By popular demand, over the next few weeks, “The Weekly Engagement” will be focusing on how I would use email marketing if I were a ________. While the basic platform of best practices is a great way to get started, there are plenty of ways you can customize your campaigns to improve engagement and ROI. For week one of this series, let’s focus on a Retailer. For our example, we are going to be creating our marketing platform for ToyzCo, a small chain of educational toy stores.

There are 4 steps to building your marketing platform:

  1. Building your list
  2. Automation
  3. Campaigning
  4. Monitoring Engagement

Step 1.  Building your list

This is commonly the most difficult part of email marketing. Building your list can take a lot of time, and effort. There are a few great ways to build your list on the cheap though, here are few suggestions:

  • Place a signup form at the point of sale (Use our EasyList App or a good old fashion pen and paper).
  • Place signup forms on your website
  • Ask recipients if they would like a receipt emailed to them and include a “confirm subscription” link in their emailed receipt.
  • Offer discounts / free items for birthdays or anniversaries.
  • Raffle off some prizes, all they need to do is sign up.
  • Offer bring a friend deals (Word of mouth can be extremely powerful).

Step 2. Automation
Automating some basic emails can help warm your recipient up to your emails by sending a welcome email after they have signed up. They can also perform some other great communications without the need for you to click send. Common emails like this are annual event emails. In the case of ToyzCo, the email would be an upcoming birthday reminder to a parent, and offering a 10% discount in-store or online.

Step 3. Campaigning

For the case of retail stores, I hesitate to send emails weekly. In some cases this can be appropriate, however it will take judgment on the sender’s part to think about how their recipients might receive said volume.

In the case of ToyzCo, a monthly newsletter is probably best, it’s enough to keep the parents engaged, but not so much that it overwhelms their inbox. The ToyzCo Campaign would have a fairly simple layout. Of course it would be branded to match the company, but overall would flow in organized and simple sections:

  • Header Section. This would probably be a nice image, branded with the company logo, and set the theme of the email
  • Newsletter. This section would be a short newsletter. What has been going on with ToyzCo? Has there been any Industry News lately that parents should be aware of?  Maybe a recall on a toy that could be dangerous? Give a shout-out to your local community, and give the recipient something interesting to read. Maybe a local park installed a new jungle-gym that parents should have their kids check out?
  • Ads. This section would include your monthly advertisement. Maybe its 15% off all dolls, or clearance on remote control cars.   For bonus points, consider conditional content that changes depending on a recipient’s preferences.  This is an advanced tactic, but sending targeted emails usually results in stronger engagement since recipients aren’t being sent information or deals that are irrelevant to them. For more information about how to do this, see our FAQ on conditional formatting.
  • Footer. The footer section of your campaign would be very similar to the header. It might contain a small sentence and signature thanking the recipient, and include store phone numbers and hours as well as appropriate links if any.

Of course, this is just an example. Campaign design is ultimately up to you, so while the above is just an example of what I would do myself. Don’t let that limit you to what you want to do with your campaign design. The main focus here is to create an email that will compel your recipients to engage with it. When preparing your campaign, remember to review past campaigns and their performance. Use some investigative skills to figure out what recipients did and didn’t like, then design your campaign around that.

Step 4.  Managing Engagement

Engagement is the key most important component of your campaigns, so you want to do whatever you can to improve open rates. The most effective option is to remove unengaged contacts. The recommended system works in this way. Three days after each campaign is sent, run a report on your list, and find any contact that has not opened the past 5 consecutive emails sent to them. Move this list of contacts into a new list, and prepare a re-engagement campaign for them.

A re-engagement campaign is usually quite simple. In the case of ToyzCo, It would read something like:

“Hello {firstname},

We noticed that you haven’t opened the ToyzCo newsletter in a while. We do our best to make sure that we don’t send any unwanted emails, so we have automatically removed you from our list. Don’t worry, you can always re-subscribe if you want too, so that you can continue to receive our monthly newsletter and great deals on educational toys for your children.

If you would like to re-subscribe now, please click on the button below, or visit our website at any time.


All the best,

Your friends at ToyzCo

You would be surprised at how many people click on the re-subscribe link. Even if they don’t, it’s pretty clear that they aren’t going to interact with your other email campaigns either. This system ensures that your emails stay well clear of spam-traps and will have the very best deliverability possible.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully some of you retailers out there can use some of this advice to build a successful email marketing plan. If you would like to suggest an industry for me to do next, feel free to contact me at