hit-the-spotEmail marketing in retail is challenging. This is principally for one reason: noise.

Take a look at your inbox, junk or ‘promotions’ folder – I can guarantee there will be at least three or four email newsletters from stores you’ve previously visited. They’re all vying for your attention and that clamour for engagement creates an awful lot of noise.

As a result, only the best stand out. Take another look at that list; do any of the emails you’ve received shout louder than the rest? If so, the marketing team behind the campaign will have used the right tricks of the trade to grab your attention.

In this post, we’re going to look at how retailers can cut through the noise and grab the attention of their subscribers. Having witnessed, planned and created more retail email marketing campaigns than you can shake a stick at, we believe there are two approaches.

1. The ‘KISS’ approach

Keep it simple, stupid. Harsh? Nope – we tell ourselves that every day. And in retail, if you want to promote a specific something – be it an offer or new product range – you can do a lot worse than head back to the basics or marketing.

Here’s an example of the KISS approach in retail email marketing, broken down piece-by-piece:

The subject line

The example we’ve chosen is aimed at promoting a specific seasonal offer. With that in mind, what would you expect from the subject line? A clever play on words? A quote from an old philosopher with an emoji thrown in for good measure?

Nope. Here it is:


Do I want 30% off? You bet!

The header

No need to get clever here, either, although, as always, the header represents an opportunity to offer a few other pertinent details and to keep the branding in check:


The pre-header text confirms the purpose of the email, while the standard practice of including a link to the web version ensures no-one can miss out. The branding is clear as day and there’s another surprise – free UK delivery! This email is getting better by the click!

Main body

The copy within the main body of the email contains just 19 words, and that’s including those contained within the call-to-action (CTA) buttons:


The percentage discount is most prominent and they’ve been kind enough to offer CTAs that direct the subscribers to the most appropriate destination.

No messing, just clear, enticing messaging.


If there’s one area in which you should remain consistent in email marketing, its the footer of your emails. Even if the central message or theme is blindingly simple, don’t mess with the footer – keep it as it always has been in order to maintain continuity and increase that all-important recognition from subscribers when your emails drop into their inbox.

The only thing you may need to add is any specific terms relating to the offer, as seen below:


2. The magazine format approach

Sometimes, you have a lot to say. There’s nothing wrong with cramming an email full of your latest news, offers and new product lines – providing you do it in a fashion that doesn’t simply bamboozle the subscriber. They’ll move on quickly if you try and take up too much of their time.

Here’s how to avoid doing just that.

The subject line

You’ve perhaps highlighted three or four things you want to tell you subscribers, but you can’t fit that all into one subject line, no matter how hard you try. Instead, you need to take the shock-and-awe approach by hitting them with a question.

Check this out:


This retailer knows its audience, hence the inclusion of a phrase you’re more likely to see within a Snapchat discussion (FOMO = ‘fear of missing out’). They also know how to pull their subscribers’ strings. In just four words, they’ve asked a question and hit a nerve. The likelihood of their target audience continuing to read the email is high.

The header

We’ve got a lot to say in this email, so let’s keep this bit simple:


The pre-header text has been removed and web version link moved to the footer. Sometimes, that’s necessary.

Main body

Ready for a big screenshot? Here we go:


The main body of this particular email contains no less than five sections of content (one isn’t visible in the image above – the email is that big). Clearly, they’ve got an awful lot of stuff they’d like us to see.

This could have gone very wrong indeed. Long emails can be real turn offs, unless the correct tactics are used. In this instance, it all comes down to functional, attractive design and the clear placement of CTAs.

It’s an engaging email and, far from prompting you to click the trash icon, demands exploration.

The trick is to follow web design principals, which can benefit such emails significantly. There’s nothing wrong with a long-scroller, but make sure it’s attractive, uses plenty of imagery and remains true to the subject line.

Wrapping up

There are many ways to send a retail email, but in our experience, the two approaches we’ve covered in this post stand the best chance of success. Give them a try and, as always, remember the three t’s (test, test, test).