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Like most people in the UK I loved the Olympics and the Paralympics; however I particularly enjoyed the Paralympics.  

One of the programmes that I enjoyed the most was The Last Leg, so I was particularly pleased when Channel 4 brought this back. If you have not already seen it, it really is a must watch!   

One of the features on the last leg is called #isitOK. Here the audience are asked to tweet questions that they would like the hosts to answer, using the hashtag #isitOK.  

In homage to this programme I have decided to shamelessly plagiarise that format, including some of the most interesting questions I have been asked recently.


#isitOK for email marketers to recreate a strategy which has worked for their competitors?

I don’t think it’s possible for every brand to be unique in its approach. Most retailers that I speak to are attempting to mirror Amazon (and generally never do).

However, if you aim to be Amazon by extracting the best practise parts of their campaigns and include that within your strategy, then you will probably be doing better email marketing than you were before.

The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t simply base your strategy on what large companies such as Amazon and ASOS do. They can do the things they do because they are ASOS and Amazon and have an enormous amount of resource to spend on ground-breaking email strategy.   

Don’t just send out newsletters and email campaigns because other people do. Think about what the CTA of the campaign is and what you are looking to achieve. Monitor your own activity, observe your competitors and ensure all of your campaigns are in line with your strategy, goals, brand etc.

In a fast paced digital market we have to learn on our feet. There is nothing wrong with learning from our competitors as long as it fits with our goals, especially when those competitors have the infrastructure and resources to make mistakes, which you may not have.

#isitOK to send festive content in September?

Now I LOVE Christmas so I would say 'yes, the sooner the better'. However, email marketing is not as black and white as this. Instead, as with any email marketing campaign, you have to consider who you are, what you sell and where the opportunity is.  

This topic is about timing on a ‘super level’. Forget time of day; you are trying to break down the hallowed ground of national holidays.

For example, if you sell sofas with a lead time of eight weeks then it’s likely that you will be thinking about festive content earlier than brands that sell perfume to disorganised men (brave aren’t I?).

One of the factors that could influence people’s mind set around the festive season is considering when other events are happening. For instance “how can I think about buying a sofa for Christmas when I am being driven mad by Halloween?”.

What if these events don’t affect you and the product you are charged with marketing?  Can you force your audience to focus on the festive season over the distraction of Bonfire Night?

This is a great example from Ocado of how to send a Christmas email in September (September 9). Ocado has dipped its toe into the festive water and still ensures that the campaign is customer focussed:


#isitOKto use personalisation and get it wrong?

Ok, let’s get one thing straight. Most data used in personalisation is based on input by a person, be it a customer or an employee, therefore there will always be mistakes.

So the question that really needs to be asked is: 'are you using the right kind of personalisation?'

If you focus on converting from content generated from behaviour and use simple personalisation from data input for engagement, then you can’t go far wrong.  

For example, if, when completing Secret Escape’s sign up form I wrongfully state that my title is Lady Wilsdon and every email from I then receive from Secret Escapes is addressed to Lady Wilsdon. I will still be engaged by these emails, and mildly amused by my own hilarity.

However if I have not personally input my data and you refer to me as ‘Mr Wilsdon’ as opposed to ‘Ms Wilsdon’, then you will have probably lost my engagement. Pay attention to how you are capturing data and whether you are doing it accurately.  

If the content of the email was based on personalisation from previous behaviour, for instance MY clicks, then I would probably be more likely to convert.  Personalisation has two goals; engagement and conversion.

If you are providing relevant and personalised content for pure engagement, that has a value.  Opens are an engagement and a currency.  

For most digital business email is a ‘shop front’; it might not be your home page but it is getting your brand in front of your customer. Adding value to your data by keeping it engaged is a critical step towards gaining conversions.

The point I am making is that it is important to go back to the original objectives of your campaign and look at exactly what you are trying to achieve. Was it to increase engagement? Serve up personalised content? Convert or upsell?

To finish here is a great example of personalisation from Smysthon. I received this email serving me up a picture of the diary that I have previously bought multiple times, complete with my initials on it.

Content personalisation does not get better than this. Well done Smythson!

Lucy Wilsdon

Published 23 October, 2013 by Lucy Wilsdon

Lucy Wilsdon is Head of Enterprise Sales at Pure360 and a contributor to Econsultancy.

3 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


Lahu gawade

Good article - it will really help to email marketers for coming holiday season.

about 3 years ago

Mike Austin

Mike Austin, CEO at Triggered Messaging

I love the diary example - great use of personalisation to improve engagement.

A lot of people do use personalization of name, and this is definitely a double edged sword.

Personalizing based on past behaviour - e.g. products browsed and/or purchased can be highly effective. We do this for many clients. Simple examples include browse abandonment emails, but automated content blocks showing products that the shopper has looked at before can really up the marketing game.


about 3 years ago

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