Is this the end of offer-led email marketing?

You’re a marketer, I’m a marketer, and the two of us are also consumers. We’ve therefore been the receivers, and more than likely the senders, of an offer-focused email – and there’s strong evidence to support why this is commonplace. Well, so we thought …

In the Direct Marketing Association’s most recent Consumer Email Tracker report, more than half of consumers said the top reason for joining a brand’s mailing list is to receive money off and %-off deals.

But conversely (and perhaps worryingly), marketers are reporting a somewhat different story on the popularity of email content featuring offers. Just 27% of respondents in the DMA’s 2017 Marketer Email Tracker found discount-led emails to be delivering the goods.

Have offers really become meaningless? Likely not. Rather, the offers being sent are irrelevant and this has led to a waning tolerance towards emails of this nature. In my eyes, there are two possible solutions: begin using behavioral and purchase data to tailor offers to individuals or take your email marketing in an editorial direction. In fact, a combination of the two is geared up to be a winning formula.

In this post, I’m going to give you five content-led emails you can send to contacts which don’t include the word sale (or discount, offer or deal, to that end).

UGC-focused campaigns

Your customers are your business. And the ones who love your brand make the perfect advocates (and content creators) if you’ve got the right structure in place. Emails centered on top reviews or even stories written by customers on their experiences with your brand are worth their weight in gold. Let’s take the travel industry for instance: Instagram is a prime channel for rich UGC, as are blogging platforms where holidaymakers have a penchant for sharing their special moments.

Helpful advice and how-to guides

If you’re keen for your brand to own the reputation as the leader in its field, you’ll want to position your business as the true expert. One sure-fire way to demonstrate knowledge in a specific area or areas is to produce helpful content that educates consumers on how to get the most from your products and services. For example, DIY stores are well placed to create how-to guides on everything from decorating to gardening, and then emailing them to those who’ve purchased or displayed interest in the product or range.


A free competition with the promise of an attractive prize is geared up to go down a storm. Not only will it appeal to existing subscribers, but those who enjoy sharing the good stuff are likely to forward the email to their family and friends (generating even more leads and engagements … what’s not to like?).

Cross-channel promotion campaigns

Email is just one of your marketing channels — and hopefully a strong one at that. So why not use it to encourage sign-up on all of your other channels and platforms? Send an email to subscribers to let them know about your presence on social media, get them to download your app if you have one, and direct them towards your blog for your brand’s editorial gems.

Re-engagement campaigns

If all else fails? Attempt to re-engage dissatisfied subscribers by acknowledging that the relationship’s gone south and you’re keen to rekindle the love. For instance, you could test a self-deprecating message along with a preference center that gives contacts the option to tailor the volume of emails and the content that lands in their inboxes. Irrelevant content is usually the root cause of a subscriber’s dwindling enthusiasm — so collect up-to-date information on your contacts and use it smartly to hook them back in.

Want some more ideas and real-life examples? Get your hands on a free copy of dotmailer’s ‘5 winning emails that don’t include the word sale’ cheatsheet.

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