Get inspired with these examples of email marketing innovation

Get inspired with these examples of email marketing innovation

Marketers are likely to be sending higher volumes of promotional messages to their email contact lists during the busy month of December, and let's face it: Ideas can run out relatively quickly, especially as exhaustion sets in. 

At such a time, there's no shame in looking to competitors and businesses in other sectors for examples of how to keep the creativity flowing in your email marketing campaigns. Rather, it's often necessary to take a cue from other companies, as it can help marketers stay abreast of the latest trends in their field. Here are a few of the most instructive examples of creative branding in recent email campaigns, as well as developments of relevance to marketers.

Trader Joe's emphasizes relationship
During the holidays, it's generally assumed that consumers are looking for a great deal. Shopping lists are long, and prices can add up quickly, so it's natural for people to jump at the opportunity to cut costs. After all, steep discounts are what Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about.

Trader Joe's, however, took a very different approach to its Cyber Monday email promotions. According to Practical Ecommerce, the natural foods grocer sent out an email promotions that didn't focus on sales or prices. Rather, the company took an informational approach, reminding customers about the availability of its Fearless Flyer shopping guide, which helps shoppers navigate Trader Joe's products relevant to the holidays. It also opened up two-way communication by including an invitation for recipients to email the company and write about their favorite items they bought at the store in 2013.

"The lesson here may be that holiday marketing is really an extension of the marketing that you do all of the time. If you are building customer relationships in July, those customers are probably going to shop with you during the holidays," Practical Ecommerce noted.

Uline goes back to basics
While the holiday shopping rush is naturally focused on consumers, that doesn't mean that only B2C companies find success in offering promotions this time. B2B firms are also reaching out to their business email lists in an attempt to capitalize on the shopping-centric season. 

Practical Ecommerce noted that B2B retailer Uline, which specializes in packaging for businesses, recently sent out an email to its clients that offered a 40 percent-off promotion on one product, corrugated cartons. The strength of this email, the source suggested, is its simplicity: It highlighted a uniform discount on a single item, and even its layout was streamlined. Furthermore, the offer extends through January, so it's more tailored to the needs of business owners and company buyers, who aren't as likely to get caught up in the one-day Cyber Monday craze.

Facebook blends email and social media
Email marketers are aware by now that social networks are their friends rather than their enemies. In a column for ClickZ, LiveIntent Chief Operating Officer Dave Hendricks noted the benefits of Facebook's Custom Audience tool, which allows companies to market to email contacts who spend time on the social media site.

"Your email addresses are valuable beyond your first party newsletter-based email campaigns. If they aren't reading your emails, you can use Hash IDs to find them on an increasing number of custom audience platforms that support this standard," Hendricks wrote.

Google prioritizes intent
While marketers remain friendly with Facebook, Google is likely to be a bit less popular: The Promotions tab it recently added to Gmail means marketing emails may be less likely to get a look from recipients. Hendricks pointed out, however, that the development presents an opportunity rather than a stumbling block, as it allows for more intent-driven email opens.

If you stay aware of trends like these and think about how to take advantage of them or incorporate them into your own email campaigns, it's hard to imagine running out of ideas.

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