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What's Your Favorite Email?

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
25 January 2010

I know what mine is: opening a message from the airline I travel on frequently to see these magic words: "You've been upgraded to First Class!" Yeah!

I posted this question on Twitter and got a great response from Chris Wheeler of Bronto: "Congratulations! You've been promoted!"

While Chris was teasing, you can see a theme. An email message that's destined to become a favorite adds an unexpected extra level of delight. It's most emphatically not another expected free-shipping or 20-percent discount offer.

Instead, it's an email you send to retain a customer, enhance the relationship or move it to a higher level of engagement. They can still say, "Buy this," but in a subtle and logical manner.

Another favorite email shows how this can work: A friend received an email from one of her hotel loyalty programs. It told her she had been upgraded to its Gold level, even though she was a few points short of the required number.

Because she felt more like a valued customer, and because of the extra amenities this higher level gave her, she now makes more reservations with that company than with the other loyalty programs she uses.

So, the email persuaded her to spend more money, but in a manner consistent with her relationship and customer history with the company.

Of course, not every company has a loyalty program or the ability to upgrade customers to a higher status. But you can identify your most valued customers (or other segments) and "surprise and delight" them via email. Examples can include:

  • Sneak previews/early access to sales
  • Free access to paid-only content
  • Notifications of status or usage, comparing you to other customers/users
  • Random giveaways/upgrades to select customers
  • Email-only offers
  • Purchase anniversary or birthday special offers
  • Thank-you messages with a special offer or access
  • Useful tips that relate to a product purchase or download
  • VIP event invitations
  • Offer to test a new product

Now it's your turn. What are your favorite email messages? More importantly, what email messages do you send that could become customer or subscriber favorites? Describe them in the comment box below, and if you have links to your content at your site, please include them.


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