I, like everyone else, am deluged by emails on a daily basis: emails from clothing companies, printed publications, online publications, Groupon, the list goes on and on. The overwhelming majority of the time, I simply glance at these emails without reading (or caring to read) the content. But every now and again I receive an email that exemplifies creative, original, and most importantly, effective email marketing.
I scoured my inbox and culled a few of said examples from the thousands of sub-par emails currently housed there (I don’t hit delete or unsubscribe near often enough). I wanted to analyze why these emails inspire me to click and what they do differently from the ineffective emails by which I’m inundated. A couple hours on Gmail later, after mining for the paragons of email marketing campaigns, I discovered several gems that stand out amongst the menacing crowd camped out in my inbox.
Number 1: Simply Personal
The clothing brand Lilly Pulitzer recently sent me the above email advertising new dresses from their fall collection. This email captured my attention with its simple and clean design: white space juxtaposed with brightly colored text and a single image. It’s also extremely straightforward, brief, and to the point; it’s not too busy, and it doesn’t feel cluttered due to an excessive amount of text. Also, while it doesn’t address me by my first name, it uses personalized marketing tactics in a different way: it states ”This fall, we have developed four brand new laces just for you – we’re certain they’ll make your memorable moments even more magnificent”. Unfortunately, no designer will ever develop clothes just for me, so I know this statement isn’t entirely true, but I still think it’s effective, because it generates warm feelings toward the Lilly Pulitzer brand; it makes it seem that the brand places its customers first.
Additionally, when I clicked from the email to one of the three landing pages, I noticed that there was a stylistic similarity between the email and the landing page: both contain the same white background and pink text. It’s a small detail, but I think there’s something to be said for the comforting predictability inspired by this branding consistency.
Number 2: Free Resources for the Win
Yelp sends out “The Weekly Yelp” to its registered users. This newsletter-type email is probably one of the few emails I read in its entirety.
For one, it’s highly relevant, because the content is written about my hometown. The Weekly Yelp is also akin to a free resource: it tells me all about the most popular Buffalo restaurants, based on Yelp users’ rave reviews. Yelp spotlights a different category of restaurants each week. This type of email makes things easy for me: it serves up the best restaurants on a silver platter and links directly to the Yelp page for each restaurant mentioned, so I don’t have to go hunting for the restaurants myself. Yelp also links to other timely “On The Radar” topics, additional things in which I might be interested.
Also, even though this email is text heavy, it’s filled with engaging and easy-to-read content. It’s written in a casual tone and peppered with quotes from everyday people, so it has that charming vernacular quality in addition to a likeable levity. A free resource articulated in a way that grabs my attention and makes me want to keep reading ensures that I’ll never disregard emails of this variety.
Number 3: Soft Sells That Encourage Me to Purchase
The clothing store Anthropologie sent me the following email a few days after I placed an item in my shopping bag. I thought this email was clever in its sales tactic: a polite, tactful, “rather lovely”, soft strategy that manages to avoid being too soft by including a call to action and a link that directs me to a sign-in page from where completing my purchase is only a few clicks away. And, because Anthropologie doesn’t want me to abandon my shopping cart without committing to another item, they offer me viable alternatives. They don’t bombard me with shallow calls to action like “Buy now!” or “Hurry and purchase before it’s gone!” They’re much more refined and ask if I’m ready to take the purchasing plunge, and more importantly, they don’t try to guilt me into making the purchase. The store accepts that I might have changed my mind, and they’re very nonchalant and casual about it, presenting me with other choices in the form of a linked call to action.
Also, even though Anthropologie’s end goal is to convert me into a paying customer, they make the email all about me: they applaud my fashion taste (I’ve left something in my shopping bag), and they give me other options by providing me a direct link to their “new arrivals” just in case I’ve changed my mind. It feels very customized, as if they’re catering directly to me.
I receive emails from clothing stores with an embarrassing frequency, but I’ve never received anything like this one before.
Number 4: On a First Name Basis
I once purchased from the brand Jack Rogers on the flash sales site Rue La La. When Rue La La planned to host another Jack Rogers sale, they sent me the above email. They address me by name (twice), something I like and something proven to be an effective marketing tactic. Dan Zarrella’s research shows that personalized emails have higher click through rates, and Christa Carone, Chief Marketing Officer at Xerox, stated in Forbes that adding personalization in the subject line lifted open rates for Xerox by an average of 40%. This email is also personalized in another way because it was sent out based on past purchases I’ve made. It lets me know that Rue La La knows my personal preferences.
This email also uses those soft selling techniques, but they still directly prompt me to take action: the free shipping countdown in the upper right corner and the option to have Rue La La send me a reminder about the sale both remind me that the site has a highly time-sensitive nature.
Parting Ways via Email
Unfortunately, while paging through the emails in my inbox, I realized that the businesses with ineffective, generic, even robotic email marketing campaigns far outnumber the ones with effective campaigns.
Couple annoying emails with extreme email clutter, and sometimes clicking the “unsubscribe” link becomes necessary. Though, just like some companies simply fail at email marketing, some also fail at making unsubscribing easy and painless. (Behind my computer screen, I’m currently scowling at those brands that hide the unsubscribe button amidst a large amount of tiny text at the very bottom of an email.)