How to Inspire Subscriber Love and Loyalty With Great Emails – Tips From 3 Brand Email Pros

  |  March 6, 2014   |  Comments

Well-respected email leaders at brands that really are focused on making email a special part of their marketing mix, including Zillow, Scoutmob, and Stonyfield, shared some campaigns they worked on that were truly special.

Everyone has an opinion on what makes a great marketing message. When you get to what makes an awesome email, opinions can run the gamut as well. Consumers and marketers alike will you tell it can be about the offer, the sender, the subject line, the call to action text, or even the time of day. Or none of them. Compelling and effective emails are part science and part art. I asked some well-respected email leaders at brands that really are focused on making email a special part of their marketing mix for some campaigns they worked on that were truly special.

Tara Clark, the director of email marketing at Zillow, the home and real estate marketplace, took great pride in a recent email to consumer subscribers on how to check and update the data Zillow has available for an individual's home (an added bedroom, or finished basement, for instance). Clark and her team targeted the audience, based on location, down to the individual home, if known, and explained how to edit home facts.



For many, this was an incredibly relevant mail ("Your Home, Your Facts") and was Zillow's best performing marketing email during the past six-month period. Not only did it receive a high level of open and click rates, it also added to their valuable database of user-generated content. I can vouch as a frequent Zillow home checker that these kind of emails nudge me back to their site or mobile app more frequently and cement them in my mind as the go-to place to check metrics related to my house (or just maybe someone else's). The curb appeal of the email and personalized and relevant content close the deal.

Scoutmob is a great local commerce brand and their email program sets the tone nicely for their users. There is no disconnect at all between their quirky brand and well-crafted email program.

This email nails it. The two founders decided to do a ridiculous picture and letter that mimics a terrible family holiday letter (hopefully not yours). It reinforced to its loyal subscribers, this ain't no coupon site. 


This second email will not win any design awards but that is part of its power. Chief executive (CEO) David Payne says, "People really responded because it was simple, clever, direct, and a bit indelicate." As President Obama taught us, powerful emails that work don't have to be pretty and can break most of the rules.


Stonyfield, the organic yogurt maker, asked their fans to "Wake Up With Stonyfield" for 60 days by sharing photos of the ways they live a healthy, organic lifestyle and interact with the brand on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. They first invited them via email and then sent daily emails for 60 days featuring that day's theme.



The email campaign achieved its desired business goals and subscribers loved the campaign. It had many firsts, including the first usage of mobile-optimized design and dynamic content scraping. Senior digital marketing manager Gina Kilby shared that deliverability went up and unsubscribes went down (despite a significantly higher email frequency). Response rates were also strong (open rates more than 40 percent and click-through rates reaching 5 percent in one month of the promotion) and the effort acquired a sizeable amount of new subscribers.

Common threads here and on most successful emails (success for my agency, BrightWave Marketing, is meaningful business results and value for the subscriber) are targeted, well-thought-out and executed emails that are consistent with that brand message and values and respectful of the subscriber while achieving a clearly defined business goal. Subscribers need to understand WIFM (what's in it for me) quickly and be offered a path to engage or move on. Well done Zillow, Scoutmob, and Stonyfield.

Care to read more about how to mesh email magic with subscriber psychology? Read my previous article, "The Psychological Hierarchy of the Email Campaign."


Simms Jenkins

Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.

Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.

Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.

He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.

Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of and, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.

Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.

Follow and connect with Simms on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, The BrightWave Blog, and his book websites at and

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