This article originally appeared in MediaPost on July 19, 2012.
The thing about great strategies and approaches to the email channel is that they are very specific and unique to a brand, or even a product line – they don't necessarily translate across every vertical or even brands within a vertical. Your email program and its success is as unique as the swirls and loops on your thumb. However, the premise of great email is very similar, but daunting: Give your subscribers what they want.
What makes this task daunting is that what (s)he wants today can be different from tomorrow. Heck – (s)he may not even know (s)he wants or needs something until you deliver it to the inbox. As email marketers, we need to be fluid in the approach, the strategy, the content and context we are delivering to the customer.
Here are some recent programs that have grabbed the attention of our internal brain trust – we pass these around our already crowded inboxes with comments like, "This is a great idea," or, "Nice use of an animated .gif." You know you all do this too!
Message:Black Friday-like Deals All Week
It isn't so much about the unique way Target has positioned the sale, "Black Friday in July," which is interesting in and of itself. But what really stood out to our Creative Director was that when he didn't open the email the first time, a few days later he got another one with an altered subject line that said, "We'll try this again."
Following up on email that wasn't opened isn't necessarily a new idea – but is it a tactic that is leveraged enough? It isn't something you would want to do with every email you send, but if you have a particularly public sale or opportunity and a sub-segment of your audience that either consistently opens or engages online, this could be a great way to "remind" them about your offer. It is also important to inject some personality into the copy and align the tone with your brand.
Message:Last Item Available
This is all about timing. At Yoox.com you can save items that you may want to purchase in your "dream box." The items you place are color and size specific so that you can purchase at a later date in a turnkey way. Even better, the company’s email communications are tied to inventory, so that when only one of your chosen items is left, an email is triggered to inform you of that fact.
This approach is not only relevant (as it is an item the consumer has preselected and identified), but it also uses the "urgency" approach, highlighting the need to act quickly to get the item you want.
Fab actually gets two on this list, because we think their email messages are, well...Fab.
Message: Customize your email messages
Gaining further information from customers to better position your marketing efforts is always something marketers struggle with. Fab sent a dedicated email communication to subscribers to encourage them to update preferences, but it goes beyond that. Fab executes this very effectively by outlining in the email itself the types of email communications the company sends, how frequently each of them come, and then telling recipients that they are in "full control of the inbox." For control freaks like me, no other statement could be better!
Message:Get ready today - Next week Fab reinvents social shopping. Again.
Nothing like a good teaser. Our Global Strategic Services Director thought this one was a winner. Introducing a new concept to engaged users in advance of a launch is always a good idea. If you have an audience of people who are opening, clicking or converting from your email communications, it’s safe to say that they are a more engaged customer than someone who does not receive your email communications. Give your email subscribers advanced access to new, cool stuff. Again, not a brand-new concept, but certainly effective.
What great email campaigns have you seen lately?