It's Not a Masquerade

Halloween is quickly approaching and, like most parents, I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing costumes for my children.  The goal this year was straightforward: choose a unique and fun disguise that we could be creative in making, to stand apart from the many super heroes and fairies on the big night, and maybe even score some extra candy for all our efforts.  When you think about it, that same goal is what many email marketers strive for everyday – to differentiate themselves among the crowd, clearly convey their message, and effectively monetize their email program.  What’s disappointing is the number of marketers that attempt to masquerade their email as valuable content, when it’s really just an advertising push.  Don’t be plagued by a bad costume choice!  Consider these 3 tips for making the most of your advertising efforts:

  • Don’t Be Mysterious

    • Format newsletters with the primary design focus on the articles.  This means using an editing eye in key areas of the email (like the preview pane) to ensure the content is celebrated, and not overrun by ads.
    • Use advertising partners and offers to support your newsletter, not distract.  Make sure the connection is obvious – don’t leave subscribers wondering why that was included.
    • Clearly identify advertising mail as such – – include disclosure language at top of the message, so subscribers are fully aware of the reason for the message.
    • See the Southern Living Example, Below 
  • Do Be Exciting and Action-Packed!

    • Align advertising partners with likely interests of your core customers.  This supports your overall brand value and increases the effectiveness of the advertising effort.
    • Use videos, social media, and contests to get subscribers interacting (and not just deleting) your advertising email. 
    • See the Martha Stewart/Philips Pinterest Example, Below
  • Give Treats, Not Tricks

    • Provide subscribers with plenty of preferences options to choose the mailstreams that are most interesting to them.  And, be sure subscribers know choices are availbe – include preference center links prominently in all your email templates.
    • Don’t make unsubscribing seem like the prize at the end of the corn maze.  Allow subscribers to easily opt-out of ANY or ALL of your mailstreams with less than two clicks.
    • See the Baby Center Example, Below

This week, take a few minutes to objectively evaluate your current strategy and consider some proactive changes for your email program, so you aren’t still playing dress-up long after the Halloween fun is over.


Southern Living Newsletter Example – Includes “sponsored by” logo in the preview pane, with supporting ad tile at the bottom of message. This keeps the main focus on article content, and allows the advertising to support the message (not steal the show).

Southern Living Newsletter Example


Martha Stewart Advertising Example — Features a clear “advertising partner offer” disclosure at the top of message, relevant home decorating content, social media interactivity, and clear subscription options in the footer.


Baby Center Newsletter Example — Keeps article content the main focus, with advertising placed below the fold.  Clear and actionable footer bar features several subscription options.


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