The Only Influencers Blog

The top thought leaders in email marketing share their insights and thoughts.


It’s that time again…. I dread it each year. The hearts everywhere in every color, sequin and bobble, Cupid with his stinging arrows, the flowers – don’t get me started on the flowers! Every year since pretty much my tween’s, I’ve hated Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of it is lovely – Romance, love, and all that, it’s, well, a beautiful thing. But, I really don’t enjoy the constant barrage of pink and red love with every breath and every turn.

This perspective shouldn’t detract from a simple fact: Valentine’s Day is a great Email opportunity. Everyone feels differently at different holidays. I’m sure plenty of Chanukah and Christmas emails are received by subscribers that would prefer the other version, those who do not celebrate the “pagan” Halloween holiday likely receive such themed emails, and Valentine grumps, like me, receive plenty of Valentine emails. It’s the content and the purpose that make it a wonderful way to connect with your subscribers.

Oddly enough, even when I get the more romantic variety of Valentine email, I’m not usually put off by it – when it’s done well and on brand. When a brand is pushing outside their established identity and make zero relevant connection between content and contact, then I use them as the “do NOT repeat” type of email example. But often, many brands use the angle of being “over the Cupid thing”, and that’s something I can totes relate to.

For instance, Uncommon Goods did a superb job at reminding people to love – and treat – themselves (and to tell Cupid to shove off):

sam2-15SUBJECT LINE: Tired of Cupid?

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I love my Toilet Paper

Years ago in a brand discussion with a CPG company, the challenge of the day was  “ How do you build engagement with consumers?” and “How do you build a loyalty program from that?” The product was toilet paper!   You can imagine all the tongue in cheek jokes about the relationships you have with T-Paper.   And nothing shows love like Valentines Toilet Paper: 

baker1-15This is a very real question for brands to address and when seasonal events as emotional as Valentine’s day, you have to rethink what is the context for the relation.  Are we solely selling products to consumers or are we also trying to immerse our customers in our brand through this event?”

The best tips I can give you this holiday season is to spur your creativity with example of past programs that did more than offered shopping experiences.   Given it’s less than a month out, it’s still not too late to use your brand as the experience vs. selling products to augment the experience.  Not everyone has a power brand like Tiffany’s. 

Here’s a few I like:     

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Not in the business of hearts, perfume or roses? No biggie, you can still crush it with your V-Day campaign.

Did you know that people are willing to spend on average $130.97 on Valentine’s Day for their significant other (US National Retail Federation)? Heck, 3% of pet owners will even give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets! That’s why you are missing out on some big bucks if you aren’t crafting killer V-Day email campaigns, even if you aren’t a jewelry store or chocolate shop. Here are 7 tips on creating an incredible Valentine’s Day email, for ANY company or product.

Craft a killer subject line.

Valentine’s Day email volume is second only to the Christmas holiday season and your subject line is your first (and perhaps only) chance to make an impression. With buckets of email campaigns landing in your reader’s inbox, you need to ensure your subject line crushes it. 

Experian Marketing Services found that the key features of the highest performing subject lines during V-Day were gift and card ‘ideas,’ personalized greetings, including a heart symbol and using the word ‘sweet.’ So, keep those ideas front of mind when you are looking to catch they eye of your reader.

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Email. It’s “antiquated,” always on the verge of dying and if you ask what the internet thinks of email marketing you will find that 74.9% find it negative. Yet 66% of B2C marketing professionals still maintain that email is the most effective channel to reach and engage customers.  Our job as email marketers is to continually drive engagement and grow this high ROI channel. This Valentine’s Day let’s get back to the basics and take a look at nine great best practices we can follow to fall in love with email again.

Get on a Schedule

Sheesh – wasn’t it just Christmas last week?  Indeed, Valentine’s Day sneaks up on us (especially guys) and before you know it, it’s here.  As marketers, we can use email in strategic and timely ways to get ahead of that curve.  Digital marketer Oneupweb has reported top online sales typically occur February 5-6. That corresponds with other research we’ve seen which reports Valentine e-mails peaking at an average of 2.9 a week for the week ending February 4. That same period also sees the first President's Day and St. Patrick's Day e-mails.  There’s a lot of noise this time of year!

When should you start reminding your subscribers about your various offers and promotions?  Three weeks out isn’t too soon.  A month?  Even better.  One week out? It’s peak time and you’re competing for inbox attention.  A great best practice I’ve seen is creating a drip series with a beginning and ending date, giving subscribers the option in the first message to let you know how often they want your offers.  They’ll thank you for that.

Know Your Reader

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When looking to China, and in excess of a half billion consumer mailboxes , it is no surprise email marketers will identify substantial opportunity, this should be balanced with the understanding the landscape is very different to anywhere else in the world.  It is certainly not a simple matter of transferring your experience gained in North America, Europe or even Asia-Pacific and applying that to the mainland Chinese market.

A number of North American business' that have achieved reasonable success with the channel, and a few have seen great success, however as Groupon learned through expensive trial and error an e-mail marketing strategy that works in other markets will not necessarily succeed in China. To be truly successful it will be important to gain a thorough understanding of the local market. It is worth of course remembering China is not a single unified market, and that it is not even the same language spoken across the country. 

On the most part it is not a matter of geo-location of the sending ESP nor technical issues that will form the basis of the major challenges or obstacles to success, despite the myths that abound. In China email is far less popular than instant messaging services like Tencent’s QQ. This can in part be explained by the younger demographic of internet users vs somewhere like Europe or North America. Another factor to consider, there is weaker customer loyalty here as consumers tend to gravitate to the best deal.

Those that truly succeed have adopted strategies that reflect local realities in addition to maintaining and developing strong local relationships as is the business culture. There are also specific legal considerations that need to be assessed and addressed in China, a good understanding of the legal regulations and policies and what is considered normal practice will be imperative. 

Not least being aware of any licensing requirements for your sector in addition to some of the worlds most complex antispam laws ““Regulations On Internet Email Services”” and  the requirements for ‘Verified Permission’, including AD in the subject line, and the fluid list of proscribed topics as defined by the PRC. Although not heavily policed to date, the risk that enforcement could happen in future is real. Regardless, whilst the laws may not always be adhered to, it is of course important to be aware of what they are, and what the penalties and business risks are if flouting them. 

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Tagged in: China Email Strategy