There’s a lot to be learned from the past and the experience of others—building off their successes and learning from their mistakes. In this 2 Wins and a Fail blog series, we’re inviting clients, partners, friends and thought leaders to share their email marketing stories; both good and bad.

In this edition, we’re speaking with the CRM + Email experts from Tinuiti, an award-winning marketing agency that partners with brands to deliver strategy, management, and results across their entire digital business.

Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team works with brands of all sizes to scale their email marketing programs and drive results. Their ecommerce clients cover a diverse mix of industries and come with varying levels of sophistication in their email marketing programs, meaning there’s few things in the email marketing industry the Tinuiti team of email strategists haven’t encountered. But even the experts aren’t perfect. Two of these email marketing strategy examples generated positive results for Tinuiti’s partners, while one didn’t go exactly as planned.

Win #1: Live Content: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Abby Siciliano, Senior Strategist

A common pain point for brands trying to scale their email marketing programs can be summed up in one word: bandwidth. So when Headline Shirts was looking for new and innovative ways to bring content to subscribers at scale, Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team instantly thought of live content.

“Coupling the goals and live content together, we created exactly what the email program needed.”

The cheeky t-shirt brand wanted to create content to show off their designs and keep up with their new release production schedule. So, Senior Strategist Abby Siciliano set out to find the right tool to support this enhancement with the following goals:

  1. Create evergreen content that required minimal maintenance from send to send.
  2. Engage subscribers with new and exciting content focused on their unique product designs.
  3. Drive revenue!

CRM & Email Senior Strategist, Abby Siciliano summarized the project: “Coupling the goals and live content together, we created exactly what the email program needed.” 

Email Anatomy Breakdown:

The new arrivals live content email is made up of 3 parts:

  1. A static header and footer section that outlines every campaign for strong and recognizable branding.
  2. An easy-to-update hero image boasting the NEW ARRIVALS message.
  3. Dynamic content that pulls in images from the brand’s new arrivals category on their website.

Leveraging the Live Scrape functionality from Liveclicker, Tinuiti was able to pull in the top new arrivals directly from with ease. Now, Headline Shirts has evergreen, reusable content that updates upon open – eliminating the need for additional bandwidth to update before every send. With some simple seasonal tweaks, they’re able to keep this content fresh and engaging while driving strong revenue.

Since launching, this campaign was consistently a top 3 revenue-driver for the program month after month.

Key takeaways:

Win #2: A Little VIP Treatment Goes A Long Way

Stacy Strom, Senior Strategist

In the day and age of tech-savvy shoppers, customers have more options than ever and are shopping around more frequently. While Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team is no stranger to a variety of customer retention methods, they’ve had to get creative for clients that don’t have the funds and resources to pull off the most ideal of strategies – a loyalty program.

Loyalty programs provide a tried and true method of retaining customers and growing brand affinity, even when competitors may be lower priced or more convenient. These programs fulfill the need for customers to feel like they are being rewarded for spending hard-earned dollars with a company. Unfortunately, these programs can come with a steep price tag for businesses, both monetarily speaking and when considering the resources required to maintain the technical integrations involved.  

“Two retail clients in particular saw an incremental $10K in revenue for the month from VIP targeted campaigns.”

Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team devised a plan to test the loyalty waters with several clients through clever segmentation and creative approaches that didn’t come with any additional cost. 

“Through the use of VIP treatment in email marketing campaigns, we were able to prove the value of a loyalty program for our clients,” says Stacy Strom, Senior Strategist and lead for a variety of clients at Tinuiti. “We’ve tested this concept in a variety of ways for several clients and all have produced incremental revenue and growth in LTV for customers. Recently, two retail clients in particular saw an incremental $10K in revenue for the month from VIP targeted campaigns.”

VIPs can be defined in a number of ways: frequency of purchases, frequency of engagement with marketing campaigns, acquisition source, total spend, etc. and should be based off of your business’s goals and benchmarks for performance. For retail clients, Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team has seen great success with basing VIP segmentation on a combination of purchase history and engagement frequency. With Tinuiti’s approach to this concept, you can provide almost all the perks of a typical loyalty program without the point liability that could impact profit margins. 

So how do you show your VIPs red-carpet treatment without paying for a loyalty platform? With careful timing of promotions, VIP early access to sales, and VIP sale extensions. These give customers that are frequently engaged a sense of exclusivity and special treatment. This is executed through simple versioning of email creative; from headlines changes to call out “just for you” to subject line updates that use “exclusive access” to entice opens to elevated creative that uses richer color palettes such as gold and black.  

Overall, this approach has led to great success across a variety of clients. With the most successful of these, Tinuiti’s CRM &+ Email team has even launched versioned triggered campaigns based on VIP segmentation for successful programs such as Post Purchase, Browse Abandon, and Cart Abandon. These programs have seen not only strong revenue performance, but also an average lift of 20% in engagement rates compared to those without VIP treatment. 

Key Takeaways:

The Fail: Email Drives Traffic That Can’t Convert

Mandi Moshay, Associate Director

While Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team strives to operate as an extension of their clients’ internal teams, the nature of the client-agency partnership doesn’t always lend itself to the immediate exchange of information. Such was the case when one of the agency’s long-time partners, an online lingerie retailer, had an issue with their website that was causing the submission of orders to time out.

“In client service there’s no time to dwell on what might’ve been, so our team quickly pivoted toward potential paths forward to recoup lost revenue and rebuild trust with the impacted customers.”

By the time the issue was identified and the client was able to notify their Tinuiti team, that morning’s email had already deployed. The message, highlighting the release of a new seasonal collection, began driving traffic to a site that could not process orders, diminishing the anticipated return on the email campaign and upsetting potential customers.

“It’s a frustrating experience,” said Mandi Moshay, Associate Director and lead strategist on the account. “Once you deploy an email campaign, it’s out there and there’s no taking it back. But in client service there’s no time to dwell on what might’ve been, so our team quickly pivoted toward potential paths forward to recoup lost revenue and rebuild trust with the impacted customers.”

The Tinuiti team immediately knew an apology email was in order. “Any time the purchase process is interrupted – whether due to a broken link or site error – we strongly consider an apology email, both to let the customer know how sorry we are for the negative site experience, and to motivate them to come back and complete their purchase once the issue has been resolved.” Mandi and team began strategizing with the client on the best approach to take once the order submission issue was resolved. 

After agreeing on an incentive of 20% off for impacted customers, the Tinuiti creative team set to work to quickly turn a banner that could be added to the top of that morning’s email creative, conveying the apology and the promotion. To control margin, the Tinuiti team recommended only mailing to contacts who had clicked through the original email and were potentially exposed to the checkout error. Finally, an eye-catching subject line and preheader were drafted to grab the attention of affected subscribers and get them back in the mood to shop.

Fortunately, this fail turned into a win after the apology email was deployed and generated a 66% open rate (compared to a program average of ~15%), and drove nearly 4x times the revenue/delivered of the brand’s standard product launch campaigns. The total revenue between the original message and the apology exceeded product launch averages by 65%!

Key Takeaways:

Got your holiday email marketing plans locked down yet? No shame if you still need to get back to school and Halloween campaigns out the dooryou’re not alone. 

A 2018 workflow study by Litmus found only 17% of brands start planning more than three months out for peak holiday, and between 30% and 40% don’t start until a month ahead, or even less.

If your company is one of the roughly 10% that plan six months or more, congratulations! If not, there’s still time to lay the foundation for some incredible holiday email campaigns. Check our holiday email marketing checklist to see if you have covered all the bases for the best holiday season ever.

Know your goals for the season, and share them with your team.

Make sure everything in your marketing plan supports your strategies for achieving your goals; whether you need to hit a revenue amount, increase your market share, add new customers, retain more of your current customer base or recover more potential lost sales.

When your goal and strategies guide your email execution, you’re less likely to resort to less ideal measures like drastically increasing frequency if business conditions change.

Test all email templates, integrations and automations.

Stress-testing everything now will save you time, frustration and lost sales later in the year when the going gets really crazy. It’s a must if you plan to introduce new templates, new automations and new technology.   

One of the things you can test is a new way to engage with your customers. For instance, you could try embedding video in your emails to help you tell your product story within your email messages. Customers then arrive on your landing pages knowing more about your products and closer to a purchase.

Embedded video in email has been a difficult issue in the past, but more email clients today can render it the way you intend. Test it in your promotional emails using RealTime Email and use Adaptive Testing in your triggered and automated messaging to send the winning version every time. 

Tune up acquisition.

The holiday shopping season is already under way for many shoppers. Is your email program ready to welcome all the new customers who will find your website when they click on your search listings, find you in their social media channels or see an ad on TV?

Check all of your landing pages to ensure you have a friendly invitation to join your email program. Don’t just say “Opt in for our emails.” Tell your newbies what they’ll get in exchange for sharing their email addresses. 

Bonus tip: Add real-time verification if you don’t have it already to make sure those addresses are valid!

Grab newbies at the start with onboarding.

Holiday shopping brings streams of new shoppers to your sites. Your onboarding email series can help you bring them into your fold, guide them through your site and start collecting data that you can use to personalize your future emails and web experience.

You could cross your fingers and hope they click the link to your preference center. Or, you could just ask them right in your onboarding email. Embedding an interactive poll lets you set up a fun interactive quiz in your first email to start the data-gathering process.  

Find new ways to use data to enrich broadcast emails.

Gift-guide emails are a great campaign promotion because you can show off a range of products at different prices, all tied to a theme, your customer personas, the data you have on your customers or whatever makes sense for your campaign. 

There’s one problem: length. You need enough items to make them useful. But if they run on too long, you could lose viewers. Or, your email could get snipped or not render properly in Gmail and other email clients.

A slideshow functionality creates a smoothly moving collection of images in a single module, allowing you to do more with less real estate. You’ll avoid the user-experience failures that can happen with traditional image carousels or truncated messages and deliver plenty of inspirational content.

Make shopping as engaging as possible.

Open the email. See the offer. Click the call to action. Buy. 

If only it were that easy to make a sale!

What do your emails do to nudge shoppers buy from you and keep your brand and offers in front of them? Three elements can make your emails more imperative for customers to act on:

Bring social media and mobile apps into the email marketing mix.

Does your email plan include cross-promotion with your other digital channels? One great advantage of email is that it works well with social media and apps. 

One tactic is to cross-post your email content on your social channels and reward your top social influencers in your email content. (Do you promote opting in to email on your social About pages?)

With mobile, tap-to-text functionality can grab customers’ eyes on their phones and drive attention to your email.

Track engagement across all messages, and watch for drop-off signs.

Open and click rates aren’t always the greatest metrics for measuring email value. When you view them over time, however, they’ll show whether engagement is trending up or down. Add a plan for coverage if campaign reports begin to show signs of subscriber rebellion (lower opens and clicks, higher unsubscribes or spam-complaint spikes).

Jump into action immediately if you see spam complaints increase. Analyze the numbers – how many, who they’re coming from, if they spike or come from a specific acquisition source.

Create a strong repeat-purchase plan.

The old saying goes that a customer isn’t really a customer until the third purchase. The first purchase is easy. The second is a step in the right direction, but the third purchase means you’ve moved to the top of the brand consideration set.

A repeat-purchase plan to develop loyalty and drive up-sells and cross-sells can take several forms. See which combination brings the most shoppers back:

Solidify customer relationships with a year-end recap.

This isn’t the time of year to try to tackle all of your win-back and inactive issues. (Put that on your January “to-do” list instead.) But a year-end reminder about everything your customers did with their brands is a subtle way of reminding them about you. Include an offer to bring them back to your site one more time before the year ends.

If you have the data capability, you can send this to every customer who has bought, opened or clicked on emails, joined your VIP program or browsed products. We love this example from Ulta, who was able to make a great personal connection with loyalty members and triple time of open with this campaign.

If you can’t get that granular with your copy, try a year-end recap of your own company’s milestones. Frame it as what your teams were able to accomplish with your customers’ help so they feel as if they were able to contribute to your accomplishments.

Get inspired this holiday season!

Make sure your email program is ready for anything this holiday season. Find out how some of the world’s most dynamic brands are hacking the holiday inbox with innovative, results driving ideas in our exclusive lookbook. Download it now in time to prepare your campaigns!

The importance of personalization in marketing is well-documented at this point, and most marketers have realized the value of making experiences and messages more relevant to individuals.

But despite this growing focus on 1:1 marketing, many marketing programs go without meaningful personalization in their emails. Nearly 40% of marketers said they almost never personalize their emails last year.

Even among organizations that do conduct some amount of personalization, it is often limited to the same basic customization marketers have been using for years: a first name in the salutation, a recent purchase in the body, and so on. These can be effective tactics, but today’s consumers have come to expect much more from brands.

Obstacles to Relevance

Most marketers would probably do more personalization if they could. But adding meaningful, individualized relevance to emails is often some combination of expensive, time consuming, or prohibitively difficult.

As I explained in our recent webinar, there are some constantly-growing headwinds marketers across industries and business sizes have to fight if we want to find success:

“Email volumes are continuing to rise, so standing out in a crowded inbox is more and more important to marketers and brands. Technologies are continuing to advance, and customer expectations are rising around what the brand experience is and they’re expecting more customized, more relevant experiences to be communicated with them. We’ve seen universally across the board email marketing teams tend to be resource-constrained, making it a challenge for brands to adapt to the high expectations of consumers. And it’s vital that marketers are able to offer compelling experiences in a way that’s scalable and sustainable for these resource-strapped programs.”

It’s impossible to hand-craft a customized email to every person on the mailing list. That just would not sustainable at any significant scale. There’s only one way marketers can deliver personalized experiences to all their subscribers: automation.

The beauty and magic of email automation is that it lets you scale up personalization to broad audiences. And not just elementary personalization like putting a name in the subject line, but advanced email personalization experiences as well.

If you need a way to upgrade your automated personalized emails to drive better results, try one of these powerful email personalization automation hacks:

Insert Evolving Content that Never Gets Old

Try inserting content into your that stays ‘evergreen’ and gives openers a reason to come back for more. Adding email features that automatically update upon open means you can constantly serve a fresh experience with minimal upfront input.

Some ideas:

For maximum relevance, make sure this content is structured to update upon open—not just when the emails are deployed. That not only makes sure you’re sending the freshest, most pertinent information; it makes each email open a fresh, novel experience.

As my webinar co-host and Oracle Marketing Cloud Product Marketing Manager Bryan Finfrock explained:

“This is just a great example of doing something above and beyond for customers; adding value and giving them a reason to open that next message, giving them something to look forward to in the experience that makes them want to participate with your brand.”

Send Emails That Adapt to Their Environment

Today’s consumers are more mercurial than ever; constantly on the go and rapidly shifting their interest from one topic to the next. Your email automation needs to change fast to keep up and perpetually bring value through real-time relevance.

Make emails capable of adapting to open-time context for the best relevance and engagement. Include elements that respond to the context of the opener—and your business—right when the email is opened. Some inspiration to try:

These are just a few of the ways you can increase relevance and personalization in your email marketing without having to make a big incremental investment in time and resources. We included a more comprehensive list, complete with effective and inspiring examples, in our latest ebook, Automating Personalization: 5 Ways to Scale Relevance in Your Email Marketing.

Download it now entirely free and start down the path to more relevant, more engaging, more effective emails!

Consistent streams of high quality, hyperpersonalized emails can keep customers engaged, build loyalty, and develop relationships. But it’s triggered emails, not promotional campaigns or nurture drips, that are usually most effective for driving immediate conversions.

About ¾ of email ROI comes from “segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns.” It makes sense; triggered email marketing connects brands with customers right at the moment they’re most willing and able to engage.

Given all the potential for conversions and revenue, shouldn’t you be making sure you get the absolute most out of your trigger-based email marketing?

The Power of Triggered Email Marketing

Expertly implemented trigger emails bring a lot to the table for digital marketers. Sailthru listed a few of them on its comprehensive guide to trigger-based email marketing:

To top it off, setting up triggered emails with contextual relevance and personalization is easier than ever thanks to real-time email automation technology. Need some ideas to energize your marketing performance? Draw inspiration from these ROI-generating triggered email examples!

The Warmest of Welcomes

Welcome emails are opened at a higher rate than almost any other kind of direct marketing message. When someone subscribes to your newsletter, joins your loyalty program, or registers an account with your ecommerce site, that’s your opportunity to make a big first impression that will keep them coming back for more!

Need a triggered email example to inspire your welcome series? Chuck E Cheese’s sets the tone for its brand relationship with new rewards program members with a colorful, fun, and highly personalized welcome email. The brand combines dynamic images that adjust to the subscriber’s name, a live map that shows the way to the nearest destination, and real-time geo-data that gives new members everything they need to start planning their next visit right away.

Sophisticated email marketers send multiple messages in a welcome series. This strategy provides additional opportunities to direct consumers to complete high-value activities. If you know that your best customers are those with a loyalty membership, follow you on Instagram, and have set explicit preferences for products consider highlighting these in a multi-step welcome flow.

Weather Triggered Emails

Weather is one of those universal factors that binds us all together. There’s a reason it’s been one of the most popular pieces conversation starters and small-talk fuel for ages untold.

But weather isn’t just basic water cooler chit-chat material; it’s a great way to start conversations with your audience with the power of weather triggered emails. As Paul Walsch, Weather Channel weather and climate specialist said, “Weather is such an important driver of consumer sentiment and activity…but it’s not as well known and leveraged as it should be.”

Imagine having an email set to automatically deploy on a rainy day to invite subscribers into your stores for some shelter (and savings!). Or including live forecasts in a triggered email leading up to a personally-relevant event like a vacation or concert to add even more value. includes both real-time weather information and an up-to-date forecast in an email triggered to send a few days before a reservation. This information helps customers prepare to make the most of their stays, gives them a reason to re-open, and enhances the customer experience to motivate repeat purchases.

Abandoned Cart Email Triggers

Some 69% of digital shopping carts get abandoned throughout the conversion process. This is the perfect opportunity for a targeted, direct message. Your prospect has made the effort to register an account and choose products she’s interested in; often a little extra motivation is all that’s needed to give her that extra nudge into customerhood.

Automated emails targeted at cart-deserters have impressive engagement and conversion rates that can have an immediate and substantial impact on digital revenue:

Keep Collective makes excellent use of their abandoned cart triggers. The brand uses friendly language and dynamic product-feature elements that adapt in real time to exclude any items that the shopper goes on to purchase or that are currently out of stock. The email reminds people of what they’re missing out on—while cleverly omitting any content that could be confusing or disappointing.

Looking for more highly-effective triggered email examples? Check out our Lookbook or download this inspirational triggered emails guide for creative, results-driving ideas to steal for your own programs!