Inbox Insider: Subject line discounts improve e-mail offers

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Marketers have long debated the best way to send consumers offers through e-mail. They question how much they should give; when to give; if a percentage off works better than a flat fee; or whether giving a discount or coupon trains customers to expect similar deals via e-mail. Speaking as an e-mail subscriber, I appreciate a good offer.  

For instance, I looked in my inbox today, and two e-mails immediately stood out because of their too-good-to-pass-up subject lines. The first was from Bloomingdale's. Its subject line was “Take 20% or 30% off, plus exclusive $25 off!‏”

For a consumer, this is the best of two worlds. He or she gets a discount, and a flat $25 off of that marked-down price. Even if I am not in the mood to shop, I feel somewhat obligated to check it out since the deal is so good. Inside the e-mail, there is a coupon for 20% off a $250-to-$499 online or in-store purchase, and 30% off a purchase over $500 — plus, of course, the $25 off. The sale also runs through June 17, so it is timely.

The second good example is from REI. Its subject line is “Two days left: Save an extra 20% at REI-Outlet‏.” The message works because it has a good offer — an extra 20% off already discounted items. It is also timely and compels the consumer to act now, because there are only two days left.

Both e-mails are excellent examples of how a marketer can use offers and timeliness in subject lines to move inventory and drive sales.

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