‘Is email marketing dead?’ is a blog title or LinkedIn post I often read amongst the SEO and digital marketing community. It’s a valid question in the post GDPR age, where huge amounts of time and effort need to be put into building customer lists and creating a brand that people genuinely want to hear from. But, when done properly, it’s a hugely valuable channel that can turn your ‘maybe laters’ into ‘yes please’.
As someone with 41,112 unread emails in my personal email inbox, you’d likely think that all of the companies emailing me are wasting their time. But there are a few brands that always manage to slip into my ‘focused’ inbox every single time, because they are doing email marketing in the right way. And for those brands, I am a very loyal customer.
With email marketing, you can bring your brand, your products and your news to the forefront of someone’s mind on a weekly basis, for a fraction of the cost of many other channels. Well curated email marketing is invaluable for making your potential and past customers choose you over your competitors when the time comes. Below are some fantastic examples of email marketing from brands that always manage to make me spend my money.
Dancing Leopard know exactly why their customers buy their clothes. They focus on where you can wear their clothes to – the parties, the BBQ’s, the sunny days – selling a feeling, rather than a specific item. They paint vivid and emotional pictures of the types of events you can wear the clothes to, as well as using amazing photography, gifs, and annotations to show the details in their clothes.
Their emails are as beautiful as their dresses, and are a real delight to consume when they drop into your inbox.
They also have clever reminders set up when they know you’ve been looking longingly at an item but then haven’t checked out. YES it really did catch my eye and I’ll be back for you La Palma Maxi, I promise!
Bloom & Wild
Here I go again, harping on about Bloom & Wild. Well, they deserve it. If you want another example of email marketing done right, look no further. This letterbox flowers company use timely emails at key events such as Mother’s Day & Father’s Day, as well as sending some very well copy written emails around the ‘just because’ gifts. They also have great automated emails set up to remind you of the times you’ve sent flowers to your loved ones in the past. Their use of discount codes are spot on, always using time incentives alongside the discounts to create a sense of urgency. As with everything with Bloom & Wild, the copywriting is absolutely perfect.
The Marketing Meetup
Joe from The Marketing Meetup puts a smile on my face every time I open one of his weekly emails. I often screenshot his intro sentences and send them to my colleagues – and what better marketing for the brand is that? Opening his emails and getting called an ‘underdog who eventually gets the trophy’, a ‘satisfying and fulfilling series finale’ and my recent favourite, a ‘reunion of a much loved canned laughter based sitcom’, means that I will always open his emails regardless of how busy I am.
If you didn’t know that you were about to get the best compliment of your day, the subject lines do a very persuasive job of getting you to open the email.
The rest of the content also adds genuine value – I always benefit from taking the time to read them. The tone of voice in the emails (which is supported by how lovely Joe is when hosting his webinars) make you feel like he’s your mate rather than a person you don’t know. I think I would definitely start chatting away to him if I bumped into him in the supermarket, completely forgetting that he has no idea who I am.
I must admit, it’s not very hard to persuade me to get a takeaway. But, in a very saturated market, deliveroo stands out from the likes of their competitors JustEat & UberEats with excellent email marketing to tempt you to get that late night snack. The emails are timely, with great offers, good imagery and they always manage to hit your inbox when you’re starving and bored of everything in your fridge.
When talking to clients about email marketing, I always use Pizza Express as an example of nailing their Birthday emails. There was a point in my life where every year, around my birthday, me and some friends would go for a Romana Padana. I’m not even a massive fan of the restaurant, and that was probably the only time in the year I went. Why, you may ask? Because I get free Prosecco!
There are hundreds of pizza restaurants to choose from, and this is one of the ways Pizza Express ensure that they will get people who love a freebie (which is surely all people) through the doors at least once a year. It also is a great call to action to encourage more people to sign up to your email list.
When it comes to personalisation, BuzzFeed have it nailed. While it’s true they have a huge amount of resource at their disposal, it feels like there are thousands of different BuzzFeed newsletters you can sign up to, entirely tailored to your own tastes.
Whether it’s political news, movies and TV, celebrity gossip, YouTubers, quizzes, community posts or even the Dog a Day, there is honestly something for everyone. Allowing users to choose the content they interact with is not only great practice from a GDPR standpoint, but it’s also a win for marketers too. They’re also super transparent about what you’ll get and how often you’ll get it while letting you customise your own tailored newsletter subscription!
Whose emails always get you, hook line and sinker? I’ve always got room in my inbox for great emails – share your favourites with me!
If you’re looking for design, branding, inspiration, creativity, and great email concepts to inspire your next campaign, Spotify is one of the best to look at. They have a whole breadth of emails, including weekly roundups, artist recommendations to keep users coming back and merch and live show drops to get users invested in the brand.
They also use email marketing as a promotional tool for their exciting brand campaigns – Playlist in a Bottle, Pet Playlists, Blends, and (of course!) Spotify Wrapped, to name just a few.
As an email marketing platform themselves, you’d hope that Litmus have got their eye on the email marketing ball – and you’d be right! For Litmus, getting the most out of their platform means eye-catching designs that keep readers enthused.
You can often find them using GIFs, embedded video and other moving elements in their emails in order to grab your attention. Be wary though, for some platforms, moving elements can be more complicated than they appear. If you’re looking to emulate Litmus’ approach, make sure you have some design and development experience on-hand.
HubSpot’s business and tech newsletter takes a slightly different approach than many news sites. Instead of filling their newsletters with story thumbnails and sending users to their site, they’ve opted for a minimal user journey. Their biggest deep-dive stories are displayed in full on their emails, so users don’t have to go anywhere else for their news.
It’s not an approach that works for everyone, but for these guys, it helps build loyalty and increase engagement in the busy busy lives of their users.
If you’re looking for excellence across the email marketing sphere, look no further than Airbnb. From their welcome journey through to retargeting emails, the process is streamlined, slick, and designed to get users invested with their experience.
You might say that it’s an easy job to get people engaged when it comes to booking their holidays – after all, it’s something nearly all of us want to do! However, the research phase for a purchase like somewhere to stay on holiday can be incredibly long and takes up a lot of mental energy. This is where email marketing is so important – keeping people engaged with their search even if they’re finding it tough to keep going is no mean feat.
Tuft & Needle
Abandoned card email flows are one of the most powerful tools in an email marketers arsenal.
However, they can be hard to get right.
Too vague, irrelevant, or salesy and you might well lose a customer for good.
Tuft & Needle manage this by creating abandoned cart emails that don’t really look like abandoned cart emails.
Their abandoned cart flow is structured like a three-part story, with the only “Go to Cart” CTA right at the bottom. Before that, they spend time empathising with what has drawn the customer off the site in the first place (that mattress shopping sucks), and provided them with advice and guidance in the form of a guide.
True to form, Patagonia mixes their promotional email marketing with campaigns representing their brand values.
Their email marketing acts as an avenue for not just their commercial ventures, but also for promoting schemes that don’t make them any money (which is something their most loyal customers are not just receptive to, but actively expect).
Sometimes, less is more.
That’s Glossier’s entire brand philosophy, and it extends to their email marketing.
While they do regular sales, promotions, and abandoned cart flows like any e-commerce business should be, they also pepper in some emails for their subscribers that are based on building their brand image and customer loyalty only.
This incredibly simple email has the subject line “Happy Sunday”. That’s all.
Super simple, but stands out in a crowded inbox full of emojis and “% off”s. Plus, every element in this email is still clickable, and brings a user onto Glossier’s product pages, innocuously kickstarting a browse and triggering the very start of the messy middle process.
Does a single Friday (or any other day, for that matter) go by without a notification and an accompanying email discount code from Uber Eats?
Picking perfectly-timed email sends and partnering with their local takeaway businesses means that Uber Eats is almost always at the front of my mind when I can’t be bothered to cook.
While lots of these emails will end up dismissed or ignored if they’re not relevant, users are unlikely to unsubscribe completely because of how useful this content is at saving them money when they really need it.
A brand that’s grown based on community, Mob Kitchen’s subscriber exclusives are a way to keep users engaged while also giving them value, rather than just bombarding them with information.
Alongside lots of other carefully crafted email copy (all perfectly in line with the company’s brand voice), these subscriber-exclusive recipes give users a real sense of being an insider with the organisation. That kind of value just can’t be bought! The recipe is then right there in the email, with no additional sales or tie-in. Just good, old-fashioned value for users.
Indie greetings card marketplace Thortful make sure to be just that – thoughtful – in their email marketing campaigns. They intelligently ask users to self-identify as interested or not in certain occasions throughout the year. While this does have value for marketers behind the scenes, the main function here is empathy, which is something customers will recognise and remember.
Every year, around 4 weeks in advance, Thortful will ask in advance if users want to receive emails about upcoming celebrations, including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and then remove them from the promotional list if the answer is no.
It’s a small gesture, but one that can be incredibly valuable for people who might find certain times of year more difficult than others.
Her First $100K
Her First $100K is a platform built by Tori Dunlap and promoting Financial Feminism – helping women take control of their savings, investments, budgets and other financial issues.
Her First $100K base lots of their brand messaging around Tori (who also has a significant social following, particularly on TikTok), and their emails represent this really well.
As a meditation and mindfulness app, having a consistent, welcoming brand voice is absolutely vital for Headspace. Their emails exemplify this, using an impeccably crafted tone of voice and bright, welcoming visuals.
It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it does exactly what the company wants it too, and provides new users with positivity, help, guidance and support. Which is exactly what they’re looking for.
M&S Food do a fantastic job of integrating their emails fully with the rest of their marketing. My lovely colleague Lauren recently picked up some eggs and scanned her Sparks card while she did so – a day later she received this email!
This email contained recipe ideas, wine pairings, notes on the farm where her eggs came from, and promoting M&S cookware to make said lovely recipe ideas!
This one stuck in her mind specifically as a really clever way of putting out highly targeted and relevant omnichannel email communications, and I’d agree!
When it comes to knowing your audience, Mumsnet has their email marketing nailed!
CTO at Mumsnet Shamim Mirzai told ActiveCampaign about their strategy for their pregnancy newsletter:
“The pregnancy newsletter is fully automated and uses the mother’s due date as the trigger to send emails. We record the due date through a custom email signup form and use that custom field to schedule emails that the expectant subscriber will receive. This approach is a really effective use of automation, and it’s creative too.”
At Embryo, we’re always on the hunt for new ideas and perspectives in the marketing world, including when it comes to marketing emails, so send them our way! Or to see how we can help you, get in touch!