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5 Brands That Do Email Marketing Right

The perfect marketing email has a certain je ne sais quoi—practically equal parts art, science, luck and open rates. A good one will motivate you to click on it, a great one will have you reading it beginning to end, and the best ones will engage or motivate you in ways that create a loyal customer for life. Deep stuff, huh? My personal inbox receives a lot of marketing emails, and these are just five consumer brands that happen to put out some of my favorite emails, five different ways.

Plum Deluxe

Why? Quality, clickable content above all else.

It’s no surprise that Plum Deluxe, an online lifestyle magazine, would send emails filled with their chief product: content. I first came across the site on Seek Or Shout, and was instantly hooked by their smart ideas, palatable lists and commitment to “treating yourself.” I signed up for their Plum Deluxe Weekly Wow e-newsletter and, wow, this email doesn’t hold back. With personalized editor’s notes, teasers of their best stories and most stunning photos and click-worthy contests, the email pretty much guarantees that I will visit their website. Plum Deluxe reminds me that branded emails should be fun and engaging, whether you’re reaching a consumer or another business. You must invest in solid storytelling and visuals and speak directly to your audience. Bonus: Plum Deluxe sends their emails on Sunday mornings, so you digest it New York Times– and pajamas-style, which really jives with the brand ethos of relaxation.

Blue Apron

Why? Delivering value before selling.

Here’s the thing. I’ve never subscribed to Blue Apron, an ingredient and recipe delivery service, and they probably know that. They know that their business concept is one that piques interest, but it may take many impressions to convince people to commit. So Blue Apron encourages website visitors to sign up for weekly recipes to get a feel for their offerings. They send fantastic recipes that you can make with ingredients from your own supermarket, along with valuable tutorials hosted on their blog. Do you know how to properly finish pasta or turn garlic into a paste? The sales pitch in the recipe emails is so subtle that the focus is undoubtedly on helping the reader become a better chef. Blue Apron knows that when I’m ready for a trial or finally have money budgeted to take the plunge, I’ll think of them first—because they never led me astray in the kitchen.


Why? User-generated content.

Geeks are a special breed who, no matter what their topic of interest, love to effusively show off their geekdom. ThinkGeek, an online retailer, knows this—and they’re geniuses for inviting their geek following to contribute two types of content to their emails. Readers can submit photos of themselves using ThinkGeek products, or can submit geek-themed haikus, and win store credit or cash as a result. Brands often forget to leverage their most powerful asset: their audience. ThinkGeek lets their readers become advocates for their retail items and geekdom in general, a powerful impartiality that lends credibility to their brand and builds trust among their fans.


Why? Masters of curation.

We’ve talked a bunch about content curation and how it can build thought leadership and relationships for your brand. Now, I didn’t think Someecards could get any more funny or inappropriate, but they have since proved me wrong with their emails. Their Weekly Roundup and This Week’s Featured Content emails highlight jokes from external sources, notably stories on site partner Happy Place and funny tweets from comedians and celebrities. This tactic engages an audience that is sold on the belief that, not only is Someecards a creator of hilarious content, but they know what’s hilarious and have some hilarious friends. This consideration earns them influence in their industry.


Provenance Food & Wine
Why? Experts in their space.

And now for something completely local. With two locations in Chicago’s Logan Square and Lincoln Square neighborhoods, Provenance is a small business with big ideas. I shop there and I can attest that what makes their store great is the helpful knowledge and passion their staff has for the food, wine and spirits they’re selling. My favorite part of their marketing emails is where a staffer selects an item in the store, waxes rhapsodic on the flavor profile or what makes it cool and then makes three or four suggestions as to how you can use it in your cooking. Brands, take heed! Showing people how to use your products, and kickstarting customers’ own innovations, might be one of the most important ways to connect with your audience. (Also, it just wouldn’t be a Terra countdown if I didn’t include two food brands, right?)

Do you have a favorite brand email that you regularly receive and read? Let us know in the Comments.

Looking for tips and more great examples on how you can execute email marketing campaigns? Join Gina Joseph and me for a free webinar, They Can’t Read What They Don’t Open—Strategies for Successful Email Marketing, at 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, October 10.

About Teresa Dankowski

Teresa Dankowski is a content marketing manager at Cision and covers best practices in marketing, PR and social media. She enjoys printmaking, wine, TV and dominating at rec league softball.

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