Sierra Trading Post is primarily a discount clothing cataloger that adds customers to their email file after an order, naturally. Most email messages follow the standard subject line custom of offering a deal, dressed up in appealing language.
In our Who's Mailing What! database, research reveals that previous email subject lines include "March Markdowns!" and "Rock Bottom Sale: EXTRA 45% OFF 10,000+ Items & FREE SHIPPING!" The latter email subject line is indicative (or guilty!) of what I call "the smorgasbord strategy," in which the copywriter is giving the prospect more than one reason to open that email. In this case, there's practically seven (!) reasons: "Rock Bottom" tells you it's going to be a great deal; "EXTRA" is a popular keyword that prospect like; "45% OFF" is the kind of percentage off that customers love; "10,000+ Items" mean that this is a limited sale to tank tops and flip flops that other people hated; and "FREE SHIPPING," of course, remains a grabber for anybody breathing.
But on April 30 [see below], Sierra Trading Post went with a different tactic: the cool 'staff pick' option. Normally something you see at your local coffee shop or health foods store (or, to be nostalgic for a second, record store or bookstore!), the 'staff pick' is a great idea for customers who are somewhat brand-loyal and may trust the people that work there more than a place that they don't buy from.
You'll also note that the email doesn't bother with any other sell copy. Instead, it's all about the appealing numbers in the body copy of the email: "99¢ SHIPPING (on order $75 or more)", and then the "EXTRA" percentages off depending on purchase amount. What about the "Staff Picks"? Well, those are set in a blue background and prospects are given an "EXTRA" (there's that word again) "20% OFF," with an expire date in small type below.
Ethan Boldt is the chief content officer of Direct Marketing IQ, which provides direct marketing resources such as Who's Mailing What! and the Direct Marketing IQ Bookstore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.