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Email Marketing

Industry Spotlight: Is this the end of the email discount?

Consumers and marketers alike enjoy a good old email coupon. So much so that various studies have found a staggering 20 – 30 per cent of marketing emails now feature a discount, voucher or giveaway based incentive; and, understandably, evidenced by their tenure as a long time favourite in a marketer’s archive.

The critical factor in the promotional arena is the perceived level of exclusivity to the recipient, and this goes hand-in-hand with how well past data has been used for personalisation. But in the absence of perfect execution, is there still a place for incentive-based email? Here’s a closer look at its pros and cons in today’s digital landscape.


The Pros

Quickly gain brand traction: There’s no faster way to boost subscriber rates than by offering a strong incentive or freebie, and is also a great method for brand exposure and starting conversations. Krispy Kreme growth hacked their email list by 71 per cent thanks to their “Friends of…” campaign offering free doughnuts in return for referrals to family and friends.

Boost product uptake: Flooding the market with fast moving consumables is a powerful way to generate recurring demand. Freebie uptake is admittedly less effective in Services and SaaS where tactile value is not immediately realised on redemption. Creating urgency (time limits or download quota) is an effective way to boost uptake in these markets.

* Something to say: Don’t let competitors get a word in – end it with a promotion! Being delightfully creative is one thing but doing it consistently is another. A discount or voucher keeps you in the foreground and provides something worth saying while working on your next marketing masterpiece.

* Build an audience profile: A strong promotion is a big opportunity to profile new and existing data. Carefully consider the requisite fields and leverage that data in future to create a continual improvement cycle.


The Cons

* Change in list composition: Yes, you’ve increased subscribers by a million percent but your list composition will be drastically different. One-off giveaways tend to attract low lifetime-value subscribers so solid expectation management and segmentation is essential.

* Demand fulfilment: Even the best laid schemes go awry and with digital especially, things can quickly get out of hand. Oversubscription will turn a potentially positive brand experience into a bad one. Be upfront about quantities and don’t let promises go unfulfilled!

* Effect on brand positioning: Your email subscribers are often your most loyal customers so cheapening the brand with precipitous promotions is ill-advised. If you are positioned as the market premium, then a subtler incentive that does not implicate future pricing and brand perception is required. Don’t over-promote at the expense of brand.

* Risk of escalation: Competitors will soon catch wind of aggressive promotions (they have definitely subscribed to your email) and will soon respond with their own incentivised promotions. Discounts are easily countered and squeeze margins over time, so focus on the experiential, creative and personal instead.



Arguably the biggest positive for promotional mailers is the ability to use past insight to make ever-more effective campaigns with a greater degree of personalisation. Choosing not to customise campaigns to the recipient’s exact needs comes with the tacit understanding that everyone is entitled to the same advantages – and where’s the added value in that!

There are still benefits to the old-school, generic incentive but they are contextual, and highly dependent on industry and brand positioning. Giveaways can elevate new brands and quickly establish voice in new channels, but established names beware.

So while the coupon survives to fight another day, its rule as the marketer’s darling is certainly contested. Its day is certainly not up yet, but the mindset must soon evolve to stay relevant. And as other marketing tactics such as native and inbound continue to mature, so must email.


Words by Ross Carroll, senior email marketing manager at Fat Media

Guest Blog, Rupert Harrison: Moving mobile for email marketing…

In a prevalent ‘mobile first’ society, Rupert Harrison, planning director at Zeta Interactive, explains the rise of its incorporation into email marketing, and how marketers and brands should be cautious in monitoring its engagement level, the design and how it will fit into the overall ‘marketing mix’.

We live in a ‘mobile first’ world. Take a look at any bus stop or queue for the bank and the majority of people will have their mobile phone in hand. It’s no surprise that 50 per cent of consumers use email ‘on-the-go’, according to the DMA Email Tracking Study 2015. That means that half of brands’ email interactions with consumers are on mobile, so it’s important to get it right.

But the hype around ‘mobile first’ has led many brands to oversimplify their thinking when it comes to mobile engagement. Yes, mobile creates the opportunity for brands to target customers in any place, at any time – but email marketing via mobile is so much more than a one-way route into consumers’ pockets.

It goes without saying that email design must be responsive to mobile devices, so that the customer experience is as good as possible when the message is viewed on mobile. However, it is also critical that marketers make good use of the data available to them to understand the context within which content is consumed, and deliver the right messages accordingly.

Striking the right tone

Mobile takes the relationship between brands and consumers to a new level of intimacy. Email marketing is already a very personal medium: as a means of delivering highly personalised content, it is the real definition of one-to-one marketing. But brands can derive powerful insights by looking at location and device type, as well as time of day, dwell times and interaction rates – allowing them to make their communications hyper-relevant to every customer.

Of course, this is a good thing. But such intimacy can quickly turn invasive if it misses the mark, and marketing that is poorly targeted or overbearing can feel particularly intrusive for customers. True personalisation is speaking softly to an audience, not yelling in their ear.

Over half (51 per cent) of consumers believe that just one-30 per cent of emails are relevant or interesting, according to the DMA; a figure that has risen steadily over the past four years. And consumers do unsubscribe from brands that no longer interest them, or if their content is inappropriate or uninspiring. By smarter targeting and better understanding of the customer mind-set and situation when they are engaging on mobile devices, marketers can improve engagement and reduce the cost of getting it wrong.

Moments of insight

But mobile gives brands the opportunity to go further and use the channel as an ‘early alert system’ providing insights for a wider marketing campaign.  Think of mobiles as mini ‘vote now’ devices and you get the picture.  The ‘moments of insight’ afforded by these interactions can be fed into a segmentation engine that allows brands to target their customers in a more intimate way.

So, businesses need to be wary of placing too much emphasis on ‘mobile first’, take a step back and think smartly about where mobile engagement fits into the overall marketing mix. Only by thinking in more holistic terms can brands ensure they make the most of the “moving target” opportunity.


Rupert Harrison is the planning director at Zeta Interactive. He has extensive experience of data driven communications and customer journey planning across direct, digital, social and offline and has worked at a wide range of companies, including POSSIBLE, News UK and most recently as head of comms planning at VCCPme.

Zeta Interactive is a digital marketing and smart data company working with over 250 brands worldwide.  It was recognised as one of the 50 most promising private companies by Forbes in 2014 and has featured twice in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs. 

Guest Blog, Laura England: Email marketing – here to stay…

We have come a long way since Gary Thuerk sent the first mass e-mail in 1978. It might have only reached a few hundred people, but back then, that figure was impressive. Almost 40 years later, we continue to use the same technique to reach customers, staff and stakeholders. Laura England, account executive at technical PR agency, Stone Junction, details its substantial transformation

Advances in SEO, content marketing and sophisticated automation tactics have slowly pushed some traditional techniques into digital obsolescence. Despite this, e-mail marketing continues to remain relevant. Throughout its 40-year life span, the medium has seen some questionable techniques. Nevertheless, a few changes and improvements that come to mind are definitely here to stay.

Responsive design

According to Experian, a large percentage of e-mails are now read on mobile devices – two thirds, to be precise. In fact, the growth in use of mobile phones and tablets is part of the reason e-mail marketing has remained so popular. Without a doubt, most of us understand the importance of responsive design. Despite this, just eleven per cent of commercial e-mail templates are optimised for mobile viewing. If e-mail marketing is part of your marketing strategy, responsive design should be a top priority.

A personal touch

In today’s society, everything is personalised, from TV adverts to Starbucks cups, everything is tailored for you. While personalisation of e-mails certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, we’re finally beginning to see this tactic done well.

E-mail marketing has gained a relatively bad reputation when it comes to personalisation. Even luxury brands have fallen victim to the easy but detrimental mistakes of poor tailoring in their campaigns. While it is true that brands could easily scrap this technique and avoid embarrassing mistakes, according to various studies, e-mails containing personalised elements have transaction rates six times higher than those without. Despite this, less than 30 per cent of brands use this tactic in their campaigns.

Long live the light box

Most of us will have experienced a pop up box on our screens whilst browsing online. Often referred to as a light box, the tactic is a pet hate of some marketers because they consider it a nuisance to the customer. However, using a light box is no different to a call-to-action in your sidebar or including a subscribe option in your e-mails. Perhaps, just a little more direct.

Aside from providing a useful platform to notifying the user of a deal or promotion, the sign-up function through light boxes has been known to expand e-mail lists between five and ten times faster than traditional sign-up fields. For me, that is worth disrupting the browsing experience for a few seconds.

Now, more than ever, e-mail marketing is a tool to be embraced and used to its full potential by marketers. Outliving the likes of affiliate programmes, pop-up ads and classified advertising, there is no doubt that e-mail marketing is here to stay.

Laura England is an account executive at technical PR agency, Stone Junction. The award-winning agency, based in Staffordshire, focuses on public relations and marketing for businesses operating in the technology sector. Laura was appointed the company’s e-mail marketing specialist in 2015.

Campaign Monitor launches email marketing solution for publishers…

The email marketing software provider, Campaign Monitor, has launched a specifically for publishers which aims to provide a simple and effective solution to building email marketing campaigns, as well as drive audience engagement and extend subscription lists.

Campaign Monitor for Publishers claims to boast ‘easy-to-use’ integrations such as flexible sign-up forms; a drag and drop tool for a quick and easy way to navigate campaign features; and an email automation tool for publishers to create personalised campaigns. CMO at Campaign Monitor, Kraig Swensrud, said: “Publishers have unique email marketing needs because their audience has expectations for email content, length and frequency that differs from other industries. With more than 10,000 customers in the publishing industry, we have prescribed the best practices and simple do-it-yourself technology to help publishers deliver messages that resonate with their audience.”

Read more about Campaign Monitor for Publishers here