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The seemingly endless parade of thousands of brands you’re faced with in the weekly ‘big shop’ means it’s sometimes impossible to know where to start.

Similarly, opening my email inbox only to be confronted by a mob of generic and impersonal marketing emails trying to feed me their latest offers can be overwhelming to say the least.

Email marketers should take heed of the “Waitrose way” of email marketing as the high-end grocer hopes to steer shoppers to its new store in Marlow. The locally-focused campaign is using new information-packed emails to tempt the supermarket chain’s target market from the computer to the counters.

When opening a new store, raising fast awareness and generating interest are vital, and with the correct content and messaging approach, email can be used to successfully generate customer footfall into stores.

Where Waitrose succeeds is by using email to promote the standout products and services its Marlow store boasts, such as the café, fresh meat counter, expert wine advice and glass loan service, while the inclusion of a local map with directions enables the recipient to easily find the promoted supermarket to peruse the aisles.

Customers are directed to a customised landing page, which provides additional information such as opening hours, store contact details and disabled access and car parking.


This gives real insight into the suitability of the store for the interested consumer, as well as exposing the customer to more persuasive messages and encouraging them to spend more time with the brand.

The email message announcing the store opening is targeted, clear and concise. No-one wants to trawl through an email to conclude the offer is of no relevance to them, so this supermarket sweeps its way through the cluttered inbox to grab the consumer’s attention.

With email subject headers such as “Your delicious new Waitrose in Marlow is now open”, the invitation is appetisingly clear.

Even with this great approach, there are still a few things that could have been better. Here are four top tips to give a store opening the email promotion it deserves and really get customers’ mouths watering:

Offer customers an incentive 

A special gift such as a printable discount coupon with grocery bills over £50, or a free drink and cake combo in the store café are a great way to sweeten the deal.

Special promotions may seem an obvious selling point, and there’s a reason for this. It’s a sure fire way to encourage recipients to interact with the email and consequently visit the store.

Go viral

Viral campaigns have been some of the most effective marketing methods of the last ten years and word-of-mouth is key to the success of new shops.

With that in mind Waitrose may have missed a trick by not utilising social media in the email to cook up local interest. We all sit up and take more notice of messages coming from people we know.

Viral doesn’t have to mean worldwide for Waitrose in this instance, the message simply has to reach as many people as it can in the Marlow area.

A picture paints a thousand words

Including a picture of the store would have offered a more appealing invitation as people can relate better to images of their locality. Marketers need to stand out from the mass of everyday email and catch the consumers’ eye. 

Make it personal

The element of personalisation in an email can make all the difference. We have all faced an overflowing inbox and dreaded the unenviable task of having to sort out the “grey mail” from the relevant and interesting.

The main wonky wheel of Waitrose’s campaign was the slight impersonality of the message. Giving a personal touch, such as including the subscriber’s first name, brings an individual quality to the email and increases the likelihood that readers will engage with the brand. 

Waitrose’s new Marlow store promotion is a good example of how to use email as the compelling marketing tool it deserves to be, an inviting, relevant and engaging message that stands out in the sea of messages filling up peoples’ inboxes.

There’s no jargon, no nonsense and it grabs the recipient’s attention from the very start. Such effective email use will definitely help Waitrose to stack its profits, not just its shelves.

Margaret Farmakis

Published 22 June, 2011 by Margaret Farmakis

Margaret Farmakis is Senior Director of Strategy Consulting at Return Path and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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