Eyes on the Price: Inventive Approaches to Sale Messaging in a Down Economy

Marketing to a belt-tightening consumer base, it’s now more important than ever to entice subscribers with the most compelling offers you can dream up. It’s equally important, of course, to deliver the offers in the most compelling emails possible. It’s been interesting to see more inventive sale messaging strategies and design approaches appear in the inbox recently.

Stunning Strategies:

Fun Themes:

Spend more, Get More: Barneys New York recently offered gift cards to high-spenders: the more you spend, the more you get! Offering gift cards in climbing denominations makes it possible for Barneys to offer fewer straight discounts.

Find the Savings!: Last year, Disney (scroll down a little) created an Easter egg hunt-themed sale, where browsing was rewarded with “hidden” discounts ranging from 15% to 40%. Not only was the childhood throwback brand-appropriate, but the tactic also encouraged subscribers to keep browsing in search of that elusive 40% off.

Daily Deals: Piperlime recently ran a fun “Five Days of Treats” series. They presented a new special deal each day, keeping subscribers checking back to find each exciting offer.

Value Messaging in Full-priced Messages:

• Emphasizing Value: Nordstrom, traditionally comfortable in its position as a higher-end, higher-priced retailer, has been shifting its email messaging to include an emphasis on value. Recent subject lines and body copy call out lower costs available on full-priced Nordstrom goods.

Eating In: In their subject line, “Eating in? We’ve Got all the Essentials You Need,” Pottery Barn acknowledges that their subscribers are likely spending less time and money out on the town. They take advantage of the opportunity to remind subscribers that Pottery Barn’s high-quality, long-lasting wares provide the necessities for nice evenings at home.

Living Simple: Anthropologie uses this email to emphasize how they can cater to an earthy lifestyle rather than highlighting their clothing collection. It’s a bit off that their landing page shows their fashion rather than housewares or books, but the message conveys how Anthropologie acknowledges the turn towards simple living.

DIY: Sephora‘s “DIY” angle caters to recession-savvy shoppers with eyes on beauty. By calling out salon pricing and the savings of styling oneself, Sephora finds their niche in the value-conscious arena.

Dynamic Designs:

Unique Text Treatments: A lot of brands send crisp and direct copy-only emails for unfettered sales messaging. Using unique text treatments, like Banana Republic‘s, can add visual interest without requiring graphics or images.

Placement of Special Offer Submessaging: Some brands, like The Container Store, add sale messaging as a banner or promotional text in the preview pane. This calls attention to savings without disrupting the rest of the email message. Gymboree manages to convey three different savings offers by packing some punch in their preview pane space. Others add sale submessaging at the bottom of the email so that their main message makes the first impression, as in this Janie and Jack email.

Graphic Representation vs. Product Imagery: Most brands avoid product imagery in their sale messaging, instead using graphic treatments to create interest, as in REI-OUTLET.com‘s use of logos. Another graphic approach, still fun and fresh, takes the form of discount tags, like those of Chicos and Old Navy.

With the upcoming months economically uncertain, all we can do is hold on tight and keep an eye to inventive and engaging approaches.

Scoping out the sales,
Lisa Harmon and Alex Madison, Smith-Harmon

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