Glossier is pretty well known now, even pricking the consciousness of people like me who aren't necessarily in the brand's target market.

The New York-based beauty startup emerged from online magazine Into The Gloss and has been praised on this blog for its Instagram output and its referral program.

But the brand is equally as famous for its email blasts (yes, I used that word in 2018). Here's an example from just this week...

glossier goats email

The subject line read 'Something for your Monday' and the image (of two cute little goats) simply linked to the product catalogue on the Glossier website.

This is typical of Glossier, which sends incredibly focused and compelling product emails, but also cheery, almost goofy messages that come straight from the world of social media.

Watercooler moments... with email?

Let's not beat around the bush here, checking our email is a trope of boring modern life.

But what Glossier understands is that when email blasts are done right they can achieve something on social media (and beyond) akin to the watercooler moment that linear TV used to inspire. If you think that is far-fetched, let me tell you that this article was sparked by my wife showing me those goats (pictured above) on her smartphone as we ate dinner.

Other emails have featured, amongst other things, cute dogsbathtubs and ice cream. Head over to Twitter and you can find evidence of the impact of these somewhat obscure email blasts:

Witness...

And this...  

And perhaps most revealingly, this...

Pros and cons of such frippery?

There are pros and cons to these left-of-field emails meant to stand out in your inbox.

As much as these messages clearly grab attention there are those who have no time for such trivialities. You could even say that the majority of consumers generally only want transactional emails (receipts, delivery notifications etc.) or coupons.

This sentiment is seen in Lily's tweet below:

A more passionate critique comes from another twitter user, who also clearly dislikes marketing emails that don't deliver something worthwhile:

The idea that many people are fed up with cute email marketing is explored in an article on Racked.com titled "Re: The Stressful Email Marketing Tactic That Will Not Die." The author, Eliza Brooke, names and shames brands that have prefixed their marketing email subject lines with 'Re:' in an effort to trick the recipient into opening.

Brooke writes: "This tactic totally works, especially if you’re not paying close attention to who sent the email. (I often am not.) What makes it doubly annoying is that brands have been doing it for years, and shoppers have been complaining about it for just as long. Yet nothing has changed."

This a tactic that Glossier has used in the past, taking the gimmick to its nth degree with one of its most innovative bits of creative email. As you can see in the tweet below, Glossier designed an email which was designed to look as if it was sent by accident, an internal memo drawing attention to 'Phase 2' (a new Glossier product).

As Brooke points out, Glossier has also riffed on the 'out of office' automated email reply, as shown in the image below.

glossier ooo email marketing 

One can understand how these tactics must really annoy some Glossier customers who just love the products and don't really desire to wallow in the brand's arch copywriting. Equally, one might suggest such customers should unsubscribe from email marketing.

For what it's worth, I love this stuff

Whilst we're still on the topic of these 'funny' emails (before we talk about product emails), I must say I like them a lot. If you're a pureplay beauty brand with a young(ish) customer base that are digitally savvy having a noteworthy brand is important. People need reminding! Customers are not going to pass your store on the street, you don't have one (apart from one New York showroom and the occasional London popup).

Glossier's product range is fairly small, the company is young, and so the risk is contained by marketers who know the brand and product inside out and an army of fans who take pride in championing what is still somewhat of a cult brand.

And when simple creative ideas are pulled off they can completely change some customers' perception of email and make them more likely to open the next one. Take Glossier's email that contained downloadable smartphone wallpapers as an example - the execution is excellent (click here to take a look) and the confidence is palpable (if a brand can be confident).

I pretty much agree with Jenn in the tweet below...

There's something about cheek – when it's done well it is also fairly transparent. Take the below example of a Glossier cart abandonment email – the final line "No, but it does trigger this email" is totally up front about marketing automation, about what this email is and why the customer has received it. The same goes for the call to action ("Get back in there").

glossier abandonment email

Image via BigFootDigital

This directness shows a brand intent on communicating with honesty, something which isn't always seen with marketing automation (take this example of patronising triggered emails).

Luckily, there's more to Glossier's emails

Quirky pictures of bathtubs aside, Glossier turns out some beautifully designed emails often highlighting individual products.

These emails stand out, not simply because of their excellent design and copy, but because retail email marketing is too often a mishmash of products and half-hearted messages which the magpie consumer will nevertheless click on, albeit in pretty small numbers relative to the volume of emails sent. 

Glossier finds focus, which is admittedly something that easier to do when you're a pureplay with a relatively small product range, and products which aren't as likely to suffer from the whimsy of individual taste (as in fashion, where sending an email pushing just one dress, for example, would be more divisive).

Anyway, let's look at some examples. 'Email marketing bae' provides a perfect example - a product, a testmonial and a call to action... 

And here's a teaser email (ahead of the launch of Glossier's serums)...

serum teaser email from glossier

If you want to see how Glossier structures a product tease campaign, take a look at this excellent article from Email Design Workshop which lays out each stage of the campaign, from obscure teaser to product intro to 'how to' content.

There are lots and lots of other examples, some as simple as the image above, and others including something a little more involved, like a flow chart or the double message below (via reallygoodemails).

glossier email - skincare first, then makeup

What makes these messages work from a technical point of view is the large text (suitable for mobile viewing), the large images (also great for mobile), the consistent clickthrough button (a blue box with a compelling call to action) and the no-fuss copywriting often in social media vernacular.

But ultimately what I love about these emails is that each one is a message. It says one thing, defiantly. The marketing team have sat down and asked "What do we want to say? What is our message?", rather than "What shall we put in this email?"

There's a big lesson there for many retail marketers. 

Customer service via email seems good, too

More tweets attest to the brand's ability to delight customers with 'hand written' customer service emails from the so-called 'gTeam'.

Emily Ackerman summarises how refreshing this approach can seem to those used to interacting with bigger brands or more staid customer service representatives.

This is no accident. An article from Digiday reveals that the customer service team is integrated into the marketing team and regularly gets involved with product decisions. There are 30 'editors' who each have their own relationship with Glossier products and are committed to candid responses to customers.

Each editor focuses on one channel only, be it email, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

The email referral scheme works

I don't want to dwell on this too much – it's another part of Glossier's email marketing that can be seen on social media (like everything Glossier does).

Again, witness:

And this...

And this...

That second tweet hints at the problems some retailers have with referral schemes, and perhaps even more so with discounts for new registrants which can undercut a multichannel retailer (see tweet below).

But Glossier has thrived precisely because of word-of-mouth, so offering money-off incentives when customers share on social media makes sense. As Econsultancy writer Nikki Gilliland points out, "Glossier relies on the authentic devotion of its loyal following – some of which just so happen to have a powerful social presence."

Conclusion

I was going to write a conclusion about the nature of brand, about hawks and doves, about whether large multichannel retailers can take anything from Glossier's strategy, and about whether it is actually just the products themselves that Glossier fans are in love with.

Then I was going to tie this all back to email marketing.

But I think I will continue being lazy and leave the final words to two more Twitter users. The first could be seen to be a backhanded compliment... 

But the second says it all...

email report banner

Ben Davis

Published 19 April, 2018 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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