Steve Jobs

5 Learnings from Apple’s email marketing

Apple sells millions of iPhones, iPads and other highly-coveted consumer goods every year. The company is sitting on a mountain of cash which is not uniquely generated from product sales. They are backed by a powerful marketing machine that perfectly conveys the identity of the company. One of the many marketing channels they use is email, which proves to be a strong B2C strategy. These 5 learnings will show you how it works…

To start off: why Apple?

There is a well-known statement by Simon Sinek: “People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. People no longer buy ‘what’ you make, but ‘why’ you make it. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish yourself from others. Apple is a textbook example of a company that knows WHY it does the things it does… The equipment is not necessarily better, more efficient and certainly not cheaper. Then why is Apple so successful? The answer is effective marketing. And that certainly applies to their email strategy.

Apple has been using a specific structure for their email marketing for a while. They usually send their B2C emails within a fixed pattern of three different types:

  1. Product emails to show a new product
  2. Software-related emails to highlight new system features or upgrades
  3. Event emails which focus on a certain time of the year or Apple’s own events (Christmas, school start, Valentine, Mother's Day, WWDC, ...)

Learning 1 | Less is more

All these emails remain true to Apple's well-known ‘less is more’ design philosophy. The marketing message the company wants to convey is straightforward and wants the product to speak for itself. In emails they do this by limiting the content to the essentials. There are no unnecessary eye-catching graphics, there is only one message to convey - no distractions. In the structure of their emails, this philosophy translates as follows:

  • The Apple logo, instantly recognisable.
  • Header with a strong, clean product image and a straightforward descriptive product text.
  • Header CTA to prompt users to take the action that the header image refers to.
  • A few simple product images allowing the product to speak for itself.
  • Content - often product images accompanied by a brief text that further explains the images.
  • Additional CTA’s to incite further actions such as purchase, download, find an Apple store , ...

iphone-xr-pre-order-now

Learning 2 | Consistent pricing

Wherever you go in the world, the prices of Apple products are nearly the same everywhere. Rather than cutting their prices to stay ahead of the competition, Apple shows their customers why their products are worth the investment.

While waging a price war may give you instant financial advantage, it doesn't pay off in the long run. Develop unique products, ensure the best customer experience possible and always prove your customers that the price they pay for your products is justified.

Learning 3 | Consistent timing

Every year Apple highlights a number of its events in their email marketing. These recurring events take place every year, allowing the user to anticipate what the promotion will hold this year. One of the actions that come back every year is the ‘back-to-school’ promotion, aimed at school-going youth and/or their parents. Usually these products can be bought with a promotion (e.g. a free Beats headphone with a MacBook purchase). Similar yearly promotions are sent out on Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas.

backtouniversitypromo

Learning 4 | Language made simple

Apple addresses its customers in a way that is clear and very easy to understand. Other brands, such as Samsung and Microsoft, like to offer a lot of technical specifications. Most of which is of little use or too high-end for everyday users. Apple uses wording that users can actually understand. For example, when Samsung talks about a 4K screen with X-number of pixels, Apple is talking about a crystal-clear retina screen of the latest generation. Straight and simple.

Learning 5 | Frequency

Instead of sending out a newsletter every month, Apple only approaches its customers when they really have something to say. This makes people look forward to getting an email from Apple, as they are quite sure something refreshing and new will be in it. That’s why you can’t really put a frequency on their email marketing campaigns (except for the recurring event mails).

Conclusion

Apple's email marketing is built upon elements that also make their products unique. It uses the ‘less is more’ approach based on consistency, smart use of comprehensible language and recurring elements that customers look forward to. This method works for Apple, but may not work when you copy-paste it to your business. But you can single out the elements that keep coming back in your company/brand and which form its identity. Then determine — just like Apple does — whether these elements can be translated into strong email marketing.


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Posted on
May 25, 2020