The Retail Sector

Today we will be doing a quick overview of the email senders in the retail sector. At the top of the list is Neiman Marcus, which reaches out to its customer base via email marketing on an almost daily basis. Of all the retailers I've monitored, Neiman Marcus has the most robust email marketing program I've seen.

Not too far behind, though, is Macy's which sends out emails to its internal list at a frequency of every other day. But while Neiman Marcus is represented in the inbox mainly by its internal lists, Macy's has a number of third-party newsletters and lists that are also driving traffic to its site. For instance, Macy's runs banners in emails sent by ABC television promoting the fact that its bedding is featured in "Desperate Housewives." Saks Fifth Ave is also a frequent emailer, sending to its list multiple times during the week.

Interestingly, many of the retailers I looked at had a very similar templated look to their emails, perhaps because so many of them use Cheetahmail to deliver the messages. All of them rely on a heavy use of graphics to make their point and stand out, and it seems to be working. There is a noticeable bump in traffic on the day these emails are dropped, according to data supplied by Alexa.



Besides its standard weekly drops, Wal-Mart also sends out a weekly "Baby Connection" email that follows the lifecycle of an infant and gives helpful hints and of course product ideas when babies hit certain age milestones. It provides nice personalization to the email. And speaking of personalization, we don't see a lot of it in the retail sector. One exception is Banana Republic, which sends out different email newsletters to male and female subscribers.

Sears sends out its regular emails but also has been advertising on others folks' newsletters as well. For instance they have run a "Dedicated Email" spot with the Daily Candy and have links driving traffic to them from Better Home and Garden's email newsletters.

Target is doing a good job of segmenting its list. This week the company sent out two offers, one geared towards a male demographic: "Our electrifying Electronics sale. One week only, plus save an extra 10%" and one geared towards the female: "Pretty picks: 15% off your $50 Bed and Bath buy, plus save an extra 10% "

Target is also doing a lot of A/B testing with subject lines. Witness these two subject lines for the same email creative: "Get 15% off when you spend $125 on furniture, plus save an extra 10% off" and "Things to see, spaces to do: Stylish furniture for home, plus save 10%" In general the "% off" tag must be working -- as we see it in virtually all Target subject line creative.

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