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May 15, 2009 | 1 minute read

Retail Email: Sell or Inform? How About Both

written by Linda Bustos

"Before you put on makeup - do this."

This subject line from a recent Sephora email caught my attention. Not so much because I want to learn about makeup, but being a marketing fanatic I thought it was a compelling headline and wanted to see if the email creative was equally compelling.

I did a happy dance when I opened this email from Sephora - it epitomizes what I've been talking about here on Get Elastic about sharing product knowledge in email and attaching value propositions to featured products:

It even uses a clever play-on-words - a "primer" can be a tool to teach basic concepts, or something that is worn under makeup to "make makeup last longer and prevent smudging all day." Sephora presents a primer-primer that makes the customer aware that primers for face, lips and eyes exist (I didn't know that), explains their value proposition concisely and recommends products to satisfy the demand it just created.

The email also mentions its Beauty Insider loyalty program a few times - each mention offers a value proposition for becoming a member: exclusive products, personalized email recommendations in the future and rewards points.

Should retail email sell or inform? I think Sephora does a little of both.