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Weight Watchers tops the U.S. News & World Report ranking of best diets each year and with good reason: the program promotes a balanced diet that lets the person eat whatever they want, when they want, within reason. Unlike many ‘one-size-fits-all’ fad diets – most of which exclude entire food groups (such as Atkins) or encourage you to eat the same thing every day (we’re looking at you, Cabbage Soup Diet) – Weight Watchers is all about an individualized plan based on weight loss and health goals, food and exercise preferences, and finding the right level of support, whether that means going to weekly meetings or logging a daily food chart.

You may be scratching your head, wondering what this has to do with email marketing, but there’s a lot more crossover than first meets the eye. To be successful at anything – be it a diet plan or an email marketing strategy – and achieve long-term results, there needs to be a plan in place that’s sustainable, changing with the evolving moods and tastes of the person or consumer. That said, let’s start digging into what exactly good email marketing and Weight Watchers have in common.

Like the aforementioned Cabbage Soup Diet, which relies on one food, email strategies that rely on one tactic, such as promotions or discounting, are not built to last. Consider this: In 2016, 30 percent of all marketing emails and nearly half (44 percent) of all retail marketing emails featured subject lines containing an offer, according to a Yes Lifecycle Marketing study. Coincidentally, the same study found that emails without an offer in the subject line receive an average open rate of 15.6 percent, outperforming nearly every offer-based email. Click rates and CTO rates were also near the top of the range at 1.5 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively. People have come to expect price cuts, diminishing the urgency to buy, and even negatively altering their brand perception.

This harmful one-note approach doesn’t only apply to tactics, but the product itself. No one wants to eat the same thing again and again (especially not cabbage), just like consumers don’t want to be served the same products and offers persistently. There needs to be a healthy variety of email themes to suit the tastes of each individual customer. Not only is this variety good for the customer, but the brand marketer as well, helping expose more of the product catalog and ultimately sell more.

Individualized Approach
From the minute you sign up for the program, Weight Watchers creates a plan tailored to you. It factors in your current weight and goals, determines the appropriate daily point value for food, and then let’s you pick your plan of attack. There are extra flex points for special occasions (because indulging is part of life) and you can earn more points for exercise. You can attend in-person group meetings for support and encouragement or tackle the program solo, by tracking activity and food intake in a journal or in the mobile app. Moral of the story? The approach is made to fit the lifestyle of the individual.

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In order to deliver the same personalized experience to its email recipients and keep up with constantly changing ‘dietary needs,’ retailers need a variety of products and categories to keep them interested and engaged. Taking a data-driven, customer-centric approach enables marketers to tailor their email outreach to different types of customers and further segment and improve their email marketing strategy overall. In fact, in a recent MindFire study of hundreds of multi-channel marketing campaigns, personalized campaigns consistently and overwhelmingly beat out static campaigns in generating high response rates from recipients. So, instead of promoting one product (e.g. “black dresses”) or one theme (e.g. “shoes”) for the day and blasting it to an entire email list, retailers should begin with what their customers actually wants vs. their own sales goals.

There’s a reason the term ‘yo-yo dieting,’ the cyclical loss and gain of weight, was coined – and it’s because most diets just simply aren’t sustainable. After experiencing initial success, extreme diet restrictions start to cause fatigue, and eventually the dieter loses interest and gains the weight back. For instance, a carbohydrate-restrictive diet, like Atkins, is going to be difficult if you can’t live without bread. It’s much more realistic to take an approach that lets you eat that baguette you so crave, but in moderation. Weight Watchers encourages members to choose the foods they want, which helps make the program sustainable in the long term.

Like extreme dieters, email marketers too often focus on the immediate, short-term results vs. the big picture. Retailers need to look beyond the one-time sales and pushing products that serve only their own agenda and shift the lens to their loyal customers and making them want to keep coming back, which builds ROI steadily overtime. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, according to research from Invesp, so be sure you’re engaging the ones you already have. Like anything, this recipe for success will vary from brand to brand, but determining a cadence that works (more is not always better), what content and creative your email list is responding to, and using technology, such as machine learning to monitor how consumer tastes evolve overtime, is imperative to continued success.

So you see, good email marketing and Weight Watchers aren’t so different after all – so don’t fall victim to the fad diet approach.

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