Join thousands of weekly readers and receive practical marketing advice for FREE.
MarketingSherpa's Case Studies, New Research Data, How-tos, Interviews and Articles

Enter your email below to join thousands of marketers and get FREE weekly newsletters with practical Case Studies, research and training, as well as MarketingSherpa updates and promotions.


Please refer to our Privacy Policy and About Us page for contact details.

No thanks, take me to MarketingSherpa

First Name:
Last Name:
May 27, 2008
Blog Post

SherpaBlog: Warning - Stop Pounding Your Email List With Special Offers!

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, Founder

When the economy starts slumping, many marketers start sending specials to their email lists more frequently. After all, zapping out a special offer to your house list is about the cheapest and easiest way to drum up some fast responses. It’s also a pretty big mistake.

Why? Because if you send too many specials, too frequently, to the same exact people, they become tone deaf and they stop adoring your brand name and wanting to buy from it.

Compounding this problem is the fact that the people on your house list are usually Your Biggest Fans. They are on the 80-side of the 80/20 rule about profitable accounts. They are your evangelists and word-of-mouth spreaders. They are the email audience who, if treated right, will have an astounding lifetime customer value.

Example: I’ve been pounded no fewer than 10 times with different ‘special offers’ from a particular home decor brand in the last three weeks. I’m a multiple-time past purchaser. Although I eagerly clicked on the first couple of email specials, now when I see an email from them in my inbox, I snort with boredom and hit ‘Delete.’

What can you do to keep both the bottom line and the house list happy?

Try giving your biggest fans a big reason to open your email. As a fan, I don’t just care about specials. I care about YOU. I would love a behind-the-scenes story, perhaps some photos and bios of craftspeople making the products. Or maybe a story about what the purchasing directors are seeing trend-wise for the coming year (things I can look forward to buying from you.) Or perhaps a funny, home-made music video made by the guys in shipping ...

The more I know about your brand -- the people’s faces, voices, stories, etc. -- the deeper my personal connection is likely to grow. As a member of the house list, I begin to feel like an insider. And the next time I get an email from you, I open eagerly.

The good news is, this “infotainment” email tactic raises short-term sales as well as customer lifetime value.

Want a real-life example of how this can work? Check out Sherpa’s classic Case Study of how Land’s End’s weekly email newsletter was partly responsible for lifting the brand’s online sales from $138 million to 218 million in 2001, during the worst of the last economic downturn.

Their highest-response newsletter of all time was about a local tractor auction ... but it sold a lot of chinos! Includes 10 useful creative samples. Open access until June 5th.

Lands’ End Discovers Stories Work Better Than Sales Pitches in Its Weekly Email Newsletter

See Also:

Comments about this Blog Entry

May 28, 2008 - Neil Sagebiel of Neil Sagebiel Copywriting says:
Another danger is that folks on the house list may actually abandon the list if hit too often, the worst possible outcome. Too many offers also "cheapens" all offers. They're not so special if they come in droves. I think customers can smell desperation, which doesn't sell well.

Jun 05, 2008 - Abby Koehler of Jennings Public Relations & Advertising says:
I am so amused by the email world right now. I think its a wonderful tool to use because it can be personalized and it gives customers the ability to pay attention to companies on their own terms. I am also floored that many marketers continue to use it as an opt-out option. I find an email in my inbox that I don't recognize and I automatically assume its spam and it is immediately sent to my trash. How are marketers approaching the abundance of emails in our inboxes? I would love to know what a person in the field thinks about this, it sometimes blows my mind.

Post a Comment

Note: Comments are lightly moderated. We post all comments without editing as long as they
(a) relate to the topic at hand,
(b) do not contain offensive content, and
(c) are not overt sales pitches for your company's own products/services.

To help us prevent spam, please type the numbers
(including dashes) you see in the image below.*

Invalid entry - please re-enter

*Please Note: Your comment will not appear immediately --
article comments are approved by a moderator.

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly Case Study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions

Best of the Week:
Marketing case studies and research

Chart Of The Week

B2B Marketing

Consumer Marketing

Email marketing

Inbound Marketing

SherpaStore Alerts


We value your privacy and will not rent or sell your email address. Visit our About Us page for contact details.