How The Body Deli Built an Email List with 100K Subscribers

Twenty years ago, David Anton Parker was working as a chef, passionate about how food and nutrition could enable wellness. His enthusiasm for physical and mental wellbeing would lead to him opening a spa. Despite a love for his work, he couldn’t escape a realization that many entrepreneurs-to-be make: he wanted to build something bigger than himself that could impact more people.

In 2003, alongside his co-founder Margaret Skarin Clark, David started The Body Deli—a Palm Desert based company creating skincare and haircare products enhanced with fresh, organic, and raw superfoods. The Body Deli is a departure from what he calls the “commercial industrial complex” in which personal care products are mass produced and mass distributed, forcing brands to fill their products with additives and preservatives that make them shelf-stable. Instead, their products are similar to fresh juices and smoothies, absent of the extraneous chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin. Popular products in their line—from their Coachella Honey Date Scrub to their Almond Milk Cleanser—are made fresh and meant to be used fresh, too. 

image of a staggered assortment of Body Deli products

After two decades of running a business—starting prior to the advent of social media, the rise of ecommerce, and the explosion of the self-care industry—David has learned a lot about building a thriving business in the face of constant change, all while remaining true to the mission of “bottling wellness.”

How The Body Deli built a robust email marketing strategy 

Over their last twenty years in business, David and his team have grown The Body Deli’s email list to over 100,000 subscribers, sending beautiful bi-weekly emails to their loyal mailing list. The company was founded before social media took hold of the internet, when the only way to bring attention to your brand was through PR and placements in magazines like InStyle or People. Despite the changing landscape, and their embrace of new and emerging marketing mediums, they’ve made a long-term bet on email marketing that’s paid off. 

“I think people overlook email marketing. They get so focused on Instagram or Facebook.”

Though many businesses focus intently on social media, David sees these platforms as more valuable for product awareness and consideration—not selling. “I think people overlook email marketing,” says David. “They get so focused on Instagram or Facebook,” he adds. The Body Deli’s email marketing channel has become a sales driver for the company using a few key principles.

Screenshot of a mobile view ad spread for the Solar Day Cream

1.Capture emails in-person

While The Body Deli has a thriving online storefront hosted on Shopify, they have several physical locations including their flagship El Paseo store and several shops across Palm Desert and Palm Springs. As an in-person business, the Body Deli has the opportunity to meet their customers and connect in stores—and extend their email strategy through IRL interactions.

image of the body deli retail space

“We’ve had a unique experience to meet a lot of our customers face to face over the years,” says David. “So we definitely collect their email.” Capturing emails in-person is a way to maintain a conversation with a customer, and a chance to provide them with ongoing information, once they’ve stepped out of the store. 

💡 Email Marketing Strategy Advice

For more tips on developing an email marketing strategy for your business, visit our marketing archives for advice on everything from choosing the right email marketing tool to getting your first subscribers:

2.Think of email as an important ongoing relationship 

For David and The Body Deli Team, a new subscriber isn’t just another email on a digital mailing list. “Someone has opted into your business for a reason—they’re into you or they’re into your product,” says David. “Once they give you that valuable connection, it’s up to the entrepreneur to use it, and to work with them and to cultivate that relationship,” he adds. Each new subscriber is the start of an ongoing relationship intended to inspire loyalty. 

Part of building that relationship is finding the contact sweet spot by ensuring your list anticipates and looks forward to your emails, without burning them out on communication and overloading their inbox. But it also means providing customers with value in each and every email—not junk. Their team isn’t bombarding subscribers with an endless stream of 10% off coupons. In fact, they only have sales events just three times a year. 

image of a hand holding the Pure-A-Mist spray

Instead, The Body Deli focuses on education and inspiration in their emails. That means filling each sendout with beautiful product shots and crafting every line of copy with purpose—something David still does to this day. “Our emails are comprehensive,” he says. “There’s professional photography, there’s a lot of good content, there’s information,” he adds. The result is a high email open rate, a steady stream of new subscribers.

💡 Email Tool Tip

David and his team at The Body Deli use Mailchimp to send out emails to their list. Read more about how to use Mailchimp with Shopify

3. Stay consistent with your sendouts

The Body Deli sends out two emails per week without fail. But this wasn’t always the case. “In the beginning, we were kind of haphazard with it,” admits David. However, as they leaned into regular sendouts, their email list began to grow. “Now, we’ve just realized that it really depends on consistency, sending it the same time the same day, and having your customer like they almost look forward to it,” he adds. 

Consistency, of course, comes with hard work, time, and resources. Their email marketing program involves the time of a full-time designer and much of David’s schedule, too. “It eats up a lot of my time. But I think it’s worth it,” says David. “…[we] send out an email, and [we] have instant sales,” he adds. 

Screenshot of a mobile ad spread for the Pure-A-Mist spray

While David is adamant that consistency has been one the keys behind their email marketing success, he touts this advice to entrepreneurs for every corner of their business: “For future entrepreneurs out there wanting to start your own business and be your own boss: unless you’re prepared to really deliver consistency, I don’t know if I would do it,” he says. “Consistency in everything. Consistency in your product, consistency in your customer service, consistency in your marketing.”

Building a successful email strategy is just one of many topics covered in this week’s Shopify Master’s episode with The Body Deli’s David Anton Parker. Here are a few other things we touched on:

  • The product loyalty strategy that has inspired 10% of The Body Deli’s customers to place over 100 orders. 
  • The ingenious product testing strategy that The Body Deli uses during their busiest time of the year—Black Friday Weekend. 
  • The people management approach that has allowed The Body Deli to maintain a strong and capable team, with many team members staying with the company for over a decade.