How Graze uses email marketing for customer retention

A picture of a Graze summer box with its lid open, with a bold illustration of strawberries inside the lid and four punnets inside. Scattered around it are healthy snack items like pieces of fruit and nuts.

Graze, the snack company which provides nutritious nibbles in slim cardboard subscription boxes, has become a regular fixture in offices, homes and supermarkets thanks to a range of canny marketing techniques.

From maintaining a fun and interactive social media presence, to keeping an active blog with nutrition tips and recipes, to creating business partnerships and direct-mailing offers, Graze has used almost every channel available to maximum effect.

Perhaps the most impressive of all, though, is its consistent and engaging use of email marketing to keep customers coming back to its products. Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels, and Graze has put a lot of time and attention into making sure that things really work.

I got my first Graze box in the spring of 2012, and although I’ve taken a number of breaks since then, Graze has brought me back over and over with well-timed and enticing offers in my inbox.

So what makes Graze so good at email marketing, and what can we take away from their techniques?

Fun, approachable style

Whether they’re emailing a potential new customer to invite them to try a free snack box, or notifying an existing Grazer about the great snacks they have available, Graze always keep the style of their emails light-hearted and to the point. A writer at Elephant Creative recalled that they were introduced to Graze by a marketing email that was “refreshingly plain English. It was clean and clear and stood out in a sea of spam.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the email was offering a free Graze snack box with the promise of a second half-price box after that, but even when you have a great offer to make, the delivery can be key.

A screenshot of an email offering a "free snack box from graze.com". It reads, "Hi Reader, graze would like to offer you a totally free box (and a second half price) to see how much healthier you can snack. Handpicked and posted to your work or home, each box is personalised to your tastes and delicious every time." Beneath this, there is a flow chart entitled "how it works" with four steps detailed. 1: claim your free box and tell us your favourite foods. 2. we send your free box to any UK address (work or home). 3. you eat more healthy food. 4. and cut back on the biscuits. This is accompanied by an illustration of a biscuit in a waste paper bin.

Graze’s initial email above is straightforward in outlining the terms of the offer and what the customer will get, and livened up with little humorous asides about healthy eating and “cutting back on the biscuits”. Even the fine print at the bottom, which is normally an excuse for companies to obscure vital information in a sea of eye-glazingly dense language, is clear and easy to follow.

Writing your emails in plain English is one of the easiest but also most effective ways to stand out among the competition. Your customers will appreciate being spoken to like a regular person, and will find it easier to follow the emails to boot.

Subject lines are another strength of Graze’s emails, delivering their point in four or five words, with little jokes and messages that invite you to click and find out more. When someone is skimming their way down what is probably a sea of unread messages, you don’t have long to grab their attention, so it’s best to get right down to it.

A screenshot of an email inbox containing a number of emails from Graze, with subject lines such as "chocolate withdrawal is real.", "the snackademy awards!" and "warning: seriously tempting offer"

Personalisation

Graze’s personalisation of emails works on a couple of different fronts. First, there’s the fairly basic but effectual method of addressing a person by their name, either in the subject line or in the email greeting. Using someone’s name, whether in conversation or in marketing, is said to help build a positive connection with them. In email marketing it can again help to set your message apart from the crowd, and makes the email feel less like a generic mass marketing drive and more like something which time and effort has gone into.

Graze also uses data about their customers’ Grazing habits and past purchases to tailor their email marketing and entice them to buy repeat boxes. They frequently send emails offering one-off boxes of their most popular snacks, such as flapjacks, or the salted fudge and peanut cookie snack.

A Graze email advertising an entire box of salted fudge and peanut cookie snacks, to be ordered as a one-off.

If a customer does order a one-off specialty box, Graze will follow up later on inviting them to order another, or start a recurring order – it’s totally up to them, of course.

A Graze email inviting a customer to order another flapjack box. It reads, "We hope you enjoyed your flapjack box. Do you fancy another one? Just get a one-off box, or start a recurring order - it's up to you."

Creating a sense of anticipation

Graze makes sure to be present in a customer’s inbox even between new products and promotions. It sends a notification email whenever a customer’s box is shipped and invites them to take a ‘sneak peek’ at what’s inside, creating a sense of anticipation around the product and keeping the customer thinking about the brand.

After each box, Graze will then send another email inviting the customer to “rate or slate their box”. This process allows customers to rate whether they ‘liked’, ‘loved’ or want to ‘bin’ the snacks in their past box. It gives the customer a sense of control over their deliveries, keeps them interacting with the website and discovering new products, and of course, provides Graze with more handy data with which to personalise their products and emails.

A Graze email inviting a customer to "rate or slate" their mot recent box. It contains a picture of each product the box contained, with a set of four buttons underneath: BIN, TRY, LIKE and LOVE. The email invites the customer to "rate with 1-click".

Discounts and deals

As a Graze customer, it pays to keep an eye on your inbox, because Graze will often email with deals and discounts to keep you happily Grazing. This is a perk of being a loyal customer, but it can also be a perk of taking some time off; if you decide to stop your orders at any point, but don’t discontinue your email subscriptions, Graze will send offers of discounted boxes in a bid to tempt you back into Grazing. (This has worked on me a number of times).

And in 2013, Graze customers who were paying attention to their emails were treated to a sneak preview of Graze’s new Breakfast Boxes. These emails were cleverly designed to create a sense of intrigue, with the subject line simply reading “ssshh…” and the email containing only a picture of a key, above a code and a URL – graze.com/breakfast.

Giving customers sneak peeks and early access to new products rewards them for sticking with the brand and makes them feel as though they have access to privileged information. The way that Graze designed the email gave a sense of being let in on a special secret, and created excitement around the new product launch.

A screenshot of an email with the subject line "ssshh..." The email features the Graze logo in the top-right corner and a picture of a key in the centre. Underneath is the code 71F5JZV with an arrow pointing to the URL where it can be used: graze.com/breakfast.

Customer interaction

In the autumn of 2012, Graze emailed all of their present and former customers inviting them to take a survey about their experience with Graze, with the reward of three half-price Graze boxes for completing it. This gave customers an incentive to give the company feedback, in some cases reviving their interest in Graze, and made them feel as though their opinions were needed and valued.

Graze has also held numerous “championships” and “awards” where customers can vote for their favourite Graze snack, with the winners announced via email and social media. Again, this allows customers to interact with the brand while also giving the company valuable data on what their customers prefer, and possibly bringing those who have drifted away from the brand back to try new products.

An email from Graze celebrating the winner of the "snackademy awards 2016": the better-for-you brownie. At the bottom the email invites the customer to start Grazing again and receive 3 boxes for £2.99 each.

Goodbye, and come back soon!

Of course, there will inevitably be those who choose to stop their Graze subscriptions or take a break. When this happens, Graze is careful to provide easy links for customers to quickly restart their deliveries if they change their minds.

A Graze email entitled "Ciao for now" which thanks the customer for trying Graze and confirming that their deliveries have now been stopped. It adds, "We've been asked a fair few times 'how do I start getting graze boxes again?' so we've created a couple of links that make it really easy to restart your deliveries..." Underneath are two links, one to restart regular deliveries and another to order a one-off box. The bottom half of the email talks about how Eleanor (a Graze taste expert) has created 40 new recipes this year, and invites the customer to check out her latest recipes on the website.

The wording in this email – “We’ve been asked a fair few times” – gives the impression that Graze boxes are in high demand, with customers frequently opting to come back after stopping their deliveries for a time.

Graze also makes sure to include some reasons why customers might want to stay with Graze, mentioning the huge number of new recipes they have already introduced and inviting customers to find out more.

And if this all sounds like a lot of emails to be sending, well, Graze agrees with you: they “hate spam as much as you do”, and provide a link to an account preferences section in every email where you can easily reduce or stop the communication you’re receiving from Graze.

By acknowledging the tastelessness of spam and making it easy for customers to fine-tune the emails they receive, Graze manages to tread the line between an excess of marketing communications and informative updates that customers want to read.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how Graze markets to its customers, don’t miss Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher speaking at Shift London on 24th May. Register here!

Related reading

Email
Email marketing
email notification
inmail-blog-image
<