May 5th, 2013 | 4 MIN READ

Is Content the Next Email Marketing King?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

Do all ecommerce related emails have to look like this?

I'm not against merchandising emails with offers, featured products or even a personalized assortment of items, but conventional ecommerce emails often do little to create compelling demand for products vs. impulse buys. (Not to mention the effects of paradox of choice).

Back in my restaurant days, we hostesses were encouraged to "romance the features" of the daily signature dish while walking customers to their tables. Before the wait staff arrived or even the menus hit the wood, my job was to create desire and interest for that one meal.

Similarly, commercial email can be that slow, romantic walk that tells people what they should want to buy when they sit down to your site. An example of this recently landed in my inbox.

Subject line: Hemp Protein....The Next Protein King?

Hey Linda,

I have made a couple big changes with regards to my protein recently and I wanted to fill you in as it might affect you.

Have you ever thought of using hemp protein powder? Well unless you are into a plant based diet, lactose or gluten intolerant or avoid dairy altogether you probably haven't thought about it ever.

I eat meat and up until recently have always used a steady diet of dairy based protein powders whether it was whey or casein. Frankly I might have laughed if someone had mentioned the thought of substituting or at least supplementing my protein powder regime with a plant based powder such as Hemp.

I am not sure about you, but I always thought hemp protein only for hardcore vegans/vegetarians, non-athletes and those with a high tolerance for gritty awful tasting protein?

After doing extensive research and a bunch of personal taste testing I did a complete 180! Not only does hemp protein have tons of health benefits, but they are benefits that no other protein contains (even whey!)....and on top of that there are hemp proteins that not only are tolerable but taste amazing!

Yes I am sure you are skeptical as was, but to be honest my friend hemp protein these days is health optimizing, performance boosting, and pallet satisfying as ever!

To learn 5 of the best reasons to try hemp protein click here:

You can thank me later :)

Yours in good health,

Mark Holowaychuk

Though I cringe at the conspicuous URL, here's what I like about it:

1. Using content to market content

Yeah, yeah, web users don't read. But they don't look at banners and ads either. And if you believe that nobody's going to read a text-based email, you have to believe nobody's going to look at your banner-spangled campaigns either. This email embraces web copywriting best practices and uses "story selling" to get and keep the reader's interest, then direct the reader to more compelling information.

Like Marketing Experiments' Flint McGlaughlin says, an email's job is not to sell, it's to generate interest -- to get a click. Drs. Foster and Smith's educational approach resulted in 15% higher sales than its sales-promotion competitor in A/B testing. Sometimes educating does a better job at selling than coupons and images.

2. It's personal

Not only did they get my name right, it's signed off by the founder of the business. I'm not gonna kid myself that he wrote it himself, but it does humanize the company.

3. It sounds (a bit) like a product review

According to eMarketer, consumers trust product reviews nearly 12x more than manufacturer copy. The fact it's written by an individual who identifies himself, and presents himself as someone like me who's actually tried this product could be very effective.

4. It sounds a lot like a sales letter

Email may have squeezed out direct mail sales letters, but let's not forget the Wall Street Journal's most famed sales letter ran for 28 years, raking in $2.5 billion in subscription revenue. These things work when done right, can be adapted to Web-reading, and stand out from the typical shotgun merchandising retail emails.

The key is good story-selling. How can you turn a product's value propositions into an engaging, persuasive or educational story? Try it in a content based email like this. Even better, test it against your "typical" email creative.

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