There’s a reason brilliant email marketing isn’t all that common. It’s difficult.
You know you’re supposed to send value, not just offers. And you know you should engage your audience, not just blather about what’s new with you.
But some days, you can beat your brains out and still not come up with fresh, catchy ideas. So you throw your hands up with an, “I don’t know. Let’s just send a coupon again.”
If that’s you, you may just need some inspiration. Here’s a collection of brilliant emails that, without pushing offers, entertain subscribers and get responses.
Getting the Vote
Baskin-Robbins asks subscribers to vote for the the ice cream flavor they’d like to see brought back.
First of all, this brings traffic to Baskin-Robbins’ site. Plus, it makes readers feel like a valued part of the BR community. And if they vote for the winning flavor, they’ll feel a sense of ownership when they see it in stores – both very good reasons for them to talk the ice cream chain up to their friends.
Now fill in the blank: “I can ask fans of (your brand name) to vote on ______.”
Videos on View
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how many words is a video worth? How about 5 videos?
Bombay Sapphire created a documentary to promote luxury products like their gin. They sent fans 5 chapters of it and simply asked them to watch.
The idea is that the education and entertainment viewers got from the videos would lead them to appreciate Bombay more, and that brand loyalty will sway them the next time they buy gin.
Now fill in the blank: “I can create a video about ____ to educate my subscribers.”
The Scoop on Poop
Yes, really. Luvs designed an iPhone game for their customers. Dirty diapers are just so much more enjoyable when you’re flinging them at pirates instead of having them flung at you by a 2-year old…
Not only will this create the need for reciprocity (link or address), but players will see Luvs branding every time they play.
Now fill in the blank: “My subscribers might have fun with a game about ______. How can I create one?”
Arts & Crafts Time
Home Made Simple put together a few craft ideas for kids and invited their subscribers to take advantage of them.
By facilitating fun family time, the brand earns the appreciation of parents while getting a new generation on board with their brand’s values. And it’s all free – again, encouraging brand loyalty.
Now fill in the blank: “Subscribers to (your brand name)’s emails might enjoy an activity that ______.”
It’s All About Location
Dunkin’ Donuts obviously wants their subscribers to come in, buy drinks and claim the free donuts offered here. But notice, that’s not what their call to action says…
Readers who click through are taken to a store locater to find a DD in their neighborhood. This way, whether subscribers participate in National Donut Day or not, they have the store on their neighborhood mental map and can stop in whenever the urge strikes.
Now answer this question: “What kind of mental map do I want (your brand name) to show up on? How can I get it to show up there?”
A Very Nike Story
Nike+ asked their fans to join their anniversary party by sharing their own user experience on Facebook.
When customers talk about Nike+ in their own words, they’re labeling themselves as “a Nike person.” They’re also developing a sense of ownership of the brand, which means they’ll want to support it – and see others support it – in the future.
Now answer the question: “What kind of stories might (your brand name)’s customers want to share? Where can I display those stories? Should I respond to any of them?”
On Second Thought
Threadless, like Baskin’ Robbins, asked their subscribers to vote on products to be released. The difference is that here, voting comes as a secondary option to the offer.
Sometimes you just can’t skip a direct call to buy (maybe you have a new product you need to promote or a sales goal to meet). But it can help to give subscribers other options, in case they’d rather interact with you a different way.
Now fill in the blank: “I plan to send this offer soon: ___. A nice little second option for my readers might be ______.”
Great! Now you’ve got 7 new ideas for fun, fascinating, loyalty-building emails.
Not only will many of them push traffic to your web site, but you can use them to build goodwill with your email community, which pays off in the long run: when you ask for a purchase, they’ll know you earned it.
And while we’re on the topic of goodwill, let’s try something here: if you’re up to it, share one of your new email plans with your fellow marketers below.
And if you remember after sending the email out, come back and post a link to your archived message!
About the Author: Amanda Gagnon writes, rants and raves about email marketing over at AWeber, and occasionally tweets about it @AmandaEGagnon.