How to make your emails stand out from the crowd

white pencils with one pink pencil taller than the rest

People are busy, inboxes are crowded, and attention spans are short. So, how do you make sure your campaigns will make an impact in the inbox? Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, exceptional customer experiences really do stand out.

A campaign that stands out from the crowd will first of all grab attention, and then offer the recipient something fresh to consume, which will in turn create a positive engagement that they’ll be sure to remember. I of course work in email marketing, and have done for a number of years, so my eye is always scanning my inbox for something I’ve not seen before.

In this blog I’m going to explore some innovative campaigns at various stages in the customer journey that I’ve seen recently, that resonated and stuck in my mind – exactly what we are all striving for right? Let’s take a look.

1. Sent with care

I recently received an email from my home insurance provider, which is generally quite a boring subject. The email was giving me a heads up regarding the impending storm the UK was facing. Detailing exactly how I could make a claim should I need to, as well as some practical tips to prepare my home. The email was rounded up with a polite note that if I did end up needing to contact them, wait times would likely be longer than usual as of course, it was going to be a nationwide situation.

This email struck a really good balance of showing care, which is a huge part of a human to human marketing approach, and informing me of a service update. An email simply saying wait times are going to be longer isn’t a positive message to receive, but Admiral communicated that service message effectively whilst also showing care to their customers, and offering value exchange in the form of providing some practical tips.

Home insurance email from Admiral

2. Offline to online

This next example is about email sign up. Having accessible and enticing email signup is important for every brand. Usually found as a pop-up or footer placement, email captures generally sit on a website. So what do you do then, when your product is largely offline?

I was charmed by ice cream company Oppo’s email signup tactics last week, when upon removing the lid of the tub, I found a QR code waiting for me. Preceded with the word ‘win’ I thought, what’ve I got to lose? So I scanned the code expecting a competition of some sort.

The QR code led me to an email newsletter signup page, with the copy ‘Join the Oppo brothers ice cream movement’. This was clearly an email newsletter sign up page, but it wasn’t QR-bait, there was also a competition element there too. The form explains that by being signed up to their emails you will be entered into a monthly prize draw to win a free box of ice cream, so of course I signed up.

With most of us buying food products from a supermarket, we likely aren’t ever going to visit brands’ websites or seek out their email newsletters. By adding a seamless offline to online transition in the form of a QR code on the packaging, Oppo nailed that data capture and will be building an email list to keep their customers engaged by incentivizing being subscribed.

Oppo icecream email signup form

3. Gamification wins

The final example is one from Virgin Atlantic, who teamed up with their new rewards club Virgin Red, to email subscribers with the chance to win a trip on one of their new cruise ships. A strong prize and seemingly quick entry process certainly had me engaged.

The quiz was then made up of questions about what you’d choose to do if you were onboard. Such as which restaurant you’d eat at, which workout facility you’d opt for – with all of the answers being descriptions of the features on board.

Now, if the email had said ‘read all about our latest cruise ship and all of the facilities on board’, I’d have clicked off straight away. By gamifying the process, Virgin have created a competition with a great prize, but also ensured everyone taking part is going to come away with fantastic product knowledge of their new release.

They finish by confirming you’re into the prize draw, and also suggest you don’t wait to find out if you win and go ahead and book directly, with a clear CTA present. This is a smart move, as once you’ve gone through the quiz, they really have sold the concept.

This is also great data capture for Virgin, provided they are recording the answers, they can use your preferences in future sends to target you with information on the facilities which entice you most. It’s super clever marketing.


Email of Virgin quiz highlighting gym facilities onboard Email form Virgin with a CTA to book now


Creating a memorable, and fun, customer experience will make your brand standout. As these examples show, you can add some flair at any part of your customer journey; from signup, to product releases, and even service messages. Email marketing software is getting more sophisticated as software continues to advance, so there’s always something fresh for you to try to engage your subscribers.

Take some time out of your usual routine to have a brainstorm, play around with fun and innovative ideas, and think outside the box to find new ways you can generate engagement and create standout customer communications.

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