Email Showdown: Best Buy vs. Target
Regardless of their team size and budget, today’s marketers are expected to compete with the world's biggest retailers. Those big-name brands may dominate inboxes, but here’s the good news: not only do the majority of their tactics work for retailers of all sizes, their visibility in the market means marketers can easily learn from both their wins and their missteps.
This showdown breaks down email strategies from two top retail brands: Best Buy and Target. Here’s what they’re doing right in the inbox, where they could improve, and a few takeaways retailers can use to inform their own email marketing programs.
Round 1: The Signup Process
To capture website visitors and convert them into email subscribers, Best Buy uses a simple form on the footer of its website. It’s easy to spot and with just a single form field (email address), it creates minimal signup friction for potential subscribers.
Target makes it surprisingly difficult to sign up for its email list. In fact, the only link on its website to its email signup form is nestled under the “More” link in the footer. It also includes four fields, which is quite high for a basic email capture.
Winner: Best Buy
The takeaway: Retailers must consider whether they’re offering simple and relatively frictionless email signup opportunities on their websites. Most potential subscribers won’t actively seek out a form, so make it easy to spot to keep the list healthy and growing.
Round 2: The Welcome Email
This welcome email fires off within minutes of signup, and provides a few different paths of action — shop now, sign up for the rewards program, or download the app. With minimal padding and white space, the design is a little busy, but overall, it provides a positive welcome experience.
Target uses more white space in its welcome email, giving recipients’ eyes some visual breathing room and making it easier to digest. That adorable hero image provides a warm-and-fuzzy brand introduction, and the icons at the bottom help outline the benefits of shopping with the retail chain.
The takeaway: White space gives recipients’ eyes a break from constant stimulation and draws attention to what’s really important in the message. Furthermore, increased white space improves reading speed by 14 percent and comprehension by 20 percent, according to a study from Wichita State University.
Round 3: The Triggered Email
This email is triggered by website behavior and invites the recipient to “Take Another Look” at a television she had been browsing. Many consumers get distracted while shopping online, so emails like this can help recover otherwise lost revenue.
Target sends a similar email to people that browse its televisions, but this email diverges from the central focus by incorporating an entire section of unrelated home goods. The addition muddles the call to action: to keep looking and, ideally, complete a purchase.
Winner: Best Buy
The takeaway: Let's face it, relevant emails drive more revenue. Automate emails based on a subscriber’s behavior inside and outside the inbox, and keep the messaging focused purely around those behaviors to encourage more conversions.
Round 4: The Holidays
Best Buy had an extremely heavy send cadence during the 2016 holiday season, pushing out emails almost every single day between Black Friday and Christmas. Each email included a header image with a similar aesthetic and promoted several different products at the bottom of the email.
Target also sent quite a bit of email during last year's holiday season. Unlike Best Buy, however, the company managed to balance out more of its promos with content, like the festive video highlighted below, “The Toycracker.” The content helped break things up and provided a softer touch for those not ready to buy.
The takeaway: As retailers know, most of their annual sales are concentrated in the last two months of the year. It’s a lot of pressure for them, but they shouldn’t let it tempt them to send too many emails or shove every product they have into every email they send. Instead, segment product promos by subscriber interest and mix sales messaging with engaging content.
Round 5: The Product Review
A subscriber can quickly scan the email below and understand what they want in a matter of seconds. By using a big, bold headline, keeping the copy concise, and incorporating an image of the product purchased, Best Buy made the path of action clear and frictionless.
Target’s email follows the same basic premise, but by being put in its own content block, its main message gets lost in the header.
Winner: Best Buy
The takeaway: Since most people today are only scanning emails, when asking customers to do something, it’s important to make that ask as clear as possible.
The winner is …
This one was unbelievably close, and it just goes to show that major retailers like Best Buy and Target know the importance of a solid email strategy when it comes to staying competitive in this market. However, with more focused and relevant messaging across the board, we’re giving this one to Best Buy.
WINNER: BEST BUY
Colby Cavanaugh is the senior vice president of marketing at Emma, a digital marketing platform that makes it easy to create beautifully designed emails that drive results.
Related story: 4 Reasons Retailers Should Use Dynamic Email Content