases. How to make sure that shoppers do not unsubscribe after getting the initial discount? Making the regular communication interesting and engaging, plus making the shopping experience delightful will keep your audience willing to receive your emails. Do not be afraid to lose them; since on average a list loses up to 30% due to inactivity, email changes, etc.  It is important to get new subscribers regularly to avoid your opt-in user base reduction. (3)



All emails will be rated from 1* to 5*, where 1 means poor and 5 is great.

We review on a weekly basis:


  1. Colors – colors have good contrast, consistent
  2. Typography – fonts have readable size, clear titles
  3. Images – clear, visible, easy to understand
  4. Formatting – blocks follow each other in an easy to navigate pattern
  5. Mobile Optimized – all elements are visible and formatted correctly on the mobile phone


  1. Subject line – signals urgency and clear main offer that will be found inside the email
  2. Clear offer – one main offer with clear call to action
  3. Urgency to purchase – time, stock, shipping that motivates the buyer to purchase
  4. Product highlights – clear description of the products to evoke the interest of the reader


Adidas AG (German pronunciation: [ˈadiˌdas]) is a German multinational corporation that designs and manufactures sports shoes, clothing and accessories. The company is based in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany. It is the holding company for the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company (including Ashworth), Rockport, and 9.1% of FC Bayern Munich. Besides sports footwear, Adidas also produces other products such as bags, shirts, watches, eyewear and other sports and clothing-related goods. Adidas is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and the second biggest in the world, after Nike.

Adidas was founded on 18 August 1949 by Adolf Dassler, following a family feud at the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik company between him and his older brother Rudolf. Rudolf had earlier established Puma, which quickly became the business rival of Adidas. Both the Adidas and Puma companies still remain based in Herzogenaurach, Germany to this day.

The company’s clothing and shoe designs typically feature three parallel bars, and the same motif is incorporated into Adidas’s current official logo. The company revenue for 2012 was listed at €14.88 billion. (4)

Email 1: Adidas

Subject Line: One week left to redeem your special offer – enjoy

Eradium ecommerce email- marketing promotional discount adidas 2
Eradium ecommerce email- marketing promotional discount adidas 2


  1. Colors:4*
  2. Fonts:4* –
  3. Images:4*
  4. Formatting:5* 
  5. Mobile Optimized: 5*


  1. Subject line:5* 
  2. Clear offer:4* –
  3. Urgency to purchase:4* –
  4. Product highlights:5* –


Overall rating: 4.4* OVERALL WINNER




Adidas implemented one of the best introduction and purchase driving campaigns that I have ever seen. It has it all: flawless email template, urgency and great messaging.

What makes this the best campaign?

  • Multiple touch points through the 2 weeks period to remind the subscriber about the coupon expiration
  • Great responsive template
  • Product showcase that is trying to evoke interest and curiosity
  • Omnichannel approach with bringing the user attention to the store location to drive traffic to a physical store
  • Included message about free delivery
  • Option to call and speak to a person will bring comfort to shoppers not very familiar with shopping online


Macy’s, originally R. H. Macy & Co., is a mid-range chain of department stores owned by American multinational corporation Macy’s, Inc. It is one of two divisions owned by the company, with the other being the upscaleBloomingdale’s. As of January 2014, the Macy’s division operates 789 department store locations in the continental United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam, including a prominent Herald Square flagship location inMidtown Manhattan, New York City.

Macy’s is known for its niche in popular culture and the diversity of its merchandise. Most locations compete with Belk, Bon-Ton, Dillard’s, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Boscov’s and Sears; upscale locations compete withNordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Von Maur. Macy’s has conducted the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City since 1924 and has sponsored the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display since 1976. Macy’s flagship store on Herald Square is wrongly advertised as the largest in the world, even though it is smaller than the largest store of Shinsegae, and draws shoppers from well beyond the New York City Metropolitan Area. The venue is in close proximity to other Manhattan landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Koreatown, Pennsylvania Station, and Madison Square Garden.

As of 2012, Macy’s is the largest U.S. department store company by retail sales and is the 16th-largest retailer in the United States in 2013 in terms of revenue. (5)

Email 2: Macy`s

Subject Line: Enjoy an extra 15% off! Thanks for signing up!‏

Eradium ecommerce email- marketing promotional discount Macys


  1. Colors:3*
  2. Fonts:4*
  3. Images:4*
  4. Formatting:4*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3 *


  1. Subject line:4*
  2. Clear offer:4* –
  3. Urgency to purchase:3* –
  4. Product highlights:1* –

Overall rating: 3.3*



  • The offer is for Canada unlike other American retailers
  • Provides additional actions to motivate a purchase, such as a gift card
  • Prominent information about shipping charges


  • No product showcase to evoke shopper interest
  • The email does not use a responsive template, it is simply just looks smaller on mobile screen

Sport Chek

Sport Chek is the largest Canadian retailer of sporting clothing and sports equipment, with stores throughout Canada (excluding Yukon). Its parent company, Forzani Group, operates stores under the following corporate and franchise banners: Sport Chek, National Sports, Sports Experts, Intersport, Atmosphere (formerly Coast Mountain Sports), Service Shop, Econosports, Nevada Bob’s Golf, and Hockey Experts

In 1999, a Sport Supercenter flagship store was opened on the top level of the Londonderry Mall, replacing an existing Walmart store. In 2014, the Londonderry Mall store relocated to Manning Town Centre, and will become a Simons.

In 2011, Canadian Tire bought Forzani for $771 million, and has since embarked on a large scale brand restructuring. (6)

Email 3: Sport Chek

Subject Line:  ‏ Welcome, Your first exclusive is here!‏

Eradium ecommerce email-marketing promotional discount -Sportcheck


  1. Colors: 4*-
  2. Fonts:3* –
  3. Images:4* –
  4. Formatting:3* –
  5. Mobile Optimized:1* –


  1. Subject line:4* –
  2. Clear offer:4* –
  3. Urgency to purchase:3*
  4. Product highlights:1* 

 Overall rating: 3*

 Conclusion- BUYING FACTOR: NO



  • Gives you an option to redeem online and in store


  • Not mobile friendly -The email does not display on the phone
  • Users don’t see the Coupon unless they scroll all the way at the end of the email – it is easy to miss the offer
  • The expiry date – the email places the date at the very bottom of the message and also applies small font; this format will not help to create a sense of urgency to purchase

Just for Fun

This message from Neiman Marcus is an example of very poor campaign where the site accepts your email address and then sends you this email along with regular communications. Would I ever buy from this store again?  Maybe – not.

Eradium ecommerce email- marketing promotional discount -Neiman-Marcus

The email from Crocs is a great example of how to keep the audience engaged and build loyalty. Happy Anniversary is definitely a unique and very appealing promo. It shows you that this brand really thinking and engaging it`s subscribers in innovative ways.

Eradium ecommerce email- marketing promotional discount Crocs


Below are some of the best practices on how to use promotional discounts offers to help your list grow and keep your subscribers engaged:

Before acquisition

  • On the sign up page clearly explain the benefits of being a member of the group so that the shoppers feels they are going to be part of a special club
  • Have a proper unsubscribe policy that is highly visible and makes people feel that they can leave at any time
  • Experiment with pop up, try as page blockers, at the top, center, left or right and see if it improves your results
  • Allow to subscribe at any page not just home page and keep some of the key benefit visible at all times
  • Offer tiered discounts, for example 5% on first purchase and 10% of next purchase with special codes

After acquisition

  • Send 1st welcome email with the promotion
  • Send follow up email if they have not used the promotion
  • Send life stage events offers such as birthdays and anniversaries
  • Always send holiday offers
  • Setup a Google survey on shopper experience to initiate dialogue, those are extremely useful
  • Try to segment to a few groups at minimum and send the most relevant offer for each segment to make shoppers feel personal connection to your store
  • Have subscriber only sales through the year; that will help the shoppers feel value in receiving your communications

Do not be afraid to lose some subscribers, but be scared if you are not getting new ones fast enough!

Anna Battrick

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.

To start a dialog about your next eCommerce initiative