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7 email marketing lessons from Dollar Shave Club, Dunkin Donuts and Kenneth Cole

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7 email marketing lessons from Dollar Shave Club, Dunkin Donuts and Kenneth Cole

Email marketing can result in an ROI of $40 for every dollar spent [1]. But we often think about this powerful channel in terms of the marketer. But what about the consumer?

Sure, email marketing is all about about engaging people, but marketing teams are sometimes a few steps removed from the end user. We’re all marketers, but we’re also consumers. What can we learn about the email from our own user experiences?

Technology enables marketers to create the best possible email experiences, no matter their company size. Here are seven valuable lessons, straight from my own inbox:

1. Dunkin Donuts: Make their lives easier

The Dunkin Donuts around the corner from ClickZ headquarters in Manhattan’s Financial District is bedlam. Every morning, I get an iced coffee there and pay with the app, which gets me in and out as fast as possible (and gives me points).

How much money do I have on that app at any given moment? I have no idea; I just blindly scan the QR code. So I appreciate when Dunkin Donuts reminds me to reload, ensuring a smooth transaction the following day.

dunkin donuts email

2. Spirit Airlines: Catch their attention

The best marketing email in the world isn’t going to generate results if the user doesn’t bother opening it. The subject line [2] is your first impression and research shows that they’re most effective when they’re short, snappy and personalized [3].

Spirit Airlines certainly caught my attention with this subject line. I’ve never even flown Spirit so what award could I possibly be up for? Still, I sure did open this to find out.

spirit airlines email

3. Brooklyn Boulders: Give them a warm welcome

According to Experian data, welcome emails are unusually successful, compared with other marketing emails. They have 86% higher open rates [4] and generate nine times as many transactions.

It’s unlikely that Brooklyn Boulders, a rock climbing gym with four locations, has a marketing budget to rival that of Dunkin Donuts or Spirit Airlines. Regardless, they certainly have the tools to master the welcome email, which converted me from a one-time visitor to a member.

brooklyn boulders email

4. Kenneth Cole: Give them gentle reminders

Once upon a time, I was an ad sales rep and my boss used to always say, “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.” Retargeting makes me think about that all the time. How annoying is it when you look at a product one time and it follows you all over the Internet for the next week?

Kenneth Cole’s retargeting efforts [5] are a step above. There’s a sense of urgency (“Get it before it’s gone!”) but it’s not so aggressive that I felt like Kenneth Cole was stalking me or pressuring me to buy right this second.

kenneth cole email

5. Dollar Shave Club: Help them help you help them

According to Accenture, people are 58% more likely to make purchases from retailers that make personalized recommendations [6]. But what if your purchase history doesn’t indicate an interest in products you would buy but haven’t yet?

Dollar Shave Club [7] sends emails that link to a detailed questionnaire on their website. Users are asked questions about how often they shave, their skin type and hair texture, and how they style they hair, among others. From there, Dollar Shave Club calculates which products are best for you and makes recommendations accordingly.

dollar shave club email

6. Body Language Tattoo: Make them feel special

I have some tattoos. Certainly not enough of them to make me a VIP at a shop, but Body Language still managed to make me feel like one on my last birthday. Doesn’t everyone love getting birthday wishes?

Facebook users do and so do smart marketers, according to Experian. The credit report agency spent a month auditing 50 brands and found that birthday message outperform other marketing emails [8] in nearly every metric, with a transaction rate 481% higher. And technology makes these messages available to every marketer; Body Language Tattoo is a mom-and-pop shop with only a handful of employees.

body language tattoo email

7. Spotify: Make them want to engage

Dunkin Donuts and Kenneth Cole sell physical products. Other companies, like Spotify and Netflix [9], do not and aim to get users on their platforms for as long as possible.

Spotify knows how old its users are and what they listen to. The brand brilliantly combined those data sets to create personalized playlists serving as time capsules from users’ teenage years. I listened to mine as soon as I got this, of course.

spotify email

Wrapping up

According to The Radicati Group, 269 billion emails are sent every day [10], projected to increase by 19% over the next three years. That translates to some pretty clogged inboxes. These seven brands, a diverse group of companies and sizes, managed to stand out in mind by using technology to take the customer experience to the next level [11].

What did all seven have in common? They all spoke directly to me, the consumer. You’re a consumer, too; what can you learn about email marketing from your own inbox?

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