Email Marketing Best Practices: Top 5 "Discount-Free" Retail Marketing Emails

April 24, 2015





All too often I visit my email inbox only to find a sea of subject lines with limited time sales (that appear to happen daily) and special discounts that I'm told I can't miss (unless, of course, I decide to wait for tomorrow's can't miss offer).

As a consumer, this constant barrage of offers has destroyed any sense of urgency a "limited-time" offer provides when it's followed by another one the next day AND it's caused me to completely gloss over the daily promotions, many times missing more relevant emails I might actually be interested in.

As a marketer, I've become disheartened by the pure volume of promotional discounts we're pushing to consumers which is only conditioning them to expect more and more offers. So when I see an email that rages against this new norm I find myself compelled to share with anyone who will listen. The following five emails I'd file under "Email Marketing Best Practices".

And P.S. I get it. I've pushed plenty of promotional, "limited-time," "last-chance," "too good to miss" offers. We do it because it works and it's effective at driving conversion. In fact, I'd argue that sometimes the offer matters more than the price. Mark up the product 50% and offer it at 50% off and I promise you, you'd get plenty of response. Some consumers want to know they are getting a good deal. But I have to believe that we marketers still have an opportunity to do more than just push discounts. I hope these examples inspire just that.

1. West Elm's seasonal spin on summer entices consumers to explore products based on their summer plans.
West Elm Seasonal Email



2. Kate Spade merchandises these ensembles based on popular special occasions.

Kate Spade Occasions


3. Rue La La's leads with collections designed specifically for back to school

back to school


4. Coach kicks of the Spring season with a trend alert highlighting the season's signature shade.

Coach Trend Alert

5. Anthropologie serves up interior design tips that make my internal designer click with delight.



6. Did I say 5? Here's a bonus from Bonobos who wins for most creative.

Bonobos Decision Tree