Email is Not Dead: A Guide to DTC Email Marketing

POLA Marketing Agency's graphic design of folders labeled "what if email marketing isn't dead".

How dtc brands have been increasing revenue and nurturing the customer journey through email marketing

Everyone with an email address knows at least one brand they regret subscribing to. Their inbox gets hammered with spammy sales announcements daily. Unfortunately, spam emails are so common that subscribers quickly write off any content that doesn’t relate to them. In the end, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands must use email segmentation and targeting to avoid low engagement and a bad reputation. When done right, email marketing can provide a unique avenue to communicate directly with consumers.

DTC brands use email marketing to create the perfect environment for steady sales. Combining narrow targeting with creative ideation can build emails that resonate with specific audiences. When customers feel valued, they become motivated to purchase. This method works because DTC brands push consumers along their purchasing journey while positively influencing their perception of their brand.

Email Marketing is the Breadwinner of Marketing Tactics for DTC Brands

Graphic design of a coupon for joining an email list for POLA Marketing Agency's guide to email marketing.

Promotional emails enhance efforts going into other marketing tactics like social media, digital marketing, and PPC marketing. Brands can directly communicate with specific consumers, nurture new leads, and boost revenue. Email marketing has a higher return on investment (ROI) than most other marketing tactics — email typically drives 20 to 30 percent of revenue for DTC brands.

According to the Drum, “Email stands out as consumers’ channel of choice at every point of the purchase journey, serving their needs across multiple contexts.” When brands send email campaigns targeted to consumers in specific stages of the customer journey, they’re more likely to push them to the next phase.

The Elements of DTC Email Marketing

Email marketing strategies encompass a plethora of components, including email lists, subject lines, newsletters, and campaign ideas to start. In order for DTC brands to reap all the benefits of email marketing, they must utilize each component. Just a few details can make or break an entire campaign.

The Email List

Every time someone enters their email on a brand’s website, they’re likely asked to opt-in to receiving the brand’s newsletter. The collected emails comprise lists of people willing to receive email campaigns from a particular brand. Email lists can become lofty over time without some organization, resulting in communication becoming confusing. This often causes customers to unsubscribe.

DTC brands will be most successful when they cater their emails to the audience they’re sending them to. Email list segmentation allows brands to separate customers by demographic, buying process, and interaction behaviors. Segmenting email subscribers will enable brands to communicate more directly.

A person who just purchased a product shouldn’t receive the same email as a consumer who clicked on the brand’s website for the first time. By segmenting, brands can narrow their targeting to increase open rates and engagement.

Brands will garner a lousy sender reputation with email platforms like Gmail or Microsoft Outlook when subscribers don’t interact. The actions or inactions of subscribers can alter the performance of a campaign as a whole. Therefore, an inactive subscriber shouldn’t be in the same segment as subscribers who regularly open and interact with emails. By separating these subscribers into their own segments, brands can optimize each email to incentivize engagement.

The Sender Line and Subject Line

A collection of POLA Marketing Agency's DTC email marketing subject line examples.

The sender and subject lines make the first impression in the email inbox. A sender line lets readers know who is sending the email, while a subject line tells them the email’s content. If the sender line is an email with random characters or an unfamiliar name, the email runs the risk of being marked as spam or unopened. Subject lines should be catchy, leaving the reader curious enough to click on the email. Beware of the temptation to use clickbait — readers will likely unsubscribe if the subject line is unrelated to the content.

Choosing Topics or Themes

The subject line draws readers in; the content makes them buy. For DTC brands, the email campaign options are limitless. Choosing the right message for the right customer is the tricky part.

When consumers abandon their cart, sending them a reminder email with a discount code often results in a purchase. Foundational emails like abandoned cart reminders, welcome emails, and recommended products help keep the brand front of mind. Other email topics to consider include:

  • New product launches
  • Sales or holiday specials
  • Special qualities of the product
  • Customer reviews of the product

Product Photography

Product photography encompasses any photos or videos taken of a product with the intention of driving sales. Additionally, how DTC brands showcase their products can increase brand awareness, mitigate confusion, and shorten the customer journey. Brands that answer as many questions as possible with their visual content avoid confusion or hesitancy to purchase.

Call-to-Action (CTA)

POLA Marketing Agency's graphic design of a call-to-action button for email marketing.

DTC brands can show off their products as much as they want, but buyers won’t take the next step without a clear call to action. A compelling CTA tells customers what to buy, how to buy it, and where to complete the purchase. Decision-making as a DTC consumer can be tricky — a nudge via email never hurts anyone.

Call in a DTC Email Marketing Agency

POLA Marketing’s email methods can relieve DTC business owners from the time-consuming work of finding the right email marketing strategy. Our team can create an individualized approach that increases customers’ experience and online sales for the furtherance of any DTC company. For more information, contact us at (
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