Imagine you’ve just released an amazing new product that is going to make your customer’s lives significantly better.

You craft up the launch email, add some amazing imagery and hit send.

But when you look at the reports, you notice a worrying trend. You’re getting great open rates, but your click-through rate is low. Why aren’t people excited about the new product?

It could be that the value proposition you used in your email missed the mark.

In this post, we’ll explain what a value proposition is and show you the 3 critical elements of a killer value proposition that will get your emails clicked and your products sold.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition is a short statement that concisely explains the benefits you get from using a particular product or service. A good value proposition explains to the reader what the offer is and why they should care about it and take action.

As an example, take a look at the value proposition from the announcement email of our new drag and drop email builder (formerly branded as Canvas):

A value proposition from our drag and drop email builder announcement

The value proposition here is simple and clear ”Create beautiful emails in minutes’

It tells readers what the product does (creates emails) and the benefits they will get from it (beautiful email campaigns in just minutes).

Why are value propositions important?

Value propositions are important because they are one of the first things people see in your email campaign.

Take this email from InVision for example, who use the inverted pyramid model for creating effective email campaigns:

Invision using a pyramid model for creating effective email campaigns

Everything in the email is focused on guiding the user towards the call to action at the bottom of the email, but notice what the first thing the user sees is? The value proposition.

In today’s time-stretched world where customers receive more than 121 emails every day, if your email campaign doesn’t have a relevant, appealing value proposition then you’ve killed your chances of the receiver moving further down the pyramid, reading the rest of your campaign and clicking the call to action button.

So how do you create a value proposition that instantly appeals to your reader and encourages them to read more and click-through on your call to action? Let’s dive in and take a look at the 3 critical aspects of a killer value proposition.

3 critical elements of a killer value proposition

Regardless of whether you are sending a campaign about a new product, a new feature or even a new blog post, there are 3 critical elements of a successful value proposition.

1. Clarity

One of the most common mistakes people make when crafting value propositions is thinking that they need to contain marketing buzzwords that make the product sound innovative or revolutionary.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A great value proposition uses the language your customers use and clearly explains what the product can do for them.

Consider this example found in Peep Laja’s excellent article on value propositions:

Revenue-focused marketing automation & sales effectiveness solutions that unleash collaboration throughout the revenue cycle

From reading this, do you know exactly what this product is and what it can do for you? Not likely.

Compare it to the value proposition in our previously mentioned campaign for our new email builder:

Create beautiful emails in minutes

As you can see, this value proposition makes it very clear to the reader what the product is and what it enables the user to do.

Clarity is the single most important aspect of your value proposition, and if you take anything away from this article it’s to focus on making it super simple to understand what your product or service does for your customers.

Here are a few tips for crafting a simple value proposition in your next email marketing campaign:

  • Use your customer’s language – It’s important to be using the same kind of language your customers are using to describe the product they are looking for. If your potential customers think they need an ‘email marketing tool’ for their business and you are calling your product a ‘revenue focused marketing automation and sales enablement tool’ then chances are they aren’t going to be clicking through to sign up.
  • Remove the jargon – Even if your product is ‘world-leading’ or has a ‘revolutionary’ new widget system, these kind of buzzwords are often brushed over by customers. By removing these kind of adjectives from your value proposition, you add clarity that helps people truly understand how your product can help them.

2. Benefits

People don’t buy your product or service because they simply love spending their money. They buy from you because they want to solve a problem they are experiencing or receive the benefit your product offers.

So in order to write a killer value proposition for your email campaign, you need to focus on the benefit a user will get from using your product.

Again using our campaign for our new email builder as an example, the logical thing to put in the headline would have been something like:

Introducing the world’s most advanced email builder

However we didn’t. Why? Because people don’t care about how advanced our email builder is, they care about the benefits that it gives them, like being able to ‘create beautiful emails in minutes’.

So when you are crafting the value proposition for your next email campaign, make sure to double down on the benefits the product or service you are offering provides to users rather focusing on how advanced it is or the amazing technology it includes.

3. Differentiation

Although unfortunate, it is a reality for all marketers that you will have competitors offering similar products and competing for a similar customer base.

So in order for potential customers to choose you, your value proposition must differentiate your product or service from competitors, outlining why you are the right choice for them.

Let’s again look at the value proposition from our email builder campaign:

Create beautiful emails in minutes

The differentiator here comes in the form of the ‘in minutes’ part, because anybody can create beautiful email campaigns with the right knowledge and an abundance of time. If you have the skills you can design and code your own templates, or you can even purchase templates from somewhere like ThemeForest and upload them into your chosen email marketing tool.

However, the main point of difference of our email editor is its ease of use and how it enables people to quickly and easily create beautiful campaigns, so we made sure to add that in to differentiate it from other options available to customers.

So when creating your value proposition, consider what differentiates it from the other options available to customers and make sure to highlight that in your value proposition.

Examples of killer value propositions

Now that you understand the 3 critical elements of a killer value proposition, let’s take a look at some example email campaigns and see how the value propositions hold up against our framework.

InVision App

Invision App launching TethrInVision

is a prototyping and UI mockup tool used by startups, corporations and design agencies. They used this email to announce the launch of a new tool they offered called Tethr.

The value proposition reads, “Create beautiful iOS interfaces”

Here’s how this value proposition stacks up against our 3 elements framework:

  • Clarity: The value proposition is clear and it’s easy for people to understand what the tool enables them to do. It uses the same language their audience does and there is no unnecessary jargon.
  • Benefits: The value proposition is focused purely on outlining the benefits the reader receives from using the tool (being able to create a beautiful iOS interface). There is no mention of technical details like fully-layered PSD files or vector shapes, just a 100% focus on outlining the benefit for the user.
  • Differentiation: An area they could improve the value proposition is in differentiation. There are hundreds of iOS design kits out there, so why is Tethr worth the reader’s time? Is the easiest to use? Does it have a particular feature that makes it quicker than the others? Adding a differentiator (like ‘Easily create beautiful iOS interfaces’) could have strengthened the value proposition and helped increase click-through rates.

Help Scout

Help Scout's latest blog postHelp Scout

is a simple help desk tool for software companies and online retailers. They use this email to tell users about their latest blog post.

The value proposition reads, “How to get useful feedback from your clients”

Here’s how this value proposition stacks up against our 3 elements framework:

  • Clarity: Given that this email is promoting an educational blog post, the value proposition is very clear. It uses the same kind of language customers do, and there is no unnecessary jargon or business talk that would put people off.
  • Benefits: The value proposition clearly outlines the benefits for the reader. They know exactly what they are going to learn (How to get useful feedback from clients) by clicking through and reading the full post.
  • Differentiation: Again, the main area they could improve this value proposition is in the differentiation. There are plenty of articles on collecting customer feedback on the web, so how is this one better? Is the methodology they are teaching easier to execute? Is it quicker? Adding a differentiator (Like ‘The quickest way to get useful feedback from your customers’) would help differentiate their offer from others and give readers more incentive to click-through and read the full post.

In conclusion

Regardless of whether you are sending an email to promote a new product, an event or even a simple blog post, the value proposition is incredibly important in outlining to readers what the offer is and why they should care.

So when you are crafting your next email campaign, ask yourself these 3 questions about the value proposition you have chosen:

  • Is it easy for people to understand? Will they comprehend it in the few short seconds of attention they will give it?
  • Does it focus on the benefit and make it clear to readers what they will get out of it?
  • Does it showcase why the product or service is the best option for the reader?

It’s hard to come up with compelling value propositions that tick all these boxes, so don’t think it needs to meet these criteria perfectly every time. However, if you are asking these questions about your value proposition and you can’t answer yes for at least 2 of them, then it may be time to go back to the editing screen and rewrite.

Your turn: What are your thoughts on the importance of value propositions? And are there any other elements you would consider a critical? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Thomas

    Thanks great little article, I am going to be sending out an announcement email next month and am going to split test this on my customers. Hopefully will work as well as you say :)

  • Dave

    Thanks for this. I had just read the inverted pyramid model article yesterday! One question… should the value proposition be used as the subject line of the email?

  • Aaron Beashel

    @Thomas – Thanks so much for the comment. I’m glad to hear we wrote this just in time for your announcement email! Let us know how the split test goes for you!

    @Dave – Thanks for taking the time to comment. That’s a great question and one that I wish I could definitively answer for you, but it depends on what the offer is (new blog post, new product, new feature, etc) and who you are sending the email to (customers, leads, subscribers, etc.).

    My recommendation would be to do a subject line A/B test, in one case using your normal subject line and the other using the value proposition. Whichever one gets the most opens during the test will be declared the winner and sent to the rest of your list. If this is a regular email you are sending out, I’d also suggest testing it a couple of times and you should start to see what works best for your audience. Good luck!

  • Jaina

    The “what and the why” are usually the first things I try to answer when it comes to receiving email briefs for campaigns. Not only does it help with copy writing, but just designing the email from the top down – it gives you an objective you’ve got to meet. Big believer in getting those objectives down before you even start designing.

    How would you communicate multiple value propositions? Or is that unadvisable in an email? Sometimes you’ve got a couple of actions that are key for the customer and it’s hard to nail it down to just one.

  • eko

    Ditto @Jaina, on question regarding communicating multiple value propositions. More often than not i’ve seen that situation come up. Personally, i believe that for clarity, there only need to be one (one main message, not multiple “main” messages), leading to a clear CTA. But i’m interested in what others have to say to that.

  • Aaron Beashel

    Hi Jaina and Eko

    Thanks so much for your comments and questions.

    I’m generally in agreement that you should try to have one message per email campaign where possible, and, therefore, have one optimised value proposition that leads the reader towards a call to action.

    However this isn’t always possible in all types of emails. Newsletters for instance, typically contain a summary of various events, blog posts, etc and you’re going to have multiple messages.

    In this case, I would recommend optimising each and every value proposition separately using these 3 principles and directing people towards a specific call to action for that message.

    Our monthly newsletter is a good example of this, where we have multiple content pieces all with their own value propositions, descriptions and calls to action pointing back to the post.

    Hope this helps!


  • Daniel

    Great stuff, as usual. Questions: At what stage of the buying process do these e-mail campaigns relate to? Are they a general campaign that would initiate a series of lead nurturing emails? If so, to whom are these general emails sent to? Sending to people already on your list would seem to be a step backwards, as they are already probably familiar with your offering?


  • Sakshi Kaul

    A very helpful article.Thank you for sharing! Cheers :)

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