What Works in Plus Size Email Marketing (and what doesn’t…)

I haven’t worn pants in 5 years.

As you can imagine, a pants-less existence requires an almost unlimited supply of dresses and skirts. As a plus-sized person, I need to do a lot of shopping to get the right look and fit. Cute dresses don’t just fall out of the sky, you know.

While I don’t have a never-ending sartorial pasta bowl of plus size fashions, I do have an unlimited supply of emails from plus size clothing sites that I frequent.

Opening yet another email from one of my favorite plus size clothing sites this morning got me thinking: what actually works in plus size email marketing? What made me click on that email all nestled away in the Promotions folder in Gmail?

Let’s check out the contenders. Here are a few of my observations about several recent plus size email marketing campaigns from some of my favorite online retailers.

Lane Bryant – The Classic

Founded in 1904, Lane Bryant was a pioneer in the plus size clothing industry, offering clothes in larger sizes before most people knew there was even a market for that.

So how are they doing at email marketing?

Lane Bryant Plus Size Email Marketing

I’d say the answer is pretty darn well.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding their #PLUSISEQUAL campaign. Most of this controversy has to do with the lack of inclusion of various body shapes and types in their quest for plus size visibility. I understand this frustration, and yet I have to say, this campaign is sharp.

The hashtag has a feeling of unity and empowerment behind it. The header image is beautiful. And who could turn down a stunning landing page like this.

I want my marketing slick and eye-catching, so I immediately wanted to click on that image and see what it was about.

Isn’t that the goal of any effective email marketing campaign?

ModCloth – The Quirky Cousin

I’ve loved ModCloth’s aesthetic for more than 5 years now, ever since I started living a pants-free lifestyle. So when they announced several years ago that they were introducing a new plus size category, I was all over that email list.

Interestingly, I have yet to purchase anything from their plus size section. That might be a combination of price point, stock, or more factors, but they haven’t quite yet converted me into a buyer.

I wonder why that is?

ModCloth Plus Size Email Marketing

Their emails have that quirky style that I love, but I never feel like their target customer. Clicking on that header image takes me to this landing page which is full of great looks…

…but none of them are in my size.

I searched my inbox for ModCloth and the words “plus” or “plus size.”. Zero results. Which means ModCloth has never sent an email with Plus Size in it, or I’m just out of the loop.

Am I not in the right email list? Have they not segmented out their plus size shoppers? I definitely have an account that they could use to track my data and shopping habits since I completed a survey about bringing plus size clothing to ModCloth back in the day.

So what gives?

I decided to log back into my account and see for myself. To my surprise, there are a lot of ways they’re gathering data from customers: measurements, favorited items, curated suggestions. I haven’t filled out any of that information, so I guess I’m just Ginny Generic to them. Even so, you’d think they’d include one or two plus size emails in their generic email marketing, just in case.

Now that I’ve filled in some information, I’ll keep a look out and see if I receive more relevant email marketing.

Unique Vintage – The Old School Beauty

This is one of my very favorite stores. I love a good ’60s look, and they sell a wide variety of clothing inspired by different eras. Their plus size section is pretty great, as well.

When it comes to plus size email marketing, they’re almost there.

Unique Vintage Plus Size Email Marketing

Great image. Clean, classic style. Easy to see call-to-action.

But what’s going on with that awkward copy?

“Every body stun—at every size.” What does that even mean!?

The answer might lie in the subject line for this particular email campaign.

“The Secret to a Perfect Body.”

That’s a pretty great clickbait subject line. If I didn’t know better, I might be incited to go all angry Tumblr user and tell them off!

“A perfect body? That doesn’t exist! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!”And so on, etc.

Thankfully, the moment you open the email, you’re greeted with a body-positive ending to that potentially inflammatory statement.

Still doesn’t explain the rest of that confusing copy, though.

Gwynnie Bee – The Upstart

I’ve been a Gwynnie Bee member in the past (in the days of milk and honey) and I LOVED it.

A $35 per month subscription gets you 1 plus size piece of clothing at a time, but you get an unlimited amount of swaps per month. Genius idea originally touted as the Netflix of plus size clothes, back when Netflix was still the Netflix of Netflix.

Since then, Gwynnie Bee has been aggressively trying to win back my business. Whether that’s through custom coupon codes, curated clothing suggestions, or even emails that look like letters from their President asking me to resubscribe, I have to appreciate their hustle.

Gwynnie Bee Plus Size Email Marketing

This is an example of their awesome tailoring techniques. They know I was a former customer. They know I logged in recently, since this email arrived a day after I logged in. They’ve got this user data and automation workflow thing locked down.

Tempting, Gwynnie Bee. Very tempting.

Let me get this Digital Marketing job I’m after and I’ll get back with you.

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