5 Templates for Emails Your App Users Won’t Find Annoying

annoyedIf you’re like me, one of the first things you do in the morning is clear your email of irrelevant promotional offers cluttering an (assuredly otherwise pristine) inbox. That is, after all, why Google redesigned Gmail to include the “Promotions” tab - to make it easier to bulk-delete all of that junk you only occasionally open.

So if this is the case, why is email marketing still such a reliable (and effective) inbound tactic? Because consumers expect your email to be terrible. And when it’s not, they notice. In a world of bad pickup lines, the good ones stand out.

It’s not just about crafting a great subject line - successful email marketing is the kind that converts an open to a click. Like all great marketing today, it needs to convey value quickly. Plus, when you’re using email to re-engage app users, the tie-in needs to be obvious.

App marketing shouldn’t be limited to your app. More and more consumers are interacting with brands across a multitude of channels, and providing information about their experience at every turn. So, when using email marketing as an extension of your app, the call-to-action has to be relevant to their app usage, behavior or profile attributes. The experience should be cohesive and reflective of their experience.

In this post, we take a look at some of the templates you can use to enhance the app experience with email (without annoying users), including real examples of how brands are using them today.

1. The “Don’t Forget & Don’t Miss Out” Notification

Sometimes, it’s best to start out simple. Often, apps will use push messages to alert app users to items left in carts, places favorited, or restaurants viewed. This shouldn’t be viewed as a common tactic because it’s commonplace - it’s common because at the heart of it, what this tactic is trying to do is help the user complete whatever action it was he wanted to take (and don’t forget - apps were built to make completing a task easier). This notion should translate to your email efforts.

Which is why when I got this email from TripAdvisor after researching hotels in Portland, ME, I opened it.

Subject line: Still interested in these hotels?

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Now here’s the catch: had there not been an element of timeliness to this conversion, this email might not have worked as well. But, given the timeframe I was searching in, TripAdvisor is right to remind me that the longer I wait to book, the more likely the prices are to increase.

What negates any potential for annoyance with this template is that it’s based on the users in-app actions - something they already did or expressed interest in. Sending out reminders personalized to the user, and that take into account the limited time available to reap the benefits, showcases your brand as one that wants to provide ease and accessibility at all times.

2. The “We Know What The Holidays Are Actually About” Offer

Regardless of your personal feelings about car service Uber, one thing is certain: they know their user base. In this case, they are tapping into a typical holiday occurrence in big cities (large parties) and sending out a special offer (free rides).  

Subject line:Tis the season for holiday parties and FREE Uber rides!

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This is a situation in which Uber users would have previously turned to cabs or public transportation to get them to and from holiday events. To capitalize on this, Uber is recognizing the user behavior, and the upcoming need, and running their promo accordingly: If you’re throwing a holiday party, why wouldn’t you want to offer free rides home for your guests? It’s safe, convenient and free! That’s the reaction this email campaign evokes, making it a success for Uber.

You can create a similar template by determining the right offer (and use case), opting for one clear CTA, and highlighting the “why” (why would a user want to participate in this promo?). Also, don't be dissuaded by the barrage of holiday promotional offers - there's a reason so many brands use them. If your app is positioned to solve a specific holiday-related issue and make the season easier, even better!

3. The “You Didn’t Even Know You Needed This” Alert

Nothing is better than being pleasantly surprised by new (or unknown) app functionality, especially when it exceeds your expectations as a user. The Slice app was able to do just that. Slice tracks all of your online orders and alerts you to when they are shipped, on route, delivered, or late. It’s an easy way to keep tabs on your various orders without having to revisit each individual tracking code.

Slice got me with an immediate click through when they sent out this recent email:

Subject line: Price Drop Alert: Pottery Barn purchase dropped to $23.50

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Unbeknownst to me, this handy app also tracks sales and promotions on items you’ve recently purchased and alerts you to changes in price. They then encourage you to call or email the retailer with the information and ask for a refund on the difference.

Looking out for my wallet even when I don’t expect it? A definite marketing win.

This email is simple and straightforward - it’s clearly identified as a “Price Drop Alert” and provides suggestions about how to best go about getting some money back. Plus, now you know that this is an option on all future purchases you make that are tracked through the app. More than anything, this kind of interaction encourages app engagement, as it demonstrates additional value outside of basic features.

4. The “We Have Something Just For You” Promo

At Localytics, we’re big believers in personalized user experiences, and often, that individual touch goes a long way when it comes to email marketing. Using the recipient's name in the subject line is a standout, and time and time again proves to have higher open rates. Pair that with a limited-time offer, and you’ve got the recipe for a tempting email.

Subject line: Booking a flight, Bryn? Reserve an airport Zipcar for just $50/weekday


Considering it costs upwards of $100 to typically rent a Zipcar for a day, this promo is essentially a 50% discount. But it's not just an offer for offer sake - it meets a real need. Zipcar users need some way to get to the airport, and maybe you don't want to wait around for a ride when you get back. 

Also important? It's funny. Zipcar is playing on the desire travelers have for space and easy travel after a flight, which can have its share of negatives. While you may be thinking "I don't need to spend an extra $50 a day to leave a car at the airport," you still see that photo and know "It would at least be better than taking the subway."

5. The “Use This Editorial to Help You Choose”

App marketing doesn’t exist solely in promotions and reminders. Expanding into certain forms of content marketing and editorial direction can create a richer experience and add to your brand identity. Take a look at what Rent the Runway (RTR), a designer clothing rental service, recently sent to customers (Side note: I exclusively use the RTR app, not their website - so I know this email has come from my app profile registration and behavior). 

Subject line: Your office party dress code, decoded

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The RTR service is dependent on events; more specifically, knowing their customer has to attend an event and doesn’t want to buy a new outfit (but instead rent a designer one). They’re using email by harnessing the editorial nature of fashion and making it easy for users to shop picks for a popular holiday event.

Instead of offering a discount, showcasing new arrivals, or creating urgency, they’re simply trying to help you find the right look by highlighting the potential need (office party outfit) and giving their creative input. This experience trends more toward personal stylist territory than the retail realm, which adds a bit more credibility. Plus, it's incredibly timely and relevant to the season. 

Finding the Value

It can be easy to go overboard sending out emails when they're a fast and easy way to re-gain attention, especially when it comes to elusive app users. The key? Opting for fewer emails with greater value. Use your app analytics to determine which features, content and screens are most popular, and use that information to inform your email campaigns. Personalize your messages to the best of your ability based on the data, and make the user feel like this is another cohesive part of the experience. When your emails speak to a need, they are better received! 

Image courtesy of 
bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net