Overview of Apple’s email marketing


OK, so I have become a little obsessed with Apple’s email marketing and understanding what they are doing and not doing.

Below is a presentation showing Apple’s email marketing or a collection of all the images used in the previous posts, as well as a screen grab of the email visable in the preview panel. It’s an interesting journey and has definitely helped me understand more about their ongoing communications and why clients love Apple so much.

QUESTION:

Are there any other company emails/newsletters that you think are doing a great job? Would be really interested to read anything else?

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What are the common elements in Apple’s emails?


As part of Apple’s ongoing customer communications, they send three different type of emails:

  1. Product: specifically relating to a new product launch or upgrade
  2. Software: similar to product, these types of emails relate to a new software launch or upgrade
  3. Event: these emails are around particular times of the year – Post Christmas, Valentine’s Day and return to uni.

Below is a review of each email type and the common themes for each.

PRODUCT EMAILS

Each of the product emails is slightly different, but there are some common elements to all of them:

  • Logo: the Apple logo always appears at the top. It’s only in the MacMini email that the logo appears as part of the computer screen. All other emails it appears either top left (majority) or top right with a lot of space around it.
  • Header: each header contains descriptive product text with a stong, clean product image. The MacMini email is the only one where the product image appears above the text.
  • Header CTA: the header has a strong call to action encouraging the user to ‘BUY NOW’ (in a button).
  • Imagery: each product email has a strong connection to the copy – all very large.
  • Content: under the header, the product content is diplayed in columns. Each column having copy with an image that reflects what is written. The columns vary from 2 to 4, depending on the product.
  • CTA: each email has a clear call to action at the bottom of the email. Replicating the similar format of all other emails: two boxes both promoting purchase – one online and the other instore.
Apple MacMini email - 19 March 2009

Apple MacMini email - 19 March 2009

Apple iPod/Shuffle email - 13 March 2009

Apple iPod/Shuffle email - 13 March 2009

Apple iMac email - 7 March 2009

Apple iMac email - 7 March 2009

Apple MacBook email - 26 Feb 2009

Apple MacBook email - 26 Feb 2009

SOFTWARE EMAILS

Each of the software emails is slightly different, but there are some common elements to all of them:

  • Logo: the Apple logo appears in the top left hand corner
  • Header: each header displays the name of the software in a very creative way and ensures the user knows what the email is about
  • Header CTA: the header has a strong call to action within it (button) either focusing on purchase or trial
  • Imagery: the MacBook Pro is used to bring the software to life via three separate computer, each featuring a different element of the software
  • Content: under each of the hero images there is some copy explaining the software. There are only a few lines, which are enough to read before moving down to the software features.
  • Features: the software features are highlighted with an image and then supporting copy. Both emails start with the image on the left hand side with copy to the right and for the next software feature it is reversed (copy on the left, imagery on the right).
  • CTA: each email has a clear call to action at the bottom of the email. Replicating the similar format of all other emails: two boxes both promoting purchase – one online and the other in-store.
Apple iLife email - 30 January 2009

Apple iLife email - 30 January 2009

Apple iWork email - 16 January 2009

Apple iWork email - 16 January 2009

EVENT EMAILS

Each of the event emails is slightly different, but there are some common elements to all of them:

  • Logo: the Apple logo appears at the top of the email, either top left or top right
  • Header: each header is a little different, but it heroes the product
  • Header CTA: the header has a strong call to action (button) focusing on ‘SHOP NOW’, which is different to the ‘BUY NOW’ buttons used in the above emails. I’m assuming this is because there are multiple products being communicated in these emails rather than just one.
  • Imagery: strong product shots are used for each email.
  • Content: under each of the hero images there is some copy introducing other products that might be relevant for the user. In the Valentine’s email, all of the content is iPod specific: Shuffle, iTunes Gift Cards and iPod Touch. In the December email, there is conent around the different product categories: iPod, Mac, iPhone and iPod & iPhone.
  • CTA: each email has a clear call to action at the bottom of the email. Replicating the similar format of all other emails: two boxes both promoting purchase – one online and the other in-store.
Apple Valentine's email - 27 January 2009

Apple Valentine's email - 27 January 2009

Apple Valentine's email - CTA

Apple Valentine's email - CTA

Apple Post Christmas email - 31 December 2008

Apple Post Christmas email - 31 December 2008

Apple December email - CTA

Apple December email - CTA

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LEARNINGS

Based on reviewing the above emails there are some learnings that we can take out of Apple’s email communications:

  • Different types of communications: Ensure that you have a framework that allows for more than just product emails. There needs to be a combination of emails that are sent to the consumer. The ideal combination is product and event. Both educating and pushing sales.
  • Set guidelines rather than templates: guidelines have more flexibility than templates, therefore it is important to set some guidelines for your email communications. These should details: logo treatments, header options, use of imagery, use of content, CTA, privacy, etc.
  • Product shots are key: most clients don’t have the budget to do a photo shoot for emails, but maybe they should. The key to all of these emails is the imagery and it’s simplicity.

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What & when retailers send emails? Tesco, Coles & Aldi


After looking through my blog stats, I found that two of the most popular posts have been about the Tesco and Coles emails. So I thought I would look at the other retailers emails I receive and see if there is anything else of interest.

When looking at my archive of retailers emails (Aldi, Coles, Tesco), it was interesting looking at the summary of the emails and when they had been sent, the collective subject lines and the file size.

ALDI LEARNINGS

  1. Subject lines: ALDI have only recently updated their subject lines to be more meaningful – rather than being ‘upcoming ALDI special buys’ they include the email focus and the date they were sent.
  2. Timings: ALDI always send their emails on a Friday. They are not sent at a consistent hour, but they are sent between 12 – 5pm.
  3. Email size: The file size of the emails are between 41 – 52Kb, which is a reasonable file size.
ALDI Email Overview

ALDI Email Overview (AU)

It seems that ALDI are starting to pay more attention to the emails they send out to consumer (opted-in base). The focus is more on the subject lines than the creative. Unfortunately the emails are still extremely long, don’t have any personalisation, include too many different categorise and no segmentation (see example below).

ALDI Email - September 2008

ALDI Email - 18 September 2008

COLES LEARNINGS

  1. Subject lines: Coles don’t have any consistency with their subject lines. They don’t include Coles or a common theme between them.
  2. Timings: Coles doesn’t have a strategy around their email send times.  There is no consistent day or time that their emails are sent meaning that they are a surprise when they arrive in consumers inbox.
  3. Email size: The file size of the emails are between 25 – 50Kb, which is a huge variation. The latest emails are reducing in file size (high 20s), which is great because it means they are quick to download (not including images).
Coles Email Overview

Coles Email Overview (AU)

Coles have two different email databases. One for promoting their weekly specials and the other for promoting their special feature newsletters and sections: Pets and seasonality (spring).

Coles eNews Overview - Special Interest Newsletters

Coles eNews Overview - Special Interest Newsletters

TESCO LEARNINGS

  1. Subject lines: Very consistent and always include Tesco in the subject line.  Most subject lines are quite short (under 50 characters), no matter what the email is.
  2. Timings: Tesco doesn’t have a strategy around their email send times. Tesco have so many different emails they send out. There may be some thought around each email, but it doesn’t look that way.
  3. Email size: The file size of the emails vary between 19 – 62Kb, which is a huge variation. The ‘Top Offers of the Week from Tesco.com’ are the biggest emails.
Tesco Email Overview (UK)

Tesco Email Overview (UK)

LEARNING SUMMARY

There are a few things that need to be considered before you send out emails/newsletters on random days and at random times.

  • Think about the subject line. Anything with less than 50 characters gets a higher click through rate than those with long subject lines.
  • Think about when the emails are sent. Is the key to be focused on a time, day or date? Whatever is decided it must be maintained and enforced no matter what.
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Coles Supermarket – great email communications & templates


After looking at the Tesco emails, I thought it would be a good experiment to see if any Australian retailers/supermarkets are doing emails well. Coles is probably the best place to start as they have recently revamped their emails and also repositioned Coles Online to be Coles.com.au (I think that’s a great thing – one umbrella brand without any sub-brands, so easy for the consumer to remember when they are going online).

Currently, Coles send out a weekly email and most elements of the emails are consistent. The only exclusion being for promotional emails. The Coles email structure is:

  • Coles logo
  • Key navigation on the right-hand side
  • Anchor links to email articles/sections
  • Heading including images
  • Hero promotion
  • Staff introduction
  • Weekly offers
  • Competition/promotion (if relevant)
  • Recipes
  • Support service (contact details and links)
  • T&Cs

Below is an example of a bespoke email that was sent out during the Olympics, it follows some of the above but not all.

Coles email 2

Coles promotional email

Below are examples of the standard Coles weekly emails:

Coles email
Coles weekly email
Coles email 3

Coles weekly email (alternate week)

Below is a section of the email showcasing the offers and recipe.

Coles email details

Coles email details - page 2

Below is my favourite section of the newsletter. Coles is actually showing they are there for their customers if they get stuck. The links to other Coles sites is a great way to drive traffic to their sister companies.

Coles support - contact and links

Coles support - contact and links

Below is an example of the T&Cs in one of the weekly emails. They are so long and could easily be a link rather than so much text/copy.

Coles T&Cs

Coles T&Cs

Collection of the subject lines – there is no consistency with the subject lines. Fingers crossed Coles are testing subject lines to see which ones are getting the highest click through rates.

From email address

SUMMARY

Overall, I think Coles are doing a great job with their emails and there are only a few things that these emails can do to improve:

  1. HTML link at the top of the email
  2. T&Cs link rather than a few paragraphs
  3. Subject line consistency
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