The Common Thread

Three of the most important trends in email marketing right now are personalization, triggered messaging, and rendering techniques. These were the trends that we led off with in our annual Best of the Email Swipe File report this year, and reader reaction has confirmed that we were on the right track.

Since releasing the report, the re-pins and likes on Pinterest of the emails we highlighted under Advanced Personalization, Triggered Sophistication, and Smart Rendering have significantly outpaced those for the emails highlighted in our other two categories, Unique Voice and Inspired Fundamentals.

However, when we looked at the individual selections that were trending the most with readers, there was a clear pattern. See if you can figure out what the common thread is among our four most popular selections, each of which was in a different category:



This Starbucks email was the hands-down most popular selection. It personalizes the image of the Starbucks coffee cup with the email recipient’s name. While it’s a nifty trick, the reason it’s so powerful is that it connects the email experience to the store experience, where baristas write patrons’ names on their cups.

This Pinkberry email was sent after subscribers failed to use the company’s mobile app in the last three months. Pinkberry’s app is both a loyalty program and a store-value “card,” so its usage is very important to the company, which wisely leveraged email to try to reactivate lapsed users.

This Warby Parker email is a great example of content marketing, offering up helpful book selections on a high-travel day when subscribers may be looking for on-the-road or in-the-air reading. The email links to the company’s blog, which contains more content for book readers -- a key target for glasses purchases, according to Warby Parker research.

And finally, this Sephora email is triggered when shoppers use the Color IQ app on iPads located in stores. Rather than asking customers to remember the products that are right for their skin type and coloring or printing out a listing, the company sends this information along in an email that customers can reference again and again.

Did you figure out the common thread? It’s that all these emails connected in some way to another channel, whether it was a store, mobile app, or blog. In other words, all these emails are cross-channel campaigns.

We thought seriously about making Cross-Channel a category, but ultimately decided that while brands have a way to go in terms of de-siloing, cross-channel marketing is well on its way toward being the status quo. We feel the same way about mobile design, which we had as a category in last year’s report but not in this year’s. Increasingly, cross-channel and mobile are just how you do business. They’re crossing over from trend to established practice.

Do you agree?

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