I actually don’t like red meat that much, but I do love Omaha Steaks. I like them for the food–specifically the sole stuffed with crab–but I like them even more for their extremely smart email marketing.
I know, I know: we all like to grouse about email being dead. But for those who really understand how to work the email channel, it’s very much alive and well and probably making them some real money.
Back to Omaha Steaks, they first hooked me with a (gasp) direct mail letter. It contained a ridiculous offer for something like 40lbs of various meat products for $50, and they threw in a free one-handed salt and pepper shaker. Sold.
We loved the food and I loved what came after even more. Highly targeted email offers, each more enticing than the last until I was literally forced to order more steaks and sole, plus of course some twice-baked potatoes (can you tell I’m hungry?!?!). Then came the special dessert offer–free chocolate mousse cake for Valentine’s Day orders, oh and more free burgers.
We took a break from the Omaha ordering when we moved to New York from Washington, D.C. a few months ago and I’m happy to say we’re back. Here’s the latest offer:
They hunted me down twice on this one and finally caught my attention with the LAST CHANCE subject line. The twelve free hamburgers are mighty enticing and they know I’ve ordered it before so there’s a good chance I’ll bite on this one (pun intended).
Another great example of their highly targeted email marketing is this $20 gift card example. I had totally forgotten they’d sent me a gift card and since they know I’ve responded to gift card offers before, they are smart to send it to me again. As a matter of fact, I’m ordering more sole right after I finish this post.
And one final great example–the private email sale. This is another classic tactic from the Omaha email masters. They employed a truly unique offer, plus free shipping, combined with a rock-bottom price ($19.99 for 8 sirloins, are you kidding?) and it’s hard to believe I didn’t order. In case you can’t tell, I’m still mad I missed this one.
Notice Omaha Steaks uses text emails vs. images. It’s a technique a lot of people talk about and it really works for them. I’m not interested in beautiful pictures of food–I just want these great deals!
My main point here is that while email may not always be sexy, it is a marketing workhorse when done correctly and generally cheap to boot. Ever since search marketing and social media came to town, poor old email may be getting the short end of the marketing strategy stick in your company. If so, maybe it’s time to dust it off and take another look at how you are leveraging this still effective channel. There’s nothing wrong with a little meat and potatoes after all.
Read more of Julie Rutherford’s blog
Julie Rutherford is the Vice President of Marketing and General Manager for Email at Beliefnet.com, the leading online site for inspiration and faith. Prior to joining Beliefnet, Julie served as Marketing Director for WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), where she specialized in Web 2.0 marketing including social media, mobile marketing, widgets, feeds and SEO.
Before the Post, she served as Director of Electronic Publishing for the International Herald Tribune in Paris with responsibility for editorial, marketing, sales and tech operations for IHT.com. Previous experience includes marketing and management positions with several Internet startups during the 1990s.
Julie and her husband Brad live in Brooklyn with their two sons.