Kudos to Mast General Store for creating an email segmentation process so simple and authentic, it deserves to be shared.

Quick background info: Mast General Store is not one of my clients. They are a retailer selling outdoor gear, clothing, home furnishings, and accessories for women, children and men with a focus on the Southern grassroots experience. They currently operate multiple locations in North Carolina and South Carolina. How popular is Mast General? Let’s put it this say: when my mom wants me to go with her to the Asheville store, I pack a water bottle and a snack so I can navigate the crowds easily over the next hour.

In fact, several months ago, I purchased a gift certificate for my mother’s birthday. The transaction was online, easy, and quick. I didn’t opt in to any lists. A few days ago, I received an email from Mast General with the simple subject line: Sign Up So You Don’t Miss a Thing.

(Now, this subject line isn’t that great…it’s a pretty generic call to action, but I opened it because I was curious.) It was nicely branded with a friendly, antique retro feel. Very “Southern polished.”

I was so impressed by the design of the call-to-action header that I read on. In the body of the email:

1. They thank me for being a customer—so this is targeted to people who purchased recently, probably within the last 6 months, who haven’t signed up for email and need a little “re-engagement campaign” to put Mast General back in the front of their minds.

2. They clearly offer quick options for me to keep in touch—but not too many choices. Limit it to three different newsletters, tops (maybe 5 if you offer a huge retail or service presence). They focus on what I, as a previous customer, will get out of each newsletter plus what special incentives they offer.

3. They link to each newsletter as though it stands on its own—calling it out visually—but each link actually sends the customer (me) to the same single landing page for email signup. It’s a smart use of driving people through a funnel.

4. The message is focused with one goal: sign up customers as subscribers to lengthen the customer life cycle. No cross-selling, no additional links or services. All of it goes to one page.

5. Smart copy positioning. What captured my attention was their “special retail event” teaser announcement at the bottom. As a customer, this gives me a big incentive to sign up, even just temporarily. So I decided I would.

When I click through to sign up for the “Almost Monthly” newsletter, I arrive at a clean, professional landing page that’s solely dedicated to email engagement but accomplishes several things at once:

It’s branded. Mast General keeps a clean visual brand across all pages of their site. Minimal fonts and colors in order to make the retail goods “pop” on the page. This also isn’t an embedded generic email form from Mailchimp or whatever. Take your time to customize your sign up form so it aligns with your visual branding—colors, fonts, buttons, language.

It’s sincere and easy to read with a slight sense of humor and lots of confidence. They immediately assure the customer that their information is secure at all times, like a friend keeping a secret. There’s a sense of old fashioned pride in this—like, “Look at our wares.” They productize their newsletter. It’s not an extra—they regard their newsletter description as they would a product description, and you should, too.

It sells. They maintain you-centric language by shifting to the “Sign me up” call to action, transitioning customers from the conversational email to sign up. By shifting from “you” to “me,” Mast General employs a subtle psychological shift that affirms yes, you the customer took the next step, now you’re owning your next action.

It sells some more. They take advantage of real estate white space by now offering a product. I would suggest going with a lower priced product (also sometimes known as a “tripwire”) such as the $25 high quality socks instead of $150 boots or a $400 tent.

You should also look for opportunities to speak further to segmented audiences based on location, gender, items bought in the past, etc. Typically you will need an automated “if-then” rule in your email marketing system set up to accomplish this, or a tracking cookie that triggers emails based on what they purchased.

And give them the opportunity to stay on the website, like Mast General. They include navigation to the rest of the website here on the page so you can navigate off the page whether or not you select a newsletter.

Okay, so I checked off the newsletters I’m interested in receiving from Mast General store and clicked the Submit button.

This is what happened next. The landing page doesn’t redirect me, it simply changes a little with a “Successfully Signed Up” message.

The confirmation message is in a contrasting color so it captures my attention and assures me I’m good to go, and then I’m free to explore the website. Easy and quick.

Now, from the back-end of their email marketing system, Mast General will know that I belong to the “Special Offers and Promotions” list, which means I’m driven mostly by monetary incentives such as saving money or gifting good value. They will market exactly that way to me instead of trying to entertain me with a one-size-fits-all newsletter or a loyal fan/high value customer offer out of my range…for now.

Final Lesson:

Take a look at your business model.

  • Should you be segmenting customers into different mailing lists?
  • Are you releasing new products or services regularly?
  • Would your customers’ problems be solved by more frequent content through your emails?
  • What is the purpose of your email?

If you haven’t emailed customers who purchased from you in the past 6 months, the Mast General Store Email Campaign is a gentle, effective way to get your foot back in the door and re-engage your customers on both your terms…and theirs!