Email Marketing Strategy – Lessons Learned From A Major Retailer

By | February 21, 2017
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Relationships.  That’s the name of the marketing game these days.  We all know that customers are more likely to buy from suppliers with whom they have a relationship. But how do you build and nurture that relationship?

I’d like to share with you an example of the email marketing strategy the outdoor equipment retailer REI is using to build a relationship with me, their customer.

Targeted Email Marketing Strategy = Relationship Builder

Last month, I bought a pair of cross-country skis from REI.  About three weeks after I bought my skis, I got an email autoresponder from REI.  The timing was great; I had enough time to try out my skis and play with them a little.  But that was also just about when I realized I had a few more questions about my skis.  REI took this opportunity to proactively answer all my questions…and then some.

The email was in a lovely html format, clearly organized so I could easily skim through to see if the email was relevant to me.  Good.

Right up front was a message congratulating me on my cross-country ski purchase.  I really liked this; they knew I had purchased cross-country skis, not downhill skis.  I felt like they were paying attention to me.  Good.

Next, the email gave me a link to the REI website’s Expert Advice section, which they told me had articles and videos to help me get the most out of my new equipment.  Good.  And then the message got even more targeted.

A section titled “DIY Ski Maintenance” (sounds like a search engine optimized title, if ever I heard one) gave me direct links to videos that showed me how to wax my skis, how to repair my skis, and backcountry skiing basics.

A section titled “REI Snow Report” included widgets I could add to my Google toolbar or Facebook page for updated snow conditions at my favorite resorts.

A link let find me an REI Tech Service location near me, in case I was “heading out for a serious trip and needed to tune up my equipment.”

The heading at the top of the REI Cross-Country Ski Shop encouraged me to “explore miles of wilderness trails.”  By clicking on the links, I could Shop Cross-Country Ski Clothing, Shop Cross-Country Ski Accessories, Shop Ski Packs and Bags, Shop Roof Top Boxes, Shop Snow Safety.  (Again, notice how these links have been search engine optimized.)

And of course, the email included links to REI’s general website categories, including Stores & Events, REI Adventures, and the REI Guarantee.


Everything I wanted to know about my skis was all right there for me, all in one email, with just a little bit of well-chosen copy to put each link in the right context.

Takeaway Lessons

REI did a great job of thinking about things from the customer’s point of view.  To follow their example, ask yourself:

  • What advice and information are your customers looking for?
  • What will genuinely help them?
  • How can they get more out of your product or service?
  • When is the right time to share that information?

The answers to those questions will help you create the targeted content that your customers want to see.  You’ll also get a sense of the right timing for your emails.  You want to send out messages that will help them find your information most easily, at the time when they’re ready for it.

Best of luck with your targeted email marketing strategy; may you build many happy relationships!

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