Should You Put Prices In Marketing Emails?

By Amanda Gagnon

You may think you’re trying to sell your products or service in your emails.

Some people would say you’re wrong.

You never actually complete a sale in an email – that happens on your web site. So your email, they say, should sell a click to your site (slide 31). Then on your site, you can talk details like price to sell the product.

Jay, whom you may have met in a webinar, disagrees. He much prefers prices listed right within emails. Then he can weigh all his options without clicking anywhere for more information.

So… should you list prices in your emails or not? Let’s discuss this.

They Say: Entice Now, Sell Later

When people check their email, they have dozens of things on their mind. To get a reaction from them, your email needs to be irresistible.

It needs to paint an alluring picture. To make them want your product so badly, they can’t look away, and they’re itching to click through and find out how to get it.

Talking price would break the spell.

This may sound fantastical, but it’s got a practical benefit: back on your site, you have plenty of room to counteract any negative reaction someone may have to the price. See for yourself:

In their emails, French Connection creates a desire to buy without alluding to price at all. Back on their site, they keep selling readers on the product for at least one (and up to three) pages before mentioning the cost.

Finally, when they do list the price, they counter it with the idea of owning the entire coordinated outfit and a feeling of urgency that, if the jacket isn’t sold out yet, it may be soon.

Jay Says: Present Your Price As Soon As Possible

Some consumers, like Jay, are tougher sells. They’re not as entranced by the spell you’ve woven. These tougher consumers believe there’s always a flip side, and they don’t want to spend their time clicking around to find out what it is.

So, seeing no price, they shrug and delete your email. Then they go respond to messages with prices displayed, like this one from Tiger Direct.

“If I’m going to buy something, I’ve already done the research as to what it is, and now I just want to know where I can get it and for how much,” he says.

The Verdict

Whether or not you include prices in your email depends on two things:

1. Your audience. Every business attracts a different kind of following. Does your readers want to be swept off their feet and trust you to tell them what’s worth buying? Or are they more cynical and want their information up front?

Maybe you have an audience of bargain-hunters, for whom a good price is paramount. Or maybe for your readers, price is no object as long as they’re getting the best.

2. Your brand image. Do you compete on price? Or do you have well-established competitors who sell cheaper, but can’t match the quality you provide?

If you’re not sure how your readers feel or what exactly you’re competing on, you can always run a split test to find out.

Either Way, Send Value

This doesn’t just mean 15%-off offers – those are a dime a dozen. It means being helpful. Not just promoting products your subscribers just might want, but truly anticipating their needs and concerns, then thoroughly meeting them.

For example, this email from retailer Dorothy Perkins not only presents two outfit ideas for each pair of trousers, it explains what you’d wear the outfits for.

And here, Uncommon Goods‘ message (very creative for an HTML retail email) starts with the problem, then offers products as fun solutions.

What’s Your Price Preference?

Do you list prices in your emails? Do you feel that helps you sell more products?

Or do you keep mum about money ’til you’ve got your readers on your site?

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5 Steps to Create Surveys to Segment Your Subscribers

By Amanda Gagnon

It’s every email marketer’s challenge: creating just the kind of messages that subscribers will enjoy and respond to. The straightforward solution is simply asking each subscriber what they’d like to receive. Asking at sign up can make your form too long and off-putting. So ask for preferences in an email survey instead. Here’s a nuts-and-bolts look at how to set it up.

Email Timing: A Look At 6 Marketers

By Amanda Gagnon

Does it really matter if you schedule your emails for specific days and times?

Some marketers think so. Others don’t. You can certainly peruse your reports for days and times that draw good response in your own campaign. But what if you don’t find anything conclusive?

To help you figure out your scheduling strategy, we took a look at when some of the Big Guys send. Do any of their approaches work for you?

Weekday Mornings

New Egg

Newegg sends on weekdays, two or three times a week. With the exception of some (strategically planned?) Black Friday emails, they send between midnight and 8 every morning – perfect timing for pitching their electronics and digital products to the 9-5 techie crowd.

Weekday morning sends can also work for promoting office supplies and industry equipment or sharing job postings.

Friday Afternoons

Container Store

The Container Store, before mid-June, sent with haphazard timing. Since then, they’ve sent every Friday afternoon. Their emails arrive just as their readers’ focus is shifting from the work week to managing life at home – a good time to suggest containers that can help one do so.

Friday afternoons can be ideal for sending emails about local events, home remodeling tools, concerts, art shows – anything useful for planning weekend activities.

Several Times a Day

Blue Fly

Bluefly offers a different deal every day, sent at 7 a.m. More often than not, they also send a reminder around 3 before subscribers go offline for the evening.

Such a high frequency can work for limited-time offers or for sending out updates during an event. But be careful with this frequency. You’ll need to provide a lot of value for subscribers to put up with two or more emails in a day.

(Almost) Every Day

Yoga Journal

Yoga Journal sends Tuesday through Sunday. On Mondays, people are busy digging out from work accumulated over the weekend. After they’ve caught up, YJ sends them a new idea to try in their spare time each day, whether it’s a backbend to battle fatigue or creating yogic space with natural materials.

Subscribers who are counting down to an event or working their way toward a goal may appreciate a daily (or almost-daily) nudge. Whether to skip a day of the week depends on your readers, so check your open rates to see if it makes sense for your campaign.

At Lunch Time

Offbeat Bride

Offbeat Bride sends daily, so brides-to-be get as much advice as possible before the Big Day (and the wedding-obsessed get their fix). OB emails arrive around noon for fun lunchtime reading.

Other ideal lunchtime content might be lighthearted news reports, quick tips or advice, daily inspiration or hobby-related digests. Who doesn’t want something fun and uplifting to read while they chomp?

As News Breaks

Fox News

Fox News sends updates throughout the day, whenever a big story breaks. Subscribers choose their categories of interest, getting an email or two for each on any given day.

Immediate emails could work well in fast-paced industry, with alerts for software releases, real estate listings and the like? The immediate timing assures readers that they’re the first to get the scoop.

To Schedule or Not to Schedule

While these brands send at specific times, other big names, like Bed Bath and Beyond and CVS, don’t. Their content may not be time-specific. Or maybe they trust their emails to bring in clicks morning, noon or night.

What about your own campaign? Do any of these strategies fit? Or would you send at an opposite time to stand out?

Also, consider your subscribers’ schedules. Do they work weekdays, 9-5? Are they freelancers? College students? Retired?

Do You Already Time Your Emails?

If you do, how did you decide when to send? We realize you might not want to give up all your secrets, but we (and your fellow marketers!) appreciate any details you’re willing to share below!

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Do You Market Solutions, Or Just Stuff?

By Amanda Gagnon

People don’t really want your products. They’re not out searching for your service.

They want easier lives. They want to be entertained. They want their struggles extinguished and their problems solved.

This, then, is how you sell to them with email marketing: solve those problems. Stamp out those struggles.

Focus on meeting people’s needs in a way that positions your product or service as their solution. In other words, do what these eight marketers did.

Selling Solutions

These businesses had jackets, tickets, and memberships to sell. But they knew better than to just send a message saying, “Stuff on Sale!” Instead of stuff, they sold:


Every morning, most women, many men, nearly every girl and even a handful of boys stand in front of their mirrors and demand, “What should I wear today?”

Usually, the mirror doesn’t answer back. So Neiman Marcus did instead.

NM Square

With five new outfit ideas, shoppers need to find a way to recreate the looks themselves. And since they’re already on the Neiman Marcus site…


Instead of tickets, Brooks & Dunn present something fun to do with your pals. They even offer free tickets (and a party bus!) to one lucky winner.

BD Square

You don’t necessarily need a giveaway (though they’re a great way to ramp up interest). The key here: if you’re selling an experience, keep the focus off the fees and on the fun.


With the subject line “Could you use more time?”, The Container Store pretty much guaranteed themselves a high open rate.

Container Square

Find a way to grant your subscribers that most precious of commodities, and they’ll not only want to click the “buy” button, they’ll be grateful to.

Street Savvy

The Motorcycles Only newsletter shares pro riding tips so bikers can talk the talk with the biggest and the toughest.

Motorcycle Square

The best part? The email doesn’t actually give the answer – it explains the question further, then leads readers back to the site!

Kid-Friendly Recreation

Harry & David sells pre-assembled gifts, delivered straight to the recipient. It’s a perfect holiday option for busy families.

Moose Square

And since happy kids make happy parents, H&D threw in an activity for the little ones – with a prize designed to promote their signature product.


REI had GPS units to sell, so they repackaged them as opportunities to “Navigate With Confidence.”

And the rest of the subject line promises “Easy-to-Use GPS Units.” Not only is your journey safe (your GPS will keep you on the beaten path) it’s also easy – perfectly manageable for the everyday consumer.

Parenting Solutions

Giggle knows that parents worry when their tots embark on a liquid diet or a three-month PBJ binge. especially with childhood obesity rates burgeoning in some areas of the globe.

Giggle Square

With their “healthy eaters” broadcast, Giggle offers not only the products that can help, but suggestions for how to use them.

Try It Yourself

The key to selling solutions is first finding out what your subscribers want, then figuring out how your products can deliver it. Ask yourself:

1. “What do I have?” Make a list of your assets – long weekend hours, quirky salespeople, an overstock of flat irons.

2. “What do they need?” Consider basic human needs – safety, friendship, freedom. Then ask what your customer base wants – foolproof site editing, ways to impress their coworkers, a good night’s sleep?

Now match them up. And when you’re ready to make the sale, remember to explain what buyers will really be getting!

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Segmentation Screwups: How Do You Recover?

By Justin Premick

Email segmentation is a funny thing. Used well, it’s one of those little extras that separates professional email marketing campaigns from disparate sequences of “spray and pray” messages. It gets more of the right message to the right people at the right time, and it amplifies your response. Used poorly or mistakenly, however, it can amplify the wrong kind of response. A pair of emails I received the other day demonstrate this and give us a chance to see how we can respond to our own segmentation mistakes. Let’s have a look.

Email Segmentation: Easily Target Customers

By Justin Premick

How can you make your campaigns more relevant through segmentation? If you’re a believer in the idea that a customer is more likely to buy from you again than a prospect is to buy from you once, you’ll want to pay special attention to today’s tip.

Email Segmentation: More Groups To Target

By Justin Premick

In a previous post on email segmentation, we looked at how to isolate and target people not opening your emails, and people who open them, but don’t click on links in them.

Email Segmentation: 5 Groups You Can Easily Target, Part 1

By Justin Premick

Over at Clickz, email columnist Jeanne Jennings has a great introduction to email segmentation.

She breaks down subscribers into a few groups based on their activity, and points out that you can (and should!) communicate with each group differently.

In a series of 3 posts, we’ll look at how you can use the email web analytics tools in AWeber to target the groups she suggests, and make your email marketing campaigns more relevant.

There are 5 groups of people you can potentially target using activity-based segmentation. Today, let’s look at two of them:

  • Non-Responsive Subscribers
  • Message Openers

Non-Responsive Subscribers

Non-responsive subscribers receive your emails, but don’t convert, don’t click on links or even open the messages.

These subscribers may have once been responsive, but over time lost interest in your emails. Or they may be overwhelmed with too many other messages to make time for your emails.

How to Segment Inactive Subscribers

It’s important to remember that non-responsive subscribers may have been responsive at some point.

So you want to first come up with a time frame – how long does someone need to have gone without opening an email before you consider them non-responsive? (hint: don’t say “a week” 😉 ).

On your “Leads” page, use the “Search” boxes to pull up 2 search terms:

  1. No Opens
  2. Date Added

(The “Date Added” term makes sure you only pull up older subscribers, not people who just signed up recently and haven’t had a chance to open your email yet.)

Segment Non-Responsive Subscribers

After searching, you’ll see a box where you can save your search (“view”) by giving it a name (say, Non-Responders):

Save Segment

Save your view and you’ll then be able to choose it while creating a broadcast.

Message Openers

These are the subscribers who open your emails, but don’t click on links or convert.

So you’re getting them to open your email (or at least preview it), but nothing further. They’re not quite engaged by your email content.

How to Segment These Subscribers

In AWeber, this is most easily done on a message-by-message basis, using two criteria:

  1. Message Opened
  2. Link Not Clicked

Segment Non-Responsive Subscribers

Next to each of those criteria, click on the long text box and you’ll be prompted to choose which message/link you want to use to segment subscribers.

If you’re sending only plain text emails, you won’t use this segment, since you can’t track opens. This one’s for people sending emails that include an HTML version.

Next Time: 2 More Segments to Target

In the next post on this series, you’ll learn how to create 2 more useful segments that you can use to better target your email marketing campaigns.

Until then, try creating these segments – you might be surprised how many people fall into each one!

Know someone who could benefit from segmenting subscribers?

Share this article with them on StumbleUpon, Delicious or Twitter – or just send them this link!

Email Web Analytics: 2 New Segmenting and Targeting Options

By Justin Premick

Ever wanted to know which of your subscribers aren’t responding to your emails? Or which parts of your website subscribers are interested in? This week, we added two new segmentation and targeting options to our Email Web Analytics tools to help answer those questions.

Learn From a Great Email Newsletter Example: Kayak

By Justin Premick

After ripping apart some poor email examples, I think it’s high time we point out someone who’s doing an email newsletter right.

I’ve been getting emails from travel planning site for a couple weeks. In each issue I’m impressed by their email savvy, from content to design to the little extras that make me so likely to use them to plan my trips.

Why do I like Kayak’s emails — both as an email marketing guy and as a subscriber — so much?

Examples of Kayak’s Emails

Before we go any further, take a look at 2 issues of their email newsletter that I’ve received:

(Click the above images for full-size versions.)

What do you think of them? Here’s my take:

They Build a Relationship, Rather Than Going For the Hard Sell

As a member of several frequent flyer programs, I get emails from a number of airlines. I also get emails from time to time from other travel sites where I’m a member.

Rather than pushing for a sale right away, Kayak keeps my attention with great content.

I’ve never received an email campaign from any of them that tries to connect with me. They’re just so… all-sell, all-the-time, all about price.

Kayak, on the other hand, doesn’t scream at me about the latest deals.

Their emails sell the idea of traveling. Each section gets me excited about a destination, as if the emails were made up of postcards from friends who were visiting each place.

And even though I’m not usually looking to go anywhere, I often click through just to see what it might cost to take a trip. Just for fun (when was the last time your email campaign had subscribers going to your website just for fun? Try it.).

They’re Well-Designed and Easy To Read

This is exactly the kind of email that comes to mind (for me) when someone asks for an example of a “Light HTML” email message.

They cleverly separate each section with a header (the destination name).
They provide navigation at the top of the email to each section/destination, and each section has a link back to the top.
Navigation is text, not images, so it’s even useful with images disabled.
They distinguish their own content from sponsored content/ads by using lightly shaded backgrounds. Interspersing shaded sections with the main content also makes the email seem shorter than it actually is.
They put their logo in the upper left-hand corner of the email, so it appears in the preview pane, and they keep it small enough that it doesn’t get in the way of other content at the top of the email.

They’re Targeted To Me

And oh boy, is it easy to see what a trip might cost.

Did you see what they did in the sidebar? They put links to “cheap flights from Philadelphia.”

When I signed up they asked me what my home airport was, and they’re using that to get me from reading their email to making a purchase. The links even go to a flight search page that’s pre-filled with Philadelphia as the departing airport.

With what is really just basic segmentation and personalization — nothing difficult or complex — Kayak makes a smooth transition from inbox to web.

They Encourage Communication

Look at the footer of the email.

Rather than hiding behind a “do not reply” type of address and using email as a way to talk at me, they tell me they want to hear from me!

What’s especially great about this is they give me multiple ways to contact them:

The link in their email goes to a feedback form on their site.
Unlike the company in our email footer example a while back, they send from an email address that forwards to their help desk, so even if I reply instead of using their feedback form, I can still get in touch with them.

Anything Else?

I feel like I’m rambling a bit here, so I’ll turn it over to you.

What did you like about these emails?

Or didn’t you like them (and if so, why not)?

How do you feel you can apply these tactics to your own email marketing campaigns?

Share your thoughts on the blog!