Email Marketing Observations From a Shopaholic

As the self-proclaimed Carrie Bradshaw of email marketing, I’m constantly comparing the marketing endeavors of online and offline fashion retailers.

After all, somebody has to study their latest campaigns. It’s not my fault that I often always feel obliged to take certain senders up on their irresistible offers and free shipping.

I really consider myself lucky to enjoy all aspects of a good shopping experience. From the marketing messages to the markdowns, I love it all.

On a recent shopping trip, it dawned on me just how similar a good email marketing campaign is to a visit to a well-run boutique. There are several key factors that contribute to the success of both. Keep reading to see how your messages stack up to some of my favorite stores.

They Welcome You

The very first thing I notice when going in and out of my favorite small boutiques is the way that I am greeted by the shopgirls and business owners. Some might gather that this is because I spend the majority of my paycheck in these stores, but I promise that’s not true. (They say hi to everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm!)

If a shopkeeper approaches me, says hello and asks if they can help me find anything, I instantly feel good about potentially spending my money in their store. Your welcome message should have the same appeal to new subscribers.

According to a recent Epsilon survey of 200 retailers, fewer than 2/3 of retailers do not send a welcome message at all, even though the welcome messages tracked had an average open rate of 50-60%.

Offer your assistance and let your new subscribers know how happy you are to have them on your list. Welcome them warmly, just like you would if they walked through your shop door. This way, they’ll feel just as welcome as if they were physically in your store.

Nordstrom does an excellent job of welcoming new subscribers:

They Let You Browse

After I’ve been in a store for a few minutes, I like to look around without being hawked by the shop clerk. Nothing is more annoying than being followed around. It makes most people feel uneasy.

A big mistake that a lot of email marketers make is to push specific, “big” products on their email list right from the get-go. This doesn’t allow subscribers the chance to form an opinion about your company or connect to it emotionally.

Instead of sending only big ticket items, give new subscribers a chance to see all of your goods and to get to know your brand’s personality. Send follow up messages that encourage readers to “browse” your website and your products.

Serena and Lily suggest that you browse their entire collection:

They Tell You About Current Promotions

Once I’ve had a chance to get my bearings and assess the shopping situation, then I’m ok with someone helping me. Maybe I have a few pieces to try on, or a question about pricing.

It’s typical and expected for sales associates to approach shoppers after a few minutes of browsing to inform them of current or upcoming sales and limited time offers. After all, customer service is a huge factor in my decision to shop somewhere.

To create the same experience with your email campaign, you can send one time, time-sensitive broadcast messages to subscribers to keep them in the loop.

Barneys New York often sends emails that contain their latest promotions:

They Suggest Similar Items

In the event that I’ve found a few things to try on when I’m shopping, I am always impressed by a salesperson who can successfully pull similar or complimentary pieces from the racks and bring them to me in the dressing room.

This shows that they are paying attention, even while they are giving me space to browse around. You can do the very same thing with your email subscribers – as long as you have analytics in place on your website. Email analytics can help you understand the needs and wants of your subscribers so that you can tailor your messages accordingly to address them.

By installing a JavaScript snippet on your site, you’ll be able to see exactly which pages your subscribers are visiting. This way, you can segment your list based on subscriber behavior and suggest items that are more relevant for your subscribers.

How Does Your Campaign Measure Up?

Do you use any or all of these tactics? Do you find that the email marketing experience is similar to an in-person encounter in any way?

We’d love to hear what you think, and how you’re using these methods. Leave us a comment in the space below!