Email Olympics: west elm vs. Pottery Barn

Email Olympics: west elm vs. Pottery Barn

While both brands are owned by parent company Williams-Sonoma, we still wanted the two companies to face off in our latest edition of Email Olympics. Just as we did in our first post in this series (Spirit Airlines vs. Frontier Airlines), we’ll start by evaluating the basics:


On paper, the two email strategies are very similar; however, in execution, there are some notable differences. Let’s first take a look at west elm.

west elm

Pretty much all of west elm’s subject lines refer to sales and discounts. They’re always running sales on rotating product-lines, which offers the company an opportunity to send frequent emails that aren’t promoting the exact same things. For example, the week of 8/14 was dedicated to promoting a 20% Off All Rugs sale, while the following week featured 20% Off Sofas and Sectionals. Additionally, west elm uses the end of these time-bound sales to send “Ending Soon!” and “Don’t Miss the Savings!” emails as the promotions wind down.

What we found surprising, however, is that west elm’s creative doesn’t really focus on products or pictures. Instead, their email designs highlight the current sale or promotion in a colorful template:



True, west elm’s emails are well-designed and always on-brand, but we’d expect their content to be a little more image-driven, especially in an industry that’s all about aesthetics.

Pottery Barn

Similar to west elm, Pottery Barn’s email copy almost exclusively speaks to sales and discounts. However, unlike west elm, Pottery Barn incorporates lots of product photos into their email designs. When promoting sales on specific product lines, Pottery Barn almost always overlays their copy on beautifully-photographed rooms and furniture...take a look:


Sometimes PB uses a bit too much text in their above-the-fold content (especially when that text is layered on top of an intricate picture), but the company does an excellent job of blending copy and images to create effective emails.

And the gold goes to…

There’s no denying that both west elm and Pottery Barn have very talented designers on staff; however, the gold medal in this Email Olympics has to go to Pottery Barn. Their subject lines are stronger, their content is more beautifully designed, and their calls-to-action are always perfectly placed. Plus, no matter how big the sale is, you want to see the actual products available to you, and west elm falls flat on this point.

Want help building gold-medal-worthy emails? Give us a shout and we’ll help coach you through it.

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