Discover The Secrets of Email Secret Sales

Everyone loves a juicy secret. Whether you have dirt on your neighbor or your own sneaky tidbit of information to keep under wraps, there’s no denying the allure of getting to the bottom of a secret.

3 Creative Ways to Use Click Tracking

Everyone loves a juicy secret. Whether you have dirt on your neighbor or your own sneaky tidbit of information to keep under wraps, there’s no denying the allure of getting to the bottom of a secret.

When we’re not “in the know,” it’s human nature to exercise our curiosity and seek out the truth. When we’re kept in the loop, we feel special and privileged.

Your email marketing can appeal to those emotions, too. You want subscribers to feel privy to select information about your company. After all, that’s one reason you have an email campaign in the first place – to keep customers and prospects in the loop.

By positioning promotions as “secrets,” you can create buzz and start a game of whisper down the lane with your subscribers, hoping they will spread the word to their friends who weren’t as lucky to hear from you first.


When it comes to secret persuasions, Bloomingdale’s certainly has the right idea.

For their first ever online secret sale, they rolled out invitations only to email subscribers. The beauty of this tactic? It’s not really secret at all. Bloomie’s wants their readers to forward the message to friends and chat the event up.


How You Can Do It:

At first glance, it may seem like Bloomingdale’s can execute this kind of campaign because they have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on email marketing. Looking closer, however, there’s no reason that you can’t have the same impact with your own campaign.

  1. Create a broadcast message that promotes a “secret” limited time event. Use urgent language to inspire quick clicks.
  2. You don’t have to make a coupon code or get technical about sales deductions. Notice that Bloomie’s never mentions a code, they just include a link to the “sale” page on their site.


Everyone loves scratch-off coupons. It’s like playing the lottery, but always winning!

Overstock offers email subscribers a virtual scratch-off coupon in this genius email. The added element of the unknown inspired me to click through and see what item I could get a good deal on that day.


How You Can Do It:

  1. Pick an item on your site that you want to make the special sale item and copy the URL.
  2. Save the following coupon images to your computer, then upload one to your website and use it in your next email. Link it to the special sale item, and you have a mystery sale item instantly!


Rue La La’s Secret Suite invitation is another brilliant use of secrecy. The very idea of a guest list oozes exclusivity. If you’re not on the list at the hottest club in town, you’re not getting in, right?


How You Can Do It:

  1. You’ve already got your guest list, so the hard part’s complete.
  2. The trick is writing an email that uses language to paints a portrait of limited access. Using phrases like “under-the-radar” and “exclusive” lets your subscribers believe that they are special for receiving the email from you, which increases the odds that they will click through and purchase something from you.

Have You Ever Run a Secret Sale Campaign?

What kind of language did you use to inform subscribers of the sale? Were your emails successful? Share your experiences below!


  1. Lucille Flint

    1/13/2011 10:51 am

    I really, really like this idea! Not exactly sure how to execute it. Any ideas?

  2. Jared Kimball

    1/13/2011 11:23 am

    Rebecca, I really like the secret sale item (Tactic #2). The illusion of a scratch off or something that’s hidden pushes on people’s curiosity buttons and is a very effective way to drive clicks.

    We live in an age of email engagement, and every offer we send needs to have purpose and peak interest. If engagement stays high than it exponentially increases sales.

    The key is keeping fleeting and wandering people interested…

    On a side note: I noticed how the email for Overstock has a search bar in it’s email. That’s a great idea and I’m currently testing to see how it works for my email marketing training campaigns.

    Awesome post Rebecca…keep ’em coming 🙂

  3. Sean Breslin

    1/13/2011 3:07 pm

    Like jared I’m interested in how it can be used in my webinar software campaigns. The result should be interesting!

  4. Michael Webb

    1/13/2011 6:06 pm

    I use this a lot in my follow-up campaigns and newsletters. It not only helps increase open rates, the “secrets” can entice a reader to go to the sales page to find out what is in store.

    Everyone wants to know a good secret.

  5. Jeetesh

    1/14/2011 4:59 am

    This is one of the best articles I have read in some time – very useful. Thank you very much, I will implimenting these tactics.

  6. Rebecca Swayze

    1/14/2011 10:07 am

    Thanks for your comments, everyone!

    Lucille – I would suggest using a coupon image that indicates a secret sale item (like the one we provide in the post). That’s the easiest way to indicate subscribers must click through.

    Jared and Sean – I can’t wait to hear how this tactic works for you!

  7. John Anderson

    1/14/2011 6:38 pm

    I can get used to this. I love how you network together, keep up the good work.

  8. John

    1/15/2011 12:11 pm

    How would I do a double opt-in
    as a show of urgency?

  9. Omar Pacheco

    1/15/2011 10:18 pm

    I can not wait to try these strategies, I am sure the result will be very good. Thanks.

  10. Ryan

    1/16/2011 3:34 am

    I think it’s because i am always logging in for email marketing but still…

    This is the only blog I read on a consistent basis. However of a small compliment that seems trust me, it’s a big one.


  11. Alan Ashwood

    1/17/2011 5:31 am

    Thanks for thee ideas, I like most of them, and will remember to return to this page when I’m ready.

    I haven’t signed up to Aweber yet, due to payment issues, but hope to find a solution very soon.

    Thanks for the tips.

  12. Rebecca Swayze

    1/17/2011 9:07 am

    Ryan – Thank you so much! That means a lot to every one of us who works on the blog.

  13. Bilal Ahmad

    1/17/2011 2:35 pm

    I am still in the process of learning Email Marketing and Aweber Features. I have my personal mailing list and can’t yet utilize it properly. Hope i will soon learn all the basics and jump into this marketing channel.

  14. Dave

    1/17/2011 7:59 pm

    I’ve seen similar techniques where an offer is made to me because “I’m a most-highly valued customer”. That’s never resonated with me.

    But this approach is eliminates that “shameless selling” and replaces it with sheer genius!

    Thanks for the post! It’s got the gears in my mind spinning with ideas already!

  15. Yee Shun-Jian

    1/19/2011 5:12 am

    I’ve had JV partners help me customize landing pages on their campaigns so I can offer exclusive deals to my subscribers. Maybe some of you will find it useful (to ask your JV partners to do that for you)


  16. Jared Kimball

    1/20/2011 11:13 pm

    @john I noticed your question, “How would I do a double opt-in
    as a show of urgency?”

    I wrote a post to help answer your question and give you some email marketing training at the same time.

    I hope it helps.

  17. Liat

    1/22/2011 6:52 pm

    What fantastic ideas (as usual)! Thank you for always giving ideas about how to implement these ideas in our own lists.

    And thanks for the coupon graphics!

  18. SM

    2/1/2011 9:09 am

    Pretty cool ideas, thanks.

  19. John James

    3/13/2011 9:26 am

    Hey Rebecca,

    These are good pointers, keep this going!