Creative Cage Match: Greetabl vs. Old Navy

According to Radicati Group’s “Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019,” the consumer inbox got hit with approximately 93 emails a day in 2015. That’s a lot of email, which means marketers have to nail the subject line in order to win the open, then deliver on the open.

There’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

According to Radicati Group’s “Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019” (opens as a PDF), the consumer inbox got hit with approximately 93 emails a day in 2015. That’s a lot of email, which means marketers have to nail the subject line in order to win the open, then deliver on the open.

You had my curiosity, but now you have my attentionOn this side of the ring, we have Greetabl, launched in 2013 as a creative attempt to bridge the “Gifting Gap.” Consumers are able to select from curated small gift options, choose and customize packaging, all with a few clicks. Why send a $60 bouquet of wilted roses when you can earn mega brownie points for something outside of the norm (while also keeping your wallet from crying)?

Across the ring is the retail powerhouse Old Navy — from the same family that gives us The Gap and Banana Republic — known for its clothing and accessories. Founded in 1994, Old Navy has brick and mortar stores, as well as an e-commerce site, and is known for quirky commercials featuring celebrities such as Amy Poehler and Amy Schumer.

Email vs. Email

With a jam-packed inbox, you have to nail the subject line, then follow through with the content by way of copy and design. So let’s look at two that I received recently:

Greetabl email“You know she needs this” is the subject line from Greetabl. This definitely grabbed my attention, and I’m pleased with what I clicked through to. I enjoyed the preheader — Overworked friends need extra <3 — and while it doesn’t give me a benefit, it made me smile.

The email is about a new Greetabl gift you can send a friend. The image is great, the copy is simple, to the point and in Greetabl’s voice, and at the very bottom I really like the Unsubscribe copy:

If you really, really don’t want to hear from us anymore, you can unsubscribe. We totally won’t take it personal. I mean, it’s just an email, right? It definitely does not mean we’re not still friends. Right?? Are we overthinking this? Love you, mean it.

Two thumbs up Greetabl … which reminds me … I have a bestie’s birthday coming up soon …

Now, on to the behemoth that is Old Navy.

The Correct Way to Correct

Why is the Design Guy bringing up proofreading marks? Because it’s a way to quickly and accurately mark up layouts with changes, and when you use universal symbols, you avoid unnecessary confusion.

Back in the day when I was attending Parsons, we had a class with a short, buttoned-up gentleman who wore a suit. I wish I could remember his name, but his persona made more of an impression than his name. Plus, I’m terrible at remembering names.

He taught us how to create mechanicals:

  • How long a crop mark is supposed to be (half an inch).
  • How far away from the page (1/8 inch, 1/4 inch if it had to bleed).
  • Registration and bleed marks placement and much more.

Information that today’s young creatives don’t know. All they need to do is check a box that says add all marks.

He also taught us how to mark up type manuscripts for a typesetter and how to edit copy and layout using the correct marks — proofreading marks. And, he tested us on these marks. That’s what I’m going to talk about today: proofreading marks. Using these marks makes editing faster and clearer for all involved.

Proofreading Symbols
Downloadable 4-page Copy Editing and Proofreading Symbols PDF

So why is a creative guy bringing this up? Because it’s a way to quickly and accurately mark up layouts with changes. Many times we’ve gotten revisions from clients that were not clear and confusing. Using proper proofreading symbols is a way to clear up many of the changes. They are universal and all should know and use them.

At Least Know the First Dozen

I know, I know … four pages of these marks. OMG. I’m not looking for people to become professional proofreaders. That takes a certain personality that I’m sure most of us are not. But, at least learn the first dozen. These are used all the time.

Test Yourself

Want to lean these marks in a fun way? The site Quizlet.com has fun pages that will help teach and test you. Take the Scatter test and see how fast you can go. Yup, it’s timed. See if you can beat your colleagues.

Because I learned these back in the day when we had to do everything by hand, they are pretty ingrained. No matter whether you’re a Millennial, Gen X or Baby Boomer, proofreading marks are a must know.

Last Line of Marked Up Text

Instagram Stories Pros and Cons

Last week Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, and like most new digital things, the Internet erupted into the usual yelling debate about new things like: “Instagram ripped off Snapchat!” and “Instagram Stories is waaaaay better designed than Snapchat!”

Instagram Stories MemeLast week Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, and like most new digital things, the Internet erupted into the usual yelling debate about new things:

“Instagram ripped off Snapchat!”

“Instagram Stories is waaaaay better designed than Snapchat!”

“Ugh. Another feature.”

And so on.

Oh, and Facebook is now testing selfie filters, à la Snapchat. Snapchat’s like the sister with all the good clothes that keep getting filched.

I may be only 34, but there are days when I feel like I’m 82 in regard to new features on things I already use, and feel like I use pretty well. And originally, this post was titled “Instagram Stories, Get Off My Lawn.”

No, really:

Blog post in WordPress back officeBut then, like a good blogger, I took a little time to do some reading, and, well, my opinion — much like the Battering Ram ride at Busch Gardens — has swung to and fro a bit.

So here are my thoughts, in a classic Pros and Cons list. Because if a P&C list can help me determine if I should date someone who loves Phil Collins and owns a lot of plastic sheeting, it should help me come to a conclusion about Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories Pros

Marketers have been using Instagram successfully for awhile now, and it has a wider reach than Snapchat.

• It is way easier to find and follow people on Instagram, compared to Snapchat.

• I personally use Instagram constantly, and I could set up another account professionally for Sass Marketing with ease. Snapchat? Not so much.

• The design is cleaner and easier to understand, which means there will be fewer people saying they’re afraid to use it (unlike Snapchat).

• The stories won’t be in your Instagram feed. Instead, when someone you follow posts a story, a ring will appear around their profile photo. You can then either check it out, or ignore it.

• You can hide a story from anyone you don’t want to see it, without having to make your account private. You can even hide stories from people who actually follow you (Whoo-hoo! You can keep your aunt from creeping on you!)

• I always wanted to be able to draw laser beams coming out of my cat’s eyes.

Instagram Stories Laser-Eye Cat

Instagram Stories Cons

• Seriously, what is the deal with people wanting stuff to disappear after 24 hours? Is there something about hour 24 when you realize, “Oh god … I have made a MISTAKE!”?

• Even though Instagram didn’t do anything wrong (you can’t copyright an idea), it still comes off as a little lame to not only use almost exactly the same idea, but to not even bother renaming it. Or as Jack Brody, a product designer at Snapchat put it:

Wow … I can’t think of any other cons, aside from my general crankiness over new features that I don’t feel like using, but with Instagram Stories, you don’t HAVE to use it. You can completely ignore it, as well as the stories of other.

All right, fine. With my Pros and Cons list being a solid 7 to 2, I get the picture. Though I’m reserving the right to claim “cool” or “lame” until I actually have access to Instagram Stories.

In related news … dang Hubspot … you released a guide on how to use Instagram Stories TWO DAYS after the feature’s launch. It’s taken me this long to get cranky enough to write this post (mind you, I publish every Tuesday). Teach me your ways, oh Orange and Sassy One.

3 Type Facts You Don’t Know, But Should

Back in 1979, we were taught the old-fashioned way, and everything was done by hand. You had to understand all aspects of typeface design and letterforms. You learned how each letter was created and how they fit together perfectly. So here are three facts about type that you don’t know.

Margie Jones. That name had many a Parsons’ student, me included, cursing under our breaths and panicked at the same time. She was our Typography I & II professor. To say she was tough would be an understatement. But she was good, really good. She held us to a high standard and never let us off the hook.

And you could spot Margie Jones’ students a mile away. All you needed to do was simply look at their work compared to other students who didn’t have her. It always rose above.

Back in 1979, we were taught the old-fashioned way — with rapidograph pens, Letraset rubdown type, Lucy machines and a strong lupe. Everything was done by hand. You had to understand all aspects of typeface design and letterforms. You learned how each letter was created and how they fit together perfectly.

There were no computers. No InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop. You had to not only have great creative skills; you needed excellent hand skills too. It was hard, but you learned how and why you did things.

Thank you Margie Jones!

Here are three facts about type that you don’t know and, sadly, many young designers also might not know.

1. Round Letters Go Above and Below the Line

This is one of my favorite tests of young designers to see their knowledge of type; to let me know if they paid attention in class or how good their professor was.

Round Letter Above Below

Look at the example above. Notice how the round letter will rise above or below the base, ascender and x-height lines. Why?

If the round letters did not go above and below, the round letters would appear to look smaller than the rest of the straight letters. See the example below:

Round Letters Smaller

The reason for this: When the round part of the letters just touch the base, ascender and x-height lines, there’s less surface area as compared to the straight letters. To make the letter optically correct, you must have the round letter actually go above and below the base, ascender and x-height lines. This is just one of the many optical fixes that typography uses.

3 Color Truths You Want to Know

We’ve all seen them: color charts with a description of color and how we’re supposed to feel about it. Broad sweeping statements are made and graphics are created titled “The Psychology of Colors.” But the reality is much more complicated. Let’s bring this back to marketing and design.

We’ve all seen them … color charts with a description of color and how we’re supposed to feel about it. Broad sweeping statements are made and graphics are created titled “The Psychology of Colors.”

pyschology of colorsThe reality is much more complicated. We select color based more on our personal experiences. Research done by Karen Schloss and Stephen Palmer tackles this, focusing on evolution. The main theory — we like colors tied to things that are healthy and promote survival.

Also mixed in this “personal experience” are cultural norms. We are culturally conditioned on how to perceive color. For instance, Eskimos have 17 words for “white” as it applies to snow conditions.

Let’s bring this back to marketing and design. There are several studies available with many of the same conclusions. Here’s my take on three aspects we can all start with:

1. Does the Color Fit What’s Being Sold?

Is the color appropriate for the brand or product? Does the color fit the “personality” of the brand? Example: We can assume a pink glittery model of a Harley probably wouldn’t sell well given the brand’s rugged, cool image.

When it comes to picking the right color, predicting consumer reaction is critical. Although there are stereotypical associations (brown = ruggedness, purple = sophistication and red = excitement), it’s more important for your brand or product color to support the personality you want to portray instead of simply fitting within a stereotype.

Color works best when it matches a brand’s personality. There’s no clear-cut guideline here but the feeling, mood and image plays a large role in perception and purchase persuasion. Think of Apple, which uses white as its dominant color to effectively communicate their clean, simple design. Yet remember, they didn’t start out with white.

2. Stand Out From the Competition

We prefer recognizable brands. This makes color important when creating a brand identity. Consumers quickly recognize brands not only by the logo but also by its color. New products or companies should select color(s) that separate them from their competitors. If the competition is using blue you’ll want to choose a color to contrast them. Think of Apple again, vs. IBM. White is most definitely not “big blue.”

I know this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often I hear “we want to be similar to our competition.” Be YOU. Not a “me-too.”

3. Gender Makes a Difference

Yes, it’s true men’s and women’s color preferences are different. One of the best studies on this topic is Color Assignments by Joe Hallock. I encourage you to read it.

Here are the highlights. Take notice that blue was the favorite color of both genders and how consistently it’s liked across age groups.

Female favorite color Male favorite colorMen and women also differ when it come to shades, tints and hues, with men liking brighter bolder colors and women preferring softer colors. Men tend to pick shades of colors (black added) and women leaned toward tints (white added).

Favorite Color by AgeThe small piece of an infographic below from KISSmetrics demonstrates this difference very clearly.

KISSmetrics Shades and TintsConclusion: It’s Not all Black and White …

… And, not as simple as many infographics will have you think. The more research you can do, the better you’ll understand the subtlety color brings from a psychological perspective. Stay tuned for future posts as we fill in the missing colors on practical applications.

Better Type in Word and PowerPoint for Marketers

For all the marketers who are non-designers, but who also need to make your docs look good, here’s some simple typography tips that will make your Word docs and PowerPoint presentations look better.

If you ask any designer how much they love working in Word and PowerPoint you’ll hear a lot of grumbles. We hate the programs and will try hard to convince you to let us do the project in InDesign. But sometimes it has to be in a Microsoft product.

We begrudgingly sit down and struggle with Word and PowerPoint’s weak and confusing type tools.

So for all the marketers who are non-designers, who need to make your docs look good, here’s some simple typography tips that will make your Word docs and PowerPoint presentations look better.

All these tips are adjusted in the “Paragraph” dialog box found under Format > Paragraph

Paragraph BoxLine/Paragraph Spacing

This is always my first “go to” when teaching non-designers how to make both Word and especially PowerPoint presentations look better. It’s subtle, but makes copy read easier. The trick here is to pay attention to line spacing (leading) and then the space in between paragraphs (space before and after).

Line spacing should be set looser than Word’s normal line spacing. Most people use the default line spacing of “Single” for their documents. That’s ok, but I’ve found if you give the document a little extra line spacing it reads easier.

You can do this two ways under “Line Spacing” in the Paragraph box

  1. Exact: Set your “Line Space” to “Exactly” and it will default to 12pt. Set the line space to three or four points larger than your body text size. For 10pt type I’d set the line spacing to 13pt or 14pt. You’ll need to set this for each font size you use. If you have 14pt type you’ll set the line spacing to 17pt or 18pt. This can be time consuming if you have many text sizes in your document. There’s a more global approach —“Multiple.”
  2. Multiple: Set your “Line Space” to “Multiple” and it will default to 3. That will be 300 percent of the font size — way too big and only something Microsoft could come up with. I’ve found 1.15 will works perfectly giving all your text a similar look to “exact” 10pt type with 13pt line spacing. Think of this as a percentage — 1.15 is equal to 115 percent, or an additional 15 percent of a line space.

Using one of these approaches will improve the look of all your body text. Next we’ll adjust the space between paragraphs.

Paragraph spacing, the space in between paragraphs, can be controlled both before and after a paragraph. Most people simply hit return twice at the end of a paragraph and add a line space to separate paragraphs. This is a simple and heavy-handed method. Here’s the better way to adjust this space.

  1. Space After will allow you to simply hit return once and the space after paragraphs will automatically be created. No need to hit return twice to create the space. In the “Paragraph” box set the “space after” to the space you’d like between your paragraphs. Start by setting it to the size of your type. It’ll be the same as hitting return twice. If your type size is 10pt, set the space after to 10pt. But now you can be subtler and add more or less space to get a better look.
  2. Space Before will allow you to add space before the paragraph. So what’s the difference between space before or after? Nothing really, it’s how you use it. I typically use “space after” for paragraph spacing. I use “space before” for separating headlines and subheads from the paragraph before it. This helps to separate sections apart from each other. An oddity with “space before” is it needs to be larger than the “space after” of the paragraph before it. If the “space after” is 10pt the “space before” of the paragraph below it has to be at least 11pt to have an affect. See the sample below.

The trick with “space before” and “space after” is to always be consistent how you use them. Don’t sometimes use “space before” to get the separation between paragraphs and then other times use “space after.” Otherwise you won’t know which to adjust from paragraph to paragraph. Be consistent.

Line and Paragraph SpacingBulleted Text

Here’s the next area that good typography can make a huge difference in readability. Word and PowerPoint’s standard settings are poorly thought out and actually make bulleted lists very difficult to read.

4 Ways to Get Creative!

I once had a client who would say “get creative!” as a locker room type motivation to write a break-through direct mail package. Of course, I’d get creative — that’s my job. But sometimes, it doesn’t come to you as quickly as you’d like. In a world full of pressure to break through, today I’m sharing new research, and four ideas, that support how you can …

Is Your Creative Workload Out of Control?: Discover 3 Easy Ways to Maximize Your Resources for Optimal ResultsI once had a client who would say “get creative!” as a locker room type motivation to write a break-through direct mail package. Of course, I’d get creative — that’s my job. But sometimes, it doesn’t come to you as quickly as you’d like. In a world full of pressure to break through, today I’m sharing new research, and four ideas, that support how you can “get creative.”

There is new research evidence that substantiates how the act of walking stimulates creativity. The report from Stanford University researchers said “walking outside produced the most novel and highest quality analogies. Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

Among participants, 81 percent improved their creative output when walking. People “became more talkative and within that chatter were higher-quality creative ideas.”

For those of us in marketing, our job is to “get creative.” Meetings and conference calls can be good for generating group-think ideas, but in my experience, it’s the solitude of thinking deeply while walking, or engaging in other non-work activities, that result in the best creative outcomes.

With that in mind, I share my top four ways to “get creative.”

  1. Take a walk. Taking frequent walks — daily when my schedule permits — has been one of my obsessions for years. I’ve made it a point to live where great walking trails are just steps from my door. Before I start my walk, I read or research the specific topic that I’m thinking through so I’m set in the right frame of mind.
  1. Go to the gym. Like many people, I really have to crank up my motivation to hit the gym. But every time I’m walking out the door of the gym after a work-out, I can honestly say I haven’t regretted the time. As I mentioned about walking, it’s helpful to put a specific problem or task in your mind before a work-out.
  1. Engage in a hobby. For over 23 years, I’ve sung in an international champion caliber performing chorus. It requires weekly rehearsals plus about 15 to 20 public appearances annually. In our time-crunched lives, it’s really tough to carve out an evening a week for rehearsals, plus one or two evenings for performances each month. But some of my best ideas have come while I’m rehearsing or performing while my thoughts are away from work.
  1. Get out of the office. This one is easier for those of us who freelance (I’m writing this from a coffee shop). Not so easy if you work inside an office. So a word for senior managers: Encourage your marketing and creative staff to leave the office and think — and if practical, take a walk outside.

Finally, a word about the amount of time a marketing or creative person should set aside to be creative. My personal recommendation is a balance of one to two hours daily should be allocated for any of these suggestions. To some, this may seem like way too much time away from a desk or computer screen. But from personal experience, it’s what most creative people need to stay on top of their game.

But the bigger challenge may be to give yourself permission to go about activities that help you “get creative.” You (or your boss) may need to suspend work ethic guilt to make any of these recommendations work. It’s why Google has an 80/20 rule that encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their time on passion projects not directly impacting their normal job. Or why some companies have a gym inside the office.

What do you do to “get creative!”?

(Looking for tips about how to attract more customers? Download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks. It’s titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” Or get all the details in my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore.)

5 Tips for Choosing and Pairing Fonts

Good font selection can take almost any design and bring it up three levels. Yet to many, this can be daunting. There are so many fonts to choose from! And with the advent of the computer, the number of fonts has exploded.

I’m asked by many of my non-designer friends to look at the flyer or presentation they’ve created and tell them what I think. I soooo hate when this happens. As a designer, I’m pretty fussy about type selection. Are they appropriate? Are they paired well? Is there enough variation to create a good hierarchy? So when I look at my friends’ work, they’ve almost always made poor selections — mostly from lack of knowledge, and some just have bad taste.

Good font selection can take almost any design and bring it up three levels. Yet to many, this can be daunting. There are so many fonts to choose from! And with the advent of the computer, the number of fonts has exploded.

First we need to understand the difference between fonts.

Display fonts are designed, and look best at a larger size. They tend to have strong “personalities” meant to make a statement. They often don’t have many variations in weight, and will typically be the dominant font on your page (even if they are used the least).

Text fonts are designed to look good as body text. They work best at small- to medium-sizes but can be used larger with extra attention paid to their letter spacing. Their personality will not be as bold as a display font, but can still have a lot of character. It just tends to be a little more subtle.

So how does one pair fonts? Here are five approaches that will help you look like a top-notch designer.

1. Limit Your Choices

Without the help of a designer, people often make the mistake of choosing too many fonts. So try limiting your font selection to two to three font families. A font family is font and all its variations (i.e., regular, italic, bold, bold italic, etc.). Use fonts with a large family and you’ll be safe using them, knowing that they’ll complement each other.

Garamond Font FamilyLimiting your choices doesn’t mean only use two to three fonts. It means using the right number of fonts for the project you are designing. With that said, the more fonts you use, the harder it is to balance them together and create harmony that enhances the design. As the examples show, one, two or many fonts can work when designed well.

2. Find the Right Characters

Fonts have personality and therefore you need to find the right personality for your project. If it’s a corporate presentation to bankers, you’ll want to consider fonts that are safer and risk-averse like Helvetica and Times Roman. Or you could add a little play with Gill Sans or Palatino. All are corporate in personality and will not make you look risky.

Fonts with a more corporate feelOn the other hand, if you are creating a flyer for employees about the company picnic, you can use fonts with more fun and bold personalities like Boston Traffic or Geometric. Or a personality that feels more picnic-like such as ITC Kabel or Logger.

Fonts with a more playful feelWhen it comes to character of your fonts be careful, you don’t want to look too cute either. Show your work to colleagues and get their feeling about the fonts. They may have a different opinion.

5 CTA Button Design Best Practices

Take a close look at your call to action (CTA), particularly the design of the CTA button. It’s an element that many designers do not give enough attention, but they are one of the most important elements to consider. If you get them right, your results will improve.

The Art & Science of Writing Calls to ActionYou’ve designed the perfect landing page, product page, email or home page. Are they converting leads, sales or generating incoming traffic? Could they work harder?

You need to ask questions like these every time you review the results of your marketing efforts.

One way you may be able to improve these results: Take a close look at your call to action (CTA), particularly the design of the CTA button. It’s an element that many designers do not give enough attention.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal template or design style that works across the board. What works for one email or landing page site may not work for you.

But there are some elements that have been tested which may be able to help you improve your results. The key word here is “tested.” I present this information for you to consider, but like anything, test everything as it relates to your CTA buttons.

After all, there are a many factors that contribute to improving results. CTA buttons are just one ingredient among many. Effective web pages and emails don’t depend on the CTA button alone, but upon a lot of factors, both in the realms of design and copy. If you get them right, your results will improve.

Parts of a Button
There are two parts to a CTA button — the design of the button itself and the copy within the button. Both have a critical role to play.

Button design is all about directing a viewers eye and answering the question: Where should I click?” Button copy, on the other hand, answers the question: “Why should I click this button?”

I’m going to focus more on the design aspect of CTA buttons, but you need to think clearly about these as a team and they must work together.

1. It’s a Button
Pay attention to convention. No need to reinvent the wheel here — CTA buttons are buttons. Make it clear that it is a button. The call to action is so important, you should not attempt to make anything but a plain button. It can be different shapes, but remember, it must clearly be a button.Try It Today CTA ButtonSave My Seat CTA ButtonSubscribe CTA Button

Join Now CTA Button2. Make It Stand Out
Contrast and position are the key words here. No matter how wonderful your product, your information or your offer, if your CTA is not easy to find it’ll be lost. The two things to do:

• Use contrasting colors: I’ve read that green and orange work better, but in reality there’s no magic color that works better than another. Every page, email and site are different, and testing your button color is critical.

Critical Mention website
Example of good contrast
Evernote website
Example of poor contrast

• Place in an obvious place: This may seem logical and obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times people place their buttons poorly. Even though your button my have contrasting color, if you place in the wrong place, it’ll be difficult to find. Even Apple makes this mistake.

Hubspot CTA
Example of good call-to-action button placement
Apple CTA
Example of poor call-to-action button placement

3. Make Your Copy Active
Many designers don’t pay much attention to the copy on a button. That’s a big mistake. Making your button say more than:

REGISTER
SUBMIT
ENTER
FOR MORE INFO
DOWNLOAD

can make a dramatic difference.

Championship-Winning Email Creative

Last week, in my best attempt to be timely and sporty, we saw the Email Creative Final Four play out in a blaze of March Madness-like glory. Herb Brooks united his squad against the heavily favored Soviet team, and as the U.S. squad tried to overcome insurmountable odds and win … oh wait. That’s the plot to the 2004 hockey drama, “Miracle.” Ahem. Sports.

Last week, in my best attempt to be timely and sporty, we saw the Email Creative Final Four play out in a blaze of March Madness-like glory. Herb Brooks united his squad against the heavily favored Soviet team, and as the U.S. squad tried to overcome insurmountable odds and win … oh wait. That’s the plot to the 2004 hockey drama, “Miracle,” starring Kurt Russell. Ahem. Sports.

So, with last week delivering Birchbox and Lindy Bop into the final arena for the championship match, let’s review our bracket:

Final Email Creative March Madness bracket

In the Final Four, both Birchbox and Lindy Box cleaned house against their opponents, earning 11 and 9 points respectively.

And as a quick reminder, there are five areas to score points, and scores are as follows:

  • 0 points: Dude you missed!
  • 2 points: Nice shot!
  • 3 points: You’re totally going pro!

Championship Game: Personal Beauty Products vs. Retro Apparel
Birchbox is a strong player in the inbox, sending messages that range from subscriber news — box customizations, box shipments, product review reminders — to promotional emails. I personally receive emails almost every other day, if not daily.
Birchbox email for Email Creative March Madness ChampionshipThis email was sent March 28 with the subject line, “Shop Your Samples, Get Perks,” which is simple but effective, especially in the eyes of a Birchbox subscriber.

The preheader echos the subject line, reading, “Stock up on your favorite samples today.” Okay, maybe this could have been a little more creative, but at least the preheader is in use.

As usual with most Birchbox communications, the design and copy are bold and to the point. “Tried it and loved it?” the email asks. Well now subscribers can get free shipping on any full-size product they’ve previously sampled.

And to make things relevant (and personalized), the email shows me six of my most recent samples, as well as the call-to-action button “Shop Your Samples.”

Could Birchbox have made it any easier? Doubtful.

Birchbox’s Points
Subject line: 2
Preheader text: 2
Copy: 2
Call to action: 2
Overall design: 3
Total: 11 points