A Week in the Life of a New Subscriber

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

As an email marketer, I often get caught up in the nitty-gritty of all the moving parts of email automation and balancing that with the promotional and transactional emails. It can often be difficult to conceptualize all the different paths a shopper can take and then “direct traffic” accordingly. That’s why it’s always great practice to occasionally step back and experience that path as a new subscriber would. I’m obviously more critical than the typical consumer, but I love to try to guess the impetus behind each message I receive.

And So It Began

My most recent new subscriber experience came when I discovered my latest retail addiction, Lush handmade cosmetics. It all started with a store visit, where I completely fell in love with the product line. I’m typically not one to splurge, especially on myself, but when I do, I go all in! On my first visit to the store, I was intrigued by the idea behind the products, the hands-on demos, the free samples, as well as the packaging and presentation. Not to mention the smells! Have you ever been in a Lush store? I left that day with a couple of samples, a catalog, a brand new tub of face wash and an obsession. I did notice, however, that no one requested my email address at the point of sale.

For the next week, I pored over the catalog. The store I had visited was almost an hour away from where I live, so I knew I wouldn’t be making regular treks out there. Hence, I made the jump to online consumer. I visited lushusa.com, started browsing and began filling up my cart. Before I checked out, I immediately looked for the email sign-up – did they have an offer for joining the email program? As a consumer, this is the first thing I look for.

In this case, there was no offer touted at sign-up, but I subscribed anyway. Maybe I’d get an offer in the future? Besides, I was interested in the brand and wanted to know more. I searched for Lush offers at online coupon sites – none to be found. I noticed that there wasn’t even an offer code field at checkout, so I went ahead and completed my purchase. Then I checked my email and saw my first welcome message from Lush:

First Lush emailThis message was triggered immediately after I signed up – a must in my opinion, especially if there’s an offer. The message welcomed me, offered more on the brand’s background, and featured some top products. I would have loved these recommendations to be items that were left in my cart, but they weren’t. And they definitely weren’t items that I had browsed either. I assume they were bestsellers, top-rated or featured products.

The subject line was “Welcome to The Lush Life,” which made me wonder: Where was my order confirmation? I had just made a purchase but didn’t get any confirmation via email. That was a little odd to me.

AP_Lush2But the next day, at 7:31 p.m. to be exact, my order confirmation arrived. I like the clear layout of this message, especially the inclusion of the product images. They jog my memory and set my expectations for the package I’ll be receiving.

My only complaint is that I would have preferred to have received this message, or at least an order acknowledgment, when the order was placed.

One missed opportunity: A call-to-action to sign up for promotional messages since transactional-only contacts will receive this but may not be opted in. I’ll give Lush credit here though and assume that they do dynamically include one for those who aren’t subscribed.

The Journey Continues

That same day at 10:55 p.m., I received a shipping confirmation message:

Shipping ConfirmationI was definitely stoked that my order was about to be shipped so soon after my order was processed. The message included all of the necessary information, and there was a fair amount of html text as opposed to all images. This is SUPER important for transactional messages!

A couple of days passed, and my addiction strengthened in anticipation of receiving my order. I glanced at the catalog another time or two. And then that evening, again at 9:10 p.m., I received a message with the subject line: “These are simply the best!” Based on the fact that it was triggered at the same time, exactly three days after the original welcome message, I concluded that this was message two in a welcome series.Welcome Series #2

This message promoted best-selling products and linked to some helpful how-to videos. I wouldn’t have minded some additional brand information as well. How did Lush start? Tell me about the brand’s creators. Maybe that’s to come? Again, the recommendations seemed to be static – I had browsed two of them and purchased one of them, but I think that was a coincidence. I know these to be some of the top-selling products based on a few different sources. Even if I hadn’t already purchased, I would have found this message very helpful in introducing me to the Lush product line. But it would have been powerful to include some items I browsed as well.

The next day, I actually visited the store again and made another purchase. Again, I was not given the chance to sign up for email or provide my address at checkout. At the very least, I would like them to have it so that Lush has a 360-degree view of my purchases. At the same time I was in the store, my online order was arriving at my home. I was really beginning to think I had a problem…

I soon received another message with the subject line: “Get to know your Ocean Salt.” It was sent exactly 90 hours after I had received my online order confirmation message and was not sent at the same time as the other non-transactional messages I’d received, so I’m guessing this one is outside of the welcome series. It also references “your” Ocean Salt in the subject line and I had purchased that product. The email proceeded to tell me more about it.

Lush emailThis appears to be a nicely crafted post-purchase triggered message! It’s helping me get the most out of my purchase, reinforcing why I bought it in the first place, and attempting to drive interest in other products with more recommendations.

At this point, I do have an issue with the suggestions. In every email, they have shown me bath bombs. I’ve never browsed bath bombs on their site or put one in my cart. In fact, I’m not really a fan of bath bombs. I know they are a big product for Lush, so I can excuse that, but the suggestions could have been more relevant based on the load of knowledge they have about me at this point. Maybe they are just trying to expose me to a product line I haven’t shown interest in?

They also displayed a product that I already purchased, very recently. Featuring something else in that slot would have been a better fit for me. I’m also not sure if the 1:31 a.m. send time was optimal, but luckily, I was keeping an eye out for Lush messages anyway.

Cause Marketing messageTwo more days pass, and I receive what appears to be the third message in the welcome series, again at exactly 9:10 p.m. This message offered a great cause-marketing introduction to what Lush is all about. I really appreciated this touchpoint.

Final Thoughts

My journey as an email subscriber has only just begun, but my first impression is a positive one! I’ve received a customized path based on my actions and purchase history. I received relevant information, even if some elements could have been even more personalized. I felt well taken care of and informed; however, I would still like to see more of a link between my in-store and online experiences.

My new favorite brand is doing a great job with their email program so far. Do any retailers stand out to you for their new subscriber experience? Tell us who and why by commenting below!