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What Back-to-School Can Teach Us About Using “Macro Moments” for Emails

One way to engage your audience is to think about those "macro moments" and look for ways to incorporate that into messaging.

Back-to-School Lessons About "Macro Moments" | SEJ

Earlier this month, it was “back to school” time here in America which means every inbox, including mine, was being flooded with emails for everything kid-related, from clothing to footwear to school supplies and more. Yours, too?

Some people will appreciate those offers, but my only kids are my two six-pound dogs, and they don’t even go to obedience school. So, the whole back-to-school experience was kind of annoying for me. (Where’s the preference center when you need it so you can suppress customers who don’t report young kids in the house?)

Back-to-School Lessons About "Macro Moments" | SEJ

My sister, on the other hand, is a mom of two school-age kids. She has an entirely different reaction to the whole back-to-school deluge: “Thank God, I’m free!” That’s a sentiment that you don’t usually see reflected in email, but maybe you should.

Capture the “Macro Moment”

Email marketers often focus heavily on the primary event. But one way to engage your audience is to think about those moments that are commonalities in the social groups among your customers – these are the macro moments – and look for ways to incorporate that into messaging.

The Christmas/holiday shopping season has at least two macro moments: People rewarding themselves for making it through the season or finding themselves with stockings full of gift cards and looking for ideas for redeeming them.

Messages such as “Didn’t get what you wanted?,” “Here’s how to redeem your gift card,” and “Treat yourself after the holidays” capitalize on those macro moments.

But you can find macro moments with other events, even back-to-school. The “Thank God I’m free” mindset symbolizes the fact that the kids, who have been home all summer, are back at school for the day. Parents have their lives back!

The typical call-to-action or value proposition in back-to-school emails is “Get stuff for your kids.” But, if you want to take advantage of a macro moment, try “Treat yourself now that you have your life back.”

Macro Moments Change up Your Content

That doesn’t mean you send out a broadcast campaign with that message. Here’s where you put your segmenting data to work. Identify people who have purchased typical back-to-school items such as kids’ clothing, school supplies, backpacks, electronics, etc. Match it to the buyer’s other browsing or purchase behavior to suggest items parents could purchase to reward themselves for surviving summer with the family.

For gift-giving occasions such as Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, think beyond the day itself to the day after. I see a lot of “Did you get what you wanted?” or “Here’s how to spend your gift card” messages after Christmas but never any other time of year. It’s worth testing on these other occasions, too.

Zero in on Segmenting and Search to Find Macro Moments

Macro-moment emails are not broadcast campaigns. They aren’t supposed to appeal to everyone. Instead, you send these messages to segments of your customer database who fit certain criteria.

In email, for example, your “I’m free!” email could go to customers who had purchased child- or school-related things within the last 60 days.

Mine your paid and organic search terms – what you use in your own search marketing program as well as the keywords that bring searchers to your pages – to find keywords related to back-to-school buying. Incorporate those terms in your subject lines, headers and message copy as well.

The way you phrase your email message is important, too. You aren’t asking them to celebrate with you, as you would in a pre-event promotional email. Instead, you’re telling them, “Hey! You’ve got your day back and we’re celebrating with you!”

Incremental Innovation in a Macro Moment

Looking for these behavior or attitudinal commonalities and then capitalizing on them is another way to power incremental innovation in your email marketing program.

You don’t have to launch a brand-new program. Instead, you take a few minutes to think outside the box, to study the way you tie messaging to a particular cultural event and then look for a different way to approach it, one that would resonate with a valuable segment of your audience.

You’re also using your customer data – such as segmenting, past purchase history, search and browse behavior.

Wrap all of that in your brand, and test it. If it works, you’ve taken your email marketing to a higher level.

Start Looking for the Next Macro Moment

Think about everything you know about your customers. This is where it helps to personify your ideal customer and what drives him or her to shop and buy. You’re looking for some common moment, a message that will make your recipients nod their heads and say, “Oh, hell, yes!” to your email.

Besides tapping into a previously untapped sentiment or emotion, you’re also creating different kinds of messages that people will enjoy opening. That’s what your customer really want to see from you – a solid indication that you know them.

It’s not “right time/right message.” It’s “You get me.”

Back-to-school planning is a year away, but there are a lot of macro moments just waiting for you to find them. Where will you start looking?


Image Credits

Featured image: sibgat/
In post image: stevemc/

Category Content

Ryan Phelan

VP of Marketing Insights at Adestra

What Back-to-School Can Teach Us About Using “Macro Moments” for Emails

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