Successful Email Marketing Tips for Challenger Brands

May 27, 2015 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


Competing with category leaders isn’t easy.  There’s just no way around it, marketing your company using traditional media is expensive. Email marketing, on the other hand, is the great equalizer.

Email marketing offers flexibility, it’s simple to track and is a proven traffic-driver. In short, it’s an important tool for most brands today, and it’s an essential tool for those marketers whose ambitions outstrip their resources.

In this week’s blog, we focus on email marketing best practices.

Encourage Easy Email Subscription

First things first. It’s essential to build a robust subscriber base. You do this by making it easy for visitors to your website to sign up for your company emails.

Start by placing a sign-up form on your company’s homepage. Target’s website offers a great example. Scrolling just beneath the fold on the retailer’s homepage reveals an email sign-up button. Click the button and you’re taken to a form where the company asks for just a little personal information in exchange for getting on the first to receive the hottest Target news on discounts and promotions. The value exchange is very important. You’ll get more subscribers by offering something of value in return for their engagement.


The homepage isn’t the only place for the sign-up form, however. Make sure visitors are offered the opportunity to subscribe wherever you engage them.

For instance, email subscription buttons can also go on your:

  • Corporate blog
  • Social media page (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Anywhere else people who follow your challenger brand are active

Captivate Readers With A Great Subject Line

Developing an email marketing message begins with an attention-grabbing email subject line because it’s the very first thing your readers see. Start here and focus on creating a great subject line first and foremost. If you feel like this effort takes too much time, it’s because creating effective subject lines does take time.

If your subject line fails to capture attention or differentiate in any way from the dozens of daily emails your prospects receive, you’re behind before you start. On the other hand, if you nail it the subject line will make a huge contribution to the success of your campaign.


Think of crafting your subject line much in the same way as you would a billboard. Your email message will get about as much natural attention as a billboard does from drivers speeding by at 70 miles-per-hour.  Making the most of that brief interaction with potential customers is critical.

Consider these best practices when creating your subject line:

  • Keep your subject line shorter than 50 characters
  • Use personalization “tokens” such as your recipients’ first names or even just the word “you” or “your”
  • Include preview texts
  • Use clear language so there’s no mistaking what your email’s about
  • Don’t persuade your prospects to open emails by using a misleading subject line
  • Use urgency with keywords like “now” and “today” to get leads to open the email
  • Mention specific benefits and quantify them
  • Use questions to pique reader interest
  • Make readers feel special by using compliments

LOOMIS Imagibrand Process

Email Newsletter & Challenger Brand Alignment

The emails your subscribers receive represent your brand, so think carefully about the way you want your brand presented.  Pay attention to your brand standards, of course, but consider the way the email medium is used when developing your message template.

You want your logo to be prominently displayed so readers register your brand immediately. It that’s all they do, at least you’ve registered an impression for your brand.

Design consistency is important, too.  Your aim should be to keep your email templates in line with all the other content that your company publishes, whether that’s on your website, blog, white papers, videos, etc. Adhering to established brand standards allows you to build and leverage familiarity, which is foundational for brand building.

For an example of a brand that’s thought hard about its email design, we look atFreshBooks’ email newsletter, the cloud-accounting software that competes with Quickbooks, by far the leader in the space.

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Here’s a useful list of email-design sources:

Use Segmentation to Send Content People Value

The last thing you want is a shrinking subscriber base. One of the best ways to ensure your subscribers stay engaged is by sending them highly relevant content.Segmentation allows you to break up your email subscriber base into smaller groups—or segments—so you can send messages specifically targeted to each segment’s interests.


For instance, if you’re holding an exciting live event, you’ll want to segment your email list so only those near the event actually receive an invitation. The more information you have about your subscribers, the more segmentation you can perform.

Common segments include:

  • Paying customers
  • Leads
  • Job titles
  • Activity/engagement level
  • Content interest
  • Brand affinity

Seize the Email Opportunity

Email marketing is a terrific challenger-marketing tool because budget size is far less important than ingenuity. It’s perfect for those whose ambitions outstrip their resources. If you’d rather outthink than outspend your competition, this is a great place to start that process.

challengerchallenger brandemail marketing

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.