If you could characterize a business as lucky, then Threadless is super lucky. The online retailer of T-Shirts, in which the site's community designs the Tees, became wildly successful because they own a unique space in the marketplace. Their product—the Tees—are also their content. As HubSpot has been preaching, if you offer remarkable content, you will get found online and grow your business.
So if you are looking for ideas to stand out from the competition, keep your eyes on Threadless. To get us started on this path, check out HubSpot's interview with Liz Ryan , Director of Email Marketing at Threadless:
1. Do you have buyer personas or how do you think about list segmentation in your email marketing?
We don’t identify buyer personas per se. We are constantly reevaluating the segments in our list. We have segmented based on t-shirt categories and past buying behavior for our buyers, but not all of our subscribers are buyers.
Our main focus when it comes to segmentation has been based on our community engagement. We try to reach our subscribers in a different way than our members and buyers. There is some overlap between those segments, of course, but we try to distinguish what type of content is the most relevant across those segments, and how to increase visibility among the segments: letting subscribers know more about getting involved in the community, educating buyers about the newsletter, and constantly optimizing the content of our newsletter to appeal to the subscribers.
2. How frequently do you send emails and what type of content do you introduce?
We send our Welcome Emails and transactional type emails throughout the day. The majority of our email, however, is our newsletter, which is sent twice weekly. Our newsletter features new tee releases, Threadless Community information and design challenges, (often sponsored by companies like our recent Sharpie and Thermos challenges). Of course, we also include information on sales, coupons, and anything going on in the way of specials.
Some of our special messaging revolves around re-engagement or keeping new buyers engaged. We periodically send coupons to new buyers to get them to come back and buy again. A wise person once said that a customer is never more engaged than when she first buys and subsequently subscribes to a brand’s newsletter, so those are a great segment to try and keep interested.
3. You recently launched a very bold re-engagement campaign (with a subject line "Open this email or say goodbye forever. (Kinda sounds like your crazy ex, right?)"). What was its goal? Were you taking any risk?
Honestly, the goal was to give some unresponsive subscribers one more chance to stay on the list. Its funny that you say it was ‘very bold’ because it made a few people around here uncomfortable, like it was a little too confrontational. The point was to get some attention and tell them we’re serious: no more newsletter, but also to let them know that it’s cool, if you don’t want the newsletter we don’t want to send it to you, but we hope you’ll still stay involved in our community and follow us on Facebook or Twitter. I didn’t see it as a risk, it was already data that wasn’t garnering any clicks or significant revenue so what did we have to lose?
4. What results did you see from it?
To be honest, I didn’t expect see substantial reengagement numbers as this was the first time we tried it and there was a significant amount of old data, but we added about 2,400 subscribers back into our list, 2,400 we would have otherwise just stopped mailing.
5. Which company's email marketing program do you admire & why?
Wow, what a hard question, there are so many good ones out there! One that comes to mind is Urban Outfitters, especially their subscription center and ability to chose which content you receive. There emails are always beautifully designed and the content is relevant and appealing based on your subscription preferences.
6. What is your number one email marketing tip for our audience?
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Email as a channel is ever evolving, and at the same time we see so much email in our inboxes our eyes start to glaze over. Sometimes pushing the envelope is what you need to do to get some attention. As long as it’s not mean spirited or insulting, what’s the worse that can happen? It bombs? Well, you’ll get them the next time!