Following the news that ecommerce powerhouse ASOS may soon have a bigger market value than British centenarian Marks & Spencer, we decided it was time to take a closer look at what the two retailers are up to with their email marketing.
Here are four things we found.
Lifecycle marketing is an approach to marketing that focuses on where a customer is in their journey with your brand, and tailoring messages accordingly.
You can remind yourself of the different stages of the customer lifecycle here, but for now let’s focus on “leads”: those who’ve signed up to your newsletter, but are yet to make a purchase.
There are many ways marketers can go about encouraging leads to become active customers, the most obvious of which being the welcome series.
After signing up to M&S, we received the following email.
As you can see, this is a solid welcome message that:
ASOS’s welcome email, on the other hand, has a slightly more informal approach, kicking off with a salutation any fan of Ryan Gosling memes will know well: “Hey Girl…”
As a welcome email, this works because it:
Some retailers choose not to include a discount in their very first email, but do send one down the line. Others (usually luxury brands), choose not to offer a discount at all, as they don’t want to devalue their product and are confident it won’t make a huge difference to conversion rate anyway.
Next up is loyalty programmes: something both M&S and ASOS rock at.
The M&S Sparks loyalty card provides “tailor-made offers”, “exciting money-can’t-buy events and experiences”, “priority access to M&S seasonal previews” and… wonderfully bespoke emails.
Here are a two examples, sent to seasoned M&S shopper Hannah:
Body of email:
This email, sent specifically to loyal shoppers like Hannah, is particularly good because:
Body of email:
…How cool is this?
M&S has used offline store data to tailor its email marketing, and ensure its email content is relevant, helpful and welcoming.
Other reasons we like this email include:
Another thing we like about this email is its focus on the local community.
This is significant because, unlike ASOS, M&S will be used to having local shoppers that visit their nearest store regularly. Also, with a logo reading “Your M&S”, anything that shows customers how much they care, even at a local level, is likely to go a long way.
Now let’s take a look at ASOS. As we know, this is a pure play retailer with no physical store, so to send something similar to the above would be virtually impossible. However, thanks to some seriously savvy ecommerce marketing, it’s managing to send recipients equally as cool stuff about its loyalty programme.
Going back to our first point in this post (lifecycle marketing), ASOS sends new customers the following email to introduce them to the “ASOS A-List”:
ASOS manages to break down how the A-list works in a small amount of copy and a handful or quirky gifs. Impressive stuff.
Once a customer has reached enough points to move up in the (ASOS) world, they receive the following email to let them know they’ve been upgraded:
In between these dedicated loyalty updates, the brand still manages to personalise its email marketing by lifecycle stage and/or loyalty points…
How can we tell this email has been sent to an A-lister?
Triggered by a specific action taken by a customer, examples of automated emails include:
Triggered emails are becoming an increasingly popular tactic used by the retail world, but are ASOS and M&S making the most of them? They certainly are. Here are three recent examples we received:
M&S cart abandonment
M&S sends the following email to new customers who’ve abandoned something in their basket whilst browsing online:
As this email has been sent to a brand new customer, it makes sense that there’s no mention of a Sparks card, and there’s a CTA inviting the recipient to check out their nearest store. It would be interesting to see whether this would change if a loyal customer abandoned their basket.
M&S Sparks card members receive a friendly birthday message and generous discount on their special day:
ASOS personalises its birthday emails by lifecycle stage. Below are two examples; the first sent to an entry level shopper, and the second sent to a level 2 shopper:
Entry level example:
Level 2 email example:
These two emails differ by:
Last but not least comes broadcast email (aka mass email).
Whilst M&S’s Sparks emails are super-duper personalised, it’s interesting to see that its newsletters – whilst creative and engaging – are less impressively targeted. For example, here’s one sent to the aforementioned seasoned shopper Hannah.
Despite the lack of personalisation, this newsletter earns brownie points for:
What about ASOS? Here’s an example of a newsletter sent to a relatively new customer:
ASOS manages to personalise its broadcast emails by:
This post never set out to be a “M&S vs ASOS: which one wins?” because, ultimately, the two are not comparable. With an entirely different target audience and business model, there’s little point in trying to weigh one against the other. It would be like trying to compare ASOS’s kick ass Insiders scheme on social media with M&S’s legendary Christmas ads on TV. Just don’t do it.
That said, it has been interesting to see whether the two retailers are doing anything vastly different in terms of their email marketing.
..And the verdict? Not really. Both retailers are embracing personalisation and dynamic content, just in very different ways. And whilst both are leading the way with super cool email initiatives, both can also learn from one another about how they could improve even more.