Home Resources Blog

Email marketing brings more ROI than all social media sites combined, and many brands now use email newsletters as a cornerstone of their marketing strategies.

But are your email newsletters as effective as they could be?

If you’re not designing your campaigns the right way, then you might not be capturing your audience’s attention and getting your key messages across, and this can result in fewer people clicking through from your campaigns than you’d like.

That’s where the inverted pyramid model comes in.

In this post, we’ll teach you what the inverted pyramid model is and show you how to use it to create more effective and engaging email newsletters.

What is the inverted pyramid model and why does it work?

Research shows that an adult’s attention span is, on average, eight seconds.

With such a short attention span, you can’t assume people will actually read your campaigns word for word. Instead, it’s likely that they’ll quickly scan over them.

Because of this, it’s important to deliberately structure your campaigns so that they draw in these scanning readers and focus their attention on the key elements of your campaign.

The inverted pyramid model can help you do exactly that. It’s essentially a framework for structuring the elements of your email campaigns (headers, imagery, buttons, etc.) so that they work together to draw people in, deliver the key messages of your campaign and get them to click-through.

freshbooks email newsletter pyramidAs you can see from the example above, emails following the model start with a succinct headline that highlights the key message of the campaign (known as the value proposition), before presenting supporting information and imagery to help convince readers of the benefits of clicking-through.

Finally, the reader is then presented with a prominent call to action button that makes it crystal clear what they should do next.

As you can see, the inverted pyramid model works particularly well for campaigns with a single message and a single call to action, but what about email campaigns that contain multiple messages and calls to action, such as a newsletter?

Turns out, the inverted pyramid model also works extremely well for those types of campaigns too.

InVision’s weekly email newsletter is an excellent example of this:

Despite containing multiple pieces of content, the information is broken down into easily consumable sections. The inverted pyramid model is used within each section to draw scanning readers in and drive them to the call to action button.

How to integrate the inverted pyramid model into your email newsletter

The inverted pyramid model is a relatively easy concept to understand, as it’s highly visual.

However, your success with the model can vary based on your chosen imagery, your copywriting skills, and a number of other factors.

To help you get the biggest increase in your email click-through rate using the model, follow the 4 simple steps below.

1. Create a killer 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.

Take a look at this great example from Campaign Monitor customer Rip Curl, whose succinct value proposition “The World’s Fastest Drying Wetsuit” explains clearly what the product is and why their audience should care about it.

Rip Curl value proposition
There are 3 key elements of a value proposition that, when combined, can help grab your reader’s attention and deliver your key messages.

Clarity

A great value proposition clearly explains what the product can do for your readers.

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 seen in the first campaign from Freshbooks:

Turn Unpaid Invoices into Cash

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

Clarity is the single most important aspect of your value proposition, and it’s critical that your chosen value proposition makes it simple to understand what your product or service does for your customers.

Benefits

People don’t buy your product or service because they love spending 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.

Looking at the Rip Curl example above, the logical thing to put in the headline would have been something like:

Introducing the world’s most advanced wetsuit

However, they didn’t. Why? Because people don’t care about the advanced technology inside the wetsuit, they care about the fact that it’s not going to be wet and cold when they put it on.

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

Differentiation

Although unfortunate, it’s a reality for all marketers that you’ll 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 Rip Curl’s campaign:

The world’s fastest drying wetsuit

Rip Curl isn’t the only company in the world producing wetsuits. In fact, it’s a $100 million industry with many competitors.

Because of this, Rip Curl has to differentiate their product from their competitors, and they do so very well by focusing their marketing on the fact that it’s the fastest drying suit on the market.

So when you’re creating your value proposition for your next campaign, make sure you also consider what differentiates it from the other options available to customers and highlight that in your value proposition.

2. Use amazing imagery

Research shows that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, making them a critical part of the inverted pyramid model.

Take InVision’s campaign as an example. They use well-designed imagery that specifically supports the key message they are trying to get across in each content section.

email newsletter invision imagery

 

If you’re like most marketers who don’t have Photoshop skills and a design background, creating beautiful images like this can seem out of reach.

However, using tools like Campaign Monitor, you can crop, resize, brighten, sharpen, and enhance images to create professional-looking designs in minutes right from within the email builder. You can ever add text and buttons over images and buttons over images to create modern, professional designs and drive more engagement.

Here are a few other tools and resources that can help you create images for your campaigns, including:

  • Canva – A simple, online graphic design tool built to help marketers like you create amazing images for your campaigns.
  • Unsplash – An online archive of beautiful, free stock photography that you can download and use in your email marketing campaigns.

3. Write succinct copy

In today’s world of increasing distractions and short attention spans, it’s clear that writing long paragraphs of text in your email campaigns isn’t the best approach.

Instead, you need to write short, succinct copy that gets your key messages across in the most simple way.

As an example, take a look at HelpScout’s campaign promoting their latest blog post. They use succinct, easy-to-read copy to explain what the post is about and the benefits reading it will bring.

Help Scout email newsletter using the inverted pyramid

Good copywriting can be challenging, but fortunately, there are a number of copywriting formulas that marketers like you can use to write succinct, compelling copy that gets results. These include:

4. Include a prominent call to action

The final step in creating an effective email using the inverted pyramid model is adding a prominent call to action.

There are a number of ways you can do this, but our own testing shows that using a large button delivers the best results.

In fact, we were able to get a 28% increase in conversions when we tested using a button as opposed to just a text link.

As an example, take a look at Authentic Job’s campaign promoting their latest product feature. They use a prominent call to action button at the bottom of the email to make it very clear to readers what the next step is.

createCTA-09-v1 (1)

If you’re a Campaign Monitor customer, you can easily add beautiful buttons that work across all devices by simply dragging and dropping the button wherever you need it.

email newsletter buttonAlternatively, if you’re not a Campaign Monitor customer you can use our Bulletproof Button Tool to create customized buttons that will work across all devices. You select the options you want, enter the text for your button and then copy and paste the code into whatever email tool you’re using.

Wrap up

Email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your subscribers on a consistent basis, and leveraging the inverted pyramid model can help you make your newsletters more engaging and effective.

By guiding a subscriber’s eye down the page to your CTA, you’ll encourage them to click through to explore more of what you have to offer, resulting in better brand awareness, more web traffic, and ultimately more sales.

The inverted pyramid model has a lot to offer, whether it’s used in newsletters, product emails, or other promotions. It’s up to you to take advantage of the model. We can’t wait to see what you do!

  • Reasonablygood

    Great article. We mention this ourselves in a post about how we designed our own email communications http://reasonablygood.com/5-tips-to-create-engaging-email-campaigns/

  • Jaina

    Great article. I wonder if there are many publicly available test results on how people scan/read emails. Where their eyes go. I know there’s a name for this test, but it alludes me right now! It used to be that your content should mimic the letter F, but think this inverse pyramid is more inline with what technologies are being used to open emails these days – mobiles devices. *thumbs up*

  • Tom

    Nice guys!

    It seems like I am NOT leading with a killer value proposition in my weekly newsletters, will improve this week and will monitor CTR’s :)

    Keep em’ coming!
    Tom

  • Campaign Monitor

    Thanks for your comment Tom! It’s always nice to hear when our posts give people new learnings and ideas that they can apply to their campaigns.

    Let us know how the test goes!

  • Lana Topham

    I think it all goes back to, “Don’t make me think..”. Make it as easier as possible for your reader to process your content and take action, if applicable. Nice, clean design with a very obvious CTA. Nice article!

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
Straight to your inbox

Get the best email and digital marketing content delivered.

Join 250,000 in-the-know marketers and get the latest marketing tips, tactics, and news right in your inbox.

Subscribe

See why 200,000 companies worldwide love Campaign Monitor.

From Australia to Zimbabwe, and everywhere in between, companies count on Campaign Monitor for email campaigns that boost the bottom line.

Get started for free