Email is a great direct-sales tool. But, if you’re using email just to push your latest promos, you’re cheating yourself and robbing your customers of the opportunity to connect more deeply with your brand.

No matter how wonderful your brand or how great your products and services are, your customers are not always in the market to buy from each email you send. They’ll lose interest if your only message to them is “Buy this.”

Naturally, you want stay in touch with your customers until they’re ready to buy, whether it’s for the first time or the 10th time. How to do this? By broadening your email focus with editorial copy that informs as much as it sells.

How editorial boosts sales in retail email marketing campaigns

Open any magazine or newspaper, and you’ll see a combination of advertisements and newspapers. You can do the same thing with your email content.

You don’t need to turn each email into a mini-magazine. Just vary the tone and focus of your messages to keep them interesting to your customers and pique their interest whenever your messages pop into their inboxes.

Here are three ways editorial copy can help your retail email marketing campaigns move customers closer to buying, stay connected when they aren’t in the market to buy and feel more invested with your brand:

  1. Help them learn how to buy and use your products or services more effectively.
  2. Tell them more about your company and the people who work for it. This gives your brand more authenticity and conveys your personality.
  3. Share your expertise and fascinating facts to help your customers feel smart and feel more confident about buying from your company.

Four brands that rock the editorial

The FreshAddress Email Creative Archive is full of messages from brands that know how to mix info and promo copy. But, four of them consistently do a superior job, sending emails that we always open because we know we’re going to find something more interesting than the usual friends-and-family or 20%-off sale.

1. Airbnb – Subject line: Paris clubs and cabarets, now on Airbnb

AirbB2B Retail Email Marketing

The travel company that made home rentals hip also has a consistently strong email program. The email below is just one example of a message that can stand on its own thanks to strong editorial copy.

Airbnb uses editorial copy to get its users interested in and confident about renting in an unfamiliar location. It’s about the “experience” as much as the rental transaction. We loved the images and the activity suggestions, along with the modular layout that moves the reader down to the promotional part of the email: the suggested rentals.

Bloomingdales Retail Email Marketing

Bloomingdale’s does just about everything right with email, from deep segmentation based on web and purchase behavior to unique and clever broadcast messages. The email below shows how the department-store brand takes an editorial approach to sell spring merchandise to its style-conscious customers.

Here, the brand defines the trends, which just happen to align with its new merchandise lines. Then, it fulfills the promise of the preheader copy and shows customers how make those trends work with the things they already own, which echoes fashion-magazine tactics.

CB2 Retail Email Marketing

3. CB2 – Subject line: the October issue.

CB2, a Crate & Barrel brand, is a high-frequency emailer, but once a month it devotes one email to the merchandising theme of the month. The subject line emphasizes the editorial aspect of the email as does the interior headline: “October Edition: The Monthly Edit.”

Unlike other editorially focused emails, CB2 puts its non-promotional content in the bottom half. In this email, that includes links to customer-generated content and a blog post on Victorian-style decorating ideas.

Something you could test with this format is whether you get more clicks on editorial content if it’s at the top of the message or at the bottom. It will also show you what persuades your customers to scroll to the bottom of a long email.

Mr Porter Retail Email Marketing
At first glance, this looks like an online men’s lifestyle magazine. “Where are the offers?” you ask. Good question. Look closer at each article in the email. Click through to the main story at the website. Keep scrolling. Click the text link. That takes you to the product page for each item the article is talking about.

The email itself has only two links to products the customer could purchase. Now, that’s subtle.

Out of all the brands we studied in the archive for this post, Mr Porter has the least obvious approach to the editorial-plus-promo format. That might be part of the brand personality for this retailer, a trademark of the British retail brand Net-A-Porter. But it also lends authenticity to the products being sold, and it likely reflects the mindset of Mr Porter’s most valuable customer personas.

Retail Email Marketing Tip: How to make editorial copy work for you

Adding lead-nurturing content to promotional messages is standard practice in B2B marketing, where the purchase process is longer and more convoluted. Retailers can use editorial content in special issues to maintain connections with customers who are not in the market for their products yet or to nudge customers closer to a first or repeat purchase.

  • Not every email has to become an online magazine. Even if you had the time and creative resources to produce it, an issue like this needs to stand out in the stream of your regular emails to deliver maximum impact.
  • But, reaching out with helpful content beyond the same old promos gives your messages more value and can give them a longer shelf life and more impact than just a few hours in the inbox.