How to Make the Most of Time Sensitive Email Messages

As is the norm each year, at the end of 2010 and even into the first few months of 2011, there was a lot of talk about what new email marketing trends we could expect to see during the course of the following year. One of the most talked about was the concept of time sensitive messages, which include offers with an expiry date and/or offers with limited stock. Marketers were interested to see what sort of role they’d play in the subscriber’s inbox and how’d they affect the overall user experience.

We’re only half way through the year so it’s too early to start drawing any conclusions on this but in the meantime let’s look at what you can do to help optimize the effectiveness of your time sensitive messages so you can make the most out of them.

Your message could be a 24-hour daily deal or it could have a week long expiry date, what’s important though is that even if the offer has expired or  the item has sold out, the subscriber still receives a relevant message when they open the email. This message can be one of a number of things.

If the item has sold out, then this needs to be clearly indicated when the subscriber opens the email.  Something along the lines of: “This item is now out of stock/no longer available, sorry you missed out this time”, or “Our apologies, but this item has sold out”, is fine. To compensate though, you should have recommendations of a similar product in the same price bracket that your subscribers might be interested in. By giving an alternative, you’re lessening the blow of missing out on the special offer in the first place.

This brings me to the second point. If you run promotions once a month for a limited time, such as over a weekend, then it’s a good idea to let your subscribers know a few days before the event that they should watch their inbox for details of an upcoming offer. Think about something like: “Watch this space, our super sale starts in 2 days”, or “Don’t miss out on our next sale, starting 15 June”. This way, they know what’s coming and if they’re interested they have the opportunity to do something about it before the offer ends. This of course makes for a better user experience, just be careful not to get overzealous with the reminders or you might do more harm than good.

The alternative messages that render when an item has sold out or the offer is finished are known as ‘intelligent content’ but right now there is a lot of buzz in the email marketing industry to create emails that self-destruct (delete and archive themselves) once the expiry date or time is reached. This is a very interesting concept and could potentially take the dynamics of email marketing to a whole new level. We can’t wait to see how it develops further, so watch this space.


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