4 Simple Email Tips from Cooks of Crocus Hill

Cooks of Crocus Hill, a culinary shop based in St. Paul, MN, teaches their customers about the simple joys of cooking with the right utensils. They serve up cooking classes throughout the year and use AWeber to announce them with perfectly plated emails.

We were really impressed with the strength and simplicity of Cooks of Crocus Hill’s visual branding in their email campaign. They’ve also achieved some killer open rates and very few unsubscribes. So we caught up with their web developer, Brad Renner, who shared their secret recipe for email marketing success. Their key ingredient is simplicity.

Keep Your Design Simple

The first thing we noticed about Cooks of Crocus Hill’s campaign is how beautiful their emails are. Take a look at a recent broadcast:

Their design is very simple – their logo, a headline, three images and a colored block of text. But their clean design is visually appealing, proof that you don’t need a lot of complicated graphics to compose an appealing message.

Cooks of Crocus Hill saves time by using the same template for all of their broadcast messages. “The template is designed to ensure reinforcement of our brand,” says Brad. Their brand relies on quality photographs of their products and classes and their current template complements their current site design, even down to the fonts they choose.

Takeaway for Your Campaign:

Let your email design reflect your online branding.

Cooks of Crocus Hill shows that a very simple template can be beautiful and effective. You can easily create your own reusable template with our drag-and-drop message editor or choose a premade template that reflects your online brand.

Keep Your Content Simple

Cooks of Crocus Hill believes that “less is more” when it comes to information shared in a broadcast message.

They keep their text simple and to the point, so subscribers receive valuable information in a visually appealing message that doesn’t take a lot of time to read. “We try not to overwhelm our customers with unnecessary information,” Brad told us. And for Cooks of Crocus Hill, it works.

Their open rates are consistently over 40% and their unsubscribe rate is incredibly low at only one or two subscribers per month. Their customers enjoy opening and engaging with the easily digestible emails that Cooks of Crocus Hill sends.

Takeaway for Your Campaign:

Is your audience not engaging with your emails as much as you would like? Try simplifying your content and see if your subscribers respond better.

Keep Your Sign Ups Simple

“Sometimes it feels like companies will do anything to get customers to register for their emails,” Brad told us when we asked about Cooks of Crocus Hill’s list building techniques. “How many of those customers were just forced or tricked into signing up only to unsubscribe after the first email?”

That’s why Cooks of Crocus Hill takes a “hands-off” approach to list building. “For us it’s important that the subscribers we have really do want to receive email communications from us,” explains Brad. They do collect email addresses from their customers in the store, but they focus the most attention on gaining subscribers through the sign up form on their web site.

Takeaway for Your Campaign:

It’s great to have a big list, but big numbers don’t always have the biggest benefits.

If you have a big list but aren’t getting the kinds of opens and clicks you expected, try running a reengagement campaign to pare your list down to your most passionate fans. These are the ones who will support your business and share it with others.

Keep Your Customers Satisfied

When we asked Brad which campaign reports he paid the closest attention to, he said that the unsubscribe rate is most important. Like we mentioned above, Cooks of Crocus Hill has a very low unsubscribe rate. And to make sure that number stays low, Brad likes to look back over their best performing emails to keep their campaign tailored to their customers’ needs and interests.

The closer you pay attention to what your customers want in your emails, the more they’ll want to engage with the messages you send. Learn from your own campaign – like Cooks of Crocus Hill does – to keep your customers opening and clicking.

Curious about what other businesses are doing with their email campaigns? Head over to our Marketing Success Stories page for valuable marketing advice from other small business owners like yourself!


  1. Ron

    6/13/2012 8:16 am

    I have always found that simplicity in writing, design and approach is always the best way to go.

    It’s tempting to cram as much information as you can into the space you have available ( perhaps thinking this buckshot approach is going to help you make the sale ), but that usually isn’t the case.

    Great article.

  2. Shonal at Marketo

    6/13/2012 1:07 pm

    Good article, I agree with your key takeaways, specifically: “It’s great to have a big list, but big numbers don’t always have the biggest benefits.”

    Even though you grow your list, relevant messaging is what keeps reader’s engaged. By tailoring your messaging through an understanding of reader preferences and behavior (what do they open, what do they click, what subject matter interests them, etc.), you will be able tailor your content to your reader.

  3. E'lona Moore

    6/14/2012 5:10 pm

    I subscribe to quite a few email lists and the ones that get my full attention are the ones that are more appealing, less to read, and give me some value! We’re all busy people and some marketers think filling their “Ezine” like it’s a website will deliver value and get more interactions…

    On another note, I love the post!

    Thanks 🙂

  4. Shiva

    6/15/2012 5:01 am

    Rebekah, you say ‘The first thing we noticed about Cooks of Crocus Hill

  5. Rebekah Henson

    6/15/2012 8:12 am

    Hi Shiva,

    That’s a great question. Many people have their email programs set up to block images by default, but this doesn’t mean your entire email is blocked. It just means your readers won’t see images in the message until they tell their program that it’s okay to display them.

    We have a few posts that address how to design your email so that your subscribers will want to enable images from you in the future: https://www.aweber.com/blog/email-marketing/images-disabled-no-problem.htm


    Hope that helps. 🙂