A clever retail email campaign example – Offer + social proof

It’s an inbox war out there. More and more emails sent. Less and less attention paid. So when an email makes ME stop and pay attention, I make the effort to consider why – and help us all learn from it! So I thought I’d share this recent clever email marketing campaign that combines the double whammy of a great offer AND social proof.

It’s an email from an Australian online bag and carry retailer, Rushfaster. (I haven’t bought from them before but I entered a rather compelling competition a few months ago, which is where I expect they got my email address.)

To start with: the offer in this email is great – 25% off is a decent discount. But a lot of retailers offer 25% off in their email marketing, so it isn’t enough to motivate someone who’s not really in the market for what they’re selling right now. Particularly when trying to drive FIRST purchase, they’ve recognised the need to work harder. In this case, Rushfaster is betting on social proof. That is – 99.4% of customers said they’d shop with us again.

Now that is an impressive lot of satisfied customers. Huge numbers any marketer would be proud to have. So if I was worried about Rushfaster in any way – about their legitimacy, quality of product, ability to deliver – this would alleviate this. It’s an impressive use of social proof and a great way to use research for more than just making your boss happy!

This campaign is a great example of how to use a hook and a call to action really well.

I should point out, I didn’t actually shop as a result of this email. Which isn’t unusual, of course; if we all bought something every time we got an email, we’d be broke in a week!

But it did make me consider – what would ultimately make this campaign even better? In my opinion, it would be to include some product at the end. Because, like many of us, I’m a bit of an impulse shopper when I see something I love.

Adding some desirable product below the hook and call to action may have closed this for me. Of course, it may not have too! So still lots to learn from this smart little marketing campaign – and a reminder to make each communication piece you send always work as hard as it possibly can.


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The right way to deliver ‘bad news’ to customers

You won’t always have good news for customers. Prices will go up, service inclusions will change, programs will end. It’s a fact of business life.

So when you have to share ‘bad’ news, you need to consider how you’ll do it. Both your copywriting skills, and knowledge of your customer, need to come into play. What is important to your customers? What benefits are you STILL offering? Why is the change being made?

A great example of the right way to deliver bad news is this email message I recently received from bank ING Direct. It was advising me a promotion they’d been running for several years was coming to an end. I’d never taken advantage of this program, so it would have escaped my attention, except for the fact that I thought this was a clever delivery.


It starts by reminding customers of the value of the promotion they’ve delivered for two years. It then points out some other genuine benefits of banking with them that would have to go if the program continued. It gives customers advance notice the promotion coming to an end. It doesn’t talk down to the customer. It makes this bank appear transparent. It’s succinct but clear.

It’s a great little communication piece. And it would have taken quite a lot of work and consideration, despite its brevity. It’s a great reminder of the value of well chosen words – and that there is a right way to deliver bad news.


Ing promotion bad news good news

PS. I should also note ‘bad news’ doesn’t mean ‘mistake’. If there’s been a mistake, it’s best to apologise, quickly and painlessly. Customers will respect you for it and move on. As in life, in business when you try and cover up a mistake, or deny it, that when the problems usually start!

To pop up, or not pop up, that is the question

The challenge with most marketing is that you’re dealing with clients or bosses who say to you “I don’t like that” or “That annoys me” when you recommend a tactic. The “pop up box” encouraging sign ups on a website is one of these tactics that can be hard to convince people of. Because they are a bit annoying. They also work.

I’ve successfully implemented a pop up box now several times. Each time, it has immediately driven increased list sign up – and increased conversions. Despite sharing these experiences, it can still be hard to convince people. So I was pleased to see this new research report of 400 online retailers that pretty definitively shuts down the argument.

According to a recent study by email marketing firm Listrack, pop-ups can help retailers nearly double the rate at which they sign up consumers to receive marketing email. A pop up that includes an incentive, like a percentage off offer, results in an average list increase over a year of a whopping 47.8%!

I haven’t ever gotten a 50% bump. But I have achieved a 20-30% bump. It works best when you have an incentive – both in the box and on the thank you page (and ideally the follow up email with the chance to offer something like an upsell). It’s the ideal zero budget marketing tactic – beyond a little bit of form design, you’re spending nothing at all to increase your marketing effectiveness!

So if you don’t have a pop up box on your website to capture visitors that don’t buy, you’re wasting an opportunity. That opportunity is building your database so that you have a chance to convert visitors later. A sad fact of eCommerce and other websites is that we only convert a small fraction of visitors to buyers. So why not try and capture information of engaged visitors to try and convince them later.

And if you’re left wondering still what a pop up box is…here’s a few examples I’ve come across recently that might help with increasing sign ups to your own website.

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Yes please, I’d like $15 of free money

15 dollar credit example

There’s a LOT of bad marketing out there – money wasted, missing calls to action, ho-hum offers abound. So when you see good marketing, it’s worth noticing and taking a little inspiration from.

Red Balloon have been a “business to watch” for many years. Founder Naomi Simpson is a regular speaker at business events, flying the flag for her business in a one-woman PR campaign!

As a successful but purely online business, they’ve honed what works in terms of online promotion – which is why I was interested in this “account credit” promotion I was sent from them.

I was recently the recipient of TWO Red Balloon gift vouchers, so created an account and spent the vouchers on a weekend away.

A month later, I received this offer: A $15 credit in my account to spend, with 6 weeks available to spend it.

This is an immediately enticing offer. Let’s face it: I feel that I have been given FREE MONEY.

And I am highly likely to use this “free money”…and likely end up spending a whole lot more with them! They’re on the road to making me a repeat customer, something I hadn’t even really considered before receiving this offer.

It’s a clever zero budget marketing tactic that is not used enough in the online sphere.

Why is this ‘zero budget’ marketing. There’s no cost to Red Balloon if I don’t use this offer. It’s a zero budget marketing tactic because the business really isn’t spending money unless it’s MAKING money. And if someone spends a “voucher” like this, the spend is usually 5-8 times a voucher’s value. They’re also moving me from a ‘gift recipient’ to a ‘customer’ with this type of offer – rather clever in itself.

So if you’re in any sort of retail or B2C marketing, consider how you could use this type of offer in your marketing.



A great example of Partnership Marketing

ING direct promo

I love a good partner promotion. It’s a zero budget marketer’s dream – find someone with a comparable size database and work out a promotion together.

I’ve just received a great offer via my bank (ING Direct) for 20% off at clothing retailer THE ICONIC.

It ticks all the boxes – a decent discount, a stylish looking marketing piece, a brand I recognise.

I don’t know the details of what these particular partners worked out, but I know I regularly negotiate similar arrangements for clients and NO MONEY changes hands. The extra benefit of these sorts of promotions is that they are always more successful than promotions to rented lists – that is, when you DO spend money. That’s because your promotion has an implicit tick of approval from the organisation sending it, who has a great relationships with it’s own database.

So whether you’re a small or large business, someone is talking to the sort of customers you want to access. And someone will want to talk to the sort of customers on your database. So get in touch and work out a partnership promotion today!

Remember the value of a competition when it comes to database building


I’m a direct marketer at heart. It’s how I started my career (so long again it was in mail order shopping, well before the dawn of online shopping!). It’s still what I most trust. I feel safer making an investment (of time or money) where I’m able to say with reasonable confidence “if I spend X, I’ll get Y in return”. It’s the same reason CPC online marketing has become so popular. You get an immediate cost per lead.

Now to be a successful direct marketer, you need your own list – preferably an email list, because email is still the killer app. And one of the best (and cheapest) ways to build a list is a competition. I’ve run MANY of these over the years and it constantly surprises me how much information people will share about themselves on the promise of winning something, even something comparatively small. We all love the thought of something for nothing.

So if you’re struggling to work out how to build your email list, run a competition.

The example I’ve included in today’s post is a perfect zero budget marketing example. The cost of the promotion is negligible – they’re giving away five copies of an ebook, so at most the ‘value’ is probably $25 – but I guarantee you they’ll get hundreds of entries. And they’ll be valuable entries because the sort of people who want to win a book are obviously ‘readers’ and ‘readers’ are pretty likely to buy books too.

The beauty of those people who join your email list is that they become the path to even more people.

I’m in the midst of a ‘refer a friend’ promotion with another client, with a total prize pool of only $750 (five spa gift vouchers – both the referrer and the referee go into the draw when the new person joins). The response has been huge – 25% of the new sign ups we’ve had for the offer have come from the refer a friend promotion, despite it being about only 5% of the campaign budget.

Now of course once you have people on your email list, you’ve got to treat them with respect – entertain them, educate them, keep them involved. But before I veer off onto a whole other post, for now let me sum up by saying:

Building a prospect and customer email list will be THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE form of marketing you’ll ever do.

And an extremely cheap way to get people onto your list is to run a competition. And then run another one. And then run another one…

Can you avoid an email unsubscribe?

subscription options

It is such hard work getting someone to subscribe to your email list, but it’s worth it because email is still the killer app of online marketing.

To be a good email marketer, you always need to include an opt-out, a chance for people to unsubscribe. But what if you gave someone another option? Perhaps they are annoyed by the volume of your emails (or all their emails, more likely). But if you could offer them the chance to reduce this volume, might they take it? I know recently I did.

I’m now living in the land of aggressive and constant marketing (aka the USA) and with a few household purchases have been a little inundated with daily marketing emails. I wanted to unsubscribe to some of them and came across the scenario pictured above with kitchenware retailer Chefs. I could unsubscribe but I could also drop emails to weekly or a couple of times a month. It gave me pause- and I chose twice a month instead of unsubscribing. Like most consumers, I was teased with the fact I might ‘miss out’ if I unsubscribed completely.

So clever, because it’s saved them a subscriber – someone who’s purchased from them and really is quite likely to do so again if reminded or appropriately tempted.

Why is this zero budget marketing at it’s best? It’s protecting an investment: work already done and money already spent.

Could you offer this on your unsubscribe page? Or if you don’t have that level of customisation, perhaps on your unsubscribe page you can give people the option to engage with you on social media by liking your page or following you on Twitter. These can be less ‘intrusive’ and if someone wanted to hear from you once, maybe they still do, just a little less often.

Here’s to holding on to those subscribers in some way, shape or form!

Why or why do people keep forgetting a CALL TO ACTION?!

We marketers work hard to get a campaign out. We need to come up with a concept, work with a designer, fit into a schedule, set up an email, test a million times, clean up the data, then finally hit send.

So why would you do all this work WITHOUT a call to action of some sort?


What has inspired me to write all this in shouty-capitals? This eDM I received from ING Direct yesterday (on 9 July).

I’m a customer and I was interested to learn a little more about these free seminars they say they’re starting. It says registration open on the 10 July – so the very next day. But you can’t pre-register your interest or click through to a page for more information.

I could have chalked that up to a ho-hum “teaser” and moved on, but it got worse.

It says to keep an eye on their Facebook page – but then you can’t click through to their Facebook page! So I’d have to be SO motivated to learn more that I’d head on over to Facebook, SEARCH for them and then like them to maybe learn about it (assuming Facebook deigns to feature it in my feed which it may very well not due to the way EdgeRank works.)

This eDM has missed TWO opportunities to inspire action at the exact moment it had my attention. I just see this as a massive waste of effort. And as we zero budget marketers know, “effort” is a huge part of your marketing “budget”.

So this serves as a great reminder to ALWAYS have a call to action – preferably multiple ones – in any outbound marketing communication. And on your website pages. And in your social media. And on your voicemail. And on your email signature.

You get the picture.

In summary: Don’t leave your “Call to Action” missing in action.

‘How To’ Tuesday: How to write a great subject line for your email marketing

Source Bottle always has fully descriptive subject lines

So what makes a good subject line for an email? And more importantly – why should you care?

I’m a BIG believer of the power of email, which gets lost these days in the hype of social media. That’s not to say social media isn’t important, but you OWN your email database (or at least the permission to email them whilst they remain subscribed) and so you have much more control over when you speak to them.

So back to subject lines. These little puppies are the MOST IMPORTANT part of your email. Why? Because we are all so busy, all we do is SCAN our emails – and wait for something to grab our attention or we simply delete it. And when it comes to our email inbox, where we routinely get 50+ emails a day, we are very picky about what we read. And how do we decide what to read? The email subject line.

A scan of your own inbox will show you that a LOT of email subject lines tell you nothing about what’s in the email – the fatal flaw, in my opinion. The are either overly promotional, boring or completely uninformative.

A GOOD subject line is:

– Descriptive
– Enticing or intriguing
– Long enough to tell you something
– One that is appealing to YOUR target market

There is this odd perception with many people that “short is always good” in marketing – but in email subject lines, it can go either way. Some research says “the longer the better” and other research says “no difference“.

I have found that it’s much more about being relevant and interesting rather than long or short for the sake of it.

A good thing to remember is that an email subject line is your HEADLINE – so to help work out what works, consider what makes YOU read a news article…what “sucks you in” to read more?

A quick look at today’s Herald Sun (which has the highest readership in Victoria) has the following headlines:

‘Lance admits “tour drug use” to Oprah’

‘Scam takes punters on $800 ride’

‘Mum on drugs killed son, court told’

These headlines give you a lot of information in just a few words – and make you want to know more. You need to apply the same thinking to your email marketing.

Often you have more than one story to share – but don’t feel you can only mention one. Why? Because different stories appeal to different people.

A fantastic example of this is the SourceBottle emails that come out twice daily, matching marketers and business people with call outs from journalists and writers.

Here’s an example from a recent one:

“Personality types and health | New products to feature within TrailerBoat Magazine | How has motherhood changed you? | Small Business Pinterest Lovers | Unusual proposals, themed weddings, bizarre hook-ups | Back to school | Homework – agree/disagree”

A subject line this length – without knowing the context – would scare the pants off most marketers. Yet it’s perfect for this market. I ALWAYS check the subject line to see if there’s something relevant to me, and I must be one of many as their subscribers numbers are constantly growing.

A hard working subject line is worth the hard work it takes in coming up with it – don’t just write anything and hope for the best. You have likely spent many HOURS (or dollars) on your email content – so don’t throw it away with a barely considered subject line.

Put in the effort, test the results – and watch your email marketing performance improve.

What makes a great subject line? What will make someone open and read your email?

Not all marketing tips need to be new and flashy. Sometimes we need to remember the basics – because if you don’t get the basics right, nothing that follows will be worth much.

The basic I’m talking about is email SUBJECT LINES.

On average, I get around one hundred emails a day – not counting spam. I read things by clients or friends first (depending on how under the pump I am) and then the other 30 or so left are marketing or subscription emails. Of these, I probably scan 5-6 and actually read 3-4, as I’m just too busy to get to the rest. I suspect that’s pretty standard for many people’s whose job involves computers and communication.

So, what makes the cut.

I tend to lean towards reading my fave blog emails regardless, but on a busy day (most days), the emails that catch my eye are the ones that get looked at. And they catch my eye because of their subject line. Again, I’m just like everyone else. You need to get their attention before you have a chance to say ANYTHING.

So what makes a good subject line?

It needs to SUCK YOU IN. You have to want to read it.

You can do this by:

– being clever or intriguing

– packing in a lot of information so that one of several items is bound to appeal to people

– have a really compelling, time limited, DIFFERENT call to action

You cannot do it by being dull and pedestrian and revealing nothing new or enticing.

Sometimes you’re rushed, sometimes you’re not feeling creative, sometimes the client won’t let you write what you want to write…there’s always an excuse for doing a poor job.

But if you want to know what works, you just have to consider what would catch your eye on a busy day. If you don’t think what you’ve written will suck someone in, go back to the drawing board.

PS. A quick tip is to include the person’s name in the subject line. Everyone is obsessed with themselves (if you don’t believe me, consider this: who do you look for first in a group photo that you’re in?).

PPS. What does a great subject line look like more specifically?

There’s a lady I’ve never met, who I’ve no affiliation with, who I’ve never bought from, that I think is a fantastic subject line writer. April Bowles authors a blog and runs courses on launching/running/marketing creative businesses. She’s primarily marketing to women that run craft businesses, sell on Etsy, that sort of thing. I’m am not this demographic and I don’t know how I found her, but I stay subscribed to her list because her emails are great – and her subject lines are what suck me in every time.

Here’s some recent ones:

Last Call for Blogging for Your Creative Business + Why I almost chugged vodka at 10am
This would be so embarrassing…
Would you have done things differently today if you only had a few years to live?
Why the “But I’m Not a Good Writer” Excuse Sucks + A Lesson in Rap