Going for Gold: Who Earned Best Email Overall?

Posted by Laura Christensen 

After recognizing gold-medal-worthy Welcome Emails, subject lines and brand tie-in for companies featured in the 2016 Email Olympics, we’re back to recognize the best overall emails. Our top three emails are examples of how effective storytelling, timeliness, and relevance can give email marketers the winning edge with subscribers.

And the winners are…

GOLD: Brooks Sports
Subject Line: Just released: Cascadia 2189
Pre-header: Inspired by Scott Jurek’s epic run on the Appalachian TrailBrooks Sports
Read Rate: 21%

Why We Like It:

  • Brooks uses effective storytelling to connect subscribers to the product. Brooks’ strong message “be part of the legacy” motivates and inspires subscribers to buy in a non-salesy way.
  • In an inbox filled with promotional emails, Brooks understands the value of email content and product positioning. Promoting the product through storytelling allows them to educate subscribers about the product in an entertaining, memorable way.
  • Although the email promotes a single product, the approach strengthens the emotional connection Brooks is building between subscribers and their brand.
  • Effective use of the pre-header compels subscribers to open the email.
  • “Free Shipping” promotion is visible within the preview pane.
  • Attention-grabbing social media icons make it easy for subscribers to stay connected with Brooks.

Nike Unlimited You


Subject Line: Unlimited You
Pre-header: Celebrate the Moment with Team USA
Read Rate: 18%

Why We Like It:

  • Nike shares a message that is both motivating and inspiring, and the corresponding use of video in email can boost click-through rates. Nike can improve the video experience by making sure the landing page subscribers click to features the video at the top instead of requiring subscribers to scroll to the bottom to find the video.
  • The video play button is visible within the pre-header. Subscribers can also click the “Watch the Film” button below the message.
  • Nike plugs into the current relevance of the Olympic Games with the pre-header “Celebrate the Moment with Team USA” and a callout for their Team USA Collection within the email.


Subject Line: The Games Are In Full SwingNike Celebrate Team USA
Pre-header: Grab a piece of history and get the official gear of Team USA
Read Rate: 16%

What We Like:

  • Nike continues tying into the timely relevance of the Olympic Games with a reference to the USAB games underway, and images of Team USA alongside the “Team USA” Collection.
  • A compelling pre-header supports the subject line and prompts email opens.
  • The initial call-to-action is visible within the pre-header.
  • Since the subscriber’s gender is unknown, Nike is mindful of featuring clothes for both men and women, and even includes a call-out for boys’ and girls’ clothing.

Ready to take your email performance to the next level? Learn how to build better subscriber relationships, increase engagement and drive revenue. We’ll meet you at the podium!

Author Image

About Laura Christensen

Laura Christensen is an Email Strategist on Return Path's Professional Services Team with a passion for helping email marketers exceed subscriber expectations. With over 15 years experience in the email industry, Laura has worked with a broad range of clients to provide strategic, data-driven guidance to increase email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Author Archive