What You Can Learn From Pottery Barn’s Email Marketing

I’ve written quite a bit about Pottery Barn’s marketing. I find them effective and for the most part, they do a great job of tapping into so many of the capabilities marketers have at their fingertips but don’t always leverage.

To be perfectly honest, however, I’m not sure I agree with their whole strategy because they tend to use lots of data, lots of tactics, and in the end, go a little overboard (ahem, they’re annoying).

That being said, they execute on each segment of the nurture track well and I think we can all learn a thing or two from their examples.

Here’s what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why you should start taking notes.

Welcome Email

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When you join the Pottery Barn mailing list either via subscribing, starting a registry or buying a product, they welcome you into their community with a stylized and season-specific welcome email (and typically, offer an initial discount just for signing up).

They highlight a current deal for new customers, educate you on a few key features their site offers you may not know about, deliver a CTA to ‘Like’ their Facebook page (we’ll be seeing more on Facebook later in this post), and of course, a link to find your local store.

Why it works: Pottery Barn spends time on putting together a fresh welcome email each season and they don’t bombard you with too much information in this first email. For first-time emails, you should help your customer get the lay of the land, understand what you have to offer, and get to know how they can connect with you.

In this way, Pottery Barn is a perfect example.

“Thanks for Your Interest” Emails

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Pottery Barn follows your trail when you browse their site. And unlike a lot of businesses, they’re using that data to target you as much as possible. One of their more “out of the box” tactics is following up with a dedicated email thanking you for your interest in a certain product to reignite interest.

Why it works: This is an effective tool for getting your customers’ attention and reminding them about a product they never followed through with buying. For a business like pottery barn in particular, many purchases are for the home and take time to think about since it needs to work with other styles in your home and of course, your budget.

This email specifically attempts to remove the friction customers sense when they’re trying to make a purchase and for that reason, sending a reminder and a customer service number is a great way to make their decision easier.

What you should do differently: In my experience with these follow-up emails, I’ve noticed ways Pottery Barn could do things better.

I bought shelves a few weeks ago. My search is over. Unfortunately, Pottery Barn is still probing in an intense way. I have received a “Thank You For Your Interest In” email every few days since my search began. I’ve already made the purchase, so this doesn’t make sense. They’re tethering a fine line between helpful and invasive.

Retargeting

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The average American spends upwards of 11 hours per day on digital media and three of those hours on social media, so you’d be foolish not to spend some honest effort on retargeting.

Not only does Pottery Barn get in front of your during your future online browsing, but they snatch up your Facebook newsfeed in a flash. Just minutes after conducting a search for a few arm chairs, I cut back over to Facebook where this ad appeared on my newsfeed. Since I was logged into Facebook at the time of my browsing, Pottery Barn capitalized on the moment instantaneously.

Why it works: As stated before, Americans are on some sort of media much of their day and particularly, social media. Partnering with other relevant sites is bound to yield some results, but if you’re thinking small and want to start fairly cheap, I recommend starting with Facebook.

Facebook ads are one of the cheapest social ad purchases you can make in the marketing world. Between sponsored stories to hyper-targeted ads for a dedicated population, Facebook makes it very easy to reach the exact audience you’re looking for.

Abandoned Cart Emails

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We’ve talked a lot about abandoned cart email tactics on this blog here and here, but Pottery Barn is another company doing this well.

Once you’ve placed something in your cart and navigate away, Pottery Barn leaves little up to chance. They effectively follow up with a concise email with helpful links showing you what you’ve left behind and how to make your purchase quickly.

Why it works: Online shoppers are typically multitasking so just because someone leaves something in their cart doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned you forever.

They could have navigated away during work hours, wanted to find a discount, went looking for comparable prices, or just flat out forgot they didn’t check out!

By following up with an email to your customers reminding them they have something sitting there, you’re making an investment in that relationship (and that potential sale!). Be concise, offer customer support, and always display visuals of what the items are.

Post-Purchase Emails

Once you’ve made a sale, the best practice is to follow up with a confirmation email and Pottery Barn makes a few great moves with their post-purchase cycle.

Email One: Order Confirmation

These are simple updates that simply inform you that your order was received, what that order was and what you can expect moving forward. As always, these emails include information on how to get in touch with customer service in case something changes.

Email 2: Shipping Confirmation

This email includes a tracking number, expected arrival date and again, contact information in case you have any questions.

Email 3: Thank You + Incentive

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Whether it’s for free shipping or a discount on your next order, Pottery Barn often sends a dedicated email in their post-purchase cycle offer some sort of incentive for your next purchase. With this, they’ll include similar items to what you just purchased.

Email 4: You May Also Like

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Here, Pottery Barn sends an email with just like-items to your recent purchase directing you back to their site.

Why these work: There are so many ways you can follow up with your customers after their purchases, but Pottery Barn takes a few different approaches.

First and foremost, the shipping and order confirmation emails are effective and to-the-point. They arrive quickly after a purchase and aren’t overloaded with detail or too many calls to action.

The later post-purchase emails are a great way to leverage that most recent buy and reel someone in for another purchase.

By offering incentives, paying close attention offering similar items, and perhaps most importantly, sending these emails not too soon after the purchase (a day or two later works great), Pottery Barn captures customer attention with their efforts.

What you should do differently: To really be effective in promoting an additional purchase, always include a discount or a free shipping offer.

The “You May Also Like” emails aren’t the most effective emails in Pottery Barn’s program.

There’s no incentive here other than telling you that others were also interested in the following items. So, while this might keep the conversation going, it can also irritate your customers who simply aren’t interested in making another purchase (or at least without some sort of deal).

Applying These Principles

As a commercial giant, it’s no surprise that Pottery Barn has the resources to test out all of the above marketing tactics (and this is just scraping the surface!).

While not all online shops have the ability to test and market in all the same ways Pottery Barn does, pulling from some of these examples is a great place to start in your own testing.

If you’re just considering making some tweaks to your welcome emails or embarking on your first abandoned cart test, take some notes from Pottery Barn because so far, they seem to be hitting the nail on the head.
Do you like Pottery Barn’s email marketing or do you find it too invasive? Who do you look up to for marketing inspiration?

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