More Than Mail

In class, we discussed the low costs typically associated with email marketing. As a result, it has sometimes become a simple numbers game – companies think that the more emails they send out, the more likely someone will open the email. However, this “throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks” approach is extremely ineffective. Consumers will inevitably begin thinnng that the brand is irrelevant and unsubscribe. Or worse, email providers may mark the company’s emails as spam and prevent any further emails from being sent. Clearly, there are “tricks” to this game. 

With effective email marketing software, many companies are segmenting their customer base based on factors that include the length of their relationship, spending habits, and other relevant criteria (Forootan, n.d.). Then, they send targeted information to the targeted consumers. Yet, this is oftentimes not nearly enough to capture the readers’ attentions. As discussed in my last blog post, the proliferation of the micro-moment has shortened readers’ attention spans even more. Consumers do not want companies interrupting their busy lives with irrelevant news. If companies want to increase their open rates and click through rates, they need to raise the bar. 

Here are two cases of companies that have sincerely attempted to explore the possibilities of email marketing to the max, from which we may draw valuable conclusions about the nature of email marketing. 


Take Zizzi – a Restaurant chain in the UK that was struggling with its email marketing strategy. A few years ago, Zizzi was sending out promotional emails every week to the two million people it had on its mailing list. However, only 12% of readers were opening the emails and only 1% were redeeming vouchers (Barley, 2016). 

“In order to build a dialogue you’ve got to have something to say.” (Barley, 2016)

The goal for Zizzi was to build a relationship with the customer, and in order to increase engagement, the first attempt was to add a gaming element to emails. Zizzi wanted to know who was interested in these components and how interested (Barley, 2016). The new emails included hyperlinks to enter simple lucky draw-style competitions. Readers had the chance to win meal add-ons like bottles of wine or discounts. As a result, open rate increased from the previous 12% to 15%, and click through rate increased by three times (Barley, 2016)! Moreover, this began Zizzi’s venture into gamification in email marketing. 

The next round was a campaign that it labeled with the hashtag #ZizziTacklesCancer, in parternship with the charity Stand Up to Cancer. The emails included a more sophisticated gaming component – digital scratch cards that readers could “scratch” using their finger on a touch screen. The prizes were similar to the previous campaign, and this time click through rates increased even further (Barley, 2017). 

Screenshot of Zizzi's scratch card email

Screenshot of Zizzi's scratch card email 2
Screenshots of the emails that subscribers received. These successfully piqued their curiosities.

Our second example features the financial retail broking company, Axis Direct. For a long period of time, Axis Direct had been sending out emails with summaries of stock market information (Direct Marketing Information, 2016). However, the problem was that the market was volatile. Yet, emails are static. By the time the eager reader opens the email, the financial information would have been irrelevant. Axis Direct’s challenge was the find an email solution that was both equally customizable and easily maintainable. It aimed to have consumers who enthusiastically opened their emails and engaged with the company. 

Two companies. Different in size and different industries. Same challenge of attempting to find the golden key of email marketing. Stay tuned! In my next blog post, I will unveil Zizzi and Axis Direct’s drastically different solutions and how their choices represent a drastic turning point for the world of email marketing. 


Barley, Emily. (September 2016). How Zizzi used an online board game to boost its email marketing. WARC Event Reports, Technology and Marketing. Retrieved from

Direct Marketing Association. (2016). Axis Securities Limited: Real-time Personalization of Emails. Direct Marketing Association (US). Retrieved from

Forootan, Dan. (n.d.) Email news and strategy. Stream Send. Retrieved from


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