Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, when a business comes up with an idea to release an upcoming product, its marketers go into overdrive to send a spectacular product launch email campaign. But what if you’re relatively new to the email marketing game or you’re facing your first official launch?
Fear not. This guide will help you better understand the ins and outs of product launch emails and have you well on your way to releasing that new product launch email to your customer database.
What is a product launch email?
A product launch email is the bread and butter for many companies, especially eCommerce businesses. This email alerts your email subscribers that a new product, service, or event is either in the works or is being released. They’re meant to generate hype around your brand new offering, as well as direct customers to your store or service pages.
The focus of this guide is on the official launch email itself. But, ideally, you’ll want to build a product launch email sequence: a few additional scheduled emails leading up to the launch that help maximize anticipation and curiosity.
Types of launch emails
Now we know what a product launch email is, let’s look at an example drip sequence you could use for your product launch.
The “sneak peek” email: 2 weeks before the launch date
This is the teaser email you want to send when you’re ready to start building hype around the new product. Usually, there’s an air of mystery or exclusivity and a “save the date” element to heighten a sense of urgency.
Check out this pre-launch email from Birchbox, a beauty cosmetic brand that offers subscription boxes:
The product launch announcement email: 2 days to a week before launch date
This announcement email example is a follow-up after the first mysterious message. It opens the lid from Pandora’s box to reveal the surprise the company has been keeping under its hat.
This email aims to build even more excitement around the launch and collect pre-orders from loyal subscribers. Gaming companies, in particular, typically kill it with these emails. Take Oculus, for example:
Customers pre-ordered five times as many Oculus Quest 2 headsets as original headsets (shown in this email), proving that announcement emails can be pretty lucrative when done well. Besides soliciting pre-orders, this email is also an excellent spot for a countdown timer or any early bird deals or giveaways that will help ramp up the hype even more.
The release email: launch day
The game-day email. You’ll want to broadcast communications about your new product on launch day, otherwise, you might confuse your customers (or any internal teams if you haven’t announced a release date publicly). We’ll show you plenty of examples of these emails later, but first, let’s look at what elements compose the best product launch emails.
The anatomy of a great product launch email
We’re going to conduct a deep dive into all the components of a great product launch email and explain some best practices for you to consider, starting with the subject line.
The email subject line
We recently published a more extensive piece on writing email subject lines that help increase open rates in general, but here we’re focusing on the specific context of product launches. Ideally, you want to be able to encapsulate the excitement generated by your pre-launch emails and present it in one subject line. Sounds easy, right? (Well…it may take some practice.)
What’s the best length for a subject line? Well, according to Marketo’s analysis of 100,000 emails, seven words or around 41 characters hit the mark with a 10.6% click-through rate.
If you ask Boomerang, it’s three to four words (this number elicited a 51% response rate, though Boomerang didn’t state a sample size). To hedge your bets between these two analyses, it’s probably safe to say that anything below three or over eight words is likely to decrease performance.
If your marketing team can’t get enough of emojis, just make sure to use them sparingly. You’ll also need to ensure email service providers (ESP) support them and that they align with your brand and your target audience’s communication style.
The email copy
While the email subject line snags your target’s attention, your next priority is keeping your customers engaged and informing them about the product itself. This information belongs in the main body of the email. You’ll want to keep the email word count brief—more on letting the product images speak for themselves later—to around 50-125 words.
Your email copy should include the following essential information:
- The new product name
- What pain point or desire the product addresses (i.e., primary or new features)
- How and where customers can buy the product
Unless you’re Apple, you’re unlikely to get much engagement from your email if you don’t include these points (they include this info, but they could probably get away with not doing so).
The vast majority of the time, images are your chance to showcase your product. If you’re selling a physical product, you’ll naturally want to include high-quality product photos from the studio, in-situ, or both. If you’re selling a digital product, you’ll still want to share images, GIFs, or previews of the software (or cover designs in the case of ebooks/PDFs).
However, be mindful of accessibility. Try not to have an email made up entirely of images. It might be tempting to control the design (more on that next), but if you do, you’ll likely alienate people in your list who need to use screen readers. Plus, the emails won’t be searchable by web crawlers. As a best practice, always include alt text for any email images; people using screen readers will be able to better understand the content.
Brand voice and email design
Establishing a brand voice is critical for standing out in a crowded inbox. Your voice should be consistent across all of your channels, especially in your email campaigns, which allow you to nurture your relationships with customers. Part of cultivating a brand voice is the way you style your language and tone. Is your brand fun, serious, confident, formal, bold, or even controversial? The language you use should reflect how you want customers to perceive your company.
The other central aspect of email branding is the design. Of course, you’ll want to include your brand name, logo, and colors. The same general best practices apply here as with the language: Your visuals should be consistent across multiple channels so customers recognize your brand.
Call to action
Last, but certainly not least, is the call to action (CTA): The big, shiny, red “buy now!” button. Okay, it doesn’t need to be big or red, but you definitely need to include an action you want the customer to take and a button to enable them to do so. Otherwise, what’s the point of your launch?
The CTA button should also align with the other points made above—keep the copy inside it brief, don’t make it part of an image, and stick with your brand voice and design.
Best product launch email examples (and why they work)
Now that we’re on the same page of what you should include in a product launch email and some best practices, we can evaluate a few stellar examples. (We’ll use the above criteria to judge them appropriately.) Let’s dive in!
Subject line: “Good morning, midnight blue”
First, let’s focus on the subject line for Harry’s announcement of its limited-edition razor. Believe it or not, at only four words and 27 characters, it’s not the shortest on the list. However, the copy is very much in line with its brand voice and makes logical sense since most people shave in the mornings.
Let’s move onto the 38-word email copy (including CTA). Harry’s content is on the shorter end of the scale here, but that could be because razors have the same purpose no matter the brand. They don’t need much in the way of explanation about their purpose or mechanics.
Where Harry’s shines is in its imagery, design, and CTA. The brand included an image of the product on its own and as part of a set on a dark background, matching the copy’s feel. Harry’s also made the CTA button a bright orange to catch attention and offer a bold contrast to the dark background.
Subject line: “Introducing the new Pixelbook Go”
Let’s move onto the tech giant, Google. Along with a healthy 85.86% share of the search engine market, Google has a relatively large roster of physical products, Pixelbooks being one of them. The subject line is simple and straightforward, using FOMO-inducing language (new!). However, it’s Google’s email copy that really stands out. The language is on-brand and persuasive, yet informative, letting customers know just enough about the new product to pique their curiosity and interest them in learning more.
Google falls short with the overall design’s dark color palette, imagery, and six(!) CTAs. We usually know Google for its clean, bright style, and the dark mode doesn’t jive well with its other marketing content. Interestingly, Google opted for multiple calls to action for a single product when studies have shown that doing so can be distracting.
Subject line: “Upgrade your mattress with our new Topper”
The only email subject line to hit the sweet seven-word mark on this list also sizzles because of its urgent language and seamless job targeting its audience in those few words. Casper also managed to keep its email copy brief (yet informative) about what makes the Topper a great addition to your bedroom.
In terms of the overall design and choice of imagery, Casper segments the email well, keeps the fonts consistent, and uses a light palette that reflects the brand’s “soft, buoyant feel.”
The only questionable area in this email is its use of two slightly different CTAs: one might lead to a new website landing page while the other leads to the general store page, which may muddle the messaging for some people.
Subject line: “The incredible new 16-inch MacBook Pro is here”
With its eight-word subject line, Apple hits (but doesn’t go over) the recommended limit. But as with most others on this list, it makes great use of language that doesn’t overtly try to persuade you yet instills a sense of FOMO.
As per usual, Apple excels in brand voice and design. Its minimalist, airy look utilizes eye-catching images (a consistent theme across all of its marketing channels) and the columned text makes the email copy quick and easy to read.
Where Apple falls a little flat here is with its tiny CTA in the top left corner. While it’s simple and matches the brand’s look, its underwhelming size may cause readers to miss it, or worse, have difficulty clicking on it, leading to frustration and abandonment. Interestingly, Apple is also the only launch email on this list that does not include a way to share the email on social media. Though, to be honest, Apple could probably send a blank email with a CTA stating “Send money here,” and people would still follow through.
Subject line: “NEW: collagen powder”
Though it bears the shortest subject line on the list, Hers (a popular women’s wellness brand) uses its highly-recognizable voice to drive home the messaging. The launch email for its collagen powder includes an emoji, a hashtag, and body-positive messaging. Its pastel-hued palette and sleek design also hint at the brand’s femininity and are consistent with its appearance on other channels.
You could argue the design looks a little “busy,” particularly when contrasted with Apple’s minimalist chic style. Still, the images do a great job of segmenting the product benefits and information. Hers also employs two CTAs with different wording on each one (maybe they’re following the same email playbook as Casper). This could slightly confuse the messaging and misdirect customers eager to check out the new product.
Building your next product launch campaign
Writing a product launch email might seem a little scary at first, but when you get down to it, every great email requires the same five elements:
- A killer subject line
- Brief but informative copy
- High-quality images
- Giving your brand voice and design a chance to shine
- A clear CTA
As long as you include these elements (which can act as a product launch email template of sorts) while following basic email marketing best practices, you’ll be well on your way to a successful launch and more revenue from your new product.