Email Content That Generates Sales

5 Content Categories for Effective Email Marketing

You’re sitting in front of the computer screen trying to write an email to send to your email list.

And nothing comes to mind.

Not. A. Single. Thing.

What the heck are you going to write about??

We’ve all been there at some point. And it’s painful. You don’t have time to waste figuring out what to say – let alone do that on a consistent basis.

So here are some ideas to get you going. Keep reading for a summary or watch the video for more details.

Five Content Categories

Good email marketing content falls into five categories:


This is what most people think about when they hear “email marketing” – especially around the holidays. I just got a barrage of emails for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, most from companies I have no interest in. Yuck.

Unless you’re running an online store, direct promotions (what you’d typically think of as “sales emails”) should be the smallest percent of your emails – perhaps 10% of your emails would fall into this category. These are emails where you’re basically saying “here’s our product/service, it’s on sale, buy it now”. If that’s all you ever send, it’ll get old pretty quickly and you’ll likely see unsubscribe rates increase.

Having said that, realize that every email you send is in some ways a promotion. You’re always “selling” something, whether that’s a product/service or yourself, your company, your expertise/knowledge, etc.

Try mixing up your promotions. For example, try offering discounts/sales, bonuses for referrals, extra services for a limited time, special offers on new services/products, or reduced rates if they pay before the end of the year for services scheduled over the winter.

Tip – Focus on what’s in it for your readers, rather than the service or product itself.


This will be the majority of your emails, especially if you’re a service provider (rather than retail). The goal is to educate your subscribers to help them understand the benefits of what you offer. The more they understand what it is and how it will help them, the more likely they are to buy.

So what can you educate subscribers about?

Think through the kinds of questions you typically get from customers. Answer them.

What are your service or product offerings? Describe the value that customers get out of it – how does it make their life better, easier, safer, more productive, etc.? They don’t care about your service or product, just about the benefits for them.

“Case studies” showcasing a particular customer and their results can work wonders (get permission first, of course). Before and after photos are usually a big hit.

Look at the typical problems your customers face. Show them how to solve those problems.

Still stuck?

Try looking at the questions people ask in online forums, blog comments, or sites like Quora and Reddit.

If you write a blog, or publish content on LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium, etc., then take a look at the topics that got the most engagement. Those are good candidates for your email marketing.

And ask questions. People love to feel that they’re valued and included. If you ask, they’ll tell you what they want to know. Ask them what they’re struggling with or confused about, what strange things they’re noticing in their yard, or how well specific products (e.g., plants, treatments, tools) are working for them.


What do your subscribers need to know? What would be helpful for them?

Inform them of

  • upcoming events (e.g., talks, webinars, conferences, charity events that you’re involved with, local community events like Christmas tree lightings, light displays, Xmas tree recycling),
  • changes that impact their lives (e.g., legal issues, new products or product recalls, weather), and
  • what’s going on in your business (e.g., new staff, improved invoicing process, holiday hours, special holiday products or services).

Keep the information timely and relevant to your readers.


This isn’t necessarily a content category that requires a separate email of its own – unless your readers expect to be entertained. But do try to work some of the “entertainment factor” into your emails. Not all your emails need to be serious.

Be careful with jokes, but consider including videos, photos of fun things related to your business, comics, and stories.

Relationship Building

Ultimately, the goal of email marketing is to increase sales.

But you start by building a relationship with your subscribers. People who feel that they know you are more likely to like and trust you.

And who are you most likely to buy from? Yup – someone you trust.

So tell short (and relevant) stories about yourself, show people what a day in your life looks like, introduce your pet or family or employees, give a behind the scenes tour of your business.

Don’t be overly familiar with your readers or share anything that could put your personal security at risk, but do give them a glimpse into who you are and what motivates you.

Let your personality shine through.

So, what are YOU going to write about today?  Let me know in the comments below!

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