Upgrade Emails: How 5 Brands Invite Readers to Go Premium

Most client-servicing apps and brands have tiers of service, from free to premium to business to pro. Think free Spotify vs. Spotify Premium, or Hulu with limited commercials vs. with no commercials. Enticing clients to convert to higher-paying levels of service is a process, and upgrade emails are an essential step along the way.

Upgrade emails invite readers to upgrade their service or subscription, often by free trial or special promotion. And like in any promotional email, good design helps marketers get their message out in a compelling, clickable way. Today, we’re looking at how five brands design upgrade emails. Read on to collect tips and insights for your own “go pro” messages.

#1: Todoist

Todoist calls itself a task management app and to-do list. Users can keep organized by tracking of all kinds of tasks (work or personal). Through its email design, the brand presents itself as modern and friendly, using a cheerful illustration style with plain text. And, as you may have guessed, the brand offers a premium version of its service, which was recently advertised in this upgrade email.

Subject: Try out Todoist Premium for free

Todoist upgrade emails

Todoist stages its value proposition in a straightforward, direct way. Our eyes catch on the bold body text that reads: Try it free for 30 days — it’s on us.  The CTA button that follows reinforces the free messaging (as does the subject line). Clearly, Todoist knows that cost is a primary driver of conversion, making it the #1 thing to communicate. For readers still on the fence, Todoist presents a second value proposition after the CTA button: you don’t need a credit card or commitment to sign up. The strategically designed and located CTA button is (1) near the top of the email, (2) directly alongside the most important part of the message, and (3) designed to be bulletproof, pass the squint test, and be the perfect eye-catching color. (Yes, CTA color matters!) And, it’s also followed and supported by additional promo content.

Todoist’s email is objective-oriented, and the CTA button brings it home.


#2: Evernote

Similar to Todoist, Evernote is an app and web tool that helps users get organized. Their premium service gives users the ability to upload more content, access info offline, and get other bonus features. Here’s a recent upgrade email from the brand.

Subject: Make Evernote great

Evernote upgrade emails

The first thing to notice about this email is the color scheme: with its ample white space and simple green-gray palette, the email immediately looks cohesive—almost calming. And like Todoist, the CTA button is very easy to spot, about midway through the email, and there’s only one. Note the second call to action is a link, instead of a button, so there’s no competition for the email’s focal point. The CTA language is clear (even though it could have more personality).

What’s notable about the supportive messaging is that there are spot illustrations that improve the content’s skim-friendliness. Ask yourself: if I’m looking at this email for only 3 seconds, what do I read first? The bold, green value propositions that sit alongside illustrations probably jump out!


#3: Skillshare

Skillshare hosts online courses in design, writing, business, tech, and other categories. And as part of this year’s Memorial Day weekend promotion, Skillshare offered two months of its premium service for free.

Subject: Your holiday weekend just got better

Skillshare upgrade emails

The layout here is similar to Todoist’s and Evernote’s. Simplicity works! That’s because simplicity gets readers’ eyes on the crux of the pitch sooner, and the key message is “free.” Although Skillshare doesn’t do much else to reinforce its value proposition, the email could have used a bulleted list, spot illustrations, or text formatting to call out the benefits of going premium. Still, like Todoist, there is a fine print promise under the CTA that might help readers take the plunge—and make the click.


#4: Amazon Business

For Amazon shoppers using the site to order business and office supplies, upgrading to Amazon Business means you get perks like quick shipping and special prices. Here’s a look at the company’s upgrade offer email.

Subject: Free upgrade to Amazon Business

Amazon Business upgrade emails

Amazon Business’s email isn’t anything fancy, but the simplicity renders well on mobile. Here’s a look at the mobile responsive design on an iPhone screen:

Amazon Business upgrade emails

Like previous emails, the CTA button is followed by key benefits of the service. The button is orange, while the remainder of the email follows a blue color scheme. The result is an “isolation effect” that makes the CTA pop.

And, unlike the other upgrade emails, this one is personalized. Using a reader’s name in a greeting can help capture attention, and we like that this greeting isn’t your standard “Hi” or “Hello” either. Opening with a question is also a lot more engaging.


#5: Marketing Profs

Marketing Profs offers marketing news, data, and guidance to marketing professionals. Their email newsletters are generally straightforward and simple, with plain text and links to new content. In a recent MarketingProfsPRO email, however, they broke their usual mold and got punny with their offer.

Subject: Your new favorite marketing tool…

Here’s the animated GIF that opens the email:

Marketing Profs upgrade emailsAnd here is the email in full:Marketing Profs upgrade emails

Unlike other upgrade emails we’ve featured, this one is a lot longer and more personable. The animated GIF sets the tone: friendly, approachable, playful. The text reads like a letter directly addressing you, the reader. Bold treatment helps key sentences stand out. The single CTA button can’t be missed, even though it’s near the end of the email instead of the top. There’s also a personalized sign-off with the marketing manager’s signature and photo. All these design elements work together to give the upgrade email a personal feel, which MarketingProfs surely hopes will lead to conversions.

Ready to upgrade your upgrade emails?

While we’re on the topic of upgrades… did you know you can design your own upgrade email with a free trial of BEE Pro? No HTML knowledge is required, plus your email will be mobile responsive. Happy designing!

Design Beautiful Emails in the BEE Editor

Give it a try! Design stunning, fully responsive emails in our easy-to-use, drag-n-drop BEE editor. No HTML or CSS coding knowledge required. What more? It's free and online!

Take me to the BEE email editor