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

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.”

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