Successful Email Campaigns for Effective Email Marketing

There’s a word used by e-retailers everywhere that’s a clarion call to me, and I pretty much skimp through all other emails by retailers until I see it.

Yep, that word is “SALE”.

Needless to say that’s probably most women’s (and some men’s) Achilles’ heel.

Instead of charging to the department stores all wild-eyed and eager, I do most of my shopping online these days, browsing through products at reduced prices in the comfort of my own home.

Some days though, I change my mind midway while browsing – I might find something better to do (oooo… shiny) or decide I want to hang on to my savings that month instead.

And here’s when the frontrunners in the email game really get a chance to step up with their event triggered email campaigns.

Run out of patience before finding something to your liking? No problem! BCBGMAXAZRIA sends you an email some time after you have left their site, with the subject line: Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.13.58 PMYep, I definitely was. Clicking upon the email, I was greeted by BCBGMAXAZRIA’s recommendations of outfits I might be interested in. It’s clear they knew I was looking for items on sale as evinced by the email copy.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.18.11 PM

The email also has another section on popular styles if the above selections did not work for me.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.18.29 PM

Hmmm. Very nice. They got their second clickthrough. And look… free shipping!

Now, if I had for some reason picked out some items I wanted and then had the audacity to abandon cart… I get this personalized email instead.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.14.20 PMThe email surfaced by this personalized subject line contains items that I had placed into my cart, making it just that much more effective since these are items that I actually want.

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And just to be sure that they capture every little bit of revenue that could possibly squeeze out from me, the email has an added section cross-selling similar outfits.

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As you can see from the emails, BCBGMAXAZRIA has succeeded in implementing a rather effective email marketing campaign that is highly personalized and relevant to my interests – that’s pretty much the gold standard of email marketing, where your customers actually appreciate receiving promotional emails from you.

10 Key Takeaways from BCBGMAXAZRIA’s Email Marketing Strategy

Much like Kobo’s effective email marketing campaign, which we wrote about earlier, BCBGMAXAZRIA adhered to certain best practices in their event triggered email campaign.

  1. Personalized subject line – A personalized subject line drew my attention, especially when I saw that the email was coming from a brand that I was looking at just a couple of hours ago.
  2. Content relevance – The email content sent by BCBGMAXAZRIA was highly relevant to my interests. No surprise, since they were using items that I had already placed in my shopping cart as a hook!
  3. Smart timing – Using automated event triggered emails at the right time is key. BCBGMAXAZRIA was able to catch me at a time when I was already actively engaged with the brand and just a slight nudge away from purchasing.
  4. Social media options – BCBGMAXAZRIA’s email featured other social platforms, offering customers their preferred choice of communication channel for engaging with the brand. Convenient for me, smart for the retailer to provide options to re-engage.
  5. Cross-selling – In each of BCBGMAXAZRIA’s emails, the brand was upselling other popular or similar items at each touchpoint.
  6. Clear call-to-action – While the call to action for the first email was to “Continue Shopping,” the second was clearly to “Return to Your Cart”- calls to action that were repeated twice in each email.
  7. Safe List – To ensure their emails don’t end up in the spam box, BCBGMAXAZRIA encourages customers to add them to a safe sender list, killing two birds with one stone: education and deliverability.
  8. Unsubscribe – Happily, we can report that BCBGMAXAZRIA does have an option for customers to unsubscribe.
  9. Brand identity – By utilizing a consistent brand identity across both the site and their emails (stark black and white) BCBGMAXAZRIA ensures that the customer has a unified user experience across different channels and platforms.
  10. Minimal copy – Sometimes, a picture says a thousand words. In this instance, it certainly does. BCBGMAXAZRIA dispenses with long copy, instead using visuals to make the sale instead.

There are some things that I might have done differently, such as positioning the unsubscribe and the safe sender list call-to-action in a more prominent area. It would have also been interesting if they had swapped the subject lines on both emails, for example using “You were checking us out” for an email that was supposed to drive the action of actually checking out my shopping cart (pun fully intended), but all in all, I thought BCBGMAXAZRIA is running a pretty great event triggered email campaign! As to whether or not I converted, let’s just say I just might have a couple of new dresses hanging up in my wardrobe.

You’ve got your promotional emails looking and reading just the way you want them to. Now let’s move on to your transactional emails. Get the Transactional Messaging Best Practices E-Book to see what you can do to drive more revenue.

Transactional Messaging Best Practices

Successful Email Marketing Strategies for Effective Email Marketing

There’s a case for using standard email subject lines for something like a newsletter, and when you want your subscribers to clearly recognize communications from your brand – especially if they are brand loyalists. Because these customers expect consistent email updates from you and are looking out for that standardized subject line, changing the subject line could well mean a decline in email open rates.

However, when you are used to seeing the same email subject lines day in and day out, you tend to start filtering or filing them mentally. For example:

Oh… here’s another promotional email from so-and-so retailer. Oh well, I’ll look at that later and see if there’s anything interesting inside….

Sounds familiar? I do that every morning when I check my email. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes on a busy day, it’s easy to forget about those emails that you initially thought might be worth looking into.

Enter the unique subject line. It’s a challenge at times to think of something truly innovative and still ensure brand recognition, but it’s definitely not mission impossible.

Here’s a great example of how Groupon did it (full disclosure, they are one of our clients):

There Are No Deals In This Email

When I receive daily deals emails from Groupon all the time, it takes a lot for me to sit up, take notice and click on email. I expect discounts, holiday deals and the like from Groupon, so when I see something like “There Are No Deals In This Email“, curiosity gets the better of me. I can’t resist and I just have to click to find out what’s going on.

For those of you who are as curious as I am, here’s what I see upon clicking on the email.

Groupon has 1000s of email

I have to say that this is one of the slickest examples of successful email marketing that I have seen from a brand and it definitely left an indelible impression on me (to the point where I flagged it for the sake of writing this blog post). By breaking away from their usual daily deal oriented subject line that subscribers are used to, and sending them the exact opposite of what they expect, Groupon was able to stand out from the crowd of their own emails and cut through the noise.

We’re used to seeing such ingenuity from Groupon when it comes to email marketing, as with their much publicized “Punish Derrick” video, where subscribers who decide to unsubscribe are made to re-consider. And it’s clear we’ll be seeing more great emails from them.

Forget the usual personalized subject lines and discounts – this is the way a brand wins the email game.

Email’s Image Issues

How many of you eagerly check your email every 5 minutes waiting for the promotional emails of brands to reach your inbox. Show of hands. Anyone? How often do you say, “WOW, fantastic email generic brand ABC! I can’t wait to see more from you!” The sad truth is, while there are brands that can stun and surprise us with awesome email marketing campaigns, it doesn’t really happen often enough.

Email has an image problem and it all has to do with brands sending us generic marketing emails with content that are not relevant to our interests. Experts in the email industry share their thoughts on what can make email better.

Making Email Delightful

Email is suffering from an image crisis, where consumers feel that they have lost control over a permission-based channel. Mike May offers some suggestions to brands on making the email experience a delight for the consumers.

  • Anticipation: Pre-empt customer requests for information and give it them before they ask for it.
  • Selflessness: Find a way to make the subscriber’s day a bit better and reward them for being a reader.
  • Surprise: Surprise your reader!
  • Personality: Ensure that your messages convey personality.

Hey, as Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

The Future Of Email Marketing, Social Media, And Other Interviews

Our friend, Chris Penn, and VP of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications is interviewed by Marketing Cloud, on email’s image issue, the role it plays in the marketing mix and its forseeable future. Chris has often wowed us with his depth of knowledge when it comes to marketing technology so be sure to watch the interviews!

Ten common email marketing gaps and errors

How well do you manage your email marketing? Independent email consultant, Tim Watson highlights 10 common mistakes. 5 & 9 in particular are definitely factors that lead to recipients hitting the spam button, so avoid these mistakes!

  • Mistake 1. Not setting long-term Email-specific goals.
  • Mistake 2. Not investing in list growth.
  • Mistake 3. Failing to track email signup sources.
  • Mistake 4. Not using all customer touchpoints for signup.
  • Mistake 5. Lack of a clear email value proposition.
  • Mistake 6. Not investing time to setup triggered messaging.
  • Mistake 7. Not Testing targeting.
  • Mistake 8. Frequency of send not optimised.
  • Mistake 9. Offer unclear up front.
  • Mistake 10. Lack of measurement beyond the click.

Email Like A pro: 20 Killer Lifecycle Email Campaigns from 2013

Chris Hexton, from Vero provides 20 examples of great lifecycle emails. Here are some examples:

The sense of urgency email

The Sense of Urgency Email - Email Marketing

The up sell email

Upselling Email - Email Marketing

The education email

Educational Email - Email Marketing

[Infographic] Email Marketing Best Practices

Want to make sure that your marketing emails are getting into your customer’s inbox? Check out our Email Marketing Best Practices 101 eBook!

Email Best Practices eBook

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

Don’t you just love the holiday season? There’s always something new to celebrate. Now that Christmas is over, we’re all gearing up to ring in the new year in just four days!

And as always, at the beginning of a new year, it seems apt to reflect upon your hits and misses and overall individual or company performance. In line with that sentiment, here are a couple of tools to measure your annual email usage statistics.

Know Your Gmail Stats using Gmail Meter

With over 425 million active Gmail users in June 2012, Gmail is arguably one of the leading providers (if not THE leading provider) of free webmail. The Gmail Meter, developed by Romain Vialard, a Google Apps Script Top Contributor, provides users with basic email statistics to better understand their email usage. These include:

  • Volume Statistics
  • Daily Traffic
  • Traffic Pattern
  • Email Categories
  • Time Before First Response
  • Word Count
  • Thread Lengths
  • Top Senders & Recipients

Contactually Launches A Year-End Email Report Card That Goes Deeper Than Google’s Gmail Meter Report

The title says it all.

For a deeper more insightful look at your email usage statistics, get a personalised email report card from Contactually. Interesting metrics include:

  • Email Mood
  • Popular Subject Lines
  • Popular Words
  • Subject Line Length

With the amount of spam and direct marketing messages that one receives every day, it’s hard to see how someone can get a good grade on metrics such as unresponded emails and email totals. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining and beautifully rendered report card for one’s own amusement – as well as an excellent way to gain brand awareness in the marketplace.

What Marketers Can Learn From a Gaming Company’s Email Tactics

When it comes to gaming, email is key to gamer retention, increasing customer lifetime value as well as brand recall. MarketingProf’s advice to gaming companies is to provide disclosure and value for gamers when requesting for their email. Here are the recommended guidelines for lead nurturing and enhanced customer service:

  • Request for an email early in the gaming process together with details on what players can expect to receive through email – tip & tricks, tutorials, discounts.
  • Provide players with a value-add of some kind immediately after they sign up through their email address. For example, when I signed up for Blizzard Entertainment’s popular MMORPG game World of Warcraft, I was immediately provided with a free downloadable online guide to the game through email.
  • Use of event triggered emails for more effective brand engagement instead of weekly updates. Has the player just conquered Diablo III? Invite them to start playing Starcraft with a free trial.
  • Use analytics to determine the playing habits of individual subscribers, followed by appropriate tailoring of the messages. For example, gamers who play frequently probably wouldn’t mind receiving weekly email updates from your company, but not those who have not played in a while. For these players, reactivation messages with gifts when they resume game play would be more effective.
  • Give players control of the messages they receive – let them set the terms and grounds for communication with a preference center. If they opted in to certain types of communication, they’ll be more likely to appreciate those emails from your brand.

The article also calls for branding consistency by ensuring players who have signed up for a specific game are getting emails from the game they signed up for and not the parent company. I have to say, I’m not sure I entirely agree with this one though. While I am a huge fan of brand consistency, I’ll admit that email cross-selling under the parent company’s name has worked on me. If I am interested in Dragons of Altantis from Kabam for example, I’m also likely to be interested in a 50% offer on Kingdoms of Camelot.

Now? Really? Spamhaus Blacklists Retailers for Typos

Major retailers like Gap and Gilt have found themselves on email blacklists this year – simply for typing errors in subscriber’s email addresses. Such errors typically occur during point-of-sale where customers opt for paperless receipts to be sent to their inbox. Up to 60% of a sender’s email may not make it into inboxes when placed on such blacklists. With the festive season being a prime opportunity for retailers to increase their sales and maximize customer lifetime value, the timing couldn’t be worse.  Its impact on these retailers could be akin to Google’s Florida algorithm update in 2003 right before the holiday season, which left many holiday retailers scrambling.

Why mobile email templates need to disappear

We’ve been highlighting stories about designing for the mobile recently, and with good reason. Consider the incredible escalation in the adoption of mobile devices as seen in John Pinson’s The Internet’s Growing Faster Than You Thought and the fact that 35% of all emails are now viewed on mobile devices.

It’s no longer possible for designers to design specifically for each and every new mobile device that is launched, yet it is imperative to ensure that a companies emails are optimized for the mobile. Hence, here are three tips for mobile design:

  • Use a one column design
  • Simplify call to actions due to lack of screen real estate
  • Use media queries

 Gaming emails aside, there’s plenty you can do with your transactional email to keep subscribers coming back for more. Optimize your transactional email today with the help of the Transactional Messaging Best Practices eBook.

Transactional Messaging Best Practices

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

11 days to Christmas and plenty of news in the email world this week. First up…

Good Morning Email Deals!

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Jump up and brush your teeth? Hit snooze and fall back into your cocoon of pillows and blankets? Stagger like a grumpy bear to your coffee machine for your choice of poison?

How about this one – check your email? Show of hands? I’m certainly guilty of this one action. Without fail, the first thing I do every morning is to check my email. Now, here’s a great opportunity for retailers! By testing different elements of their emails such as subject line, or content and looking at the demographics or psychographics of their engaged user base, retailers and other companies could create a call to action to drive conversions. It could be a discount off an e-book they viewed the night before. Anything that pushes them over the edge to becoming a paying customer!

And here’s one more tip – those of us who check emails first thing in the morning? We’re probably doing it on our mobile phones so optimize those emails for a small screen.

Email Triggered Click Rate Rises Nearly 115%

The Q3 2012 Email Trends and Benchmarks study showed that marketing automation or triggered emails are the way to go in engaging with potential customers. A quarter by quarter comparison shows that emails triggered by landing on a Welcome, Thank You and Abandoned Shopping Cart page get 10.3% more click through than last year. The continuing rise in click rate is no surprise – if a customer has landed on your page and taken a certain action there from signing up to adding items onto a virtual shopping cart – they definitely have a certain interest in your brand. If they get a follow up email from that action, they are likely to click on it to find out more information, so nurture that lead!

Bonobos shows the power of integrating social and email

Here’s a case study of a brand that’s taking social and email integration to the next level. Bonobos, a retail brand that’s making the rounds through events, faced a demand for photos the morning after – a demand they found hard to meet due to the tight timeline for email production.

To solve this issue, Bonobos integrated a live stream of Twitter and Instagram into an email by setting up a hashtag. Recipients were thus able to view a live stream of content each time they opened up the mail.


Jordan Cohen of Moveable Ink says:

“We believe that marketers should use original, genuine, user generated content within their emails to add an element of “social proof” to their offers.  If people are organically talking about your brand using their authentic voices, then push that content into your campaigns. Our live email content technology enables marketers to automatically stream the very latest tweets, Facebook posts, and even Instagram photos into email.”

While this innovation pushes the envelope, content curators might be mildly horrified with the risk of such a hashtag being hijacked by a troll. However, that’s a risk all brands take when integrating social media into their outreach efforts. It’s what makes social media so terrifying – and attractive.

Yahoo Mail Gets Major Overhaul With Emphasis on Fewer Distractions

Marissa Meyer has been making waves since being appointed as the CEO of Yahoo, and here’s a new notch on her belt – a redesigned Yahoo interface for greater usability. The new web-based interface features:

• Fewer buttons and therefore less clutter on the screen
• More space to view and compose emails
• Search improvements
• Thumbnail previews of attachments



We’re looking to see if any of these changes will affect Yahoo’s user adoption rate – more on this in the future when the full impact is measured.

35 Free Pre-Designed Email Templates Just For You [And an Infographic!]

Here’s one from HubSpot. The company is offering 35 free email design templates. What we are really interested in though, is this infographic they have tagged on to their blog spot. Here’s a summary of what caught our attention:

• Personalized emails see a greater clickthrough rate of 14% and a better conversion rate of 10%
• Triggered emails have more than 100% clickthrough rate
• 65% prefer emails with images over text
• 88% prefer HTML over text


A word of caution on these findings though – there still exists a certain percentage of people who aren’t able to view images on email without taking a further action such as downloading images. An image heavy or HTML laden email could put these people who are only viewing plain text emails off.

Remember: One unsubscription = loss of one potential customer.

Minimize unsubscribes with an approach that covers both email and mobile. Get started with the 10 Steps to Mobile Messaging Guide!

10 Steps To Mobile Messaging

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

End of the week and wasn’t it a long time coming? Time to kick back and wind down before the weekend. And we have the perfect way to do it with news to keep you entertained and in the know about what’s trending in the email world.

Six email predictions for the new year

As the year comes to a close, marketers across all industries and verticals are starting to speculate on what’s in and what’s out in 2013. BtoB magazine speaks to our very own Carrie Scott, Director of Product & Direct Marketing, and John Pinson, Senior Content Marketing Manager, on what their predictions are for email in the new year. Here’s what on the In list in a nut shell:

Cross-channel communication through social media with a focus on LinkedIn
• Continued emphasis on investment in email
• Control over data centers through on-premise technology solutions
Customer engagement based on their terms
Consolidated messaging across channels
• Communications centered around mobile

5 meaningful numbers that don’t lie

Numbers are both the bane and boon of businesses measuring their ROI on marketing efforts. Here are 5 numbers that govern whether your email sees the light of day or is relegated to the delete bin:

Time of Day – What works in the West, might not work in the East. Target to have everyone receive an email at the same time in their time zone.
Open Rate – Split test all elements that could impact open rate.
Click Rate – Ensure a clear CTA or Call To Action
Click to Open Ratio (Different from click rate!) – A low ratio could mean that your subject line is misleading & not aligned to the content people expect to get from the email
Conversion Rate – Aim for a clear CTA to get a conversion rate of between 20-35%

5 Charts That Could Change Your Email Marketing

Our friends in Eloqua have released 5 charts to help you optimize your email marketing efforts. Here’s one in particular that we’d like to highlight:


Email Drives more Traffic than Social – This validates our Marketing Channel and Engagement Benchmark Survey which finds that email is still the top choice of a marketing channel at 90% where social comes in at 70%. Our recommendation is to leverage the reach of both channels by having them work in tandem to generate conversations – and ultimately, conversions.

Why is mobile important for B2B marketing?

We all know how mobile, and smartphones in particular, have radically transformed the landscape of marketing and how it’s THE way to get potential customers to convert. What’s key to using it effectively is understanding the ways in which your target audience use mobiles in their daily lives and this article highlight the four key pillars to a mobile strategy.

Don’t be a Petraeus: A Tutorial on Anonymous Email Accounts

Whether it’s exchanging love letters with a significant other, or preparing for your next top secret mission if you’re James Bond, there’s always a time when you’d like to communicate in privacy without feeling like Big Brother is watching. The Petraeus scandal and lawsuits filed citing violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act have both sparked off debate on privacy issues in a business world powered by electronic communications. Here’s a starter’s guide to ensuring the security of your email communications.

Find out why mobile is so important in the world of email with The New Communications Standard white paper!

The New Communications Standard

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

It’s that time of the week where we bring you stuff to ponder for the weekend!

Is Cyber Monday the worst day for a sale? 

A pertinent question in the season for shopping. And the answer lies with the nature of your business. With Cyber Monday following closely on the heels of Black Friday, customers are inundated with direct marketing messages like email. Retail luxury goods promotions may work, but not so for magazine subscriptions and the like. Running a campaign during this time period might be akin to shouting in a void. Sleigh bells and cash registers may be ringing for the retail sector, but if you’re not in that business, it’s possible no one is listening to you.

Congress May Require Police to Get a Warrant for Your Emails

The times they are a-changing. And the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is now up for review – a bill that has been left untouched since 1986. Currently, the police only require a warrant for emails less than 6 months old. It’s the efficiency of law enforcement versus the citizen’s right to online privacy – whose side are you on?

Biggest spammers? Marketers.

Sobering news. Our partner Return Path’s Q3 Email Intelligence Report found that 70% of all spam complaints can be traced to marketers. Rather than unsubscribe from emails that people once opted-in to receive, people are simply categorizing them as spam and ISPs are taking action – deliverability rates have dropped to 82% in the United States. Despite these findings, email still retains its effectiveness – a study by the Direct Marketing Association found that email still had the highest ROI of $40.56 for every dollar spent. Search, which came in second place, only netted $22.24.

Email Personalization: 137% increase in open rate from personal note approach

The title speaks entirely for itself. By including the name of the recipient, the name & email of the sender and removing design elements so an invitation to attend a webinar looked like a letter rather than an email, MarketingSherpa was able to achieve a whooping 137.4% higher open rate and 128.9% higher clickthrough than with a non-personalised version. That speaks volumes in how businesses should go about email marketing campaigns.

Did You Know 144.8 Billion Emails Are Sent Every Day?

Everyone loves a good infographic. This may not be yesterday’s news but it’s still interesting to know that “in the time it took you to read this sentence, 20 million emails were written”. Again, who doesn’t love a good infographic?

Email Today Infographic

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week, we’re sure some people have been too busy trying to clear their work load to keep track of the latest in email news. As such, we at Message Systems thought it would be a great idea to round up some of the hottest topics in email marketing this week for your leisure reading. So without further ado, here’s what people have been talking about:

What you can learn from 1.159bn B2B subject lines

Adestra recently released results of a study where they found that people were more likely to sit up and take notice when money words like “$” & “£” (a 96% click through rate!) are in the subject lines of B2B emails. In case, you’re wondering, the word “revenue” drives click through as well. Somehow, we’re not surprised…

The Rise Of 0-to-1 Email Communications

Here’s an interesting read about how 1-to-1 communications via email, have evolved and changed through the rise of machine automation to become 0-to-1. Here’s a golden line from the article: “When targeting, relevance and scale all matter, machines win.” Do you agree? I guess that’s one point to the bots and none for us humans…

Think all your marketing automation problems are solved with the right technology? Think again

Marketing automation is a key buzz word among email marketers and here are 5 ways how not to do it right. The key to focus on in all of this is lead nurturing and not just indiscriminate email blasting.

Data privacy: Not a priority for marketers?

Online and data privacy is definitely on everyone’s mind this week with the ongoing Petraeus controversy.  A study by Edelman shows a huge disconnect between the importance placed on privacy by marketers and individuals.

10 Ways To Improve Your 2013 Email Program

Here’s a comprehensive list of a number of ways to start improving your email marketing campaigns. Do you agree with these recommendations or do you have some of your own?

And that’s it for this week’s email news round up. Stay tuned for more of the same good stuff in the weeks ahead!

Need more tips on improving your email program? Check our Email Best Practices 101 eBook!

Email Best Practices eBook