Ecommerce Marketing Tools – Email Spotlight

Ecommerce Marketing Tools – Email Spotlight

Would you buy or not?

Email marketing is one of the most important tools in eCommerce to initiate a purchase.

Econsultancy survey found that email is the best eCommerce marketing channel for return on investment. The diagram below shows how the Econsultancy survey rates different eCommerce marketing channels.

Eradium marketing channels rating diagram

According to multiple research statistics, email marketing returns an average $44 for every dollar invested. The best in class email marketers report more than $80 return for every dollar or over 8000% ROI.

What is the reason for so broad performance reported by email marketing studies? We decided to review some real life examples of emails and analyze their potential impact on purchase conversion and ROI.

There are 2 main purchase types:

  • Planned purchase is something that the shopper needs and was planning to buy.
  • Impulsive purchase – when shopper did not intend to buy, nevertheless the item is on sale, a new color or something else will pick his interest to make a purchase.

Emails can influence both and create a great lift on sales.

Content and design are vital factors of a successful campaign. Once the right audience received the email they must be interested to learn more. Having an engaging message and good design will be the decisive piece that will complete the puzzle.

Every email must have 3 factors that work together: audience segment, content and design that match each other. The content and design must support the needs of the target audience.

For example, if you send an email with dark corporate style design but offers new toys and targets young mothers you will not get the sales results you are looking for.

In this blog, we will assess email design and content strategy of various retailers. Our study will include local and international retail brands, which actively use email marketing. We will bring you examples of emails that we think are interesting for review.

We will be a running a weekly feature called: would you buy or not? Every week we analyze 3 emails that we received, provide rating and highlight the good, the ugly and vote for the winner.


All emails will be rated from 1 to 5*, where 1 means poor and 5 is great.

We will review on a weekly basis:


  1. Colors – colors have good contrast, consistent
  2. Typography – fonts have readable size, clear titles
  3. Images – clear, visible, easy to understand
  4. Formatting – blocks follow each other in an easy to navigate pattern
  5. Mobile Optimized – all elements are visible and formatted correctly on the mobile phone


  1. Subject line – signals urgency and clear main offer that will be found inside the email
  2. Clear offer – one main offer with clear call to action
  3. Urgency to purchase – time, stock, shipping that motivates the buyer to purchase
  4. Product highlights – clear description of the products to evoke the interest of the reader

This week we are reviewing eCommerce emails from the following retail brands: Snuggle Bugz, Holt Renfrew  hr2 and Old Navy.

Snuggle Bugz

Snuggle Bugz was founded in November 2006 by husband and wife team Ben & Tanya. They started with one retail outlet and a small office in the back room on Fairview St in Burlington where one of the stores is still located. Snuggle Bugz was started from a vision to provide a quality baby store where new parents could feel comfortable asking questions and discovering new products during this special time in their lives. “We like to think that we provide the best selection of the highest quality brands for pregnancy, newborn and toddler”.

Eradium email marketing Snuggle-Bugz

Email 1: Snuggle Bugz

Subject Line: Make a splash & stay dry with these water-friendly items!‏


  1. Colors: 2* – it is more fun to introduce some splash of color in your brand colors to reflect the message colors inside. It would be fun if the logo had a touch of blue or even put the logo in a swimming pool.
  2. Fonts: 4* – fonts are nice and easy to read, the only issue is the light gray font under images is a bit hard to read
  3. Images: 5* – images are clear, attractive and show the products in good light
  4. Formatting: 4*- the email appears attractive with good visual flow
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4* -all blocks appear to flow and resize correctly on the phone


  1. Subject line: 2* – the subject line refers outdoor gear that will help to stay dry, but the email contains many items that are not related
  2. Clear offer: 3*- same symbols are used to represent different meanings, example heart used to represent online only, natural, etc.
  3. Urgency to purchase: 2* – no clear urgency to make a purchase, just a few random items with pretty pictures
  4. Product highlights: 2* – there does not seem to be a logical connection between the products. There is also not enough description regarding each product.

Overall rating: 3*


The email appears attractive but the content inside is not very appealing or urgent to persuade the users to click. It is also not recommend creating a mixed messaging inside a campaign. Some products are related to rain, swimming and why is there a car seat? There has to be a much stronger offer with a clear call to immediate action.

hr2: A New Retail Concept for Canada

Holt Renfrew leverages 177 years of Canadian retail expertise and launched – hr2. hr2 offers Canadians who love fashion and leading brands, a new and unique designer product selection – at great value – and with a great shopping experience. The merchandise assortment and shopping experience at hr2is like no other in the market today, and includes unique product lines sourced especially for hr2 and not available elsewhere in Canada. hr2 offers womenswear, menswear and accessories, including footwear, leather goods and fashion jewellery.

Eradium email marketing Holt Renfrew hr2

Email 2: HR2

Subject Line: Valentino Is here!


  1. Colors: 1* – the branding is not reflected in the email, looks very unprofessional
  2. Fonts: 3* – too many font colors, not enough spacing
  3. Images: 2* – there is only 1 low-quality picture of a shoe
  4. Formatting: 2* – blocks do not have clear definition, some have borders, sizes are not consistent
  5. Mobile Optimized: 4* – this is not hard to achieve since there are only 1 image and a few words of text


  1. Subject line: 3*– does not evoke immediate need to open the email
  2. Clear offer: 4* – clear offer and call to action: coming to the store and purchasing Valentino merchandise
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3* – there is mention of limited stock, but it is not very visible and is found all the way at the bottom in smaller font
  4. Product highlights: 2* – there is very limited information about the product, what if you really wanted to purchase the shoe, at least the model and name should be visible

Overall rating: 2.5*


Single brand email is a great marketing campaign and one of the easiest emails to create. The Great opportunity is missed by having no explanation or showcasing the brand products. The email needs to have HR2 information, as well as the information about the brand such as location, description, model information in order to be effective. Single shoe image is definitely not enough to make people come to the store, especially since there is no eCommerce presence.

Old Navy

Old Navy is a popular clothing and accessories retailer owned by American multinational corporation Gap Inc. It has corporate operations in San Francisco and San Bruno California. The largest of the Old Navy stores are its flagship stores, located in New York City, the Mall of America, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.

Eradium email marketing Old Navy
Eradium email marketing Old Navy
Eradium email marketing Old Navy

Email 3: Old Navy

Subject Line: don’t be fooled! It’s your last chance to take up to 40% of all dresses & skirts +all sirs and shots for the guys!


  1. Colors: 3* – the black color is throwing things off, does not correspond to the brand or the offer
  2. Fonts: 4*– are clear, good size and easy to read
  3. Images: 4*– images are clear, attractive and show the products in good light
  4. Formatting: 2* – too many blocks, that do not follow a specific pattern, hard to follow
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3* – due to formatting it is hard to follow the offers presented in a clear and logical pattern


  1. Subject line: 3*-too much trying to appeal to too many audience segments, should be more targeted
  2. Clear offer: 3* -too many offers, not clear on which one to act first
  3. Urgency to purchase: 4* – “last chance” is a good phrase, it speaks urgency
  4. Product highlights: 3*- too many products, not enough descriptions

Overall rating: 3*


The email follows all the best practices of an email campaign but misses on execution. The email is trying to appeal to too my segments and gets lost in translation.

Just for Fun

Definitely a major looser is an email from the city of Vaughan!

I got this email for Easter 2015 with content that is from 2013! How confusing! Please, all marketers do a test run and proofread your emails!

Eradium email marketing blog city of Vaughan


Out of all the emails we examined this week there is not one email that is a clear winner in terms of design and content – some messages had a better design, other had better content. It is a positive sign for a professional marketer like me that there are lots of work to be done, but this is a disappointment for those retailers who could not deliver a winning message.

The tricky part with emails is that they have to be extremely timely and relevant. You cannot create one email offer per week and send it to all your subscribers and expect great results. The best in class retailer marketers combine strong analytics to support segmentation and personalization with a great creative design to engage their audience, drive sales and deliver high ROI.

Anna Battrick

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.