Six Sales Emails That Work Every Time (and How to Write Them Yourself)

As the old saying goes, you should “always be selling,” right?

While email marketing certainly streamlines the sales process for modern businesses, you won’t make a cent if you don’t understand the elements of a killer sales email.

Thankfully, coming up with a marketing message that resonates with your readers is probably easier than you think.

That’s if, you know how.

The Not-So-Secret to Writing an Engaging Sales Email

Here’s the thing: the most effective sales emails out there are rooted in the principles of old-school copywriters. Masters of the craft during the era of direct mail, from Gary Halbert to David Ogilvy and beyond, laid the groundwork for modern email marketers today.

In short, some of the best sales letters out there are best on tried-and-tested formats and templates that you can use  yourself.

Now, that’s not saying that you can go off copying-and-pasting the same message you saw someone else use and expect similar results. Unfortunately, that’s what a lot of copycats try to do and fall flat as a result.

The key here is to take the principles of power emails and apply them to your own. Your role as an email marketer isn’t to steal ideas. Rather you should draw inspiration from what’s been proven to work time and time again

In other words, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to generate responses from your recipients.

How to Write Sales Emails that Gain Traction

In fact, the true challenge posed to marketers today is breaking through the noise in an era where your prospects’ inboxes are bombarded with spam. Likewise, you have mere seconds to grab the attention of mobile readers. Readers who are likely to pass your message up if it isn’t truly compelling.

Outlined below are six tried-and-tested types of sales emails that you can adapt for your marketing campaigns. Again, the key to more opens and clicks isn’t plagiarism: it’s understanding what makes your readers tick.

1. the proof driven offer

Why It Works: Social proof is undoubtedly the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal. Especially if you’re trying to sell to someone who’s never heard from you before. By showing off others who’ve benefited from your products and services, you break down the trust barrier and establish yourself as the real deal.

Let’s get real: consumers today are naturally skeptical toward any form of marketing and they have every right to be. The purpose of social proof isn’t to brag. It’s to encourage your recipients to put themselves in the shoes of a potential success story.

How to Write It Yourself: While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to incorporating social proof into your marketing emails, start by curating your biggest evangelists and most satisfied customers. Anyone who’s willing to give you a testimonial represents a potential goldmine of proof that can help you seal the deal with prospects time and time again.

sales emails that work - elegant themes testimonials
Elegant themes includes a link to their customers stories in their testimonials.

2. the “not to brag” offer

Why It Works: Similar to social proof, such messages present you and your business as a sort of “everyman” rather than a straightforward sales pitch.

Such emails often touch on the pain points of your potential customers and likewise make you seem more human and relatable in the process.

How to Write It Yourself: Share your personal success stories but don’t make outlandish claims. Your recipients are wary of get-rich-quick schemes: they want real results that speak to their problems. Rather than frame yourself of some sort of guru with all of the answers, present yourself as a helping hand with a product that represents their ideal problem-solver.

sales emails that work - amy porterfield
Social Media Guru, Amy Porterfield often shares her own experience growing her online business as a way of creating authority in guiding her subscribers through their own social media strategy.

3. the urgent offer

Why It Works: Limited time offers are the bread and butter of many industries. These work like a charm via email marketing. By crafting time-sensitive deals, you ultimately eliminate the option for your leads to slide out of your sales funnel. They either buy now or they don’t buy at all.

The caveat of urgent offers is that you can’t run them all the time. They can, however, be great incentives for your prospects on the fence who were perhaps deterred by your initial price point. For this reason, urgent offers are a fantastic tool for re-targeting customers via email.

How to Write It Yourself: Urgent offers need to be short, sweet and to the point. Imagery works well here (see the example from JackThreads above) as recipients understand at a glance that time is of the essence. Rather than try to sweeten the deal, simply let them know that your offer is on the table. It’s now or never, giving them less incentive to click “Back.”

sales emails that work - Baublebar limited time offer
Baublebar delivers a creative offer with a “self-destructing link”

4. the steep sale

Why It Works: Steep sales often go hand-in-hand with urgent offers. When an offer is seemingly too good to pass up and is likewise going to be gone soon, your recipients will stop and take notice.

Also like urgent offers, you can’t run steep tales too often. Otherwise, your recipients will constantly wait for huge discounts and solely buy when prices are at their lowest point.

How to Write It Yourself: Steep sale emails are relatively straightforward: the better the deal, the more enticing it is for your recipient.

To grab readers’ attention at a glance, be sure to include numbers (75% or 90%, for example) which will immediately catch their eye versus a wordy explanation of your sale. If possible, provide a line of reasoning for your sale. Avoid giving your readers the vibe that you’re just trying to push a product on them for the sake of it.

sales emails that work - she she shoes mothers day offer
She She Shoes offers a 15% Mothers Day discount.

5. the crucial question

Why It Works: Subject lines containing questions are noted to perform well across all industries. Therefore, they’re more than fair game for your sales emails.

Crucial question emails represent a sort of eye-to-eye moment between you and your readers. That is, you show them that you understand what’s on their mind and offer up your insight in response. This approach conceals your sales pitch and turns your recipients from questioning skeptics to curious readers.

How to Write It Yourself: The key to success here will more or less come down to your subject line. Think about the questions burning up your readers and how your product provides a succinct solution. Don’t be afraid to challenge your readers’ beliefs or pose a controversial question. This will only work to pique their curiosity even more.


Zillow: “What Can You Afford?

DocuSign: “What are our customers saying?”

Quirky: “Abra-cord-abra! Yeah, we said it.”

Warby Parker: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”

Groupon: “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”

6. the straight shooter

Why It Works: As noted earlier, your recipients don’t have the time or energy to deal with lofty marketing messages. They want you to get to the point now.

While such emails may best be reserved for previous customers, don’t be afraid to take a short-form approach with a warm list that’s already in love with your brand.

How to Write It Yourself: If you have a hot list of opt-ins, there’s perhaps no better way to immediately grab their attention than by hitting them with an awesome offer and an in-your-face call-to-action. While such messages shouldn’t be the norm, they represent a breath of fresh air versus long-form sales letters.

Ugmonk offers a 15% discount in a simple email with a large call to action.

What Sales Emails Perform Best With Your Readers?

Each of the aforementioned examples goes to that there is no single strategy for a killer sales campaign. By experimenting with a variety of messages, you can figure out what resonates best with your readers and what you should ultimately avoid.

Regardless of which types of emails tick the boxes of your list, you need to make sure you not only have a diverse body of messages to send but also a solution for reaching prospects consistently. If you’re new to email marketing and want to give one of these sales messages a try, give Sendlane a spin to see what our automation platform can do for you.

Jerrik Neri

Jerrik Neri

Jerrik is a Sendlane warrior by day and an avid and aspiring Web Developer ninja by night. His passion for programming and technology which has cultivated since he was young, has landed him in this company - helping people and fixing code.
When he’s not helping out and fighting for Sendlane’s cause or staring hard at long lines of code, you can find him at the gym trying to lift heavy things, or at home, trying to be the next E-sports gaming professional.
Jerrik Neri