Email Marketing Tactics That Work, and Those That Don’t

I received a couple of marketing emails over the weekend and it struck me how inept one of them was, especially compared to each other. First, both of these companies have permission to market to me. I’ve ordered products from both of them and I ticked the little box that allowed them to send newsletters and emails to me. Both of them were from companies that sell products for scale model railroads.

Email #1 had ‘Let Us Solve Your Holiday Shopping Dilemma‘ as the subject line. There’s a couple of issues with that subject line. First they assume I have a shopping ‘dilemma’ and then they imply they can solve it. No mention of what they’re selling and the From line gives no clue as it is simply from I opened the email only because I deal with very few hobby shops.

The header isn’t much better.

Dear model railroad enthusiast,

What? They don’t even know my name? Doesn’t look very promising. Then the body message- which consists of a single link:

Please take a look at our holiday specials!

I don’t have any warm fuzzies, there’s been no more mention of my ‘dilemma’ which at that moment in time consisted only of, ‘should I click this link’? I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and I clicked.

The link took me to a page that consisted of ten image links, two buildings in O scale, 4 canisters of talus, (scale gravel) and 4 bags of scale foliage. I model in HO scale and I’ve never ordered talus or foliage from them. The only products I ever order from them are HO scale vehicles. The only redeeming bit on the page is some fine red print offering $10 off any order over $50. The back button is the only thing I click.

Compare that sad attempt at marketing to this next email.

The subject line is, ‘We Know You Love Our HO Scale Hydrocal Buildings’.

They knew what scale I modeled in and they tracked my purchases. I don’t even look at the From field because ‘Hydrocal’ had my attention.

The header is much better;

Dear Dean, because we value your business we’d like to give you a free HO Scale Hydrocal building from our ‘Downtown” series.

I’ve been buying buildings from their Downtown series for some time but I still need quite a few to complete the series. But it gets even better. The next paragraph provides the details.

Simple buy any building in our Downtown series and we’ll send you a second building of equal value for free! And because it’s the holiday season, we’ll pay for shipping. Want more? During our limited time holiday offer, we’ll send you a free building of your choice for every one you buy at regular price! And we pay the shipping. Just click the link and make your selections. That’s it. No promo code needed.

In addition, there was a link to a PDF file that offered, ‘Painting and Weathering Techniques For Your Hydrocal Buldings’ –

Now that’s a deal. They took the time to see what my interests were, and made a great offer. In fact, even if the offer were simply 10% off one building they still marketed the offer correctly.

And after I made my order, I immediately received an e-coupon for $25 off my next order.

Generic emails that show no thought for the recipient, or targeted emails that provide real value? Both companies had permission. Both had an opportunity to send a targeted email and both of them had a chance to show they valued me as a customer.


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