Email Marketing: Don’t Hit Unsubscribe!

At around 3am every morning, I am awoken by a vibrating stir on my nightstand. And that’s when I know it’s started — the daily onslaught of email marketing. I confess to checking my iPhone while half-conscious, not for these messages, but always for the hope of that one magical email that will change the trajectory of my life…still waiting.

By 9am, I’m in mass-delete mode, and on more aggressive days “unsubscribe”/”spam” mode. Email marketing is extremely subjective, what makes one person open and click makes someone else blind.  Let’s take a look inside my inbox to see who made the cut.

3:55am: From Victoria’s Secret (as if my real mailbox isn’t already inundated with three identical catalogs a week)

Subject Line: Final hours for free shipping on $25 /Victoria’s Secret

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Impression: Is this email for me or my boyfriend? Maybe they sent this at 3:55am because they knew I’d be half asleep and delirious enough to think that if I purchased this white bikini, New York City will suddenly become the Caribbean and I will be transformed into a tan, blonde, size 0 whose only worry is keeping my bikini bottom tied.

Layout: Bold, clean, beautiful, and yes, aspirational (I really do want to be somewhere with turquoise water and hot sand). The call-to-actions are in different colors and sales-oriented — FREE SHIPPING ON $25, SPRING ON SALE, FREE SECRET REWARD CARD. I also like that the email is laid out like their web site, when you click on any link you are taken to the real version.

Grade: B+


7:11am: From LinkedIn

Subject Line: Jack Welch: What It Really Takes to Succeed/LinkedIn Influencers

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Impression:  Jack Welch rings a bell…and admittedly only because of that Competitive Strategy class I took last semester. Was it GE he ran?  I am a fan of the Influencers series, a really smart move by LinkedIn in creating original content — and content that is valuable.

Layout: Clean, lots of white space, simple headshots and titles of other “CEOs” I may want to follow. This resembles the emails Twitter immediately sends after you follow someone.

Grade: A  (LinkedIn is employing an algorithm to recommend CEOs in the industries I search)


8:36am: From Mediabistro

Subject Line: Morning Media Newsfeed


Impression: While not pretty, this email serves its purpose — its headlines are easily “scannable” and the summaries are compiled well enough that I don’t have to click more just to get an overview of a story. I read this EVERY day without fail, usually on the subway. Unfortunately, the news has slanted more to layoffs in the past 24  months, but is does offers an aggregate summary of what’s what in publishing, broadcast media, public relations and digital.

Layout: The bigger media stories of the day are posted in order of prominence. There are no images, just text, and hyperlinks if you want to read more. Their summaries are pretty thorough in giving you the jist of the story, as opposed to other newsletters like Business Insider who provide five words to get you to click for more.

Grade: B+  (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it)


3:06pm: From NYC & Company

Subject Line: This is New York City: Spring 2013

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Impression: I don’t remember when i signed up for this e-newsletter, probably when I was more motivated to “explore” the city. Every time I think of unsubscribing, something in the copy catches my eye, and I figure, hey you never know, they may have something I want to do later. It’s more tourist-focused than insider-based Timeout NY, but sometimes you want to be a tourist in your own city. When was the last time you visited the Statue of Liberty? Uh-huh, when you were in camp. That’s what I thought.

Layout: I love the bright yellow accents, it pops and it works. Also the images speak for themselves and lighten the copy.

Grade: A


5:18PM: From Zipcar

Subject Line:

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 3.47.30 PM

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Impression: This email is personalized because I’m a registered Zipcar member. They smartly sent it out after 5pm when I’m more likely to think of renting one of their vehicles to get out of Dodge! Zipcar only makes $$ when I reserve a car and take a spin on the town, so it’s important that they keep reminding me that they’re my “get of town” card.

Layout: It’s clean on a white background, with bold orange headlines and call-outs. I like their language usage/play on words, “staycation all I ever wanted” adapted from an 80s song…the Go-Gos. Do they know I was a child of the 80s??

Grade: B+


12:25am: From YELP

Subject Line: Spring Forward, Tip One Back!

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Impression: Why send this at 12:25am? Maybe they want to be first in someone’s inbox in the morning…or even late at night, but neither slot is when I’m thinking, “Ah, need to make restaurant reservations!”  I think a mid-afternoon send out would make more sense, but maybe the analytics prove midnight is their sweet spot.

Layout: Overall, it’s very cluttered, and speaking for someone who has a short attention span, my eyes glazed over at the scrolling paragraphs. I do like how they highlight a chosen restaurant from multiple neighborhoods, so that no matter where your friends are pushing to meet — you have a spot. Making use of their user-generated content is a given, and further promotes their authenticity. The Kia banner ad isn’t a contextual fit, but everyone’s got to make money, so whatever keeps Yelp alive.

Grade: C


You can learn a lot about yourself from your inbox. These companies aren’t blindly spamming, they have paid thousands of dollars to gather insight on your psychographics, buying patterns and click behavior, so indulge…just a little bit. To them, it’s not about having the “prettiest” email, it all comes down to click-thru and conversion. Click and keep an email marketer employed!

LinkedIn, your continual product innovation and tailored email deployment is paving the way. Thank you, you’ve made my DigiDay!



2 thoughts on “Email Marketing: Don’t Hit Unsubscribe!

  1. Pingback: EMAIL MARKETING: DON’T BE THRIFTY! | Make My Digi Day

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