We stand by a lot of email design best practices, and one of them is to make sure an email never feels like a waste of time. That’s why you’ll always hear this from us: emails should be clear, simple, and direct, always keeping the reader in mind. But, we also love the creativity that comes with email designs, especially teaser email campaigns. Sometimes this means creating emails that bend the rules a bit—like not including a call to action!
A great example of a “rule bending email” is the teaser email (see the Southern Proper example below), where marketers give readers a (sometimes mysterious) short preview about an upcoming promotion or event. Teaser emails are a great way to build intrigue and prep readers for the email(s) to follow. Today, we’ll look at how six different brands designed teaser email campaigns for impact.
The purpose of teaser emails is to tip readers off that something new and big is coming. When done well, they build intrigue and even make subscribers feel like they’re in on a secret.
When building a teaser email, here’s what you should keep in mind.
- Set a goal. What action do you want readers to take when they open your teaser email? Often, teaser emails ask readers to stay tuned, mark their calendars, or preview a product that isn’t available to purchase yet. If you’re in the “stay tuned” category, your email might not have a call to action. In that case, you should think seriously about the email’s purpose and value. You might want to set up an A/B test where some recipients receive a teaser email before an announcement, while others receive the announcement without the teaser. Then, you can test if the non-CTA teaser email increased conversion rates. It’s important to be intentional about this because you don’t want to lose readers’ faith that you’ll deliver timely, relevant content (that doesn’t clog up their inbox).
- Align the call to action with your goal. Want readers to mark their calendars? Then give them an easy, actionable way to do that, like with an add-to-calendar CTA. If you want them to check out a new product before it launches, consider allowing readers to pre-order or join a waitlist.
- Have a vision for the whole campaign. In the spirit of not over-inundating readers with emails, consider how your teaser email plays a role within the larger campaign. Is it one of many emails, or one of three? A basic flow might be: teaser email, announcement email, follow-up email. A word of advice: don’t send more than one teaser email. One head’s up is enough!
- Establish suspense in the subject line.
- Get readers curious! The idea, after all, is to create a little intrigue. Use your design expertise to get creative! Set a countdown timer, partially reveal a product, or make a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t GIF.
Let’s look at how these 6 brands did it.
Subject: Re: this week
Two days before announcing a new product—its Invisible Shield sunscreen—Glossier sent this teaser email. It’s delightfully simple: a logo, followed by plain text header and body copy atop a pretty HTML background color (that matches the product packaging to come). The copy does the heavy-lifting. It’s cheeky, relatable, and very Glossier. There’s no CTA, just a teaser sign-off: That changes this week.
#2. Rag & Bone
Subject: rag & bone X Star Wars – the countdown begins
It’s a simple email, sent nearly a month before the launch date! Here’s the animated GIF that kicks it off:
From the teaser email, the reader can’t be sure what’s coming, only that it will involve Star Wars. The design is a bit more sophisticated than Glossier’s message, but it’s still pretty simple. There isn’t much text, and there’s very little detail. And again, there is no action for the reader to do except wait. There is a date provided, though, so it is possible for loyal fans to mark their calendars if they want. The result? Impossible to tell the impact the email had, but Rag & Bone did sell out of many of the clothing items in its Star Wars collection on Day 1.
Subject: In 3 Days: Puffer Jackets
CTA: Join waitlist
Before rolling out its new jackets, Everlane sent a teaser email with a single product image and a CTA: join the waitlist! Sending an email like this can help build customer excitement and make them feel like they’re getting a sneak peek or exclusive deal. After all, there’s appeal in knowing you’re the first to get or do something. In a second module—distinguished by a lovely deep teal HTML background—Everlane also provides a secondary call to action for New Yorkers.
#4. Code School
Subject: Free Weekend is Coming
CTA: Share on social media
In this teaser email, Code School tells readers exactly what’s coming, even though it’s not quite available yet. It becomes a teaser email that acts as a head’s up about what’s to come. In this case, readers would have to plan to take advantage of the offer—i.e., carve out time in their weekend to review the limited-time free content—it makes sense that Code School would want them to know in advance. A save-the-date calendar event CTA would have worked here, but the social sharing buttons that Code School includes are just fine.
Subject: Hmm… what’s this?
CTA: Get ready / set calendar reminder
Here’s a more mysterious teaser email, complete with this peek-a-boo style GIF:
Brooklinen does a great job of creating curiosity in the subject line. Once the email is opened, it’s clear that a big deal or promotion is on the horizon. The “get ready” CTA leads to a product preview landing page, and the email also includes calendar CTAs, too. The email builds excitement and allows readers to act on that intrigue.
#6. Boll & Branch
Subject: The Countdown to Our Biggest Sale is On!
CTA: See what’s new / shop
In a similar style to Brooklinen, this teaser email includes a revealing GIF:
Animated GIFs are perfect for teaser emails, where you can reveal or partially reveal a product or information. And, teaser emails are a great place to get creative and have fun!
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