How to Make Great Email Campaigns for a Luxury Brand?

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If the email is the stalwart workhorse of digital marketing, it can be a tricky channel for a luxury brand. How to make great email campaigns that are effective, valuable and desirable in a luxurious manner? I am on the email list of a host of ‘luxury’ brands, including such brands as Harrods, Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Bruichladdich, Netaporter, Gilt, Lancôme, Shu Uemura and Kerastase. Appropriately, most major luxury brands do have an email database and many do send out messages. But, the strategies of these brands seem to go from luxurious (e.g. Hermes) to non-existent, passing through cheap.

Luxury email

luxury great email campaigns

What constitutes a great email for a luxury brand? Of course, the answers “depends.” It depends on the brand itself, the objectives, the audience, etc. However, I would argue that there are some keen clues as to what does not constitute a luxury email campaign, including not being overly salesy, spammy or promotional. Some general guidelines would include:

  • don’t use a standard template (at least not all the time)
  • make sure it is mobile friendly
  • refine the design and excel in the user experience
  • deliver brand-relevant emotion…

Luxury Frequency

Finding the right rhythm of emails is a challenge for all direct marketing teams. According to DMA.org.uk, approximately 25% of UK companies are sending emails at least once a week. Retailers such as Netaporter, LaRedoute (in Europe) or Target, Staples and Macy’s (in the US) send up to one a day. Although Macy’s and Netaporter are positioned as premium, it is rare to see high-end brands sending more than 1 email per month. Apple sends up to one per month. Even Amazon is stingy in its frequency with around 2 per month.

If luxury can be defined by rarity, it stands to reason that emails ought not to be overly frequent Click To Tweet While luxury flash sale sites (Gilt, VentePrivee…) can get away with daily email blasts, such a frequency is more than a stretch for luxury brands. {♺ Tweet this!} Companies — especially with pretensions of luxury — that send more than 1 email per week, in my opinion, are moving into a dangerously banal space.

Luxury spam

Not that I had ever seen this before, but imagine my surprise when recently, I actually received two emails in the same day from Kerastase (part of the L’Oreal Group, where I used to work). If you don’t know Kerastase, they sell high-end shampoos (at $40 for a Kerastase Bain 250ml/8.5oz or €21.50-24 in Europe) via hairdressers. Note that Kerastase doesn’t sell the most expensive shampoo. Aqua di Parma has its 150ml (40% less liquid) shampoo priced at $42. However, Kerastase has established itself as the #1 luxury shampoo in terms of worldwide volume. Kerastase (at its USA subsidiary, where eCommerce has been in place for a number of years) has a rate of around 5 emails/week. Then one day, last month, they descended into the most basic of strategies: a 3-hour rush sale. Not only that, but when the open rate was obviously not satisfactory, four hours later, they extended the “deadline” and resent EXACTLY the same email. Given the exactness of the 4-hour delay between each, it’s even possible that they pre-programmed the double whammy. See both executions below.

luxury email marketing

1st email sent at 11:01am

luxury email marketing

2nd email sent later that day at 3:01pm

Luxury value

Emails are a great and valuable arm in any digital marketer’s tool box. Email campaigns are cheap and effective. Moreover, as a recent survey by Indiana University Bloomington showed, emails may be a real vehicle for emotion and engagement. Yet, emails campaigns should be considered in the context of long-term relationships. There must be a reciprocal feeling of value. A series of emails becomes, by definition, a campaign. Each email is another page in the book. Not that each email strategy should uniquely be about emotion; but, I have to believe those brands that include an element of authentic and powerful storytelling are bound to win out over time Click To Tweet The temptation is always to send one more email when there is pressure on sales or the email open-rate declines. I’ve seen it happen over and over. The result is bound to be further disappointment (in the form of more unsubscribes). Luxury brands need to be smarter about how they engage with their customers, to exhibit their value and prove their value-add compared to the cheaper competitors. Luxury brands should consider how they weave their brand story into their emails such that the opener feels a benefit.

What luxury brands do you see executing appropriately luxurious and great email campaigns? Alternatively, do recount other luxury faux pas!

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