How to Brew a Better E-mail Strategy

Starbucks Knows Coffee, Tea and E-mail Marketing

I don’t drink coffee. Coffee upsets my stomach and makes me jittery. And yet, I love Starbucks.

While enjoying a fine cup of tea the other day at my local Starbucks, I reflected on why I feel so connected to Starbucks and how this connection could help hospitality professionals.

My conclusion: Through frequent, friendly and financially rewarding communication, Starbucks makes me want to visit its stores and buy its product.

Communicate Frequently

Starbucks sends me an e-mail once or twice every week. Sometimes I am too busy to look at the e-mails, and sometimes I have a minute so I take a peek. I think that Starbucks counts on this and contacts me frequently enough so that there is always something new for me to look at.

The title of the e-mail always gives me a clue as to the content. For example, “Send Starbucks Give eCards This Valentine’s Day,” or “Get a Free Drink When You Buy Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee.”

When you send e-mails to your members or your guests, does the e-mail title always describe the contents? Are you sending communication in a consistent time frame so your recipients know when to expect the next note from you?

Invoke Positive Emotions

You might be thinking that receiving a Starbucks e-mail every week would become annoying, but in fact I look forward to the messages. The e-mails are short, attractive (HTML) and get quickly to the point. There is always a graphic of some sort, usually of the product they want me to buy.

But here’s the main point: Every time I read a Starbucks e-mail, I think about sitting in one of their shops, perusing the paper, enjoying the music, sipping a steaming hot (or cold) drink.

Reading Starbucks e-mails takes me away for a brief moment, and sets me up for another visit to the nearest location. Are you creating the same emotional tug in your members and guests when you send an e-mail? Does your e-mail subtly say, “Come back, visit us, re-live the great experience you had the last time you were here.”

Occasionally Offer Financial Rewards

Starbucks encourages me to purchase by putting a coupon into its e-mails. Not every e-mail contains a coupon, but every four to six weeks I receive an incentive to try something new.

As before, Starbucks always tells me about the incentive in the subject line of the e-mail. I appreciate this because I don’t have to open the e-mail to find out if there is a coupon.

Again, we are all busy and Starbucks respects our time. I appreciate that. I also appreciate the Starbucks rewards program and like the additional attention I get both at the store and online because I am a member.

Do you make it beneficial for your members and guests to belong to the club or rewards program? Do you sometimes thank them for their loyalty by offering a discount or deal?

I enjoy visiting the stores and I enjoy receiving regular communication from the company. For me, Starbucks has found the right balance between information, fun and reward.

Donald Moro is the vice president of Marketing at Northstar Club Management Software, a leading provider of on-premise Club Management Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for private clubs and resorts. He can be reached at (888) 240-3501 or

Photo courtesy of Visualpanic’s Flickr stream.

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