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Best of the Inbox Awards: Top 8 Email Campaigns of 2015

Top Email Campaigns - Featured Image

Despite having been one of the first digital methods adopted by direct marketers, email is an often neglected element to the online marketing mix. The ROI, however, continues to remain prevalent: A census conducted by Econsultancy in 2014 concluded that revenue from email marketing efforts has increased proportionately by 28% in just one year.

As people oversubscribe to mailing lists, they watch their inboxes fill with spam and 'bacon' (subscription spam) that often goes overlooked and unopened. The challenge that marketers continuously face is to capture the wandering attention and predict the actions of inbox clickers and mobile-operating thumbs. Email marketing success requires a creative yet user-friendly design, a clear message, and customer-driven value offering.

Fun, fresh and engaging emails are the aim - but are they the norm? As we look back on the past year or so, it's more than just Taylor Swift and Katy Perry: It has been a while since our last installment, but we are happy to present once again, Blue Fountain Media's awards for 8 creative yet effective email blasts. Who were they from, and what exactly was it that got us clicking?

THE USER EXPERIENCE AWARD - Bonobos: Select your size.

Getting recipients to open your emails is one thing, getting them to interact is something totally different. Trying to come up with new and creative ways to prompt potential customers is difficult, but when a company gets it right, you begin to realize how many opportunities are really out there. Bonobos encompasses the user experience by creating an interactive option that makes the purchase process easier than ever for consumers. Instead of creating a call to action for the reader, Bonobos has them “select a size,” and includes a discount for them to use if and when they decide to make a purchase.

They compiled all of the products that their potential customer might be interested in, and organized them by size as an innovative way to make online shopping a little easier. It is a campaign that is simple to navigate and exciting to interact with, making it an overall success.

Email Campaigns - Bonobos
THE BEST OPEN RATE EVER AWARD – Birchbox: We Forgot Something in Your February Box!

Having an eye-catching subject line can be the reason that users choose to open your email as opposed to others in their inbox. Birchbox, a company that sends monthly boxes filled with 5 health and beauty products to subscribers, took advantage of this by using their email title to tell their recipients that something was left out of their box from the previous month. That thing was a coupon code that customers can use on an order from another website that Birchbox had partnered with. This got readers to interact with two different companies in just a single email.

Having that subject line that grabs and holds the attention of readers can draw them in. The additional incentive of the coupon code within the email itself can be what makes them stay.

Email Campaigns - Birchbox
THE STRONG MESSAGE AWARD - Hudson Ranch and Vinyards: Join Us for a Tasting in Dallas

Holding your reader’s attention is essential, and that often requires not wasting any time and getting right to the point. With a strong image and a strong message, Hudson Ranch and Vinyards accomplishes just that. This campaign was for a specific event they were hosting and used their email mailing lists to invite guests. Just like an invitation you would receive in the mail, it only includes the most necessary information. This allows readers to get all the details they need upon receiving the message, while also being able to quickly and easily refer back to it should they need to. It is both attractive, and efficient.

Email Campaigns - Hudson
THE CUSTOMER FEEL-GOOD AWARD – Tory Burch: Private Sale

Making your customer feel special and exclusive can be a great way to quickly draw them in. Add in an innovative animation, and you’re all set. Tory Burch combined this by including a small gif inviting readers to a “private sale.” This exclusivity makes the viewer feel as if the opportunity being presented to them is a one-time deal that will not come up again. Naturally, leading them to take advantage of this and make a purchase while they have access to such a special sale. You can encourage your readers to make a purchase and convert by making them feel appreciated, important, and specifically chosen to be a part of this event.

Email Campaigns - Tory Burch1Email Campaigns - Tory Burch2
THE BRAND STORY EXCELLENCE MEDAL (NON-PROFIT CATEGORY) – African Wildlife Foundation: We just need 100

The best way to help readers learn more about your company is to tell your story. This technique adds a personal touch to email campaigns, and works really well for non-profit organizations. The African Wildlife Foundation combined stunning visuals with informative content to briefly tell audiences what they do, why they do it, and what those individuals can do to help. Their clever call to action asks recipients to “Join the herd,” as an indication of comradery between the people and the animals they are working to help. They use statistics to help illustrate the importance and urgency of their work, and tie it to their numerical goal of how many supporters they want to reach on a monthly basis. 100 elephants are slaughtered each day, and they want to gain 100 new supporters each month. It is a brief email, but it really includes a large amount of informative content. It is just enough to get a reader to feel connected to the initiative and interested in the organization as a whole.

Email Campaigns - AWF (top)     Email Campaign - AWF (bottom)
 THE "KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER" TROPHY FOR CONVERSION RATE EXCELLENCE – Warby Parker: Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring

A subject line that is tailored to your specific customers can increase the level of personalization they feel between themselves and your brand. Warby Parker sends a reminder email to the members of their audience when an individual’s prescription is almost up. It plants the idea that they need to renew their prescription and get a new pair of glasses in the near future. However, the email comes off as a helpful reminder, rather than a blatant push to purchase.

Email Campaigns - Warby Parker
THE HUMANITARIAN AWARD FOR INBOX RELIEF – Sephora: Win A Trip to Paris

When emails become too repetitive, switching things up can help make your business stand out again in the inbox. Contests and holiday greetings can be an engaging opportunity to reach your audience without appearing to have an ecommerce intent behind your message.

Sephora accomplished this through their “Win A Trip to Paris” contest. Honestly, who wouldn’t open that email? They lead readers to their website by inviting them to learn more details about the trip, but still include some of their products below the fold. This allows them to have multiple purposes behind their campaign, but to the recipient, it is all about the subject line. And if for some reason one of those individuals is not interested in the contest, they still have plenty of other content to interact with throughout the rest of the message.

Email Campaigns - Sephora
THE SUBJECT LINE PRIZE FOR REMARKETING – Dropbox: Come back to us!

Sometimes individuals who sign up for mailing lists never actually become conversions. Or they started the conversion process and never completely finished. Either way, people occasionally need a little reminding.

Dropbox recognizes if a user has had a prolonged period of inactivity, and emails them in the hopes of having them return to their account. With the amount of things that people subscribe to now a days, it is easy to forget how many accounts you have floating around. These types of emails can help remind your audience that they joined your community, but haven’t been active in a while.

Email Campaigns - Dropbox
HONORABLE MENTIONS FOR A QUALITY MESSAGE – Blue Fountain Media: Holiday 2014

We would be remiss if we didn’t include one of our very own email campaigns. For the 2014 holiday season, Blue Fountain Media wished all of its followers a happy season with a friendly message that included an interactive twist. We generated a little game called “Christmas Furious,” allowing our readers to connect with our brand, without necessarily making a purchase.
The colorful layout, eye-catching snow flurries, and entertaining game made a memorable impression on our audience as they entered the New Year. Click to view the full email, and even play the game!

Email Campaigns - BFM Holiday

Email marketing has its challenges, but once you break down the creative barrier, the opportunities are truly endless. Pairing inventive concepts with effective messaging offers a chance to design an inbox invasion that your customers not only respond to, but begin to recognize, anticipate, and crave. Best of all, everything is variable: Mixing up messaging, design, calls-to-action and of course, timing and subject lines are all possible on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis, to finally create the perfect email recipe.

Were there any excellent email campaigns in 2015 that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @BFMweb.

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