Eight examples of excellent ecommerce emails

Inboxes are so crowded, how can a marketer stand out? Here are eight brands that cut through the noise with great emails. Also, we are all about alliteration.

Inboxes are so crowded, how can a marketer stand out? Here are eight brands that cut through the noise with great emails. Also, we are all about alliteration.

Do you ever indiscriminately delete emails from brands without opening them because you have so many emails that you just can’t be bothered? That was a rhetorical question; of course you’ve done that. Who hasn’t?

We all receive a lot of emails every day. The Radacti Group, a Bay Area tech market research firm, estimated that 116.2 billion emails were sent every day in 2015. That translates to a daily 93 consumer emails sent and received apiece.

The Radacti Group projected that number to grow 6 percent every year, resulting in an additional 24 emails every day by 2019. With our inboxes so cluttered, how can a brands make their emails stand out?

Not all of them do, but here are eight who have.

1. Zappos

If you’re checking email on your phone – which 67 percent of us do, according to BlueHornet research – your eye will most likely immediately go to this Zappos message.

When they’re done right, emoji headlines are great attention-catchers. This one works well because the single emoji doesn’t overdo it and the orange flame stands out against the light background.

The email’s content is similarly eye-catching. As soon as I opened it, my eye immediately went to the word “free.” Zappos’ free shipping and 24/7 customer service are common knowledge, but that’s still not a bad word to grab someone’s attention with.


2. Bluefly

This email from Bluefly has a similarly-catchy subject line, promoting a 20 percent off discount (a tactic that’s been proven to outperform dollar-based discounts) on vintage items from brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

If you’re into luxury brands, the subject most likely grabbed your attention because you’re well aware that sales on Louis Vuitton and Chanel are very hard to come by. Unless you’re counting Chinatown finds that fell off the back of the truck, but I’m not.

Once you open the email, note how Bluefly didn’t lead with the luxury sale. You already knew about that; instead, the e-retailer lets you know that its Friends & Family sale is going on.


3. Groupon

Unlike those last two emails, this one from Groupon is cherry-picked from my own inbox. This is a good one because of the tailored message.

My most recent Groupon purchase was a pair of spa gift certificates my brother and I gave our mom and aunt for Christmas. So while I wouldn’t get Botox and have no idea what cryotherapy is, I can see where the ecommerce marketplace was coming from, sending me these offers.


4. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is a silent but deadly email marketer. Rather than aggressively upselling all the time, the brand periodically offers me free samples. If I like the product, I can add it to my next box with one click.

If you really believe in your product, this is a strong tactic. Dollar Shave Club’s free samples got me to change my shaving cream loyalty and come next month, it may very well get me to switch up my hair paste, too.


5. Macy’s

The birthday message is a fairly standard move for marketers. But it’s not nearly as common as you’d think, given how easy it is to deploy. This past March 30, I got emails from two businesses, a rather disparate duo: the place where I got my tattoos and Macy’s.

Personalized emails perform better. Macy’s not only personalized this message by addressing it to me by name, but by giving me some special birthday offers: free shipping and a free eyebrow waxing. The former is more attractive to me, as well as something that tends to result in people spending more. Look no further than Amazon Prime.


6. Talbots

Talbots is another retailer that uses email to make its customers feel special. This message arrived in my aunt’s inbox with the subject, “You’re Invited To A Very Special Event!”

The way the email is worded, it comes across like, “Not just anyone is invited to this trunk show, you know,” making Aunt Jane feel like an insider. Retail emails tend to be very heavy-handed with their marketing, but this message is so subtle because it’s not trying to sell anything. Talbots is simply inviting my aunt into the belly of the beast, so the retailer can try to sell her stuff later, of course.

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7. Airbnb

You know how airlines will send you emails every morning, even if you’ve got a trip coming up and therefore aren’t likely to book anything? United sent me its weekend specials yesterday, offering discounted fares if I go somewhere on Friday and come back Tuesday. The thing is, I already have a United flight on Tuesday.

While United is going for the hard sell, Airbnb’s strategy is more around the subtle upsell. The company knows I have a trip on the horizon so it hasn’t been pushing destinations via email the way it usually does. Instead, Airbnb is angling for me to extend my stay (with Airbnb) in the great state of Montana. See how casual that question in the subject line is?


8. Express

Of all the retail brands who email me, I think Express does the best job. There’s a straightforward, direct subject line, usually with an offer that takes into account that I’m a guy. That kind of subject line segmentation is rare for retailers; others have sent me offers for sandals and UGG boots.

Once I open the email, I always see a clean message with very little going on: just a few dynamic images and a few links. Just like inboxes, individual emails are often quite cluttered and Express nails it with simplicity.


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