Is Content the Next Email Marketing King?


Do all emails related to ecommerce have to look like this?



I’m not against merchandising emails with offers, featured products or even a personalized assortment of items, but conventional ecommerce emails often do little to create compelling demand for products or impulse buys (not to mention the effects of paradox of choice).

Back in my restaurant days, we hostesses were encouraged to “romance the features” of the daily signature dish while walking customers to their tables.  Before the wait staff arrived or menus hit the table, my job was to create a desire for and an interest in that one meal.

Similarly, commercial email can be that slow, romantic walk that tells people what they should want to buy when they sit down to your site.  An example of this recently landed in my inbox.

Subject line: Hemp Protein…The Next Protein King?

Hey Linda,

I have made a couple of big changes with regards to my protein consumption recently and I wanted to fill you in, as it might affect you.

Have you ever thought of using hemp protein powder?  Well, unless you are into a plant-based diet, lactose or gluten intolerant or avoid dairy altogether, you probably haven’t thought about it ever.

I eat meat and, up until recently, have always used a steady diet of dairy-based protein powders, whether it was whey or casein.  Frankly, I might have laughed if someone had mentioned the thought of substituting or at least supplementing my protein powder regime with a plant-based powder such as hemp.

I am not sure about you, but I always thought hemp protein was only for hardcore vegans/vegetarians, non-athletes and those with a high tolerance for gritty, awful tasting protein.

After doing extensive research and a bunch of personal taste testing, I did a complete 180!  Not only does hemp protein have tons of health benefits, but they are also benefits that no other protein contains (even whey!).  On top of that, there are hemp proteins that are not only tolerable, but also taste amazing!

Yes, I am sure you are as skeptical as I was, but to be honest, my friend, hemp protein these days is as health optimizing, performance boosting and pallet satisfying as ever!

To learn 5 of the best reasons to try hemp protein click here:


You can thank me later.

Yours in good health,

Mark Holowaychuk

Founder, Vitamart.ca


Though I cringe at the conspicuous URL, here’s what I like about it.

1. Using Content to Market Content

Yeah, yeah, web users don’t read.  But they don’t look at banners and ads, either.  And if you believe that nobody’s going to read a text-based email, you have to believe nobody’s going to look at your banner-spangled campaigns, either.  This email embraces web copywriting best practices, uses “story-selling” to get and keep the reader’s interest and directs the reader to more compelling information.

Like Marketing Experiments’ Flint McGlaughlin says, an email’s job is not to sell, it’s to generate interest — to get a click. Dr. Foster’s and Dr. Smith’s educational approach resulted in 15 percent higher sales than its sales-promotion competitor in A/B testing.  Sometimes educating does a better job at selling than coupons and images.

2. It’s Personal

Not only did they get my name right, but it’s also signed by the founder of the business.  I’m not going to kid myself that he wrote it himself, but it does humanize the company.

3. It Sounds (a Bit) Like a Product Review

According to eMarketer, consumers trust product reviews nearly 12 times more than manufacturer copy.  The fact that it’s written by an individual who identifies himself and presents himself as someone like me, and has actually tried this product, could be very effective.

4. It Sounds a Lot Like a Sales Letter

Email may have squeezed out direct mail sales letters, but let’s not forget the Wall Street Journal’s most famed sales letter ran for 28 years, raking in $2.5 billion in subscription revenue.  These things work when done right, can be adapted to reading on the Web and stand out from the typical shotgun merchandising retail emails.

The key is good story-selling.  How can you turn a product’s value propositions into an engaging, persuasive or educational story?  Try it in a content-based email like this.  Even better, test it against your “typical” email creative.

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Linda Bustos

As Director of Ecommerce Research at Elastic Path, Linda Bustos works with some of the world’s largest companies to help improve conversion rates and profitability on the Web. In addition to writing the Get Elastic blog since 2007, Linda’s articles have appeared in Mobile Marketer, CMO Magazine, E-Marketing + Commerce, and Search Marketing Standard. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, including XCommerce, Conversion Conference, and Affiliate Management Days.

In 2010, Linda earned a spot on the DMNews Top 30 Direct Marketers Under 30 list. She has served as faculty for the Banff New Media Institute’s Career Accelerator Program and Marketing Profs University, and has appeared as one of the Top 100 Influential Marketers of the year in 2008 and 2009. Prior to joining Elastic Path, Linda worked agency-side, specializing in usability and SEO.

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