Why Your Email Marketing Program Should Be Like a Beach

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.
Bronto at the BeachWho doesn’t like the beach? It is a place to kick back, relax, and pop open a cold one. Why is that? It is probably because it is consistent. You know exactly what to expect when you go. But your love for the beach didn’t just happen overnight, it was cultivated over time. And recently, when getting away for a few days, I walked onto a deck overlooking the ocean it occurred to me; email programs should be just like a beach! So let’s take it one step further and explore, shell we?

Visualize Your Beach

If I ask 1,000 people to describe the beach what would they include; sand, water, waves, sun? If I ask 1,000 of your subscribers to visualize your brand would their answers be consistent? Think of your brand like a beach. When they see your brand name in their inbox they should immediately think of the benefits and what your brand stands for. Do your emails consistently reinforce your brand? Do you have a template that ties in the look and feel of your website?

Catch the Wave

The first thing people see when they get to the beach is the ocean and whitecaps of the waves. The waves, like your email messages, keep coming. I can expect the waves to come on a consistent basis. I know the next one is coming in a matter of seconds, and I know they will be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Are you sending emails on a regular cadence and are they what people expect? A good surfer can tell which waves are worth riding and which ones to pass on.

People Come and Go

No matter what time of year it is people are always coming and going. You will always be adding people to your list, and sure enough you will always lose a few. The trick is to be consistent no matter who is there or when they are there. If I head to the beach in the fall for some R&R, I still get the sand, sound of the waves crashing, the ocean breeze and salty air, but there are hundreds of beaches that provide me these things. What if the beach I went to didn’t have these things in the off-season? Don’t expect people to come back to your beach during the peak season if you ignore them or offer no value the rest of the year. Do you have lifecycle messaging in place that provides value during the off-season such as a birthday or anniversary message? For first time visitors, do you have a welcome series that properly explains the value of your beach and what makes it so special?  Do you have a re-engagement strategy for the off-season addressing those no longer responding to your emails?

Seasonality Matters

Although people are always coming and going, every company has its peak season. For many e-commerce retailers Q4 presents the busiest season. During this busy season the inbox, or beach, is more crowded than the rest of the year. Are you adequately prepared for this time of year? All of the area surf shops open up and offer towels and custom made T-shirts. Do you know how to inform beach-goers about your store and what makes it better than the others? Stores that don’t plan for the rush will get crushed. Remember, your emails are like waves. Are there enough waves to handle the amount of surfers, boogie boarders and wind surfers who are in demand for them?

What Type of Sunscreen Should You Choose?

Should you wear 15, 30, 45, or even 60 SPF? Choosing the right sunscreen is essential. If you don’t believe me go without it the next time you are at the beach. Think of choosing sunscreen like managing your preferences. If you ask me what number I like and I say 45 only to be given a 15 I am going to get burned. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well… Offer your subscribers a chance to select their sunscreen and give it to them. Otherwise, before too long they will head to the next person who can provide them with what they want. Do you have a manage preference page and are you providing relevant emails to your subscribers?

Go Ahead, Imagine The Perfect Beach!

  • Think about what your prefect beach should look like: have a template that is consistent, reinforces your brand and ties together your email and website
  • Just like waves, be consistent: develop a marketing calendar and a regular send cadence
  • Get people excited during the off-season: have lifecycle messaging such as a welcome message/series, birthday and/or anniversary message, post-purchase and lapsed purchase message/series
  • Have a plan for addressing un-engaged contacts
  • Prepare for tourist time: plan for your busiest season, and develop it well in advance (This ties into your calendar)
  • What sunscreen do you offer: have a manage preference page and use the information to send relevant messages
  • No beach is complete without sand: Be sure have your essential elements of an email marketing program covered

When thinking about building your email program, think, “Is our email program like a beach?” If it were, would you go back? My advice is to take yourself on a little vacation, study the beach, and tell your boss it is work-related. If you are really gutsy, go ahead and expense the trip. Now, if only they made a cologne that smelled like the beach!

Greg Zakowicz
Marketing Strategist at Bronto


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