Email Marketing: Three lessons you can learn from the little guys | Cardinal Path Blog
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Email Marketing: Three lessons you can learn from the little guys

Maybe it’s because I do an email newsletter, maybe it’s because I write blog posts, maybe its because I love to complain about peoples lack of CAN-SPAM compliance, but I just love to sign up for newsletters. I’ll sign up for any one I see, then go about trying to unsubscribe if I don’t like it.

Normally I’ll rant about how one email campaign or another doesn’t comply with some best practice, but today I decided I am going to take a different tact. Instead, I am going to show off some email campaigns, mainly from small companies, that do things that I just love. Campaigns of little guys, without huge marketing budgets, which manage to pull certain effects off better than most of the high-class email marketing I see. While none of the following are examples of perfect email campaigns, each does one thing well, be it providing useful content, tempting the reader to buy, or creating a lasting relationship with the reader.

1. Blair from Extremefoods.com

With double opt, great CAN-SPAM compliance (thanks to Constant Contact), and from “Blair at Extreme Foods” I was impressed with Extremefoods.com‘s email campaign from the get go. Blair’s campaign does one thing, and it does it well: it maintains a relationship with his customers.

Is Blair’s campaign effective? I don’t know to be honest. But I do know that, despite not liking the Jets (they play Football right? Baseball? I don’t know), not being big into the whole barbecue thing, I keep reading his damned emails!

You have to appreciate the way he will send our emails when his favourite team plays at the super bowl, or when there’s something personal going on with him that he wants to tell people about.

And that’s the thing about Blair. His emails just seem so heartfelt. Each email is written as if it’s a personal letter, including pictures of himself and his grill, or parties, or his Mr. Potatohead. He always asks for feedback directly to his own email address, and always signs it—even if the red background in his signature never seems to properly match the red he uses in his email.

His recent email revamp (or at least I assume it was a revamp, as I haven’t seen a two column email form him before) also keeps his casual style while providing recipes and increased content. He also has increased his call for interaction, encouraging readers to submit stories and recipes in. You want to talk about integrating social media? This, not adding a “share on Facebook” button, is it.

All of this builds one of the most personal email experiences I’ve had, and it does so with no personalization.

2. Tree’s Coffee

Let me just say that the Trees Organic Coffee and Roasting House has an ugly newsletter. Their permission marketing could use work. The whole thing is a little long (partially due to over sized font, as required by their darker backgrounds). Their content is largely advertising for their cheesecake. But do they ever make you hungry at the end of the day. With large tasty looking cheesecake pictures, followed by a coupon for a free latte when you buy cheesecake, Tree’s campaign builds temptation. Nothing more.

Sure they identify themselves well, with consistent brand positioning in their subjects, and a good (if long) “from” name… basically they do the basic’s right. But what they really do right is big pictures of cheesecake with a coupon, giving you that little push to go get some cake.

3. The SEO Geeks Newsletter

Dave Harry does search engine optimization. He’s a smart guy and a good writer (running his own blog “Trail of the Fire Horse”), and while it could use a little design fix up (specifically the ratio of the width of his top right box to the body content) his email campaign wins on its ability to provide a large amount of really useful information.

The SEO Geeks Newsletter provides a really amazing amount of content, from an entire opening “lead” story, to a series of links with very personal excerpts form Dave Harry himself (similar to what I do), and finally 20 some odd links to other great SEO related stories. All in all, it does a good job at making sure that you find something useful to you.

The result is an email campaign that I come back to time and time again for information, understanding, and reference material.

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