As Professor Kane said in our first lecture, the email Reply All button was the original social media. Most of the time, we open emails from companies for a coupon code or a particularly clever subject line. However, emails can also be used to surprise and engage fans with a longer message than social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram would allow. Additionally, emails bring the message straight to the consumer’s inbox and isn’t as time sensitive as social media feeds. It also doesn’t require any effort on the consumer’s part to look at your social media or even be on social media.
For my pop culture apparel brand 1950collective.com, we dubbed our email subscribers as “1950 Insiders”. While “insider” traditionally holds the connotation of exclusivity, it actually means power within the One Direction fandom (the majority of our customer base). An insider is a trusted source that fan accounts recruit. These fan accounts can have anywhere from 100K to 1.2 million followers and somehow score inside knowledge on where One Direction is at all times. These accounts then create applications for fans to be “insiders” for them and even hold interviews (yes, it’s that serious). The chosen insiders then get the inside knowledge from the account, go to the said location to confirm if One Direction is there, and have the possible chance of meeting the band. This seemingly insane process is what keeps fan accounts reliable and credible and has become a coveted position for fans.
By positioning our email subscriber list as a coveted and powerful membership, we engaged fans and created an audience we could market to. Additionally, we’ve received hundreds, if not thousands, of messages/Tweets/comments/emails from girls our age asking how they can start their own apparel brand. We knew that there would be no way for us to address this via comments or Tweets, and creating a blog required driving traffic to the blog page. We thus further leveraged our 1950 Insider email list by offering personal start-up advice every now and then to our Insiders. The advice was known as “Angshiki’s Corner” (Angela + Nishiki, my co-founder) and was sent sporadically so Insiders had to open and actively anticipate our emails. By offering this advice, we’ve been able to build an email list of over 10,000 subscribers in just 2 months. This also allows us to have 10,000 potential customers to constantly market new products and sales to since they’re already opening our emails to check for Angshiki’s Corner.
As you can see, by sending out these types of emails, we’re able to brand ourselves and create our voice as “your helpful big sister” and ensure that we’re unintimidated by possible competitors. While the advice may seem basic, we’ve been told it’s helpful to these girls since they don’t have resources on entrepreneurship at their middle schools and high schools, and Googling this information seems too overwhelming.
Additionally, the core of our brand is empowering young women and men through our Feminist products and by donating 10% of our profits to women empowerment organizations. By encouraging other teens and young adults to build their own start-ups, we’re reinforcing our core branding and also differentiating ourselves from our competitors who often do not even answer their followers’ basic questions about shipping, products, etc.
Email subscriber lists can be used as branding tools beyond just product promotion and sale announcements. They can capture an active audience and remind consumers why they fell in love with a brand in the first place — and extend that relationship beyond a buyer-consumer relationship. We hope to keep building deeper relationships with our customers and empower them to build their own empires.
What’s your favorite company that sends quirky emails? Comment below!